Many parents I know are ready to pull their hair out because their toddlers, who once ate everything, have suddenly become the pickiest of three-to-five year olds. Images of waif-thin, malnourished, underachieving offspring keep so many of us awake at night. So what’s a parent to do? First of all, don’t fret too much as it seems almost every mom I know, and every mom I’ve consulted to cook for, has issued a similar complaint. At least we’re all in the same boat, ladies and gentlemen!
I’d like to rely on the principles of successful software design to issue the following guideline: know your users and creatively design for them. So, mothers and fathers, I encourage you to know your children and creatively cook for them! I’m going to lay out a couple of kiddo eater types. Do any of these resonate with you?
- The “No New Foods” Protester. When presented with something unknown, this kiddo is as irate as a PETA protester outside of a fur coat factory. DO NOT, I repeat, DON’T YOU DARE! try to sneak something new, “AKA nutritious”, under this little one’s nose. Unless food comes in the form of the usual suspects (cereal for breakfast, peanut butter sandwich for lunch, chicken fingers for dinner) this little one is not amused.
- Tactile / Take Charge Charlie (or Charlene). This little angel is not shy in the least when it comes to telling you what she likes and how she likes it. She’ll elbow you out of the way to make her own elbow maccaroni, drown her veggies in her own estimation of “enough” ketchup and basically drive the car for you. She’ll tell you “I can do it” before you can ask. She’s no fan of utensils, because hands-to-mouth are so much more efficient. She’s the original bossy pants and she’s here to stay.
- The Texture Tyrant. No matter how yummy or nutritiously sound, this little tyke only goes for the familiar texture. This kiddo can sniff a poppy seed a mile away, so don’t EVEN try to hide one in his muffin. Pudding? If it’s not as glossy shiny as the Jello brand in the store, you’re wasting his time. Do us all a favor, dad, and when you’re cooking, just please stick to what’s tried and true.
- The Drama Queen. For this kiddo, imagination is everything. Don’t feed him broccoli, feed him “dinosaur trees” and demonstrate how big your dino munch is when you eat it. Raviolli for dinner? I think not! Instead, serve up some “pasta pillows”, please. And tell a story about how all the sleepy kittens like to curl up on their pasta pillows before they nibble them in their sleep. I think you get the academy-award-winning picture, right parents?
Have any categories of your own to add? I’d love to read about them! Stay tuned next week for recipes catered to each of the four categories. Happy parenting!