A Picky Eater's Tips for Raising an Adventurous Eater

(Technically that title is misleading as I have only gotten as far as an adventurous baby, but let’s treat this as an experiment and I’ll report back in a few years on my findings and if it worked out in the end.)

First, a disclaimer: I am NOT a fancy cook in any way. In this season of life, easy and reasonably healthy is the name of my game. Also, I am not a doctor. Please talk to your child's doctor about any questions you have!

I’m planning another post on tips for starting solids, but for this one I want to jump right into some things I’ve done to hopefully start Casper’s eating habits off on a healthy path and share what he eats on a typical day. It’s easy to get stuck serving the same things over and over, so I find it really helpful to see what other people feed their kids. Send me all your inspiration!

So far, Casper is a very adventurous eater with a giant appetite. I really don't know if he's ever been truly full; his stomach seems to extend forever. Who knows whether anything I’ve done has helped him along or he was just born like this, but I really think and hope that he’s off to a great start. It’s a big goal of mine to avoid picky eating as much as possible because I am a(n improving) picky eater and my whole life it has driven everyone crazy, including me. It really just complicates life in so many aspects and it’s hard to overcome as an adult.

Here are a few of the things I’ve focused on:

  • I try to never cajole him into eating one more bite or finishing his plate. He knows his body and I don’t. In the end, my goal is for him to learn to trust his hunger cues. This also goes for the other side of the same coin when he has eaten a gigantic plate already and wants more. I try to listen to him even though I have no idea where he could possibly put it. I realllllly want to avoid power struggles around this issue as he becomes a toddler and beyond. It’s my job to choose healthy food and it’s his job to decide how much he’s going to eat: that’s my mantra.
  • If he refuses something, I continue to serve it on different days, and I don’t make a big deal about it. I try to prepare it differently as well. So far he has refused exactly one thing: plain steamed broccoli trees. He eats them cut up small and in other things, and I avoid using ‘like’ or ‘don’t like’ right now because he hasn't developed those preferences yet. I also want him to learn that it's okay to not love everything you eat—something I struggle with. I just move on and continue serving them normally going forward. (This point really hits home for me as a picky eater. I have many memories of shame around refusals so I am very aware of not doing it.)
  • I keep snacks to a minimum to make sure he has a good appetite for mealtimes and so far it’s worked great for us. If we’re out in the middle of the day he might have a fruity chomp or a pouch and that’s pretty much it for snacks in the day.
  • Let them be messy! I know it can be frustrating and hard for some people (I was once one of you). But you’ll thank me later. ;) Let them explore food and they’ll be more passionate about it. On the other hand, if they’re throwing food and you can tell it’s on purpose, take it as a sign the meal is over (and use it as an opportunity to teach the ‘all done’ sign)!

Okay, onto the actual food in a typical day:

Almost always oatmeal or oats + chia cereal with apple sauce or mashed banana, peanut butter and cinnamon mixed in; cut-up kiwi; water.

Eggs a lot of the time. I usually grate zucchini or whatever vegetables I have around into scrambled eggs, or leftover chicken like today...anything goes. Other times, leftovers make an easy and quick lunch.
Scrambled eggs with leftover BBQ chicken in and some on the side; cheddar cheese sticks; peas. Fruit or full-fat greek yogurt if he wants dessert.

While we were out and about: sippy of milk; pouch.

One pot pasta (it's pretty spicy and he’s CRAZY for this meal—it’s one of my go-tos) and leftover veggie-loaded beef taco filling (from the LoveChild cookbook); chopped avocado; halved blueberries for dessert.

Casper drinks milk in the morning, mid-afternoon and before bed. We give him water with meals and any time he’s thirsty throughout the day. (We like this straw cup.)

Head over to this post if you need some EASY dinner meal ideas!

This bib saves my sanity.
I really really really love this mat.

That’s it! Let me know if you want to see more #diningwithdoobie and if you have any good tips I left out!