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The Only Problem With A Child Who Will Eat Anything...

28 February 2012


All of my kids are good eaters, but my oldest son is by far the, "best." Parents of picky eaters have often commented, "I wish my kids would eat like that!" But, it hasn't always been a good thing...

While he was helping me make kale chips several weeks ago, he asked if he could eat some of the raw kale. This actually represented a big step for him- not that he was eating the kale, but that he ASKED before eating it.

You see, the only problem with a boy who will eat anything... is that he is a boy who will eat ANYTHING!

At around 2 years old, my daughter wanted to play tea party. We made herbal tea and served it with her tea set. I suddenly looked over at my son and saw something black all around his mouth.... he had eaten the entire tea bag (fortunately it was the kind without a string and staple!)

My daughter brought home a small "sticky" hand from the dentist office- he ate it.

All kids tend to eat sand, but you always hear that once they try it, they won't like it and they won't do it again. However, when we had a sand box he ate sand every single day- and seemed to like it.

I made him a sensory bin with dried lentils only to find his diaper full of lentils the next day.

I have had to fish rocks, and grass, and flowers out of his mouth. He drank pool water like some kids suck down juice boxes.

Between the ages of about 18 months until 4 years old, I had poison control on speed dial and often wondered how many times I could call before they would report me to child protective services.

Here are a few of the incidents which warranted a call to poison control:

*At 18 months, he ate my deodorant.

*At 2 years old he drank a sample of skin conditioning oil that I was given at a salon.

*At 2 1/2 we were staying at my parents ski condo. I put him down for a nap, but heard him playing in the room instead. When I went into the room, there were green crumbles all over the floor. I asked him what it was and he said, "My hamburger." What?? I looked in the closet and saw that my parents had put an odor absorber in the closet which had dried into a green clump. My son had found it and apparently thought it was a hamburger.

Now that he is almost 6 years old, I'm hoping that the days of saying, "What did you just put into your mouth?" are over.

My son's story, illustrates the fact that all kids are different when it comes to their relationship with food. Because of this, all kids cannot be taught how to be "good eaters," in the same way. For him, I just needed to make sure that I provided good healthy foods and he would eat them. At the same time, I needed to keep unhealthy foods (and non foods) out of his reach.



My daughter, on the other hand, has always been very independent. When I first started feeding her baby food she wouldn't eat anything! Fortunately, I realized that it was not the food that she didn't like, it was the act of being fed. At 8 months, I began giving her only finger foods, and she ate just about anything I gave her. Even now at 7 years old, it is clear that the more involvement she has in picking the food or making the food, the more likely she is to try something new.



My two year old is strong willed and whether or not he eats something has little to do with the food itself and everything to do with whether it has been served the way he wants it to be served. The wrong plate or wrong utensil- forget it, he won't eat. If you peel the banana, and he wanted to eat it in the peel- he won't eat it. If he wanted a whole carrot and you cut it into carrot sticks- nope, won't eat it.



Each child has taught me something new about how to help kids be good eaters- and they teach me something new every day.

Do you see your child's personality reflected in their eating style?

 Do you have a child who will eat anything?     What is the strangest thing your child has ever eaten?


76 comments:

  1. Julie, I love what you wrote here!! My son is an extremely picky eater and I have been following your blog closely for great tips :)

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    1. Thanks so much Rina :) Have you found anything that has helped your son? What has been most helpful?

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  2. This is very interesting! My daughter also didn't enjoy baby food too much but when I let her feed herself, we had no issues. Maybe I'll have her help cook when we have things she seems to not like and give her more control over the food.

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    1. Let me know how it works! You may also want to let her try picking some ingredients from the store, looking at cookbooks (or Pinterest!) and picking some recipes, or even watching cooking shows. My daughter watched a little bit on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution with me one day. When it was over, she said, "I want to make my own salad." We didn't have many salad ingredients in the house, so she cut up carrots, red peppers (which she previously said she didn't like), and raw zucchini. She put a little bit of dressing on it and she and my son declared it the best salad they ever ate!!

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  3. My question is about my 7yo. He was adopted at 2 and ate almost everything we put in front of him but at some point he totally changed and now is very picky. It's almost like a switch flipped and he hates everything! What's up with that?

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    1. There are a variety of reasons that a child might switch from being a good eater to a picky eater. What a child eats is one of the few things over which he has control. In some cases, life changes can cause a child to change their eating behavior due to a desire to have some control over their circumstances. (This is why many 2-3 year olds suddenly become picky.) If you think this might be the case, I would first of all remove all conflict from eating... serve the food and he either eats it or he doesn't, focus on the positive and don't engage in a power struggle. Then provide him with choices (which doesn't mean allowing him to eat whatever he wants!) You are still in control of the what the choices the are, but you allow him to be part of the process. For example, you may suggest two different options for dinner... "Should I make (choice a) or (choice b)" or an option for a part of the dinner, "Should I add zucchini or broccoli?" or let him choose how it served- "Would this be better on a plate or in a bowl?" You could also sit down with him and make a list of healthy snack options (or take him to the store to help you pick some) and then allow him to "choose," his snack from the list. Check out my "31 Days Challenge," for some other suggestions (see day 2 for the Foods I Like Poster which he may enjoy.)

      Another reason for sudden pickiness can be fear. If he seems to be afraid of trying new foods- my suggestion is to take the focus off of the food. First, try "scaffolding," (see posts on the Picky Eating page) The basic idea is to start with familiar foods that he likes and alter them slowly, a bit at time to transition him towards healthier and more varied choices. The next thing to do is to make food more fun- make a muffin tin meal or check out ideas on bento websites. One idea that my family loved was when we did a scavenger hunt meal (check out the Food Adventure Friday page)

      Finally, there could be a food related connection- this category of issues is vast and far-reaching. I hope to do some posts on this in the near future but I would HIGHLY recommend the book, "What's Eating Your Child," by Kelly Dorfman.

      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0761161198/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=teacgoodeate-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0761161198

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  4. Thanks for sharing! I also have one fussy/picky eater and one eater of everything - definitely pros and cons with both - I find sometimes I worry I'm boring the easy one by feeding him a familiar range of foods and try as much as possible to broaden his horizons. With the fussy one, he's eaten virtually the exact same food variety from the age of 1 to now (3.5) - it may be a limited range of food but there's not a piece of junk food included, only healthy, home made food! I try not to stress and treat mealtimes as an enjoyable experience for all! (doesn't ALWAYS work, but hey - at least I try!)

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    1. From what you've shared on your blog, it looks like you're doing a great job- when a "picky," eater eats smoked salmon, I'd say there's not too much to worry about :)- except the cost!! My daughter went through at picky phase at about 18 months and would only eat grapes, avocados, and black olives... but just like you said- it may be limited, but at least it's good food! Hang in there, I'm guessing that his palate will expand in time!

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  5. Wish I could have come across your blog a few years ago... faced a lot of problems while bringing up my one and only daughter...

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  6. Wish I would have come across your blog a few years ago.... would have learnt a lot from your blog.. and your experience...

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  7. It is crazy how kids can be so different from the same household! Glad to see you are offering healthy food - I do love those kale chips!!!

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    1. I'm still struggling to get the kale chips right. The first time I added way to much salt... the second time, I had less salt but then the kale seemed bitter. I'm wondering if perhaps it had to do with the kind of kale that I bought. I'm going to do more research because even when the kale chips weren't "great" we still ate them since the crunch was wonderfully addictive--- if I can just get the taste balanced out I'll eat them non stop! I'd love to have a dehydrator too, since I'm sure that they'd be even better made that way!

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  8. We have new recipe night at our house at least once a week. I make something new and everyone tries it and then gets to vote on whether or not it gets added to our family cookbook. I've found they are much less picky because they're used to trying new things all the time. It works for us!

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    1. That's a great idea Karen! I definitely think that when kids are used to trying new things all of the time it's much less intimidating.

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  9. You are so right, each child will hate or love food differently. My youngest daughter can not stand for her food to touch. If any of it touches she will not eat it. My eldest doesn't care as long as its not chocolate. She doesn't eat chocolate.

    Pamela
    Still Dating My Spouse
    http://www.stilldatingmypouse.com

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    1. Our two boys dont eat alike at all. One prefers more of crap type foods and the other is a health conscious about everything.

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    2. Fascinating, isn't it? Most people can't get enough chocolate and yet your daughter likes anything but chocolate. When my brother was a baby he was a pretty good eater but wouldn't eat bananas and "gagged' when served scallops... @ 20 years later, he was allergy tested and it turns out he's allergic to bananas and shellfish!! I wonder if your daughter is allergic to chocolate??

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  10. This made me chuckle. My youngest boy (6 years old) loves food! He will only eat food related things though. When he eats he eats all of his food, is eyes roll in the back of his head while he's chewing. He licks his lips while I'm making his plate.

    And when I make fried shrimp he even chews the tail! I have to remember to pull them off so he doesn't choke.

    Your son sounds mighty adventurous. Praying for patience, a good sense of humor and safety for you and yours!

    You have gained a new follower!

    Stopping by from the 100 Comments event.

    http://www.AsToldByLisa.com

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    1. My son can't seem to figure out that shrimp tails are not meant to be eaten either!! Your description of your son's eyes rolling back in his head cracks me up- that's fabulous!!

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  11. My twin girls are different when it comes to eating, too. Lilly did not seem to care for rice cereal while Emily loved it. They both love to eat (or gnaw) on a banana but only Emily seems to like most baby foods. We are currently trying peaches and Lilly seems to enjoy them....she just hasn't figured out that she needs to open her mouth fully, instead of just lapping at the spoon as if shes a cat drinking water. Emily stares at my husband ans I's food and licks her lips. She has eaten (and loved) the sauce from beans.

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    1. So fascinating from the whole nature vs. nurture perspective!!

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  12. I never really thought about your question before. In general, my eight children are good eaters but some of them have more dislikes than the others.

    I have had one of my children eat an ant after killing it!? Yep.

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    1. Ha!! I can only imagine the things that my son has eaten that I don't know about and I wouldn't be surprised if there were bugs in that list!

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  13. Oh my! What a list of things your son ate. he certainly doesn't ahve sensitive taste buds.

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    1. Nope, that's what always amazes me. It's not just that he puts the things in his mouth- it's that he doesn't mind them!!

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  14. You have just scared me to death!! My daughter is only 5.5 months. I'm not sure I'm ready for her to eat everything. She has tried the cereal four times and still doesn't like it. However, she does like cheerios and the baby rice cakes both of which she can hold herself. Maybe she is like your daughter. I hadn't thought about it in that way before. I might have to give it some thought. I've been basically doing baby led weaning so we shall see what she likes next as I began to try some veggies.

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    1. Oh No! I'm sorry I scared you!! I wouldn't worry too much about about what your daughter is or isn't eating at 5.5 months. I never started any of my kids on solid foods until 6 months... The first few months are all about learning rather than nourishment as they still get most of their nourishment from breast milk or formula. Good luck and feel free to stop back if you have any questions or need any tips. If you haven't read it already, check out my post about teaching babies to be good eaters. It has it's own page (at the top of the site.)

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  15. When my daughter was less than a year old and my mother-in-law was babysitting with her, the baby got the lid off a gallon bleach! How do kids do that? I can hardly get it off myself. Thanks for the amusement. Good article. Deb

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    1. Wow- that's scary! I'm assuming that it all turned out ok---

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  16. I don't recall my kids eating anything too terribly bad. My oldest daughter used to eat the dog's dry dog food out of his bowl when she was 2.

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    1. I imagine that if we had dogs, my son would have definitely tried (and liked) dog food :)

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  17. Wow! I'm glad your little guy made it through his baby and toddler days safely :). My little boy is the opposite. He eats very little. He loves cereal bars and not much else. I wish he would branch out a little more.

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    1. Don't give up hope! I'm convinced that all kids can learn to be better eaters (it's just more challenging for some than for others). If he's extremely picky, I would highly recommend the book, "What's Eating Your Child," by Kelly Dorfman... it's amazingly insightful and approaches picky eating from a very different perspective than most other things I've read. I'm planning on doing several posts about her ideas in the near future-so please stop back!!

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  18. Loved your tale. but I can imagine the times your son might have scared you! We've always been adventurous eaters, and our children were easy (thankfully). They have always eaten things even adults won't touch. We once ordered Italian for them and a babysitter before leaving for the evening. They taught her to eat calamari!
    All the best with your happy brood.
    Peace and good to you.

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    1. Thanks... I think that the incident that scared me the most was the "hamburger." Although poison control said it was fine- I found it hard to believe that it wasn't harmful. I also worry every year when the "mushrooms" begin to grow in the yard. That's great that your kids are good eaters! My husband recently ordered calamari and shared it with my kids... of course, I think he then regretted sharing it because they were eating all of it!

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  19. Eating by example is key.
    I loved the stories your shared about each of your kids!

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  20. Thank you! I agree that kids learn so much about eating by watching those around them (parents and older siblings!)

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  21. How very funny. Children are certainly different from one to the next aren't they? I've always cooked all types of food and we try new foods all the time. My kids have grown up as pretty much non-picky eaters, it just took a little time in some cases.

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    1. It does take time (unless they are like my son!) Like learning anything else, it's a process :)

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  22. I have 4 kids 3 boys and 1 girl they are all older now but when they were younger my sons didn't eat much of anything they wouldn't eat vegetables or fruits. They only liked chicken nuggets and fries, pizza,or breakfast foods. My daughter on the other hand would eat pretty good. I was worried about it when they were younger but everyone said they would out grow it but to this day they are still very picky eaters.

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  23. I don't have any children but I do have a cousin ate live goldfish when she was little. She would sneak over to the fish tank when no one was looking and BAM! Down the hatch!

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  24. I think your son is going to be the next Andrew Zimmer from Bizarre Foods on THe Travel Channel. lol. And my nephew is like your 2 year old. He does not like for us to touch his food at all and hi likes to watch you put his food on the plate. Everything has to be whole he does the peeling, cutting (with a fork) etc. We can't touch his food at all.

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  25. Your kids sound like a hoot! Though can be distressing at times, it mixes it up huh? My 18-mo has been a great eater since birth meaning that he can eat a lot and in a short amount of time. He gets that from me ;). But lately, he's been more picky -- won't try this, won't try that, only wants this, only wants milk -- but I've come to realize that it's ok. I can't control him. As long as he's healthy and growing and he's not just eating junk, who am I to try to (unsuccessfully) control him. Thanks for sharing!

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  26. I guess there are good and bad things with all habits. Funny I drank and entire bottle of chanel perfume as a baby. My mom said my diapers smelled sweet for a while. Then I ate a grasshopper in my baby pool. Every time I get the hiccups they say it's that grasshopper. My parents watched me well too, though it probably doesn't sound like it, and I think I turned out okay. : )

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    1. Oh my goodness.. the perfume makes me laugh- if it really makes diapers smell sweet though, there may be an idea for an invention there ;)

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  27. I have 2 kids that are super picky eaters. I even have an 8 yr old that hates hot dogs (what kid hates hot dogs??). My 7 yr old son though will eat anything.. food wise. He doesn't eat anything that is not food, but he's not afraid to try any kind of food, even spicy food.

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  28. My daughter has eaten tons of crazy things - my deodorant (more then once!), fish food, dog and cat food, an entire bottle of teething tablets, cardboard/paper... plus many other things that I have blocked out :) She is 5 and still puts random things in her mouth. My 2 year old has never really been like that, but he does get upset if you give him his food one way and he wanted it another (ie - I took the banana out of the peel and he wanted to do it).

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    1. Wow! I was beginning to think I was the only one with a kid who ate strange stuff!!

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  29. My oldest son eats pretty much anything. Can't think of anything strange he has eaten though. Your kids sound super fun! :)

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  30. First, I am AMAZED at the items your son ate! (and apparently enjoyed!). I am glad he has come through unscathed! But boy that must be scary for you. I am VERY fortunate that my son does not TYPICALLY put anything in his mouth - however, on the other hand, he is a somewhat picky eater who also does not really like to eat a lot at all... so I always worry he isn't getting enough nutrition! :)

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  31. What a fun post! I'm visiting from the 100 comment event and I'm so glad you are in my group. Thanks for visiting my blog. :)
    I love your attitude...each child IS so unique...and I guess parenting is all about celebrating their uniqueness. :)
    I have three children...I guess I could call them morning, noon and night...all different about everything, including food attitudes. One was so picky, one ate everything, and one was pretty open-minded, but had some likes and dislikes. And yes, I did have to call the poison control number once or twice. :):)

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  32. Not a parent, but that was pretty funny reading!

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  33. I don't remember any strange things that my kids have eaten. I have been fortunate that my kids eat pretty well. But they do all go through times where they won't eat something that they use to love. I will keep watching your blog for new food ideas.

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  34. My two oldest are polar opposites when it come to eating. My oldest will eat anything because it is food. The second oldest is finicky and very temperamental about the way the food is served, looks and feels. My second oldest is like things to be his way and a certain way, which does reflect the way he eats.

    I do not know the strangest things my 2nd oldest has eaten, but he puts almost everything in his mouth and he is 3-years old! He likes to say that rubber things (tires off a toy car, handles, bouncy balls, etc.) are gum.

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  35. What a great post! My almost 2 yr old is SUPER picky. So much so that she's been under weight since about a yr old. I will definitely be following your blog so I can get ideas on how to get her to eat something besides pizza and cupcakes!

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  36. All of my kids have been good eaters...not quite as good as your son:) My two year olds though, are much like yours. They are particular about how things are served to them. Stubborn!

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  37. I have three pretty good eaters! Some days I wish I could slow them down 'cause I can't keep up with the demand, but overall I know that's a good thing. Thanks for the humor and pics. :)

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  38. My 18 month old refused to eat anything until he was 12 months and two weeks (to the day). He would never take a bottle and was exclusively breastfed the entire time. Now that he has started eating everything we give him, we were able to wean him about a month ago. My daughters were always good eaters and healthy eaters to boot. My girls have always preferred grape tomatoes and fruit over any unhealthy snack or candy invented.

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  39. My niece ate some daffodil leaves once because she thought they looked like celery. My middle child once ate an ibuprofen (sp??). Poison control said that as long as it was only one, it was OK. Besides he spit most of it back out.

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  40. Deodorant?!? LOL

    I have one picky eater and one who wants to eat every five minutes.

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  41. Very interesting post! I've discovered that my child has Sensory Integration Disfunction, which is quite common in children, that affects his eating. He dislikes the textures of some foods in his mouth, not the taste of the food. Some children with this disorder will eat everything, because they are trying to get more info from these items, so they put them in their mouths. It's an interesting and difficult syndrome to deal with and a real challenge. Thanks for your post!

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  42. Kid #1 is just not that interested in food, unless it's candy. I'm not sure where he got it. . .I don't think I ever gave him refined sugar stuff until he was a year! He also gets super distracted while he's eating, and will run off as soon as his first plate is cleared to do something then tell me he's hungry half an hour later. #2 is more normal, and #3 is a good eater, as long as he gets a good drink in every few bites. Every kid is different! But your blog is a great source of info!

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  43. Oh my you have been through it with eating. I hope that you enjoy the ride and it is great you realize that each has an individual personality.

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  44. The daughter is a good eater and she likes trying out new foods. My son at the other hand is very picky. At the look of a food he decides if he will give it a try or not. When he says no, nobody can ever convince him. Sad.

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  45. I've heard of kids eating anything, but wow!

    My son loves fruit, and he'll eat about any kind. Three years ago we were visiting my hometown and were invited to a church picnic. At the children's sermon prior to the picnic, the pastor called up the kids and handed them each a large, red strawberry. In a pavilion overlooking a valley, everyone listened to his message and looked at the view - and missed the fact that my son ate his berry while the pastor talked - stem, leaves, and all. He used to do the same thing with an apple core if you didn't watch him. Edible, but still!

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  46. This was an entertaining read. I don't have kids, but I am a picky eater myself. I've gotten a lot better since I was kid and always tell my friends they'd be surprised at some of the foods I eat today that I NEVER would have touched with a ten foot pole as a child!

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  47. Wow that's definitely a challenge! I have picky eaters of various levels and admittedly, I'm a picky eater myself. I have tried everything to get my kids to eat better, including trying hard to model it myself but nothing seems to work. At some point I think I've just kind of let go and told myself they'll grow out of it. I'm not sure if that's entirely true though.

    Will definitely be following your blog!
    Christy
    www.alivinghomeschool.com

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  48. I enjoyed reading this. I don't have kids. My nephew is not a picky eater but he doesn't eat anything that has caused my sister to keep poision control on speed dial.

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  49. My kids had trouble with mushy texture! My daughter hated baby food, but would eat all the small finger foods that I gave her. For the most part they eat well! However they were dancing in the cart the other day when the butcher shop didn't have any wild-caught salmon. Go figure!

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  50. You think he eats a lot now? Wait until he's a teenager! My kids are both pretty good eaters. My daughter loves fruit and veggies more than my son, but over all they are great eaters.

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  51. Oh my baby is such a picky eater! But he puts everything into his mouth and only licks them.

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  52. Wow - I'm surprised at how many different things your son has eaten. HAha. I don't have kids yet, but it was very helpful to read about the differences between your three kids and training them to be healthy eaters. Thanks for sharing!!

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  53. I have a son who is very picky. He has issues with textures and smells.

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  54. I have children who are definitely picky about their food. I appreciate your article. :)

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  55. Shuddering to think of the hamburger story. I don't know how you mother's do it.

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