Guys, we’re getting a little tired of the ‘our oldest’ and ‘our four year-old’ and ‘our baby’, and we’re guessing we’re not the only ones! So we asked our munchkins to pick pseudonyms and they came up with Alex, Jack, and Lola. Not bad huh? Lola’s the star of today’s CRUNCH. Thanks for reading!
Your little muffin successfully graduated from a pure liquid diet to a slightly goopier liquid diet. And although she used to lap it up, you’re finding that lately she’s getting more and more reluctant. From turning her head to pushing the spoon away, it’s not hard to read between the lines. So now she’s back to gulping and you’re back to stressing. Ugh.
Take her cue.
Back in the days when you felt like a cow, you couldn’t wait for the chance to introduce food. So when you got your doc’s okay and started her on solids, it was miraculous. And messy, but mostly miraculous. At least at first. But after a month of pureed barley/banana/broccoli/beef… nothing doing. Can’t really blame her – that diet is snoozerama. Here’s how to spice it up and get your little foodie back:
- Add spices! Yup, duh, right? But our western baby food is often so bland it’s no wonder the babes get bored. I’m not talking chilli here peeps (unless she loves it), but something as simple as cinnamon in applesauce or dill in chicken soup can open her eyes to a whole new world of flava flave.
- Texture it up. If her diet is mostly pureed then rejecting it is her way of telling you she’s growing up. Wipe the tears away, and then bring on the grated carrots, cubed cheese, blueberries, and cheerios! Just, um, go easy on the blueberries… you’ll thank me later (about three hours later).
- Let her feed herself. Half the fun is experimenting. At least, that’s half the fun for her. For you, that’d be half the mess. The other half is in her hair. But seriously, the only way for her to figure out if she likes something is if you let her touch/play/smear. Everywhere.
- Exaggerate your own inner foodie. You know we don’t believe in lying to our kids, so I’m not talking the “Sweetie, you’ll absolutely LOVE turnip!” with raised eyebrows and a forced smile. This is all about reacting (honestly) to what’s on your plate, because she’s paying way more attention to what you’re doing than what you’re saying. Lola often says “mmmmm” after having a bite of something she’s just watched me eat, in imitation. Sounds cuter than it reads.
- Put your food within her reach, and then show delighted surprise when she swipes it and starts munching down. This is an awesome way to introduce something new or re-introduce an old love she now snubs. Bananas are a hit or a miss in our house, but if I take a bite and then casually hold one close to our littlest monkey, it’s buh-bye banana in less than a minute. As long as I’m not watching, natch.
- Give her enough selection that she doesn’t go hungry, but be a little strategic. If I put pasta and cheese on the high chair tray, you know what Lola’s lunging for first, right? Whereas if I give her a slice of cheese before anything else (or when I’m on the ball, a slice of red pepper) she’s often so hungry she’ll wolf it down without a second thought.
- Give her something to hold/play with. The distraction could be a book, toy, spoon, or anything else you don’t mind getting covered in applesauce/yogourt/peanut butter. You’ll be amazed at how early she can actually use a spoon properly if you give her the chance.
- Bail without any reaction if there’s nothing doing. When her rosebud mouth is clamped shut, the worst thing you can do is try to force-feed or get angry. Laughing’s not great either, because your little smile-maker will do anything for a repeat. Yup, we know it’s impossible to resist sometimes, that’s when we turn our heads and stifle… and maybe even leave the room!
- Just keep trying. Not at the same meal, but the next day. Lola resisted cheese for about a month (after loving it for about two months) but I kept handing it to her before anything else. Some days I had to swallow it (sorry) and hand over the fusilli asap, but other days she was hungry enough to forget. The drama-free repetition led to long-term memory loss and total dairy love.
The more you treat anything as a problem, the more of a problem it becomes. She’ll grow out of the picky-eater-phase if you keep it low-stress, keep offering healthy choices, and keep setting a good example. And maybe save the real dessert for after Goodnight Moon.