Teach Your Children to Eat Part I

Jun 16, 2009 | Full Time Family, On Motherhood | 12 comments

I could have titled this, “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR ONE YEAR OLD IS EATING GRILLED SALMON” but that might have not have attracted as many curious readers…

How do you get a child to eat?  It seems like an age old question but it’s probably not. Surly the l’enfant roi syndrome of today’s little munchkins that can’t eat anything but chicken fingers is a modern phenomenon.  Can you imagine Great Gramma with all she had to do taking time to make a separate meal for little Billy?  Can you imagine her pulling a chemical packed “Lunchables” from fride while everyone else sat down for Roast Chicken?  I doubt it.  
Your children can eat real food.  If they are older it may be more of a challenge.  It may involve you asserting your God given control as MOM.  It may involve two weeks of “This is what we are eating tonight, you don’t have to eat it.  Your next meal can be breakfast sweetheart.”  But today, we’ll focus on training from an early, early age.  That is when everything is easier anyways…
Now, let me address this right up front.   I don’t think we modern women handle being told what to do very well.  So, I am not trying to pull a “Sanctamommy” card here and TELL you what to do but I will say that I feel I have had quite a bit of success in the food department with my chickens and if there is one little nugget (NOT McNugget!) of information here that makes your family life a little easier then I will be so happy!  
Can you imagine children that eat what is put before them?  Can you imagine children  that eat salmon, broccoli, green beans, salads, omelette’s…even Thai food?  It can happen but Moms need to create an environment where there are no other options! 
Let’s start at the beginning.  
Nursing.  I believe in nursing.  Nothing gives your child the nutrients and allergy proofing he needs like mothers milk.  And if you are concerned AT ALL about that figure of yours NOTHING flattens that belly and melts fat before your very eyes like nursing a newborn!  I gained 42 with my first and 38 with my second (now to you 20 pounders out there you about die at the though of gaining 42 pounds, and my seventy pound weight gain sista’s you are laughing at my 42 pound inconvenience) but anyways thanks to nursing I lost all that and more within three months of giving birth each time.  I am praying for that much success this third time around.
Nursing is one of those things that I personally believe you have to decide that you are going to do BEFORE you give birth to insure 100% success.  From what I have seen; if you go into with that “we’re going to try it” attitude and the baby doesn’t latch right away or you have a tough time of it at first, you are probably going to be more prone to give up.   I have no science to back this up, just observation.  My kids were suckers from the get-go but yes, it hurts like a bee-atch when you first begin and with my second it brought on such bad uterine shrinking cramping those first three days I though I was in labor again.  But I tell you what, bring on those cramps because by about day 10 my stomach was just about back to being flat as a board and that mushy baby belly was gone!
What does nursing have to do with broccoli???  Lot’s I believe.  I read once that your milk changes in its taste according to what you  eat and I thought that made lots of sense so I was sure to eat a lot of the kinds of foods kids don’t normally “like” while I was nursing to get them used to the taste by the time they were ready for solids.  Call me crazy (and many have) but like I have said, this has been a pretty successful area of mothering for me.  You’ll think I am even crazier but I even adopted this attitude while they were still in the belly and since everything I ate gave me horrible heartburn anyways I was sure to enjoy my spicy, flavorful food in the hopes that my kids would enjoy it someday too.  My 19 month old eats Thai food with such gusto there has GOT to be something to these two examples!
Now, my Mom nursed us ’til we were about 9 months old.  She didn’t go out of her way to wean us but she says this is when we lost interest.  My Mom went through hell teaching me to nurse as a baby and I am so thankful that we had that bond together.  I believe nursing holds some of her fondest memories.  
Before Aidan was born I decided I was going to do everything in my power to nurse him until he was at least 2.  Just like nursing, to begin with I think this takes some intention so here is what I did and don’t worry, I am getting closer to helping you feed your kids read food.  I nursed on demand; not “Attachment Parenting” but I didn’t put my 6 week old on a schedule.  You will find they create a schedule of their own around 6 weeks anyways.  I am not a Baby Wiser though I intended to be at first but with Aidan’s heart condition we had to hold ice packs on his new born chest to shock his heart out of SVTHindmilk is a natural sedative anyways.  And I do think that is OK as long as you aren’t trapped as the child gets older cause that is the only way they can fall asleep.  More on that if you want…
(Let me interject here that if you are not or did not nurse this “way” of teaching your kids to eat will still work.  I am not the type to whip my boob out 247 with no modesty or care but I am pretty passionate about nursing.)
My Mom is not a meddler and so when she suggested a little cereal for my baby at four months and I turned her down she graciously allowed me figure my own way as a new mother.  I am also very grateful for that.  So, if you want to do things different than those around you be kind and be brave  because everyone has an opinion.  And know that sometimes it will go well when you tell friend and family you are going to do it differently and sometimes it might get a little awkward.  As someone who home births, co-sleeps til 6 months and does not vaccinate I know this very well.
The reason I mention the “cereal thing” is because that was my first real decision in teaching my kids to eat.  I knew a kid once and all he would eat was dairy and starches.  I mean that is ALL he would eat.  As a new mom I decided I did not want to create a desire for starches in my young children and I did not want to take any chance on my kids weaning at an “early” age so I strictly breast fed them until about 6 months old.  You can tell when your child might be ready to experiment with a little food by the way they watch you like a hawk while you are eating.  For Aidan this was around 6 months and for Amélie this was around 5 months.  To test their readiness simply put the spoon with a little liquid food to their mouth, if they tongue it like they would a nipple they are not ready, if they open their mouth and take it – well, voila.   
Amélie though interested was not ready at 5 months but Aidan was at 6.  At this time I personally ate roasted red pepper and tomato soup every day for lunch and I figured if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for him.  He devoured it.  I could not feed it to him fast enough.  I also would puree Mangos in my blender and feed these to him.  These were also a big hit.  
At this age if you are nursing; food like this and the experience of it is more of a novelty for the baby and not so much for nutrition’s sake.  I say this because nursing is so convenient so don’t worry that once you feed your baby something like soup you have to do it every day cause now she is used to “lunch”.  We did this for a couple weeks on and off but then I read that warm liquids can encourage early weaning.  Again, nursing was my top priority so I gently fazed out regular feeding of the soup until a few months later.  But clearly his little tongue was ready for flavor and not starches!  For the next few months Aidan would get spoons here and there of what we were eating and he, if awake was always a part of our dining experience.  If he needed to nurse I would nurse him at the table and if not than he sat in his bouncy seat on the table so he could see what we were doing.  (We have a huge harvest table so please don’t give me keyboard lashings on the dangers of putting a bouncy seat on the table 🙂
So, I don’t want to exhaust you with a mega-jumbo post.  By now YOU’RE probably hungry.  Let me know what you think so far and in the next part I will move onto your baby actually eating dinner with you and more information on how I have NEVER in four years of motherhood bought a jar of baby food!


  1. Farmgirl Cyn

    Since Giselle is here with her 1st baby even as I type, I am printing this whole post out for her….bring on part 2!!! I know she feels as you do, and seeing it brought to life will be very encouraging to her!

  2. Valerie

    Great post. BTW…hope you are feeling a little better. I meant to tell you that I only knew of the protein as helping out with blood sugar levels and hunger, not with warding off nausea! With my first-born, I puked until 20-weeks and a Zofran tablet. With my 2nd…only a few bouts of nausea…no puking! Sorry you are having such a rough go of it!

    Anyway, regarding today’s post, I too am a huge fan of nursing…and I worked outside of the home! It can be done if the will is there. Yes, it’s a pain in the you-know-what to pump while sitting in a broom closet while your 3rd graders are at recess, but I felt like it was a trade-off for working and putting my precious miracle in daycare!

    Since I was home with my second, nursing was much more relaxed and enjoyable. Interestingly, little man was not as into nursing as little lady was. Maybe it was the time apart that kept her interested longer (until 15 months), or maybe it was the fact that Ben was just much more distractable.

    Anyway, I ate and drank (not alcohol of course) everything and my kids are great eaters as well.

    Now, I know that every mother has to do what’s right for her situation, but where there’s the will there’s a way. My husband’s side of the family doesn’t “do” nursing where as my side of the family does (both sisters, my mother, grandmothers, etc.).

    I’ve always wondered what my SILs would do if formula had never been invented…NURSE or allow their babies to starve to death…I think we know the answer to that question! Yes, it hurts in the beginning, but the trick is to stick with it and not give up.

    Sorry so long-winded. Looking forward to Part 2 of your post!

  3. Joannah

    You’re such a good mommy!

  4. Anne Marie

    okay…….so I seriously do not have time to read this right now, but cannot wait to do so tomorrow evening!

    and about the music………

    grieving about no dog right now Ang-

  5. cityfarmer

    I can remember falling asleep with the Laleche book in my hand. I carried it around like a Bible …even have a garage sale copy on my shelf for whoever needs is next …

    All of you kids went from the boob to scrambled eggs and toast …and sippy cups were as natural at five months as a wine glass is today.

    Sadly, I wish I had been a little more savvy than Kraft Macaroni and cheese and Rice-a-roni …
    I don’t think I made much more than that from a box, though.

    I lift my glass to you honey. I can testify to everything those kids eat, cuz I’ve seen it in action.

  6. Life in the 'Burbs

    Great Post! I didn’t nurse as long as you did, and I did give my babies cereal, but I also made my own babyfood, and never changed the dinner food for their little taste buds, and now our children at ages 9,7,5 will eat spicey Thai food (anything oriental actually) Mushrooms, Salad, Fish, oysters, shrimp, Lobster, you name it, they will eat it. I love taking them out to dinner and watching them order real food off the adult menu because the chicken nuggets just don’t look good! :o)

  7. Anne Marie

    no baby food from the store either –
    the first bite of food for the children is my Hungarian Grandmother’s “cereal” which is homemade bread torn into very small peieces, and heated with raw milk….if they like that, then they are ready….

    works every time

    none of my kids are picky eaters, but I certainly don’t let them get away with just cereal and dairy….
    they have to eat what is in front of them

    (this is a passionate topic for me, so I’ll stop now)

  8. Alexandra

    Sending you pain au chocolat in spirit! Hope your week is going great. My daughter and I leave pictures for one another at night and in the morning. Suffice to say, they are usually silly. 🙂
    Have a good week!
    Hugs ~

  9. Rebecca of Sunny Morning Farm

    I stumbled over here somehow a few days ago and I am loving your blog!

    My children are grown and those days are over for me…whew! However, The picture of the chubby precious little babe is the cutest thing I have ever seen. She looks like me chowing down on a meal!!!!!
    Give her a big hug for me!


  10. Bonjour Madame

    I swear I learn so much from your blog. I applaud you for the way you are raising your kids.


    I really appreciated this post! My kids will eat fresh Perch eggs (fried up delicious), any type of vegetable, lamb, you get the picture. How did we get that accomplished? That’s what I feed them!

  12. Francesca Meazza Passionedeco

    I am reading the serie once again, after 3 years ( I read it when my first son was 10 month!), just to remember the steps you follow since I so agree with you, dairy thing included.
    Thanks Angela.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Search Posts

Blog Categories

Archives by Date