Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Case of the Picky Eater

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So, with all the fun and exciting attributes of toddlerhood, come a couple of frustrating characteristics that mark the transition from carefree baby to little person with an opinion. The first we are tackling is picky eating. Sofia is currently 14 months old.

I leaned again on one of my favorite resources: Toddlerwise by Gary Ezzo, MA and Robert Bucknam, MD.  I feel like it is very important to take the time to learn how to parent. We don't take classes, we aren't required to pass an qualifying tests, we just have babies. So as a responsible parent, it is our duty to take the time to research different methods and approaches and to become proactive rather than reactive in our parenting. I strongly believe this and I have found that some of my favorite tools are books I can easily buy used on Amazon for often times under a dollar!

I had favorites when Sofia was an infant, favorites for under a year and my new favorites for the toddler years are:
Toddlerwise by Dr. Gary Ezzo, MA and Robert Bucknam, MD
Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay, Ph.D.
Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline, MD and Jim Fay (this is more aimed toward the grade-school years, but has wonderful points of interest)

The best thing about these materials is they have easy go-to indexes in the back to reference exact scenarios (of course read the book first and see if you even like it), this allows you to use these books as easy reference guides when you are trying to decide how to tackle an exact situation.

Picky Eating

Our baby went from gobbling down pretty much anything that touched her mouth (both edible and inedible) to having one of the most discerning pallets I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  This is hard for any parent, but even harder when your child has food allergies and is already operating off of a very limited diet.
So what did I do?
I thought about what I felt was the right thing to do: I cant force her to eat and don't want to force her to eat something she doesn't want to eat. I want to foster a love of food because I have a love of food and in fact, trying news foods is one of my favorite exploratory pastimes. However, I am not about to make a different meal because my daughter doesn't like something I made. So I automatically jump to the conclusion that if she doesn't want to eat it, she doesn't have to eat it, but she will have to wait until the next meal to eat again.
So I knew what my gut reaction was, now I needed to do some research. 
At this point, I turned to Toddlerwise and found some interesting points that allowed me to see the situation from a different angle.

Points from Toddlerwise:
  • While you will occasionally give (your child) what he likes, you must also consider what meets the needs and desires of the entire family. 
  • Americans tend to over-feed their children.
  • Avoid giving a child too much to drink. 
  • A child who eats too little and just picks at meals is a child who is probably snacking too much during the day. 
This got me thinking. At first, my gut reaction above was to tackle the symptom and not the cause. Toddlerwise allowed me to see what I believe is the cause.
Sofia gets A LOT of snacks and A LOT of water. All healthy foods, but I do tend to give her a snack whenever we are out and about to occupy her and even pacify her. Major parenting fail right? I never thought about this, I was still in baby mode, but she is becoming a child and that means I have to change my game plan. So now my focus is on limiting snacks and transitioning her to 3 meals a day AND one small afternoon snack.

The other thing I realized was that Sofia tends to eat well when we are eating as a family, but not as well when she is eating alone. Unfortunately, because the husband works out of town during the week and because I have been feeling so ill, she has been eating a lot of meals alone in her highchair. So this is causing an obvious psychological shift because Mom & Dad are not "interested" in what she is eating, they are eating at a different time AND are eating different foods. So why should she be interested in what she is eating? Moreover, I remembered that she is ALWAYS interested in what Mom & Dad are eating, even if she is so full she is going to burst. So this clicked for me. She is learning eating skills and preferences by watching our eating skills and preferences. 

So we have to make some major changes in our household.
Along with transitioning to 3 meals a day and one small snack, my goal is also to begin making MEALS again that Sofia and I can share together at the same time. I am not entirely sure how well this is going to work out for me, only because my first trimester nausea is making ME a very picky eater right now, but I am going to try my darnedest to make it happen for Sofia's sake.

Praying for determination, energy and will power.

What is your picky toddler story? How did you tackle it? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

So you want to know what happened? How did this work out?? Click HERE

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