Mealtimes are the most dreaded time of my day. I absolutely hate them. I not only hate them because I really don't like to cook but my dear toddler has taken on a whole new level of annoyance when it comes to mealtimes.
It starts with the need to pick out what he wants to eat. Newsflash, buddy, we never have diverse options so when I give you two to pick from, I'm not lying to you. That's really all we have. Then it goes to the roll of the dice to see if he will actually eat everything that I've given him. Now that he's out of a high chair the temptation of getting off of his chair is always there which can result in a kid running around during mealtime. If he does get off his chair, mealtime is over for him. I'm done with the back and forth for a bite here and there. The list really goes on but I'll stop there. You get the point. Mealtime is a major part of my day and also a major stress of my day.
While my two year old is a pretty good eater, I would have to say he's still a pretty picky eater. Plus, you add in the ever changing mind of a toddler and you never really know what you are going to get when it comes down to it. Since what we eat around here is something I am always striving to get better at, we've had to just set some hard rules.
Here's how I handle my picky eater.
No separate meals. This rule applies to dinner time. Breakfast and lunch are free-for-alls around here because we are usually trying to use up whatever leftovers we have which might not be enough for both of us. However, dinner time is not made to order. Our son gets what we get, if he doesn't eat it, then he goes to bed without. MAYBE he will get a piece of fruit or a piece of toast if he really whines about having something else but even then he has to take a few bites of the meal we made for dinner. More often then not, he only takes a few bites. When he's really hungry, he will eat whatever we give him.
Limit snacking. See above. When he's really hungry, he will eat whatever we give him. There are some afternoons that I purposely avoid snack time because my son just needs to eat a meal. He's usually a ravenous bear by the time 6pm rolls around but it is so worth it to have him sit still and eat a meal with us. The days where he snacks too late, chances of him eating a good dinner are off the table.
Keep trying. I really want my son to grow up with good eating habits. One of the biggest regrets I have from when he was smaller is not trying green vegetables more consistently. He gravitated towards sweet items and for the sake of him eating something, I just gave in. Today he can eat more fruit than my husband but trying to get him to eat vegetables is a chore. However, I keep trying. Once he had a full set of teeth, I started giving him raw vegetables which helped his intake. After trying carrots and trying carrots and trying carrots, he finally will eat raw carrots. He will even ask for them! But it took over a YEAR to get him to eat a raw carrot. My next task is broccoli. He will maybe take a bite or two but not much. I am going to keep trying!
Invest in good supplementation. If your child is a picky eater, chances are they are not getting the nutrition they need to functional optimally. Children need all the nutrients they can get as their bodies develop. It is a critical time in their lives to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need. If they won't eat a wide variety of foods, proper supplementation is a must to help their development. I know I struggle with spending what I do on vitamins sometimes but then I am reminded that my son is in his first most important years of his life so I know it is worth it. Please be careful when choosing a supplement for your children. Many are filled with synthetic ingredients, artificial colors and sweeteners, and preservatives. There are better options!
How do you handle a picky eater? I'd love some tips to get me through three meals a day around here!!