Dear Picky Eaters,

Dear Picky Eaters,

You suck at eating. It’s really quite annoying.  I suck at planning foods you’ll scarf down with ease and happiness (do any toddlers eat with ease and happiness?). Daddy sucks at knowing what to do when you don’t want to eat what is on your plate. We all suck at mealtime.

Honestly, the one aspect of parenting I could completely do without and would happily hire someone to sit in my place, is feeding you. I mean, it’s not all bad, all the time. Sometimes it starts out innocently enough. B, all 31 pounds of you, you get hungry when you see us in the kitchen cooking throwing food together to feed you both your dinner. You sweetly come into the kitchen and say, “Eat?” And I say, “Yes, B, it’s time to eat! Go to your chair!” And you sit there, puppy dog eyes on full display as you salivate, wondering what Martha Stewart-type concoction will be served to you.

Dear Picky Eaters,

For breakfasts, you get stuck in a pattern. For a long, long time, you both ate baby oatmeal mixed with pear puree. Then you ate Daddy’s crock pot oatmeal with steel cut oats and apples and cinnamon. Then, in the past month, you both got sick of eating breakfast with a spoon. So we went out on a limb and tried something completely new – muffins!

Dear Picky Eaters,

It was a success. You both love these muffins, which are made with whole wheat flour, unsweetened applesauce, bananas and a few more things. I freeze them and they last me about a week. But it’s time to introduce some other flavors of muffins, because I don’t want you getting too sick of these quickly. Breakfast isn’t really a problem right now.

And see, babies, it should be noted that I do plan your lunches. Granted, it’s the same five things every week – pasta with minestrone sauce, whole wheat couscous “sticks” (which we’ve slipped chicken into), a quesadilla with finely-chopped chicken, sour cream, salsa, and the magic ingredient (corn), chicken-“fried” rice quinoa, and either a repeat or something I’m praying you’ll eat (like our new rice and chicken “muffins” – which you ate the first time, not the second.). And it’s also true that these five meals have been on repeat for oh, 6 months. I’m not a chef. I plan the meals, Daddy cooks them. And he doesn’t do this every night. When we have minestrone, I have enough for you guys to eat it like 7 more times. I freeze it in bags. The same goes for the quinoa and the couscous sticks. It’s all previously frozen in individual bags. I don’t want your nanny to have to go through what we go through at dinner. I want lunch to be a breeze. So in addition to any of those meals at lunch, you get two side veggies – typically either peas and carrots or green beans and squash. You also LOVE broccoli, brussel sprouts, cucumbers and asparagus, which you eat at lunch as well. No, veggies aren’t the issue here.

You still drink your afternoon smoothie, with plain yogurt, frozen fruit, a banana and spinach. That’s going fine too. For drinks – you both drink milk with your meals and water throughout the day. You love your water cups. You get a kick out of drinking from your own and then switching cups, spreading all the germs, I’m sure. But it’s okay. Drinking isn’t the issue.

Dear Picky Eaters,

The issue, twins, is dinner. Your lunches look all yummy and good and whatnot, and so you may be thinking, what’s wrong here? Well see, those lunches are the ONLY things you will eat. There are variations, of course. You both love pasta. And rice. And dairy, veggies and fruits. You like a cheese sandwich, which I can slip a piece of chicken into and you don’t notice. But that is IT!

I don’t want to give you the lunch foods for dinner, because if you have the same things multiple times a week, I’m afraid you’ll stop liking them. No, I need more recipes of things you’ll eat, that I can have on hand for dinner.

Daddy isn’t a fan of giving you two dinners. Neither am I – and I agree with him that you can’t just not even try something new and then be rewarded with something you love. Which happened tonight. Without the reward. But you won’t even TOUCH foods that we think you’ll like, that we think will help our problem with your desire to be stuck in your eating ways. It’s not that you don’t like flavors, it’s that we can’t get you to even put these foods to your lips. Ketchup/BBQ/any salad dressing – you won’t touch it. Peanut butter, won’t touch it. We tried to get you to eat pizza a few weeks ago – you looked at us like we had three heads. Beans – absolutely not. MEAT??? It’s like we’re trying to poison you. You wouldn’t touch the broccoli and cheese quiche tonight, because you don’t like eggs (texture is the issue here I believe). And I didn’t have a Plan B, even though I knew you probably wouldn’t touch it. So I’m having a bit of Mommy guilt.

I’m not sure what the right move is at the dinner table – put out food you may or may not like first, in hopes that you’ll try it? If we put out something you DO like with it – well, I”m afraid you’ll only eat whatever you love and not touch the rest. But if we only give you the questionable food up front – and you DON’T like it, well now you’re hungry. And defiant. And “giving in” would mean giving you something else. Which I will do. But then you learn that if you cry about something yucky, you get something yummy.

Dear Picky Eaters,

(Mealtimes are such an ordeal that I had to dig back to Christmas, when you weren’t using utensils yet and still used high chairs, to find another picture of you eating!)

As we know you both do enjoy many flavors – we think it’s that you both get into a pattern and don’t like to break it. You just hate trying new things – simple as that. And Daddy and I are always so tired. We don’t want to spend every night after you go to bed in the kitchen. We just want you to eat more than the same five meals on repeat. So, picky eating toddlers, I’ll try to be better about planning. About having something you do like with each meal I think you’ll hate, because I’m not about to let these dinners just fail and you go to bed hungry. That’s not how I roll. I’ll start planning more on the weekends and preparing more dinners at night before I go to bed so we aren’t scrambling the next day at 6:00.

But you guys, you have to do your part too. Just pick up the food, open your mouth, and TASTE it. I promise it won’t be so bad.


Your Exhausted, Drained Parents

As a side, I’ve linked the recipes we do find success with here, just in case you’re in a similar boat as I am. And if not?  What are your secret recipes? They just might be a winner in this house!


4 thoughts on “Dear Picky Eaters,

  1. randomsqueaks says:

    Oh dinner. It’s similar here but not so bad. Yet. They eat a good breakfast, usually just fruit though, and a halfway decent lunch of whatever I feel like. But dinner is hit or miss. A hit is maybe five bites of something. A miss is like you said, not even touching it. My husband used to get frustrated and try all sorts of cajoling and trickery to get just one bite past their lips, or even the taste of it on their lips. We’ve just decided to serve a tiny dinner and if they eat it, hooray! If they don’t, they’ll eat a better breakfast the next day. I know it only gets worse from where I am, so I’m preparing myself now.

  2. Kathy says:

    Thank you for writing this! I’m in the same boat with my 19 month old twin boys. I’m also working full time, and struggling with mealtimes (esp. dinner), food, and picky eaters. I’m going to try some of the foods you listed. Fingers crossed something will work. I hate having to plan a “back up” if what I make doesn’t work. I’m wondering if my twins are not hungry for dinner and that’s why it never seems to go well. I don’t want to make the one meal a day I have with them a struggle for them and me. Glad I’m not alone in this. 🙂

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