I kid you not, I seriously offered to jump like a cheerleader at the end of the dining room table if my 18-month-old son would take a bite of his peas. What happened to my sweet little baby that would willingly eat whatever I put on the spoon? What happened to my little man that loved to finger feed green beans? This Mommy was at a loss!
At his next well-visit, I asked the pediatrician what I should do. According to the height and weight chart, our little guy was in the 90th and 95th percentile! The pediatrician was not concerned. “Just keep offering!” was all he could offer me…and now I was stuck.
I tried bribing…”If you eat your broccoli, I will give you an M&M!”
I tried holding out…”You can sit there until the food is gone!” Along comes 9 PM, and I’m still waiting, and he’s still crying. I’m crying on the inside.
I tried ignoring… “…” (In his mind, he’s thinking, “woo hoo! She gave up!”)
I tried reverse psychology, “Don’t eat that corn. It’s yucky.” This got me nowhere.
The next well visit was upon us. At this point, Joey was 2. This had been going on now for at least 6 months. I was STILL at a loss! This time, our very caring pediatrician could see the panic in my eyes…here was his suggestion… “Make the meal you are planning for the entire family, JUST MAKE SURE that there is at LEAST ONE THING on the table that you KNOW he will eat.”
This made more sense to me. My husband and I discussed this. Maybe it would be something different each night, but we wanted something to fall back on…so we decided on whole grain white bread (Joey wouldn’t touch wheat) with light butter, as well as all-natural applesauce. At this point, our pediatrician also allowed us to offer a vitamin (chewable or gummy) if Joey had NO veggies or fruit in a day. For this working Mom, it was hard to keep track of what he ate when he wasn’t with me, but I was willing to try.
This technique worked for Joey. He had what a therapist would refer to as a “narrow diet”. All of his foods were basically the same color and consistency. If we had spaghetti, he had no sauce. If we had meatloaf, he held out for bread and butter. If we had chicken parmesan, he would eat the chicken if I removed the cheese and rinsed off the sauce. All the same colors.
As a Mom, I would hear people say, “If he’s hungry, he’ll eat”, but he wouldn’t…he’d go nearly a day before I gave in. If you look back to previous blogs, Joey would visually gag at the sight or smell of something he didn’t find appealing. (At the age of 11, he still can’t look at a pot of macaroni and cheese!)
What was I supposed to do? With the help of an Occupational Therapist friend, she helped me to focus on keeping mealtime positive, and exploring food through play. Can we feed our stuffed dinosaur some first? Can we accept just having the broccoli on the table? How about on the plate? Can you just touch the food with your lips? How about your tongue? She walked me through some necessary steps to successfully getting through a meal! What an angel!
Joey is still a picky eater, and will someday make his wife crazy! I often think I wish I could have done something different, I just still don’t know what! Especially since his sister came out of the womb ready to eat salmon and asparagus…same house, same parents, same meals, and two completely different eating experiences! Has this happened to you?
Please share! How did you make it through your picky eater? I am faced with this challenge every day, regardless of the amount of interventions! Thank goodness for our OT…can’t she just come live with me?!