As my son has grown from a baby to a toddler, his food habits have changed greatly. They change practically every day. And it’s frustrating for me, as a working mom, to keep my refrigerator & larder stocked with items that he ‘may’ like one day.
He’s all of 19-months and I still cook his food separately ensuring the spices are controlled, ingredients are organic and vegetables are washed & cleaned to my satisfaction level. If cooking food was my big problem now there’s a newer issue — just getting him to sit in his chair (let alone eating a full meal). And he’s no longer satisfied with eating his ‘special’ food. His taste buds are beginning to get influenced by the snacks that his caregivers (grandparents) or treats that I share with him on weekends.
What’s clear to me is that my ‘boi’ wants to experiment with his tastes and I have to adjust my cooking accordingly. There’s not much that I can do when he shows clear inclination to try newer flavours and newer ingredients, textures and forgets what he liked the very next day. So that I have to start exploring all over again as to what would appeal to him now. [EXHAUSTING, but a fact that will be now a new constant in my life as a mother]
These are my new rules that I am sticking above my cooking stove area to help me deal with my frustrations.
- There isn’t any food my boi HAS to eat. If he doesn’t like something, I can’t force it. Instead, I will have to find an alternative from the same food group that may work.
- If he hasn’t finished his food, then clear it and don’t give him any special attention for not eating. It is said that forcing children to carry on eating when they have had enough leads to overeating.
- My larder has to be now stocked some fresh and variety of ingredients but in smaller quantities. No point wasting organic ingredients that may not appeal to my little one.
- Although he chews and manages most solids + meat very well, but unless the taste & texture is to his liking, he wont swallow and spit them out watching my reaction. I have to control my frustration as I CANNOT force him to like what I want him to like.
- Remember to stay calm when your baby coughs or chokes a little when a new food or texture is introduced — it will happen. If I freak out he will freak out more.
- Nothing makes my boi want a food item more than seeing me or his dad enjoy it. Hence, make sure we eat fruits and veggies with a big smile on our face!
- I nearly always use whole wheat or whole grain for boi’s food. Be it noodles, crackers, or bread. Now, I need to set the trend for the whole house so that boi will not know any different. [Okay, so I won’t lecture on the benefits of whole grains here.]
- I read on some site that toddlers have many more taste buds than adults (we lose them as we age). So, something that may not be too spicy or salty for me may be too much for my boi. Goes for bitter-tasting foods like spinach and broccoli, hence make sure to watch their initial reactions on tasting these and so adjust flavours with a dash of lime or some cheese or butter.
- Soups are mommy’s best friends. So, adding carrots, celery, broccoli and potatoes to any soup is the healthiest meal I can serve my boi. [Bring out the mixer, mommy]
- Remember to give variety in textures! I will have to invest time in varying my cooking methods. Somedays it should be grilled and on others, fried or stir-fried, or stewed & steamed to serve along with some raw salads or finger foods. [Remember, a portion of food for a toddler is what they can fit in their hand]
[SPECIAL NOTE] Spend a few minutes each day cutting fruit and vegetables in bite sized squares so that they are ready to serve when desired.