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! 
 GASP!
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!