Hi everyone…Happy New Year!
As usual, I am a little late on the game, it being 17 days into the new year. I blame pregnancy (I seem to blame a lot on pregnancy these days. two more months left of using that excuse). 🙂
I’m not sure who is giving who the food education these days…Kirina or me? I’ve certainly learned a lot about the evolution of toddler eating habits from my little two-year old in the past few weeks. She used to eat most everything I put in front of her; different cuisines, different and new ingredients and seasonings. These days she has developed an opinion about what she eats. An opinion?! Since when did this become a democracy? Ha. Kirina’s opinions about food mainly involve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and gummy snacks (these should be served every day in her opinion). Indian roti bread and grapes for dinner. This doesn’t sound terribly irrational, except she prefers to eat the raw dough rather than the cooked rotis (which are slathered in ghee and butter I might add. why would anyone refuse that?!). At least she loves to help cook them (help is a pretty loose term around here, but it’s still way cute to me):
At any rate, I’ve definitely noticed that more and more Kirina wants to be in charge of what she eats. And it’s not always what I would like her to eat! In an ideal world she would have well-balanced meals with proteins and vegetables for every meal. Sometimes that happens, yes, but most days it is a grazing, random, and often strange mixture of foods.
I’ve decided this is ok though. Why? Because she still makes choices based on the taste foundation I gave her from the first day she started soilds. She still enjoys different ethnic foods, and new ingredients. She is still open to eating a variety of tastes and food preparations. She’s just more stubborn about when and how this will occur (she is also a Leo, and as anyone who has a Leo in their life knows, you can’t push them to do anything if they don’t want to). Take the roti example….for those of you that don’t know, rotis are awesome indian flat breads that are made fresh in India with each meal. You serve them with a dal or whatever curry you are making. The ingredients are simple and pure: whole wheat flour, a bit of oil, salt and water. We started her young on these things and thank goodness, because she will still enjoy them (yes, sometimes she eats them cooked, I have to stop her from eating the raw stuff!). It’s just that with her being a toddler, she will enjoy them for 14 days in a row…begging, pleading, whining (ugh) for them daily like an obsession. And then? She drops them like a bad habit and will fixate on something else (like bread with jam and honey and peanut butter, in that order).
To my adult mind this is very odd…but the more I observe and learn about toddlers, I think this might be the norm. It is a phase just like anything else.
On a related note, a friend of mine with a 20 month old was wondering why her son refused to eat just about everything. She tried to get him to try dal, to no avail. Indian sweets? Nothing. Curries? Nope. Each time the food was presented to him, he just plain refused. So, she did what most parents naturally do…give up on the food because you assume your little one doesn’t like it. But if there is anything I’ve learned it’s this…don’t do it! Don’t give up! I told her that it takes up to 15 tries for a baby/toddler to become accustom to a new taste. I can’t tell you the number of things I’ve tried on Kirina, and it is only by virtue of sticking with it, did she finally come to enjoy it (I have to say, I’m a bit proud that she asks for garlic hummus now, lol). Even if you didn’t try this approach when they were younger, it is never too late to start. Toddlers, though opinionated (and somewhat crazy if you ask me), still have “moldable” taste buds. They are individuals, yes, and they won’t love everything, but you as a parent can keep their meals as diverse as possible to broaden their palates. Keep trying to introduce those new tastes now, because they might turn into great loves later.
What’s Happening In Utero
My final thoughts this week are pregnancy and food related. I have two months left to go before we have a new little mouth to feed. But actually, I’m already feeding her! Did you know your baby can taste food through your amniotic fluid as early as 15 weeks! In the last trimester, they swallow the highest volumes of amniotic fluid, so their ability to taste what you have been eating is strong (taste buds develop around week 13. Very early!).
I remember with Kirina reading this fact and I ate all sorts of different foods. I mean everything. I gave into Thai food cravings, fruit cravings, pistachio ice cream cravings. I remember eating a lot of berries as well, and I have to say, Kirina is still a big lover of them. She’s also a big pizza fan, which is no surprise because it is my favorite food on the planet and was consumed in large quantity with both pregnancies. It is fascinating to me that flavors can be introduced to your baby at such an early, early age!
Take advantage of these facts…start sculpting your litte one’s taste buds now. Try new flavors or whatever feels appealing to you. Try new food preparations…roast and glaze carrots, instead of raw for a different spin. Try ethnic cuisines and incorporate spices (put some cinnamon on your toast with some butter for breakfast. Your baby will taste it!). Get creative.
I myself should have eaten more French Fries. I still can’t get Kirina to eat potatoes. Seriously? That’s like my favorite vegetable. And what kid doesn’t eat potatoes?
From Kirina’s Table to your little one’s….bon appetit!