When blueberries backfire

6 Jan

I have been taking the patient approach in getting Hannah to eat her dinner; putting it in front of her and if she wants it, she eats, if she says “done” and tries to get down, I put her down.  Without dinner.  She does get milk before bed time though.  I don’t want to force her to eat because, well, let’s face it, you can’t actually force someone to eat something unless you shove a tube down their throat and then throw the food in, I don’t want her to develop a bad relationship to food, or use food to gain control (or think she is in control), and I don’t want her to dread meal time.  I read a book that said toddlers will never starve themselves, usually they are eating a lot more than we realise as they are constant grazers, and they don’t need as much food as they did before because they grow a lot less.  Fair enough.

The other day, Hannah wanted me to put together the wooden train set she got for Christmas.  “Train!” she told me.  I, on the other hand, was trying to get her to put her pants on.

“Put your pants on, and then I’ll make the train for you.”  I told her.

“NO!”  “Train!”

“No train until you put your pants on.”  I calmly told her.


This went around a few times and then something amazing happened:  She came over to me, sat in my lap and stuck her foot in the air so I could put a pant leg on it.  Just like that, she let me put her pants on.  Then I put the train track together.  Everyone was happy.

And I got an idea….

I made Hannah hokkien noodles with vegetables, egg, and a little bit of honey soy sauce for dinner (which is delicious by the way, thanks Romana for the idea).  I put it in front of her.

“Done!”  She exclaimed while trying to get out of her high chair, without so much as smelling the delicious dinner I slaved over the stove to make for her.

“Do you want a blueberry?”  I asked her.


“Ok, I’ll give you a blueberry if you eat one bite of dinner.”


“Do you want a blueberry?”  I asked her again.

Photo courtesy of bewellbuzz.com

“Please.” She said with her cute little face.

“First eat one bite of food, then you can have a blueberry.”

She opened her mouth, and ate a bite of dinner.  I gave her a blueberry.  I gave her another bite of food, then a blueberry.  Soon, she had eaten her entire dinner.  I was ecstatic.  I’m pretty sure she was too, blueberries are her favourite.  That was the first time in her entire life that she has actually eaten egg.  She doesn’t like egg.  She doesn’t like chicken.  Or beef, or fish.  She pretty much doesn’t like any sort of protein unless it’s hidden in pancakes in the form of wheat germ.

We did the same thing the next night, and she ate all of her dinner.  I’m really onto something.

Or so I thought.

I tried to give her something other than the noodles the night after that.  I made her some Vietnamese rice paper rolls with a tiny bit of  teriyaki chicken, grated carrot, grated cucumber, some sort of little noodle that looks like glass, and avocado.  She took a bite, then promptly spit it out while making a face that conveyed grossness.  She wouldn’t eat it anymore.  I wouldn’t give her a blueberry.  She got really upset.  I made her some more noodles like she had eaten the previous 2 nights.  Nope, didn’t want that either.  Wouldn’t eat anything (except for blueberries, which I wasn’t going to give her if she didn’t first take a bite of dinner).  Stalemate.  She got down with no dinner.

Sigh.  Now I’ll have to think of another way to get her to eat her food.  Any ideas?  Or maybe she will go back to bribery as long as it’s something she doesn’t hate.  At least she drinks V8 juice (watered down of course).

6 Responses to “When blueberries backfire”

  1. territerri January 7, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Years ago, I ran a home daycare and participated in a food program. The theory that really sticks with me is the same one you’re onto. As adults, it’s up to us to provide our kids with healthy food options. We decide what and when to serve it. The kids decide how much, if any of it they want to eat. They can choose not to eat. And snacks between meals don’t need to be withheld if the child doesn’t eat. If the snacks are healthy options, let the child have it. After all, how would we like it if someone else decided for us what we had to eat and how much? Forcing food on kids will only promote eating issues down the road.

    • Sheri (Mommy Stuff Blogger) January 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

      Thanks, that’s good to know! I don’t want her to have eating issues down the track, so I think I’ll stick to what I’ve been doing. And of course, only giving healthy snacks….

  2. nikhamilton January 8, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Meat is an issue with Willow as well. I’ve found that she LOVES tomato sauce (and tartare). She’s a very healthy eater in general, so I really can’t complain, but when I really want her to eat some meat that day, I do very minimal snacks in the arvo, no watered down juice, only water and no milk until after dinner. Then the only thing I put on her plate is the meat drizzled in loads of sauce. (Cut up so tiny that she can swallow it whole without munching on the texture which I think is her issue)
    Sometimes it works, occassionally it doesn’t. But she eats far more of it than she ever did before I limited the juice, fruit snacks and milk. I think that she eats enough now for me to be happy that she’s tasted it and hopefully developing a taste for it. Providing enough nutrition for a baby vegetarian must be difficult. Especially when lentils aren’t incredibly tasty…

    • Sheri (Mommy Stuff Blogger) January 8, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

      Oh, that’s sounds good, I’ll have to try it. I’ve figured out the last few days that giving her no juice in the afternoons helps with eating in general, but she still won’t touch meat. I’ll have to try some saucy meat! Thanks for that!

  3. kloppenmum January 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    I agree with Territerri…if you only have healthy options available don’t stress too much. If their blood sugar levels are even because they’ve eaten, they are far less likely to tantrum too. OH, and eat together as a family around a table as much as you can.
    Our 16 month old ate poached egg with weetbix this morning…

    • Sheri (Mommy Stuff Blogger) January 15, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

      Poached egg with weetbix…. hmmm…I think I may have to try that one. Or maybe in porridge so she can’t see it. It’s so funny what they will eat. I mean I make her a whole meal pasta with ricotta and spinach sauce, won’t even try it, just looks at it and says “done.” Take her to Kmart where she finds a piece of dog food, and she tries to shove it in her mouth.

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