I was a picky eater as a child, and I remember my worried mother chatting with the pediatrician about it, concerned that I’d need an IV if I didn’t start eating actual meals soon. The doctor reassured her that I was within normal limits, and tried to convince her that picky eaters tend to be healthier eaters, more tuned in to their body’s cravings for protein, or specific vitamins and minerals. He said if I only wanted to eat bananas one day then I probably needed potassium, if I only wanted cheese the next day, it was protein or calcium, just oranges, probably vitamin C.
I try to remember this explanation when my daughters survive an entire day on milk and apples, or only want cucumber and graham crackers for dinner. They’ve inherited my finicky palate, and I hope that they are getting the nutrients they need. I’d feel less anxious about it if the pediatrician hadn’t made me bring both of them in monthly for weight checks.
My youngest daughter grew three inches in three months, and only gained 1.5 ounces in that time. She was never a fat baby, never had a single roll or ounce of chub anywhere, but as she slipped from svelte to scrawny, it became obvious that she needed a boost in the weight department. I tried everything to put weight on her, breaking every rule I’d made about not giving her junk food, only to find that she refused to eat any of it. French fries, cookies, milk shakes, potato chips all sat ignored before her. Once, I’d made a batch of brownies and she was all excited to try one, until I picked her up to show them to her and she spotted the bowl of fruit behind them. “Apple!” she yelled. “No, brownie!” I told her. “NO!” she screamed, starting to cry, “apple!” So, she had an apple, and was still underweight at the next appointment.
I dug around on the internet, but had a hard time finding information on how to fatten up a kid. I started browsing pages on childhood obesity, choosing items from the “what to avoid” page, but she wasn’t interested in any of them.
After trying everything else under the sun, and just as we were beginning the same monthly weight checks with my now-skinny second daughter, I realized that they both liked Carnation Instant Breakfast and smoothies. So, every morning they have Carnation Instant Breakfast, and most afternoons I make a smoothie (with frozen mango, fresh banana, vanilla soy milk, protein powder, yogurt, and a splash of juice to make it blendable). This combination seems to be working now. Our 4-year-old, now 42 inches tall, has finally hit the 30 pound mark, and her 2-year-old sister, who has not eaten a bite of dinner in a good three months, is holding steady, too. If only my mother had known when I was young. I bet I would've succumbed to four or five smoothies a week, maybe even gained a few ounces, and given her much peace of mind.