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How do I raise a little Chowbaby?

I will die if I end up with a kid who only eats mac & cheese and chicken nuggets.

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  1. First, never force a kid to eat something. If they're unwilling or hesitant, suggest they try one small mouthful, and if they don't like it, let that be it for that one instance. If they only eat mac and cheese and chicken nuggets, find ways to make the highest level mac and cheese and chicken nuggets possible (see recent postings on mac and cheeese with truffles, etc.)

    Finally, remember that some CHs are late bloomers. If you don't have a chowbaby at age 3,7,12, do not despair. You may find yourself joyfully discussing chowish issues and chow eateries when your chowkid is post-voting age.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MobyRichard

      Yup- we always made her try one bite- unfortunately she usually did not like it as a kid. Now that she is a teen- and cooking- she is finally turning into a chowhound- but it was slow in coming!
      My youngetst sibling has two children- they just turned 3 and 5. I think they are almost full blown chowpups! My SIL is a fabulous cook, and has been having the kids help her in the kitchen from the time they were babies. I had them to dinner last night, and the three year old set the table. Both of them helped me prepare the haddock and scallops ( crushed the crackers, cut the butter, squeezed the lemon juice). AT the table, they serve themselves from the serving bowls- and use tongs to serve the french fries- grind the salt and pepper on their food, and will try anything once. For Christmas, I gave both of them kid sized cookiing utensils, aprons, measuring spoons, etc. I said the presents were from my two cats. YEsterday, the little one told me she was going to bake cookies for the cats for Valentines Day. They are a joy to have in the kitchen, and at the table. Really into food preparation, tasting, presentation etc. It is a hoot.

    2. Well, I don't have children but speaking from my growing up experience, we were expected to taste everything on the table at least once. We could not look at something and turn up our noses at it. Then once we tried it, we could say yay or nay but they would not then prepare special meals for us. If we chose not to eat what was offered, that was dinner for the evening. Nobody ever went hungry because my mom always put out a pretty big spread-it wasn't like we had one choice and went hungry if we didn't eat it but we weren't catered to either. We were also exposed to many different types of foods in restaurants.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Velma

        Ditto on everything Velma said.

        Rule #1 - You had to try it. If you didn't like it after trying it, OK - you could eat whatever else was being served.

        Rule #2 - Mom was NOT a short-order cook - what she made was dinner that night. Period.

        Children will eat when they're hungry - or will learn to eat what is put in front of them. I'm really appalled at how many parents will make different meals for different kids, because one won't eat potatoes and the other won't eat meatloaf. As long as there is a balanced meal on the table, the child should be able to eat something that is being served to everyone. And they won't starve.

        1. re: Velma

          Ditto on the above. Dinner was made once a day, almost always homemade in every aspect. We HAD to try everything and if we didn't like it, that was it for food until breakfast. No special meals, never forced to eat anything. Now I can't keep my mind off of food!

        2. Most of the "bad" tasting food is only in their heads. I say most, there are most certainly foods that people just don't like - there's no getting around that - but try and present it in an interesting way and go from there. If it looks gross, it may "taste" gross even before they try it.

          When they get a bit older, try and invite their friends over for a kids dinner party. Peer pressure is a major factor in the "yuck" department. If the cool kid at the table says that broccoli is gross, you better believe that all the other kids will say the same thing.

          4 Replies
          1. re: HaagenDazs

            I have to disagree, somewhat, about the taste of "bad" food being only in kid's heads. My husband and I were just talking about this the other night. I was probably one of the pickiest eatiers ever when I was a kid and it was only when I was about 18 that I started liking a wider variety of foods. I think kid's taste buds are very different than adults. I remember very clearly eating foods that tasted terrible to me back then but now love (i.e. spinach, steak, seafood of any kind). I think your tastebuds change as you age and sometimes kids just need to grow into certain foods. I have 5 younger brothers and sisters, 3 of whom were much better eaters than I was. I think a big trick is to definitely not force kids to eat things. I definitely wouldn't go out of my way to make something special but would choose menus with things that everyone in the family could try. Do not despair if your child is picky--I can't tell you the number of Thanksgivings I spent eating a roll and mashed potatoes--and now I love all kinds of food.

              1. re: upstate girl

                Infants and toddlers have more taste buds than older kids and adults. They actually have tastebuds inside their cheeks.

              2. re: HaagenDazs

                "Most of the "bad" tasting food is only in their heads"

                Not true HaagenDazs.....the tastebuds of children are very different from those of adults (one early difference - children prefer sweet.....whether that is to get them to want sweet breastmilk, or whether breastmilk is sweet to accomodate the taste buds, I don't know).

                I was a horrendously picky child, crazy-skinny and ate like 5 things. My mother never let me get away w/not trying stuff, but she never forced me to eat more than a taste of anything. I told her recently that my pickiness caused me much more unhappiness than it ever caused her....I remember being so stressed over thinking of things to eat.....and almost gagging over eating something I wasn't crazy about. I've grown up to be an adult who can eat almost anything.

              3. Present a wide variety of options (both at home and at restaurants), engage your child in cooking (let them smell the spices, touch the flour, stir in the ingredients), take them grocery shopping with you and try things that look interesting to them (the produce section is fun, ethnic shops too) and make sure that the food is interesting / fun to them.

                Finally, be careful what you wish for . . . we have a 2.5 yr old sushi fan. Yeah, it's cute, but it can get expensive too!

                1 Reply
                1. re: arwool

                  I couldn't agree more - my 5 & 6 year old love to help me pick out fresh produce. My 6 year old still talks about the time she found the perfect onion for me. They both love to sit up at the counter and watch me put together supper. They are both getting pretty good at helping me with the stirring and measuring, as well.

                  And... yes....it can get expensive - they both love lamb and seafood - especially calamari (they call them spiders).

                  That's not to say they don't enjoy chicken nuggets and mac & cheese from time to time.

                2. I was a picky eater and ate very slowly and not very much as a child. My mother never made me feel too badly about it. (Her cooking wasn't the best and as a single mother, my sister and I ate out a lot growing up. And I don't mean great restaurant meals, I mean McDonald's.)

                  We both grew up to love food and appreciate new and different tastes. It stands out for me the times when people forced me to eat what I didn't want to. I had a babysitter who tried to bribe me with a candybar to eat a grilled cheese sandwich made with American cheese. I tried but just could not do it. This same babysitter also would try to force me to finish all the food on my plate. I used to fight with this woman at every meal it seemed like.

                  So, my advice is to not be too concerned about it. You can praise a child for trying something new or brag that your kid is five and has grown-up taste in food, but don't criticize or force.