How I Taught My Son Not to be a Picky EaterEmily McClements
Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, right? I thought so too, until around the time Brenden was ready to start eating solid foods and I stumbled upon a different way to introduce solid foods to my baby. The method is called Baby-Led Solids, or Baby-Led Weaning, and it was a completely different approach to teaching and helping your child to eat, and like, good real foods.
At that time I was a mom of a 6 month old baby, and a 26 month old toddler, with not a lot of time on my hands for steaming, pureeing and freezing homemade baby food like I had done with my oldest. Much less the time it takes to sit and spoon feed a baby for every meal.
As I read more about this method there were several things that appealed to me:
- Not having to spend any extra time making, buying, or feeding baby food to my son
- Helping my son to be an independent eater and let his own tastes guide his eating
- The idea that this method would help my son to be a less picky eater
And so when my son was about eight months old, we dove into this method of feeding him solid foods and never looked back. Here’s how it works.
Instead of starting a baby off with the typical first baby foods, like watered down rice cereal or pureed bananas, you give them actual pieces of appropriate real food that your family is already eating. At the very beginning, this would mean things like cooked vegetables and soft fruits and tender pieces of meat.
You put the food on your baby’s high chair tray and let them explore, taste and eat on their own, of course being in very close proximity and supervising the process.
Another option is to let your baby sit on your lap and choose things from your own plate that they would like to taste or eat, with maybe a little direction from you to make sure they don’t get something they really shouldn’t have.
Really it’s that easy. No spoon feeding pureed baby food. No coercing your baby to put a spoon into their mouth and eat the whole bowl of baby cereal. No worrying about which foods to feed baby at which age. You just give them food that’s appropriate for them to eat — and let them navigate it on their own time, in their own way.
Now, obviously, it is a little more in depth than that, and if you’re interested in reading more about this method you can read this post and this post that I wrote about how we used this method to feed our son. And I am definitely not an expert, so I’d also really encourage you to read the books Baby-Led Weaning and Real Food for Mother and Baby. Those are the books I read when we decided to feed our son this way.
What is absolutely amazing to me now that my son is 2 1/2 years old, is that he displays none of the pickyness of a a typical toddler or even young child. While our daughter can be one of the pickiest eaters around, our son will eat circles around her. And I really believe it has everything to do with this different style of introducing solid foods that we used for him.
The benefits of Baby-Led Solids that help a child to be less picky include:
- Eating real food with real textures — not steamed and pureed food that basically all looks and feels the same.
- Being in control of his own eating — instead of being spoon-fed, which is controlled by someone else.
- Being allowed to eat independently — without being expected to eat a certain amount.
- Being able to choose what he ate — if there was something on his tray he didn’t want to eat, we didn’t force him to eat it or try it, it was up to him to choose what he ate and what he didn’t.
- Being exposed to lots of different kinds of foods, flavors and seasonings because he ate what our family ate, right along with us — instead of being fed bland, unseasoned baby food.
So, now as a toddler, when we want him to do all those things above, he’s already had practice and has been doing them since he was eight months old. He’s continuing to eat in the way that he always has, without having to transition from spoon-fed pureed baby foods to real foods with different textures and flavors. And he eats like a champ.
Now, if only I could figure out how to go back in time and help his sister to be a less picky eater that, I still haven’t figured out yet!