I don’t get the picky eater toddler thing. I see the headlines weekly “how to get your picky toddler to eat”, “foods even a toddler will love”, and on and on and on. I don’t think it’s an accident that our kids aren’t picky. They’re fantastic eaters who sometimes request things like roasted red peppers, olives, hummus, and peanuts for lunch or snack. We can take them to a Thai restaurant without worrying whether there’s a kiddie menu. In fact, we don’t even use the kid’s menu at most restaurants because it’s filled with junk that shouldn’t even be called food.
There’s a commonality among the friends I hear lamenting their picky eaters. It’s those pouches parents feed their kids now. Those things aren’t food. There’s some brilliant marketing at work with the pouch phenomenon. First, kids LOVE the packaging. My then 18-month old had one once when we were at a party. She was hungry and another parent offered it up. One pouch. For the next 6 months, she would point them out at the grocery store and say “yummy”. That’s sticky marketing.
Second, they are really for the parents. Seriously. You know it’s true. Could there be a more convenient way to feed your kid than to not even need a spoon? You just unscrew it and let your little bugger squeeze that crap into his or her mouth. I’ve heard a number of parents complain that their kids wouldn’t use forks or spoons at age 2 and beyond because they were so accustomed to the squeeze pouches. What are we teaching our kids about the importance of food as sustenance by giving them processed stuff in a pouch? And, yes, it’s processed. Just because it’s only pureed fruits and veggies doesn’t mean it isn’t processed. Pouches are the very essence of processed food. Baby food used to come in small glass jars. While that, too, was processed, at least it was in non-leaching glass and you still needed to use a spoon. Oh, and it was called “baby food”. As in food for babies. I see 2 year olds who are still eating those pouches.
You know what really sucks about them? It’s not even hard to feed your baby or toddler real food. Do you have a bag of frozen peas? Cook them in some hot water for 5 minutes and then stick an immersion blender in to grind them all up. You just made a few servings of peas to get you through the week! You can even freeze it in small containers so it’ll last a little longer. For an older baby or toddler, you can skip the immersion blend and give them safe sized pieces of the steamed veggies without pureeing.
For my kids, I put together a lunch plate I’d eat. It took me 7 minutes. Sure, I had to open a jar or two and use a fork, but I think it’s worth it to feed them real food.
Bread and butter pickles
Dried turkish apricots
Alfonso olives, cut into quarters