When you think of small children being adverse to different foods, you probably picture one or two of those adorable commercials on TV that depict a sweet baby quietly turning their chubby cheeks to the “Airplane Spoonful” of mashed carrots 👶🏻.
In real life, that scene probably looks a little more like screams, squeals, and your teething baby smacking that Airplane straight into a transcontinental journey across the dining room.
If this sounds like your feeding life with baby, the transition into finger foods and “self-feeding” couldn’t come soon enough 🙏🏻. But, like many of us parents out there, this is where the struggle TRULY begins. With the ability to now pick up their own food, and feed it to themselves, children seem to simultaneously pick up the ability to throw pieces of food so far across the room that you start thinking you need to hire an agent for your incredibly talented child and his touchdown throw.
I never knew what a good eater my first son was until my second son showed me what “Picky” really means. For him, any kind of bread, cracker, or cheese will satisfy his hunger. But fruits and vegetables… good luck. If it’s a certain texture, he throws it. A certain color, he throws it. The wrong temperature, he throws it. Even if I disguise it with cheese on top, he takes one bite, then throws it. Then cries.
You get the idea.
It had turned into the same routine every night. I began my shift in the kitchen like the stars on Food Network- I had become the short order cook of my home👩🏻🍳. However, this is not as glamorous as Giada or The Pioneer Woman would have you think. Throwing together multiple meals to please everyone’s taste in 30 minutes will have you looking less like Rachael Ray, and more like a disheveled, bra-less, shower-less, mom-troll. YEAH, I WENT THERE. Not exactly camera ready, if you’re picking up what I’m laying down.
Think of this in one quick spurt: You dutifully plan a menu for the week, diligently write your grocery list, tow kids along to shop for said groceries, cook the meals… all for it to get thrown on the floor and fed to the dog.
I’ve been cooking GOURMET DOG FOOD 7 nights a week. 🐶 😡
So it was after that realization that I had to pull my big girl panties up- and put my bra on- and make a decision. Either I’m going to continue to fight the good fight, or I’m going to trust my child’s basic human instinct- EAT WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY.
Now, this was a big leap for a young mom like myself. To think… “I’m going to trust my kid…”… that’s a pretty big step in our relationship status. Like, if there was an option for this status change on Facebook, I would have definitely marked that in my Timeline ✅.
“Trusts Kids, February 18th, 2017”.
But seriously. This mama had enough 🙅🏻. I was done making different things for each person to eat. Not only was this extending me beyond what length I should go to keep my family fed, but more importantly, this was teaching my children that it is okay to be ungrateful for food. Now, I don’t know about you, but numerous times growing up I would hear my parents tell my siblings and I that they were expected to eat what was served at the table when they were kids. And while my mother didn’t exactly have to convince us to be “little piggies” to eat (reference Mrs. Parker with her sweet Randy from “A Christmas Story” 🐷), we were definitely left with the understanding that we, too, were expected to eat what was cooked. And if we didn’t like it, then we would go to bed hungry. It was a simple concept.
And that brings me back to my original point of basic human instinct. Your children WILL eat when they are hungry. And when they are not hungry, they will either verbalize that to you, or throw the food on the floor.
Follow me here parents. I’m not telling you to stop feeding your kids. What I’m telling you is that if you begin to teach your kids from an early age that what you put on their plates is what they have to eat, they will eventually begin to eat it 🍝. What I have noticed with my kids since doing this is that they will usually find some part of the meal they like. And if they don’t like any of it, then they have to wait until the next meal or snack to have something to eat. And by that point, they are more hungry and less picky. Less picky means less food thrown on the floor to the dog. They win, I win.
Score- Mom: 1 / Dog: 0 👊🏻
One thing to remember before I leave you to your parenting powers: I encourage you to still consider your children when deciding what meals to prepare for the week. Beef Wellington and Brussel Sprouts will hands down bring a rumble to the jungle, at least in my house. But hand breaded Chicken Tenders with dipping sauce, roasted vegetables, and garlic cheese bread is definitely worth a shot. A little more kid friendly, while still keeping us parents from feeling like we’re totally eating from the kids menu.
Happy cooking, happy eating, and march on Mama’s! You got this! 💪🏻
Leave me a comment and let me know if this has encouraged you to be a little more fierce when feeding your family! Or just comment to say Hello! I’d love to hear from you ❤️ -Emily