With both of my children, I introduced solids using the method, Baby Led Weaning. Essentially if you wait until your baby shows signs of readiness to eat (usually around 6 months), your baby can self feed. It concentrates on using whole foods, rather than purees or pre-packaged foods. For clarification in England the word weaning refers to the introduction of solid food, not the act of reducing or stopping breastfeeding.
At the age of two, my son would be considered a good eater. He eats when he is hungry, and doesn’t eat when he isn’t. It is not so much about the food that is in front of him, rather his hunger level. Often, he likes things that could be considered unusual for a toddler; feta cheese, seeds, almost every vegetable or legume and even iced coffee. His newest trick is to ask for something, take 2 bites and request something else. Now if he asks for a third food item, he has to finish most of the other two. Additionally, if he asks for a snack an hour after dinner and barely touched his dinner, the plate comes back out.
My daughter was also a good eater, eating most everything you offered her. Especially if it came from my plate! At some point she started to become a little more picky, I think around two. I could only see where this was going, as she started to refuse certain foods. In starting with Baby Led Weaning, I had originally committed to not making a separate meal for my children. Yet, I didn’t want a nightly stand-off of forced bites of food. I felt stopping this pattern before it started was of utmost importance.
I am not sure where I heard this tip from, but it definitely became useful. Include at least one item in your meal that you know your child will eat. The purpose being your child will not get used to refusing meals. This one worked well for us. Once my daughter would start eating the foods she liked, we could often convince her to try a bite of something else on her plate. The words “you don’t have to like it, but you should at least try it” became a dinner routine. Somehow removing the pressure to like the food gave her more freedom to try it.
Where are we now? While my daughter has a few foods she is unwilling to eat (e.g. tomatoes, beans) she will try most foods.
I think the one other tactic that really works is to limit snacks before meal time. Somewhere along the way, being hungry before a meal became wrong. I try to keep the last snack before a meal at least an hour before or if a snack closer to dinner can't be helped, I tend to choose vegetables or fruit and then don't care as much if dinner is picked at.
You may also find that your child eats best earlier in the day. Perhaps by the time dinner comes around, they have actually consumed a large number of calories throughout the day. While veggies or meat might seem like a breakfast oddity, a late morning snack packed with healthy nutrients would certainly be an option.
Do you have any suggestions for picky eaters? Things you have heard? Tactics you have tried?