My 3-year-daughter, Olivia, is a nutritionist's dream child. She enjoys all kinds of foods from kale to polenta. It's been a completely different experience with my 2-year-old, Soleil. She tosses all of the typical baby- friendly foods—sweet potatoes, peas, scrambled eggs, yogurt, berries—onto the kitchen floor from her high chair. She only wants milk from a bottle. And when I take away the bottle, she refuses milk altogether. Ugh!
A couple of my colleagues at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, work with extremely picky eaters. They helped me learn that Soleil has a strong preference for certain textures—mainly dry foods. She doesn't like anything messy to touch her hands. So I offered her crackers, whole-grain cereal, and fruits that aren't very juicy, such as blueberries and bananas. She likes them all! To work through her texture troubles, the experts also suggested letting her have fun with Play-Doh and sand so she could get used to getting her hands dirty. That has helped. She now eats tacos, chili, homemade pizza, and applesauce. I give her smoothies and string cheese to compensate for the calcium she's missing from milk.
She is still a work in progress, and there are many meals when I get discouraged. But I have to remember what I tell my own clients: It can take 20 exposures or more before a child likes a food. I'll be waiting—somewhat patiently.