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Posts tagged ‘picky eating’

A Toddler and Her Food: An Evolving Relationship

A reader emailed me the other day asking for an update on BabyC and her relationship with food. In the early days of the blog, I wrote quite a bit about feeding and nutrition, but lately I’ve been distracted by other topics. My next couple posts will revisit food in our family, including some lessons I’ve learned on feeding a toddler. Let’s start with a recap of the story of BabyC and Food.

Chapter 1: Milk Monogamy

These were the days when BabyC was a one-food girl. Feeding was simple and sweet. While we technically breastfed on demand, in practice BabyC and I fell into fairly predictable routines, and after the first couple of months, it didn’t feel demanding at all. She ate when she was hungry and stopped when she was full. She knew that she could count on her next meal being there when needed, so there was no need to worry beyond that. BabyC was exclusively breastfed until she was around 5 months old, but breast milk provided at least 90% of her calories until she was around 8 months old.

{I know what you’re thinking: “Alice! Don’t you know you’re supposed to wait until 6 months to start solid foods?!” At the time, I wasn’t convinced that there was strong evidence for waiting. BabyC had been falling off the WHO growth charts, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get a jump-start on solid foods. Plus, she was grabbing at the food on my plate, and I was excited to introduce her to the tastes of the world. These days, I think that there is sufficient evidence to recommend waiting until 6 months to introduce exclusively breastfed babies to solids. However, as with most recommendations of this sort, I also think there is some wiggle room depending on the baby’s development and desires.}

Chapter 2: A Skeptical Introduction

Anyway, we started dabbling in solid foods around 5 months. Rice cereal was a non-starter, and we quickly moved on to more interesting foods: banana, carrots, sweet potato, and avocado. I offered little flirtatious bites to BabyC. They were colorful and often accompanied by a song. She would usually entertain them with a small taste and then turn up her nose at the rest.

Chapter 3: Head Over Heels

BabyC’s skepticism about food continued until we took her on vacation to Hawaii when she was about 7 months old. I think this was a turning point because I relaxed about the whole thing. We were on Island Time. I stopped trying so hard and just started giving BabyC pieces of good food when we were enjoying it: A bit of French bread as we waited for our dinner at a restaurant, a chunk of super-ripe mango, a spoonful of soft papaya, a bite of my banana.

Suddenly BabyC was enthusiastic about foods. She wanted to try them all! She just wanted finger foods, please. She wanted to control how much and how fast she ate. Surely that wasn’t too much to ask? Read more

The Solution to Picky Eating: 7 types of food with 6 colors, and a smile, too!

I keep seeing headlines like these bouncing around my Facebook and Twitter feeds:

Colorful Plates Boost a Picky Eater’s Appetite

Have you seen them, too? After doing the research for my article on getting picky eaters to try more veggies, I take notice when I see claims of a new strategy that might be useful to parents of picky eaters.

I went to take a look at the study and was further intrigued when I found that it was conducted at Cornell University, my alma mater. Go Big Red! Cornell has a very well-respected Nutrition department*, so I had high hopes for this one. I thought it even might make a good blog post. But when I actually read the study, I decided it wasn’t much help at all. This study told us nothing about how to get picky eaters to eat better or how to improve anyone’s appetite – the headlines were exaggerated. [*For the record, the authors of this study were from departments of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell and Art, Media, and Design at London Metropolitan University – they aren’t nutritionists.]

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing blog posts about new studies and then stopped mid-way through when I realized that I was spending more words talking about the limitations of the study than the findings. So I wasn’t planning to blog about this study until I saw it covered on the Wall Street Journal’s family blog. Their article concluded, “To get our picky kids to eat, we may have to become both short-order cooks and food stylists.” No pressure there.

The UK’s Daily Mail also published an online article about the study. It stated, “Scientists have found youngsters are more likely to clear their plate when there is more colour and choice.”

CLEARLY not enough color or variety in this meal.

Scientists have found nothing of the sort. Here’s the run-down of what they actually did find: Read more