Picky Eaters Anonymous: Advice on Getting Your Kid to Eat

I’m told picky eating is a common problem with toddlers. Maybe I worry too much, but when your little is diagnosed with anemia, it becomes more than just an inconvenience. I’m here to offer you some tips and tricks that have helped, as well as all the things I’ve tried that didn’t work.

“Let’s be kind to each other”

I’ve received all sorts of advice, from “you just need to be more of a hard ass” to “just keep offering”. I’ve talked to friends, family, our doctor, a dietician, infant development and are also waiting on a referral to occupational health at the Child Development Centre. And let me tell you, some advice is welcomed, some is not. So, if you’re reading this, know I’m not here to judge, but to offer support and share in my experiences. Let’s be kind to each other.

Starting Solids

I’m not really sure when the picky eating started, as I remember when my eldest started on solids, he seemed to like it all. I opted for the baby lead weaning and started this with my son around 8/9 months. This was when he got his first tooth, could sit up unassisted, had the pincer grasp down and showed more of an interest in food (the general milestones). I started with the softer stuff, avocado, banana, cooked carrots, peas and mum mums. But at my youngest’s 6-month immunization appointment just recently the health nurse said you should always start with meat. Whaaaat? That’s news to me.

Staging Food Groups

As my eldest started to eat more regular meals, I do remember, I would always need to stage his foods. Meat was first, then veggies, then fruit and finally starches/grains. This is something I still do, if I want him to get anything of nutritional value in. But he has progressed in his picky eating so much so that he won’t consume anything “mixed”. So, no noodles with veggies or even with sauce etc.

Current Diet

Thus, his diet now consists of cereal, toast, a yogurt drink, a granola bar, melon, a squish pack or a smoothie if I’m lucky for breakfast. For lunch we usually do the same as breakfast or things like veggie straws, rice cakes, popcorn, goldfish, noodles, corn and peas and the odd grilled cheese sandwich (in separate bowls of course). Dinner is where I usually try to incorporate new offerings. But more often than not I’m met with “YUCKY!” and a screaming fit until he gets his noodles and milk. Dinner’s not complete until you end with something sweet! Dessert is usually ice cream, homemade cookies or muffins. And for bedtime snack I can usually get in a smoothie and apple slices.

Cooking Time

In my experience, I find that getting the toddler into the kitchen to help prep the meal, helps when it comes time to eat the meal. It’s not a sure-fire plan, but we’ve tried quesadillas, homemade pizza, and mac and cheese with a 50% success rate. Having a picky eater is a tonne of work, with little reward. But it’s worth the effort to have a healthy kid!

Supplements

I supplement my son’s diet with vitamins. And with iron after the anemia diagnosis. I do this for myself as well, as I’m also anemic. My toddler gets these as morning routine rewards after peeing in the potty, brushing hair and teeth as well as washing hands and face. We’re up to three: a vitamin d sun, a fish oil fish and a bear multivitamin. We’re also trying to limit the dairy intake by switching to almond milk, in order for us to absorb more iron (calcium blocks the absorption).

Sneaky Chef

My only other advice for getting your little to eat “yucky” foods is to sneak them into things they enjoy. For us this means we buy fruit/veggie juice and/or I tend to juice a lot at home too. Pro tip: save extra juice and freeze in an ice cube tray to use later! I also cook down kale, spinach and swiss chard, blitz and freeze for use in smoothies or muffins. Another favourite is chocolate zucchini bread. Chocolate is a big deal in our house so I can hide quite a bit in chocolate chip cookie or muffin.

Pro tip: save extra juice and freeze in an ice cube tray to use later!

Take it or leave it, but that’s my advice and my experience with a picky eater. Here’s to hoping the next one is easier on me. If you’ve got any other tried and true methods please do tell!

-Kate

2 Comments

  • Leslie Thomas

    having to look after my grandson, who’s mother was addicted to alcohol and drugs… I have a hard time with him to eating meat. as he just gags at the smell of even cooked meats. people don’t understand my grandsons choice in eating??? I keep getting told quit feeding him McDonalds nuggets and fries…. which on my budget is maybe twice a week. the rest of the week consists of raspberries strawberry and toast and rice… with little fish when he is ok eating or wanting to eat fish… I give him an organic supplement special for children for his iron intake which he looks a lot healthier for it. thanks for your information I see here.

    • Northern BC Moms

      Thank you for stepping up for that child! <3 You are doing amazing. Keep it up! Picky eaters are tough. I would suggest contact with the CDC. No referral needed. We are waiting on our first appointment for picky eating and sensory issues.

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