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The Great Toddler Food War

Has anyone else been experiencing their toddler suddenly becoming picky recently? Out of nowhere (or so it seems) my son has decided that he likes one thing, and one thing only... "fishies" aka Goldfish crackers. I've been wondering where my good eater has gone since suddenly, he only wants those orange, processed food crackers. We've been experiencing this for a couple of weeks now and I think we're finally starting to find a solution to get our good eater back. A friend recommended a book called French Kids Eat Everything to me to try to look at mealtimes in a new way. Here are a few things that we've been doing to try to encourage him to eat his food and not only ask for his "fishies."

1. Our toddler eats what we eat and we all eat together.

It's pretty simple. He eats what we eat when we eat. If he doesn't like it, then he will eat eventually. It's hard at first to enforce this rule. I hated seeing him cry and cry and cry and ask only for "fishies," but after we started eating dinner, he'd start to eat what was in front of him. And then he'd ask for some off of our plates. We wouldn't force him to eat, we just waited until he was ready.

2. Serve veggies first.

This one was a new thought to me. Of course, it makes sense though! Serve the veggies that you desperately want them to eat FIRST before you give them the other food that they may want. They'll eat the veggies first because they're most hungry at the beginning of the meal and it's a win-win. Healthy nutrients for them, and less of a struggle later on for you.

3. Taste it.

When I taught Special Ed and cooked with my students, we always had a three bite rule. They had to take three bites before they told me they didn't want to eat something. I've applied this rule in our home too. Our little guy may not eat all of his cauliflower, but he does need to taste it. If he doesn't like it after that, we can move on. It's OK to have preferences, but it's another thing to ONLY eat one thing. According to nutritionists, it could take up to 15 times before a child will willingly eat a new food! We also don't make a big deal if he won't eat something. He'll eat SOMETHING on his plate and if he's hungry enough, he will eat what he's given. We also try to not focus on bites. We have normal conversations not involving food and try to make eating a positive experience.

I hope these tips help. If you get the chance, I'd HIGHLY recommend the book as the author, Karen Le Billon, has some incredible tips and tricks to getting picky eaters to try new foods. If you're in the midst of the Great Toddler Food War, know that you're not alone and everyone has different ways of doing things. All I know is that it IS a phase and one way or another they outgrow it and will eventually be less likely to only ask for "fishies."