Damien began eating solids about a week before he was 5 months old. Just like Aiden, he began showing early signs of being ready. If a baby could demand to be included in mealtimes, that’s exactly what Damien would look like. We began with a few simple foods, but he really just wanted to eat what we were eating. So, although we felt we were pretty liberal with Aiden (who also started early) in terms of texture, Damien tops him in terms of variety.
Following more of a ‘baby led weaning’ technique, I have not been as concerned with introducing multiple foods at once. I keep track of what he eats so I can back off several items if an allergy appears. His first foods were apple, banana and rice cereal, though he is not a fan of bland or mushy food. I only mushed his banana twice before he was totally fine chewing or swallowing lumpy pieces. He’s totally off rice cereal and even baby oatmeal got a big ‘No’ from him this morning. Who can blame him, really, when his other meals include tasty things like lasagna or meatballs?
Feeding Damien table food that is well cooked / soft has made it possible for him to eat almost everything we do with no extra preparation. He eats chunks of chicken (which I recall briefly making into a chunky puree for Aiden), rice and pieces of vegetables with no issue.
In the video above, Damien is enjoying two of his favourite foods: chicken and mango.
Toddlers are picky eaters. It’s one of the only things in their lives they have control over, so you really can’t blame them. As a baby, Aiden would eat almost anything I put in front of him (except fish). As a toddler, not so much.
Though he does like his food with some pizzaz (heck, he’ll ask for hot sauce on a quesedilla), he has definite preferences for types of food and how its presented to him. He also goes through food phases where a much beloved food (butter chicken) can suddenly become one of the many foods on the “no yike it” list.
Though we try not to cook for Aiden, our cooking choices are definitely impacted by what Aiden will or will not eat. We try to offer him a variety of healthy foods, so we tend to cook meals where we can set aside items he may like before mixing, saucing or spicing them up for ourselves, if necessary. We will also less frequently make foods he has never enjoyed, which is kind of a pity when we like those foods ourselves.
Aiden likes foods unmixed. He prefers his vegetables steamed only (no sauces of any kind) and doesn’t like most foods that group together (stir-fry, casserole, etc). In some cases, we can deconstruct the meals, taking out the food items he’s likely to eat and presenting them separately. I recently discovered that he will in fact eat fruit salad – if I re-separate out the constituent parts. Go figure.
I wish feeding a toddler was a straightforward thing, but it’s not. There are mysteries to every food critic, including mine, such as:
- Why will Aiden only eat cheese that is melted? Or Babybel (sometimes)?
- Why will he eat Mexican rice, with carrots and corn, but not other rice dishes?
- Why will he eat skin on apples but not touch fruit like kiwi or strawberries (because they look like they have seeds)?
- Why will he eat steak with a sauce on it but not the broccoli with the same sauce?
Our Picky Eater Tactics
We’ve tried many things to get Aiden to eat a more varied diet. Some of them have worked. For example, I can get Aiden to eat more fruit if I offer peanut butter for dipping. The same trick has not worked for vegetables or other food, however, as he doesn’t like other dips of any kind or even ketchup.
I’ve found that if I offer a plate of food with at least one food I know he likes, in a smaller quantity, that he will sometimes continue after that food onto others. Sometimes cutting food into new shapes, or involving him in its preparation, will work – but mostly not. Bribery (yes, tried it) works to get Aiden to eat more of a certain food, but won’t compel him to eat other foods he’s rejected at that particular meal.
We repeatedly offer Aiden new foods to try. To give him credit, he does try a lot of foods – some of them are just spit out after a few chews or rejected after a couple of bites. Other times, persistence pays off. This past week, Aiden has tried a strawberry, ravioli, oatmeal and brussels sprouts. He’s been offered these many times before, and even used to like some of them, but had rejected them for a long span of time. We typically just place the food on his plate – a verbal question on trying the food will always be met with a ‘No’.
We will continue to make progress, and have set-backs, I’m sure. This piece of advice has helped me a lot in struggling with this issue: consider a toddler diet as a week-long balancing act. Some days they may eat a lot of protein, others a lot of fruit. So long as the week seems to balance, don’t worry too much about the day-to-day.
Is your toddler a picky eater? In what way?
When Aiden was younger, we spent months looking for the ‘perfect bib’. Our favourite in the end was the JJ Cole Waterproof Bib. That was, of course, until Aiden decided he would no longer wear plastic bibs. He wanted fabric. Ugh. Large toddler-sized cloth bibs are impossible to find, though we had a small stack we’d use before we’d have to do laundry. They weren’t exactly clean for every use.
A few days ago, I spotted a plastic bib at Whole Foods from Crocodile Creek with robots on it and thought we’d give it a try again. Aiden loves robots and is always extremely excited to wear shirts with robots on them. We gave it a shot and… success! So it was all about playing to Aiden’s tastes, in the end.
Finally a bib we can keep clean!
Although we often default to White Spot for a quick & easy family meal, particularly in groups, I really have to give props to Boston Pizza for catering to kids. It’s not my favourite restaurant for food for myself, but their kids menu is great.
Although the menu features the regular unhealthy kids fare options of all other restaurants, they do offer baked salmon for those kids who’ll eat it, and Aiden will most definitely eat their steamed veggies. Unlike the stale veggie sticks at White Spot, he actually gets his veggies this way.
The restaurant will offer crackers before the meal, wipes for after, and a whole mini colouring book for the little guys. It’s quite a nice set-up. The only downside to the menu is that a drink isn’t bundled into the meal price, like it is at some places. But, it’s not a dealbreaker.
I was recently given the Black & Decker Convection Countertop Oven along with 19 other Canadian bloggers as part of the Black & Decker Ultimate Sandwich contest for Mom Central Canada. We were asked to use this awesome new convection oven to come up with a delicious sandwich recipe. I wanted to try to make my favourite kind of sandwich – a torta!
A typical Mexican torta is served on a crusty roll and is served hot. Some aspects of the sandwich may be deep fried or covered in butter. We try to be health conscious in our family, so I challenged myself to come up with my favourite torta (the Milanesa, a breaded and fried chicken or steak) in a healthy way. The convection oven allowed me to make a breaded cutlet that was crispy – not soggy – and delicious!
Healthy Torta Milanesa
This recipe features warm fresh bread filled with a breaded cutlet, melted cheese, black beans and avocado. The flavours are accentuated by the adobo sauce and a splash of lime juice. Great to adapt to any taste and welcomes additions of shredded lettuce, spicy pickled carrots or tomatillo salsa. Makes a great stand-alone meal or main to go with a black bean soup.
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/8 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- salt & pepper
- 2 chicken, veal or steak cutlets
- 1 can refried black beans
- 1 avocado sliced thinly (or mashed, if you prefer to spread it)
- 2 bake @ home buns (substitute crusty french rolls or panini bread if needed)
- Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese, sliced
- Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced or your favourite smokey hot sauce
- lime juice, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 and bake rolls for 10 minutes, until lightly golden. If you have pre-baked buns, skip this step.
- In a small bowl, lightly beat eggs. In another small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, parsley and a dash of salt & pepper
- Line oven tray with tinfoil or parchment paper, for easy clean up. If your cutlets are thick, prepare them by using a meat tenderizer between plastic wrap or lightly score the outside. Dip the cutlets into the egg mixture to coat, then in the bread crumbs. Place breaded cutlets on tray (fits 2 cutlets)
- Bake cutlets for 20 minutes, flipping half way through. Use thermometer to verify cooking time, depending on thickness of cutlets.
- Meanwhile, slice your buns most of the way through and lay flat. On one side, generously apply black beans.
- Place cooked cutlet on opposite side of bun and add cheese. Return to baking tray for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.
- Remove sandwiches from oven. Add sliced avocado, or spread mashed avocado over the beans. Add adobo sauce and chopped chipotle peppers, to taste. Squeeze on some fresh lime juice.
For additional photos, please visit my Flickr set.
Disclosure: I created this post as part of the Black & Decker Ultimate Sandwich contest as part of a Mom Central Canada program. I received a Convection Countertop Oven Courtesy of Applica Canada Corporation, exclusive licensee of Black & Decker Home. The opinions on this blog are my own.