I'm sure the rest of you have
... but this post... a big Thank you! Also, because a lot of you were here empathizing and gleaning advice yourselves, I wanted to have a list of things you might also have interest in trying from the comments you may have missed.
I haven't had that many comments in a long, long time. I definitely appreciated every last comment and only maybe considered deleting one of them. But didn't! ;) Can I write out some of my favorites and things we're definitely going to be trying here? Since you all took so much effort and time to help a sister out, it's time I provide a proper shout-out. Not a conclusive list, but definitely most of the ideas:
- Letting him eat at his own pace: I admit that I sometimes want him to eat that 1/2 PBJ a lot faster to take advantage of non-naptime hours, so this was a great reminder.
- Eating with other kids: Yes, yes, yes! Now... where can I find these kids? Just kidding. ;)
- Dishing out only a little at a time: This throwing food thing often happens when too much is in front of him-- true. I hate wasting food, so it frustrates me. We often do this, but sometimes we don't and I need to keep this at the forefront.
- Remembering that this is possibly just a phase: My friend Alison (a seasoned mama) is always telling me that we can handle things for a week or two. Just roll with things. And by the time you get used to it, things will change again! Oh, parenthood!
- Load up on his biggest meal: Unfortunately we haven't had one of those in awhile, but it used to be breakfast.
- Whole milk is loaded with good fat, so drinking his calories is okay: True. So true. Also, full-fat Greek yogurt (which I didn't even know existed until my mom bought it for us!) is loaded with calories from fat! Thank you Trader Joe's for that! And to think I was considering 2% milk. What was I even thinking. I'm close to giving him lard on a spoon here, people!
- Grazing is okay: Many adults (including myself) are grazers. Eating throughout the day and still sitting down for a small meal is okay...something I really need to consider if he's reaching for the food between mealtimes. Calories in, however I can get them!
- Allow foods he wants: I struggle with this because I'd love for him to eat what we're having for dinner, but I was totally the kid who literally made my own dinner. As long as we all sat down to eat together, that was what mattered. Will think on this one...
- Presentation matters to a toddler: No kidding! Not that I didn't think of it, but I did realize he sometimes will eat melted cheese but won't touch cold cheese. Or my PBJ on a stick trick? So much cooler than a regular sandwich. My mom recommended cool shapes. Seriously, something to think about. But do you think he'll tell me how he wants things? Hah. I wish.
- Use yogurt as a staple to mask other foods: He still isn't great about feeding himself yogurt from a spoon as he's often more intrigued by the device and tends to spin it around and let it fall off, but I do think we'll have to do more yogurts!
- Don't force the meat --kids don't always like it: True! We try meat, but since I'm vegetarian, I don't stress about it. Protein comes in many forms and as long as he's getting protein, that's my main concern. Lord knows he'll get his fill of red meat as he gets older and we all know it's not entirely healthy to eat much of that anyway!
- Let him near me during preparation: I'm working on this. And hey! If he eats a bite or two while prepping (though my husband would lose a hand if he tried!), hooray!
- When the food throwing starts, remove the food: Yeah, sometimes we're a little late on this one, but it is a lesson that needs to be learned. We try to repeat, "If you don't want it, that's okay. Leave it on the table, but it is not okay to throw food."
- Don't take things personally: Thanks. I seriously needed to hear this. It can be so frustrating a quite upsetting to me as a mom when I try my hardest to find things and prepare them so he'll like them... and he hates it. :/
- Food textures can bother some kids: Kate, a parent or not, you have great advice! I assure you, I'd never condemn anyone for excellent advice as long as they experienced it firsthand. Especially people like me who have lost a child and longed to have that parenting experience because no one ever wanted to take advice from us... but that texture bit is so right on. B likes pasta (well, used to LOVE it, now tolerates it) but hates spaghetti! I really agree that texture matters. It's figuring out that the texture is the issue that can be challenging for me.
- Start with something he wants for mealtime and then move on to other things: I seriously had never thought of this, but I do know that when I put fruit down and say... pasta... he'll eat every bit of fruit and then still just maybe touch the pasta after all the fruit is out of sight. I want to witness this in action!
- Smoothies are causing the issue: Maybe? But what choice do I have when I really, really won't let him go without calories?
- Don't stress about it-- he will eat if he's hungry: Yeah, maybe not my favorite advice as I touched on the fact that he is a small kiddo and I get the stink-eye if he loses weight. These small kids don't exactly give you the choice! I think only those with small fry kiddos (and maybe those who lost a kid and are already ultra-sensitive about how others perceive their parenting?) would understand?
- Diapers are good indicators of consumption: Oftentimes, I can't quantify how much B actually ate because he eats it so. stinking. slow. But yeah, I guess sometimes he is eating more than I thought. Even if the 5 bites are not what I would deem an acceptable meal, I also need to keep in mind that he is getting nutrients and possibly at different times. I did start measuring things out so I can gauge though! I gave him 1/3 cup cereal yesterday & today.
- Some days he may eat more than others. That's okay: I do have a hard time with understanding this! Why? Because I can eat the same just about everyday. But kids... of course not. Why would it be that easy!
- Don't make it a power struggle: You are so right. If he sees our frustration, he'll feed off of it. I should have remembered this from my own childhood (and adolescence, right Mom?). I need to keep this in the forefront of our minds during mealtime and watch our own behaviors.
- Cut the performances: What, no more Mamma Mia! at mealtimes? Can't say I'm sad or disagree. It shouldn't really be showtime, you're right. Should not be conditional... only out of fun.
- Talk to him. And not just telling him to eat a bite: Ah, that's wise. Yes. I will do this!
- Try a smoothie before the meal, not after: I love this advice, maybe the most of all! I know he needs nutrients and I can almost predict he won't eat much. But perhaps it will be less stressful on us all... and make it less of an expectation/prediction on his part.
- Don't coax him into taking each and every bite.: After reading that account of your (Emily) friend, I want nothing to do with that kind of parenting! It made me cringe and fear that it's who we are becoming. Honestly, I have dreaded mealtime for the past month because of B not eating so well. But I do refuse to continue this on for months or years! If he is a picky eater, that's one thing. However, we cannot allow mealtime to be a stressful time for everyone. I love food too much for that to be the case. Thanks so much for sharing this.
- Allow him to feed us and himself to make things fun: B does enjoy this, though the majority still ends up in our mouths. Sigh.
- Read the book French Kids Eat Everything: On the library list!
- Make the foods cold, especially if you've got a teether: This is something I'd thought of, but didn't think that I could make things other than fruits cold... just never occurred to me that he might eat more PBJ if it's chilled a bit first. Yes, we love frozen grapes... one of the few things he'll eat willingly... the one time I want grapes to be fattening! Hah!
- It's okay to supplement with smoothies: Adults love them (we do and eat them often!). Of course we hope not all of the foods are consumed this way, but to get those extra fruits and veggies otherwise shunned? Sure thing!
- Try Stonyfield YoBaby Drinkable Yogurt--packs lots of fat calories in a small container: Funny thing... we tried them early on with B and didn't buy them again for some reason. I think it's because they're hard to find. Target here does carry them (score for sure!) and I will be buying some. Also, I'm all over that full-fat Greek yogurt.
- Remember that these babies be crazy, yo!: So maybe I added that one. But really, who has them figured out, anyway?
These were just some of the many (!) ideas you guys had. Seriously, thank you. Some of the advice conflicts with other pieces of advice, but these were just listed to pick out some of the gems we'll try (together or independently). Now I'm off to help the husband on one of our many house projects while the kiddo naps. Did I mention we're working on going down to one nap soon here? I'm not sure I'm ready, you guys!