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My Child Is a Picky Eater (And I’m Okay With That)

My Child is a Picky Eater

Before I had a child of my own, I had a lot of opinions about children who were “picky eaters.” Why wouldn’t their toddlers try new foods? Weren’t their parents offering them enough variety? Didn’t they try the “just two bites” trick? What about a reward system? Yes, I was that person who thought I knew everything before I even became a mom. And boy, have my thoughts and words come back to bite me. 

Note: Our son is perfectly healthy, according to his pediatrician, and his eating habits and preferences are normal. If you have concerns about your child, talk to his or her pediatrician. Each child is different, and I don’t claim that what is right for my child is right for yours, too.

We did what we were supposed to do when starting our son out on solid foods–veggies first. He loved sweet potatoes and carrots. He would have eaten spinach and potatoes for every meal if we had let him. Oatmeal was a breakfast favorite for over a year.

Until it wasn’t. Now he has no interest in oatmeal, spinach or any form of sweet potato unless it’s sweet potato fries. He does eat carrots, apples, grapes, bananas, strawberries, oranges, watermelon and green peppers with gusto. But that’s as far as his little taste buds will take him in the fruit and veggie arena. He still won’t eat salad because he doesn’t like his foods mixed.

He loves milk and yogurt but will never, ever eat cheese or anything with cheese in it or on it. He won’t eat eggs. He likes most meats and nuts, so he gets plenty of protein that way. Thankfully, he prefers grilled chicken over chicken nuggets.

And you know what? I’m okay with his preferences. He will try almost anything once, but if he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like it. He’s getting in a healthy amount of the good stuff, and he takes his vitamins.

I no longer stress when I put broccoli or green beans on his plate only for him to ignore them. Occasionally he’ll take a bite just to see if he likes it again. And, in time, he might. But it’s really no trouble to throw some carrots or green peppers on his plate instead.

Why am I okay with him being a picky eater? Because I don’t eat foods that I don’t like, either.

As a kid, we often had to finish our plates, and the one thing that made me gag every time was pinto beans. I didn’t eat them for 10 years after I graduated high school because I hated that I was required to eat them at home even though they made me feel nauseous.

Now, will I keep offering the foods he doesn’t like? Yes. His taste buds will change, just as they do for all of us. I have no doubt that he’ll be open to more foods as he gets older. But, for now, it’s not worth the fighting or the stress to try to get him to eat three bites of green beans when he’ll eat the peppers without argument instead.

Do you have a picky eater? What are your rules regarding food preferences?

For more parenting articles, check out the posts below!

7 Ways to Get Toddlers to Brush Their Teeth5 Tips for Preparing Your Child for a Sleepover

 

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Thursday 16th of April 2015

At our house, once my oldest turned three, we had a "three bit" rule. She had to try three bites, and if she didn't like it that was fine. I had the opposite issue as a kid, I wasn't made to try anything and it took me until I met my husband to really try new foods. I don't want my daughter to ignore foods just because of look or smell, but I don't want to make her like anything either. I find this a nice balance without too much fighting. I learned this from a friends mom, because as she said if kids don't wait to eat something they are automatically not going to like the first bite, it takes two more bites for them to make a real answer from them. I was surprises as to how many things my daughter ended up liking after the third bite. Different strokes, I guess. Also, I find that relating food items to something she already likes helps a lot too. She loves "chicken fingers" (fish sticks) and "mexican grilled cheese" (quesadillas). This works for us,but I know there are some folks it doesn't work for and that is fine too.

Creative Mama Renee

Thursday 9th of April 2015

My kids all have their likes and dislikes. If I was to accommodate all of their requests, we would be eating the same three things every night. Instead I try to create a balanced meal plan each week with a variety of foods, and they get served a small portion of everything (even the things they turn their nose up at).

They are never forced to "try a bite" but its always nice when they do!

Jamie

Wednesday 8th of April 2015

I was a picky eater as a kid and still can be! I am pretty laid back about my kids and their eating....it isn't worth the fight in my opinion! I have come around and eat a lot more food items than I used too!

Betsy

Wednesday 8th of April 2015

My son is a picky eater or he is what I like to call someone who knows what he likes. I don't make a big deal about it. I try to make sure that every meal has at least one thing that he likes and I encourage him to try some of the other items but if he doesn't, then he doesn't. I remember being picky when I was a kid too and everything worked out just fine.

Kelly

Tuesday 7th of April 2015

Thank you! I think people really worry way too much about what they're kids eat. I'm like you, but for me, it was lima beans - and I'm 50 now, still can't stand them! Perhaps if I hadn't been forced to eat them until I gagged, I'd have learned to like them later - who knows?

I encourage my boys to try foods they don't like. My 16 year old is surprised by how he likes things now that he didn't like when he was smaller. Just last night he was eating chicken with bbq sauce, and said "Remember when I was little and I didn't like BBQ? What was wrong with me??"

Basically, it's like you said - if your child is healthy, if they're getting enough nutrients, stop turning mealtime into a battle! They're tastes will change over time and if you force things now, you could be creating issues where there really aren't any.