French Kids Eat Everything, My Toddler Eats Peanut Butter

When we started our son Jona on solid foods, he devoured absolutely everything. I thought, in the smugness that only a first-time mom could possess, he’d just be one of those kids that wasn’t picky. Well, soon after his first birthday that fantasy disintegrated; he quickly began competing to be crowned “Pickiest Toddler in Kansas City.”

French Kids Eat Everything, My Toddler Eats Peanut Butter | Kansas City Moms Blog

I competed for that title myself growing up, and hoped that my own child would have a different experience. Therefore, I knew something had to be done. Several blog friends of mine had read and recommended French Kids Eat Everything, so, desperate, I decided to pick it up. I loved Bringing Up Bebe, and was delighted with the same kind of common sense and (mostly) attainable advice.

Here are a few of the French food “rules” gleaned from French Kids Eat Everything I’ve been trying at home, with varying degrees of success.

{one} Avoid emotional eating (bribes, rewards, etc.). This one is hard. Before reading this book, I ventured down bribery lane, only to crash and burn. Sure, Jona ate some peas in exchange for a few animal crackers one night, but every meal after that was open for negotiation. He didn’t care about the food itself, just what he needed to do to get the animal crackers. I’ve since tried my hardest to avoid giving him a “reward food,” or even praise for eating, but I find this rule to be one of the most challenging to stick to.

{two} Kids eat what adults eat. I’ve always tried to practice this concept, and I like it because it encourages us to eat healthier, too. If we’re eating together as a family, I almost always give Jona what we’re having and don’t cook him a special meal. However, I do always make sure that there’s something he will like, which for him is usually bread, fruit, and/or milk. Most nights he still refuses to try anything new, but the night he tried and liked soup (soup!) convinced me to keep trying.

French Kids Eat Everything, My Toddler Eats Peanut Butter | Kansas City Moms Blog

{three} Eat family meals together. This is one I feel very fortunate that we’re able to do. Right now, at least, our schedules allow us to eat a home-cooked meal at the dinner table several nights a week. We’ve done this since Jona started eating solid foods. So far, it doesn’t seem to make a difference in what he chooses to eat. However, I hope that seeing us model healthy eating habits (most of the time) and table manners will help him develop those habits himself.

{four} Eat mostly real food. For me, planning is the essential step in making this happen. I cook dinner most nights, and as long as I start the week with a game plan and a stocked fridge, I will make sure most of what we’re eating is real food. I appreciate the “mostly” in the rule, as Jona’s diet is not without its share of convenience foods and treats. I believe moderation is key, and that I won’t ruin his health by occasionally giving him Goldfish crackers.

French Kids Eat Everything, My Toddler Eats Peanut Butter | Kansas City Moms Blog

{five} Remember that eating is joyful. It seems so obvious, but isn’t it easy to forget that when you’re feeding a toddler? I can think of a lot of adjectives, but joyful isn’t at the top of my list when I’m trying to get Jona to venture beyond his peanut butter comfort zone. I try to do little things that make mealtimes more joyful for him, such as giving him his own special Thomas the Train dishes and giving him a placemat and napkin just like we have. I’m working on trying to be more relaxed and not worry so much about what he’s eating or (in most cases) not eating.

Tell me, do you have any strategies that help you win the picky eating battles at your house?

Shea lives in Olathe with her husband Aaron, children Jona and Violet, and their spoiled mutt Ellie. She’s a busy working mom who finds her balance in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes that her picky toddler won’t touch. At the end of a long day, you’ll either find her curled up on the couch with a good book, or busy writing posts for her life and style blog, Shea Lennon, where she hopes to inspire women to look good and live well on a budget. Whether she’s reading or blogging, she’ll likely be accompanied by a bowl of ice cream (the chocolatier, the better) or a glass of wine. And on a good night, both.