The Picky Preschooler

Overall, I really can’t complain about my kid’s eating habits. But that doesn’t mean feeding her doesn’t come with some challenges. My two biggest are getting her to try something completely new and the occasional hold out when she’s hoping she can get away with junk over food.

Lately she’s been refusing her morning eggs while trying to finagle a bagel. She has a bagel for breakfast on Saturdays with her dad, but there’s a once a week limit and that rule is firm. Even though we say no bagel, she still refuses the eggs and then is a hungry cranky mess by 10am. Instead of another morning battle, I asked her if she wanted to help make my eggs. She loves to help with everything and an opportunity to be in front of the (unusually grownups only) stove was too good to pass up. She usually taps the eggs on the bowl and mixes them up, but this time she got to put the butter in the hot pan and scramble the eggs herself (obviously with supervision). And then, magically, after making it all herself, she’s back on eggs for breakfast. Whew (for now!)

We are often in a food rut and when I try to introduce something new, she generally wants nothing to do with it. My most recent attempt was delicious fresh spinach pie. She loves spinach and cheese, and who doesn’t like phyllo? But when I presented it, she looked at it, looked at me and said “I want lunch, Mama!” “This is what we’re having for lunch today” I explained. “NO! Lunch, Mama! Not spinach pie, LUNCH!” You can’t argue with a non-rational being, so I scrapped the pie and gave her familiar turkey and bell peppers, which she ate with gusto.

I’m always trying to figure out ways to get her to eat without it becoming a power struggle. I don’t want to bribe her to eat and I don’t want to value certain foods over others, though obviously I’d love for her to eat more spinach than crackers. But then a solution presented itself unexpectedly. Over Christmas, some lovely friends invited us to stay with them for a few days. They also have a preschooler and the girls had a blast together. Their daughter was eating fish, and Eliza jumped right in. The entire trip, whatever their daughter was eating, Eliza happily ate. She tried and liked several new things without us saying anything. So perhaps spending a few days, or at least an extended time that involves a meal, with positive influencing friends can help curb your little one’s pickiness. If peer pressure is going to be a thing anyway, might as well take advantage of it.


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