three more bites

“Give me a number,” asked Natalie. “What?” said Jamie. “A number. I need a number. Two. Four. Seven,” she explained.  “How many bites do I have to take?”

She’s 3 1/2 and has already mastered the art of negotiation.

I realize this happens to most kids and parents, but somewhere along the line, our fantastic little eater that ate anything within arm’s reach, became the dreaded P word. Picky.

Now I’ve seen some picky kids, and thankfully Natalie isn’t quite that bad. If she had her way, she’d eat shrimp from sunrise to sunset. I consider this pretty good since most kids won’t touch seafood. And she still loves peas and if I roast carrots long enough, she thinks they are fries and always asks for thirds.

So she’s not terrible per se. Our challenge is getting her to try things first before declaring she’s not touching it. So we made the 3 bite rule: you don’t have to like every  food you try, but you’ll never know what you think unless you try it. And after 3 bites, if you don’t like it you don’t have to eat it. But at least you tried. I’d say 50% of the time she likes it.

The other trick that has worked beautifully for us is having her cook with me. We try to cook dinner five nights a week, and mostly she’s my little sous chef. She has her own collection of aprons and even has a stool preference.

Most of what she does is simple: mix, toss, fetch and roll. But her absolute favorite? Making asparagus! She loves snapping them in two, then she adds olive oil and sprinkles cheese. And the best part? She can’t wait to eat what she makes!

It also helps that she always goes shopping with us. At Heinen’s she loves putting things in the bag. We talk about what color each item is and what we’ll make with it. She of course also knows to make a bee line to the bakery for a cookie! At the farmers’ market, she can be found talking to all the farmers and vendors. What did you grow today? Can I try it?

And finally, when we eat out, she almost always talks to the chefs and thinks it is so cool that they are making something special just for her. She’s especially fond of chef Matthew Anderson at Umami – her personal favorite. She loves the goat cheese dumplings and always asks for the greens on the side. Unfortunately, the greens fell victim to the 50% that didn’t make the cut (but fortunately for mom!).

Olivia, our 11 mo old, is basically eating everything now, though she’s partial to blueberries and peas.

When she’s ready, there’s an apron and stool waiting for her.


Check out Noodlebear Cook, July 8th at 2 p.m. at Noodlecat

WHAT: A cooking class for kids with the Care Bears and the Sawyer Family! Check out the special Care Bears cooking class, costume characters, and even a brand
new Care Bears TV episode to watch. And in the spirit of caring, they will be collecting canned goods for the whole month of July and $5 from each ticket sold will be donated to the Cleveland Food Bank. Tickets are $28 dollars // Available here. Cost includes meet & greet, cooking class, lunch for 1 child and admittance for 2 adults.




  1. heatha262
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Colin was the pickiest eater when he was younger, but now he eats everything.  I have the same rule as you “you don’t have to eat it if you don’t like it, but you have to try it” and 9 times out of 10 he loves it!  Makes me happy that he’ll eat pizza one day and then edamame and broccoli the next.  :) 
    Now I just need to get him to love cooking with me like Natalie does with you…….

  2. kakaty
    Posted June 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Matilda fell into the same 3 year old trap. We started the eat your age rule (3 year olds eat 3 bites, 4 year olds eat 4…etc). She also has to try everything on her plate. When she turned 5 things started to open up again but darn it, veggies are always the worst. She used to eat broccoli by the bow full but now won’t touch it (I blame peer pressure at school). 

  3. Posted June 29, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    This post was interesting. I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for letting me stopped by.

  4. WendyLoweKraus
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    You are definitely in the same boat as we are! I am proud to say that both my kiddos (5 & 3) have more adventurous palates right now than I did well into my 20s. But there are moments when we battle over new foods, as well. We have pretty much the same rule in our house, too. But a GUARANTEED way to get my daughter, 5, to try something new is to tell her it’s from Fresh Fork (our CSA).  She looks forward to our weekly pick-ups more than me and she always says if she knows it’s from FF then it’s gotta be great :)