One of my biggest struggles with TJ is his eating habits. I thought I would be the mom who got her child to eat sushi and hummus. Vegetables were going to be a part of his vocabulary from day one. It was going to be fantastic! Well what a fantasy that was. We have struggled with the eating thing since he moved to table food. It seems like my perfect little boy was no longer perfect and it has been a tough road ever since.
I have needed all the help I can get when it comes to food. I recently was sent a copy of the book Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed With Insight, Humor and a Bottle of Ketchup (American Academy of Pediatrics, March 2012) by Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP and Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP. This book is filled with great information and suggestions for picky eaters. Here is a short excerpt from the book:
Whining and Dining
According to the dictionary, whining is defined as complaining
through the use of a high-pitched or distressed cry. By our definition,
whining is an incredibly annoying yet seemingly unavoidable part
of childhood that at the end of a long day can have the same effect as
fingernails on a chalkboard. As it relates to dining, children are quick
to learn that whining can be an extremely effective way to get what they
want to eat and/or drink everywhere from the crib to the kitchen table
to the grocery store. It’s not hard to see how a child’s persistent whining
about food can cause a parent’s nutritional decision-making abilities to
become temporarily impaired. After all, it is a whole lot easier to yield
to whining for food rather than something you just can’t give in to—
When you find yourself faced with a child who whines about food, the
best thing you can do is come to the table prepared.
• Expect the Expected. Simply being aware that whining about food
(and just about everything else) is inevitable will hopefully allow you
to prepare yourself and keep it from grating on your nerves quite as
much as it otherwise might.
Whining and Dining
• Keep Your Cool. Whining is an intuitive way for your child to get
what she wants. It’s also her way of luring you into battle. We highly
recommend that you refuse to take part. If it’s food she wants, then
resist the urge to give it to her when the whining intensifies and you
find you can’t take it anymore. If whining is met with reward—or
even if you hold out but it becomes clear that it drives you nuts—
you can expect the agony to be prolonged.
• Let Whining Fall on Deaf Ears. Once your child is old enough to
really get into the swing of whining—usually around 3 or so—start
reinforcing the fact that her whining is going to fall on deaf ears.
If she is sitting at the table whining about what she does or doesn’t
want to eat for dinner, tell her as calmly as you possibly can that you
can’t understand her when she talks like that and ask her if she has
something to tell or ask you. If she continues to whine, go about your
business. If, on the other hand, she makes an attempt to rephrase
her “request,” be sure to acknowledge her efforts. Remember that
stopping mid-whine is a tough task at any age, so don’t expect her
to drop the whine entirely. It’s not settling for less to respond to a
What’s in a Whine?
• 9 Months. Starting as early as 9 months, kids learn to point with a purpose
as they figure out the benefits of pointing out what they want, including
• 12 Months. Children typically utter their first words, and “no” is often one
of the stand-alone favorites.
• 2 Years. By this age, you can expect your child to put 2 words together—
as in “no way” or “want that.”
• 2–3 Years. Kids begin to make better use of basic manners such as
“Please” and “Thank you.” This, in turn, allows for the development of the
characteristic “puhleeeeeeeze” so commonly employed in the context of
whining and dining.
3 Years. At this age, kids can typically string together 3 or more words in a
single sentence, and 75% of what they say is supposed to be understandable
to parents and other caregivers. This means that the “I want one!” or
“I don’t like it!” is likely to come through loud and clear for all to hear.
• 4 Years. Even innocent bystanders should be able to understand most of a
4-year-old’s speech, whining or not. A more sophisticated form of whining
may ensue, including the classics: “How come she gets to have one and
I don’t?” “You never give me anything good!” and “Please, just this once
I am still reading my way through the book, but I have learned quite a bit about what things to try and not to try. While I don’t expect TJ to miraculously start eating everything I put in front of him, I do appreciate the little hints that the book gives me. I also appreciate the humor, because lets face it, we can all use a little more humor!
For more information about Food Fights, please visit www.HealthyChildren.org, the official American Academy of Pediatrics web site for parents.
One (1) lucky reader will win a copy of Food Fights!
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A huge thank you to rolemommy who provided the products featured in this post. While I was compensated for this post, all opinions are mine