It was nice while it lasted. That seems to be the mantra. When my child began eating solids, he was happy to devour anything. So was the case for a few blissful months. How things change. Soon, I had a fussy eater on my hands. The mashed sweet potatoes were the first victim. They usually went down so easily. One fateful day, they became a lonely island of mush. An avocado aversion soon followed. Well, at least we still had carrots. Wrong.
Keep Your Cool
So a pleasant phase of parenting gave way to a tiring new normal. Sigh. Remind yourself that things will soon be rosy again in some other way. At about 12 months old, my child’s pediatrician gave us hope. He advised that the little guy now had the go-ahead to eat nearly any food. If the food was in a safe form, such as pureed or finely chopped, it was all fair game. I dared to dream. A whole world of diverse ingredients was now within reach.
Count Your Blessings
My fussy eater continued to shun all culinary creativity. He seemed to assert his new and strict opinions about food at every turn. I started to think we might have a tiny vegan on our hands. He would not touch eggs; meat of any kind was also now out of the question. He even turned his nose up to cheese of any sort. Come on! It was time to take stock.
What does he like? What will he eat? I made a list. He seemed to like all fruits – sliced fresh, mashed or even dried. Plain yogurt also made the list, for example. These items would be our tools.
Bridge The Gap With Your Fussy Eater
Yogurt always seemed to enjoy a smiling reception. Knowing this, I ruthlessly used it to my advantage. I could not give up on cheese. So I started to offer soft cheeses, similar in texture to yogurt. We discovered that he liked mozzarella. From there, we were slowly able to make the transition to other cheeses. Parmesan was a hit. Shredded cheddar soon followed. This was a breakthrough. From there, I was able to melt cheddar cheese over many other foods to make them more appealing to my fussy eater. Before we knew it, he was willingly gobbling down quinoa with black beans and melted cheddar cheese. Score.
Consider All Factors
It seems that teething continues to play a part in my child’s opinions about texture. Some days, he only has an interest in crunchy foods, perhaps to help with cutting a new tooth. Other days, he only wants smooth, mushy foods. A classic fussy eater. I responded accordingly. I have a supply of healthy rice cakes, veggie chips, and whole-grain cereal puffs for crunchy days. I make things like smoothies, soaked oats, and steamed veggies for mushy days.
Change It Up
My fussy eater continues to teach me that there are no absolutes. From day to day, I don’t know what foods he will or will not eat. They constantly change. I no longer try to buy his seemingly favorite foods in bulk. I also won’t give up on ingredients he rejects. Castoff carrots will not go quietly. One way or another, they are here to stay. The steamed orange carrots refused at dinner may make their way into some homemade mini muffins tomorrow. Or, we switch to a purple or yellow carrot variety next week. Sometimes it goes over well. Sometimes it doesn’t. If a meal seems to be a winner, play it cool with how frequently it makes an appearance. It could become boring to the little one. Rejection is painful, but we sigh and keep going. Picky eating will not win.