(Photo courtesy of Google Images)
“Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
My first born child came into this world at nine-and-a-half pounds, beautiful, alert and HUNGRY. As an infant and toddler, her cheeks were so chubby that they almost dangled like a basset hounds’ jowls.
Aside from some initial sputtering the first time she tried semi-solid food, this child of mine has been a champion eater. She not only enjoys the typical foods kids like, such as mac and cheese, french fries and ice cream; she also really loves some non-typical “kid” foods, like salmon, raw tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, and chili with a decent amount of heat. She eats with gusto; so much so, that despite my best efforts at teaching manners, she often wipes her face on her sleeve, or not at all, so that there is minimal interruption to her enjoyment of her meal.
The few foods she doesn’t enjoy range from the typical (brussels sprouts) to just odd; what kid doesn’t like peanut butter? Or milk? But hey, I’m not going to complain. No PB&J sandwiches for this kid, I’m fine with that. Crackers and hummus and grapes and cheese for lunch? Thumbs up kiddo!
My second born weighed in at birth at seven-and-a-half pounds; still a very healthy weight. Also beautiful and alert. But HUNGRY…not so much. From the very beginning, it was difficult to even get her to breastfeed. At her two-week checkup, the doctor uttered the words that bear down on a new mother like a one-ton anvil of guilt: “failure to thrive”. Granted, this wasn’t a definitive statement, an accusation or a judgment. They were words of caution, as in, if you can’t get your baby to put on some weight, and quickly, we may be dealing with a failure to thrive situation. I left the doctor’s office that day with tears burning my eyes. I was no slacker mother, I wasn’t neglectful, I loved this precious baby! What was I doing wrong?
Turns out, nothing. Well, except for possibly passing along my acid reflux, although the pediatrician assured me that it’s not hereditary (I’m not convinced, but I haven’t done enough research to confidently refute the doctors’ statement). As it turned out, feeding, burping and placing my baby girl on her back to sleep resulted in her spitting up nearly everything she had just been fed. So I started putting her to sleep in a semi-sitting position. The issues resolved themselves and 5 years later, she is indeed a thriving child.
She still doesn’t like to eat.
I can probably list on two hands the entirety of the foods she will eat. Mac and cheese, hot dogs, applesauce, canned mandarin oranges, crackers, hummus, pizza, PB&J, and I’m hard pressed to think of anything else. Oh, bread. Rolls, specifically. Potato rolls. With butter. And lastly, cheese.
I am not kidding, that is IT. NO fresh fruits, absolutely no vegetables (please no one tell her what hummus is made of), no real meat. Her pediatrician, as an authority figure who isn’t Mama, told her she needs to eat vegetables and fruit…nope. My mother, her beloved Grammie, as another authority figure who isn’t Mama, said to her, “Why not have some chicken? You need to eat some protein to be strong!”. Her very matter-of-fact reply was: “Grammie. There is protein in cheese. I learned that in kindergarten.”
She doesn’t like watermelon. WHAT KID DOESN’T LIKE WATERMELON??? Or strawberries? Or carrots, sweet peppers, eggs, or oatmeal?
And while I am very willing to listen to any and all suggestions on how to get this kid to eat, I have to let you know that I have tried many different tactics. I’ve tried the You Don’t Have To Eat What Is On The Table, But I’m Not Making You Anything Else. I’ve tried sneaking veggies into pasta sauce—she not only picked out the little bitty pieces of shredded carrot, she then refused to eat pasta sauce altogether. I’ve tried smoothies, juices, bribery, incentives, tricks, even growing our own vegetables in the hope that she’d eat what she grew…but it seems the more I have tried, the more determined she has become to stick with the very few foods she enjoys.
She’s a good kid, she’s happy, she’s smart, she’s social and she’s loving. I give her vitamins. I try not to worry too much. I just hope that her palate will expand as she gets older and that eventually, she will eat something green.