I admit it-my one year old son was becoming a picky eater. The worst part, I believe it was all my fault.
I tried feeding him a banana. He squished it between his fingers and threw it on the floor. We attempted avocado pieces, he squished these and spread them everywhere. I tried peas. He shucked the center from the pea skin in his mouth and spit them out. (That one was actually pretty impressive.) Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches recently ended up smeared on his face and head with many of the cut up pieces stuck to his leg or the highchair. Oranges? Well, to be honest, he seemed to really like them. But, they were sooooo sticky. I realized then that he wasn’t the one with the issue. The worst part, this was an issue that made me start to dread meal time.
Here are a few things I did to make eating a happier experience for both of us.
1. Ignore the negative
Our son loves to slam his body back against the highchair when he is frustrated or even bored during a meal. If that isn’t getting our attention, he will progress to screeching. I hate to confess this, but we spent several meals yelling “no” to him. Did I mention that he’s one? Yeah, that yelling wasn’t working. We now ignore the negative behavior and it seems to have decreased significantly.
2. Be fully engaged during the meal or snack
I am a great multi-tasker. This is not the time to multitask. He needs my full attention during a meal. He is much more apt to eat what I offer if I’m engaged and interacting with him. If I take a bite of something prior to feeding it to him, he can’t wait to try out what I’m eating. Especially if I exaggerate taking the bite and chewing whatever it is I want him to try. Oh, and lots of mmmm and yummmmm doesn’t hurt.
3. Praise and reinforcing positive behavior
When he tries something new, I will clap and tell him what a great job he’s doing and how proud I am of him. I originally worried this would distract him and stop him from eating more, but he seems to love the praise and continues devouring the food.
4. Patience, Patience, Patience
Sometimes, my son wants to take his time with his food. When it comes to food, he’s a lot like his mom-he savors it. However, I often want to rush the process with him. When we first started feeding him, I did a lot of sneaky moves to get him to eat. A quick distraction with one item while I snuck a spoon into his mouth. When he was six months old, this worked great. I realize now, those moves don’t work anymore and there is no need to rush. There’s no tricking him into eating. He’s on to me. It’s also not necessary. If I am patient, and take my time with the process, he will eventually eat. He may not eat all of a dish, but he will always try it.
What have you done to make meal time more enjoyable?