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Do you make "special" dinners for your toddler if they don't like what you are eating - Page 2

post #21 of 114
Giving DS something else to eat is sometimes the best way to get good nutrition into his body. If I set in front of him the exact family meal, he often ends up eating only the starch. I could choose to only eat such foods as would appeal to all members of the household, but I like having hot enchiladas and spaghetti puttanesca and whatever else, and my little ones don't, so we often do eat different things.
I disagree that it teaches terrible life lessons to offer foods that children want to eat. I don't eat food that I hate - I wouldn't fix it if it was gross to me. It's not "life" or "reality" that decides what's for dinner in my house - it's me. I do think it is punitive to deny a child other foods that are readily and easily available to other family members because they failed to eat something you fixed. (Note: don't think the OP is doing this, it doesn't sound like her child is distressed or hungry).
post #22 of 114
I may alter the meal slightly, but I never make something different. If it's pasta and they'd prefer not to eat the vegetable sauce, then I'll give them the pasta w/ no sauce and some carrots on the side. But usually they like what we're having because that's all they've ever been offered, so it's not a problem. And an hour and a half after dinner we have a small snack before bedtime, so even if they chose not to eat, they wouldn't starve; but I don't think that's ever happened, LOL.

- Krista
post #23 of 114
I don't cook an entirely different meal, but I give my dd other options if she doesn't like dinner. I always have carrots, yogurt, and various fruits that I am willing to give her. She is slipping below the 5th percentile on her growth chart, so I never pass on a chance to give her something to eat. Even if it means extra work for me.
I was also one of those kids who sat at the table until I finished my dinnner. Most things that I didn't like as a child had tomato in it. When I was in college I found out that I had an allergy to tomatos. My parents feel bad about that to this day.
I honestly believe that the short-order cook method absolutely encourages picky eating and very possibly sets the child up in an essentially unhealthy relationship with food.
I don't think this is entirely true. I think kids have various reasons for being picky. I started out giving my dd nothing, but the most nutritious foods ie. avocado, broccoli, asparagus etc. At some point, I think around 15 months she decided that she didn't like any of those foods, and I had to find others for her. I still ask her to try them every once in awhile. I still don't give her junk foods, but she is a picky eater.
post #24 of 114
Originally Posted by MelMel
my dd (3.5) gets very vocal and whiney when a huge injustice like foods she doesnt love have the nerve to sit on her plate.

I usually don't make something special but I will set aside a portion of the dinner before adding spices if we are having something too spicy for him (which he's usually good with but I'm talking clean your sinuses out spicy, which dh loves).
post #25 of 114
DD usually eats before we do so she usually gets something different. Though she loves our food and really enjoys spicy stuff! When we eat she comes over and "visits" us and she often sneaks a few bites from my plate or I give her a few spoonfuls of any meatless part of our meal. We haven't introduced meat in her diet and don't plan on anytime soon, however we do eat meat ourselves.

At restraints I try to order something she will like for myself and the a side of cooked veggies for her and I share my meal w/ her.
post #26 of 114
I make sure everyone is fed and happy. Despite having always fed dd something else if she does not like the main meal, she 95% of the time happily eats the dinner I make. The other 5%, she is welcome to help herself to whatever she wants or she can request something that requires my help. I will not get up in the middle of my meal and cook another 5 course meal, but I have no problem with warming up a leftover from another meal or popping a can of refried beans (dd's favorite). I do not make myself eat things I do not want to. I do not make dh do so either. I do think it is "forcing" to say "eat this or go hungry". I think it sets up bad habits an dis plain mean. I do not think it teaches good nutrition habits.

I know how disheartening it can feel to make something that I think dd loves only to have it rejected. But that is my problem, not hers.
post #27 of 114
No I will not. DD had numerous food allergies and did not eat food until she was 2 years old, and then went to eating what I was eating (I was on the same restricted diet she was on for bfing). Today at 3 years old she has no food allergies, although I do tend to limit some high allergens. If dd truly doesn't like whatever I am fixing, which is rare, the child will eat almost anything, then she will eat the other portions of the meal. I was a very picky eater until adulthood and I still have many things I won't eat, I do feel it has limited my eating pleasure. DH also is very picky, but in an oppsoite way of me, it makes planning meals really interesting. My child is entitled to not eat whatever she wants, I don't care what she eats, I don't buy junk food so that's not an issue. But I also don't tell her, that she can eat this meal or I'll fix something else. If she requested something quick like yogurt or leftovers in the fridge, then I would get it for her, but she never has. I guess my philosophy is like LLL's "don't ask, don't refuse", but within reason. I have friends whose dc only will eat Annie's mac and cheese, everytime they come over for dinner I have to make seperate dinners for the children, that's not my life I wouldn't do it for my dc.
post #28 of 114
absolutely NOT... We have 5 kids and another on the way, LOL i would never leave the kitchen. The only thing I make Different for Dominic (16 months old) is if we are having something involving any egg. He is HIGHLY allergic!! so that has to be modified, but other than that, NOPE, they either eat or they dont. I make a 2 week menu, and I get input from everyone, so we all get things we like. It works out.
post #29 of 114
Well, I only make one "dinner." I try to make sure I cook something that I'm pretty sure ds will like. (we eat a LOT of carrots and pasta around here lol).
He snacks a lot during the day, and especially before dinner. While I'm fixing dinner, he'll ask for some fruit or something (I keep canned fruit in his cupboard in the kitchen). So even if he doesn't eat much of his dinner, he's not too hungry.
If he shows interest in eating later, I get him something. Of course, he's not old enough to ask for anything complicated, so its usually some yogurt, or a banana, or something simple like that.

I really dislike the concept of not letting kids have something to eat other than the dinner that was prepared. I don't imagine I'd stop eating to prepare a whole new meal, but I'd have no problem at all getting up to get him something quick. Cereal, fruit, yogurt, maybe even a peanut butter sandwich.

Oh, and sometimes If there isn't much in the meal that I think he'll like, I'll give him some leftovers that he did like, or some other fruit or veggie.

We stopped baby foods at a young age, because ds wouldn't eat anything that was mashed. lol. Probably 10 mos or younger.

eta- I pay very little attention to what ds eats or doesn't eat. If he's out of something that he likes and he wants more, I get it. But I personally don't even pay attention to if he takes one bite or not. (I guess I should say that if he doesn't touch any veggies, I might make an effort to include more veggies for snacks the next day, but that's it). I really trust in his ability to eat healthy foods if I put them in front of him.
My mom did the "just one more bite" thing, and it caused major power struggles. I refused to admit that I could possibly believe that rice was edible until I was 17. So there I was, before that, wanting to try it, but not wanting anyone to say "I told you that it was good!".
post #30 of 114
Noooo way. I'm really lucky to get one dinner made. I *will* make him something special if what we're having is way too spicy (typically because I mess up a recipe & think extra curry will make it taste better... ). Last night we had these grilled sausage thingys that were FIRE hot. They were free so we ate them, but I made DS something different.

Thankfully, he's a machine. He'll eat just about anything, including things that would probably make the average American toddler vomit. He loves spicy foods, but has a pretty low tolerance for heat-spice right now.

But - I hate that reheat/reserve torture thing. If he doesn't want it, it goes to the dog or into the fridge for leftovers. Typically he's not eating because he's not hungry.
post #31 of 114
I think we will follow the rule when I grew up. If you don't like whats for supper, and I will try to have at least one thing I know she likes, then you can have PB sandwich and milk/ water. I'm not going to cook a whole different meal but she certainly wont go hungry unless she chooses so. This is our plan as long as there are no food issue or medical reasons to do different.
post #32 of 114
Originally Posted by Shell
Wow. This is a great thread -- it is really helping me think about this issue. I do have one question, though... At what age did you stop making special baby-oriented meals, and transition to eating what the rest of the family is eating?
Basically when she started solids. We never did baby food -- what a fat ripoff!!! Fifty-nine cents for what probably amounts to half a carrot? Half a flavorless carrot? Naaaah. We got a baby food grinder and ground up whatever we were eating and gave it to her. That way, she actually has food with...SPICES. Flavor!


My DD is 18 months, and she eats some of what we're eating, but also has a full array of foods in the fridge that we bring out specially for her (we always have a variety of steamed veggies on hand, plus beans, avocado, hummus, nut butter, and some other stuff). Meanwhile, she is getting very picky the last few weeks, and I feel like I have to go through a dozen foods to find the few she will eat. I am now wondering if I am encouraging this by giving in to her pickiness!
In my opinion, yes. Yes, you are. Absolutely. Not to be callous, but kids in Somalia don't get to be picky, KWIM? That's because they have no choice (and often no food). It's when we give our kids too many choices that this kind of behavior arises, basically.
But she still seems so little for us to be demanding that she eat grownup food. Is it worth it to insist that she eat something new or go to bed hungry... and have her have a complete meltdown about it?
Yes. In my opinion, since you asked, yes. It's easier to handle at 18 months than an eating disorder at 18 years. If you're asking me my opinion, I would grind up her food, give it to her, and if she eats, then great. If not, then that's a shame -- but you've given her the choice.

Also related... I have two stepsons that are extremely picky eaters. It is mac and cheese, pizza, pasta or something like that, or nothing. It is like torture trying to get them to eat something "different" and at best we're talking about one fork full just to "taste" it. They have finally become pretty good at eating certain vegetables -broccoli, carrots or corn only - and only after a lot of work! They do eat a salad before every meal, but even there it is only lettuce, carrots and I sneak on some nuts. They eat absolute crap at their mother's house, and we're vegetarian at our house - so we feel like we're in a tough spot. We don't want them to avoid coming to our house because we "force" them to eat eggplant. I guess my point is... I don't want my daughter to become a picky eater like them.
Then don't. Honestly, I realize I have little patience with this kind of indulgence. Who the heck is buying them mac and cheese, pizza, pasta, and so on? It's hardly healthy with all that fat and carbs -- and I'm sorry, but like I said before, they have to deal with it.
post #33 of 114
No, but I figure she's still breastfeeding (for about 95% of her needs.) We also always have fruit and veggies available for snacking so if she's still hungry after dinner she could have carrot sticks or apples. But I'm not going to get down and make pot roast for dh and I and mac&cheese for her. After she stops nursing, if she doesn't like dinner, she could have the fruit, veggies or cereal.
post #34 of 114
Like everyone else has basically stated, I just usually try to include something dd will eat. For example, last night we had fish, cous cous and asparagus. Fish isn't dd's fav but she loves asparagus & cous cous. And she even ate some fish! We've been putting fish on her plate for almost a year now and she finally ate some! If she doesn't eat anything at dinner I assume she's not hungry but will offer a banana or oatmeal or something as a bedtime snack.
post #35 of 114
Nope, I do not make a seperate meal. We have several dishes at dinner (main dish, veggie, ect), so there is lots of food to chose from and if I know someone does not like one of the things we are having that there is something they like. I do encorage a "one bite" rule, but to do scrictly enforce it. I have found that if is it something new my girls (and my dh ) will not want to try it, but after one bite decide it is actaully good. I also add veggies to lots of stuff (quiche, sauces, ect). I do not have picky eaters, except dh, so I figure over the coarse of a week they get a fairly round, healthy diet. I always keep sauces sperate from what they go on (pasta, rice, ect) so that each person can have their individual amount of each.

My MIL always has prepared seperate meals for her kids if they did not like dinner (her mother was a enforcer of eating what was infront of you, so she went the other extreme). This created 3 very picky kids. It has taken my dh several years to get over this, but he is much better now (or he waits untill the kids go to bed and makes something else to eat )

ETA: my youngest 2 never ate baby food. I just fed them some softer mushy foods of what we were eating. dd#2 started real food at about 7 months and never looked back. dd#3 is 15 months and has just in the last 2-3 months started to really eat. She had absolutly no interest in food untill 8-9 months, and then it was just a bite or 2. She will try anything that everyone else is eating.
post #36 of 114
I used to up until a few weeks ago. Ds had about 10 foods he would eat and NO meat, or veggies. It was agrravating, hard, and just plain stupid. I myself didn't have the power to get him to change and when we started vacation we stopped giving him his faves and gave him what we were eating after 3 meals that he didn't touch he ate oatmeal (new food that he loved). It was my fault for getting him that way cause I read to many of those damn books, children should be started with bland crappy oatmeal crap, let them try foods seven million times, give them pureed ONLY and all that jazz. With my new arrival when she starts sitting/looking interested she will get a finger full of food (finely chopped pureed whatever) spices and all. Although I regret having to do a "power struggle" to get ds out of his funk and to actually try something new I am not going to that still. i will give him what we are eating and if he doesn't like it then he can wait till the next meal/snack. Ds still won't eat meat and really doesn't like the veggies we've given him so he survives on dairy, starch, and fruit but i will TRY to make at least one thing he likes with dinner and give him whatever else we are eating and then something i don't like. he LOVES yogurt, dh and i aren't really fans but he gets that (its "dessert" to him). he LOVES cottage cheese and dh and I hate it, he'll get that in addition to cereal for breakfast. So really its more like substitution that seperate meals. pasta with the meal and then an extra something we aren't eating and the rest of the meal for him to try. I can't imagine EVER going back!! It was horrible!!

I also had a mother who forced us to stay at the table until we finished out dinner. I am NOT going to that. I am hopeing to let ds keep that full/not full regulator that so many americans seem to have lost along the way. He knows when hes full. End of story.
post #37 of 114
Oh - I forgot to say that growing up we were each allowed to pick ONE food that we didn't eat. We had to stick to that one food, too - it couldn't change with the daily menu. For the longest time, mine was tomato sauce, so I didn't have to eat that. My little sister was lima beans, another one of us was brussels sprouts, etc. It was negotiated in advance & my mom asked us for changes every once in a while. That way there was *some* leeway or the "feeling" that we had a choice/power. I just put butter on my pasta, since I hated tomato sauce. It's not like she made a whole separate meal, then.

I like that & plan on doing that. My mom sorta rocks. I get all my good ideas from her.
post #38 of 114
Thread Starter 
I am really enjoying reading the responses - thank you all so much for your input! And I wanted to clarify - I will give my dd something later like fruit of oatmeal or something before bed if she doesn't eat dinner - I don't make her go hungry like my mom did to me. I do feed her whatever we are having, however, and try to plan the meals accordingly. If we are having something like my 5-alarm chili, I feed her some yogurt or something earlier and then we eat when she is in bed. I have a lot of questions becasue I am still fairly new at this. Dd did not eat solids until she was 13mo becasue she just wasn't interested so now I am a little clueless!
post #39 of 114
Heck No! I work full-time and it's a challenge to get one dinner on the table.

DD (age 3) is actually very good about eating whatever is served IF we don't make a big deal out of it. My neighbor tried to serve her tofu and was making this huge deal out of trying, so naturally DD decided to set her own boundaries and NOT eat it. Eventually DD forgot she was making an issue out of the tofu and actually ate some. But then neighbor made a huge deal out of what a good girl she was for trying it and DD spit it out. .
Thanks! Really, she would have done just fine if it was put on her plate and left there.

DD knows she is always welcome to yoghurt or cheese if she wants something other than what we are eating.

I did do baby food with her, but if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't. By 12 months we were serving her small bits of whatever we had at the table. She had the teeth for it, so it was no problem.

My mother allowed us to choose our own food, in that she never made us eat anything, but we also never requested any special meals. She was employed also, so separate meals was just not the done thing. Although I, too, had spaghetti with only butter. The sauce was served separate. I will say that mom has 3 daughters none of whom have body image or eating issues. I trust that we'll all get the right amount of things. I think if left to their own devices, undhindered, people will generally make good choices about lots of things.
post #40 of 114
Yes I do.

My 4.5 year old has very strong sensory issues when it comes to food and will not eat most foods. He would rather starve, believe me. On the occasions I have talked him into trying things he either gags or throws up. If he were able to fix himself something different than what I make for the rest of the family then he would. But he can't so I make foods that he will eat. He is starting to try new foods very slowly and I am trying very hard to be patient and not push him.

Ds2 has no issues with food and will eat almost everything that we do. If I am cooking later for dh and I or making something that is too hot for him than I fix him a separate meal as well.
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