Feeding the Discriminating Toddler

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and Lifeway Kefir, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade # http://my-disclosur.es/RgFrEH

baby eating sweet potato

This is Abe the first time he tried solid foods, when he was six months old. Yeah. And he STILL won’t eat sweet potato.

Sweet potato aside, I wouldn’t exactly call Abe picky. He eats a pretty big variety of stuff, including a lot of things not associated with picky toddlers, like broccoli and spinach and 85% cocoa dark chocolate.

But he does tend to be sort of uninterested in food in general a lot of the time. This is a new experience for me. My older kids were ripping spoons out of my hand very early on and indiscriminately shoveling any and all food into their mouths at all hours of the day. I didn’t really worry if they wanted to eat 50 saltines in a sitting, because I knew an hour later they’d down an entire avocado.

Abe is different. This is what meal time with Abe is like:


Huh. Wonder why the dogs always want to stick so close to the high chair while Abe eats….



Ah! I understand now. You can probably disregard the rest of this post; my number one toddler feeding tip is: GET A DOG! I’m horrified when we go to restaurants and I see what a mess Abe makes. But, yes: one bite, two bite, feed the rest of my food to the dogs and try to climb out of the high chair. Says Abe.

Abe’s fickleness and indifference about food means I fret about every bite he takes. This might be the only time I can get him to eat more than three bites of food all day; it has to be THE BEST FOOD! There will be no saltines! There will be only nutritionally dense superfoods! If Huffington Post doesn’t have an article about how it’s a superfood that cures cancer and heart disease and furthers the cause of world peace, Abe is not allowed to eat it.


Anyway, I prefer to feed him stuff that can multitask: calories! he likes it! more than one positive nutritional attribute! I like eggs, for example, because one time I read somewhere that eggs have every nutrient people need except vitamin C, and if I read something somewhere I believe it forever. And Abe will almost always eat at least four bites of egg in a sitting. So I try to scramble up an egg for him pretty much every day (bonus: this is easy and quick).

Basically, the Abe feeding strategy that I’ve developed is to try to make every bite count….which, come to think of it, would probably be a good strategy to adopt for the older kids (and, uhh, myself), too.

On a friend’s recommendation, we gave Abe probiotic drops when he was a tiny baby to help all of us get through his fussy, new to the world of digestion, newborn stage. I was a little skeptical at first, thinking maybe it was all hippy wizard nonsense. But, honestly, I am totally willing to try magic if it will make my baby sleep better. And it really did seem to help a lot….enough that Dave and I panicked at the prospect of going a night without those drops.

Eventually he outgrew his newborn digestive woes and fussiness, and the probiotic drops were not cheap, so we stopped giving them to him. But we were convinced the probiotics were a good thing for him, so we finally got around to buying a bigger baby suitable supplement. And it’s still sitting in our refrigerator, virtually untouched. Because it doesn’t meet my multi-tasking requirement for things I put in Abe’s mouth.

Sorry, probiotic supplements: if you’re too lazy to also be food, then I’m too lazy to give you to my baby!

Kefir, on the other hand, ticks all my toddler food requirement boxes: Abe loves it and is, on any given occasion, very likely to ingest a significant amount of it before tossing the cup on the floor. It’s a multi-tasker! Protein, calcium, AND more probiotics than yogurt. And Huffington Post totally has an article on its superfood qualities. Ding, ding, and ding.


lifeway kefir

Kefir is a yogurt like drink….smoothie consistency. Lifeway Kefir is readily available at pretty much every grocery store near us, comes in a bunch of flavors and varieties, and is made with milk from grassfed cows. So far we’ve just tried a couple different flavors of the lowfat smoothies, but I’m itching to get some of the ProBugs that come in little travel ready pouches, and the kids are intrigued by the frozen kefir.

Milo and Gus are obsessed with kefir, too; I’m pushing it for easy breakfasts these days in place of non-superfoody cereal.

lifeway kefir

To sum up, here’s my three step process for feeding the toddler who thinks food is not worth his time:

1. Get a dog

2. Focus on nutritionally dense foods

3. Try not to worry too much. As long as the kid is growing and is healthy and happy, the food part is probably all fine. If she feeds the banana to the dog today, she’ll probably eat one tomorrow instead. Offer a good variety of healthy foods; hide the chocolate stash for as long as you can (except the 85% cocoa stuff–TOTALLY superfood), and trust that it will be okay.

Check out Lifeway’s website for lots of information about kefir (and coupons!). You can also take a look at their facebook page or follow them on twitter @lifeway_kefir.



Feeding the Discriminating Toddler — 23 Comments

    • If it’s the lactose that gets you, kefir’s supposed to be 99% lactose free (says the label on the bottle)….because it all gets, umm….fermented away? something sciencey like that 🙂

  1. This is so awesome Gretchen. LOVED this post 🙂 On the first picture I thought: WOW Abe go a haircut – he looks so much younger. Haha…
    I use the exact same HuffPo superfood strategy for my food choices. Well… almost. I can toally relate. Did we ever figure out how to pronouce Kefir? Is it sort of like Kiefer Sutherland?

    • Thanks, Katja! Dave told me the other day that Abe needed a haircut, and I was all, “NO! my BABY!!!!” But, yeah, he definitely didn’t need one back then ;). I think it IS like Keifer Sutherland, as far as I can tell. There seems to be some disagreement on the matter. I always thought it was with a short e like in elephant, but google suggests otherwise.

    • My 10 year old is like that….he’ll eat a giant sweet potato, completely plain–no butter or anything–in one sitting 🙂

  2. I had to laugh when I saw the photo with the dogs clustered around the high chair. The dog still follows my son and he’s 22 (and not very neat, obviously).

  3. LOVE it!! HA! Just look at him feeding the pups! We love our kefir over here and my daughter who is Abe’s age is all about it! Such a cute post lady!!!

  4. Now I’m just mad that I didn’t take a picture of Evelyn’s first solid food with a chalkboard art. WHHHHY?!!

    • Total missed opportunity! You can stage it, though, and PRETEND it’s her first food. She’ll never know the difference!

  5. Tell Abe I thought sweet potatoes were overrated too until the other day. Now I think they are pretty awesome. That picture of him is too cute. His short hair!!

    • wow–so it could be decades before he learns to appreciate them?! (I still haven’t gotten there, but I don’t get along well with vegetables in general :))

  6. Ive got to try the kefir stuff. My little boy is 3 and he would rather do anything than eat a meal. But he loves milk so maybe he would drink this stuff 🙂

    • It’s good stuff! I do have one (my nearly 13 year old) who won’t try it, but he doesn’t like milk or yogurt, either. The younger three are all in love with it 🙂

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