Trying to get myself back into the jam of blogging, I have been rereading my old posts and just noticing the huge theme of Silas' picky eating. I feel like "picky eating" has a huge stigma to it and no one ever bothers to find out why people, especially children, eat that way. The why is the first step to fixing it, though, right?
Maybe your child is typical in that his taste buds just aren't ready for stronger tastes? Shae was that way and we combated it with our rule that you have to take "Just one bite!" each time a food was served. One cooperative bite here and there usually led to him growing to like new things! It takes awhile to get used to new tastes and textures.
With Silas, we found out early on it was related to his sensory issues. He has been in Speech Therapy and seeing an OT since he was almost 2 and it has taught me so much. He didn't have a means of communication for a really long time and you can imagine how frustrating that was! For us, definitely, but for him really. I can't imagine not being able to express the slightest needs/wants to anyone and of course that stemmed to tantrums. Lots and lots of tantrums. So many things toddlers do are dismissed as being "terrible 2's!", but with Silas we needed to look at why he was upset in each situation to see how we could make life easier for him. Well, not actually easier, per say, but we needed to teach him to manage his life in a way that worked for him so that he didn't have to struggle through normal day to day activities that are easy for everyone else. It feels odd talking about him like this now because 3 years later, you wouldn't know by being around him that he needed any kind of help. He gets complimented constantly for being so polite and well-behaved. He's also the silliest, most imaginative kid I know.
Back to food. Here's the backstory: I breastfed Silas until he was nearly 3. He had an aversion to all things plastic from the get go. Refused to drink pumped milk or water from any type of bottle of sippy cup. And believe me, I tried them all. He just was an all natural kind of baby and wanted to nurse anytime and all of the time, which was fantastic! I was eating extremely healthy and was sure I was getting all the nutrients we both needed. When he started eating purees and then solids, much later, it became evident that he had really clear tastes that he was using every bit of will power he had to uphold. I get it, kiddo, I feel you. I tried all of the tricks. We tried all of the foods in all of the ways. Sometimes, it felt hopeless. Sometimes, I thought he would never eat more than carbs. For awhile we stuck with green protein smoothies and homemade green Popsicles because it was the only way. I spent a lot of time worrying he wasn't getting what he needed and even more time feeling like I was failing him because I didn't know how to fix this.
After awhile, I started to look at his food likes and dislikes from the point of view that we looked at his life. Which, now that I know better, I wonder why we don't immediately do for all kids? He used to freak out when we put him in the bathtub because the water running was so loud and the lights were so bright and it was overstimulating. Okay, so what was overstimulating him about dinner? It became clear that he preferred crunchy foods without sauces. Okay, we can do that. I steam our veggies less and separate his portions before combining them with other dishes. Slowly but surely we applied this to everything we eat. Once he liked something for awhile, we would push it a bit further. Sometime he was okay with that too, and we were one step further along. Sometimes, he had to dial it back and wait a little longer. It's always a process, but it's amazing to see how far he's come. He eats the same foods we do, every day now. We do still make allowances for his needs, like no sauces, but nothing that is very difficult or compromises the nutritional value. There was a long time there that I could not imagine at all if he would ever willingly eat a single vegetable and now he begs for them! I wish I had actually believed, back then, that he would come this far. But it's true, it does get better.
The old post that got me thinking about this was from 2010. I posted about Silas' love for apples, which was seriously one of maybe 3 things he actually liked at the point, and I said "Now if only we can get him to have this same kind of obsession with something green!". Well, yesterday he came home from preschool with an About Me book he created. Check this out:
***If you suspect your child might have sensory issues I strongly recommend getting an evaluation from an Occupation Therapist, the eval is just playing and them watching for clues. Your child will probably have a ball and you can either stop worrying or start making your life and your kid's much, much easier. It's probably nothing, but go with your gut! You know your child better than anyone else does. Our OT recommended this book to me and it was really helpful. Most of it didn't apply to Silas, but the things that did, clicked so hard that it was amazing.