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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Good Eater Secrets, Pt. 4

Published November 1, 2011 10:40 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Today I am delighted to share the "Good Eater Secrets" of a fellow speech-language pathologist and mom of two young boys who contacted me through the blog. Her name is Natalie and she lives and works outside of San Diego, CA. Her children are ages 6 and 3, and she says that both were quite picky as babies, but with patience and some creative cooking, as well as the knowledge she brings as an SLP, both are now "pretty good eaters"!

In your opinion, are your children good eaters?

Yes, they are pretty good now, although that wasn't always the case!

Have they always been good eaters? Even as babies?

No, not at all. My older son, Chase, was pretty tough to feed, plus looking back as a new mom, I don't think I always knew what I was doing. Jackson, my younger son, was a little more agreeable at feeding time, but they both would often refuse foods and/or spit them out frequently. It drove me crazy and I felt like a bad mom - like I was doing something wrong. Plus, here I am. an SLP - why the heck won't my little boys eat?

Please list five of your children's favorite foods.

Macaroni and cheese; most fruits (especially watermelon, pears and blueberries, but they'll eat almost any fruit); hotdogs; graham crackers; and many vegetables (especially broccoli, peas and carrots).

Please list five of your children's non-preferred foods.

Red sauce - marinara; pudding; yogurt; tomatoes; and ice cream (believe it or not!)

Do you cook/bake with your children? If so, how often (e.g., once a week, once a day, etc)?

I try to. It's hard because I work four days a week and many times when I'm cooking I'm just trying to get the food on the table. That being said, they do enjoy helping me and will sometimes even ask to help when I'm cooking. My younger son especially seems to have an affinity for preparing food. I would say he helps me for most meals on the weekends and maybe once or twice a week at dinner time.

(Secret: I do like to have them help me if I'm making something new. That way they are NOT seeing it for the first time on their plate! This technique tends to work well!)

What type of meals/dishes do you make with them?

Really, anything. Of course, they love to help me bake - licking the bowl and spoon afterward is always a good time! Being that we live right outside San Diego, we do have a nice little garden that my husband and I started a few years ago. He tends to it mainly on the weekends and the boys go outside and help him. I have found that when they get to pick the produce we are growing, they often look forward to tasting it as well. It has become a fun part of our weekly family schedule, plus we are saving money growing our own fruits and vegetables.

Do your children like tasting new foods?

I can't say they really enjoy it, but if we do some of the things I mentioned above, they seem to be more willing. Also, presentation is important. If I make it look tasty or put things in a fun design, it tends to help.

If they refuse to taste/eat any food, what do you do?

Good question. This is always a challenge. My husband and I will model good eating habits for them and try it. We tend to exaggerate our positive response (i.e. "Mmmm, this is so good!"). I also just leave it there on their plate and present it with something that I know they like, so they have options and don't feel forced to eat something they are uncertain about. The older they get they tend to try a little more on their own. They will eat the familiar, preferred food first, and then try the new one when they think we aren't watching!

A Recipe Natalie likes to make for/with her sons is...

Mashed Potatoes with Brown Gravy!

Ingredients: baking potatoes (boiled and peeled); melted butter; warmed milk; sea salt; and a jar of lite chicken gravy (I usually buy one that's low in sodium)

Natalie says: It's such a simple thing to make, but my boys LOVE it. They help me wash the potatoes and help me clean up the mess after I peel them. They love helping me mash the potatoes with the potato masher and they help me pour in the melted butter and milk. We shake in some sea salt and then we use the electric hand mixer to really get everything smooth and creamy. My boys love taking turns using the hand mixer - it's noisy!

Finally, when it's time to add the gravy (I cheat and use store-bought gravy - I don't make my own), we each get a big blob of potatoes and the boys dig a deep hole in the middle. Then we pour in the gravy and fill up the big hole! They love this. They use their special excavation spoon and fork set and get to work! This recipe is a hit every time!

If you would like to share YOUR good eater secrets, please contact me at and share your tips! You could be the next mom or dad highlighted in the GOOD EATER SECRETS series!



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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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