Callum was a great eater until he hit about 13 months old. He ate everything: fruit, meat, cheese, vegetables, grains. If we put it on his high chair tray, he would stuff it in his mouth. See?
Side note: when looking for that photo, I found this photo, and then I died:
Back on topic: I don't remember exactly when it changed. I remember when we went to PJs@TJ's, he borrowed Penny's high chair and ate a bunch of foods that he'd never tried before--but I remember also that he threw some of it on the floor, which was new behavior at the time. So I'm pretty sure it started sometime around then.
He spent the next few months eating... pretty much nothing except the occasional carb. By March, when Elizabeth came to visit, he was in full-on not eating mode. It was specifically frustrating since Hannah is such a fantastic eater. We watched her stuff her face with chicken and lima beans while Callum threw literally every single food item we offered him directly on the floor.
For awhile we tried offering him a million food items in a row. If he threw one thing on the floor we'd be there with the next. We tried ignoring, scolding, keeping the dog out of the room during meals, reacting, not reacting. We tried water during meals and no water during meals. We tried offering a million options and only offering one option. We tried feeding him and letting him feed himself. He just. Did not. Want. To eat.
So... we gave up the battle. I did some research and embraced the following philosophy: eat it, don't eat it, don't talk about it. In other words, as his parents, we can control when he eats and what he eats. He can control whether he eats and how much he eats. And I was not interested in making it into a stressful battle. So, we started just putting him in his high chair at meals, giving him some of whatever we were eating, and then he could do what he wanted with it. We wouldn't give him much, because what he usually wanted to do was throw the food on the floor. And when he did that, we didn't react in any way. We kept the dog out of the room so she couldn't react either. And when mealtime was done, it was done. No other food, no milk, nothing. Just, he ate or he didn't eat and then the meal was over.
We were lucky that he is so big--we didn't have to worry about him failing to thrive or anything. In fact, while he wasn't gaining much weight he was growing length-wise, quite quickly. But I didn't really see a correlation between his eating habits and his weight gain. He tapered off significantly by 7 months, and by 9 months even more so. In fact, in the year since then, he has only gained maybe 3-4 pounds, but he's grown about six inches.
Eventually his eating habits improved somewhat. I couldn't name a date when it happened, so it must have been a gradual thing. It helped that he now always eats with a spoon or a fork--he seems to like that much more than eating with his hands. He still has a strong preference for carbs, and will consistently eat quinoa, pasta, rice, bread. We've found ways to incorporate fat and protein into those--quesadillas with cheese, bread with hummus or peanut butter, etc. He is a big fan of yogurt. Sometimes he'll eat bananas and not other times. He almost always picks the vegetables out of his food and hands them to us while saying "all done." He does love those pouches of pureed fruits and veggies, and they are so outrageously expensive that we don't give them to him often, but sadly he won't eat purees on a spoon or in any other format. I think basically he just likes to drink a lot more than he likes to eat and the pouches feel like drinking to him. (And no he doesn't like smoothies in a sippy cup, sadly.)
One thing he does like is soup. I have discovered that we can get him to eat almost anything if it's in soup form, including solid chunks of meat and vegetables. Of course the one food that he can't feed himself is the one he likes most of all, but I'm not complaining. (Really it's probably the salt that attracts him, but I'm trying not to complain about that either especially as his diet is generally minimally processed and low in sodium.) But if we're ever at a restaurant and one of us has soup, he will say that he's all done with his own food (even if it's mac and cheese, his usual favorite) and practically dive out of his high chair trying to get our soup while saying, "This? Soup? THIS? SOUP?" repeatedly until we start feeding him spoonfuls of it.
So! I guess I'm on the hunt for soup recipes, is my point. And maybe also someone with the patience for spoon-feeding a nearly-two-year-old. Or maybe I should just blend up chunky soups and put them in a sippy cup for him to deal with on his own.
Generally, though, even though he's not a super avid eater, things have improved immensely. And I think a huge part of it is our hands-off philosophy. It might not have gotten him to eat better, at least not right away, but it DID save our sanity, and that's equally important. At least when your one-year-old is over 30 pounds.
What about you guys? Have you had issues getting your toddlers to eat? Any tips, tricks, approaches, foods that worked especially well? Or things that didn't work at all?
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