Cooper is hands down the world's pickiest eater. Shelby, in contrast, will eat absolutely anything. She's beyond adventurous. She loves sushi. She's a huge fan of salmon. She snacks on roasted seaweed. She's a parent's dream eater.
Cooper on the other hand regularly eats about six things: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mac 'n' cheese, cereal, pancakes, bananas and yogurt. He's also seriously addicted to milk. He drinks more milk than a small army. It's a total pain in the rear to get him to eat anything. He can go multiple meals without eating.
Enter in Operation "No Thank You" Bite. Every night, we give Cooper something new to try. He has to take a hearty bite of whatever it is we offer him. If he totally hates it (he often does) then he can say "no thank you" to any more bites.
We've been doing this consistently for a little more than a month now and we're slowly starting to see a difference. Cooper has tried the likes of kale, salmon, white beans, ham, sweet potatoes and quinoa. Some things he likes, and a lot of them he doesn't. But at least he tried them, right?
The key for Cooper has been the addition of a tracking component. I printed out a chart to mark each day he tries something new. He loves going his chart and marking off the day. It's a huge victory for him and he's so proud of himself. Heck, we're all proud of him and find ourselves cheering each new bite.
Consistency makes a big difference as well. We've tried in the past to get him to widen his diet, but every time he'd push back, we'd give up. SO far, we've held our ground and are making steady (albeit slow) progress.
Sharing Operation "No Thank You" Bite with friends and family has also proven to be highly motivational for Cooper (to take the bite) and for us (to be consistent. As we're making dinner, Shelby often asks "What's going to be Cooper's new food today?" When Nana calls, she asks how Coop is doing with his goal. We have a certain level of accountability now that we've told everyone what we're doing and it's been helpful.
I've also limited the amount of snacking the kids are doing, which makes them hungrier when they sit down for dinner. Sometimes this helps motivate Cooper to each more of what's offered. But he's also quite good at holding out for something "better."
With that in mind, we've also stopped offering to make Cooper a separate dinner if he doesn't like what's being served (on the suggestion of our pediatrician). There are a few basic items, like a banana or yogurt that he can have if he's super hungry before bed, but otherwise, he eats what we're eating or nothing at all . I also try to always include something on our plates that I know he likes, so he'll get something, even if he doesn't like the main dish after he tries it.
I don't want to be a mean mom and make my kids eat only things they don't like or are yucky. At the heart Operation "No Thank You" Bite really is coming from a place of love and concern. I want Cooper to be able to go anywhere and be able to find something to eat. Plus, being so picky makes it hard for him to get the nutrients he needs.
Do you have any tricks to get your picky eater to try something new? Please share, I'd love to try them out!