Kids and food can make for a super stressful combination, especially when it entails a child refusing food you are giving them. Every child is unique and every family has to make their own choices. I am sharing how we feed our kiddos, why we believe food is important and how I believe it has shaped their food preferences.
Background on why we are food crazy
I have to share a disclaimer, sleep and food has always been our top priorities since they were babies. Therefore, most of our decisions supported these two areas and is the majority of the reason behind why we made the decisions we made.
If those are not your priorities, your family choices may look different. And that’s ok!! I don’t judge!! I believe food is medicine and it has been worth altering our foods to manage health issues. The post on our allergy issues explain in more detail.
If you have read “my pregnancy story”, you will understand more about why food is so important to us. I vividly remember foods I ate as a child/young adult and how I felt. In my little world of attempting to control whatever I can, for example, watching my kiddos eat pancakes with syrup without having any protein (which rarely happens) makes me feel like my own blood sugar is literally increasing.
Yes, I am aware that sounds absurd, but when you remember feeling as bad as I did, you don't want your kids to feel that way.
It is true, maybe their bodies can tolerate sugar better than my body. That does not make it healthy for them, just not as susceptible to sugar fluctuations. In the end, I fully understand I cannot control what they eat 100% of the time. This is where education comes in, in addition to teaching them awareness of their body and how they feel after they eat certain foods.
I have become much more relaxed in their foods, but part of me believes it has come with a price. The youngest is by far the worst eater, although by normal standards she is probably considered a "good" eater. Still, there are areas I hope we can improve in the future with what she tries and eventually likes.
What truly matters though, is that they understand their bodies are created by God and we only get one.
The baby phase
I would love to tell you I made 100% of all three of their food using only organic ingredients, but this blog is about living realistically. An attempt was made to purchase organic when we could. I made probably 90% of the first baby’s food, meaning pureed. Then about 50-75% of the second and maybe 25-50% of the last. You see a pattern here?
Sweet potatoes were always homemade, because nothing is simpler than sweet potatoes. With the first, I made broccoli, cauliflower, peas, green beans, carrots, squash, various fruits, and probably others I’ve forgotten. I even made pureed prunes once. It was NOT cost effective.
With baby number 2 and 3, they were not fans of green anything. I gave up sooner with making the pureed stuff and used pouches, such as apples/broccoli and pear/peas. They had way more pouches than I care to admit. It was survival mode, I was pregnant and they needed food. Most of the time, the pouches were organic though. I tried. ;)
The Toddler Phase and Forward
Several friends did the baby-led method and really skipped puréed food altogether. I had such a fear of choking, I couldn’t do it. But looking back, we could have tried a few foods. I like the idea, but texture was always an issue with us. It would be interesting to see if going straight to non-pureed food would have made a difference.
As toddlers, they would have their protein on their plate first and after they ate that, they would get vegetables. Once they ate their vegetables, they would get fruit. This was with every meal, except breakfast, but I’ll explain that below.
We do not make them clean their plate. Although, there have certainly been times we make them eat it for various reasons; wasn’t much there anyway, might be awhile before they will eat again, etc. Or if they are still saying they are hungry after fruit, they are offered the remaining food on their plate or more meat and vegetables.
What do they eat?
Chili has always been a favorite of all three of them from the beginning. Maybe it’s because I survived on chili during each pregnancy. Who knows?! But I love that they love it, protein and fiber all rolled into one!!
Protein - Hamburgers, grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, salmon, beef soup, roast, and steak are all a few items they ate and still eat. We don’t do a lot of recipes that are time consuming or combined. When the first was little, she ate dinner for breakfast or eggs and a veggie and fruit. Then I got pregnant and was debilitated with all day nausea. There was a time of O's (like cheerios) and a banana was her breakfast. Now the older two will either have a protein fruit smoothie (sometimes I add greens, when I can) or eggs wrapped in tortilla with apple and peanut butter. Occasionally, we have oatmeal in place of or in addition to the above. The youngest does not like eggs and eats way too much sausage. This is an area I need to improve and expand her breakfast items.
Vegetables- We steam the majority of vegetables, especially if we are in a hurry. We will also roast, grill or sautée on the stove vegetables.
Fruit - anything you can think of really, is what they eat. There are a few items that the youngest doesn't like, such as kiwi, but they love fruit. It is their dessert. I try not to let them have a high sugar fruit alone as a snack though, for example, grapes or oranges. I will pair it with peanut butter or a cheese stick.
Drinks - They drink water. Coconut milk is used in the smoothies. They occasionally drink coconut milk for the younger ones and cow's milk for the older one. Other than watered down lemonade or punch at a birthday party or other special occasion, they drink water.
A note on snacks. We rarely do a morning snack and the afternoon snack is a scoop of peanut butter or maybe a fruit. We eat at meal times and do not graze. For one, I don't want messes everywhere, all the time. And two, they are not hungry because they are getting protein, fiber, fats and healthy carbs at their meals.
Avocados are another key food, that is technically a fruit, that we use on a regular basis. Since the older two were babies, they have been eating avocados. It’s such a healthy fat and good for them!!
Picky Eaters & What We Would do Differently
The oldest naturally ate (and still does) almost anything. It was not always on the first try or maybe even the second, but we kept at it as a baby. She will now (at seven) even eat lima beans! I didn't even know she liked them when she ate them at a restaurant.
The second baby was still a decent eater, but when we moved to more finger foods he got pickier. It took until he was almost two before he would eat cauliflower. Now at five he eats it no problems. There were several other foods that he would not eat, but now does.
The youngest stressed me out the most with food!! You have to call her bluff and I did not always do that with food when she was just starting out. It took her until 13 months before she was eating finger foods and feeding herself. We had to do a somewhat "cry it out" method, except with food. Crazy! I know! But this one....she's pretty good.
She did not eat anything green until she was two. She had an orange tint from all the sweet potatoes. The pediatrician assured me she was fine and to keep trying. I would puree broccoli and mix with hamburger meat to make "hamburgers". Just to get real broccoli down her!! Or we would mix pureed vegetables in with her spaghetti or chili. We did that off and on when we could. This is also when I supplemented more with the fruits and greens powder. The link is to amazon, although the price I pay through my naturopath is much cheaper. I linked it to show the brand. (Use your own discretion when supplementing. I'm only sharing my experience.)
There are certain foods that we did not keep trying, such as avocado or eggs. My husband has a significant delayed reaction egg allergy so I have always been hesitant to try eggs. Unfortunately, that backfired with the youngest. She still, at three, does not eat eggs or avocados.
I truly believe that consistently offering and trying new foods makes all the difference.
I realize kids are all different. But to see it in my kids and each of them are in terms of what they eat and their willingness to try things, it is consistent with how much real food they had as infants and how consistent I was in offering the food.
I have read how baby food can alter the taste buds and when they are ready to eat finger foods (which would not be from a pouch or jar), they don't want it because it doesn't taste like the broccoli they usually eat. (I'm trying to find that article and will update if I do.) I believe it because I have seen it with my own kids. How different the first is from the last. I understand there could be lots of other factors, but I can't help but think it played a large part in her food choices today.
For awhile I have been accepting that the foods they "don't like" is just that. Now, I am taking a step back. I have been offering avocados and eggs to the youngest. She isn't taking the bait yet, but she is starting to see my expectations that she needs to at least try it. It is an experiment in progress and I am hopeful for yummy results.
It is my hope that this has been encouraging to keep at it if you are in the trenches of feeding a new solid eater. But also understanding why we have made these choices to make food a priority. My parenting choices in regards to food are based on strong feelings and experiences of my own and past. I also cannot let food take control of me or come before God.
I would love to hear your stories. Feel free to share below!
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Scripture/Quote of the Week:
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
Who Am I?
Hi! I am Pam. I am so glad you stopped by to take a look at my blog. I am a Christian, wife, stay at home PCOS mom and homeschool mom to three amazing kiddos. I'm all about all natural living and real whole food - in real life.
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