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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My picky eater

My son is a picky eater. Unfortunately, he comes from a line of picky eaters. I was picky when I was little, but not as picky as one of my brothers. My poor Mom had to deal with lots of negative comments and dissatisfied customers at the dinner table. She tried lots of different recipes and techniques to get us to eat when we were kids. The most common one used at my parent's dinner table was, "If you clean your plate, you'll get dessert." My Dad would occasionally place a $5 or $10 bill on the table and say, "If you finish before me, you get this money." That rarely actually occurred because my Dad had been in the Army, and could clear his plate in 3 minutes if he needed to- even after 20+ years! (my pickiest brother claims he beat my Dad once and never got the $!) I guess when you get desperate that might work!

7+ months- eating prunes... 
When my boy was a baby, I fed him the same baby food as my other kids. His very favorite food to eat as a wee one was creamed spinach! (I tried not too make gross faces as I fed it to him!) I'm pretty sure now that I couldn't get him to eat creamed spinach if I tried! He has gradually gotten pickier and pickier. When he was 2, I was busy in the kitchen and my older daughter called me into the family room. "Caleb ate De-Con!" YUCK!- he had the blue mouse bait pellets in his teeth and on his tongue. I called poison control, and they assured me he would be fine, after I explained the situation.

A few weeks later, my parents came to visit, and my Mom and I made a delicious Sunday dinner- pot roast, potatoes and a veggie- one of my favorite "comfort food" meals. Caleb wouldn't touch the meat. My mom said, "He'll eat De-Con but he won't eat my pot roast!" Yeah... sorry Mom, I don't understand him either!

We have tried everything we can think of to get him to eat. We tried my parent's "clean your plate" technique above, and he didn't care! Then we tried giving him smaller portions, that didn't help. We tried coercing, reward charts, logic (if you want to be a better baseball player, you need to eat protein and build muscle!)... nothing worked! We tried to be really low-key (that is really tough!) and not get worked up about wasting good food. We joke with him by imitating the faces he makes, which makes us all giggle. We also have joked that he is just making sure that the food is not poisonous, so he waits to make sure everyone else survives after eating some of the meal. We also tell him that "This is good food, we only serve good food here". One time we joked that we'd bought pickled pig's feet for him to eat instead- EW!

The technique that has worked best with him is that he will get a time-out in his room for the rest of the night if he eats nothing. He does not like to be alone for very long- that is the best discipline for him. So if he doesn't eat, off to his bed he goes... usually with lots of tears! The other idea that works for him is that he has to take three bites to be able to be excused from dinner. The three bites can't be miniature, and have to be "one bite of everything." He has vomited at the table several times- talk about making my blood boil! OOHH! (It makes my heart beat faster just thinking about it!)

He's always happy to get any dessert!
It's not that Caleb won't eat ANYthing- he does eat several meals. He has his favorites- pizza, spaghetti (has to be angel hair with white sauce!), tomato soup & grilled cheese sandwiches. He also likes raisins (not in cookies or bread though!), carrots and snap peas, lettuce, hot dogs, mac & cheese, eggs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some chicken (usually breaded), chips, nachos, graham crackers, Wheat Thins, string cheese, yogurt, apples, granola bars, cereal, and all milk (chocolate too, of course). We actually have no problem getting him to drink his milk at dinner time.

So if I serve one or two of his favorite meals each week, he is usually ok with it. But if he doesn't finish his plate, he doesn't get anything else until breakfast. That is why he is usually the first one out of bed in the morning, and gets his own cereal. He will cry if he has to wait for Dad to make pancakes! Our Dr. assured us that he is getting enough if he is eating some out of the "four food groups" every 3-4 days. We don't worry too much about him withering away, he eats, just is picky about what he wants!

We have spent lots of time working on Caleb's eating habits, and wondering when he will change and decide to really EAT. Maybe when he's a teenager? I hope he grows out of his pickiness... it is quite difficult at times. He will rinse mayo off of a piece of chicken, from chicken salad- since he doesn't like mayo! Our pediatrician told us not to force him to eat, we don't want him to become ultra-picky, where he'll eat only ONE thing. We tried heating up his dinner for breakfast the next morning- that was terrible!  (for me and him!) I just pray that he will grow up to be able to go out to eat and not order a cheeseburger at a fancy steak house...

Silly boy eating an ice cream cone!
Can any of my readers identify with this? Do you have any techniques that might help? I'd love to hear them!

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