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family mealtime

Maya loves to eat, she will try almost any food you put in front of her.  She loves food and isn’t afraid to try new things.  It hasn’t always been that way though.  For a while there I thought we might be destined to deal with an insanely picky eater forever.  But somewhere along the way she became transformed into this eating machine :)

When Maya was about 5 months old I started introducing her to solid foods.  I started out with rice cereal as recommended by our pediatrician.  She was not impressed by any stretch of the imagination.  The face she is making in this photo is one I saw every time I stuck a spoon in her mouth (assuming she would open her mouth and let me put the spoon in, in the first place).

food yuck

There were very few baby foods she would eat.  I could occasionally get her to eat peas, squash, this pre-mixed peach cereal stuff in a jar and prunes, but that was it.  She hated applesauce, all baby cereals, and most veggies.  For quite sometime she lived on breast milk alone because she wouldn’t even open her mouth to try anything.

Things got a little easier when we introduced finger foods.  She loved those Gerber Puffs, the freeze dried yogurt thingys, cheerios and peaches.   I think for a while there she would have been happy to live on peaches :)

MMM peaches

We struggled with her eating, or lack there of, for a while.  She wouldn’t try anything.  The few things she would eat just didn’t cut it as meals and didn’t give her enough of the nutrients she needed.  When it finally came time to wean her completely from breastfeeding I was worried that she wasn’t going to get enough to eat, that she would starve because she refused to eat anything.

She didn’t starve.  As a matter of fact she started slowly doing much better in the eating department.  There were several things we did that helped her,  including; not making any meal time a battle, if she wanted to eat great, if not, fine.  We continued to provide her lots of healthy options at each meal.  I started letting her choose what she was going to eat for breakfast and lunch and we basically just let her control her own eating.

One day I realized that I no longer had a picky eater.  Instead my daughter had been transformed into a good eater.  She is the type of kid you can take out to dinner with you and not have to worry about what will be on the menu.  This past weekend we even took her out for sushi with us.  Now, granted, she didn’t much care for the actual sushi but she loved the miso soup and the japanese house salad :)  Watching her eat this weekend I was proud of her for being so willing to try new things.  I was proud of us for sticking with it and helping transform her into an amazing little eating machine.  She even used chop sticks :)

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From the moment my daughter started eating solids at 6 months old she was incredibly picky. She hated all baby cereal, no matter what you mixed in with it. She hated most vegetables, especially green beans (she could smell those things coming a mile away). And, it was pretty hit and miss on the fruit too.  Can you believe she didn’t like applesauce, what baby doesn’t like applesauce? The few things I could consistently get her to eat were prunes, peas and this creamy wheat and peaches breakfast by Beech-Nut.

Things did improve slightly when we were able to introduce finger foods. Fruit was a big hit, peaches and grapes being way up there on the favorite list. She loved apples too (who knew since applesauce was such a bust). Anything from the bread group was a big hit too. Veggies were still a big miss, except those peas. No go on any diary either, the kid hated yogurt, she wouldn’t even open her mouth for yogurt.

When Maya was around a year old I knew things had to change. Meal times were becoming daily battles and I didn’t want to start a war over food, I knew that just couldn’t end well. So, I did a few things to see if I couldn’t transform her eating habits.

I did 5 things that really worked to transform my picky-eater. They may not work for you, but if you have a picky-eater yourself you know they’re worth a shot.

  1. I eliminated a few nursing sessions so that she wasn’t eating close too meal time.  I figured she was more likely to try something if she was hungry.
  2. I let her take control of her eating. Instead of feeding her I let her feed herself. I just put the bowl or plate in front of her and let her have at it.  This worked wonders.
  3. I stopped stressing about how much she was eating. I figured if she was hungry she would eat. This was a lot easier to do since I had given her control of her food.
  4. I made sure that every meal consisted of at least 1-2 things that she really loves. I found she was more likely to try the other things on her plate when they were next to a favorite.
  5. I started introducing new foods slowly and stopped getting upset when she refused to eat them. I just put them in front of her, if she tries them great, if not maybe next time.

Although she doesn’t have a huge repertoire of food she loves, she does pretty well. Her meals are pretty balanced and she will eat from every food group, every day. She still loves her peas but has added carrots, tomatoes and sweet potatoes to the list of favorite veggies. If given the chance she would eat fruit and bread for every meal, except breakfast which is all about Raisin Bran cereal. Yogurt is her new favorite morning snack. Cheese and chicken have become big hits, as well as cheese stuffed pasta and turkey cold cuts.

It felt good to have her go from refusing to open her mouth to most foods to looking like this after a meal!!

The biggest thing I did was take the stress out of meal time. I found that as soon as I stopped worrying so much about it and let her control her eating at mealtimes things became so much easier.

These are trying financial times. It seems like every time you turn on the news or read the paper it is just more bad news about the economy. The suffering goes far beyond wall street and hits the average family where it hurts most, they pocket book. Most families these days are doing what they can to save a few dollars here and there. For some it is just good planning for others it is necessary because of financial struggles.

Saving money on your family’s grocery bill can make a huge difference. Food prices are rising faster than your paycheck so find a few ways to save some money the next time you head to the grocery store can be a big help with the family budget.

Here are a few tips to think about the next time you head to the grocery store.

  • Shop on a full stomach. If you are hungry when you go to the grocery store you are much more likely to buy more than you need, especially expensive snack foods.
  • Shop with a list. Trying to remember what you need at the grocery store can be a challenge without a list and often times results in buying more than you need.
  • Shop alone. Having your spouse or the kids along tends to result in more stuff in the grocery cart than you intended.
  • Know your grocery store and how grocery stores work. Knowing the layout of your store can not only make your trip more efficient it can also make it cheaper as you can avoid those areas of the store where the most display items are. Stores put up displays of high profile, high cost items in areas where they are most likely to catch your eye. If you know the store is doing this it is easier to avoid.
  • Buy store or generic brands when possible. For the most part these no-name brands are just as good as the name brand but will cost you much less.
  • Use coupons or store discount cards. Some stores even print the amount you saved at the bottom of the receipt. You’ll feel good knowing you saved some extra money.
  • Check the unit price and buy in bulk when it is cost effective for your family.
  • Make fewer trips to the grocery store. Try to go only once a week instead of stopping by several times a week. You are more likely to pick up extras that you don’t really need when you shop more frequently.

Making a few changes to the way you shop and what you buy can make a big difference on the bottom line of your next grocery bill. Saving money on your family budget is a good thing no matter what the economy is doing, but in trying financial times it is even more important.

What tricks do you use to help save money on your family’s grocery bill?

Some where around 7-9 months old your little one will begin to show an interest in feeding himself.  You may notice that he grabs for the spoon more often when you are trying to feed him or will start grabbing for food of your plate.  It is around this time that your child is beginning to work on her pincer grip, using her thumb and forefinger to pick up objects.  Finger foods are a great way to help her work on this new milestone and begin to teach her how to feed herself.

When you think your child is ready for finger foods you can begin by giving her a few small pieces of finger food on her high chair tray.  At first you may find that she tries to rack the object into her hand and bring it to her mouth.  However, slowly you will see her start trying to pick them up using her thumb and forefinger.

Some foods that make great “first” finger foods include:

  • O-shaped cereal or the puffs made by the baby food manufacturers.
  • Small pieces of lightly toasted bread.
  • Well-cooked pasta cut into small pieces.
  • Small pieces of well-cooked vegetables such as carrots, peas or potatoes.
  • Small pieces of rice cakes or crackers.
  • Chunks of bananas.
  • Pieces of slightly cooked apples or pears.
  • Pieces of soft peach.

Really anything that is considered OK for a baby to eat and is cut up into small enough pieces will make great finger foods.  My daughters absolute favorite is the puffs made by Gerber, as well as pieces of peach or other fruits.  Experiment to see what your child likes and dislikes.  Remember to never leave your child unattended while they are eating finger foods due to the possible choke hazards.

If you have questions about what your child is ready for and what kinds of food are OK for your child to eat, talk to your pediatrician.