My toddler used to be a great eater. She’s eaten everything from undressed lettuce leaves to sriracha on a spoon (seriously). Then three hit the brakes on all that adventurousness.
I refuse to get into control battles about food (that’s a losing game) and I also refuse to cater to her tastes (she’d eat fruit snacks for every meal given the opportunity—so that opportunity never presents itself). Here’s what’s working, currently:
- At mealtimes, she get small portions of whatever the whole family is eating. For example, the other night, she got rice, halibut, and one asparagus tip (the most delicious part of the spear, because I’m not a monster).
- She polished off her rice first (CARBS!) and the condition for getting more was that she had to try two bites of fish and one bite of asparagus.
- The fish went down easy, but the asparagus requirement resulted in a full-blown meltdown, because she both had never tried asparagus and didn’t like it. #ToddlerLogic
- She finally took that bite, then she got more rice.
- After polishing off her rice, she voluntarily grabbed another spear of asparagus and chowed down half of it before exclaiming, “I LIKE THIS!”
And that’s a typical mealtime at our house. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times she gets her favorite, ‘girled cheese,’ and there are plenty of times she doesn’t try the asparagus. She is never forced to try anything except in the context of getting seconds of something else—and I’d much rather she eat less rice than fill up on fruit snacks.
The most helpful book I read was the chapter in Momma Zen about eating.
All that said, I suspect eating is a lot like sleep. There’s just not much you can do about your kid’s predilections or preferences. I only ate white carbs until I was a teenager; now I eat almost everything. So at the end of the day, we’re all just doing the best with what we got.