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My DS is just a few weeks younger than yours, and we have the same issues. (So I don't have any solutions to offer unfortunately!) I am a little frustrated because we did baby-led weaning and introduced him to tons of fruits, veggies, and all sorts of good/healthy foods when he was younger, but now he only seems to reliably eat cheese, crackers, meat, pasta....stuff like that. There are a few veggies he will eat (like peas) but if you serve them to him with something he likes better (like pasta), forget it. He won't even touch them. DS also doesn't like to eat more than one thing at a time, so if we even want to attempt to get something other than meat/pasta in him at a meal, we have to serve them first without the "better" item.
Our one saving grace is that he will eat if he sees other kids eating. So he is actually an excellent eater at daycare - they serve balanced meals and he consistently eats everything when he's there. So I don't worry quite so much about our totally unbalanced dinners. But I do feel bad at the end of a weekend when I realize that I didn't succesfully get him to eat any veggies or fruits for two days!
I want to try to use veggie-rich sauces more - like making a homemade pasta sauce with green veggies added in or putting a sauce on chicken. It seems like he will eat anything with pasta or chicken. And I'd like to do some green smoothies and see if he would like that. And I have some recipes for zucchini or squash bread that I think he would like. But I haven't gotten around to trying those things yet!
Picky 24 month old here. Things that seem to work ok for us at the moment are not eating in the high chair all of the time (i.e. we sit on the living room floor and she picks things out of mommy's bowl because this some how means the food tastes better? i'm thinking it is a control thing?) We do that with veggies that she is more reluctant to eat. Also if there is something you have bought that you REALLY want them to eat (ie i have a ripe avacado i bought just for you!) then take a mental note not to give them any snacks like crackers or juice or anything really for 3 hours before and she is way more likely to actually give it a try. feeding in the bath tub. haha i know it sounds crazy but she seems to think its really funny to have us spoon feed her yogurt etc while she is in a bubble bath. Also don't be afraid of the baby food! i don't think it is unusual for kids to eat baby food pretty late. my daughter will still ocasionally drink from one of those squeezy baby food bags when we are out on the go. I'm happy she will eat them because the usually have veggies she wouldn't normally eat mixed in. Also making sure she doesn't fill up on milk.
If he'll eat blended up soups, I'd say go for it!! My daughter LOVES soup. She'll eat almost anything if it comes from soup, even if she wouldn't touch the food otherwise. My advice otherwise, is to keep your food offerings aspirational (i.e. keep sticking those veggies on the plate even though you don't think they'll get eaten), prepare the veggies in a way that you would enjoy them, sneak some veggies into foods he WILL eat (pasta sauce is a good one, and adding some greens to an otherwise normal smoothie), and then don't sweat it. Where was it that I read that kids need to try a food up to 18 times(!) before making their final decision? OH - and does he like dipping? You may be able to get him to try some new things that way. Hummus, cannelini dip, etc. are so easy to make.
If they will drink juice, buy a good juicer. DS just barely OCCASIONALLYstarted eating breakfast about a month ago, at 26 mo. He still will eat hardly anything for lunch, snacks, or dinner. He still likes to nurse for most of his intake. But he WILL drink juice, so I make him fresh juice every day and he gulps it down.
I usually start with a carrot/apple base. And I add in whatever veggies we have in the fridge. If you use anything that can be bitter like kale or spinach, add in a little citrus with it, and it will fix that. This morning DS had Apple, carrot, beet and parsley juice, and actually ate 2 pieces of turkey sausage, and 3 bites of my pancake. I dont expect him to eat much more today. He make have a bite or two of whatever I eat, but it will be mostly nursing, and I'll make him some juice with his dinner. Sometimes I add whey protein to his dinner juice.
My little guy is a picky eater and did not touch a single veggie other than sweet potato until after he turned 12 months. So - so much for all those "experts" out there who say "if they don't eat veggies by age 1 they never will....blah blah blah".
For example you could add some pureed squash into the cheese quesidilla. Another example - I made some low sugar apple muffins and added some carrot purree to them - there are a couple of cookbooks dedicated to the practise of hiding purees in foods - one I like is Deceptively Delicious.
I would not stress about him eating purees - after all even adults eat mashed potato and the like - I guarantee when he's 18 he will not be eating exclusively mashed foods (and even if he did, would that really be earth shattering).
Look - whatever works to get your kid eating healthy food.
And no - you did not cause this. Kids know what they want and have a mind of their own, even at such a young age. All you can do it continue to offer different foods in different forms and it's up to him to eat them.
My DS was the same. I swear, between about 9 months and 24 months he was THE pickiest eater on the planet. At 18 months he liked about 5 foods, 4 of which were crackers. Ok, maybe a few more things than that, but not much. Until 2 the only fruit he would eat was apples (sliced, red ones) and he wouldn't touch any vegis, and I mean NONE, not a single one. Otherwise he'd only eat crunchy bread products, like dry cereal and crackers. He loves dairy but sadly, is dairy intolerant so he can't have it (and of course he's not impressed by having "special" cheese, he wants his sister's Velveeta).
Since about 2 he's started eating a much greater variety of foods. In the last week he's had 4 or 5 different types of vegetables (green beans, celery, carrots, lettuce, bean sprouts).
I'm a picky eater myself but he drives me kinda nuts. His sister would eat anything after she was about 1. ANYTHING. And it's not like we've raised them differently!
my 2 year old is picky too.
ITs so hard to maintain the modivation to keep trying things!!
I try to sneak stuff in her food all the time.
She'll eat oatmeal in the morning, so I throw in Chia and flax seeds, hemp hearts...
One of the MAin things she eats is macaroni and cheese... so we make it from scratch with nutritional yeast, cream, grated cheese, and pureed squash!! butternut is the best.
Yogurt. all the time. but I throw in oats, chia, hemp...
nut butters on toast, wasa breads with honey, juiced juice, almond milk + cereal, Edamame beans (she loves), ...
my theory is that even if i have to put agave, honey or maple syrup in almost everything I make from scratch, at least its healthier than processed foods.
Check out my blog post: 5 healthy Meals my kid will eat