Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hickety Pickety

I had some success at lunchtime today.  My three-year-old son, Evan, cleared his entire plate!  It has been a very long time since Evan cleared his plate.  Lately, we are lucky if he eats more than a few bites.  Now, I do not mean to imply that Evan is a picky eater.  In fact, he is an amazing eater.  We were at a potluck recently and he wowed everyone when he devoured 5+ bowls of spinach soup (yes, I did say spinach).  He will eat just about anything, vegetable or otherwise.  The question in his case is not what he will eat, but whether he will eat.  So, his empty plate at the end of lunch today felt like a small triumph.
Maybe it was coincidence, but I did try a new mealtime strategy today.  I realize that I would need to repeat the experiment a few more times before declaring true success.  Nonetheless, I thought I would share today anyway, even if it might be slightly premature.
We had a bunch of random leftovers in the fridge and nothing that would really go together to make a cohesive meal without effort on my part.  So, I just started pulling things out of the fridge and pantry and setting them on the table.  They were:
-Hardboiled eggs
-Peas
-Cauliflower mashed potatoes
-Baked, marinated tofu
-Sliced cantaloupe
-Bananas
-Black beans
-Annie’s Whole Wheat Bunny crackers
-Sliced red peppers
My general guideline was simple - to get at least three different colors onto Evan’s plate.  Other than that, I let him choose whatever he wanted.  We called it “hickety pickety lunch” because we picked which foods we wanted and then picked them up with our hands to eat them.  Evan loved the name (he is fascinated by rhyming words), loved choosing his own options right at the table, and loved eating without silverware.  The result?  Evan picked a banana, a big piece of cantaloupe, bunny crackers, an egg, and peas.  More than three colors and plenty of nutrition.
I was even able to use the same method for my 11-month-old, Clayton, although I chose his foods for him of course.  And even his food required only minimal preparation and then mostly just because he is obsessed with finger feeding and will not let us get a spoon anywhere near his mouth.  So, I finely chopped some red peppers and mixed them in with the cauliflower mashed potatoes, then rolled the mixture in wheat germ to help him pick them up with his hands.  He also ate some peas, tofu and an egg yolk.  Happy baby and another clean plate!