It's quite refreshing to see Stella's little personality form. Along with this new personal independence comes preferences — and many of them. Stella's new found finickiness about food choices has been exhausting, but I have worked hard to try and overcome this obstacle.
First off, I have to say, for any parent who has a picky eater, you have to TRY and you have to try very hard to help your child mold their eating habits. It has been a very big change for us: when Stella first started eating solids, she would eat ANYTHING... vegetables, seaweed, brown rice... even things that I didn't find appealing. At around 14 months, this all started to change and hence my search for a way to instill good eating habits began.
To have a child that starts out eating (and enjoying) almost anything you give her, and see that change, is very frustrating. It took all of our combined willpower not to turn mealtimes in to a power struggle. I have done a lot of reading and a lot of testing and have come to one very important conclusion: CHILDREN WILL NOT STARVE TO DEATH.
I know it may seem like torture to let a child go without a meal, but in the end it just might be the best thing for them. For me, I couldn't imagine the thought of Stella only ever eating dry cereal, which has become her favorite food. Dry cereal is obviously not very nutritious and cannot replace the vitamins and minerals that her growing body needs from vegetables, meats and other food groups.
If her missing a meal and being crabby for a few hours would help her learn that she only has the option to eat the 3 *healthy* choices that I set in front of her at each meal, then so be it.
This "tough love" approach has worked wonders. We are now on the road back to a healthy little eater. It has taken a lot of effort both emotionally (listening to her whine for a cookie) and physically (I have started preparing special meals just for her) but really, instilling healthy habits in our child is very important to us (as it is with any parent!) and I'm sure her self-assumed independence will only grow with each day. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to have this struggle with her when she is 2, 3 or 4 years old. THAT would be hard.
I am going to start including some recipes and ideas that I have found that work for us. Whether or not you have a picky eater, I highly suggest trying out some of the ideas. Sometimes it's as simple as hiding something nutritious in their food or dressing it up to make it look special. These little things can make all the difference to a baby/toddler.
Our recipes are almost completely gluten and egg-free because we have found out that she is intolerant to both of these. You can easily adapt the recipes so that you include wheat and eggs...