I miss the days of blogging about baby-led weaning meals for 8 month olds and favorite freezer foods for babies. Watching Kaitlyn keep up with the big kids on the tennis court yesterday was yet another reminder that the baby days are behind me. Luckily we’ve entered into a new phase that is never dull, full of funny thoughts and crazy antics, that keeps my hands full and my heart happy. Now I have two energetic preschoolers that are growing and thriving, despite their very different eating styles.
I wanted to share a few meals we’ve had lately and discuss how my kids differ in their eating preferences. I think many people assume I have had two adventurous eaters from the start. While that may ring true with Hailey, Kaitlyn has required more consistency and patience. Let’s take a look!
Hailey (age 5 1/2)
Favorite Food: She’ll now answer with mac ‘n cheese even though I don’t really think that’s true. She will much more enthusiastically eat popcorn, shrimp, roasted sweet potato, and egg and avocado on toast but I think her friends say mac ‘n cheese so she does too.
Challenges: I’ll be honest, there aren’t many. She eats anything I put in front of her, usually without question. Even the kale microgreens in the above picture.
Successes: The magic phrase with Hailey has always been “if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.” I have a firm policy on not saying “ew” or “gross” about food, so if it is something she isn’t thrilled about, she knows she can just leave it alone.
Also, introducing a wide variety of foods and combinations from the start has worked well for her. She gets excited about trying new foods and her story about eating octopus is still one of her favorite tales to tell.
Kaitlyn (age 2 1/2 — almost 3)
Favorite Food: Yogurt. Almost hands down on this one, but she really loves roasted sweet potatoes too.
Challenges: Hm, where to start? Ha. I feel the biggest challenge with Kaitlyn and eating is keeping her focused. She honestly just does not care that much about food in general. She is almost 3 and I still have to help focus her attention at meal time by sitting with her and sometimes helping her take bites. She often wants to get up mid-meal to dance or sing songs.
She also is prone to liking one thing on her plate over everything else. Hailey saves what she likes best for last (on her own). Kaitlyn gobbles down the cut fruit or green beans and asks for more of that one food without touching anything else, knowing that I rarely waver on my policy of at least trying (and sometimes eating all of) what is on her plate before receiving more of a certain food (we start with small amount of all portions).
She’s not a big meat eater. I don’t know if it’s texture or what, but it’s always the last thing she reaches for. I’m not against pulling out ketchup to help in this arena.
Successes: Consistency. Man, this hasn’t always been easy but it’s certainly why she’s even a little bit of a good eater. I’ve found having 2 kids, the second definitely benefits from relaxed rules, but I’ve stuck to my guns about limited snacking (if she has a snack in the afternoon, she’ll eat 2 bites of dinner) and not being a short order cook. The whole family eats the same thing and usually at the same time (not always, but usually).
Overall I will say my kids are both pretty good eaters. Hailey perhaps mostly by luck, but Kaitlyn certainly because of strategy.
I think using the baby-led weaning approach to introducing solids was a big part in their foundation for good eating habits because it helped familiarize them with different textures and flavors early on, as well as had us all eating the same thing so David and I could lead by example.
I haven’t touched on it in a while, but it’s because I’ve been behind the scenes working my tail off on updating and revising my book: A Mom’s Practical Guide to Baby Led Weaning. It’s basically all my experience and research crammed into a compact guide to help others navigate through the exciting, but sometimes intimidating, world of feeding babies.
I would love for you to check it out if you are or know someone that is having a baby. I wholeheartedly believe good eaters are created by starting early and staying consistent. All kids are different and have their own strengths and challenges, mine certainly do, but I’m grateful that overall food and mealtime is not a big issue in our house.
I know eating habits are a hot button topic. Trust me, we have faced our own eating challenges (and honestly staying seated at the table for an entire meal is still something we are working on), but I hope that hearing how other moms run meal time in their house proves helpful. So I’d love if you’d join in on the conversation…
What rules have you instilled that help meal time run smoothly in your house?
What challenges do you face when feeding your kids?
If you have more than 1 child, how do their eating habits differ?