picky eater fix: who’s your favorite Yankee?

I thank God daily for my two children who are NOT picky eaters, so when I read (as I often do) that the picky eater I do have is my fault, that I’m just coddling him, and that I have to be persistent, I don’t have to feel bad about myself. My middle child eats anything you put in front of him, and I do mean ANYTHING. My youngest eats anything, as long as it has either fruit or meat in it. But my oldest began his life with reflux, and ever since, has had a complicated relationship with what he eats.

And a few things have come to a head lately. Connor’s growing like a weed, spring is here and he’s running around outside more, and lately, his diet has grown even smaller. He’s skin and bones, and when he comes to the dinner table he MUST be starved, but that’s when the problems start. “I don’t like leftover penne with sauce,” he told me two nights ago, lip quivering, rejecting the one thing I can usually count on him to chow down. “It tastes different after it’s been in the refrigerator.” The notion that “he’ll eat when he’s hungry” is a kettle of nonsense; the lower his blood sugar is, the more likely he is to not eat, and grow crankier, and not eat, and so on. “You will SIT THERE until you eat!” proved similarly unhelpful; he sat there for twenty minutes, sniffling, and not eating, and saying “but I’m just not hungry” over and over again under his breath.

Finally– and I’m not sure where it came from– I had an inspiration.

MOMMY: Who’s your favorite Yankee?
CONNOR: CC Sebastian.
MOMMY: (counting on my fingers) S-E-B-A-S-T-I-A-N.  What’s your favorite holiday?
CONNOR: Christmas.
MOMMY: C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S. That’s nine. Sebastian is also nine. Nine plus nine is eighteen. You have to eat eighteen pieces of penne.

Connor considers this.

CONNOR: Okay.

And he counts out eighteen penne and eats them cheerfully.

The next night, I got him to eat seven green beans and twenty-seven grains of brown rice, using a similar method. He is now asking me, every night, to play this game, and I can’t believe it’s working but it is.

Last night, I thought he had figured out how to game the system.

MOMMY: Who’s your favorite Harry Potter character?
CONNOR: Ron. R-O-N.

Oh well, that’s it, I thought. It was nice while it lasted.

CONNOR: Mom! Keep asking me.
MOMMY: Oh, okay. Um. What’s your favorite fruit?
CONNOR: Pineapple.

Which meant nine bites of eggplant. I don’t  know how long the “favorite Yankee” method will work, but I’m loving it.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie D April 23, 2010 at 3:34 pm

whatever works! We do something similar. We can usually get our 4-year-old to eat a little bit, and we can threaten no TV and no piece of Easter candy to get him to eat a little more, but every night after he says he doesn't want any more he has to eat 4 more bites; one for every year he is old. I am a super picky eater, and I really don't want my kids to be that way. My parents tried the "sit at the table until you eat" plan and I would sit there until I fell asleep. It was only about 2 years ago that I could finally eat broccoli rice and cheese casserole without crying!

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Amy Wilson April 23, 2010 at 6:21 pm

I love the "four bites cause you're four" idea. I'm using that one too.

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Amy Wilson April 23, 2010 at 6:21 pm

and by the way when I was pregnant I totally had insane cravings for that broccoli/rice/cheese casserole thing.

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Wendy P April 23, 2010 at 6:27 pm

You didn't even realize it, but you made Connor eat one more bite than he "had to" – his favorite Yankee's name isn't CC Sebastian, it's CC Sabathia! If only learning to spell wasn't so important for kids…you'd be able to add extra letters here and there 😉

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Amy Wilson April 23, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Just goes to show… I DON'T have a favorite Yankee.

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Paola April 23, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I use the: eat five more bites because you're five thing with my daughter and it works…even when I tell her: ok 2 more bites, she replies, no mami 5, because I am five!!

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Annie D April 23, 2010 at 9:23 pm

I thought it was CC Sebathia too, but then I figured maybe there was a Sebastian and I didn't know about it 🙂

And now I LOVE broccoli rice and cheese, but I missed out when I was a kid because I was so picky!

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Anonymous April 25, 2010 at 5:53 am

When my oldest was about 3, we realized she really couldn't count yet. So we would say, "Eat 3 bites of green beans, we will count". And then we would say, "One, one, one, two, two, two, two, THREE!". She would stop when we got to three, and we got eight bites into her. Her preschool teacher was not amused, told us not to come back to her if she never learned to count correctly… she is now 20, counts okay 🙂

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Anonymous April 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Our son had reflux and is a ridiculously picky eater. Just peanut butter fruit and some vegtables.

Thanks for the counting suggestion. I'll try it.

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