Baby Take Two
Like many of my mom friends, Iâ€™m looking at kid No. 2 as my do-over baby.
My now-4-year-old son was a great baby, and heâ€™s a fantastic kid, but he has one maddening habit that I absolutely cannot tolerate in this baby: he is the worldâ€™s pickiest eater.
Apparently I have myself to blameâ€”a study from the Monell Center For Advancing Discovery in Taste and Smells affirms that a personâ€™s palate and food preferences begin developing in the womb, and that formula-fed babies tend to be less adventurous eaters as children and even as adults, seemingly because they spent the first dozen months of their lives primarily being fed a monotonous flavor.
While pregnant with my son, I existed primarily on Cheerios, turkey burgers, bagels, pizza and fruit smoothiesâ€”you canâ€™t get much more bland than that. And although I did breastfeed, we supplemented with formula from day one, and were done with nursing at seven months.
Today my son is a terrifyingly picky eater, so much so that I actually pack snacks and agonize over what he will eat when we dine out, and thatâ€™s always at restaurants that have the standard kid-pleasingly-bland childrenâ€™s menus! He wonâ€™t even try chicken fingers, grilled cheese or noodles that even hint of sauce. It was a joyous day when he actually tried and likedâ€”wait for itâ€”a peanut butter sandwich. Most meals are battles that I usually lose.
But I vow this baby will be different.
Iâ€™m going to do this whole food thing differently, starting with what Iâ€™m eating now. First trimester aside, Iâ€™ve been a model eater this pregnancy, with plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein. â€śExoticâ€ť flavors have never been my strong suit, but I throw in some Indian and Thai foods and spices. And my plan is to be a far better breastfeeder with this baby than I was with my son; I wonâ€™t be heading back to the office, so itâ€™s sure to be easier to keep nursing exclusively. Plus Iâ€™ll make my own baby food and offer more variety when it comes time to start solids.
Will all of these factors result in a child who will at least try new foods? I hope so. Do I feel like I failed my son? At least a little bit, yes. According to the study, itâ€™s hard to change food preferences after toddlerhood, so parents have a huge role in determining their childrenâ€™s future taste buds.
But baby No. 2 will be different! Sheâ€™s my chance to fix this (and plenty of other) mistakes Iâ€™ve made as a parent.
Or so I tell myself.
The reality is no matter have much palate-building you do, no matter how much better you are at getting baby to sleep or caring for kids when theyâ€™re sick, pregnancy and parenting (and life!) are a road riddled with unforeseeable potholes. Even the ones you might be able to fill in with experience and new knowledge wonâ€™t result in aÂ perfectly paved road.
There arenâ€™t really any do-overs, right? Maybe just â€śtry to do betters.â€ť
Katie Quirk Dunyon is a mom of two, a boy and a girl. She lives and writes in Seattle, WA.