Good Moms & Dads

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By Rebecca Teti

Monday: Parenting

(Join each day’s Coffee Talk discussion: Mon: Parenting; Tues: Open Forum; Wed: NFP; Thu: Marriage; Fri: Education; Sat/Sun: Changing Roles)

Terrible toddlers? Trying teens? Something in between? This weekly forum is the spot to share your questions and struggles about all things related to parenthood.

Please join us!

Rebecca Teti


  • My 5-year daughter is a fussy eater, to say the least. What she likes she loves; what she doesn't like, or thinks she won't like, she won't even touch. We concentrate on having her try a mouthful or two at most of something at the least. Yesterday at dinner she wouldn't eat a simple mouthful of shepherd's pie. Even with the "carrot" of a St. Patrick's Day cookie she helped make dangling over her head, she wouldn't eat. Instead we had 20 or so minutes of crying and whining and histrionics. Finally, she announced she ate it. She had lied, and dumped it on the floor. How can I reasonably get this child to try healthy foods? Her diet is fairly unbalanced. Heavy on carbs, very low on fruits and vegetables. I know she is far more sensitive to tastes and smells than my other children who eat almost anything I serve. (And I don't make exotic foods. Everything is fairly kid-friendly.) She was the infant that would turn away from me if I tried to nurse her immediately after a shower. Any suggestions?

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 6:01 AM by Carolyn A

  • Carolyn, in our case, we quit fighting it. We had a child very sensitive to tastes and textures, like you said. In this case, he was also a very gentle soul, and wouldn't fight us. When we realized that he had gone almost a solid year without a bedtime snack or any treat because he hadn't eaten the dinner served, we realized there was no "carrot" that would work, and that's just who he was. I did my best to work with him, providing enough of what he would he, so he wouldn't be hungry, but not allowing him complete junk in place of what was being served to the family. I am happy to report that in this past week--spring break from college--he ate everything I put on the table--even the (real) carrots!! Many have told us we were in the wrong by giving in to his ways, but as his mother, I saw also that it was not really something he could control at a young age--he had a physical aversion to some tastes/textures, like some do because they may be allergic. I didn't want to punish him for being that way. We have one other child who is similar, but who fights us more--and I believe in his case that is his temperament, not his physical aversion to the taste texture. Like with other parenting challenges, we pray a lot, and do what we think best for the child, in spite of what others tell us we should do. If your child is growing, is basically healthy, and not living on soda and potato chips, I would think you're good. How many children in other parts of the world subsist on a diet of grains, and very limited food choices--I bet plenty. Prayers for your discerment and you decide best how to help her grow.

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 6:40 AM by Mary Therese

  • MARY THERESE ~ *LOVE* that reply! So beautifully-stated! It inspires me as a Mom to be in tune with my kids, aware of their needs, and set reals standards custom-made to *them.*

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 7:55 AM by Jen

  • Does anyone have any suggestions for a child that is the exact opposite? From day 1 has been hungry all day long and has always been overweight and will eat 20 mini-carrots (but prefers chocolate candy)?

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 10:19 AM by anonymouse

  • Anon, if he will truly eat anything, I'd make sure I was giving him only the healthiest!! As far as the overweight goes, you may want to talk to your pediatrician about it, but I will say this: my aunt's kids (who are about the same age as mine) have all been chunky. Her youngest was HUGE! Rolls everywhere. But the dad of the family is very muscular and strong, and all his kids are built like him. The fat has melted off all of them over time (though they are still "thick") and all of them get lots of opportunity to run around outside. Will they ever be supermodel-thin where you can see their ribs, etc? No way, but they are all very *healthy* and active. Everyone is just wired to be built differently. I am reed-thin (so are my parents), but my husband's side of the family is thick and our kids take after him. I just keep 'em movin'!! And I IGNORE the "wordly" idea of "pretty"/"handsome"!

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 12:47 PM by unknown

  • Anonymouse - Not sure what kind of snacks you usually give her, but I wonder if protein-heavy snacks might sate her appetite for longer? If endless baby carrots don't make her feel full, she may be eating them and then still craving candy or something more. Nuts, cheese, yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, deli meat "roll-ups," peanut butter, etc. might be more satisfying.

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 1:24 PM by Kathleen

  • Just wanted to mention that my son is almost 3, so I didn't want to restrict his food at 2, but lately I try to b/c it seems he'll eat non-stop. He eats healthy food as mentioned, peanut butter without sugar, jam, bread without added sugar. He'd want to eat 2 adult size greek yogurts if I'd let him. He gets junk food at church, holidays and when he's around his skinny friends that eat crackers instead of real food- he begs for those goldfish. I do think it's genetic but skipped my husband, and like "unknown" mentioned they are thick, but not flabby. I just don't have any experience as a child or adult even, not being allowed to eat whatever we wanted.

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 2:11 PM by anonymouse again

  • Anon, I am in total sympathy. My current 7 yo tends to be that type as well. As she has gotten older she has gone from thick to really a bit overweight. My husband and I have agonized over this b/c he didn't want me to say anything to her b/c he doesn't (rightly) want her to have a self-image issue. I have to say that he and I have always had to be careful with weight (with the military you have NO choice LOL). So given that background and the fact that childhood obesity has been one of the top priorities of the surgeon general in the last few years I think it is a topic you have to be aware of and address. I like the idea above about protein snacks. My other suggestions are to make set snack times and only allow him to eat only at the table ("mindful eating" ie you pay attention when you eat. Also have a snack time in am, afternoon and before bed. Good luck

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 2:39 PM by Lisa

  • anonymouse, I thought from your first post that your child was older, but at not-quite-3, I would keep doing what you're doing: offering healthy food, but not really restricting amounts. My little brother was a *chunk* at that age and now, at 27, is tall and thin. He was just storing up chub for those huuuge growth spurts. At that age, your son still needs lots of fat for brain development and to give him energy when he's growing and protein and carbs are needed too (obviously). So, if it's greek yogurt he wants, I don't see a problem with giving it to him, as long as the other suggestions (eat at the table, after each item [e.g. container of yogurt] wait a few minutes to see if you feel full, stick with healthy and filling things) are followed.

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 4:35 PM by Anna

  • Just as a practical tip, I find it helps to tell the child before he eats how much he will get. So if I hand my son a yogurt container, I say, "One of these is your snack today." It is much easier to address it off the bat than to have to say, "No," later.

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 6:57 PM by dh

  • Anonymouse- We have the same problem! My son is 2 1/2 and he has been in the "obese" category at his well-child checks since 6 months. I have had multiple conversations with our ped and this is what we have done. We cut back to non-fat and 1% milk and restrict the milk intake to 12 -16 oz per day. We offer milk with meals for lunch and breakfast and then a small glass before bed. I do not offer snacks if he is engaged in playing but if he asks for a snack, I will provide 1 snack in between breakfast-lunch and lunch - dinner (each)- fruit or veggies only though. I provide a variety of fruits and veggies to keep it interesting - this is much easier in the summer!. I do cut him off at meals if I feel that he has been eating way too much. My ped told me to offer only 1 plate of food but I find that this is just not enough sometimes. I cook only lean meats - we do not eat red meat more that once or twice a month and then it is only the leanest ground beef. I do offer protein at every meal - it's more filling. We only eat out in restaurants once weekly and never at fast food. No sugared drinks at all. Outside playing at least 1 hour per day if not 2-3. That being said, we do eat cake at birthday parties and if our friends have "junk food" I let him have some. I always use positive terms for food and exercise. About how good it is etc. I don't focus on being fat or weight at all. My son's weight to height percentile is falling with these interventions and he's almost in the normal weight range! Good luck to you!

    Posted on Mar 18th, 2013 at 9:46 PM by JM

  • I know this is a little late, but we did tend to restrict my oldest child's intake when he was younger. We were not worried in the slightest about him being overweight (both his dad and I were big chunkers when we were babies) but we also didn't think he was really that hungry; he just loved eating and didn't seem to have an "off" button. Like the above post, he had a morning snack and afternoon snack at a parent-set time, and three meals. For us, it wasn't so much about the weight as the "discipline." I don't mean us disciplining him, but just general discipline with food intake. You do have to be watchful and use your intuition --- if it seems crazy to you in your situation to limit your child's food, don't do it! But for us it made sense. All that talk in baby books about letting the child regulate their intake and giving them as much as they wanted never would have worked for my child --- he would have been at the table all day. Now, he is almost eight and skinny as a rail. We still have two snacks and three meals, but I give him as many second (and sometimes thirds) as he wants!

    Posted on Mar 19th, 2013 at 9:01 AM by Andrea

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