5 Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Anything!

Today I'm thrilled to have my dear friend Tricia here to share all about feeding your kiddo! As a pediatric speech pathologist (plus mother of two and a good ol' fashioned overachiever), Trish has a ton of experience educating parents on how to expand their kids' palates to eat anything. Since we are now feeding solid foods to Daxton and I am no expert in this area, I thought it would be fun to have her share a few tips with us mamas today!

Although I'm a pediatric speech-language pathologist and parent educator, I spend most of my time at home with my two beautiful girls. Much of our day is spent preparing and enjoying food in the kitchen together. I wanted to share my tips for successfully introducing foods to your infant and helping your child form a diverse palette for all things healthy! Mealtime with small children can be enjoyable and non-stressful.

1. Start early.
Research shows that a child's palate for likes and dislikes is largely formed by 9 months, so it's best to start earlier with feeding and introduce a WIDE variety of healthy foods. Just little tastes here and there beginning around 5-6 months will increase your child's life-long willingness to consume WHATEVER YOU PUT IN FRONT OF THEM. Isn't that the goal?

2. Start with vegetables and fruits.
No one needs encouragement to like bread. That seems to be an innate desire. Vegetables and fruits are more nutritionally dense and flavorful, so they will give your child more vitamins and minerals in addition to cultivating their palate. If you begin the feeding process with more flavorful foods, then it's easier to incorporate more varied (and bland) items in later.

3. Make your food at home.
Packaged baby food is overcooked and lower in nutrition and flavor. Citric acid and lemon juice are frequently added to preserve the foods and can cause upset stomachs or increased diaper rash. Many people feel overwhelmed at the idea of making two separate meals for themselves and their baby, and my advice is EVERYONE EATS THE SAME THING! Don't make different food for your child, just blend or mash what you have cooked for yourself. Consider steamed or roasted veggies or even raw fruits or veggies blended into a smoothie. (I recommend using spices but limiting salt as you prepare dishes for you and your child. Salt is necessary for our bodies in healthful amounts, but you don't want your child needing lots of salt to enjoy a meal, so it's best to train their palate with spices but limited salt.)

4. Present a familiar food with a non-familiar food.
Trying something new is often overwhelming for little ones, so I reduce stress around the table by pairing a familiar food item with a novel food. Children often require about 10-15 introductions to a new food before they like it, so don't stop trying if things don't go well the first few times. When a child licks or takes a small bite of something, they are still increasing their familiarity with different foods and flavors.

5. Give choices.
Infants and toddlers are always wanting new ways to express their independence, and making choices affords them the opportunity to be powerful! Make a few types of vegetables and then rotate them through meals during the week by offering options between two. Young children can express their opinion through pointing, so separate the items on different plates and hold them out for your child to select. Our job as parents is to provide healthy options and allow the child to feel powerful by choosing from the wonderful foods available.

As a speech-language pathologist and parent educator, I train families to make meaningful connections with their children during routine interactions. As parents communicate and interact intentionally, their child thrives in all areas of development- language, play, social skills, positive behavior, and feeding. If you are struggling with stressful mealtimes and picky eaters, I'm happy to connect with you. Visit my website for more info!

Many thanks for joining and sharing in this space, Tricia! You guys feel free to ask questions in the comments and make sure to give her some love on Instagram @thespicknall4!

Homemade Apple Sauce, 2 Ways.

I do my best to prepare recipes that will work for my entire family. That is a tall order, since my 2-year-old currently eats like, well, a 2-year-old. He prefers grilled cheese and chicken nuggets to everything and actually tells me he doesn't like green food. How has he possibly already learned that?! Green is his favorite color!

I haven't been shy about my love of preparing large portions of recipes and freezing them (like most recently with these sweet potato muffins and these breakfast burritos) because when I find something that works, I want it in bulk. These boys of mine eat so much. One super simple autumn recipe that can be adapted a zillion ways is homemade apple sauce. I know, you're probably rolling your eyes like "duh!", but seriously - do you make your own apple sauce? Because you should! It's ridiculously easy and tastes so authentic when made at home. It can easily be stored and frozen, then defrosted or reheated. Plus, when it's served hot, it's an indulgent treat for this lady.

OXO Tot sent over a few products for me to try out with my apple sauce recipes -  the food masher and glass baby food blocks (awesome for stashing in the fridge or freezer, with no BPA!) and the feeding spoon set. They were super useful, not just in prepping the apple sauce quickly but for storage purposes, too. My method with apple sauce is prepping and cooking the apples, then dividing into two batches and seasoning each slightly different depending on who will be eating it in my family. I make my 2-year-old Everett a basic version of apple sauce, keeping the recipe free of added sugars but with lots of cinnamon (his favorite seasoning.) And I make myself and my husband a spiced version, with caramelized onions and nutmeg and allspice, served heated over pork or chicken. Yum. Apple sauce is a win for everyone in this family!

A Few Notes:
You can prepare these two recipes side by side in two large stockpots so to easily prep and cook both recipes at the same time.
2. I don't bother with peeling the apples, because once they cook down I don't think the skins are any kind of nuisance. I prefer my apple sauce with some texture. How you like them apples?
3. I use any and every type of apple - not picky over here. Each time the flavor is a little different, based on the type of apples used!

Apple Sauce for Toddlers                                            
- 4-6 apples, diced                                                        
- 1 cup water                                                                 
- juice of 1 lemon                                                           
- 1 tsp. cinnamon                                                           
Spiced Apple Sauce for Adults:
- 2-4 apples, diced 
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 cup water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. each: allspice, nutmeg & cinnamon
- a dash of cloves

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large stockpot and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.

2. Using the OXO food masher, mash the softened/cooked apples to desired consistency. I like my apple sauce a little chunky, but I mash it up extra good for Everett to enjoy.

3. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer and serve as needed.

Apple Sauce10.jpg

Honestly, I would have to make, like, a quadruple batch to actually have enough to freeze, because we go through this stuff so fast. But the OXO glass baby food blocks are awesome because they are made of borosilicate glass, which is thermal shock resistant. This means they can go directly from the freezer to the oven or microwave, and there's no need to wait until the apple sauce is fully defrosted before heating it up. Which is what I like to do with it. HOT APPLES, YOU GUYS. There's nothing quite like it. :) One more thing to note - if you like your apple sauce really smooth, then you could always throw the hot apple mixture from the stockpot directly into a blender. But using the food masher is a really quick and less messy way to achieve apple sauce when your little ones are pulling on you for a fast snack.

Other fun uses for apple sauce:
- serve heated over ice cream (yes please. Please.)
- to replace eggs in baked goods
- served atop french toast/pancakes
- in oatmeal, to naturally sweeten

How do you make your apple sauce? Any wild ingredients I should try to mix things up a bit? Let me know if you try out these recipes, because I would love to hear what you think!

P.S. - Other apple recipes that I obsess over - my roasted pumpkin & apple butter, this blueberry-apple baked oatmeal, and this apple & spinach green juice.

Many thanks to OXO Tot for sending me free products to include in this post. All opinions expressed are my own. And many thanks to you for reading and supporting brands that continue to make this blog possible!

My Thoughts on Feeding a Toddler.

I want to talk to you about my journey of feeding a toddler.

It's a challenge, guys. But it's also so illuminating.

I was doing so good for a while there. I was exclusively breastfeeding my babe, and once my son hit 6 months old, I started feeding him solids. Oatmeal, bananas and apple sauce. Once he had a full belly, he finally, finally finally began sleeping through the night (YES LORD) and the world - it was suddenly happier and brighter. It wasn't such a mean, sleep-stealing kind of place. It was like, really nice out there. So many other nice mommies to talk to. So many cute babies. I could feel the warmth of humanity again. Instead of the ever-occurring mean rants of sleep-deprivation that were on auto-play in my mind.

You could say I struggled a bit with sleep deprivation. That's another story, another time.

But at that 6-month mark, I was making ALL my own baby food (following this book's recipes), and my son gobbled it up like I was the greatest chef on Earth. I shared a few winning recipes here. Talk about a stroke to the ego - there were even moments where I felt like super mom. Like a feeding HERO. He ate everything I put in front of him! Eggs! Chicken! Grapes! Mashed carrots! Steamed peas! There was no food that Everett met that he didn't agree with!

You can probably see where this is going.

One day, he just stopped.

Stopped eating everything I made. Stopped liking everything I made. Stopped eating everything HOME MADE.

Suddenly, my darling boy wanted packaged food. Things only from a can, a tube, a POUCH. Oh, you fellow mamas know what I'm talking about. Those tasty, treasured, expensive pouches, blended perfectly with fruits and vegetables (and sometimes meat and grains) to create a perfectly balanced meal or snack for little ones. The people who came up with these recipes are geniuses, because it is seriously so hard to achieve the perfect consistency and texture. I mean, I tried. And clearly, whatever mommy was blending up in the Vitamix wasn't nearly as decadent as Happy Baby, Earth's Best and Plum Organics. Sigh.

Sure, you could blame me. You could say, "Well, why did you ever expose your child to instant oatmeal in the first place? Why did you ever give him a pouch in the first place?" My answer is simple.


Everett screaming in Target? Give him a pouch.

We are traveling and only have access to hot water from the coffee pot while staying in a little hotel room? Instant oatmeal.

Um, mommy having a sort of stressed day and it's lunchtime? GIVE HIM ANYTHING FROM THE PANTRY.

I know there are super mothers out there who only feed their children organically-grown everything, and I strive to do that 90% of the time. I really want him to have the best. But I also have grace on myself. If we are traveling, or he is going to see his grandmothers, or he is with a babysitter, sometimes I have to let go of the almighty standard of perfection. And that doesn't make me a bad mom. Actually, it makes me a better mom. Flexibility is the key to happiness with littles! But I do wish that Everett wouldn't reject so many home made meals. It hurts my heart a little.

This is vulnerable mom stuff and I'm sharing my struggle because I believe that there are so many parents out there who have battled with this, too. We want to give our kids what's best, and oftentimes we do, and oftentimes we try so hard, only to have our kiddos reject what's best. I have made multiple courses of a meal for Everett, and had him reject everything. And endeared his beg for pouches. So what am I left to do? Give in and give him what he wants? Or play hardball and not give him what he wants, which will result in him eating nothing? That feels like a crappy mom move.

I have tried both methods.

I haven't really "won" at either one.

I'm sharing this with you today because I've gotten a lot of questions about how I feed Everett and what I feed him, as if I have all the answers. Friends, I do NOT have all the answers. I love to cook and I love to share my recipes and my son has tried maybe 2 of my "grown up" meals. Most of them he won't even touch with a fork., let alone his bare hands. So all I know to do these days is keep offering him the good stuff along with the few items he will consistently eat. We make a lot of tortillas over here (only with cheese, he rejects them if there is anything else inside), along with almond butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken nuggets, apple sauce, oatmeal with bananas, smoothies (God's grace on me, it's the only way I can sneak in some greens without Everett knowing the wiser), sweet potatoes and... um. That's about it. That's pretty much all he eats. Smoothies and fruit/veggie pouches are my nutritional lifeline.

Oh wait. I forgot about the Chick-fil-A fries. He eats the french fries. #freemefromyourjudgement

So the eating thing has been a struggle. But I did want to end this little confessional with a hilarious new twist to the ongoing mealtime shenanigans. Because it's actually given me a bit of perspective and hope.

For the past two days, at every meal, Everett insists that I feed his stuffed animal dog, Oscar.

Oscar. The toy. The stuffed animal. The one I'm feeding.

Oscar is living a pretty good life. And so am I, getting to experience Everett's imagination igniting with each passing day. He loves his Oscar (a gift from his Mimi and Papa!), but these days, he is really attached to making sure that Oscar experiences everything that Everett does. He wants Oscar to brush his teeth, he wants Oscar to take a bath, and yes, he wants Oscar to eat every meal with him.

You guys, he almost tossed Oscar in the toilet to "go potty". Thank goodness I was quick to the game for that one.

We went ahead and taught Everett that Oscar is a homebody and likes to stay at the house most of the time when we leave go out - because I can't imagine what that child would do if we LOST Oscar.

But when we are at home, Oscar gets a seat at the table, a bib of his own, and yes, his very own slice of pizza. Everett's absolute favorite food.

I could remain focused on all the things my child isn't eating. Or all the ways he isn't like other kids his age. But you know what? He's healthy and strong, and I know that as he grows he will eat a greater variety of foods. But what I'm choosing to focus on is the fact that mealtimes with my son are a continual revelation of my own shortcomings, my own stubborn behavior, and my own blindness. Everett won't dare even taste a strawberry, and it makes me wonder if there are areas in my life lacking an open mind to try something new. To experience a joyful taste I can't even imagine. The beauty I can see in this scenario with my son's behavior is the fact that he is inviting his loved one (yes, a toy) along for the things that he does he really enjoys. He wants to share his slice of pizza with his companion. And I know that on the inside, he is cultivating love and tender care in his heart for his buddy Oscar. These are important milestones, memorable lessons that he will accumulate in his storehouse of character for a lifetime to come. My son might not eat a strawberry, but he will share a pizza with his little best friend. And for now, I'm really, really good with that.

Our Stage 1 Baby Food Methods & Resources.

Entering Stage 1. 

The past 6-8 weeks have been SO MUCH FUN. My son has started munching on solids, and by solids, I totally mean pureed, smoothie-ish textured foods :) This new part of our routine has led to a much better sleep schedule for us all. Of course, as I type this, I am completely sleep-deprived, because he has been teething this week which just throws everything off again, again. But he has worked so hard for these two little bottom teeth that sprouted up this week (all the moms feel my whole-hearted HOORAY!) In spite of this little teething blip, I must say that overall, things have been really smooth sailing in the baby department lately. Which is saying a lot, because it has been a whirlwind ride since this little boy made his appearance 7 months ago. So, yaay for teeth and fun foods and SLEEP.

"Knowing" He Was Ready.

My pediatrician kept telling me that I would know when my son was ready for solids. I didn't really know what she meant by that. But all the sudden, at 5 months old he started reaching for everything I was eating. He almost drooled into my coffee cup as I poured the happy morning beverage. How does he know to drool over coffee? That's my boy. I guess this was the "I'M FRIGGIN READY, MOM"-indicator. I wasn't ready for him to be ready, but he was! So at 5 and a half months, I tearfully strapped him into his little high chair and slowly armed his clothing with his rubber bib (see a few pics HERE.) I sat down in front of him with my first batch of homemade apple sauce, and after weeping a tiny bit (me, not him), I began spoon feeding him. That little smile. Smeared across his face in mashed-apple joy. He LOVED it. He was in apple Heaven, and started banging on his tray, as if to say, "I want more, cmon woman!" Every day since then, we have given him apple sauce or banana for "breakfast" and fed him different fruits and veggies at dinner time. Of course, this is all in addition to his many nursing sessions each day :)

Resources & Recipes.

I'm not into reinventing the wheel. So when it comes to making my own baby food, I have reached out for lots of help and guidance. I have pulled on the resourceful brains of my big sis Kara and my dear friend Liz, along with the Momtastic Wholesome Baby Food website and book. I started with recipes for making singular pureed baby foods, including Bananas, Sweet Potato, Apple Sauce, Pear Sauce, Mangoes, Avocados, Carrots, Peas and Zucchini. I have started combining some of the foods, creating blends of Apples & Carrots, Pears & Peas, Zucchini & Pears and Banana & Avocado. This isn't proprietary information, since pretty much every blogger under the sun has published the same baby food recipes over and over again. But I really needed step by step instructions spelled out for me, and in case you're a little bit like me, I wanted to share the method I've most enjoyed.

Stage 1 Baby Food Prep:


1) Peel, (when appropriate, core) and chop your fruit/veggie.

2. Place in a steamer basket within a stockpot of water on the stove. Make sure the water is high enough to just barely cover the fruit/veggies.

3) Steam/boil the fruit/veggies until soft enough to easily stick a fork through. The timing will totally depend on the type of fruit/veggie and how much you're steaming. Give yourself anywhere between 7-20ish minutes for this stage.

4) Remove chunks from heat and strain the fruit/veggies out. Reserve that water! It's nutrified.

5) Place chunks into blender (I use a Vitamix), and add a cup or two of the reserved water.

6) Blend mixture until a smooth puree is achieved.


7) Pour mixture into ice cube trays. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. In the morning. place cubes in a large zip-top bag. Label the bag with the food type and date. Keeps in the freezer for 3-6 months.

8) Voila! You've made your baby food! You deserve chocolate.


9) Remove a day's worth of baby food from the freezer at the beginning of the day. This could be 1-2 cubes for "breakfast", and 2-3 cubes for "dinner". I haven't really opted in to start serving him solids around lunchtime, but you could!

10) Place cubes in individual baby food containers. Allow to thaw. If you would like to serve the food warmed, you can place this container or this container in a cup of hot/boiling water to quickly heat. My favorite method to thaw/heat baby food is by water submersion, but there are tons of different options.

11) Make sure to stir the mixture well and taste-test each new serving (just to make sure there aren't heat pockets that could burn a baby's mouth.)

// I had a pretty cute audience for this food prep. //

Our Kitchen Tools:

- Tommee Tippee Easi Roll Bibs (These were a genius baby gift, thank you Jordan!)

- Munchkin Soft-tip Spoons

- Keekaroo High Chair (Another gift, thank you Merritt family! We love our pretty high chair!)

- Vitamix Blender

- OXO Freezer Storage Containers (for storing/heating baby food)

- Ball 4-oz. Jars (for storing/heating baby food)

A Few Last Thoughts:

Making baby food is no joke. It feels like a very domestic, wonderfully mommy-ish thing to do, but it is hard work. There is NO SHAME in serving your child store-bought baby food. On our first road trip I gave Everett some of these and these pouches of Stage 1 baby foods and he loved them. So there you go. Kids really don't know the difference.

A helpful note about how much to serve your baby.

A good reminder to always nurse or bottle feed your baby before serving solids. 

After preparing all this food, I was ready to go on a baby food diet myself. Seems so healthy.

I hope this helps! Do you have any tips for feeding your baby solids or recipes/methods that have been super successful in your own family? Do share!

Starting Solid Baby Food.

Starting Solid Baby Food.

I have to take a deep breath as I type this. Because anytime I think of my little boy growing up I just want to sob my face off onto a pillow like a middle school girl. I don't know why. I really just don't. But the truth is that yesterday my little boy turned 7 months old. WHAAAAAAT. How can this be. Hang on, I've gotta go take a break and cry a monsoon a little.

Stevie made me suck it up. So I'm still here.

Over the past six weeks or so, we have taken the dive into solid baby foods. Everett LOVES to eat and I can honestly say that his growing appetite and fondness for new food has been good for our entire family. What do I mean? Well, he's eating real food. Which has led to some real sleep. Which means we are all (finally!) getting some real, consecutive hours of sleep each night. It has been a longgggg 7 months of very little rest, but I think we are really, truly, finally getting somewhere! (Of course every time I say that, something wicked happens. Like he starts teething. Or has another "growth spurt". Or an obvious "sleep regression". These terms just mean that mommy was momentarily teased with the hopeful possibility that a light was at the end of the tunnel, only to have it snuffed out by the might of his gnawing, toothless grip. He's lucky he's so darn cute. SO DARN CUTE I COULD CRY.)

I digress.

I do that a lot.

Our little solid food journey has formed over the past 6 weeks or so and has landed into a happy rhythm so far. Of course, I assume we will continue to modify this "plan" as he continues to grow and expand his palate. That's kind of the point of solid food right now - to develop his taste buds for different temperatures, textures and flavors. His main source of calories is still from milk. (I have to state the obvious or else some milkmaid mother will beat me down in the comments section about how I'm overfeeding and under-nourishing my baby. Don't worry, dear milkmaids anonymous. I am still a member of your semi-inconvenient, though obviously valuable lactating club. Calm thyself.)

// Everett getting a little pre-meal talking to from my Dad. These sweet moments are the reason I am thrilled that we are able to be around so much family this year :) //

// He's like, actually listening. He hasn't learned that wonderful skill of fake-listening to parents yet. UNLESS HE'S JUST THAT GOOD. //

// He doesn't mind wearing his bib, but he kind of hates the moment that we put it on him. Just for the moment. Then I wave a spoon at him and, voila, we are suddenly verrrrrrrrrry popular with him. //

// Breather. //

So Much to Learn!

I have been making Everett's solid foods at home. I gathered recipes from my dear doula/friend/guru/role-model Liz, and my big beautiful sister Kara (she's actually a very tiny person, but big in inspiration and in whom I would truly be a LOST parent without), this wonderful website and its corresponding book. I have researched a ton about HOW MUCH to feed, HOW OFTEN to feed, WHEN to feed, etc. There is so much information out there and so many different ways to foray into the solid baby food world. Anyone have any awesome tips/advice to share? I am still learning and trying to figure it out, but I thought I would go ahead and share this fun milestone with you. Oh baby food. Oh growing. Oh my. I'll share some of my baby food methods and a few of our favorite recipes next week!

In the mean time, keep us in your prayers as we cruise out of town for the weekend. It's our first road trip with Everett! We are heading down to Florida to visit my sister and her sweet family and celebrate my nephew's birthday :) Although the forecast is calling for freezing cold rain. Of course. I hope your weekend is clear of all this sleet, snow and icy rain we've been pelted with on the East Coast! Stay warm, friends!