Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Food: friend and foe

The last few weeks, Joris's food preferences have been throwing us for a bit of a loop. Like many babies, when he first started eating solids, there were very few things that he did not care for at all, and he'd eat just about anything; beets, leeks, stew, lentils and parsnips were all gobbled down without a problem. The sharper the cheese, the better.

Then he started developing very strong food and texture preferences, mainly involving crunchy and salty items, and in particular the Pepperidge Farm all-time favorite toddler snack of choice - goldfish crackers. "Cracker" and later "fish" were among the first signs that he learned to use. One week during the month long misery when his molars were coming in, he almost exclusively ate crackers, washed down with a few mouthfuls of milk. I have begun to both love and despise the cheerful, orange crunchies.

But, even though he'd ask for fishies pretty much every hour of every day, he also was still willing to try new foods and overall ate varied and nutritious meals each day.

The last few weeks, he has been getting less and less adventurous about trying new foods. In fact, he is refusing many foods he used to love before; avocado, meat of any kind, bread, and for a shorter period even cheese all rejected outright. It's gotten to the point now that it varies every day; Vegetable soup; Monday: Yum, Tuesday: Yuck, Wednesday: are you trying to poison me?, Thursday: Seconds, please! Crackers (meaning anything crunchy, most often a cereal or other) are still a mainstay. If he eats particularly poorly, I will make him a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce for dinner that he'll devour and he's been scarfing down eggs an blueberries like they're going out of style as well. But, I realize that it all might (will) change again sooner or later anyway.

We're luckier than most in this respect anyway. I know of several toddlers who are way pickier about their food than Joris is. I suspect that most of it is just his way of controlling his environment and asserting his opinion - even if it isn't his actual opinion.

Although we try to give him as healthy and balanced a diet as possible, in our efforts of getting him to try anything new (and add some calories), we have actually said things like "Finish your fried mozzarella cheese stick first, then you can have some banana." and "Mmm, French Fries! Don't you want to try some? No, you want only beans? But French Fries are so good; greasy and salty...Mmmm!"

It is hard, too, to allow him to get down from his high chair after only eating a mouthful of food, knowing that he is in the bottom percentile for his weight for age and weight for height. (He did actually make it into the 6th percentile on his last check-up - up from the 0 percentile - whoohoo!) It makes me always want to nag "Are you sure you're done? How about some more milk? Have another bite of this. Do you want any of that?" and, worst of all "You're not done yet". It's not a very respectful way to respond to his "all done" sign and I'm most likely giving him some kind of complex or other, but because he sometimes will eat another bowl of stuff after some cajoling, it's hard to stop.

If this blog had some actual readers (it would probably help if I'd tell people about it, but I'm not sure if I'm (ever) ready for that) I would ask them for ideas. What does / did your toddler like? What are some products or recipes you'd recommend trying?

No comments: