Is Your Tot Refusing to Eat? Entice Him With One of These Dips.

When Mason’s being a picky little pill at mealtime, I add a dip to the mix, and watch him dig in. Last night, for example, he was more interested in his toy cars than dinner, so I added a dish of hummus to his tray, and suddenly he was gobbling up the strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and multi-grain crackers on his plate. (Sadly the pasta sat untouched, but you can’t win ’em all!) Sometime he eats dip by the spoonful, but since we give him healthy dips, I don’t mind. These ideas have worked for us. Any of your own ideas to add?

Eggplant Dip — Multi-grain crackers, bell pepper, tomatoes, chicken.

Cucumber-Yogurt Dip — Bell pepper, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, chicken.

Ketchup — Mason likes everything better with ketchup.
(I like Annie’s natural ketchup because it doesn’t have sugar or corn syrup.)

Hummus — Try it with chicken, bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, and apple slices.
Make it or buy it at the store; we like Sabra’s classic and roasted red pepper hummus

Peanut Sauce — Try it on chicken and lamb.

Guacamole — Try mild to medium guacamole on carrot sticks, toasted pita wedges, and tomatoes.

Photo: Eggplant Dip,


Celeb's Kid Thinks Broccoli Is Dessert, Why Won't Ours Even Eat Dinner?

I just saw a hilarious status update on Facebook from my friend Karyn. The topic? Feeding her 19-month-old daughter Isabel. “Riding a wild bull without a bra would be easier & less painful than feeding a toddler dinner every night.” Ouch…but I couldn’t agree with Karyn more! These days, dinnertime with Mason makes me want to pull my hair out. And scream at the top of my lungs.

So it was a proverbial paper cut (doused with a spritz of lemon juice) when I went to pick up Mason tonight and his teacher raved about how well he’s been eating at school,”including his broccoli and carrots!” And that his behavior has been perfect. I was shocked. Not only has mealtime been h-ll  for us, Mason’s had temper tantrums every morning this week (plus Monday night). Why is it that things are so smooth at school but not at home? I mean, I love that he makes a good impression at school, but mama loves to see those smiles, too!

I stared at my sweet boy on the way home thinking about what the teacher said, and I randomly remembered a super annoying quote from Gisele Bundchen: “When Benjamin eats broccoli, he thinks it’s dessert!” (Her kid also learned to pee on the potty at 7-months-old, apparently.) I have no idea whether that’s really true–but can you imagine a non-celeb mom ever saying something like that? Sure, I’ve been judged for giving my kid animal crackers instead of broccoli for a snack, but even that mom didn’t call the green stuff dessert.

Is dinnertime with the kids driving you nuts? Does your kid think broccoli is dessert? Dish here!

Illustration: Mom trying to do it all via Roslen Mack/Shutterstock


16 Foods My Little Food Camel Rejected This Week

I’ve started to call Mason My Little Food Camel. Since he’s barely eaten all week I think the nickname fits. I imagine that he’s storing food in the same way a camel stores water so that every bite is lasting him a long, long time. He ate wonderfully Monday night, but breakfast has bombed for the last three days. He’s been more interested in playing with his classmates then eating lunch at school, and he’s refused to eat pretty much everything expect for tons of whole milk and organic apple-cinnamon graham crackers at dinner. Instead of freaking out, I decided to make this list of all the stuff he’s turned down. It makes me feel happy that he’s had the opportunity to eat so many wonderful things–all of which he’s loved in the past–and I recognize that this is just a passing phase. He may be difficult this week but perhaps next week he’ll eat everything on this list and more. What has your babe refused to eat this week?

Photo: On Wednesday, Mason’s peach oatmeal wound up on his face instead of in his belly (left). 

Blueberry-Cinnamon Waffles
Cheesy Shells with Veggies
Ham-and-Egg Crepes
French Fries
French Toast
Green Beans
Hamburger on a Whole-Wheat Bun
Orange Slices
Peach Oatmeal
Organic Cheese Toast
Scrambled Eggs
Strawberry-Banana Yogurt
Whole-Wheat Crackers

“Cheese or Nothing At All, Mommy!”


After rejecting a healthy meal of fruits, veggies, and lentils, Mason savors organic mac ‘n’ cheese made with brown rice pasta.

We spent yesterday with a one-year-old so picky we almost didn’t recognize him. It began at breakfast. I had prepared some of his faves — veggie-cheese omelet, toast with blackberry jam, cantaloupe, and red grapes — but Bug wanted no part of any of it. Fearing that he’d starve, I mixed Greek yogurt with fresh peach puree, another fave, and offered it to Bug. He took a spoonful and then spit it all out. What was going on here? Finally, I sprinkled organic cheddar cheese on brown rice bread and toasted it. Mason snapped out of his funk when I served the cheese toast and dug in. I tried once again to interest him in eggs or fruit or yogurt. No luck.

At lunch, Bug was so disinterested in his cooked organic carrots, steamed edamame and peas, juicy red grapes, and lentils that he didn’t even bother playing with his food. Feeling antsy because he ate so little for breakfast — He’s going to get even skinnier! — I offered him organic macaroni-and-cheese made with brown rice pasta. With a shriek of delight he squished the pasta noodles in his hand, flashed us a beatific smile, and jammed it all into his mouth. Chris cracked up but I was finding it hard to be amused by Bug at this point. If Mason were able to talk in sentences, I imagined him issuing this ultimatum: “Cheese or nothing at all, Mommy!” It’s normal for one-year-olds to be picky, but is it normal for them to be this picky?

I was dreading dinner but hoping  cheesy veggies and grilled organic beef burger would be impossible for him to resist. He ate a few bites of burger and then picked up a piece of carrot. Yes! Then he licked the cheese from it, removed it from his mouth, dangled his arm over the side of the high chair, and dropped it on the floor with a gleeful squeal. Not part of my plan. He took a swig of milk and then buried his face in his arm and whimpered. Apparently only cheese-covered bread or pasta would do. I appeased Bug with a few macaroni noodles and then coaxed him into eating a few more bites of burger as well as Greek yogurt mixed with fresh strawberry-banana puree. Not the ideal dinner but at least we got beyond cheese and carbs. Here’s to hoping my adventurous little eater returns soon!

Is your babe obsessed with cheese or something else? If so, what do you do to get him/her to eat a healthy, well-rounded meal?

Why Your 1-Year-Old is Suddenly a Picky Eater

dinner2Yesterday, Mason happily ate cooked apple chunks, as well as steamed edamame and carrot from his lentils. This morning he was picky and peckish.

I have a tight group of mom friends in my neighborhood. (I’ll call them the LIC Mamas here since we all live in Long Island City, NY.) We met during the postpartum period through mommy-baby yoga and a Sunday morning coffee group, and our babes are roughly the same age. I couldn’t have gotten through the last year without their support and advice. Yesterday, one of them emailed the rest of us in a panic. She and her family are on vacation, miles from a real grocery store, and her 11-month-old daughter was suddenly refusing to eat her typical faves. “She pretty much wants to eat cheese all day,” our friend wrote. “Thoughts? I’m ready to call the pediatrician.”

As it turned out, each one of us had experienced this phenomenon. One day our babes are eating every single thing we put in front of them, the next day they reject practically everything. Mason was a champion eater yesterday but he was peckish this morning. Despite a spread of cheese omelet, toast with blackberry jam, and fresh cantaloupe — all things he loves — he only wanted the cheese toast I was eating. Yesterday, on the other hand, he had a breakfast of crepes at home then went to daycare and devoured a second breakfast of eggs and melon and a lunch of pasta, pesto chicken, and fresh orange slices. He ate his new Sesame Street crackers on the subway on the way home and then he enjoyed veggie lentils, chunks of cooked apple, steamed edamame, and strawberry yogurt for dinner.

breakfast2Jazzed to be out of his high chair — and in daddy’s arms — this morning.

In addition to making us worry that they’re losing important nutrients, our toddlers’ finickiness can be downright annoying. As another LIC Mama wrote in our email exchange,  “Stuff he loved he now throws on the floor. He only seems to want purees after having completely rejected them for the last month.” What mom wants to spend hours making food for her babe only to have it thrown on the floor and devoured by the dog, stepped on and mashed into the carpet by a sibling, or unceremoniously tossed in the garbage?

Intrigued by our discussion, one of the LIC Mamas decided to get an expert’s take on our situation so she turned to Dr. Sears. Apparently, he’s been where we are. “When our first few children were toddlers, we dreaded dinnertime,” he says. “We would prepare all kinds of sensible meals composed of what we thought were healthy, appealing foods. Most of these offerings would end up splattering the high-chair tray and carpeting the floor.” He goes on to note that “Being a picky eater is part of what it means to be a toddler,” and he offers some very sensible strategies for getting them to eat a variety of healthful foods. I love his idea to make nibble trays with a range of finger foods, and I think dip is a great way dress up fresh veggies and fruits (just be ready for a mess!).

Have you experienced the same mealtime issues that we have? What are your go-to tricks for getting your toddlers to eat well?