FEEDING YOUR CHILD: PICKY EATERS
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CHRISTINE WOOD: Picky Eaters and kids who refuse to try new foods are common problems that many parents face. In most cases, these are phases and stages of their development that when handled skilfully can be overcome and these young upstarts can actually develop fairly normal eating behaviours. I’m Dr. Christine Wood, author of the book How to Eat Great & Love It.
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SUNNY GAULT: Welcome to Parent Savers broadcasting from the Birth Education Centre of San Diego. Parent Savers is your weekly online on-the-go support group for parents from the newborn years through kindergarten.
I’m your guest host, Sunny Gault. Our fearless leader, Johner Riehl is actually out doing some wonderful things with his family today; so I’m pitch-hitting. Thanks to all of our loyal listeners who joined us week in and week out. Thanks also to all of those who are listening for the first time.
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So, let’s start this conversation by meeting everyone who’s joining us here on the studio. I guess I’ll kick things off. I am Sunny. I am a mom of four. I have two boys – Sayer and Urban. Sayer is 3 ½ and he is my picky eater. Urban is almost two years old and that kid will eat anything.
Then, I have twin identical girls who are 2 ½ months old and they just eat mama’s milk. So, they’re pretty easy right now. Let’s go around the room. So, Erin how about you?
ERIN ESTEVES: Hi. My name is Erin and I’m also known as OG Mama Sita Officially Geriatric that is thank you very much. I have one boy. He’s two-ish and extraordinarily picky.
SUNNY GAULT: Yes.
ERIN ESTEVES: Yes.
SUNNY GAULT: Mj?
MJ FISHER: I’m Mj Fisher. I have a 2 ½ year old son named Jason who he sort of every now and then he’s a picky eater. Hopefully, I can have something – add to the conversation today.
SUNNY GAULT: All right and Jane. Jane’s new to our show.
JANE GAMBLE: Hi. I’m Jane Gamble and I have a two year old son Kayden and he has a lot of Sensory Processing Disorder issues and Oral Motor issues. So, he’s very picky.
SUNNY GAULT: Okay, well everybody thank you for joining us today.
DR. JENNIFER SCHERE: Hello Parent Savers. I’m Dr. Jennifer Schere, a clinical psychologist with a practice in San Diego. One of my specialties is: “Working with women during pregnancy and throughout the transition to motherhood.” Today’s segment is on: “How to best handle your baby’s cry.”
Babies’ cries are design to get us to respond. Their cry and the alarm sets off in us is the way the attachment system works. Baby’s cries are meant as an attachment signal to get you to come closer and provide safety. However, with crazy hormones, lack of sleep and heightened emotion about this huge new responsibility, we often get dominated by our own anxiety when our baby cries. It is easy to get lost in our own fears.
Some strategies for responding to your baby’s cry and not reacting to your own anxieties are the try to get cognitive. By that I mean, think of baby’s cry as a form of communication. They are signalling that they need something. It can help to create a short menu in your mind of the three basic options on the baby menu. Is baby needing to be held, fed or changed?
Much of the time, if you go through this brief mental checklist, you will decipher the mystery of that momentary discomfort. Know that the more times you go through this process with baby, the more comfortable you will feel in combating the initial helplessness.
Sometimes, it will take you and baby longer to discern what the need is. However baby’s cries tend to get shorter and less intense. We may have repeated experience of your responsiveness even if you haven’t actually responded to what the need is quite yet. Your consistent responsiveness builds trust and this helps them tolerate some discomfort just a little bit better.
So, if your baby’s cry feels like a constant panic button, just remember that baby is simply saying: “I need something.” Your job is to let her or him know you hear and you care. Thanks for listening to Parent Savers. I hope the short piece helps put mommy minds just a bit more at ease and keep listening for more episodes on how to thrive as a new parent.
SUNNY GAULT: All right, today’s topic is: “Feeding your child picky eaters” and we’re talking with Christine Wood. She’s joining us here on the studio. Christine, we’re talking all about: “Picky eaters” because as parents here in the studio, it drives us crazy.
ERIN ESTEVES: Crazy.
CHRISTINE WOOD: Yes.
SUNNY GAULT: We don’t want to cook like five different meals depending on how many kids you have in the house, right?
ERIN ESTEVES: We don’t want our kids to starve either.
SUNNY GAULT: Exactly. So, let’s start with the basics. Christine, what is a picky eater?
CHRISTINE WOOD: That is a really good question because I often get this topic coming up in my paediatric office. A lot of times when I really start asking I go: “You know what; they’re a normal picky eater.” So, sometimes parents really have their own thoughts about what a picky eater is and it’s driving them crazy. But when I really start to delve in, they eat fine.
You have to kind of look at all of those developmental stages and you have the 2 ½ month old that you said. Yes, they just feed breast milk, isn’t that easy? It’s so fun. It’s so nice. They don’t have a choice, right? You know unless you start with some breastfeeding challenges, it’s usually just kind of you’re on the road right?
Then, parents get into the solid stages, right? You know when they’re usually 6 to 12 months, it’s still pretty easy. Most of the time, they’ll take it. But, I occasionally get that one who like to go the parents got: “He hated the carrots.” At six months you go: “How do they know?”
But, the other thing to realize is: “As I get into the one year stage, they all get a little picky.” Kids don’t like to try new things, right? They’re very fearful of new places, new people, new foods, right? Also, they start to get a little defiant, all right. I mean a lot of you who have the two year olds so I’m sure it’s not that hard to look back at the year and go: “My gosh, the switch just went on and they just stop listening to me.”
You have to kind of realize that they’re some developmental things that are normal around picky eating. So, the picky eater to me – if you look at the normal picky eater, they’re the ones who kind of have the few foods they love the food. Then the next day, they don’t want it anymore. The parents are going crazy. They’d go;’ “My gosh, I just bought 10 pounds of carrots and now they don’t want it anymore.” So, you’re on to the next food, right?
You’re trying to find something new. But, they still get a few foods in each food group. That’s kind of your normal picky eater in that each group, okay? Then, you get some of those kids and there are some kids who I call them the “Ultra Picky Eaters” where really, they are really hound into just a few things. They’re very challenging to try anything new and to kind of branch out. We can get more into that.
But, that’s what I try to teach parents’ is: “There’s kind of a normal picky eating around that 1 to 2 year range” in that preschool range. So, you have to kind of accept some of those challenges.
SUNNY GAULT: Yes, so grin and bear it for a little bit at least.
CHRISTINE WOOD: Yes but there are some strategies. So, we’ll get into that.
ERIN ESTEVES: Well, now I know my kid’s not normal.
SUNNY GAULT: Why do you say that?
ERIN ESTEVES: Because just as she described – he will only eat certain foods. He refuses to others and if I even get them near him, if he just sees them on the plate; a temper tantrum will ensue. He gets extraordinarily upset.
If the plate is near him, he’ll pull the food off and throw it on the floor and then the plate’s going on the air.
CHRISTINE WOOD: Okay, so I have a question. How do you react to that? What do you do?
ERIN ESTEVES: Calmly, most of the time and occasionally I get frustrated.
CHRISTINE WOOD: Absolutely.
ERIN ESTEVES: Usually, I just say: “Okay, I don’t know what else to give you. I don’t know what you want and then I always kind of like revert to my husband if he’s there.”
CHRISTINE WOOD: Okay. So, the tantrums the kids who have those rolled significant tantrums – that is not an uncommon behaviour that you’ll see. You know, what I try to teach parents’ is: “You don’t want to battle them.” If you’re starting to make this a battle, you’re going to lose. I tell parents: “There are a few things you can’t force your kids to do.”
You can’t force them to swallow the food. I suppose you can shove it in their mouth. You can’t force them to sleep, right? You can’t force that. You can’t force them to potty-trained. So, we have to sort of give up some battles.
Now, for that kind of kid; my thought for you would be: “To do what I call sensory introductions all right?” So, you might just say to him one night: “You know what? We’re just going to put the broccoli on your plate. You don’t have to touch it, eat it, nothing, okay? But we just want you to see the broccoli.
What colour is it? How does a broccoli grow? Let’s talk about broccoli. Let’s learn about broccoli, okay? You want to get to know the food, all right? That’s what I call “Visual Introduction.”
Then, from there – the next time and this works really great with the sensory kids too. You might ask them to touch it and just say: “What is the touch feel like? Is it squishy? Is it hard? Is it soft? What is that texture feels like to you in your fingers? Boom, that’s it. You’re not asking them to pick it up and eat it because that’s usually where the battle starts.
You know, when they know it’s on their plate because you want them to eat it, isn’t that where they’re like: “They’re all anxious and upset about it right?” So, then from there you might be able to get them to lick the food and you might be able to next time get them to taste the food.
Now, you get some kids who absolutely that’s like even a challenge and in that case, I usually just say: “You know what? You’re going to do other strategies also in there.” I’ll use smoothies. I’ll do sneak stuff. I even have parents do baby food and add it into things.
So there are other things as a parent you feel like: “Okay, they’re getting a few things. But, if they’re really getting a few choices in every food group, you’re still probably: “Okay.”
MJ FISHER: I have a question because what I have done lately is: “I just want you to try it.” If you don’t like it, you can spit it out. He usually tries it and he goes: “I like it mommy.” But, I don’t know if that’s good because I’m not like I don’t know. I don’t want to – I have any issue.
We always had an issue with him eating, getting enough, just making sure that he has enough and but it became a power struggle. That, I knew that that wasn’t going to be a good thing trying to have especially with a toddler – it wasn’t going to work; so in him: “I don’t want to eat dinner. Okay, that’s fine. You don’t have to eat but we’d like you to sit with us.”
So, we just kind of do it that way but to think that there’s a problem with that?
CHRISTINE WOOD: No.
MJ FISHER: Okay.
CHRISTINE WOOD: Now, she’s got that more “Ultra Picky Eater,” doesn’t even want it on the plate, all that. You’ve got a kid who at least tried it which is great. You kind have to meet them where they are, all right?
MJ FISHER: Okay.
CHRISTINE WOOD: Your kid, you could definitely do – I call it “One bite rule or a thank you bite.” You’re thanking the people who grew the food; prepare the food, sold the food, whatever it is. You’re doing a little thank you bite, okay – if you don’t like it that’s fine.
Yes, I do allow kids sometimes those kids who just say: “A.” You can spit it out if you want. That’s okay but we just want you to taste it. The study shows that 10 to 15 times of introducing and tasting a food, a kid may actually turn around and like it.
Now, I have a 20 year old. So, I’m like way pass you guys. But, I still remember when he was little; he loved croutons out of salads. So, he gets a crouton but he has to have a bite of salad. One night, I still remember this night because one night we had a Caesar Salad, he’s eating the croutons, and he ate a bite of the salad. It’s usually just a little late one little tiny piece of lettuce, right?
But, this night, he just kept eating the salad. Of course, I didn’t say anything. I don’t want to go: “Yoo-hoo.” From then on, he’d like salads. So, after time, this can be very appositive type of effect. Sometimes, we have to look at our reactions. We get very uptight. We very get very involved. We take it personally, right? Our kids don’t eat. We take that personally.
Sometimes you just have to really let that go. You have to just say to yourself: “You know what? They’re growing fine. They’re nutritionally okay.” Give them some vitamins and Omega Three, fats if you want. There are lots of other things you can kind of do to add to their nutritional support if you want.
But, sometimes you have to just look at the bottom line, you know what? I could create more problems by putting more pressure. That is what happens sometimes. You know when you have your two year old and then you say: “Do you want to do this?” If they’re in that one of those moods, they don’t want to do it, right? It’s the same thing with eating. The more we want them to do it, sometimes a less they do it.
ERIN ESTEVES: I keep telling myself when I get in those moments of frustrations – I’m like: “Erin Elizabeth, there’s going to be a time when this kid is not going to stop eating.”
SUNNY GAULT: Yes. Usually, he’s going to eat you out of the house. That’s my husband keeps telling me.
ERIN ESTEVES: House and home. So, just relax, he’s not going to starve. If he’s hungry, he will eat.
CHRISTINE WOOD: Yes.
ERIN ESTEVES: But it can be frustrating especially when you make stuff from scratch and he had eaten it before and now, suddenly it’s no good.
CHRISTINE WOOD: So, we got to stop taking it personally because that’s what happens. As mothers, we’re there to nurture, feed, grow, cherish our children and when it comes to feeding, and they look at you and going to go: “No, I don’t like it.” It hurts us. We take it personally.
JANE GAMBLE: Food is love.
CHRISTINE WOOD: It is. So, we have to let that piece go. A couple of tips I’ll give you – sometimes like for your kid with Ultra Picky Eater Kid, you might just get a very small plate, literally put one bite of food on the plate of everything. All of a sudden, they probably look at you like: “Is that really all they want me to eat because how many times do we create a plate that we think they should eat and they don’t.”
There’s a very important subject here. It’s called: “Self Regulation.” You kind of mentioned that – you sort of alluded to that that sometimes they’re going to figure out how much they eat, right? We know that toddlers generally are built to self regulate. They should now when they’re hungry, they’re full. That’s what’s great about breastfeeding, right?
We don’t have the ounces on our breasts that say: “They need to drink four ounces.” That’s why some of the study shows that formula-fed babies can often have more issues with being overweight because the moms get that four ounce bottle, right?
Isn’t that always should eat it all because that’s what usually they have whereas with breast milk, we don’t know; we allow them to get sleepy fall-off. We don’t know if it’s two ounces or four ounces that feeding. Food is the same way; we have to allow that self regulation. Kids are generally, there are a few exceptions but kids are generally built with that in.
So, when they did a study on little preschoolers and they found out how many calories they eat during lunch, right? They’d figure out these little toddlers – okay, they eat about this many calories. But, they did in the study is: “They give them juice like about a half hour before lunch.” Those kids cut the number of calories by about that many calories that was in the juice.
So, we have to realize that there’s something built in there. They will eat good days and bad days, right? Some days he eats great, some days they eat very little. Sometimes they have one good meal in the day. Unfortunately, for a lot of kids its dinner is the worse meal, right?
It’s so common and then that’s what the dads get all irate. They’re like: “My gosh. My son’s not eating the food.” So, we have to kind of recognize that sometimes with toddlers, particularly breakfast and lunch maybe they’re best meal which is good. They need that food and energy better in the day than right before bed.
MJ FISHER: Yes. Someone told me to – which was it totally helped me. Don’t look at what they’re eating in a sitting or even in a day like you got to look like a week.
JANE GAMBLE: A big picture.
MJ FISHER: My God. That like saved me. Okay, yes.
ERIN ESTEVES: I mean if I was in breast still breastfeeding him, I would probably be a lot crazier than I am about it because I know – okay, he’s getting, he ain’t going to starve. He’s good.
SUNNY GAULT: How can you tell if a kid is getting enough to eat?
CHRISTINE WOOD: Well, we’d look at the growth curves and when you go to the doctors, you’re going to look at that although kids, follow their own curve, right? So, sometimes I get kids who are fiftieth percentile help but they’re always fiftieth percentile. You’ll look at the parents – they maybe small boned smaller frames so there’s a lot that you want to look at.
You don’t want to just say: “They’re not in the fiftieth percentile or whatever – that’s not necessarily quote normal. Okay, what we’re looking at is: “What’s genetically programmed for them.” So, you want to look at the growth curves. We do see in kids like between 2 and 5, they don’t gain a whole lot of weight from months to month.
I still remember – this is so funny. My mom she would weigh my son. He would go over there every week for babysitting, right? She’s started weighing my son like when he’s 2 or 3, right? She likes to start harping on me. She goes: “She’s not gaining any weight.” I’d go: “Mom, you don’t want him to gain a lot of weight right now.” It’s okay.
She’s telling her daughter paediatrician. Come on mom. He’s growing fine. But sometimes, we do get hang up on these things and we just have to kind of go with the flow and say: “You know what? Genetically, this is where they at. Kids are active, right? They’re not programmed to gain a lot of weight in that age group.” Okay?
SUNNY GAULT: Yes. I think you know too where so use to babies gaining so much weight there in the beginning. That I know, with my first born, he came out 9 pounds 2 ounces and it was just – he was a big baby and kept getting bigger and bigger. Then, once he started to walk, it all kind of came off.
Now, I bet if we’d look at his growth chart now, it would be like a little bit under that 50% but he was always in the 90’s for everything. But, I was just used to him gaining weight. This kid’s not gaining weight. But, I know he’s healthy. But for me, it was that-that point where he kind of grows out of the baby stage and then you kind of – those are his plateau.
MJ FISHER: Exactly.
CHRISTINE WOOD: So, it is important to look at that growth chart and just get a sense of: “Okay, they’re doing what they’re normally do you know when teething and when they’re sick and those kind of things that obviously affects their appetite and all of that.” So, sometimes they have a little dips and some kids do more zigzag patterns kind of growth.
So, there’s kind of various things we’d look at but if your doctor is not concerned about how they’re growing, they’re not what we call falling off the growth curve with a really starting to plateau or lose. They’re probably doing fine and for 99% of the kids, they are fine.
ERIN ESTEVES: So, do you think we maybe hyper focused, needlessly?
CHRISTINE WOOD: Yes.
ERIN ESTEVES: Okay
CHRISTINE WOOD: I mean I think that there’s and I’ll talk about some other things. But, it is – it’s a culture where we feel very strongly about food and food choices in the same culture.
JANE GAMBLE: It’s true or being wasteful.
CHRISTINE WOOD: That’s how we do it.
SUNNY GAULT: That’s another thing that gets to me is that: “I’ll make something for my son and then, two seconds ago, it’s exactly what he wanted and now, he doesn’t want it. I’m like: “Well, I can’t eat that.” At the top of my head I’m like: “I’m trying to lose my baby weight.”
But then, I tried to feed it to the other kid because I’m like: “Come on you guys. I don’t want any over leftovers of that or whatever.”
CHRISTINE WOOD: Right.
SUNNY GAULT: It’s going to train in our head. So, what do kids really need to be eating? Are there some key things, key – I don’t know specific foods or certain vitamins they should be getting? What should we be keeping an eye out for?
CHRISTINE WOOD: Well, I talk about real foods, okay? Particularly, when you’re looking at kids who are a year, right? You know, it’s tough and the food marketing companies have done a wonderful job of selling us foods that are really processed foods for our babies and toddlers, right?
You know, I tell parents at a year: “Try to avoid the boxed packaged food choices for kids as much as possible.” They’re going to get it later. They’re going to be exposed to the stuff. It’s not that I’m trying to tell them: “You’re never going to give it but when they’re a year, they’re not going down to the grocery store and buying it.” You still have the choices.
The more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats – if you’re doing that or alternative meat I’m fine with that proteins. That’s what you want to be focusing on in that younger age group. Your kids starts getting gold fish because they think that’s the staple food at a year and a half – guess what? They taste better. It has more salt. It has more fat. It has whatever all these things are more desirable.
So, we have to kind of – I tell parents: “To focus on real food.” I don’t know if it’s got a ton of ingredients in it. You know, think twice about it when they’re young. Again, it’s not to say – I don’t; I’m not also preaching restriction in other words, there are some studies looking at it for too restrictive like you’ve never let your kids eat this or chocolate or sweets or whatever it is.
You could actually create more problems because these kids will start to crave it. It’s this kind of balance but we also have to look at parents what we’re feeding ourselves. I was doing a little talk for a mother of multiples group last week – and one of the moms was complaining because well my husband’s a really picky eater. So, my daughter looks at him and she says: “Well, I’m eating just like daddy does.”
So, we sometimes have to look at our habits and they do show studies that kids – our food preferences primarily mothers; I have all moms here today. Our food preferences do dictate what our kids will like and eat. So, we sometimes have to look at more variety in our diets and what we are offering and how we’re cooking and all those kinds of things too. That’s an important factor.
SUNNY GAULT: Okay, well we’re going to take a brief break. When we come back, we’ll talk more about: “How to deal with picky eaters and also talk about some foods that may help expand picky eaters’ horizons.” We’ll be right back.
SUNNY GAULT: Okay, welcome back everyone. Today, we’re talking about: “Picky Eaters.” Our special guest is Christine Wood. She’s a paediatrician. She’s also author of the book How to Get Kids to Eat Great & to Love It.
So, Christine are there some foods that we can start incorporating in our kids’ diets that can kind of I don’t know expand their horizons when they think of food and kind of open their minds to the possibilities out there?
CHRISTINE WOOD: Well, there are some interesting research looking at pregnancy and breastfeeding. So for those moms who are breastfeeding, the varieties of foods that you incorporate while you’re pregnant and breastfeeding can actually have an impact on flavours that kids like.
There was something that called a “Carrot Juice Study.” They gave moms carrot juice every day like third trimester pregnancy and while they’re breastfeeding, those toddlers were much more likely to like and drink Carrot Juice than kids who did not have that.
ERIN ESTEVES: I read that study and I guinea pigged myself.
CHRISTINE WOOD: Okay.
JANE GAMBLE: Look at her, right?
CHRISTINE WOOD: Yes.
ERIN ESTEVES: I’m like: “I happen to love Carrot Juice.” It’s funny because Cash loves carrot juice. For me it’s a candy bar almost. Yes, he loves it too.
JANE GAMBLE: So, theoretically it should work with other things I think?
CHRISTINE WOOD: Yes, if you think about other cultures – Indian kids love Indian spices. Why do we think that is? There’s definitely a lot of cultural and flavour stuffs. Sometimes I get moms are very concerned about what they’re eating and how it affects their baby’s gassiness and all that when they’re breastfeeding.
Although, you have to identify some of these things – you want to still have them explore flavours and spices and food choices and all those types of things, okay. So, it is important to kind of incorporate that. I’ll mention one other thing that’s kind of interesting. They’re happen some research looking on; I don’t know if you’ve ever heard these terms: “Super Tasters.” Anybody heard this?
JANE GAMBLE: Yes.
CHRISTINE WOOD: So, these are people children to adults who have a very unique way of tasting certain foods in their palette or in their tongue, right? That’s where all our taste buds. I went to a interesting workshop and this woman who’s one of the super tasting researchers, she had these little piece of paper that she gave each of us in a little baggy and she asked each of us to taste it. I’ve tasted nothing, right?
She said: “How many people in here tasted a really bitter taste?” About 5% of people raised their hands. I looked around and I go: “Were they tasting the same thing I was?” I just said: “Nothing.” These are people who really do have kind of an very ultra sensitive palette.
So, they’re probably are something’s just genetically programmed that maybe there that maybe hard to control and maybe this is something that we do see what’s some of these kids were those really ultra picky eaters.
JANE GAMBLE: Like I said earlier, my son has some Sensory Processing Disorder and has some Oral Motor issues, how do you go about with overcoming the Oral Motor issues and food?
CHRISTINE WOOD: So, kids with sensory issues, kids with autism, developmental issues – they do present a special problem and that they have other developmental things that are sort of interfering with their ability to try new things and taste new things.
So, generally with those kids; I am going to refer them to occupational therapy. There are occupational therapy feeding clinics and feeding specialists. They often use other techniques. For example, introducing different textured toys and things for them to mouth and do because sometimes you’ll see what some of these kids it’s a whole texture thing.
They don’t like soft things. They don’t like chewy things. They don’t like hard thing – whatever it is. They get hang up on a texture thing. So, you try to work on having them bite or work with different textures in their mouth so that maybe a technique that can be helpful.
Even just sometimes the parenting techniques we have to use because again, if we start to berate them and get upset and all of that – and with all kids, it’s not really effective. We sometimes just have to get it their level go: “You know what? I understand this is really hard for you” and be really empathetic with them because they don’t see it the way we see it, right?
Their brains are thinking a whole different way of this. We have to reward for certain small things. I’m really happy that we picked up that food and felt how it felt. Some of the things that we talked about at the beginning: “I’m really proud of you, you actually smelled that food. What did you think of that?”
So, trying to acknowledge any little breakthroughs that they have in overcoming any kind of sensory introduction to a food is really important because they have to feel that like: “Okay, it’s just not all about eating the food because that can be an issue.”
Sometimes with these kids, I’ll try and incorporate some healthy smoothies and things that they will do things like that that might at least help parents feel like: “Okay, at least got some good fats and some vegetables and some other things into them that day.”
ERIN ESTEVES: I’m really curious. So, what are the symptoms? How did you come to this conclusion Jane?
JANE GAMBLE: Well, around six actually at birth, he never latched on. He preferred the bottle. He also tongue-tied and lip-tied which also has a big effect on latching and stuff and right around six months, he just stopped touching things. He really reacted very sensitively to touching certain items. So, we ended up getting him evaluated for Sensory Processing Disorder.
He’s got tactile and he’s got – so its touch issues and he would eat the purees perfectly fine. I was going through 68 pouches a day I think. My friends would joke that I needed to invest on Plum Organics and all these other things. But then, when they came to being older, he started to refuse eating solid foods.
I would just put it on his plate and he didn’t want to touch it. So, we ended up getting him into Rabies Feeding Therapy and that’s how I start noticing the food allergies. I think he knew that he had food allergies that’s why he’s resistant eating some other foods that he was offered. He still is very resistant to eat a lot of foods.
So, he really has a very limited diet but we still try to offer it every day. We do the smoothies like you suggest to get him the food that he needs. So, he is growing what we can offer him and what he can eat is very limited.
CHRISTINE WOOD: Kids who start out with feeding challenges like from birth, if they have sever GERD, the Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease – what I kind of tell parents is: “Sometimes these kids never really learned to enjoy food.” Imagine you eat and you throw up and you have pain. Okay, it’s not a good thing, right?
So, I do get some of these kids when I’m doing, feeding histories like let’s say: “I get a three year old who’s picky. I always ask about birth history, trauma, preemies, and any kids who had like serious MargI (ph) issues and probably food allergies too.”
These kinds of things they upset the apple cart of how they get started out and that’s unfortunate; but, we want to identify that: “Maybe they have some actual good reasons not to really enjoy eating and enjoy food.”
SUNNY GAULT: For parents out there to have picky eaters, how do we avoid this whole idea of: “Okay, we’ve got our adult food that we cook and then we’ve got all these kid food that we’ve got to cook because it can drive a mom crazy?”
CHRISTINE WOOD: Yes.
SUNNY GAULT: Don’t do it, right?
MJ FISHER: That’s one of the awesome things about, having a baby for us. My husband and I, our whole life changed and the way that we ate changed. I mean I did purees in the beginning but if we have a next baby, I’m definitely going to do baby led weaning so I don’t have to make another food for anybody.
But, that was the most beautiful thing was that: “Once we realized that if we eat something, he’s going to want to eat it.” So, we’re going to change what we’re eating.
SUNNY GAULT: Mac and Cheese for everybody.
MJ FISHER: It really got us so healthy. I am so grateful for my son because of that.
JANE GAMBLE: Well, also with food allergies. I’m more strict about or not necessary strict about it but I’m more attentive and more aware of what I eat because of what my son cannot eat. So, I’ve changed my diet. My husband’s slowly getting there. He misses a lot of things. But, it just – we try to find things that we can kind of all eat together.
So, we can sit there and have glutton-free pasta. We can have pasta sauce together. So, we’re all eating the same meal or we can do slow cooker meals that are glutton-free or allergen friendly and we can eat the same things. We’re all sitting there eating the same food. I’m not making something’s separate for him.
CHRISTINE WOOD: That is kind of the lesson. Try not to start there because it does get to be the new habit, the new way. If kids get the Mac and Cheese or whatever it is – the chicken nuggets you know what I mean. Unfortunately, again the food companies had done an excellent job of marketing these special foods to our kids, right?
I know when I was growing up, my mother never made a separate meal for me. It was like: “You ate what she cooked.” So, I think we do to get back to that basics and family meals. That’s another thing I really talked about. A lot of studies looking at kids who eat more family meals have less problems when they’re teenagers you know, drugs, smoking. They have better academic achievement – all these types of things.
So, depression, less risk of depression – so a lot of good reasons to incorporate family meals. But, family meals also mean having a family meal; serving the same food, not being a shorter to cook. I know there are some parents out there who are probably going: “It’s too late. I’ve already done it. I’m there.”
So, what I tell them is: “Start somewhere.” Say: “Okay, two days a week. Three days a week we’re going to have a family meal meaning all the same food and we all sit down and we all eat together. No TV. No texting. No phones. Turn it all off and talk about pleasant things.” You don’t need to hash out some horrible thing that happened that day.
We want to keep it pleasant and sometimes I find with certain kids, you want to kind of ignore how they’re eating. I’m kind of looking at her with her role of picky eater I’m sorry. I’m picking on you. Sometimes, you have to just not worry about what they’re eating. Have a nice conversation. Don’t bring up what they’re eating and not eating. Guess what? That kid got all the focus about that, right?
Sometimes you just want to put the food on the plate. Not say another word about what they’re eating, what they have to eat, how much they have to eat. You might be amazed if you do that over a few days time, all of the sudden what they’re doing because they’re not getting that reinforcement and intention.
You have to do something different to get your kids to change and do something different, right? So, that might be another thought. So, if your kids are sort of in that – I got to have my own thing. You could say: “Okay, tonight’s kids night. Everybody gets to pick what they want.” You might do that one time a week.
I’m talking about families who this is already like: “How am I going to wean this out of here, right?” But, focus on those family meals and try to increase that so that hopefully, you’re getting away from that. Now, kids who use serve something and go: “I don’t like that. I’m not going to eat it.”
What I would just say is: “I’m really sorry, honey. I’m really sorry you don’t like that but this is what we have. Go on and have a nice conversation with your husband, the other kids whatever. Don’t focus on it.” When they just don’t eat and they say when they go to bed – right: “I’m hungry.”
You can say: “You had a choice tonight of what to eat and I’m sorry you chose not to but let’s talk about what you can have for breakfast tomorrow.” What would you like for breakfast? They’re going to be fine. They’re not going to starve all right? But, you don’t want to reinforce that. I have to feed you now. Its 9:00 and you are hungry, poor thing.
JANE GAMBLE: We can send this child a bit hungry.
CHRISTINE WOOD: You got to let them leave with a consequences on them.
ERIN ESTEVES: I think we need to have that etch and stone or at least on the refrigerator.
CHRISTINE WOOD: It’s the parent’s responsibility to pick and choose what to offer but it’s their responsibility to pick and choose how much and what of that to eat. That’s what they call “Division of Responsibility” Ellyn Satter who’s done a ton of research on this whole self regulation thing and everything. That is a very important lesson to keep in mind.
SUNNY GAULT: Okay, as we wrap this up. Let’s talk about a little bit about desserts.
MJ FISHER: Right end. I love it.
SUNNY GAULT: Right.
MJ FISHER: Dessert.
SUNNY GAULT: The best for last. So, this happens all the time. My child does not want to eat and then all of a sudden – it’s time for everyone else to have dessert who has eaten their food and then he suddenly is hungry and he wants dessert.
Then, he’ll kick and scream and a tantrum ensues because he’s not get but I forewarn him throughout dinner: “Listen, if you don’t eat your food; you’re not going to have dessert. It’s okay if you don’t want dessert but I just want you to know.” I was trying to guide him a little bit. Anyways, what do we do when we’ve got a child that just want desserts and that’s it?
CHRISTINE WOOD: So, a couple of strategies. First of all, sometimes we have to realize: “We’ve just put dessert on the pedestal, right?” It’s up there and it’s really up there. That’s the trophy. That’s the prize. It’s the wonderful thing at the end of the meal, right? Sometimes, we have to take that away. Be very neutral about dessert.
Dessert can also be other desserts, fruit and yoghurt – other things like that so we don’t, not always feeling that it’s going to be the sweet, sweet, sugar all the time; so mixed it up. In your situation, I would just be very a matter of fact about it and say: “You can choose to have dessert but I will probably just let him have it because he’s already – you know what he’s doing? He’s micromanaging you.”
SUNNY GAULT: He’s manipulating me.
CHRISTINE WOOD: Yes and you’ve kind of all of a sudden – put it up there and you take it away and then you put it up there and you take it away. Now, what have you got – power struggle, right?
SUNNY GAULT: For sure.
CHRISTINE WOOD: So, another strategy you could do. This is kind of a fun thing. You don’t do this every night but I call it: “Backwards dinner night.” Okay, people can come to dinner with a shirt on backwards or something on backwards and have dessert first.
Now, you just serve a small serving of dessert but you taken away dessert, it’s done. Now, you have dinner. It’s amazing how the mindset changes. The mindset completely changes. It’s like: “Mom’s going to give you dessert first. Great.” Then, just play with it. See what happens.
So, you could call it “Backwards Dinner Night.” Have a little bit of fun with that. But, sometimes we have to look at our approach with dessert. We just happen to sometimes to put it so out there and so much as the prize, the trophy, the thing that we’re all striving for. It drives the kids crazy. It drives us crazy.
So, sometimes you just want to give it to them. You know what? It’s not going to be dependent on that because you’ve already created that power struggle there.
SUNNY GAULT: All right, good information ladies. Thanks so much. For more information about: “Feeding your child and picky eaters” and for any information about our panellists as well as our expert today, visit the episode page on our website. This conversation continues for members of the Parent Savers Club.
After the show, Christine would tell us more about: “When to loop in a doctor if there really is an issue with your child being too much of a picky eater.” For more information about the Parent Savers Club, visit our website – www.ParentSavers.com .
ROBIN KAPLAN: Hi Parent Savers. I’m Robin Kaplan an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center and the host and producer of Parent Savers’ sister show – The Boob Group.
I’m here to offer some advice on different breastfeeding remedies such as: “How can I get over my fear of breastfeeding in public?” I remember the first time I breastfed my son Ben in public. He was six weeks old. My husband – Jason and I were driving up to his sister’s Kim wedding in Northern California.
We’d stopped in Los Angeles for lunch and it was brutally hot like 95 degrees in the parking lot. I actually contemplated nursing Ben in the car but I was sweating so profusely I figured: “I got to go in the restaurant.” So, into the restaurant, we went. I sat down at the table and got a larger sieving blanket.
I distinctly remember asking Jason to stand behind me to pull down the blanket so that I could hide my six week postpartum back fat. To me, covering my back was actually more important than possibly flashing a boob. Up until now, I have been helping Ben get a comfortable latch by compressing my breast into that breast sandwich.
I wondered: “How I was going to do this without the blanket slipping off of my shoulder.” I slowly lowered Ben under the blanket, lifted up my shirt – that kid latched without my help whatsoever. Clearly, he was a very capable participant. I just had no idea. So, from then on, breastfeeding in public was a breeze.
Sure, he may extremely loved gulping noises while eating which often attracted some on-lookers but now; I was comfortable feeding him anywhere. I began to feel an incredible sense of freedom.
So, here are my top tips for breastfeeding in public. First, practice at home so that you were comfortable latching your baby while sitting on different chairs and wearing different shirts. If you are uncomfortable breastfeeding in public without a cover, practice using that cover or blanket in front of a mirror – so that you can actually see what you’re doing.
Next, find stress-free places to breastfeed in public such as the Nordstrom’s Nursing Room or Breastfeeding Support Group. It’s no big deal if you flash a boob in front of other moms. You can also ask them what tricks they have tried to become comfortable nursing in public.
Another trick is to practice breastfeeding in a carrier wrap or sling. I remember my sister-in-law walking around the San Diego Zoo while nursing daughter in a movie wrap. It was super discrete and she didn’t even have to stop and sit down. Lastly, go to lunch with a few other breastfeeding moms and practice in their company.
You will most likely feel less stressed if you were surrounded by other women. Plus you can learn some valuable tricks from them. For more great information about different breastfeeding remedies, check out my blog at SanDiegoBreastfeedingCenter.com/blog and be sure to listen to Parent Savers and The Boob Group for fantastic conversations about breastfeeding and breastfeeding support.
SUNNY GAULT: That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Parent Savers.
Don’t forget to check out our sister shows:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed and
• Twin Talks for parents of multiples.
This is Parent Savers, empowering new parents.
This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
SUNNY GAULT: New Mommy Media is expanding our line up of shows for new and expecting parents. If you have an idea for a new series or if you’re a business or organization interested in joining our network of shows through a co-branded podcast, visit www.NewMommyMedia.com .
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