Parenting: Food for 2-year-olds

November 2, 2011

I'm happy to report he's made the transition well, with a preference, like most kids, for hot dogs and pizza. But that's not a diet I want him on regularly. And I don't want to get trapped making two meals a day, one for us and one from a limited child friendly list for him.

At our two year visit, my pediatrician sighed when he got this question. "You guys are first time parents in so many ways," he said. "With first timers, the kid is often in danger in running the show. Let me just say, I don't get this question a lot from parents here with the third kid." That kid is just happy to get a serving before everything's all gone. The doctor insisted now was the time to make meals universal: chicken and rice, steak and potatoes, fish and broccoli, pork chops and sweet potatoes---if that's the menu for us, it should be the menu for little guy, albeit chopped small.

We've been trying, in a somewhat limited way. If it's a long day for me, there are chances that he's getting piccolini pasta with sauce and parmesan while I scarf down a salad. But I have been trying to make our meals the same. I was surprised to see him toy with the pork chops and eat all the pan sauteed fish. He loves his rice, not so much potatoes or carrots. But I'm pleased that he yells "Peas and corn!" the way other kids yell "Candy!"

Now some parents have become big advocates of food masquerade....slipping little cauliflower puree in the mac and cheese or sweet potato mask into the brownies. But the advice I've gotten is to be careful with that---kids need to be curious, experiment and add foods to their list, something they can't do if they don't even know they just downed squash or bananas.

And just because your kid doesn't eat something on first meeting, don't stop introducing it. Websites say it can take two or three offerings before kids give a food a chance. Indeed, I've seen my little guy spit something out...but then come back and dabble in it, taking tentative bites.

Last night he had hot dogs, peas and corn. I, with a cold, had carrot-ginger soup. "I want some," he insisted, looking at the golden orange goodness in my bowl. "I don't like," he said, making a face. But at least he tried it, and that's a start.

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