Thursday, 7 April 2016

Dealing With Toddler Pickiness, A Year On

It seems like a while ago now that I was first tackling some pickiness with my (amazing, strong-willed) girl, and to be honest, it seems to come and go. Right now it feels like we've turned a corner, but I'm sure that it's just going to be an ongoing thing. Current thoughts and tactics:

Getting her involved: Whether it's unpacking the veggies, or making bread, or even getting some of our ferments going, she is always invited to 'help'. In the above picture, we had just gotten our veg delivery. She asked to try the mushrooms, which she didn't like, but she tried them three times that morning. She also asked if we could taste the artichoke ("Shall we taste it? Shall we do dat?" Heart-eye-emoji). The same goes with bread - she plays with (eats) a little dough, sees the bread rising, baking, and then it's exciting to eat. Sometimes, when we're cooking, she will eat half the tofu before I can add it to the pan, and that's ok. Sometimes she's not interested at all, and that's ok too. Which leads me too...
Not forcing her: Toddlers have a will of IRON. Not only does fighting about it make mealtimes very unpleasant, it's also pretty ineffective AND I think begets more pickiness as they assert themselves. My theory is, the more you make them insist that they don't like a particular food, the more that becomes a fact, a part of their emerging identity, rather than just a passing preference. If she doesn't like something, I tell her that she doesn't have to eat it. And that's fine.
Keep offering, then offer again:
As I mentioned recently, it took TWO YEARS of offering avocado for her to decide she likes it. What if I had given up, thinking, well, she won't eat it so why bother. She's surprised me by eating raw spinach, celery, ALL the fermented radishes. And sometimes it's inconsistent - just because she won't eat her carrots for dinner doesn't mean she won't eat them for lunch. Another side effect of baby-led weaning is that we all eat the same dinner, apart from the very occasional curry for the grown-ups (she hates spicy food), which takes the pressure off the food waste issue. I haven't made her separate food, and it won't go to waste, so again, if she doesn't like it, fine.

Green smoothies, again: My guy bought a Nutribullet, and I was like, 'what's all the fuss about, it's a BLENDER.' But actually it's been great, for her especially. She's having rocket (arugula), spinach, kale, wheatgrass, spirulina - and none the wiser about it. I usually start with banana for sweetness, then greens, a 'boost' like wheatgrass or hemp seed or spirulina, and a liquid, usually water but sometimes oat milk, juice or coconut water. Anyway, she likes the smoothies and gets something green down her - she says they are "very juicy". High praise indeed. We have one every day. Note the 'Frozen' mug.

Kid food: Let me be honest, I do not want to eat steamed carrots as often as my daughter does. Or pasta, or Weetabix (I just remembered that this morning she asked for "one Weetabick". Singular. Haha.) or any of the other foods she really likes and can be consistently relied upon to eat. But I make them, because sometimes you just want to see them stuff their faces without reservation. My next goal is to get more variety in the grains we eat - more rice, more quinoa, more millet - because I'm bored of pasta. Once a week is enough for me. But I have to be ok with making 'kid food' sometimes, because it works and it can be really wholesome too. A peanut butter sandwich (on homemade bread, woo!) and an apple is just as good as the more exotic options I might like. So sometimes I've just got to get over myself, and feed the kid. 

A little bribe: What? Bribe?! Ok, hear me out. This is the situation that drives me nuts: I've made her something that *she will like*, like, I don't know, fried plantain for example, and she won't try it at that particular moment. I don't think it's a good idea to bribe with dessert, or anything that's difficult to give, so I offer one high-five to try something new. Often, she likes it and eats the rest, collecting more high-fives. Or she doesn't, but she's tried it, and that's ok with me.

I hope her diet will just continue to broaden as she tries more and more new things. I hope to introduce different grains more regularly, as I said. I hope to be able to cook with more spice eventually. But mostly, I just hope she gets what she needs - and she does. So, you know, it could be worse. How do you deal with picky phases?

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