Teach Your Children to Eat Part II

Nov 20, 2010 | Full Time Family, On Motherhood, Recipes | 7 comments

Ok, So it’s a year later.
HA!  That’s a mother for ya!
But now that Juliette is eating with us I thought it was as good a time as any to finish the thought I began last year!
I left off explaining how Aidan was always a part of our dining experience, sitting at his bouncy seat and nursing at the table when necessary…
I believe a great way to lay the pathway for your child to be a fabulous eater is to include them at dinner time by using a clamp on seat and not a high chair.  Again, I have no science to back this up – AT ALL, however, I do think it says, “You are just like us, you eat what we eat, this is what we do, we sit at the table at dinner time.”  These seats are SO easy to find at garage sales, Ebay and brand new.  I have two, one for Amélie and one for Juliette.  They are both plastic or fabric for easy washing and they are easy to pack  and take to families houses or a restaurant and there is never a huge ugly giant plastic high chair in the corner of our kitchen or dining room.  They make it easy to use a splat mat too because there are no legs on the floor to clean around.
Blueberries, Organic String Cheese and Prosciutto wrapped Cantaloupe… They are in heaven.  
As I mentioned before I always do a couple weeks of our favorite tomato soup or puréed fruits but truth be told I DON’T like feeding a baby so I quickly move on to solids.  Your baby is more interested in food as a novelty than as a way to decrease hunger and eating solids is great practice for their hand eye coordination.  Watching them learn to pinch their pointer and thumb together to grasp the food is hilarious.  This can be mastered around 6-8 months depending on your child.
So, What to feed them?  I start with soft food that can be steamed to HIGH HEAVEN thus reduce a chocking risk.  Apples, potatoes and carrots cut into 1/4 inch cubes, just a few out on the table in front of them at a time.  It’s such a game for them and we encourage chewing by making chewy “Mumm, Mumm, Mumm” sounds to them.  They smile, and begin to chew more thoroughly in an effort to imitate us.  Again, while you want the food to be nutritious this is more for fun for your little one and it makes her feel like a part of dinner.  BTW, if you can, buy organic, especially your apples as they are on the infamous dirty dozen list!
From here you can move on to things like broccoli, green beans and peas.  Yes, broccoli and peas.  I steam the daylights out of the broccoli (after removing what Joel and I would like to eat at it’s normal texture) and then I cut little 1/4 inch pieces of the flower, not the stem for baby and they eat it like CRAZY.  If you determine that your little one is really chewing you may want to try highly steamed peas, this is a bit more tedious as you will want to squeeze the pea out of it’s little case, one by one.   You’ll be able to see in tomorrows diaper what kind of chewing is actually going on. 🙂  Of course this entire time you can still spoon feed all sorts of tastes to your little peanut… mashed potatoes, applesauce… avocados pieces are a HUGE hit for babies in the Parisienne Farmhouse.  As are little pieces of whole wheat bread (recipe coming soon!).
As baby gets older and teeth are appearing more and more you can increase the maturity of the consistency.  Spaghetti noodles are fun around 11 months (messy but fun!).  Now, this is going to sound gross but when I move on to meats and thicker foods, I do chew up the food a bit in my own mouth and then feed it to them.  You may think that’s gross but by one year my munchkins are eating grilled salmon, beef, Thai food, pinto beans…  And sorry, but nothing is grosser than a little brat who whines about what is put in front of them.
What you may have noticed as I mentioned in Part One is that I try to steer away from starches and focus on foods straight out of the ground.  Who doesn’t like bread?  However, how many adults do you now that won’t eat veggies?  I think 90% of the problem with children that won’t eat is that their parents assumed from very early on what they would and would not like, thus greatly limiting a variety of foods from their palette for a lifetime!
At one year I do introduce dairy but only in the form of yogurt;  Yo Baby Organic or homemade.  You may have noticed that there is no mention of milk.  I am not a big believer in milk and I know I have a lot of straight-from-the-cow-readers but what I have learned from Holistic doctors is that calcium is only absorbed in an acidic environment and of course, the stomach is acidic but the milk neutrolizes the propper environment for calcium absorbtion.  I know that is so contrary to what many believe and I can respect that but I will say two things, we, I am sure have saved a TON of money by not being addicted to milk AND NONE of my children have EVER had an ear infection or strep or anything like that.  Nothing beyond a quick 36 hour cold just a couple times a year (the national average is 7 colds a year!  As a Mom I think I would be committed I had to contend with 7 cold a year times three children.  I mean, just shoot me now) and I firmly believe that is from the lack of extra mucous in their body that dairy products can create.  It also feels liberating when I am around friends whose little ones are completely addicted to a big baby bottle of milk at bedtime and mealtime.  It’s so much easier to just give my little one a bit of what is on my plate and it’s often to everyone’s astonishment. My kids are more prone to eat a big plate of fresh green pepper slices for their calcium.
 By a year and a half my kids are putting down surprisingly large portions of lasagna, soggy chips soaked in homemade salsa, chicken, scalloped potatoes, risotto, edemame means, olives… you name it.  It is not uncommon for our chickens to consume and entire plate of broccoli on one sitting.  And I swear they would eat their weight in green beens too.  During this time I am still nursing as I nurse until 2-2.5 years old though mostly before and after sleep be it nighttime or naptime.  
What about cutlery?
Sometime between 12 months and a year and a half is when I break out the really ugly hand-me-downs, the splat mat and set aside my anal retentive side and I let baby experiment with her own spoon.  This is messy but if you let them practice by 15 months you can have a child that can feed herself.  Yogurt is the easiest to practice with and to wipe up.
It can be done, you can have children that you can take out in public that will eat what is put in front of them… you never have to buy a jar of baby food… ever.  (That’s just one of the false expenses presented to soon-to-be parents when they are told how much it  costs to raise a child… don’t get me started on that B.S. subject!).  Dinner time in your home can be lovely, fun and something to look forward to.  I know I only have three children but I’d be happy to answer any questions and look forward to your success stories too!
In a couple days I will conclude this series (I promise it won’t take another year!) with more ideas on expanding their palette into their toddler and childhood years, teaching them about food and more.  If know there are lots of Momma’s and Gramma’s that read P.F.  – if you feel these post would be helpful to your readers feel free to link or spread the word.
Bon Appetit!


  1. Joannah

    Fabulous post, Angela! I’ll have to revisit it next year. 🙂

  2. Adrienne

    Funny – I was just having a “conversation” on another blog about what kids would or wouldn’t eat.

    You are absolutely, 100%, and completely spot on! I was raised like your kids are being raised (except for that cool seat for the little ones.)

    We ate salads, whole grain breads, and veggies along with our main course.

    My Dad owned a bar when I was wee one. When he got home he would get me up to go potty. I must have been about 3. We would then sit at the kitchen table and eat cheese, pepperoni, hot peppers, and whatever (we were both night owls.)

    There was no soda in our house and we rarely ate a desert. A treat for TV night was usually popcorn and icewater.

    When I hear parents say “kids won’t eat such and such,” I want to scream. Chicken McNuggets? Ugh!

    My Mom wasn’t running a gulag. We were alowed to have our dislikes. Mine was mushrooms, mainly because I didn’t like the looks of all the little spines under the cap. Now? Mushrooms are one of my favorites.

    Another thing. When we were given snacks it was at the table – not wandering around the house with crackers. We didn’t eat in the car and certainly not in church. I can’t stand the sight of kids forever walking around with cheerios in a little bag.

    Ok – I’m on a rant. I’ll stop now. heh

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  4. Carolyne

    What a perfectly wonderful topic……and my *Goodness* a year goes by fast…..I remember the last installment!
    Since I’m full-time Grammie on week days to two of my ‘little dearies’ I whole heartedly agree with you. I sure wish the Momma of the dearies had been raised this way! It is majorly difficult to retrain while @ Grammie’s during the daylight hours…..(grrrrrr).
    You are doing a wonderful job, and congratulations on no ear infections or strep…….are the Pediatricians listening?

  5. Ann at eightacresofeden

    In absolute agreement Ang… my almost 11 month old has only recently started on solid food. Breast milk is still his main source of nutrients (I breast feed my children up to about the age of 2) but just as his first teeth came through he started showing interest in food… real food, he wasn’t interested in any sloppy baby food or mashed food. He loves fresh fruit, spinach and feta pies and sourdough bread but will try anything that is offered to him including all salad greens and has liked everything thus far. He loves being at the table with the family too and eats when we eat.
    The only thing is my dining table has a board underneath its top which means I can’t attach one of those seats so I have a highchair without the tray which fits snugly right against the table. Funnily enough the word verification is table for this comment!
    I see so many fat babies these days – started on solids way too soon, I know of mothers who were mixing rice cereal into formula to try and get their 10 week old babies to sleep through the night. Imagine the damage being done to their delicate digestive system! I understand that the digestive enzymes do not kick in until at least 7 months of age.
    Great post Ang – spread the word… needs to be said in a world that seems to think it is perfectly fine for children to be fussy, picky eaters.

  6. Anne - Fiona and Twig

    No kids here to feed, but I still found myself learning so much from this post.

    You are such a good mama, and I’m pretty sure that has something to do with YOUR mama. I love you both, you know that, right? 🙂

  7. Mrs. B.

    My kids are faaaaahhhhbulous eaters (if I do say so myself.) 😉
    Imagine my joy when Evie announced to me (loudly, in public) that broccoli was her favorite food. “Even more than cake!” She said. Yes, I was beaming with pride.

    Someone in my extended family claimed that their child wouldn’t eat meat because she is a vegetarian (she is 5). “She watches all of her animal friends on the tv and she just can’t bring herself to eat them when we sit down to the dinner table.”
    So, she eats cheetos and chocolate milk. Because, aparently she’s not a very good vegetarian – hates veggies – or has been watching too many episodes of VeggieTales.
    I’ll tell you what I call it: spoiled brat syndrome.

    (Thank GOD they don’t read this blog.) Haha!


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