Things my toddler won’t eat

I was a picky eater growing up, and the list of things I didn’t like included tomatoes, peppers, cheese (yes, seriously), olives, anything remotely spicy, most fish, onions, and a myriad of other things. Combine this with my on-again, off-again status as a vegetarian, and my diet was pretty much peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

When I was around 21 or so, I decided being finicky was an obnoxious personality trait and made it my mission to acclimate myself to a wider variety of food.

I realize calling pickiness an obnoxious personality trait is kind of mean, and everyone has the right to eat (or not eat) what they want. Sure, there are still foods I prefer over others, and some things I will never love no matter how much I try (looking at you, green bell peppers).

But If everyone can complain about sanctimonious vegans or millenials’ love of avocado toast, I can tell you to shut up about not eating mushrooms. If you don’t like something, just quietly don’t eat it. As they say, “Don’t yuck my yum.

I’m digressing pretty stupendously, though. My point is that I hoped to raise an adventurous eater when I had Baby 1. We did the whole Baby Led Weaning thing, and I’ve made it a point to never say, “Yuck” to anything that wasn’t, for example, a ball of lint or a dead bug heading toward his mouth. When everything is new to him, there’s no reason to prime him to expect certain foods to be superior or suspect.

Being nonchalant about what he eats means that he’ll generally try new things voluntarily, but as the toddler years have crept forward, he’s become far more selective in his food choices. I suppose it’s inevitable.

Things my toddler won't eat

Here’s a short list of things my 21-month-old won’t eat right now:

  1. Anything sandwiched. Quesadillas, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, a sub. Bread? Delicious. Cheese? Can’t get enough. Jelly? He’d gladly lick it off the rug if the opportunity arose. Put any of these items together in a stack and he’ll either dismantle it and eat just the insides, or stare at me like I’ve put a kitchen sponge on his plate and suggested he might eat it. This also counts for toast with a topping (usually), and pizza.
  2. A mandarin orange if I’ve broken it into segments. Or other times, a mandarin orange if I haven’t broken it into segments. It’s impossible to predict which one he wants, even if you ask.
  3. Similarly, apple slices. If I cut an apple up out of his sight, he’ll probably eat the slices, but if he sees the whole apple, it’s game over. It doesn’t matter if it’s the size of a softball, he wants the whole thing. Nevermind that he’s done with it in two bites and leaves it to slowly decompose under the couch while I’m not looking.
  4. Shrimp. He called it “egg” when I tried to serve it to him at dinner the other night. He loves eggs, but wouldn’t eat the shrimp. Whatever, I get it. It’s a little weird. I’ll keep trying.
  5. Cereal with milk. He’ll ask for it over and over again. He’ll pry my cereal bowl out of my hands so he can drink the sweetened milk. But if I serve him a bowl of his own cereal with milk, it inevitably becomes chicken food. (Parenting tip: If you have a picky toddler and hate seeing food go to waste, get some chickens. They eat pretty much everything.)
  6. Sliced tomatoes. He’ll eat halved cherry tomatoes until he explodes, but if they’re any larger, they’re apparently poison.
  7. Cheddar cheese sticks. He eats about 15 mozzarella cheese sticks every day, but come at him with an orange one and he’ll fight you. Similarly, I had to buy muenster cheese slices because they were out of provolone cheese at the grocery store when I went this week, and I’ve had to start cutting them into circles with a rocks glass because he will only eat “circle cheese.”
  8. Rice. I can’t fathom how this is unpalatable to him, but it is. At least this week.
  9. Pineapple and melon. Those cheap mixed fruit bowls they serve at restaurants, with the melons, pineapple, and grapes? They’re just a scavenger hunt for grapes with gross filler, I guess.
  10. Leaves of any sort. I doubt this is an unusual toddler food aversion, but he won’t touch lettuce/salad, or cooked greens. He’ll also pick around them if I put them in a frittata, and refuses to eat pasta with spinach pesto. He will annihilate a smoothie, though, so that’s how I tend to sneak in any leafy greens.

None of this is helped by the fact I barely have energy to plan meals lately. Oh well, he’ll survive off cottage cheese, hardboiled eggs, broccoli and blueberries for the foreseeable future. That, and the half-eaten apples he has strategically stashed around the house.

 

Things my toddler won’t eat

Baby led weaning, indeed!

adventures in baby led weaningI hadn’t heard about Baby Led Weaning until I was pregnant and a friend asked if I planned to try it, but once I started reading about it, I was committed. It makes a lot of sense to me that babies should be given lots of variety, and the agency to decide what they want to eat and how much of it. As someone who was fed purees as a baby and grew into a kid who didn’t eat anything but peanut butter and jelly, mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets until basically college, I wanted to give The Baby every opportunity to start off on the right foot with food.

When I explained to my mom what BLW was, you’d have thought I was explaining how I was going to feed The Baby lit firecrackers and broken glass. When she was raising kids, purees were the only way to go because choking.  (As the BLW book explains, gagging ≠ choking, and babies gag easily and regularly as they figure out how to manipulate food in their mouths. As long as you’re supervising and not giving them nuts, whole grapes or other obvious choking hazards, they’re going to be fine.)

And while my mom still is adorably cautious about the whole ordeal (she peeled cherries for The Baby and then proceeded to cut them into pieces about the size of a small booger), I think at this point her delight in The Baby’s messy, exuberant dinners has diminished her fears about having to rescue him from a too-big piece of food.

This all started about a week ago. Although The Baby has been advancing pretty rapidly developmentally, sitting up with very little assistance needed, putting anything in sight in his mouth and gnawing on it with his gums, everything I’ve read has said not to start BLW until baby hits the six month mark, that any earlier than that is just too early for the baby’s digestive system and can up the risk for choking.

But I was holding a fussy The Baby at the dinner table during family dinner on Sunday, trying to finish up my corn on the cob so we could get him to bed, when he grabbed the other end of the corn cob and started chewing and sucking on it with the determination of a starving dog.

After that, The Husband and I tiptoed around the fact that this particular baby was leading us headlong into a new phase, trying to stick to the 6-month recommendation. The Husband would surreptitiously let the baby suck on the bitten side of a whole apple; I’d offer a chunk of banana in the mornings after TH left for work. Finally, unceremoniously, we gave in and started offering food on the regular. Each day The Baby has tried something new, and each day he has impressed us with his enthusiasm for whatever’s on the table (and his capacity for making a gigantic, gigantic mess.)

Here’s a short list of things The Baby has *eaten so far during his short but promising career:

  1. Corn on the cob
  2. Apple
  3. Banana
  4. Toast fingers with apple butter
  5. Cheddar cheese
  6. Mushrooms, beet greens and carrots out of a tomato-based soup
  7. Broccoli
  8. Penne pasta with broccoli and chicken
  9. Roasted potato
  10. Asparagus
  11. Roasted green beans
  12. An assortment of Indian food on naan
  13. Watermelon
  14. Peaches
  15. Frittata with spinach, onion and cheese
  16. Roasted sweet potato fingers
  17. Rice with sweet potato and chick peas mixed in
  18. Cucumber sticks
  19. A taste of mom & dad’s morning smoothies (usually beets, bananas, blueberries, spinach and almond milk)

So far, he hasn’t outright rejected anything, though the texture of cheddar cheese threw him a bit, and the tartness of some fruits makes him go a little walleyed. I’m really happy we opted to go this route and can’t wait to continue exploring new tastes and textures with my favorite little gourmand.

As a bonus, his eating our dinners has forced me to step back toward healthier meals from my exhausted and defeated approaches to dinner in the recent past. Someday soon I’ll revisit Weeknight Meal Wednesdays with a BLW-friendly meal.

Join the conversation: Did you go the BLW route? What were some of your baby’s favorite foods? Any tips for someone just starting off?

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Baby led weaning, indeed!