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Old 10-24-2012, 05:49 PM   #32
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Re: Picky Eater- am I being too hard on her?

I think all of my kids have something they do not like. We've dealt with picky eating off and on with my older two that are almost 8 and 4, and have found one food the baby hates (cottage cheese, weirdest thing to me). My third child was diagnosed with a food aversion at 22 months, after never being able to get her to eat (to the point I couldn't breastfeed kind of refusal to eat-she did not grow until she was put on PediaSure at 19 months, her sister that is 13 months younger was barely smaller than her at this point).

With my first, I made the mistake of having the battles with her. She refused to eat protein foods, even one bite. I have learned those battles are just not helpful to anybody, and truly regret ever doing that.

I have some pretty strong opinions on food and kids. All have stemmed from a combination of my hatred of wasting food and my experiences thus far as a parent.

Before I go into that, I want to say something regarding snacking-I was a nutrition major before stopping school to be with my second child. I plan to eventually go back and get my degree in nutrition, as it is my passion, but for now my babies need me. Coming from that knowledge, I flat out do NOT agree with children not getting snacks. It is FAR better for children (and adults, for that matter!) to eat 4-5 smaller meals a day. My family eats five times a day, 8:30 is breakfast, 11:00 is snack, 1:00 is lunch, 3:00 is snack, and 6:00 is dinner. We obviously space things out enough that our children are not snacking right before a main meal, but on days they do not get snacks they have far more behavioral issues and whining. They need to eat that often. I have yet to meet a child this is not true for.

First things first, you need to know if this is a case of true picky behavior, or an aversion. If it is a food you have seen your child eat with no issues what so ever before, it is not an aversion, it is just being picky. If the child consistently refuses it, gags, throws up, etc., it is likely an aversion. I have a few aversions myself, and man, if somebody tried to force me to eat those foods, I wouldn't be able to handle it. If your child has an aversion, either avoid that food if it is reasonable (for example, DD3 does not like cottage cheese, she has always rejected it, so we just do not offer it anymore), or avoid it for a while and try again in a no pressure, you don't have to eat it if you do not want to kind of way. A lot of aversions are outgrown, but not all. A nice trick is to eat it yourself and talk about how good it is to somebody else in their presence, waiting until they are curious, and asking if they want to try a bite. This worked with a couple foods we had harder times getting DD2 (food aversion child) to try.

As much as I believe in not forcing the issue on food aversions, I feel equally that not catering to picky eating is important. First let me clarify that I do not make meals I know my kids will not eat. I just don't go down that road. None of the older three like soup of any kind except tomato (baby loves most soups), so we don't eat soup. Sometimes I make it for DH and I, but then we either eat it for lunch (we rarely eat the same thing at lunch as the kids) or on the very rare occasion make the kids something else for dinner-I don't believe in making two dinners, so this is usually the kind of night where we do something fun and special. Anyway, rambling. While I do not make things I know my kids won't like, I do expect them to eat what I make them, at least a "no thank you" bite. We also make a point of only making 2-3 new meals a month, and always make it with something we know they like, even if that is a favorite veggie and bread. When they are being especially picky, and I know it is a meal they like, I save it and they can either eat it later when they decide they are hungry, or the next day for lunch. I also don't force them to eat more than one bite of everything, because if they truly aren't hungry, I don't want them to learn to force food down when they don't feel hungry, as this can contribute to over eating later in life.

We do not offer anything to eat after dinner. We don't even do dessert 99% of the time. So in our house, if you choose not to eat dinner, that's it for the night. My kids understand this and often tell me "I'm done for tonight". So to answer your question, since you made something special for your daughter that she would normally eat (ruling out an aversion issue), no, I do not think you are being too hard on her. It won't kill her to go to bed without dinner once in a while.

With all of that said, there was a good long while that for DD2, every rule for food went completely out the window. She was allowed to eat whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, and was never told no. (We don't keep junk food in the house, so this was never a concern) I remember one time I had been in the bathroom for a few minutes, and heard one of the kids into something in the kitchen, and found myself annoyed because they had JUST been told that snack was in 20 minutes and they could wait (I really just wanted to use the bathroom, LOL), so I walk in there ready to send somebody to their room for a time out for not listening, and I walk in and see DD2 sitting at the table eating cereal straight out of the box (a BIG no-no in my house, I have issues with people touching food that is not going in THEIR mouth, so no sticking hands in boxes like that), said "oh, you were hungry?" and turned around and left her chowing down on the dry cereal. I then had to laugh at myself, because had that been one of the older two kids, I would have been rather displeased, and it just reminded me of how I've had to relearn how to be a parent to parent this special little girl I've been given.

Now that her eating issues are much closer to being behind us, we've slowly started to implement basic rules with her. She now eats when the rest of us eat (plus a PediaSure around 6:30am before anybody actually gets up), we've cut back on the number of PediaSure she gets during the day, and we have very slowly started to show her that we expect her to eat what I prepare for meals. We still give her more wiggle room than the others, and if we are not satisfied with her calorie intake for the day, she'll get an extra PediaSure about 30 minutes before bed. This is after a lot of intense therapy and working with her to like various foods.

So, this extremely long reply in short says that I think there is more to this than a black and white answer, and I feel there are better ways to go about things to make meal time a pleasant experience, but I do not believe in catering to picky eating, and have no issues with sending a child that is a healthy weight that normally eats plenty to bed without food once in a while.
Wife to Rich , SAHM to Elliana 12/04, Tobiah 09/08, Naomi 02/10, Ruth 03/11, Jeanette 12/12 , and our new bean due 07/14.
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