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  Hello friends! First let me thank you all for your comments and stories of your own picky eaters. Knowing I’m not in this alone makes me feel like less of a failure. Why does it feel like a failure? Is it the weird information-intensive parenting culture we have in this country right now? Maybe I need a post on that…

Anyway. Last week we began a voyage, as I like to think of it, into the Land of Rainbow Foods. I decided to shove off using a bit of guilt as an oar. Specifically, my kid’s promise to his doctor to try new foods.

When we got home from the Boo’s 4-year checkup, it was still early enough for some cartoons. I usually plunk down a bowl of apple slices next to him when he watches TV (partly because I cannot abide crumbs). This time I put a few rainbow baby carrots in the bowl. The Boo brought one to me, protesting, and I reminded him of his promise. He went away, took a minuscule bite, and brought the carrot back to me. Then he did the same with the other two carrots in the bowl. The bites were so comedically small it was hard to tell they were there at all, but they were. And he had fulfilled his end of the deal.

I believe they refer to this as baby steps. It’s also interesting to note that he did exactly what I asked, no more, no less. I believe they call that meeting expectations.

Meanwhile, I’ve been putting new or different foods on his plate, especially at snack time, with limited success. And I’ve eased off on the “you promised Dr. E” thing because frankly it feels weird to say that all the time. I want him to try new foods because he’s curious about what’s out there in the food universe, not because of a directive some middle-aged guy he sees once or twice a year.

Meanwhile, we had something of a breakthrough. The Boo and I were making chocolate snack balls the other day (mostly dates and oats and nuts*), which was a treat for him because a) food processor! and b) he gets to pour stuff in and push buttons. I had asked him to dump in the cashews, and out of the corner of my eye I saw him put one in his mouth. And chew it. And swallow it. I asked how he liked it, and he said, “It was yucky, Mama.”

Apparently I should have left well enough alone. But I learned, or rather remembered, something important about my kid: He doesn’t like an audience. Ask him to sing a song he knows and he’ll say he forgot how. Walk away and you’ll hear him singing it to himself five minutes later.

I reminded my husband of this tendency one night at dinner when we were both cajoling the Boo to try some roasted veggies I’d put on his plate. And as soon as the parental Eye of Sauron was off him, he tried the quinoa-farro salad I’d put on there. And declared it yummy.

I believe they call that “progress.”

 

*I adapted my recipe from this one at the excellent Minimalist Baker. All amounts approximate: 1 1/2 cups of oats, 12-14 medjool dates (I like the nice gooey ones from the produce section at Trader Joe’s, make sure to remove the pits), 1/2 cup cashews, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, cinnamon to taste, maybe 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, and 3-4 ounces good quality melted bittersweet chocolate. Whiz until pulverized, form into balls, store in fridge, don’t eat too many or your gut will yell at you. Sometimes it’s not sticky enough and I add some coconut oil, maple syrup, honey or a few more dates.

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As we’ve journeyed through the jungle that is feeding a baby, or at least feeding this baby, we have discovered that Baboo favors the novelty of food that comes out of packets.

That’s right: baby food now comes in squeeze-out packets. I discovered this just before we took the baby on a plane for the first time. I think I fell on my knees in Schnucks.

Anyway. Even a baby knows food from a tube is cooler than food from a tub, so one or two packets a week quickly becomes one or two a day and suddenly you’re all like, how did I spend $50 on one bag of groceries? Oh, easy: a gallon of organic milk and squeeze tubes of baby food.

It’s not that the kid doesn’t like the food I make him. I know this because on several occasions, something I’d offered him from a bowl was rejected, only to be greeted with enthusiasm when squeezed out of a Frankensteined packet. But that approach quickly became tedious, and the bottom closure was always problematic.

So my research-happy hubs hopped online and found several refillable food pouch options. And of course we picked the cutest ones: Squooshies.
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And so now even if Baboo rejects something, we can still get him to giggle at whatever animal we’re waving in front of him. Much better.

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the baby has gotten very interested in putting things away and taking things out of bins. He’s also gotten very picky about what he will eat. So when he expressed interest in the grapes I was washing this morning, I sliced a few up for him and put them on his tray.

He picked up a piece and held it out to the side, as if to throw it on the floor. I asked him if he wanted to put it back on the cutting board, and held it out to him.

He put pieces of grape on the cutting board and took them off the cutting board for the next five minutes. He was very deliberate about which pieces he wanted to pick up and put somewhere else, as well as exactly where he wanted to put them. I was unable to discern any outward logic, but to him it was very serious business.

He did not eat any of the fruit, but it sure was fun to watch him wrangle those grape bits with the gravitas of Bobby Fischer.

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I'm over 40. I'm raising a first grader. Hear me roar.

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