I could write for forever and ever (bragging) about my son, but I’ve deliberately tried to keep things to a minimum on HHH because (a) it’s not usually helpful for other parents to hear about what milestones various kids have reached at what age because the comparison trap for parents is probably the worst kind in existence (to which I don’t want to contribute) and (b) many readers don’t have kids and probably don’t care about my little mister’s stuff. And if I’m being perfectly honest there’s a third factor (c) which is the obvious issue of his privacy. I refuse to be the mom that blasts photos of him on the toilet across the internet to live in infamy forevermore.
However, I do find the posts that offer creative food ideas for toddlers to be extremely helpful. It’s easy to get in a routine rather than come up with new meal ideas, and I find the various blogs and magazine articles I read often suggest foods that P can’t eat anyway due to his allergies.
SO. I thought I’d write a list of his current food likes right now (although keep in mind they wax and wane over time) at 21 months. Side note: that sounds crazy close to 2. Eeeeek.
[First thing in the am (pre-breakfast) we go on a run/walk and he eats apple slices the whole time. It’s the only time of the day I can exercise without sacrificing his play time or activities and it works well for us, plus we get to stalk street sweepers/garbage trucks/etc. and bring apples to our horse friend, Dancer. P eats at least an entire apple on our jog, sometimes more.]
Breakfast: This is his most routine meal and it almost never varies. He eats everything I’m about to list and deviates <1% of the time. Just like his mama.
-Quick bread (I alternate between banana breads, apple spice breads, zucchini breads, and pumpkin breads, but I always have something on hand and something in the freezer). They are home-made so gluten free, dairy free, nut free, soy free, etc. He knows allllll about baking and helps me make them (stirring, adding cinnamon…) from time to time. He will eat ANYTHING in muffin form so I have that trick up my sleeve (should I ever need to abuse it). It has everything to do with the “do you know the muffin man” song, which he sings all the time. He usually eats 1-2 muffins or slices of bread (warmed and cut up).
-Eggs (I don’t think P has skipped eggs for breakfast ever. He never tires of them and eats 2 every day. He would probably eat more if I offered more but I don’t. Two a day is plenty.)
-Fruit (Depending on how many apple slices he ate on the walk I vary his fruit offerings at breakfast but I usually give him blueberries or grapes (or whatever is in season) until he is full.
-Water (He doesn’t really drink hemp/coconut milk any more except in smoothies.)
Lunch: This is his least consistent meal because he never seems super hungry. I wait to feed him until he tells me when he’s hungry and it’s usually long after he wakes up from his nap. I have no idea how he goes so long without food but whatever.
-Cold vegetables (His standards are diced bell peppers, carrots, cucumber slices and celery, but I need more variety here. In the summer he used to eat basil, chard, tomatoes, and green beans from the garden so I never cared about getting veggies in him, but the garden is barely alive at this point so I need to think of more things.)
-GF carb with spread (This is a recent meal option that he previously didn’t “get” at all, but now I can make him pseudo sandwiches (open faced with only one ingred on top) or quesadillas. I use The Essential Baking Co. bread or TJs GF tortillas with avocado, sun butter, or jam and he is pretty into them. I offer one or the other so he gets to choose and that makes him happy. I stopped doing yes or no questions with food a while ago and now give two options form which he has to pick one. It means I’m still in control but he feels like he’s making the decision. Win win.)
-Fruit (He eats almost every fruit I can think of but his favorites are bananas, melon, grapes, pears, plums, and berries. I don’t give him apples at meal times because he eats them in the morning and on the go throughout the day and I usually give something different from whatever he had at breakfast).
-Beans (I’ve tried and tried to make him like beans, but it’s a slow going effort. He likes roasted chickpeas and canned black beans, but that’s about it. I’m not giving up. Lentils are treated with equal apathy, and even when I’ve tried to trick him by baking them into things, he eats a few and then realizes what’s up.)
-Extras (These are the things I turn to when he won’t eat anything, and they include sunflower/pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, and popcorn (he calls them that, they are actually rice cakes that I break up).
-Smoothies (These were huge for a while but it’s colder now and he drinks them only 1-2 times per week. I sneak everything in them so they can be
eaten sipped as a full meal – including hemp seeds, beans, greens (fresh or frozen spinach, kale, etc.), fruit, applesauce, and coconut/hemp milk. He seriously slurps down smoothies with beans and doesn’t even care.)
-Water (Always water with every meal.)
Dinner: He has a pretty large amount of food for dinner and I like it that way because I don’t want him waking up hungry!
-Components of whatever I’m making for us/made for us the previous night (He still doesn’t like assembled meals so he basically eats deconstructed versions of our dinners most of the time with a protein, a veggie, and a carb. It’s not exactly super interesting all the time, but he doesn’t seem to mind. If he doesn’t eat parts of our meal, for whatever reason, I always have bits and pieces of other stuff tupperwared up to give him.)
-Warm vegetable (He suddenly loves broccoli after trying to get him to eat it forever without success. It’s now one of his favorite foods. Aside from that, he really only eats peas, carrots, corn, and green beans. I buy the massive Costco frozen medleys and he eats ~1/4-1/2 cup for dinner. He also eats, mushrooms (raw or cooked), sautéed onions, sautéed kale, raw lettuce, and other veggies I cook for us that I can’t think of now).
-Protein (We basically do Bittman’s VB6 approach to food -maintaining a veg til dinner eating style. I don’t think P needs x amount of protein in every single meal but I will say he chows down on meat like it’s his last meal every time he gets it. His favorite things to eat are shrimp, diced or shredded baked chicken, bacon, and ground beef, but he also eats TJs chicken sausage, fish, and various applegate products). He is coming around on beans and happily eats black beans and chickpeas by the handful, but otherwise doesn’t give the other kinds the time of day. I’ve never seen him refuse bacon or shrimp though. He would eat an entire package of bacon or pounds of shrimp if I let him.)
-Carbs (He likes plain quinoa and rice, GF noodles with olive oil, and GF oatmeal with toppings. Those are the standards. He doesn’t like potatoes (white or sweet) or squash much and will eat them every once in a while if they are part of our meal and he sees me eating them too, but as leftovers or in isolation – forget about it. Butternut is the most successful squash, and salty roasted red potatoes. He eats about a cup or more of whatever carb for dinner, which is fairly even with the amount of protein he eats.)
P is a crazy good eater and I don’t actually know any other kids who eat as much as he does, so if you’re a mom and reading this and freaking out that your kid doesn’t eat this much, STOP COMPARING! Your kid knows what he/she is doing and can intuitively regulate his/her diet just fine. [That’s not medical advice though, just mom to mom stuff]
There’s probably more I am not thinking of (it’s hard to come up with stuff on the fly) but I’ll try to edit and update as I remember more. [Edited to add: I forgot about coconut milk yogurt! It’s a go-to when he’s not eating much because he never turns it down. I add chia seeds and hemp seeds to it so it’s loaded with stuff and not just yogurt but it’s so sweet he doesn’t care. Plus he likes seeds anyway. I buy the TJs blueberry or vanilla coconut milk yogurt.]
As you can tell, all his food is peanut, tree nut, sesame, soy, dairy, and gluten free. We have cleared a few seeds (flax, sunflower, chia, hemp, pumpkin), but aren’t really trying out much more at this point. I feel like we have a wide enough variety despite the restrictions but I’m obviously hoping he will outgrow some of his allergies at some point!
The more involved P gets in cooking/preparing food, the more he loves it. He helps me grocery shop, and unload, and it’s one of his favorite activities. He has toy food and pots and pans and we read about food frequently. Now that it’s fall/winter, he helps me pick lemons and oranges in the backyard, and in summer/spring he helps water the garden and pick it’s produce. I won’t credit this as the sole reason he is super into eating, but I definitely think it’s played a role in his interest in food. He wants to be involved and the more I let him do, the more I see him delight in it.