As a mom, you want your kid to eat right and eat well. It’s probably every mother’s dream to have a kid that will eat anything, especially the food that’s healthy and good for their kids. But what if your kid turns out to be a picky eater and doesn’t eat much? When I was pregnant with Kyle, Paul (my husband) was already asking what to do if baby turns out to be a picky eater like mommy. True enough, Kyle is one of those babies that are highly selective with their food. It was definitely a challenge for us, and I know it’s a challenge for many mommies. I’m sharing the lessons I learned from when Kyle was younger, partly to remind myself of what to do if Kurt grows up to be a fussy eater as well.
When Kyle was born, I was super conscious of what we fed him – I decided to give him only organic food. From snacks to drinks to meals, I would get his food from Healthy Options. Unfortunately, I don’t cook, so everything was store-bought even if the yayas can cook. I continued this until Kyle was over one year old, when I felt he can eat home-cooked meals. I think the decision to just buy cooked or prepared organic food worked against me, because Kyle had a hard time adjusting to regular kids’ food. He wasn’t used to the taste or texture of non-organic food, so Kyle would often refuse whatever was prepared for him at home.
I got really worried because Kyle would not eat anything we would feed him. It came to a point where I would just allow whatever Kyle chooses to eat, even if it’s not the best choice – just as long as he eats something. Of course, I’d still disallow sweets like chocolates, but even the fried food which Paul doesn’t allow, I’d let Kyle eat if he wants it. So our food choices for Kyle was still very limited.
Then one day, after noticing that Kyle only ate bread at a restaurant, a friend shared an idea that we tried. It’s what she did with her child, and it worked for her. She advised us to make congee, and just have slight variations to the taste. For instance, day one would be congee with carrots and squash. Day two, we’ll have congee with pork broth and a different mix of vegetables. So we’ll slowly change the flavours and the ingredients, and Kyle will get used to the flavors. I am so grateful for the suggestion, because it worked! It’s so effective that we use the same strategy even after Kyle has gotten older. I feel that it’s a good and healthy option, because we can add different vegetables and Kyle gets enough nutrition from the rice. Even if he’s choosy with his food, Kyle never got skinny and thankfully has not been sickly. The only funny thing about this food plan is that Kyle eats his congee with yoghurt – that’s the way he likes it, and we just let him be (although a lot of people would ask us about it).
In school, Kyle saw a lot of his classmates eat fried chicken, and eventually he came to like fried chicken as well. Paul would oppose, but I simply told him – would you rather he eats nothing, or eat fried chicken? We can’t really be strict with Kyle’s diet, because Kyle is very choosy with food as it is. I never thought I’d be happy that Kyle would eat fried chicken, but I’m really just relieved that Kyle can already eat some types of normal food that other kids eat. It’s funny, because sometimes the other kids in school would tempt Kyle with the food they have and they enjoy. Kyle would simply say, “No, I don’t like that,” and walk away. He really has his own taste and he won’t change his mind easily just because others say it’s good.
One thing that I remember doing is to not to let Kyle see me refusing food. I’m a picky eater myself, and sometimes I think Kyle gets that from me. I don’t want to reinforce that kind of behavior while Kyle is young, so I would only let him see me eat the food I enjoy. Whenever Paul would offer something that I might not like, I would signal to him to not do it if Kyle is around. I am conscious that I need to set a good example for my son.
Parents just need to be patient and keep trying. It’s also a team effort – even Paul would research on how to manage a picky eater. He found out that we should offer different types of food to Kyle, to have better chances of him choosing something he would like. I personally decided not to force Kyle to eat anything, because I want him to enjoy eating and not see eating as something to avoid. We would just let him be, and sometimes, he would get curious about the different food Paul brings home. When he asks, “Daddy, what’s that?” Paul would tell him and say, “Here, you try.” Sometimes Kyle would surprise us and actually like the food that we offer him, and that’s an encouragement to us.
I haven’t gotten it all figured out, and I’d love to hear how you managed to feed your picky eaters. I’m sure I can learn other tips from you, especially now that Kurt is born and will eventually eat solid food sooner than I know it! Do share your stories, and help other mommies in their food journey, too!