Thursday, December 20, 2012

No Toddler Ever Starved from Stubbornness

NOTE: Originally published at

It took a fair amount of biochemistry to have my first child, so I wanted to be sure I did everything the right way. After she was born, I was one of those extremely neurotic parents who had to everything 'just so.' I breastfed for twelve months and my daughter never had a bottle of formula. I introduced solid foods at six months. I made my own baby food from organic veggies and fruits. I was sold a bill of goods that good eating habits started at birth. If you took care to make sure your child developed a taste for healthy food from the start, you wouldn't have to worry about them being picky eaters or junk food junkies.
Katie, my daughter, ate every vegetable under the sun as a baby. She ate them with gusto. Peas, check. Asparagus, check. Avocado, no issue. Pumpkin, squash, carrots, green beans, yes, yes, yes, yes. I would look over at other parents, smugly, as they struggled to get their child to eat carrots. Then she turned two and a half and something switched off in her brain. She stopped eating all the healthy foods she loved. No idea why, but she stopped eating them cold turkey. Desperate to have my child eat something healthy, I became a short order cook. I cooked something healthy and delicious for my husband and me. I made that organic homemade baby food for Katie's new sister Megan. Then I struggled to find something to make for Katie that she would eat. Something that would be good for her. I would literally spend several hours each day figuring out and preparing dinner. I drove myself absolutely crazy. To top it off, I was pregnant with my son and exhausted. At one of Megan's first year check-ups, my kids' pediatrician obviously sensed I was on the edge and asked what was wrong. He listened to my tale of woe and stupidity. He looked me straight in the eye and said this: "Colleen. I want you to listen to me clearly. No toddler ever starved from stubbornness. You are not a short order cook. It is your job to offer your child healthy choices. It is your daughter's job to choose from those choices. You need to let her do HER job. If she doesn't want to eat them, she won't starve. She will just be hungry. If she gets hungry enough, she'll eat." I wish I could say that Katie magically resumed eating her carrots, peas, squash and green beans. She hasn't, even at 13. However, despite her stubbornness, Dr Steven West of Bermuda was 100% right. She did not starve. Image via

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