Most babies are pretty adventurous eaters, but something happens when kids hit the toddler years. Suddenly things are too mushy or too crunchy, too spicy, too salty, or even just "too yucky," as my toddler always like to say. Why bother with specifics, right? The thing is, these complaints are never reserved for things that are actually questionable. They can be applied to anything. Last night my husband and I tried to get my daughter to try a bite of filet mignon and she acted like she was being asked to sample a turd straight from a strange baby's diaper.
Parenting experts always say to give it time and to keep offering foods over and over again in the hopes that toddlers will learn to like them through sheer force of habit, so that's what we do. I serve my toddler the same things we eat every night -- usually with a side or two that I know she'll like -- and then I don't force her to eat anything she doesn't want, but I do try desperately to get her to at least take one bite of the offending entree. It's a process, one that is startlingly similar from night to night. Here are the 7 stages every parent goes through trying to get a toddler to try a new food:
1. Playing it coy
You both know what's coming, but you can't confront it head on unless you want that kid to go all TODDLER SMASH at the first suggestion that maybe chicken is not at all like squid brains and is actually delicious, so you ease into it. "This is a really yummy dinner," you say, "especially the chicken."
2. Exaggerated reactions intended to pique interest
The mmms and ahhs are out in full force. You need whatever you're eating to seem like the best thing that's ever been eaten by anyone.
3. Casual suggestion
You're going to casually suggest they try the offending food, but really the request is anything but casual for you. Shoulders back, smile plastered on, just the right amount of airiness in your voice. You need to seem effortlessly unconcerned about the whole thing, and that takes a lot of effort.
Your request has been denied. You saw that coming, right? Of course you did. On to plans B, C, D, E, F, and -- who are we kidding? You've got plans all the way up to Z.
5. Peer pressure
Mommy likes mushrooms. So does Daddy. Grandma loves mushrooms too. So does your friend, Katie. Oh, and so does President Obama. Daniel Tiger says you have to try new things because they might taste good, remember? Eat it. Just eat it. Everyone is doing it.
They don't have to eat more if they don't like it, right? Just one bite and then they can have something they like. They can watch a TV show before bed. They can have a cookie. They can be president. Just try the fucking bell pepper.
I should note here that this usually works. But then they try it and...
They already told you yesterday they don't like yellow food this week. You were a fool for even trying, but you'll be back at the next meal because this is just a minor setback. You may have lost the battle, but you will NOT lose the war.