Ever since I whipped up my first mouth-watering batch of baby cereal four years ago, Emma and I have been engaged in a cold war over food. Actually, no, it goes back further than that, to when she was about four months old and she would purse her lips together tightly and turn her head away if I so much as unbuttoned my shirt. She preferred the expensive stuff out of a can to what I was manufacturing for free. I remember feeling like I was feeding a drug habit, having to buy those cans of formula constantly. My milk went away after about a month of trying to get her to prefer me to a bottle. I felt like I had failed Breastfeeding 101 and that was just the beginning of me worrying about Emma's eating. I went on to be a total disaster at spoon feeding as well. Trying to get a bite of anything into Emma's tightly closed mouth was like trying to open the bathroom door when Charlie has locked himself inside (don't ask). Now that Emma is able to, ahem, "verbalize" her preferences, it is an ongoing "discussion" about why she can't have another chocolate chip granola bar. Why goldfish are not an appropriate lunch. Why we can't have cereal for dinner. Meanwhile, I've got Charlie who asks for extra broccoli and will eat just about anything that is put within grabbing distance of him.
Emma is growing and thriving and all of that, so it's not like she's malnourished. When you look at what pediatricians say children actually need to consume nutrient-wise, she's doing okay. But I still worry about what she eats. I worry that if I deny her snacks like granola bars and goldfish that I'm going to give too much importance to these seemingly innocent foods, and she will be 35 years old some day, sneaking teddy grahams in the middle of the night. Then I chastise myself for giving in to the demands for snacks because, not surprisingly, she doesn't eat anything for dinner if she's had one of her favorite snacks earlier. If I do cave into her demands for snacks then there's still a debate about why she can't have more graham crackers, more Dora yogurt, etc. It's seriously a constant discussion about snacks at my house and it starts first thing in the morning when she appears bleary-eyed next to our bed at 7 a.m.
I think what it comes down to with Emma is control. That's definitely a lot of my problem as well. We both want to control what Emma eats and it's no surprise that she's winning that battle. After all, you can lead a preschooler to asparagus, but you can't make her eat.
So, what's the answer? Do I eighty-six all snack foods? That's probably what I need to do. I've been trying to make Emma-approved family dinners several nights out of the week so that not every dinner ends with her crying and me feeling like a failure. But, I can only eat pasta so many nights a week. Does anyone have any kid-faves that you think Emma might like to eat? I would love to get some ideas. Here are the things she will take a few bites of (if the planets are aligned and she hasn't already gorged on goldfish that day):
- Tortellini with tomato sauce
- Cheese pizza
- Scrambled eggs
- Grilled cheese
- Cereal (Raisin Bran is her fave.)
- Quesadilla with guacamole
I might be forgetting a few things...but those are the old stand-bys.
Is this a decent list? Am I actually the picky one here?