Got a Picky Eater?

baby-picky-eaterI can’t help you with algebra.  I can’t analyze your 401K or explain why your geraniums mysteriously died last year.  But if you have a baby or a toddler, I might be able to save you a lot of trouble in the future.

There’s a weird thing happening in America with more and more kids who won’t eat this or won’t eat that.   We have a lot of company so, over the years, I’ve heard it all.  “He only eats this kind of cheese.”  “She won’t eat meat or bread or vegetables or fruit.  She mostly eats cereal or peanut butter.”  “Junior doesn’t eat cornbread.  Do you have any Wonder bread?”

I love you enough to tell you what nobody else is willing to tell you, friend.  Being a picky eater is, well, kind of rude and annoying.  So, if you’re a new parent, you definitely want to avoid pickiness with your own children.  I’m not saying the method I propose is fool-proof.  But neither of our boys have ever been picky eaters and they eat a wide variety of all kinds of foods, including beans and cornbread, salads, quiche, and casseroles. If you invite them to your house for dinner, they will eat what you cook, unless you’re cooking road kill.  On second thought, they’re teenagers and would probably eat road kill just so they could tell all their friends they did.

Here’s my advice.  First of all, you need to commit to not complaining about food. Ever.   Picky parents naturally raise picky kids.  Don’t constantly discuss things you like or don’t like.  Be thankful for what you have.  Be thankful you’re not going hungry.  Pickiness displays a lack of gratitude…in both children and adults.

As soon as your child graduates from baby food, you can joyfully expect them to eat what you eat at mealtimes.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  Are you having beans and cornbread?  So are they.  Are you having ham and potato casserole and boiled carrots?  So are they.  You don’t need to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a toddler, hoping they might “learn” to eat real food later.  No.  This is the time to learn.

With that said, I would recommend you never make a child eat.  Ever.  Don’t make food a “power issue” in your home.  Food is an enjoyable way to sustain life.  It’s not the opportunity for a power grab.  Mealtimes should be as pleasant as possible.  If a child isn’t hungry, that’s fine.  Healthy children will not starve themselves.  They will eat when they’re hungry.  But every family member must sit at the table with the rest of us.  And we’re not going to fix an alternate meal later.  Don’t let children snack several hours before supper and they tend to come to the table hungry and ready to eat what you have prepared.

I know that pickiness regarding food is not the biggest issue American families face right now.  But I do think it’s a sign that fussy-eater-childprosperity has gotten the best of us.  We’re spoiled.  We whine.  But we can do better.  We can learn to be thankful.  And we can pass that thankfulness down to our children.  It will be a gift to them and their future.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. dwolters
    Aug 28, 2014 @ 10:29:06

    I completely agree, Lisa. And when there were rare, very rare, times one of our children might complain about a food, one of my responses was, “It is ok if you do not want to try this. Actually, it is for adults only, not for children.” That really peaked their interest. They would then ask for a bite. I would reluctantly, offer a small bite. When they decided they liked it, I would remind them it was really adult food, and they could have a small serving.

    Next time, this adult only food was on the menu, the reluctant eater would ask for a larger portion.

    Downside: there is never any guacamole left-overs…


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