When we began introducing the wee guy to food and flavours, he was a little reluctant to wholeheartedly consume some of my un-favourites like peas…but he tried everything and generally ate rather heartily for a little person.
Somewhere around the 9mth mark he kinda slipped into being a mainly-eats-sweet-potatoes-and-a-few-other-things kinda guy, though he was still trying out some textures. Suddenly, around Christmas it was all about grown up food. Pureed baby food was 100% off the agenda and only the big people food would cut it. This was fine by me as it meant that I could try tempting him to eat what we ate most nights.
With the carnivore and I we generally eat the same vegetarian thing with a side of meat. But suddenly there were two carnivores…so I began cooking more meaty meals…though the wee one would eat lots of my tasty vegetarian dishes at lunch and often if the meat option was a little chewy (like beef burgers) he preferred Mama’s more palatable meatless version.
For someone of Japanese extraction, rice has been a long time coming to Kazuo. He ate a lot of pasta in those early months. Though I managed to keep secreting some home-made vege mixes into those pasta dishes and so I consoled myself on the days when he would not eat whatever I had lovingly prepared. But somewhere in the trans-Atlantic transition he seems to have given up almost all vegetables. He spies them in the smallest quantities and rejects them out of hand.
I have read all the ‘failsafe-your-kid-will-love-this’ books and recipes I can get my hands on.
I am also happy that on the whole, he eats a raft of nutritious whole fruits, loads of good calcium-laden things like yoghurt, cheese and milk (though since he gave up the bottles, it has to have some tasty residual flavour…thank goodness for being able to sneak a little organic Green and Blacks choc powder into the mix) and plenty of protein (esp fish, ham, ground beef/lamb) that is usually gobbled down if it is presented in a format he can agree with. And lately a triumph has been his delight in my milder red Thai curries (a few veges snuck in there…don’t tell him) and nibbling on a felafel/rice wrap (again a few sneaky veges). And he still loves cucumber (what is that all about?)
But other tasty vege treats like Courgette Pie, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, Baked Sweet Potato Chips and Tomato soup are off the menu.
Now I know, from reading and chatting to other Mamas, that toddlers are notoriously fussy. Also, that nursery school may go some way to helping him socialise earlier than usual into eating things with his peers that he won’t touch at home. And I also know the old adage that it takes 15 tries to decide if a food is palatable or not…so the palate is not set yet, nor are his real preferences.
But I also have the perhaps unfortunate experience of having been an extremely fussy child myself. I know that fussiness did not stay with me for life. Suddenly, in my 20s it was like a switch was turned on. I went from only eating terribly processed meat and potatoes and corn, to eating pretty much anything (though around that time I also decided that it was not such a good idea to eat EVERYTHING…but that is another story). But it is a little stigmatizing to be the kid at school camp or in other social settings who will only eat one meal out of four… And I am sure I would have been a more energetic and healthy child if I had eaten a broader range of foods.
I hope for his sake, that Kazuo has inherited some of his father’s willingness to embrace new foods, rather than his quite comprehensive list of food allergies. It is less worrying that Kazuo is a little picky right now…just a bit vexing when I serve up something he would normally eat/should by all accounts love and he refuses to eat it…but then he is needing to exert his will in so many ways right now. I am a bit concerned about the lack of vegetables in his diet…but I vow to kindly keep pursuing, and as he gets more able to negotiate (and this skill is slowly emerging) we may be able to introduce some friendly enticements to try new things. Equally, he is growing well and is largely quite a healthy little person so far, and no allergies have shown themselves, so that is much less worrying.
I guess I am just interested – as always – to see what other people manage to encourage their wee people to eat…and while comparisons in this area are terribly odious…to discover new strategies for inserting the missing links into Kazuo’s diet so that he grows as well as he can. I am conscious to make his intake as unprocessed and healthy (and locally produced and fairly traded and organic etc etc blah blah) as possible. But mainly we try to make food fun (homemade butterfly and teddy bear pizzas this week…) and enjoyable so that he doesn’t ever feel wrongly conflicted about gaining nutrition.
My hope is that Kazuo’s delight in playing with fake vegetables, and asking for them at most meals, and hopefully growing his own this coming summer, will eventually translate into a love for eating them…