6 Food Mistakes Parents Make

February 3, 2010

Mishy snacking while Momma cuts an x in bottom of the brussel sprouts

Here is a link to a fascinating article in the New York Times.

6 Food Mistakes Parents Make


Mishy has always been an adventurous eater, but this article got me thinking about how to continue foster her food curiousity since the article states, “Young children are naturally neophobic — they have a distrust of the new.” Other articles I’ve read highlight that food neophobia is especially heightened from when children are 3-6 years old. Because we travel so much, it is important to me that Mishy continues to eat a variety of food. Here are some things we’ve implemented after reading the article.

1. Sending children out of the kitchen

We have a small kitchen. When Mishy helps with the food preparation, she certainly eats more of it. Tonight, we had brussel sprouts. She sat down in front of me, noshing on cut fresh pear as she watched me cut a x in the bottom of the sprout. (It helps it cook faster.) She peeled away some of the older leaves and passed me the sprout to cut the x in. We use a splat mat which we lay down on the floor and sit on. If we end up making a mess, I easily spray it with vinegar for a fast clean up. Other friends, who have the luxury of space, use the Little Partners Learning Tower or a Guidecraft Kitchen Helper. Both have gotten plenty of positive reviews on amazon.com.

Prior to reading the article, Babba played with Mishy while I made dinner. (Babba does the dishes and laundry. That’s how we divide the domestic responsibilities.)

2. Pressuring them to take a bite

If Mishy doesn’t want to try something new, she doesn’t have to, usually she does without any coercion. We are lucky. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss is one of her favorite books. She loves the part when the person tries it and says, “Say, I do so like green eggs and ham!” When we catch ourselves not wanting to try new things, Mishy reminds us about Green Eggs and Ham. So far, so good, but we still let it be when she just doesn’t feel like it.

3. Keeping ‘good stuff’ out of reach

We don’t have chips or cookies or cakes at home. I do have dark chocolate in the freezer in the week coming up to my monthly cycle. So far Mishy does not know this. So far Mishy hasn’t eaten cake or chips. This “mistake” will be the hardest for me if she ever wants to start eating cakes or cookies or chips.

4. Dieting in front of your children

I am nursing. No way can I afford to diet. Before I got pregnant, I spent a lot of energy making sure my calorie consumption was on par with my weight because of my acting career. I don’t think I will be doing that anymore since I don’t have the time anymore!

5. Serving boring vegetables

We put butter on the brussel sprouts. I never ate my vegetables with oil or butter before. Mishy loves butter. That’s that.

6. Giving up too soon

Here is an excerpt from an article in the Boston Globe. “Allison Lauretti, lead clinical psychologist in the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children’s Hospital Boston, says children often need to be exposed to a new food a full 15 to 20 times before it’s clear whether they don’t like it or are simply reacting to unfamiliarity.”

I keep that in mind when I try something new and don’t like it. I believe for adults, it is 7 times.


Splat Mat


Little Partners Learning Tower


Guidecraft Kitchen Helper


Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Boston Globe article: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2009/11/04/kids_menus_should_grow_up_to_be_as_interesting_as_their_parents/?page=1


2 Responses to “6 Food Mistakes Parents Make”

  1. sandra Says:

    I read “Feeding your child for a lifelong health” pretty good and many of your comments appear there too.

  2. Rebecca Says:

    M.J., I wanted to send you this link b/c I first heard of the Kitchen Helper from your blog! I loved the idea for our son who is almost 2 to help daddy cook and mama bake! It was too expensive and big for our small kitchen however, so I will be putting my husband to work on this one! I’m so excited.
    I love how it collapses and stores easily.

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