I hope I have the will to make my kids eat more than plain spaghetti. So many parents have told me that it’s hard not to give up and make chicken nuggets every night.
I, for the record, was not like the children in this article. My father would offer me money to try different foods and I never would anyway. There was one family vacation where I ate nothing but french fries and few remember me eating anything in high school other than tuna sandwiches. I didn’t try seafood until my early 20’s, sushi until my mid-20’s, and had my first burger, seriously, at 30. But here’s hoping Sadie will be different (better).
Posted by Karol at 01:02 AM
To this day, I can’t understand why parents don’t just give their kids what they want them to eat and leave it at that. What are your kids going to do? Order something else?
Nature is funny that way. If you’re hungry, you’ll eat. Of course, I have no kids so it’s easy for me to say this. But seriously, somewhere along the line parents give in and before you know it, your kid is on a steady diet of Burger King. What would happen if you just put the vegetables in front of the child and didn’t give him/her anything else?
if you are still nursing, eat a lot of curry now. They will not be able to resist eating it later. I am not a believer in many things “crossing” the milk, but for some reason (twice now!) the curry thing has proven true. Trust me. My older son (4.5 years now) thinks that, after sushi, curry, particularly thai green curry but also indian curries, is one of his favorite things to eat. The baby has a thing for cumin also – I guess I ate a lot of mexican when I was pregnant and nursing!
Also – I always give them the right amount of food on their plates. Not too much – but not a little either. I tell them a/it’s not a cafeteria (to which I used to get – “what’s a cafeteria?”) and b/I’m giving them what I know to be the right amount and they need to do their best to finish. If not, it’s not the end of the world, but forget dessert. It has worked pretty well. They are good eaters. But, of course there are things they don’t/won’t eat. Ben hates all potatoes – chips and fries included. He will tell you he likes them but isn’t in the mood right now. We also don’t make a big deal and never, in my entire motherhood, have I ever made two separate meals. I feel for those parents, but, for me, that is setting yourself up for chicken finger hell…
Wow, Karol, I would have guessed that, based on American concepts of Russian life, your parents would have been very big on telling (and I don’t mean requesting) you to eat what they put in front of you. The money part really surprises me. In my father’s household, if you didn’t eat what he made, then you starved. Whatever else I’ve said about him, my sister and I certainly never went hungry, and there was always a variety of food for dinner. Steak, ham (especially with glaze and baked fruit), pork chops, chicken in a dozen styles, and pasta in several styles.
I didn’t finish my salad one time, and he was probably in his typical grumpy, antagonistic mood. “By the bones of my mother, you’re going to finish that!” I forget how old I was, but old enough that it was the last time I let him make me cry. It’s one thing to cultivate a love of variety, appreciation of nutrition and/or making a child realize that it’s wasted money, but to hell with berating a child with a big plate. Children will naturally eat first what tastes best to them.
It was different when I turned 18 and started getting my own income. One night he completely destroyed his usually excellent chicken fricassie. The rest of us looked at dismay at the pieces that had virtually disintegrated into tiny shreds, which were unsalvageable in all that thick sauce. I was pissed and drove down the street to Wendy’s.
Yeah, Perry, it was the one place where they weren’t demanding, mostly because my father had bad memories of his mother forcing him to eat and didn’t want to do the same to his kids yet wanted us to try different foods.
I was probably just lucky, but my kids will try anything (at least to date).
But in case it wasn’t just luck, here’s what I’ve done:
Do NOT feed her (wrote “them” originally, I don’t understand parents of singletons really) pre-processed baby food. Get a little blender and feed them real food. Early on stick with peas, carrots, chicken, etc. but keep it real. Blend what you’re eating until it isn’t necessary to blend.
DO mix it up.
Do NOT force. But cajole.
I love our pediatrician. His advice was to feed the kids what we’re eating. The beauty is the kid will WANT what you’re eating (in all likelihood). So figure out what current practice says you shouldn’t feed your kid, cut it out of your diet at feeding time, eat with your kid, and let the kid share the experience.
You can have all the shellfish, peanuts, etc. you want after she goes to bed. But eating is a bonding thing. Keep it that way, and life will be easier.
My father grew up during the Depression, so his mother didn’t need to force him to eat. If he didn’t eat what was in front of him, fine, but there was nothing else. In raising his first two sons, then my sister and me, there wasn’t that economic necessity, but a “I spent my time and my money on this, and I’ll be damned if I’ll cater to you.” I think one time he said something about not being a “damn restaurant.”