Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eat Your Heart Out: Food Input Requested!

Yesterday a friend said in an email that her 16-month-old has 17 teeth. I replied that wow, she must be able to chew even rocks and tires, while I still have to blend them for Ms. Anna Eight-Tooth. And she said Don't tell me you're still blending food?

And I knew I'd been outed: I am clueless about kid food.

Really, the formula was brutally expensive, but at least it was simple. Now it's all "2 1-ounces servings of this, 4 2-ounce or 2 4-ounce servings of that..." I had a good system worked out with the blended veggie cubes, but my friend is right: it's time for the girl to start chewing more and eating more table food.

She will eat quite a few things we eat, but she is funny about textures. Too chewy or too much of a skin and at least some of it comes back out. So I cop out and feed her the blended slop so I know she's getting her veggies. For example, usually (non-pureed) green beans are rejected although, go figure, peas are fine. Cooked carrots and sweet potatoes, she could eat all day; corn, broccoli, forget it. Lunchmeat, yes; chicken, no (unless it's a McD's Chicken MushNugget--sorry to say that I even know that). She will eat ground beef in spaghetti or Mexican but not in hamburger form. She likes chili beans and the like as well as baked beans (we don't call her Fartypants for nothing). She loves fruit, cheese, crackers, bread any time, any where.

I think perhaps I have been worrying a bit too much about "following the rules," getting her the exact number of servings and such, but obviously she does need her protein and it would be good if she did continue to eat vegetables, not just fruit, and maybe even something other than the ever-popular sweet potato. So my questions to you are:
  • What does/did your toddler eat? (Anna is 18 months.)
  • What do you suggest for meat and veggies in particular? Cooking tips?
  • What are some favorite easy things you give your kid when what you're eating won't work, or a couple favorites for breakfast, lunch, dinner?

And for bonus points:
  • Why is a zucchini a fruit, not a vegetable?
  • Which one is an avocado, anyway?

Thanks for playing, and stay tuned for future episodes: taking away the nap time bottle and potty training!


Karen said...

Amilia's only 8 months, so I can't really play your game, but I *am* going to shamelessly steal all the suggestions people come up with!! :-)

Anonymous said...

"Friend" says, hopefully you didn't take offense at my comment!! Not meant that way at all. It sounds like you're doing great--really! And so is Anna.

Anonymous said...

Oops--"friend" wanted to add: a zucchini has seeds! Right? So pits and seeds mean it's a fruit. So there must be far fewer vegetables than we think...

Tiki R said...

I can tell you only what my experience was when the girls were about Anna's age.

Breakfast Foods They Loved:
Mini-Eggo Waffles with Homemade Strawberry Jam
Granola with Raisins

Lunch Foods They Loved:
Gerber Toddler Meals
Any Pasta-I mean, ANY Pasta!
Peas, carrots, mashed potatoes, cooked green beans
Any Kind of Fruit

Dinner Foods They Loved:
Same Fruits and Veggies as above
Any type of SOUP
Chicken fingers with ranch or marinara dipping sauce
Lasagna and Spaghetti
Pulled Pork

I don't know if any of this helps you or not. We never did blended food. They starting eating table food by the time they were 12 months old and we skipped the afternoon milk by 15 months. No milk in bottles after that either. They both seem pretty healthy to me!

As far as potty training goes, ask someone else. I haven't a clue. The only advice that held true was that they will just do it in their own time. And that they have! :)

-Your Pal Ren

Anonymous said...

A few ideas that paid off for me---#1-never get into a 'food fight' (read power struggle) with your kiddo, as you will only lose,your child will learn their power and control of you and their ability to cause you untold frustration. #2 most children will eat a balanced and nutritious diet when presented w/good choices, even if they only eat carbs one day, then meat and fruit the next. #3 when you read those child dev. books you see 18mo to 2 can be the toughest time--1st adolescence it can be called. It's all about independence/making their own choices.Giving her choices of 2 items that are both good choices makes her feel that she has control--win/win for both of you. #4 Keep some variety in her meals--it's what we all want :) That way she's less likely to be 'stuck' on some favorites and never want to try anything else. Sent with love and best wishes for smooth times! You are doing a fine & fab job!!!

WMW said...

Thanks, friends! (And for the record, "Friend" is a friend; the quotes do not imply otherwise!)

Hmm, Anna actually eats a lot of that stuff, Ren. Maybe I just didn't realize how much. I'm not sure she'd go for pulled pork yet, though it sounds good to me!

And y'all should know that "Anonymous" is clearly identifiable as my mother, who well knows her children's "power and control of you and their ability to cause you untold frustration"!

Amy said...

Jumping in a little late, but here's what we did with Roman: (by the way, the person who listed those foods got it right on!)

Every type of fruit we could give him
Hot dogs
mac & Cheese
crackers & cheese
those Lil' Entrees for quick meals
raisins (limit these, bad for teeth our dentist said)
Asparagus. Loved it straight from the can. I know, gross.
Mashed potatoes. Crinkle fries.

As your mom said, kids will balance out their meals themselves as long as they have healthy choices. Our ped. said to look at his diet over a week to see if it was balanced. You cannot balance each day perfectly. Kids won't let you!
The big mistake we made was fixing separate things for Roman at dinner. We didn't put him on "our" table food early enough and we're still paying the price of a picky 5-year-old. He also doesn't like carbs, which I think is weird.
Hope this helps!

Amy said...

Oh, and Roman loved to dip. He thought it was so great to dip his food in ketchup, honey, marinara sauce, ranch dressing, he even likes salsa.

Amy said...

Sorry to keep posting. I should really organize my thoughts first.
We gave a lot of lunchmeat to Roman for protein; he didn't like peanut butter (still doesn't) so he had a lot of bologna, turkey, ham. We'd get it slivered or "julienned" at the deli.

As for cooking tips, we steamed the veggies for him, or fixed a big batch of say, mashed potatoes, then divided it up. But don't fall into our trap! Give Anna stuff that you're eating, along with one or two things that you know she'll eat. That way she'll *hopefully* try new as well as fill herself up with familiar.

RMMcDowell said...

We always just cut up what we were eating and gave that to Ellie. She ate it, or she didn't, but mostly she learned to.

I was also going to say what your mom and Amy said about how the week balances itself out. The important thing is to give a variety of colors in the fruits and veggies. I do recommend cucumbers, where kids can eat the skins if they want or they can eat the cucumber out of the skin. Of course, if seeds is the definition, then cucumbers might be fruits, too. I say as long as all of the fruits your child is eating are not sweet fruits, then you can count them as veggies. Let's not forget that the pyramid says fruits OR veggies.

We started Ellie out early on oatmeal--old fashioned cooked, which is what I also eat--with some cinnamon and honey in it. You can also mix in whatever fruit is in season or what you have frozen from summer. For protein, might I recommend the ever-favorite cheese stick. It's a really quick and easy snack that covers some dairy and some protein.

Oh, and eggs. Ellie loves, loves, loves eggs. She would eat two of them for every meal if we let her. We started by hard boiling them and moved in to cooking them over hard.

Finally, for the giving up the naptime bottle, here is my suggestion: Nuby Sippy Cups. Once she hit one, we pulled Ellie off of the bottle for water and juice, and we intended to for milk. She had other ideas for some reason. Her normal "hard" sippy cups were fine for anything but milk--we even tried straw cups, which also didn't work for milk. Finally we came across the Nuby Sippy Cups, which have a soft sippy, and she was tricked into believing she was drinking from a bottle. Eventually we eased her from that into a sippy. And then, earlier than most, we moved her into drinking from a regular cup, with no lid. I think many kids are ready for that before adults are ready to trust them with that. Just start with water--less staining. :)

By the way, I agree--you're doing great. Kiddo. ;)

Anonymous said...

My first was picky. My second liked more of the foods we eat. My third has always been a bit omnivorous.

Feed Anna what you're eating, just chop it small and don't give her anything round (grapes that aren't cut), hard (nuts, hard candy), or highly allergic (peanuts, shellfish). Since she seems to need a little more bridging into chewing (which even with eight teeth shouldn't be a problem, so bridge her into bigger textures) try fish, potatoes, noodles galore. My guys have all liked mac and cheese. Give her her hamburger in small bits.

Other staples in my kids diet at that age:
oatmeal (aka "eatmeal")
Eggo Waffles (galore!)
scrambled eggs
gerber graduates meals, fruits and veggies.
mac and cheese
grilled cheese
crackers and cream cheese
soups, just drain the liquid and they're not so messy but the food is soft

Hope that helps. Your little Anna is just as cute as can be.