Babe was going through some things. Something. No idea what. 4.5 and she was feeling all the things. Tantrums, which had seemed to have disappeared, returned with a vengeance. And started to become pickier with food. I guess she’s still going through some of these things, but the picky eating, we “fixed.”
As a couple, Papa and I did some quick thinking and changed our perception, reversing the two week-long picky eating problem by the next meal. Here’s how–it’s easier than you can imagine.
You know I’m a big believer in Baby Led Weaning– the child is in charge of what food and how much she wants to eat. One of the amazing results being the child, after experiencing many different textures from Day 1, develops a very adventurous palette. We definitely saw this with both the kids. Bug can eat most eight year olds under the table. So when Babe started refusing certain foods, it felt a little weird.
We’d seen people force their kids to eat and it makes me very uncomfortable for many reasons. It becomes a power struggle. Kids will eat when they’re hungry, and if all the food they have available is good food, then if they eat later than the rest of the family, does it really matter? I would never force my husband to eat if he wasn’t hungry– how insulting and disrespectful. Why do this to my kid? She knows if she’s hungry. This is why we nurse on demand and this is why Baby Led Weaning is so awesome.
If we catch ourselves begging the kid to eat “just one more…” We can ask ourselves why? What is one more carrot going to do other than reinforce to both the parent and child that the parent is in charge of what the child eats? The parent should not be in charge, the person eating should.
If we feel like we have little control in our lives, we begin to control the things we can. For many, this is the food we eat. Whether we’re 4, 14 or 42. Something told me this might be what was going on for Babe.
So we went back to the idea we had when she was 6 months old, when we offered food to her and she decided how much she wanted to eat. Back then, we didn’t force a spoon through her closed lips. We didn’t threaten her with, “If you don’t eat this then you can’t have that.”
We decided not to serve her at dinner time. We gave her an empty plate and put the food at the centre of the table, and let her choose what she wanted and how much she wanted.
Our “picky eater” served herself a generous helping of Cesar salad, asparagus and chickpeas. She didn’t want the sausage or sweet potatoes and I was more than alright with that.
The trick is, of course, to only have food on the table (and in the house) that is good, real food.
We also became even more aware of the little decisions she could make that would allow her to feel more power. Lots of, “Would you rather this, or this?” Which park did she want to go to ? Did she want to buy the green apples or the red ones?
If it’s a power struggle, it’s one I’d like her to win.