If you are the parent of a child who would rather do anything than eat, this is the story for you.
When I birthed my first child, Boy Wonder, I was excited for all that motherhood would bring. I knew there would be challenges (No, you can’t borrow the car), I knew there would be joys (Another A+? Well done!), but what I didn’t know was that the seemingly “easy” things would be the hardest.
My husband and I are certifiable foodies. We’ve taken road trips centered around local foodie treasures. We’ve driven two hours on a Sunday for a killer donut. We do these things because good food tastes good and in the words of my husband, “Full belly, happy heart.”
So when it came time to banish Boy Wonder’s baby food in favor of grown-up food, we were about as excited as a foodie family could be — ready to introduce our son to every taste sensation imaginable …
Meet Boy Wonder 1 of 27
... but our son had other ideas.
Non-foodie 2 of 27
From the time Boy Wonder was able to consume solids, he had a preference for gnawing on non-food related items. This child would gnaw on anything other than food, only to be mad about it. Um, hungry much?
Blankets 3 of 27
In his free time he enjoyed chewing on blankets ...
Burp cloths 4 of 27
... burp cloths (was he part goat?) ...
Mmm, wood 5 of 27
... and wooden, non-toxic toys.
Quick! Snap a picture! 6 of 27
On rare occasions, this child would reluctantly masticate an actual cracker designed for human consumption. While I spent my nights worrying about how to get him to eat, he spent his time ...
Ouch! 7 of 27
... pulling hair and ...
What food? 8 of 27
... breaking sunglasses.
Food, again?! 9 of 27
Mealtime wasn't easy. I tried everything from distraction-free meals to distraction-full meals, hoping one day he'd relinquish control of that soggy burp cloth in favor of actual food.
Fruit 10 of 27
Luckily, snacks involving fruit were a little easier to convince him to eat, than oh say ...
Greenery 11 of 27
... vegetables. This child liked to tease me by biting vegetables, chewing them up because he liked the crunching noise, and then spitting out the chewed up veggies just so he could begin crunching all over again.
Force feeding failures 12 of 27
We tried forcing meals with old-school "you'll sit here until you finish your dinner" tactics. One night he sat there for two hours without taking a single bite.
Oh my! 13 of 27
We tried negotiating but quickly learned that one should never negotiate with a non-foodie toddler terrorist.
We cried 14 of 27
He cried, I cried, and my husband man-cried in his own way. Why didn't our son like food? Was it a control issue? What was I doing wrong? At my son's 4-year-old check-up, I broke down in tears over the issue to my pediatrician. His answer was simple: stop. "Healthy kids who have food readily available will never starve," he said. "Keep offering and just be patient. He'll learn to love food on his own time."
Seriously? 15 of 27
Wait, was my pediatrician telling me that raising a child who not only ate but enjoyed eating was possible? Was he sure about that?
Could it be? 16 of 27
Slowly we began to see a shift in Boy Wonder's eating habits. A little munch here ... an empty bowl there.
More smiles than tears 17 of 27
Meals and snacks became calmer for everyone.
A new era 18 of 27
He began enjoying mealtime.
Little helper 19 of 27
I began including him in meal preparation.
Eating out 20 of 27
Restaurants were no longer a nightmare.
Growing boy 21 of 27
His appetite increased.
New tastes 22 of 27
He started becoming more adventurous in his food choices.
Little chef 23 of 27
He began suggesting new meals we should try to make, including "chicken in a pie that's not sweet" (chicken pot pie), "meaty meaty meatballs" (big meatballs), and "chicken with handles" (drumsticks).
And finally … 24 of 27
... one day he asked for seconds. SECONDS, PEOPLE!
Food is fun 25 of 27
Yes, friends, my once reluctant foodie finally came around. Not only did he learn to enjoy food like his mom and dad, but he embraced the foodie title with pride. Now obsessed with cooking shows, adventurous dining shows, and discovering local dining treasures of nearly every place we travel, it seems he's our child after all.
Two plates 26 of 27
Double the food = double the fun.
This face says it all 27 of 27
I hope our tale of food by frustration offers a glimmer of foodie hope to the many parents struggling with reluctant eaters. Time and a little patience was all we needed to turn this child's attitude toward eating around. Now I can't seem to keep enough food in this growing boy!
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