Are adventurous eaters born or made?

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Lesley Porcelli over at Gourmet isn't a mom yet, but she's well on her way and pondering what kind of eater her kid will be. Like a lot of non-parents, she readily admits that she has strong opinions about successful parenting, particularly when it comes to feeding the child. And when it comes to picky eaters, Porcelli is pretty sure that parents are to blame.

Her theory goes something like this: If the whole family sits down to eat together and nobody makes a big deal out of what is on the plate, the kid will happily chow down without complaint. If a parent assumes the kid wouldn't touch a lasagna with a ten foot pole and therefore doesn't bother to offer it, chances are good that the kid will subsist on nuggets and fries until maturity.

I think Porcelli has it only partly right. Kids aren't blank slates waiting to be molded into actual people. Even as they try their first bites of solid food, they are individuals with their own likes and dislikes. From her first bite of pureed chicken as a baby, my Ellie disliked meat. She gobbled up the fruits and veggies, but spat out anything that tasted of animal. I don't know if her aversion was about texture or taste, but to this day she would sooner eat a plate of green beans than a bite of chicken. For Ellie, it isn't about not wanting to try new foods (she loves crab cakes and calamari), she just doesn't like meat.

That said, I do think parents can - and should - influence what foods their child will consume. The old "just take one bite" routine works well for us and is the reason we can all enjoy a plate of calamari together. But in the end, I don't worry too much about my picky eater. After all, I lived off bologna and mustard sandwiches as a kid and I survived just fine.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.