Picture this: Texas in 2005. I cart my, then, 18 month old into the pediatrician's office...
Me: I just don't know what to do. He won't eat anything! We sit down to eat and he plays with his food, or throws it or ignores it. This happens at every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner. How can he possibly grow?
Dr: (after general questions about #1 and #2 and sleep, behavior changes, etc.) Do you make him special things and does he eat that?
Me: Well, yes. Usually by the end of the day he asks for chocolate milk, sometimes oatmeal and I'll make it for him. How else can he sustain himself? I don't want him to starve to death.
Dr: (gives stern look over the rim of her glass) Mrs. Grigg, you are NOT a short order cook. You are his MOTHER. You make the meals for your family that you feel are appropriate. He may only be 18 months old but he already knows how to manipulate you. Don't give in to him. Let him go hungry for a day. This is not a third world country, food is readily available to him. He will not starve to death. When he is hungry enough he will eat what you serve, when you serve it. There might be tears, you must hold your ground.
Me: (meekly) ok.
I took her advice. There were tears. There were tantrums. There were fights between my husband and I over the stress of it all. (So I guess we were all crying and having tantrums) My mom, God bless her, listened to me whine on the phone endlessly about this. My MIL, God bless her, took him from time to time (which is a big deal since she lived 3 hours away in 2005) and made food he would eat. There's something about Nana's lasagna that is irresistible children.
Here we are in 2010. The child is 5 years old and totally healthy and guess what? Tonight we made grilled chicken, fresh steamed green beans and salad. Both of my kids happily ate them without quarreling and even went back for more!
By the time his little brother came around I didn't even mess with worrying about it, nor did I mess with preparing him oatmeal with the ovaltine in it. Most moms I talk to - ranging from close friends to friendly acquaintances to random strangers I talk to at, say, Super Target or an elevator or.... you get the idea - say that one or more of their kids go through the hunger strike rigmarole too.
I'm pretty sure I got really lucky with that. Not all parents have it this easy. Some parents have tried the tough love approach to no avail. And truthfully, he has, at times, decided not to eat entire meals. But this is no longer a daily battle.
What are your war stories and triumphant moments with your kids eating habits?