I always told myself I wouldn't be one of those moms who let their kids exist solely on chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese. I wasn't going to be one of those moms who made a special separate meal for the kids. I wanted to raise adventurous eaters; eaters who even if they had a list of foods they didn't like that was a mile long would still be willing to try something new.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Joke's on me.
I did everything right. As my child was able to eat more solids without issue, I started to introduce him to the foods that my husband and I ate. He didn't get special kid meals of pasta and veggies while we dined on other things. He ate what we ate, and more importantly, he liked it. This kid would clean his plate at almost every meal. He was such a good eater we couldn't believe that he was only in the 8th percentile for weight. By the time he was 15 or 16 months I had fed him sushi (just California rolls though), curry, tamales, various pasta dishes... just lots of stuff you don't normally hear about toddlers eating.
I was so proud of my "good" eater!
Then he hit 18 months and something happened. I'm not sure why, but he started to turn up his nose at stuff that he had previously enjoyed. One by one, fruits and veggies were eliminated from the list of foods he deemed acceptable. Forget anything with any kind of sauce on it - if he ate pasta it had to be plain. Meats were not welcomed on his plate either, each being eliminated like other foods had been until not even his beloved shrimp remained. The pizza that he once devoured with glee was now left behind in favor of a few bites of dry crust.
His preferred foods became carbs - plain pasta, plain breads (ooh how the boy loves croissants!), crackers, chips, plain rice. You can't raise a healthy human on that! Thankfully last year a friend of a friend told us about those Plum pouch
baby foods. By telling him that they were "juice" we were able to get a little bit of fruits and vegetables back into his diet. Even so, after a year of getting him to eat most of the varieties they make he is now refusing all but the pear and mango flavors. All the other ones that were good to him before are suddenly gross.
He likes yogurt, but only the baby kind that doesn't have any chunks of fruit in it. It has to be completely smooth or he won't eat it. He will eat cereal, but only the "fun" ones and it has to be dry. The whole wheat waffles that used to be a sure thing at meal time now go uneaten - unless they're paired with syrup, of course. The only meats he will eat are chicken nuggets (surprise!) and cheeseburgers - but only the ones from McDonald's, and only if they're plain. Oh, and fried shrimp from the Hawaiian barbecue place. Random.
We still offer him other foods in hope that he'll simply decide one day to start eating them again. He just started eating apples again a couple of months ago which really surprised me and made us so happy. He also ate a few grapes the other night after an almost six month long hiatus from them. I don't want to force him to eat anything, because I know I wouldn't like it if someone did that to me. If he takes a bite of something and obviously doesn't like it, I won't make him eat it. He gags and retches, and I really have no desire to clean vomit.
The problem I'm having is when he will eat three or four bites of something, and then decide it's gross. How was it not gross before? How was it acceptable for half a meal and all of a sudden it makes you gag? Or if it is something that he's been eating all along, like the afore mentioned waffles? Those were his absolute favorite thing to eat, and then one day they were gross and he almost puked when I gave him one. What is that all about?
So, he's refusing to eat what we eat at meal times. He's refusing what I offer him for snacks. This means a whole day can go by and he will literally only eat four bites of food all day. This freaks me out! I know that with a toddler that this can be normal and you're supposed to look at what they eat over a week's time, but over a week's time it still isn't very much. So, when he does happen to tell one of us that he's hungry and wants something, we jump on that with a quickness, lest he change his mind.
This means he gets crackers. He gets chicken nuggets. He gets mac and cheese. He basically gets the diet that I did NOT want him to have! Even worse, lately he'll ask for food, take two or three bites, then refuse to finish it. So much food has been wasted because of this around here lately. It's making me crazy. I don't know what to do. I went online to try to find ideas for things I could feed him. Here is a sample menu from one site
Sounds reasonable, right? Let's break it down:
The comments in red are things he just plain refuses. The stuff in green is what I know he will eat. The stuff in blue is the hit or miss stuff - sometimes he'll eat it, other times he won't, or he'll eat it but only a couple of bites, or I've never fed it to him before so I just plain don't know if he'll eat it. Honestly, the only things on this list that fall into that category are the dutch baby and the rice cakes. I really have tried to get a large variety of foods into this kid!
So what can I get him to eat off this list? Milk. Juice. Apples. A little bit of oatmeal. A little bit of pancake if I pair it with syrup, which honestly I'd rather not do. Yogurt. A few bites of toast.
A healthy child this diet will not make!
I don't know what to do, and I'm totally frustrated about this and at my wit's end. I'm tired of wasting food in attempts to get him to eat. I don't want to force him to eat anything he obviously doesn't like, but I don't want him to grow up thinking it's okay to refuse things without at least trying them first. I want him to get proper nutrition and a diet of carbs with a fruit puree or yogurt tossed in here and there isn't going to do it.
I've talked to our pediatrician about this and she said since he's growing, and actually has gone UP on the growth curve he was on (HOW???) she's not worried. She did have us stop giving him the Pediasure shakes we were doing because they were a crutch so he wouldn't have to eat. So, at least there's that.
How does a kid not like watermelon? Smoothies? Strawberries? Spaghetti? Pizza? I swear this isn't normal. I'm open to suggestions here because I've simply run out of ideas at this point.