I was doing better when all he ate was milk

So finally, at almost 14 months, my child officially eats solid food. All my fears about poor oral motor skills and gag reflex and allergies and exclusively nursing until he was 8 proved to be just normal first-time mommy induced panic and now I can go back to freaking out about the important stuff, like why doesn’t he say “mama” more often and will he grow up to be a serial killer because he likes to stand on the cat?

Baby Evan’s new and somewhat sudden interest in real, human food has left me woefully unprepared to offer healthy, age appropriate choices. It’s incredibly embarrassing to realize the only food in our house is stale bread, frozen pizza rolls, ancient cans of soup and fourteen kinds of cheese (which happens to be one of the only foods Baby Evan is still totally uninterested in) while Baby Evan whines and signs “food food food food foooooooood”. And even when I do have apples and Cheerios and yogurt and wheat bread and raisins and four dozen other things to offer him, all Baby Evan wants is cookies. Or french fries. Or jelly beans. Or one of the other terrible, horrible, no-good-for-babies things I’ve fed him over the past six months in a desperate attempt to find ANYTHING he would eat. It’s a lucky night when we’re having chicken or pasta or salmon or something I can offer him without the horrible guilt brought on by food coloring and corn syrup.

How did I end up doing this so wrong? I’ve seen plenty of news reports about childhood obesity. I scoffed at the idea of french fries being the most common vegetable in a child’s diet and swore “not MY child”. I know intellectually how important it is to start good habits now, but then suddenly it’s time to eat (breakfast, brunch, mid-day snack, lunch, early afternoon snack, etc etc etc) and all those good intentions fly right out the window. I am failing.

It’s crazy to realize feeding my child is turning out to be my greatest parenting challenge to date, especially since I thought I got the baby-feeding thing under control when Baby Evan was 4 months old. Wasn’t breastfeeding supposed to be the hard part?

Moms (and childless healthy eaters), how do you do it? How do you make sure your kids eat real, healthy, non-processed crap more (or at least as) often as they eat junk?

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38 Responses to “I was doing better when all he ate was milk”

  1. Amy says:

    It’s easy! Every few weeks I dice up a couple of sweet potatoes and boil the slices. Then I freeze them. Take them out of the freezer and put them in the fridge and they are thawed by the following day. Or even easier, take a small amount of frozen peas, green beans (etc) and cook for a few minutes in the microwave. Keep in a food saver in the fridge and feed them some each day/meal. My daughter loves pears so I will get a couple a week and cut her very small pieces of it and eat the rest myself. (feeding her is helping me eat healthier)
    The trouble I have is preparing meat for her as we usually like things pretty spicy and I don’t think she would appreciate that quite yet. So, sometimes I feed her lunchmeat which probably isn’t the best for her. I’m trying to stop doing that and feeding cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese instead when meat is not an option.
    The only issue we have is that she will not feed herself anything except crackers. Anything that feels slimy or cold she will throw on the floor. Thankfully she likes being fed from a spoon still, so we do that with everything…cheese, peas, sweet potatos, yogurt, pears, etc.
    Let me know if anything above isn’t clear…I kind of rambled.

    • bebehblog says:

      Frozen peas are a good idea, he might think those are fun and they’re definitely the right size to be eaten from a snack trap. He actually eats pretty much any meat, which I find totally shocking for some reason, including the spicy pulled pork I fed him before remembering just HOW spicy it was. I guess my real obstacle is keeping fresh, non-moldy fruits and veggies in the house and taking the time to prepare them in a baby-friendly way. Or to put it simply: stop being so LAZY SUZANNE.

  2. Lately Ivy has been revolting against pureed foods and wants to feed herself and use her new teeth to chew everything so she’s been eating a lot of grilled veggies. She LOVES zuchinni, cucumbers and green beans as long as she can hold them and feed herself. She will also let me feed her sweet potato and squash, but as long as it’s mashed up kinda chunky.

    We roast or grill the veggies and squash then freeze em, we also do this with chicken and steak for her. And more and more often she’s just been eating what we eat.

    You should read the book Hungry Monkey By Matthew Amster Burton he has a lot of (easy) recipes and it’s also a super cute book.

  3. Also: it’s not like she eats healthy food ALL the time – she totally loves french fries, pirates booty and has been known to occasionally steal an Annie’s chocolate graham bunny from me. I just try to make sure her 3 square’s include nutritious stuff.

    • bebehblog says:

      I think that’s my biggest problem – I’m so not used to doing three square meals a day. I barely feed MYSELF three meals a day. Even when I have healthy stuff in the fridge I open it at 10 am and just stare blankly with no idea what to do with it. More often than not I end up eating 3/4 of a bag of Goldfish crackers with the other 1/4th ending on the floor and maybe 5 actually being eaten by Baby Evan.

    • Meg says:

      Sweet potato fries are super-easy to make–just slice up a sweet potato, spray with cooking spray, and bake for 20 minutes on about 350. I usually turn the oven over to broil for the last few minutes (but you have to watch them or they burn) to make them crispy like real fries.

      Someone mentioned Annie’s graham bunnies–these are awesome. They are whole wheat and they do not contain corn syrup. Can definitely be used as a sweet treat from time to time–my trainer approves! He also approves of Annie’s mac and cheese, because it’s whole wheat, organic, and corn syrup free.

      • bebehblog says:

        I actually made sweet potato oven fries yesterday, and have 3/4 of a sweet potato cut up in the fridge to make more later in the week. I usually use a little olive oil and cinnamon and the baby does love them, even cold the next morning.

  4. Other Erin says:

    I disagree with the easy part (at least as a somewhat healthy eating non-mom). It’s really hard. If there are cookies, candy or especially pizza within reach, my salad goes right out the window.
    The best way to do it is to simply not buy the stuff you don’t want to be eating. The guilt of throwing away food I’ve bought (and really, the lack of financial resources to do so) means I only have to really be good when I grocery shop and then I just eat what’s in the house. Planning out meals for the week before you go shopping helps but it does take some of the fun out of dinner. Make sure you buy healthy stuff you are excited about. It might take awhile to find that stuff but once you do and you get used to it, you miss the junk less. Mine is hummus and bell peppers. Also, let yourself eat something not so great for you every once and awhile…swearing off junk forever will only lead to failure.
    I don’t have kids but my guess is that they are going to eat whatever you eat (in the long run) so if you focus on getting your diet where you want it, E’s will likely follow. Maybe use the summer to try and get him from cookies to sweet fruits as a baby step?
    On a side note, I really really love french fries, but it’s totally offensive that anyone considers them a vegetable.

    • FourInchHeels says:

      Along the lines of sweet fruit – I’ve discovered freezing fruit. I don’t know if the baby will go for frozen things …. but pineapple, peaches, and grapes are TASTY TASTY TASTY if you freeze them. I have some mandarin oranges in the freezer but I’m not sure they’ll work out as well.

      It’s my favorite trick for curbing my insane sweet tooth (full disclosure – I say this as I’m munching on a handful of chocolate). Healthy, yet deliciously sweet.

  5. StraderSpiel says:

    It takes awhile for kids to get used to different tastes and textures. Keep offering him the healthy stuff and he will eventually eat it.

  6. Amy says:

    Sorry, I misunderstood your question the first time. The easy part for me is preparing healthy food for her to eat. She hasn’t really ever had any junk food (except ritz crackers and her 1st birthday cake) so I really don’t have trouble getting her to eat healthily. Sorry for the confusion!

  7. Amanda says:

    Keep the secret momma stash of cookies but if they aren’t around he probably won’t want them as much. What ever you are eating, except when you are sneaking the cookies, offer it up. Whatever I was eating Madison would eat. Baby food wasn’t really a thing at our house we just diced up whatever we were eating and she fed herself that. Fresh fruit, steamed veggies, grilled chicken and pasta were always a big hit. Pancakes on the weekends with pb&j were her favorite too!

  8. I don’t have the same problem. Reid will eat pretty much anything as long as it does not contain beef apparently or is not one of those little gerber meals that looks like it’s in a spaghetti-o’s container….Confession: I buy my kid those little meals that look like spaghetti-o’s containers and that is what we give him when we are eating something that he can’t have (either cause it’s too spicy or not able to be gummed down by someone with 4 teeth). But at this point he only wants it if he can feed it to himself (the exception to this is if it is REALLY TASTY. He will let you spoon feed him anything that is really tasty). So I feed him what ever we eat for dinner and the rest of the time I give him these things that require very little effort….yogurt (especially loves the kind in the tube if you can find healthier kids tube stuff), string cheese cut up into not baby-esophagus shaped pieces, or deli cheese, fruit cup looking things of carrots (not the peas cause they were gross in the fruit cup things),fruit cups, frozen peas, green beans that are not fresh and therefore very mushy, applesauce,mushrooms (he likes them cold right from the jar), chicken nuggets (not really crappy ones…Sure real is better but my kid has no teeth!), and those little toddler raviolis cut in half. Don’t get me wrong, we feed him all kinds of other healthy foods too! But who cares about listing that stuff. So these are my fall backs. Good luck! :)

  9. TMae says:

    My kid is only 9 months, and will only eat Happy Baby Puffs, so I have nothing to offer you in the way of practical advice. BUT, I want to second the Hungry Monkey recommendation. It’s a super entertaining read (seriously, dude is funnnny), and kinda helped take the obsessive edge I was getting down a notch or five.

  10. Lisa says:

    We’re the childless (or pre-kid… depending upon how we spin it) healthy eating adults. The only way it works for us is to plan an entire week’s worth of meals at a time and go to the grocery store with a detailed list, then post the dinner menu on the fridge. If I had to think up what I was going to eat every evening, it would probably be pizza or Chinese (actually, we were in that position for a couple of weeks when the landlord didn’t pay our gas bill and the stove didn’t work… I tried to come up with spontaneous healthy meals with no planning and no stove- with zero success).

    • bebehblog says:

      I do meal plan, but only every other week or so and often end up having to compromise between healthy/balanced and stuff my husband will eat. I think maybe including lunches & snacks in my plan is going to be the key to improving our total daily nutrition.

  11. sarrible says:

    I get a delivery every other week from Door to Door Organics of fruits and vegetables, because I’m too lazy to go to the farmers’ market and shlep them home. That’s really expanded the variety of produce I eat and my recipe repertoire; I actually eat and enjoy kale quite regularly now. I know!

    And like many others said, I plan my meals out at the beginning of the week and then it’s just a struggle not to order takeout when I don’t feel like chopping and sauteing or roasting or whatever. I also make a bunch of soup or a casserole or something and then freeze it so if I’m absolutely at the end of my rope I can pull it out and not have to think about making food.

  12. erniebufflo says:

    We just don’t have junk in our house. It’s been about a yearlong process, which really started with joining a CSA, and now we’re to the point that our only “snack” foods are the tortilla and pita chips we buy to dip into our homemade salsa and hummus. Jon bakes cookies and I bake cupcakes and stuff like zucchini bread, but otherwise: you can’t eat what you don’t keep around. It sounds idiotic and annoying but it’s so true.

    • bebehblog says:

      The weirdest part of this problem is when I look at my grocery receipt it’s like 85% fresh fruits and veggies, 10% stuff from the organic section and only 5% stuff I’m ashamed of. And yet that 5% seems to always be the thing that’s easiest, quickest and the baby likes the best.

      A few moms in my group are CSA members but I think I’m too far south for the one they use. We do have the local farmer’s markets starting up in a couple weeks, which should help.

  13. LAM says:

    Alexia sweet potato fries are great. We also rely a lot on frozen blueberries. Just take a few of them out of the bag about 4 minutes before you plan to feed him – no worries about spoiling.

    We used to rely a lot on toast with some kind of nut butter (or sunbutter) – quick, easy and healthy. Also, you can do refried black bean and cheese quesadillas – baby friendly, easy and yummy.

    Don’t be afraid to give him spicy stuff! I know lots of toddlers who looove spicy salsa, and it’s really good for you.

    • brigidkeely says:

      My in-laws don’t add seasoning to any of my son’s food when they watch him (including, like, salt) which is madness to me because, for instance, I make him grilled cheese sandwiches with yellow mustard and he looooves that. He eats broccoli that’s cooked with red pepper flakes. He loves things with garlic. Babies don’t spontaneously combust when you feed them flavor.

    • Amanda says:

      Madison eats salsa by the spoonful and has since she was little.

    • bebehblog says:

      Those are all totally easy, doable options and exactly what I was looking for. Thanks so much! And Baby Evan did eat very spicy pulled pork a few months ago, I bet he would go for salsa or other really flavorful stuff too.

  14. Emmie Bee says:

    I have never tried frozen peas- but I do have a bag and just pour like 20 in a bowl with about a tablespoon of water and micro that shiz for a snack. I buy bananas. And the best way to keep things prepared I find (coming from someone at LEAST as lazy as you claim to be if not more) AS SOON as I get home from the store I wash all the fruit & veggies. I prepare them and then put them in ziploc containers. So I usually have one container of grapes, one of strawberries and one of blackberries/raspberries/blueberries. Then usually a container of cherry tomatoes and one of sliced cucumber. The whole prep thing takes 20 minutes tops and stays fresh all week. I usually fold up a paper towel in the bottom of the ziploc to absorb moisture. So, when I am scrambling for something to feed him I just start throwing handfuls of that stuff down. Also: Annies instant mac is a good portion size and he loves it. Probably not the BEST for them- but whatever. And Pirates booty. LOVES pirates booty. Dude, I have like ten other things- I should just email at this point. lol

  15. brigidkeely says:

    Niko’s protein mainstays are eggs, usually scrambled and with cheese, and little chunks of cheese. Although he seems to be boycotting cheese now, perhaps because it is HOT AS HELL and the cheese quickly becomes oily, sweaty, and kind of… gross.

    He likes grilled cheese sandwiches (I cute them up into bite sized pieces). If we have lunch meat, I’ll throw a slice in there. OH NOES NITRATES. He enjoys yellow mustard on his sandwiches.

    For fruits and veg, I give him frozen bite-sized pieces (carrot bits, corn, peas, whatev) and he either eats them frozen or else they thaw really quickly. He likes cherries and grapes, so I buy a container/bag/whatev of them and slice them up for each meal. He also likes apples and pears so I’ll small dice those. Sometimes I just grab some fruit cocktail or whatever and rinse the fruit off then cut it a little smaller if needed. Strawberries are good sometimes. Bananas are ALWAYS a hit and he likes to take bites out of the actual banana while someone else holds it, but he will consent to eat pieces by hand as well. Every single time I’ve gotten frozen blueberries they’ve been freezer burned and kind of gross, no matter the brand or the store.

    He likes dried fruit (raisins, cherries, blueberries, pineapple and mango that I’ve cut into little pieces), but sometimes he doesn’t chew them super well and they pass through him relatively undigested. (these can be choking hazards, supervise when feeding him, make sure he’s sitting down, etc)

    He likes toast with butter, sometimes with jam.

    He likes yoghurt, doesn’t seem to like chocolate pudding (or chocolate milk, although chocolate chips are a winner) and likes cottage cheese.

    He looooves broccoli florets. He eats pasta (with sauce) when he can feed himself, but usually objects to being fed it with a fork. But not always.

    He likes beans and rice. He’s eaten just about every form of meat we’ve offered.

    The main trick seems to be either make it possible for him to feed himself or else use a spoon but let him have one too (and he’s started learning how to dunk a spoon into goo food and then get that goo into his food hole), and to offer him a variety.

    He mostly eats what we eat, although I try to keep emergency backup food in the house for him (dry cereal (the powdered kind, not like, breakfast cereal) and fruit puree to mix together, a few jars of meals, “biter biscuits” and other snack-type things. And cheerios, of course.

    Some days he isn’t interested in food. Some days he won’t eat stuff he loved in the past. Some days he wants to devour the world. Some days he won’t eat anything unless we eat it first. Some days he only wants to eat off our plates, even if he has THE EXACT SAME FOOD ON HIS PLATE (only cut up smaller). Just keep experimenting and remember that the world won’t end if all he eats one day is pizza puffs, fries, and cheerios he’s found under the couch.

    • bebehblog says:

      Baby Evan is all sorts crazy when it comes to who does the feeding – he has suddenly decided he wants us to put the food directly in his mouth, although he doesn’t like spoons very much. He will eat of a big person fork, but isn’t even close to being able to do it himself. But then it’s time for some crackers or Goldfish and he wants to shove them directly into his face and NO NO NO NO DON’T HELP.

  16. Audrey says:

    Hmm. Ev doesn’t eat too much junk. But that’s because his snacks almost entirely consist of various fruits..and often he has fruit and eggs for breakfast with a few bites of daddy’s cereal. When Chris has chips (because I’m not a big chip eater) he shares with Ev. But it’s not often enough for me to be concerned about. And if we snag some donuts on the way to work Ev gets a small bit to gnash on too, he’d scream if we were eating something and he wasn’t eating the exact same thing. But again, it’s not often enough for me to be concerned about. French fries are something I like to make on occasion, but since I bake my sliced potatoes instead of fry them I don’t feel any real guilt about it. I’m not sure how I became a fresh foods mom. I recall starting out with all of those stupid containers of puffed infant snacks and yogurt treats and chewy fruit roll-up wannabes…but Ev never really took to them so I just stopped buying them. And he needed more fruit in his life because the boy is not regular without it so I guess we became a fruit dominant household.

  17. Miranda says:

    My child eats nothing. He will eventually turn into a goldfish cracker. Of this I am sure. If you fail, I fail, too.

  18. Merin says:

    Cora is into almond and peanut butter lately (yes, I feed my one year old PB, and have for quite some time. Whatever it takes…) right off the spoon. Justin’s makes these little to-go squeeze packs that are super handy for on the go. I have a bunch of the almond butter so I can bring you one to try at BF group. It is a good mommy snack too!

  19. Grace says:

    my son is 22 months old and veggies are definitely a struggle. Some of his favorites are:

    steamed broccoli w/ melted cheese
    cooked asparagus (grilled or just in the frying pan) with a tad of olive oil & salt
    steamed carrots with fresh rosemary
    raw cucumber
    avocado & tomato (technically fruits though!)
    baked potato fries w/ rosemary & garlic

    i find he LOVES dipping foods. So he’ll eat more if he can dip it in something. Hummus is GREAT, as well as light sour cream or ketchup, depending on what veggie it is.

    We’ve never had a problem with fruit. He could live on fruit if we let him!

  20. […] I posted about our lack of healthy food choices I got a TON of great suggestions, including one from my friend Ernie Bufflo who said healthy baked […]

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