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Do you make "special" dinners for your toddler if they don't like what you are eating - Page 3

post #41 of 114
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.
This is what I feel. I have a choice about what I make to eat and if I want to eat it. Why shoudl I force my child to eat things that she doesn't like. Now I do make her try things, but I will not force her to eat. I will not prepare a seperate meal, but she is always welcome to get herself a yogurt and some fruit if she doesn't like dinner.
post #42 of 114
My daughter chooses her own breakfast and lunch (within reason, of course; no ice cream!) but dinner is up to me. However, I don't force myself or my husband to eat things that we don't like so I never force her to eat anything.

If it's a new item, I ask her to try one bite (which she usually does) and decide whether or not she likes it. If it's something I know she likes and she's just being picky, she has to eat three bites (self-serve; I don't load up a spoon) in order to have a second helping of something else on the plate.

I know her likes and dislikes. She'll eat most veggies as long as they are not cooked. So I keep out a small portion of veggies for her and serve them to her raw. She likes spaghetti with parmesan instead of sauce so she gets a couple carrots because she's missing that vegetable. She hates my husband's favorite dinner (kind of like a shephard's pie) so I'll make her up something else when I cook that. But as a rule, she eats what we eat.
post #43 of 114
Originally Posted by leafwood
Dd is 25 months and is very verbal. She eats what we eat and is great about trying things. However, sometimes she requests something different and really, really seems to want it. If it is not doable (macaroni & meatball) then its not doable. Sometimes if she does not like what we're having even after trying it and wants an egg or cereal or soup, we make it. She is pretty easy though, and I am a horribly picky eater so I am very flexible about food. I grew up with major eating issues and I'm trying to spare her.
This is my ds to a T. And me too - I'm extremely picky and have issues with certain textures. My family STILL makes me feel badly about it. I do not want that for my kids.

One thing we also do, is about once a week we ask him what he wants for dinner, and that's what we have. Since we usually don't eat lunch together (I eat during his nap, he eats after) he always gets to choose what he wants for lunch on the days we are home together.

I can't really recall a time though where ds didn't eat what we gave him. There are times for sure that he won't eat say, his squash, but will devour the rest of his meal. If he didn't like what we offered him, or wasn't hungry or whatever, I think we'd probably offer him something quick and easy later....like cereal, pb&j or something along those lines. But since it hasn't really come up, I am purely speculating.
post #44 of 114
Nope. I just tell my DS that if he doesn't eat it, I will. He usually eats it. He also has the option of saving it for later.
post #45 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.
This is us.

I COULD make dinners every night that DD would eat. It would be things like bean and cheese quesadillas, vegetable soups, bean soups, pizza, and other kid-friendly stuff. But...cooking is one of my great joys in life, and I can't see limiting myself to the (relatively broad, but still restricted) foods my DD enjoys. I don't think it would be fair to expect her to eat the bitter greens, spicy foods, exotic vegetables, etc etc that DH and I enjoy. She would eat the starch, pick out a few vegetables, and then she would wake up in the middle of the night crying for bananas and toast. I know this because *it's happened* on occasions when we haven't had much to offer her that she likes and she's gone to bed without eating very much. I am not going to get up every night to feed my 2yo a snack because I am married to some idea that she had to eat arugula and spicy tofu salad for dinner or go hungry! I am also certainly not going to deny her that food in the middle of the night to "teach her a lesson" or something. So, to me, it's important to make sure she eats.

It's no huge deal for me to make her a quesadilla and cut up some fruit and vegetables for her when she has her early dinner at 6 pm. My husband puts her to bed while I prepare our dinner, which we enjoy together as adults after she is asleep.

Just so we're clear, I am always offering DD things that I made for us that I think she might enjoy. Today she did eat some of the beets and beet greens out of the pasta we had last night. We hardly did purees at all, I always gave her highly flavored foods, and when she was a younger toddler, she readily ate all kinds of things she won't eat now. But when she got to be two, her list of foods got a lot shorter and she got very suspicious of anything new. I'm pretty certain this is developmental. Enh. Food is not worth a battle in my book. She does eat quite healthily, so it's as not as though this has turned her into a chicken-nuggets-only child. She is also a great weight for her size and in great health.

I do expect that she will be eating what we eat much more when she is older and goes to bed later, but I don't think I will ever do the "You eat this or you go hungry" routine. I will offer something like PB&J and yogurt. I too was made to sit at an empty table with a cold pork chop for hours as a child. What the hell? Not for me.
post #46 of 114
I don't make special dinners for dd, per se, but sometimes I will modify what we are eating so that she gets, say, 2/3 our food, and 1/3 something slightly different.

For instance, dd loves cheese omelettes, but really doesn't like scrambled eggs. If we are having eggs for supper I will fix her an omelette, because I know that she really prefers that, and frankly it's no skin off my nose!

I really don't want to get into the habit of making separate dinners - that's not to say that I will force her to eat something that she really finds unpalatable - but we've found that when we offer her the identical dinner to us she eats her share, and some of mine as well! I guess peer pressure, even from her parents, is a powerful thing

I grew up in a house where food was used as a weapon, and a punishment, and I don't ever want her to go through that experience. No child of mine is going to bed hungry as a punishment for not liking my food - and at the end of the day, if that means that once in a blue moon I end up making her toast and almond butter I feel that that's okay.
post #47 of 114
Ill make dd something else if she dosent like what we are having.
I wouldnt want to eat something I didnt like.. My parents made us do this on occasion and it wasnt much fun.
post #48 of 114
Like an apparent majority of PPs, I fix one "meal," but make sure that DS's plate has something on it that I know he likes. Our menu changes day to day and week to week, and has many ethnic influences, so the meals that I cook often introduce DS to a lot of new tastes and textures. Sometimes he's up for it, sometimes he's not, depending on what he's had to eat that day, how much sleep he's had, whether it's hot or cold, etc.

My thinking is influenced by the fact that DH and I "indulge" our own preferences at dinner. I make a menu each week, but don't assign a particular day to a particular meal so that we can choose a meal each night based on how we feel, what we've eaten during the day, how much time we have to cook, and what we want to eat. Occasionally we throw the whole menu out the window on a particular night and buy something else at the store or get take out.

DS isn't old enough to participate in menu planning, or to engage in a dialog with me about what he wants to eat from the available menu options on a particular night. For those reasons, it feels wrong to me to put only what I have cooked in front of him, especially if it's something unfamiliar, with a strong flavor or unique texture. I feel I am giving him at least a fraction of the choices DH and I have by giving him some other, uncooked, convenient options that I know he likes.

When he's older, my view may change. For now, though, this works extremely well for us.
post #49 of 114
Luckily for me, my DD loves food...any food. It hasnt yet become an issue. DH and I have both agreed that whe/if it happens that she becomes picky, we wont be fixing separate meals. We will make sure that there is always stuff on the table that is enjoyed and healthy for all.
My stepsons mom has a habit of fixing him different meals and it was sure tough when he was little because I dont believe in it. It took awhile, but, it got to the point where he knew he wasnt going to have that "luxury" at our house. I do make sure I dont fix meals that he is going to absolutely hate either.

I think its important for everyone to sit down at the dinner table and enjoy dinner together. I hope it will always be a happy event in our lives.
post #50 of 114
I usually try to make something for all of us that I know we all enjoy eating. If we're trying something new I'll make sure there's at least one element of it that I know dd will like, but if she tries a beef stirfry (for ex.) and doesn't like anything but the rice then I'll supplement with something simple like a couple of slices of cheese and some apple sauce. Sometimes we choose to have something that I know she doesn't like (like spicy Thai food for ex.) and I'll just make her something different - something easy like a sandwich or leftovers.
post #51 of 114
Yes. I was and still am a VERY picky eater so I know what its like. I plan around her likes and dislikes and once she is old enough I'll teach her to make her favorite things herself. Until then I won't force her to eat what we eat or not eat at all. I don't cook things that I don't like so I don't think its fair of me to expect her to eat things she doesn't like.
post #52 of 114
My DD (almost 3) eats what we eat. She very rarely doesn't 'want' what I make but, it happens. It's not that she doesn't like it, it's that she just doesn't 'want' it. I was taught to eat what was given to you (unless you seriously did NOT like it..which was a rare occasion). My DH grew up the same way. I feel like it's extremely important to each my DD that most kids in the world have little to nothing (some nothing at all) to eat and that we need to be thankful for what we have. When she protests against eating her dinner I explain that to her and try to encourage her to eat and that it's sooo good. Usually I just say, "Ok, I'll eat it then." And start eating her food then she's like, "No, no I want it!" And starts to eat. And sometimes if I help her eat (like putting bites on her fork/spoon) she eats no problem. But, we do feel very strongly about eating whats given to you and not wasting. Most ppl have only a fraction of what we have, if that. I think it's really important to instill that in my children. I also think it's completely ridiculous to make a totally different dinner just because a child doesn't 'want' what's on the table. It just teaches them that they can have whatever they want and doesn't help them appreciate what they have. Now, I do understand there are some instances that a dc can't eat what you have and you just have to make something different, but how often can that really occur? I make sure I make things that I know my whole family will enjoy.
post #53 of 114
YES all the time. Why? She will rarely eat what we are eating. I can't get her to eat meat. She'll eat some noodles she loves cheese yogurt and fruit. Now I can't fill up on those things so she does and will likely continue to get what she wants instead of us ALL eating the same meal. My sanity is worth the little extra time.
post #54 of 114
Generally no- depends on the day really. If he hasn't eaten much all day, then I may make him something quick that I know he will eat- just to get something into him. Lately though he has been eating what we eat and liking it.
My ds is underweight for his age as well- so I always worry if he doesn't eat.
post #55 of 114
My 3yo has gotten really picky lately and I do think it's developmental. She used to be one of those kids who eat almost anything; we didn't much bother with baby food, and by the time she was one she was eating spinach pizza by the slice, bowl upon bowl of red curry sweet potatoes, you name it. Now, it's fairly hit-or-miss, although she is picky in ways that I find a bit odd. She won't touch most fresh fruit but enjoys all kinds of veggies. Her tastes also change a good bit from day to day. We're also trying to track down the cause of her eczema, which further complicates the issue.

I will not cook her a whole separate dinner. I do ask her to try a bite of what we're eating; if she doesn't like it, she's free to have a peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of cereal. I keep the alternatives cheap, easy, limited, and nutritious but uninteresting. I was made to 'clean my plate' as a child and I don't feel that it did me any favors. I grew to love some of the foods that turned me off in childhood, am indifferent towards some, and have an enduring loathing for a few that sparked especially fierce struggles (mustard greens literally made me vomit, but I was forced to eat them, so I'd have a bite, run and puke, have another bite, puke some more, and so forth). I was always threatened with stories about my uncle who was so picky he grew malnourished and had to be intubated - that uncle is in his forties now and he's still a picky eater!

I realize that people in other countries, other cultures, do not have the opportunity to be picky. I'm not entirely sure how this relates to us living in America though. My family is pretty darned far from being wealthy and we certainly can't afford to waste food, but I don't find that that precludes having alternatives available for dd when she's in a picky mood. We don't live in a vacuum (or in the middle of nowhere) and eating is a social activity; therefore, my kids are likely to be exposed to all sorts of food, healthy and otherwise, regardless of what I myself keep in the house and prepare. She gets a good food-based multivitamin every day and I try to make sure she gets plenty of protein and a balanced diet in general, but I am just not interested in a bunch of stress and drama over food.

To me, food is one of the great pleasures in life. I would love for my children to share that attitude, but I'm certainly not going to attempt to force it on them any more than I would try to impart my love of books by tying my kids to their chairs and reading to them till I felt we were done.

The one thing I do have pretty much zero tolerance for is asking for a food and then throwing it away! She's tried that lately and it's hard not to get really steamed. I certainly don't get her anything else until the next mealtime though, and if it's dinnertime she's out of luck. Hopefully that stage will be behind us soon...
post #56 of 114
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
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.
How in the world does denying a child food prevent eating disorders? I would think the big control/power deal of You Will Eat What I Made Or You Will Eat Nothing sets up much weirder food dynamics longterm...esp since eating disorders are in my understanding much more tied up with power than with food per se.
post #57 of 114
Originally Posted by wawap
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.
what a great idea, laura!
post #58 of 114
Originally Posted by ccohenou
How in the world does denying a child food prevent eating disorders? I would think the big control/power deal of You Will Eat What I Made Or You Will Eat Nothing sets up much weirder food dynamics longterm...esp since eating disorders are in my understanding much more tied up with power than with food per se.
I'm sorry if I failed to communicate my point: at no point do I believe in denying a child food. I believe in offering a child food and giving them the choice to eat it or not. I think it is also reasonable to offer a selection of foods, some of which it is reasonable to assume your child will eat. I do not think it is reasonable to prepare a meal of broccoli, shrimp, and spicy rice (if all three are things your child despises). I also do not believe it is reasonable to go above and beyond that to prepare separate meals for everyone unless there is a clear medical reason (such as a severe allergy or other medical issue) for doing so.
post #59 of 114
Originally Posted by Charles Baudelaire
I'm sorry if I failed to communicate my point: at no point do I believe in denying a child food. I believe in offering a child food and giving them the choice to eat it or not.
But if they choose "not", do you then restrict their access to other foods in a way that you would not if they had not refused your offers? That's what I would see as controlling and punitive.
post #60 of 114
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