For every mom, it starts the same way. You’re pregnant and begin your hunt for all the books and magazines you can find about what’s best for your soon-to-come bundle of joy. You know the “right” stroller, the “best” monitor, the detergent that won’t harm their newborn skin. You also know that “breast is best” (whether or not you choose to breast-feed is a whole other story), and that there are natural, organic, 100% fresh, good and healthy options as far as food goes. You imagine how, once your child is born, you’ll spend your days together snuggled up on the couch and when they take a nap, you’ll be in your #1 Mom apron, boiling fresh produce so that you can let it cool, puree it and store it in neatly labeled Ziploc bags. When the baby is actually here, that’s when reality sets in.
You’re too sleep-deprived, your hair hasn’t been combed in days and you are too consumed with being a new parent to make homemade baby food, so you go for a jar of something green and orange at the grocery store. You were raised on the stuff, it can’t be too bad, right?
As your baby becomes a toddler, the food options seem to multiply. Thank God. Sprouting little teeth means you buy teething biscuits for them to snack on and spend what feels like hours chopping up tiny pieces of apple, cheese, soft-cooked pasta and hard-boiled eggs.
Then you get to a new phase. This is probably the one you’ll be least prepared for… at least I wasn’t. I’ve come to call it the “just eat it” phase where you basically repeat those three words at every meal.
My daughter reached “just eat it” about a year ago when she turned three. Before then, she happily ate whatever I gave her. Meat, grains, fruits, dairy, and yes, even vegetables.
But now that she’s growing and has opinions to share — how dare she — she feels empowered to say “yuck, that smells” about broccoli, peas, sweet potatoes… the same food she loved when she was two. She also hates specks of anything in her food: seeds, black pepper, anything black and speckly in her food must be removed or else there’s no peace in the East.
Her favorite foods these days? Pasta with butter, eggs, wheat bread with raspberry jam, baked chicken skin (yes, you read that right) and vanilla yogurt.
Some of the things I’ve passed off as a meal:
- a turkey hotdog, cheesy rice and an apple
- six kernels of corn and chicken cutlet
- grapes and pasta with butter
- a bowl of Cheerios and a handful of shredded cheddar cheese
- a banana, three Oreo cookies, milk, tuna
Now, I make sure to throw a kids multivitamin at her a few times a week. You guessed it, she doesn’t like those either. For the record, I talked to my daughter’s pediatrician about her eating habits. His advice: All kids go through picky eating phases. If your child has plenty of energy and is growing, he or she is most likely healthy. Still concerned? To make sure your child is getting enough food to eat, use this good rule of thumb: Offer one tablespoon of each kind of food for each year of your child’s age. If your child is still hungry, of course, serve them more. It’s kind of old-school to force your child to clean their plate, and who wants a dinner table stand-off over broccoli?