Dinners at our house our interesting right now. We have a 7 year old, a 3 year old, and a 9 month old, all of whom are on very different eating playing fields.
Abbey has come so far and will try just about anything now (as long as it doesn't have red sauce or cherries), which if you had known her at 2 you would see as a very big deal!
Micah goes through spurts, sometimes he's a trash compacter and sometimes he's as picky as ever. And sometimes he just wants to hold his food in his mouth and not swallow. Honestly you never really know who is going to show up at the dinner table. In fact, sometimes it's even Spiderman :)
Ally, well everything is still brand new for her. She loves puffs for sure!
So what in the world do you do when everyone at your table is at a completely different eating stage?
Pray....and laugh...and just be grateful if anyone eats anything.
But we also try these tips:
1. Help the baby. Feed the baby either before or after everyone else eats. During actual dinner occupy her with puffs, bits from our plates, and toys. And when she's tired of her highchair we put her in her exersaucer and pull her close to the table to she can still see everyone while she plays.
2. Trying everything. Everyone must take at least 1 bite of everything on their plate. With the main course for dinner we pick a number (usually 3 or 4) and they have to take that many bites. And if they end up liking it, they can take as many bites as they want. If you know it's something they will never eat, pick and choose your battles or what you put on their plate.
3. Involving them. When we find a meal that the kids love we try to cook that meal once a week, or maybe a variation of it. We know our kids love tacos so that's on our weekly menu, but when we have chili (which they don't eat) we'll pull out some ground meat that they'll eat by itself. Have your kids help pick out the meals for the week, helping set the table, or even helping with the cooking. When they are involved it helps them to feel that they have some control through it.
4. Hold their hands. When they have been at their pickiest, I would do everything I could to get them to eat. This included: eating it with them, counting to 5 before they took a bite, using noise effects, holding them in my lap while they ate, and holding their hands. Really it was just anything to show them that I was there with them through this trying adventure and that I understood it was hard for them.
5. Sticking it out. Whatever ground rules you set, stick with them. If you say they can't leave the table till they've eaten, stick with it. If you say they can't watch tv until they've had 3 bites, stick with it. It will get easier eventually, but in the beginning they want to know what their limits are and you have to teach it to them slowly. But in the end, it will be worth it!
Keep in mind that these eating phases will pass. They will and they will outgrow them. But you need to show them how and teach them that the green food on their plate isn't a horrible monster that's trying to eat them! Remember to mark the milestones, celebrate the victories, forgive the losses, and enjoy the moments that dinner brings!