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In it together

First things first: if you don’t want to read about kid stuff, you should skip this post. I won’t mind.  A few years ago, I totally would have skipped it. You have my permission, and my sympathy.

But if you, on the other hand, spent part of yesterday as I did, sitting on the floor with a sparkly child-size tulle skirt on your head, singing "Your Personal Penguin" to a small person while she sucked on a hank of her own hair, you might be at least somewhat interested in this post.

A few of you have written to ask if I would share my perspective on and approach to feeding kids. I’ve hemmed and hawed, mostly because the topic is fraught with mines and quicksand and very, very strong opinions. I am a new parent with a child who has only been eating solids for about six months. I am not an expert.  No noooo NOOOOOOO.  I am also keenly aware that my perspective would be different if my child or I had a food allergy or intolerance, or if my child were very picky. What I’m trying to say is: my perspective doesn’t mean much.

That said, I know that I really enjoy reading about other parents’ approaches to feeding their kids. I find it helpful. Sometimes stressful, but often helpful, insightful, and even galvanizing. Maybe you find it helpful, too?  So, maybe, if I do write a bit about my approach to feeding June, we can all agree to stay cool about it and understand that I do not claim to know anything about any child but my own?

To be honest, I try not to think too hard.  I assume that if June is getting some fruits, some vegetables, some fat, and some protein most days, she’s going to be all right. Ever since she was born, I’ve had this sense - I can’t explain it without sounding all new-age-y and annoying; get out your crystals, folks! - that June is going to be okay. That goes generally, across the board. I hope I never have to second-guess it. When it comes to feeding her, I try to avoid any guidelines or quantities, because they keep me up at night.  The way I see it, my job is to offer a reasonable variety of foods, the kind of stuff that Brandon and I eat, and June’s job is to choose which parts to eat and how much. I don’t cajole when she doesn’t want to eat, and I don’t praise her when she does. Sometimes she eats like a pack of wild dogs, and sometimes, like tonight, she eats only a few bites. I’m sure that there are many picky moments to come, and maybe even picky weeks, months, or years. If there is one thing that I am trying to remember in my young career as a parent, it’s that whatever is true today may not be true tomorrow. And I want food to be something fun that we can share, not a source of strife.  I have to lay the foundations for that.

My approach to feeding June has been shaped in large part by two people: my friend Matthew Amster-Burton, author of Hungry Monkey, and Nina Planck, author of Real Food for Mother and Baby. (I read the latter while I was pregnant, and it also had a big impact on how I decided to eat during pregnancy, and how I eat now.)  For me, the big take-away from Matthew’s book is this: there is no such thing as baby food. And that dovetails nicely, I think, with Nina Planck’s viewpoint, which is roughly this: Whole foods are best. Cereals are not great first foods, because babies’ bodies aren’t able to break down complex starches. Babies need fat and protein. And mostly, babies - and mothers - need good, simple food.

June tasted her first solid food around five months, when I let her suck on some raw apple that I had sliced for myself. I also gave her tastes of my favorite whole-milk plain yogurt, parsnip soup, split pea soup, avocado, pizza crust, chana masala, and a bunch of other foods from our plates. Neither Brandon nor I have food allergies, and our doctor was pretty laid-back on the topic of first foods. He suggested that we be careful with citrus and strawberries, which apparently can cause reactions, but otherwise, he explained that the guidelines for first foods change so often that it’s hard for him to get strongly behind any of them. As it happened, June wasn’t really interested in solids until she was about 10 months old, at which point she had teeth and could handle a decent variety of textures. Over a couple of months, she started eating more "real" meals and nursing less. I introduced her to whole cow’s milk when she was just under a year old, and I weaned her from the breast completely about a month ago, at 15 months.

I salt June’s food as we salt our own.  I try not to give her a lot of sweet things - not because I think I can mold her into a non-sweets-craving person (haa haaaa, RIIIIIIIIIGHT), but mostly because I know she will want to eat the living crap out of them, and I want her to save room for other things. I would like her to grow up understanding that there is no such thing as bad food: that some foods are better for our bodies, yes, and some food isn’t food at all (like Nerds and sour gummies, both of which I would currently kill for), but that there is time enough for all of it. I want her to know that food is about pleasure and connection and sustenance.

Sometimes she eats everything we give her. Other times, she won’t touch something that she loved only the day before. Sometimes she throws her food on the floor. Sometimes she feeds it to Alice. Sometimes she feeds it to us. Sometimes she spits it out and plays with it and then puts it back in her mouth and eats it. In any case, I try not to respond. I don’t try to make her eat. If she can feed herself, I let her.  She’s in charge of how much she eats. She knows a few signs - food, water, milk, more, please - and she can tell me when she is hungry or thirsty. I try not to hover or push or freak out. I try. I really try.

So far, June’s favorite foods are milk, fruit, and meat.  She would probably drink milk and eat bananas and brisket all day, if I let her.  But she also loves Hugo’s pastina, any meat that’s fall-apart tender, scrambled eggs, cold pepperoni, Brandon’s pizza, pasta with our friend Francis Lam’s eggplant sauce, Cafe Lago meatballs, ham bone soup, pasta with Bolognese, French fries, prosciutto, a cannellini bean and lamb soup that Lecia made, and Ed Fretwell Soup from my first book. I try to always keep peas in the freezer and a roasted sweet potato in the fridge, and when I can, I make a big batch of homemade applesauce. At the end of summer, she was way into berries, and somewhat into roasted zucchini. Lately, she’s into roasted Brussels sprouts, slightly mushy steamed broccoli, and oranges.  She likes rice and beans, and pho. Most mornings, she eats whole-milk plain yogurt and fruit, or some oatmeal. Yesterday, we had oatmeal pancakes - which, when cold, also make a good midday snack with a slice of cheddar cheese. For dessert, she’s a big fan of graham crackers, or half a banana and some peanut butter. We offer her water with every meal - from a cup, a cup with a straw, or a bottle; whatever is around - and we save milk for first thing in the morning, naptime, and bedtime, or else she fills up. I think June would want me to add, just for the sake of completeness, that she is not a fan of avocado, fish, or seafood. And she refuses to swallow any kind of winter squash. She likes bread, but so far only as a toy. And that is the truth according to June on this day, January 15, 2014.

I hope this is helpful?  Or, at least, I hope this didn’t make you feel like I feel, which is to say, totally preoccupied with getting your hands on some sour gummies?  Either way, I guess we’re in it together. xx


Blogger Christie said...

Molly, this post is excellent. I've been following your blog forever and almost never comment, but I have to thank you for this smart, fun post. And June is so cute! Keep up the great work, lady.


11:59 PM, January 15, 2014  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Molly, I'm not a mother yet but I did love reading about your and June's way with food. I think it's great not to make a big deal out of it and keep it chill while making sure she gets everything she needs.
You could get me interested in anything though.
Can't wait to read your new book!

12:36 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Toast & Butter said...

Yup, feedling toddlers is a grand mystery. My 2-and-a-bit-yr-ol daughter seems to veer wildly between surviving on nothing but air, grapes and the occasional rice cake until dusk, or wanting 16 sausages in row. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Your little one sounds like she's getting a great range of foods, though, nice one. Lovely photos!

1:50 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Lydia said...

As the mother of a 6 month old, I am stressing out about how to start my baby on solids. This was great timing. Thanks!

2:00 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger deborah said...

In it together and happy. Thanks for sharing, Molly. I found this interesting even though my job is to mainly feed myself and share what I have with those I love.

2:06 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger k857 said...

This was so great. And good disclaimer at the beginning! Would love to see you do a little segment on what you feed June occasionally like Luisa does on Wednesday Chef.

2:36 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes said...

Her hair grew so much! adorable

2:41 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Sabine said...

This was lovely to read!
The best advice we got when our daughter was tiny came from my obstetrician who is from India. He said "When you have baby on your lap during dinner and she wants to try curry, let her. If it's too spicy she will spit it out."
And so we just let her try and reject and eat whatever as she grew up into a healthy young woman despite the fact that for an awfully long time (at least for my in-laws) when she was 4 she seemed to exist on french dressing and plain pasta.
And she refused to be spoon fed from the start. So I never got a chance to fly that aeroplane of whatever into her mouth.

2:48 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger lucinda smith said...

I love your approach, it is very natural and realistic, which I think is not not fair to you but it is fair to June. I'm a new mother of nearly eight months so we're still SUPER new to feeding here, but like you I've learned that things changes quickly with little ones and things that they like one day, may be a bore the next (and not just with food). that kind of i fluctuation could drive a person crazy so giving everyone sone slack and keeping the bigger in perspective seems to work for me and mine too. thanks for sharing your experience - I just love your writing.

3:35 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Kim said...

As the mother of a 6.5 month old that we are trying to decide how and when to introduce food to, I would like to express that I, at least, appreciate reading what you do and how you think about it. In part because I identify with the sort of lax new-age-y attitude (I hope you don't find it offensive that I refer to it as lax) that everything will be okay, and in the last week I've gotten overwhelmed (and confused…does introducing babies to solids really change how they absorb iron from breastmilk?) by reading perhaps too much on baby-led weaning (and perhaps by thinking about it too hard?). So…thank you. :) Also, thank you for your recipes, cause they're pretty awesome, and I quite enjoy your writing as well. My baby boy *almost* let me make the cabbage risotto/soup yesterday, and though he didn't, really, (he HAD TO nurse THEN RIGHT THEN) it still turned out quite tasty.

3:52 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Annika Bock said...

I loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing your point of view and your approach.
Feeding yourself during pregnancy and your baby later on is so daunting and confusing. I ordered the two books you recommended too.

4:09 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Helle said...

Gummy bears, I really feel like those after reading your post. To me that sounds like a really good approach, to make food fun and enjoyable. I always have to think of my niece who was picky, and never hears the end of it, for whom every mealtime must have been such a trial when she was small. And I agree with June, don't like fish either ;-)

4:12 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Beth Hautala said...

"If there is one thing that I am trying to remember in my young career as a parent, it’s that whatever is true today may not be true tomorrow. And I want food to be something fun that we can share, not a source of strife. I have to lay the foundations for that."

I'm mom to three, pregnant with number four, and food has been a struggle since the day my first child was born. Your above quote nearly brought me to tears. Feeding people who proclaim "I don't like that!" at every meal can be heartbreaking. First, I offer my heartfelt praise for what you've begun with June, [like you need it from me, but whatever ;)]. Secondly, I think perhaps it's time for me to lay some new foundations. Or rebuild some old ones! Thanks for the lovely words of encouragement this morning. I seriously needed them. Now I'm off to make breakfast! And they can eat it or not, but I'm going to remain chill. *crosses fingers* And I'm going to try and make this fun. :)

4:34 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Patrice said...

Molly, I love your parenting perspective. So intuitive especially for a first-time Mom. As a mom of two grown adult children (yes they will always be children), it's not always easy to take the laid back approach. Bravo! Love your writing and your recipes -- especially that latest one on toasting the oatmeal, it was almost life changing this morning. BTW, I'm sure you are way ahead of the curve on this, but if you're not making your own yogurt, you have to give this one a try - http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-yogurt-at-home-125070

5:05 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous debbie koenig said...

Oh man, Molly. I *wish* I'd had your calm demeanor when my guy was starting on solids. I have a pretty strong feeling that part of his extreme pickiness comes from my stressing about what he was eating from day one. Six years ago when we were starting solids, the allergy recommendations were RIDICULOUS. Everything was very fraught. Plus I was convinced it was possible to do parenting *right*, and I was determined to do it. HAHAHAHAAAAAA...

5:36 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Ashley said...

As a long-time reader, I've never posted a comment before, but thank you so much for this. We are expecting a baby girl this spring and watching other parents fight with their small children about food has always made me cringe and dread what was to come. It is refreshing to know it doesn't have to be that way. Thanks again.

5:36 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Bake said...

SO helpful, if only for a little validation. It was such a revelation to me when I read about someone who just decided not to make food a big deal. Just like you, don't praise, don't get upset if she/he doesn't eat, it'll be OK! It has made our meal times so peaceful and our boy is well able to communicate when he is hungry :) It'll be different tomorrow/next week though no doubt ;) xo

5:59 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Anna said...

Thanks for sharing this! My son is has been trying and playing with his first fruits and vegetables for the past several weeks. I find it interesting and helpful to read your perspective on this and I appreciate your straightforward trusting approach. I aim to have a similar approach and find it not too hard when it comes to food, but harder when it comes to other parts of early parenting.

6:09 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is your own personal penguin based on the depeche mode song?

~~ Reach out.. and touch snow ~~ *bass riff*

6:27 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous KrisD said...

I think this was the perfect way to discuss this topic. It's easy to get to caught up in the "rules" of raising our kids, and I think in the end as long as we are trying to do our best, well then, that's probably good enough. My kids are eclectic, yet picky eaters. They each have their specific preferences, but overall they are easy.

On another note... My Personal Penguin, what a great kid's tune! If you haven't heard it yet, Gustafer Yellowgold is wonderful for kids and parents, and so much fun to see live! Ozomatli has some great kiddie tunes too.

6:27 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger DeLoach said...

I'm not a mom yet, but I really appreciate this post. I read the whole thing and found it incredibly inspiring and really commendable. It seems like you're an absolutely wonderful mama and June is lucky your hers. :)

6:35 AM, January 16, 2014  
OpenID motheringintheraw said...

First of all, though I've been reading quite a while, a number of your most recent recipes are quickly becoming staples in my home (the cabbage soup! and that oatmeal the other day, to name a few). Thank you!

Secondly, as the mother of a 15-month-old, I nearly could have written this post. My hungry little hippo has gotten some variation of whatever we've been eating for months now. All of the guidelines and timelines and all seemed awfully fussy when he's very clear about what he likes or doesn't care for. Sometimes he's hungry, sometimes not so much. Sometimes he shares with us or the dog, and sometimes he can't eat it fast enough. We aim for fruit/veggie/protein/fat every day, too, and little boy eats so many things I wouldn't have imagined a year ago (spicy pickled green beans! kim chi! raw onion! he even very happily chewed up and swallowed a coffee bean I dropped the other day). It's amazing how complicated and fussy you think feeding a child will be, given what people say, only to be lucky enough to end up with one who eats pretty much like you.

7:10 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger MeganW said...

just felt really strongly that I should leave a little comment this morning letting you know I love your writing. your style and tone. every time you post (no matter the topic) I'm excited to read what you've written. Thanks!

7:13 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Rachel said...


7:16 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger sk said...

I love this. June seems very similar to our 17 month old daughter! She also wasn't an early eater (had a persistent strong gag-reflex) and really wasn't swallowing any solid foods until after 12 months. Now she seems to enjoy mealtimes, but eats varying amounts (as you said, some days it's everything and then some, other days it's two bites).
I read this delightful article about giving kids sardines and tried her on the sardine butter recipe and she loves it! http://food52.com/blog/3419-the-sardine-that-saved-dinner
So I've been offering it at every meal and she usually has a few bites. She also loves eggs, beans and tea. Loathes avocado :)

7:19 AM, January 16, 2014  
OpenID bringdrinks said...

As a prospective parent (hopefully in a couple of years!), it is awfully nice to read the perspective of a parent who doesn't have a big, complicated, and unanswerable Philosophy about feeding their child. The obsessive number of rules that I see many parents follow have intimidated me in the past, and I am glad that they are not necessary for producing a happy and healthy kid.

7:22 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Andrea said...

Hi Molly. I don't have kids (as of now), but I thoroughly enjoyed this post! It's really nicely written, and it was fun to read a laid-back perspective to something that I imagine can be quite stressful. I'm naturally a worrier, so I'm reminding myself to re-read this post if I ever become responsible for regularly feeding a baby. :)

7:28 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Carlinne @Cook with 2 Chicks said...

June is absolutely adorable! My kids are 13 and 16 now, but I would have loved to had this to read when they were babies. It's helpful without being the slightest bit preachy. My younger Moomy self thanks you :)

7:43 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger elizabeth said...

I appreciate this post so much! My little girl, Juniper, is 15 months and I often worry if she's getting enough xyz. I love your no fuss approach and goal to make food a wonderful thing to share. Thank you for sharing your perspective and experience!

8:00 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Melissa F said...

Some kids eat all the things. Some do not. (Sam did. Truly doesn't. Well. She eats a goodly amount of popcorn but I don't think that really counts.) Our Dr., told me back when Sam was tiny to look at good in an arc of a week-- did he eat meat this week? Check. Vegetables? Good. And if that meant tofu curry for three days in a row, fine. And cereal for the rest, we were good. As a young mom, the best examples I had were parents I admired with healthy kids running around with the occasional bags of Cheetos. Because really-- it was going to be okay.

8:08 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Ines said...

(Am I the first comment...?)
Hi, Molly:
I read your blog, but never commented (or maybe once before). I like your perspective on cooking, eating, and feeding. I also work with Ellyn Satter. Her division of responsibility model aligns with your approach. See her materials at ellynsatter.com.

8:10 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Leslie said...

I'm 61 years old, never had or raised a kid and read the whole thing with interest, so I wouldn't worry about turning people off with the topic of the day. When it's well written, almost anything is worth reading. Sounds like an excellent approach and June is obviously thriving. She's so cute with that curly head of hair.

8:11 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Kerrie said...

I love this! This is how food should be approached by EVERYONE! And I love that you are teaching your daughter how to view food...how to have a good, positive, healthy relationship with food. It's so important. I look forward to reading both of those books whenever the time comes for me to be a mother.

8:21 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this post. I'd also like to avoid the nerve-wracking waters of toddler eating discussions, but I like to read about other parents' experiences, too. My little guy (2 1/2) won't eat a vegetable -not ONE- no matter what, and you know what? It isn't my fault, and everything is okay. I feed him good, wholesome food, we grow food together, I model good food eating, and nary a cherry tomato shall cross his lips. Things will probably change. But in the meantime, I'm not going to rant, rave, plead, or fret while he's happily eating what he likes. Because you're right: pleasure, connection, and sustenance. So, while he eats his quinoa or tofu or blackberries, we talk and laugh and get fed.
(I just realize how nonchalant I sound. Sometimes I worry that he'll be in his twenties and never have eaten a bean. Sometimes I casually mention how completely awesome this spinach is, wow, wouldn't you like to try just a tiny, tiny bite? And when I eat the perfect little lima beans off his abandoned plate, I can't hold back the hot tears. But I shake it off. I don't want to be a crazy food-patrol officer, and I don't want to forget to feel grateful for all the things that are going right.)
Thanks for a great post, full of sanity and non-judgment. You sound like you're doing a great job feeding your baby.

8:22 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous dervla said...

I love this Molly! Don't worry, i know it's only your experience you're drawing from. I too found that exposing my girls to a variety of textures and flavors (and spice levels) at an early age was helpful for overall food curiosity. I allowed them to lead me into the solid food world. When they started grabbing food from my plate then i started introducing morsels of food. I've never chopped anything up too tiny, and let them suck on giant hunks of fruit that make other parents nervous ... it works for us :) June is lucky to have you making all that wonderful food for her.

8:25 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Deanna said...

I don't have kids, but I love reading other people's perspectives! I have friends with children, and friends who are pregnant, and they take everything super seriously. I liked Louisa's post on how she decided to eat during pregnancy. It seemed rational, and like I could do it for 9 months without threatening to kill someone. Thank you for the book suggestions! I have a shower at the end of next month and these might have to make an appearance.

8:26 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger SoRefined said...

You might find http://thefeedingdoctor.com/blog/ a good resource for the feeding 'style' you're developing, especially when your little one gets a little older and a lot of other people start letting forth with their opinions on all things food related.

8:41 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Sarah said...

Sounds to me like you are rocking it mama!!

8:51 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous nicole said...

Mmm, I love this. It is super helpful. My daughter is 4 months next week and I have already started thinking about how to feed her food (not til 6 months probably) and I think my emerging 'philosophy' (ha) is much like yours. I hope I can be laid-back; I hope I don't make it into a big deal. Well, I can try! So far she has no interest in solids so I am going to see how that goes ... I will not force them upon her at all and I hope she sort of naturally progresses toward them and it is fun and not a struggle. I personally am looking forward to sharing all sorts of yumminess with her when the time is right.

8:58 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Amélie said...

Thank you for this post! I am about to start feeding my son solids for the first time, and it can be hard to decide what to give, when, how much, etc. I'm leaning toward more relaxed approaches, and I'm glad to see that it's working out well for you!

9:00 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous tara shannon thayer said...

hi molly. as you may have surmised, i'm way past the baby feeding stage, but…this helped me a lot to realize that my somewhat lame-assed battles with anna, (and even lindsey to an extent, still, fourteen years after weaning) are pretty pointless and wrong-minded. i'm all into this "every day is a new chance" (thanks heather s-j) and so dinnertime tonight in chez thayer is going to be less one dog in the fight.
thanks molly.

9:00 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger cherie said...

Not that you need my opinion, but you're doing great.

I have three kids and they went through all phases - but I agree, food is good, give them some and they'll eat it if they're hungry - and decide for themselves what they like and don't - and change their mind repeatedly until you want to scream. But don't.

Unless you have allergy issues or some significant health concern about weight I would barely discuss what THEY are eating - I always discussed what I was serving and what *I* liked about it, and what made it so good for their bodies.

The only limiting rules I had were what you've already guessed, "We need to eat healthy food to keep our bodies strong - if we fill up on sweets we won't have room for the healthy stuff! But if you have some of that then you can have a little sweet stuff sometimes too."

9:55 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Lisa Samuel said...

Molly, what a wonderful post! As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I couldn't agree with you more. Great advice for Moms...and people, in general.

9:55 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Sarah Milburn said...

Thanks so much for writing this! My son is ten months and we've been working on solids and finger foods for a few months. Remembering not to hover and to just go with the flow, especially when he'd rather squish his food or thow it on the floor, is so important. I'm taking the long view as well -- I know that he's going to turn out just fine and he'll figure this whole eating thing out on his own good time. I just try to offer wholesome, home-cooked food (with the occasional squeeze pouch thrown in) and watch him experience each new thing. I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing, but your post made me realize that we're all doing our best. Thanks again.

9:59 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger menagerie2002 said...

Brilliant food take. Up until age 4 kids will eat what they need, accommodating growth spurts and slows. As long as parents let that happen, and make sure what they DO eat is good food (and you're an expert on that!) they will continue to make good choices. Your daughter is fortunate and you are smart and intuitive. Blessings to you!

10:05 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Amy said...

After raising two fairly picky eaters I recently said to some new moms, "If I had it to do over I would cook healthy foods, put everything on the table and not say a word. No 'just 2 more bites' or 'eat this and then you can have dessert' or 'pleeeease, just eat!" The moms all looked at me like I had two heads. Your post perfectly capsulized my feelings on the matter. As always, brilliantly, supportively, humorously put. And that little girl of yours in precious!

10:07 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Sara Thompson said...

I get asked often how I raised such a healthy eater. My son is a teen and loves the weirdest foods (for kids). He's open to experimenting and a genius in the kitchen. I think in part I got lucky. He was never much of a picky eater and I love to experiment with food. We had two food rules as he was growing up (didn't implement until he was at least 3) 1. Everything needed three bites and 2. You don't have to finish everything on your plate unless you want seconds then your plate has to be cleared. The second rule was to encourage eating veggies. My son is a carb lover - he'd eat nothing but pasta and bread if I let him. Over time we've talked about balanced diets and cooking for food allergies (I have food allergies). We have a new "rule" - eat it first and eat it fast which applies to healthy foods that he might not be loving. As well as for times when we're eating at someone else's house and they served something we don't like. That way what we like to taste we can savor.

10:11 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Amy Eagen said...

Fabulous post! I love your take on wanting to teach June that there are no bad foods. It's something I'm really trying to teach my very picky 4 year old and my adventurous eater 6 year old. Love the pics of your daughter. She is just adorable!

10:17 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger tigerlille said...

Great post, Mols. I'd love to read more about June. I've loved your blog for a long time, but at this point, to be perfectly frank, the first thing I do when Orangette shows up in my mail box is look for a photo of June. If there isn't one, I immediately go to your instagram account. Little June bug is addictively cute!

10:24 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Lisette said...

"I want her to know that food is about pleasure and connection and sustenance."

Thank you for your perspective! I am not a parent (but hope to be someday), but I am a teacher and wish all parents would be as laid back about food as you are. I think your approach is so healthy, not just in terms of the "real food" idea, but it fosters a healthy attitude in general toward food. It is about taking care of your body and providing nutrition, but it's also about enjoyment and community and that balance is important. So thank you for going out on a limb and writing about something that can dredge up some pretty strong opinions.

P.S. June's hair is just fabulous.

10:29 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Sheila said...

My four children a.k.a. kiddos, range in age from 11-17. I loved your post. Even though I am completely out of this stage. You are wise. This is a touchy subject. I have some very strong thought on how to feed kids, but I keep them to myself, unless someone asks then I say"are you sure you want to know?" . Basically you and I have the same exact idea about feeding kids. I will say I do not play short order cook. If I make dinner we sit down and we eat dinner together as a family. I give plenty of choices and opportunity to get full if your hungry. I am not picky and I haven't really allowed much room for pickyness with my kids. This has not always been easy, there have been tears, and yes I have caved to peanut butter toast on occasion. But now that they are pretty much self sufficient and grown I can say they will eat just about anything, and usually make healthy choices. Except for my girls who would drink straight corn syrup if I allowed it! Ugh.
BTW I'm sure you get this all the time, but June is one of the most precious little people I've ever seen. I just want to squeeze my laptop right now!
All the best to you! Happy New Year!

10:34 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Food should be fun, and yes, our job as parents is not to control what our children eat but to make good-enough offerings they choose from. And actually how about some sour war-heads for us now? My kids introduced those "foods" to me...

10:36 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Karin Tusting said...

Best thing I've ever read on feeding kids, this. And I've read a lot! (mine are five and seven, so they're well past this stage now, but I wish I'd read this when the first was six months old...)

10:43 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous wanderingeducators said...

Smart and fun - and a good way to get kids to eat! Our daughter LOVES veggies, probably bc she started eating them early. When she learned that some parents try to "sneak it in" she said, mom, people don't have to go all ninja on food... just eat it! :)

10:57 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Mike said...

Sounds like may have a future foodie on your hands with June! Bananas and brisket, huh? Terrific post, Molly :)

10:58 AM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous lomavistagirl said...

Hi Molly! Really enjoyed your post - I've been wondering how mealtime was going! My best friend is a chef and has a similar philosophy about feeding her two babies, so I was lucky enough to have her perspective to guide me as I started feeding my own (now 10-month) baby girl. We've been fortunate - she's a great eater, so mealtime is fun and delicious and we hope we are also laying the foundation for a lifetime of healthy and happy food experiences.

PS - just read Hungry Monkey last month - it was great!

11:03 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Victoria said...

I admire your ability to step away and let her discover and enjoy on her own! I'm a Type A momma of a blossoming foodie (16 mo.) and a finicky 4yo and I get very nearly full with the amount of tongue-biting I do!

11:10 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Divya Bajaj said...

I rarely comment, but Molly, this post is excellent!
It's what I needed to read! Sometimes it really is just that simple.

Thank you!

11:12 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger B said...

I am not a parent, but I love your unfussy approach. It reminds me of my babysitting days, when I read Dr. Spock (cover to cover) who said that, when given a choice, babies pick very healthy diets for themselves. There was a study where they offered a variety of pureed foods to babies, and they picked a nutrious diet without guidance. And, nice that she is developing a gourmet palate!

11:21 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Em said...

For what it's worth, I think your approach is the way to go. I have a 2 and a half year old and a newborn. You can make yourself crazy with worry when it comes to, well, anything to do with child-raising. I try to take the same approach with my daughter, and she has always been a good eater. We don't fight about food. (Knock on a forest.)

11:43 AM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger 17 beats. said...

great, great, GREAT post ! i try really hard to be laid back with our daughter ... it mostly works. our daughters' tastes sound similar right down to hating winter squash. who ever heard of a kid that doesn't like squash or yams ? i thought that was standard kid fare !!

12:12 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Hannah said...

"The way I see it, my job is to offer a reasonable variety of foods, the kind of stuff that Brandon and I eat, and June’s job is to choose which parts to eat and how much."

YES. I'm assuming you've read Ellyn Satter's "Child of Mine" book, which boils down to essentially that. This is the division of labor I've had with my two little ones (8 months and 3 years) and I wouldn't have it any other way.

12:28 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Linda said...

June just gets cuter and cuter!

The best thing possible was breast-feeding June for 15 months. Have never understood those who stop at 6 months. I had our son at age 42, and breast-fed him for 22 months. Had planned to stop at 24 months, but he became a gymnast while latched on...

Love the variety of food that June has tried. I remember years ago having lunch with a serious foodie cousin and her 4 year old. He was eating salad like an old pro.

My son was loving black olives at age two. While there were foods he wouldn't eat, I can say that at age 18, he loves spicy Indian food, sushi, and is eating most of the foods he avoided when younger. And I have been teaching him that real food is not processed food. He refuses to eat fast food such as McD's. Yeah!

12:43 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Nancy VanM said...

Yes! I have an almost 3 year old and a 1 year old and I knew very early in my parenting career that food would be a huge source of struggle for me if I let it. Loving food as much as I do causes me to cringe when I hear the words 'I don't like that' (or even worse, hearing a parent say 'You probably won't like that' to a kid) at the table. So I try to take the same approach you do and let it be what it will be. My job is to present the food and not pester them about it or I know it will quickly turn to war.

So we sing songs while we eat and we make silly faces and have fun while I refuse to count bites or negotiate. I don't ask if they like or dislike something but instead say 'Was the squash or the meatballs your favorite?' to try to keep it all on the positive.

I love the kid posts, especially when they are as beautifully written are yours.

12:51 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

such a wise-young approach to babies and mealtimes.
love that she is introduced to so many yummy foods.
appreciate the wisdom behind the parenting skills.
and june and alice are just super!

1:02 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Sharon Wright said...

I am not a parent, but a former elementary school teacher who has taught several thousand children. I love all of your posts, this one included! It sounds like you are doing a fabulous job teaching June about how wonderful food is; keep up the good work!

1:02 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Niisei said...

Yes. Exactly. My youngest turned 17 a few days ago and back in the olden days I did exactly as you say. I put everything we were eating in front of them with no pressure or criticism. As they got older and could discuss(argue) with me, the rule was, please try it once, because you just never know, and then if you don't like it I will never ask you to eat it again should you dislike it. I have three very healthy eaters who loved olives and stinky cheese and beets from an early age. I am the only one of my friends who did not have eating issues with my kids. Eating is too much fun, why ruin it by arguing? NOBODY can make me it liver, why would I make you eat yogurt just because you're a child?

1:07 PM, January 16, 2014  
OpenID curlygirlpress said...

Oh could I go on and on! My 17.5-month-old isn't exactly picky but what he loved yesterday is NOT going in today. And I had some weird hangups about food allergies in the beginning, even though neither hubby nor I have anything major (sensitivity to citrus for me), so I'm gradually getting my head on straight to offer just about anything and let Forrest decide more often. I'm pretty sure that's how my mom did it and I turned out OK. I think you're totally on the right track, Molly!

1:38 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She is so beyond adorable and you are great!

1:43 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Mellybrown said...

As a mother of 3 little people with #4 on the way I am pleased to see that you realize what you have written is true, perhaps only for today. I am convinced that all little people are bi-polar. Also, June's hair. It is amazing.

1:43 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous burnttoast said...

You are totally on target. My kids are grown, but one major rule of parenting is "Carefully pick your battles". Why battle over food? They are not going to starve, or develop scurvy or beri beri. Food should be pleasurable, sharing, nourishing. And personally pleasing, so we each can chose. And the other reason not to make this a fight is you really cannot MAKE them eat anything, and you cannot MAKE them like it. So leave them alone!! They will develop their own palate. And considering her genetics, she is destined to do very well there indeed.

1:52 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Sarah O. said...

Love - "there is no such thing as baby food". These are words to live by. Our munchkin pretty much eats what we eat. I basically never do this, but for whatever reason the other night, I had some leftovers and made him a "kid version" pasta with butter and parmesean. He saw our pasta with pesto and veggies and wanted to try it. He did and quickly ditched the "kid version" for the more tasty (and healthy) regular version. People are amazed that he eats veggies, fruit, meat and fish (even sushi) and we're amazed that they're amazed. Real is best. Thanks for this post.

2:06 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger nanne said...

molly, i love your approach to parenting, especially as you are a new mom. loving, caring, laid back but totally on point with the big stuff. the best take away is your commen sense approach & your great sense of humor about the entire child rearing experience (i wanted to say fiasco :))!

my girls are 17 & 22. it certainly does not get easier...the issues are just bigger & more dramatic, but the rewards are so very great.

love your blog & LOVED your book. you are doing a fantastic job on all fronts.

2:11 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Margarita Larrazabal said...

hey molly... i am not a parent, but i thoroughly enjoyed this post! it kinda makes me wish i was june and eating everything you are eating! haha! i am so glad you wrote this very endearing, helpful, and insightful post. i am going to share it to my parent friends. :)

2:30 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Lisa Jones said...

Kudos to you Molly - great article! My kids are teenagers now; your affirmation would have been very welcome when they were little. :-)

3:19 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous laurel said...

Our kiddos sound very similar in the food department and my husband and I take the same approach. We started with fruit and give him anything we eat. He loves bananas too and will cram handful after handful into his mouth, smile gleefully whilst somehow swallowing all of them, then bang on the table for more. He also is very particular about carrots…..which I think is so weird considering how much he loves sweet potatoes. He won't even eat food that has touched carrots.
My son is 10 months (we also live in Seattle…holla!) and I am quite amazed at how decisive he is when it comes to food. He's pretty stern about what he wants and doesn't. His appetite also wanes and waxes and what you said about how what works one day doesn't guarantee it will work the next….truth girl. That is the absolute truth.

4:00 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Loved this post. When my daughter, who is three now, first started eating solid foods I did lots of reading on the subject of pediatric nutrition. I LOVE "Hungry Monkey," and as a few people have already mentioned, your ideas align with Ellyn Satter's "Child of Mine" (which, I believe, is referenced in "Hungry Monkey"). We have had our ups and downs, but overall, like you, my goal is to make mealtimes an enjoyable experience! Really enjoyed reading your thoughts here today.

4:06 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Karen said...

I tried to heed your warning, but thought I'd be missing something. Indeed! Forwarding this to all the new mothers I know! It's reasonable like everything else you write. AND fun!!

5:08 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Stefanie said...

So love this! I have a 15 month old boy who was eating anything, but is starting to get picky. Keep the baby posts coming.

5:53 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Faith said...

Oh this is wonderful. I've followed your blog for a long time now and also follow on instagram. Food is such a tricky thing. I have a 4 year old who is slightly picky (meaning she knows what she likes and doesn't like) and a 2 year old who will always ask for "yuck" or yogurt and would eat buckets of it if allowed. you're doing great.

6:55 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous molly said...

pretty sure this post should be sent straight to the printer then distributed to new parents via every pediatrician, across the land.

also: please send sour gummies NOOOOWWWW....

7:01 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Maureen said...

Refreshingly normal approach to feeding a child. Listen to the child, don't praise nor scold. Brilliant advice for any new parent.

7:02 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Christina said...

As a soon to be new mom and also a recipe writer I really appreciate this post. Since you enjoy Whole Food recipes stop by my site www.Love-Fed.com.

7:55 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Carrie said...

This is a fantastic, heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing. I love hearing other parents' strategies and beliefs regarding feeding their kids. One thing I've discovered as a mom over the years (my oldest is 5, youngest 2) is that when they do enter a stage of relative pickiness, involving them in the cooking/food prep process seems to entice them to try foods they might not want to try if placed in front of them at the dinner table.

Also, as I realize I have two very different kids in terms of their preferred eating habits (one loves meals, the other is a grazer), I'm relaxing my perspective on the hows of eating. As long as they get what they need, nutrition-wise, I'm ok with stylistic differences...

8:54 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Beth said...

That was awesome. Except that I am now craving sour gummies and nerds. But in any event as a pediatrician who spend a lot of time talking to families about food, and their feeding relationship with their child, I LOVE this post. And wholeheartedly support. Kudos to you Molly on your life perspective and for sharing it with all of us!

9:04 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger Laura said...

I also do not have children (someday) - but I loved this post - I hope to one day have just such an attitude about food with my children.

(Also - I recently discovered there are all kinds of "sour gummies" recipes on the web using fruit juice and gelatin!)

Thanks for another wonderful post!

9:40 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger e. said...

June is really growing up, how fun! I also fed my daughter pretty much what we ate, but I love veggies and fruit so she too is a true Californian. Now that she is approaching her teens I find it amusing that she still won't really touch left overs, only fresh food!

9:49 PM, January 16, 2014  
Anonymous Jocelyn said...

I thought my son would continue nursing until he went to college. He stopped at about 3 years and started eating solids at 6 months. He's now a freshman in high school. My only child. We try to do right by our children and June is lovely.

10:37 PM, January 16, 2014  
Blogger linda said...

this was a fabulous post. My kids are now 32 and 26. For almost a year my older son would eat nothing but kraft mac & cheese and pizza - I think he was 2 1/2. I'm with you. Food can easily become a battlefield, not only with your kid, but with those around you who are appalled at your child's eating habits (my mom). He grew up just fine and is now, somewhat of a foodie.
June's gorgeous, so you are obviously doing something right :).
Cannot wait for the new book.

9:15 AM, January 17, 2014  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Love this. Your approach is very in line with Ellen Satter's (Feeding with Love and Good Sense) and what I try to do too. I just wish I had more time with two kiddos to cook!

10:59 AM, January 17, 2014  
Blogger Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I like your approach, but I have to say as a grandma that I just couldn't stop staring at the little cutey in the pictures...


1:52 PM, January 17, 2014  
Anonymous TIna said...

You have articulated my exact philosophy about feeding my toddler! Thanks so much. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

2:39 PM, January 17, 2014  
Blogger Amy Gabriel said...

Very good, common sense approach. And, might I add, June is adorable and has the hands of a musician--those long fingers!

4:04 PM, January 17, 2014  
Blogger Alyssa Smith said...

Excellent words! And what kids like always seems to be changing. Now, excuse me, I need to run up to Chuck's to take care of a sour gummi fixation...

4:20 PM, January 17, 2014  
Anonymous Kate in New York said...

Molly, while I don't have a kid, I hope to one day, and in the mean time, I think this post articulates very well a good approach to eating no matter how squeezable one's thighs or toussable one's hair. I hope it's not too heavy to say here, but I spent a large part of my college years struggling with an eating disorder and it has sharpened my ears to all the anxieties about "bad food" that is unfortunately so common. When I have a child, I want to impart the same attitude about food, as sustenance and pleasure and connection, as you so perfectly said. Thanks!

5:27 PM, January 17, 2014  
Blogger undeadgoat said...

What a lovely post! I'd like to come back to it in a few years, when (hopefully) I'll be trying to conceive . . . I've got Nina Planck's other book, I should read it as I've been pretty awful about my eating habits lately. In the meantime, I feel like I can't check a book about childrearing out at the library without getting a lot of strange looks . . . and heaven forfend it was visible by my bed if I invited a gentleman home!

7:08 PM, January 17, 2014  
Anonymous Rebekka said...

Great post. I have taken a very similar approach to feeding my daughter (19 mo). I laughed the whole time because it was like reading a snapshot of our daily food interactions. As a side note, your recipe for lentil soup (with lemon) from several years back has become a go-to for us....the little one love, love, loves it. Thank you for the great ideas and inspiration.

10:22 PM, January 17, 2014  
Blogger JaneH said...

Dear Molly,
You keep talking about Francis Lam's eggplant pasta sauce! I finally made it and I'm so glad because it is delicious. And it made my son like eggplant for the first time. Thank you to you and Francis Lam.

12:32 AM, January 18, 2014  
Blogger Gosia Winter said...

Yes :) That is exactly how I'm taking it for my little one, almost 14 months old now. She also gets food obsessions - for a week or so she wanted to eat 4 eggs each day! I really do believe that children have a sense of what their bodies need (in general at least).

5:06 AM, January 18, 2014  
Anonymous Bean said...

Molly, I have followed your blog for years and have never uttered a word.
My first words to you: THANK YOU!
My first food from your blog: oatmeal pancakes. My 2 and 5 year know the recipe by heart and help me make them every time there is buttermilk in our fridge.
Some of your entries really resonate and keep me tuning in for more.

7:11 AM, January 18, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am neither an expert on baby-feeding, nor a mother, but I am a long-time reader who greatly enjoyed this post.
I spent more than a decade battling a fierce eating disorder, and the thought of birthing children and trying to figure out how to feed them and teach them healthy relationships with food and their bodies terrifies me. I love your simple, real, whole foods approach, and am inspired to hopefully one day be able to teach the same.
Thank you for another lovely glimpse into your life!

10:42 AM, January 18, 2014  
Anonymous melissab said...

Super post!
I sorta did the same with my young ones, who are now old ones (ages 14 and 18). The are and have been very healthy kids/people. Also, I think "intuition/instinct" is under-rated. I do think it a very real thing, and not New-Agey. In fact, I think it Old-Agey :-) Seriously, I believe it's an aspect of ourselves to cultivate. Thanks for sharing. Also, I was gonna suggest avocado as an easy, nutritious and portable baby food....but, at the last minute, you gave us June's take on that. Have a good one!

11:34 AM, January 18, 2014  
Blogger Jena said...

Great post, Molly. Thanks for the bit about what your dr said. I know lots of moms who get really worked up about that. My daughter just turned three. My son is nearly 3mo, and time is passing so fast--in just another few short months, we'll be giving him his first solids, too. He might be more into them than his sister was; she really didn't want to ingest anything other than breastmilk until well past her first birthday, though she'd try things (more to make us happy, I think). She likes eating food as she "helps" me make supper; she prefers her veggies raw and won't touch pizza (but loves crusts) or most soups. When she's barely eaten anything all day & refuses what we're eating for supper, she'll usually agree to eat a bowl of frozen peas or canned beans, which is her dad's go-to quick meal.

11:48 AM, January 18, 2014  
Anonymous anie said...

This is fabulous! I didn't know about the Nina Planck book, so thank you for that. It sounds like you are doing a great job with your wee babe~I've always tried to keep the fridge and cupboards stocked with choices that my kids could eat~meaning, nothing in there they couldn't eat. This has (seemed) to help them build confidence in making good choices~they decide what they are hungry for and self select. So far, so good. They are all healthy, great eaters who love their veggies!

5:23 PM, January 18, 2014  
Blogger MCC said...

Thank you for this wise post. I have two daughters in their mid-20s. One was a wide-ranging eater from the get-go (feta cheese and brussels sprouts when she was a tiny thing, for example). The other was most particular and very sensitive to odors and textures of foods. Just looking at some foods and imagining the texture could make her gag. It was tough to maintain perspective while fending off well-meaning folks of an older generation who pushed me to make her to eat things (or quantities) that I knew were not what she would or could tolerate. I didn't cave -- and it was the source of some serious family disharmony for a long time. My girl ate only orange foods for the longest damn time -- most of the way through elementary school. And then, one day, as a middle schooler, she went with me for lunch to an Indian restaurant, where she tasted curry (admittedly, pretty close to an orange food). She exclaimed, "Mom, is this what food REALLY tastes like? What have I been missing?!" She's been making up for it ever since -- eating all manner of foods, working in ethnic restaurants, interning on an organic farm, and now working for a farmers market. She's healthy, happy and has a great relationship with food. It just needed to be her choice, in her own time.

8:07 PM, January 18, 2014  
Anonymous Aline said...

Molly, this was one of the best articles I've ever read about feeding your child. It was so non-judgemental and so wise at the same time.
My daughter is going to be 3 at the end of April and she is such a picky eater. My husband and I are very adventurous eaters and very committed to eating a whole foods, sustainable, Michael Pollan-esque diet and our daughter would rather starve than try some roasted veggies.
I do realize now that I made some mistakes which I am sure contributed to her being so picky. We were terrified of her choking on something. She has a very developed gag-reflex and wouldn't even eat a Cheerio without gagging until she was over a year old. So I made her all her baby food, pureed everything and that's still how she mostly eats fruits and veggies - pureed into a smooth sauce or in those fruit pouches. Every meal was a fight, we were so frustrated all the time.
When she turned two I talked to my pediatrician about it and she told me exactly what you said - don't fight her. Put whatever you cook in front of her and let her decide to eat what she wants. Don't give her other food. We did that and she didn't eat dinner for maybe two months. Now we are finally at a point where she will try some things and actually like a few healthy foods and even if she doesn't always have much of our dinner, she at least tries it.
Luckily she's always liked avocados, egss and bananas so those are an almost daily part of her diet (and mine too because I love it too) but it's still hard.
I am pregnant with no 2 and I will definitely take more of a "baby-led-weaning" approach with no 2 - also because I simply won't have the time to puree and make all that extra food for her.
I think "not making a big deal" out of what she eats and what she doesn't eat is probably the best advice I ever got. Kids are pretty resilient.

7:08 AM, January 19, 2014  
Anonymous Jen said...

I loved reading this post. My baby is 14 months & we feed him very much the way you feed June. One of his favorite foods is your Chana Masala…he can't get enough of it!

10:06 AM, January 19, 2014  
Anonymous Colleen said...

I love reading your posts, no matter the topic. I don't have children but have watched my twin nephews (now 6) develop their appetites since they could first eat solid food. My sister started them early on things like plain yogurt, brussel sprouts and black beans, which they happily eat today. What they like and don't like seems to constantly change. Just watch the brussel sprouts though. During one zoo day adventure, one got hidden in my car after a snack bag overturned. Two days later the odor inside my car was nasty!!

10:49 AM, January 19, 2014  
Blogger tina BossaNova said...

hello molly! i just finished your book and couldn't not comment on your "hate" for secret recipes...
i have a restaurant and always gave recipes away freely whenever someone asked, much to the disappointment of my kitchen staff who thought i was off my rocker! until one fateful day when one rude old bugger practically demanded i give him our recipe for muhamara, a recipe i myself got off the net. much as i wanted i didn't feel as if i could refuse until he told me he also has a restaurant not far from mine! well, that coupled with his bad manners made it a lot easier to say no, and sorry but...
he then proceeded to cuss me out (really!) and so i felt vindicated for refusing. however i could never really right myself with the idea of saying no to anyone. somehow it just didn't seem fair but i couldn't really say why, until i read your book! honestly, i am grateful to you for explaining what i felt but couldn't express. now i can stand behind my desire to give them all away happily, and i gotta say it's such a relief!

10:54 AM, January 19, 2014  
Blogger Beth said...

Me too! Thank you for sharing. :)

3:38 PM, January 19, 2014  
Anonymous Kacie said...

I loved reading this. We have used the "French Kids" approach with our daughter, which I've written a ton about on my blog... and it sounds pretty similar to yours. I'm excited to order a copy of Real Food to read. Our older daughter did wonderfully with the French Kids method but we didn't start it until she was about 18 months. Our baby girl is 8 months and seems neither here nor there with food. She likes to nurse. Ha. I've looked a bit at the Baby Led Weaning and it sounds similar. I love the idea that food is food. Our kids eat what we eat. It's wonderful. Cooking, eating, sharing... they are such important parts of what we (referring to myself and my husband) are doing as parents and hopefully we are setting our babes up for an adventurous and fulfilling food life! Thank you for taking the time to write about this.


9:22 PM, January 19, 2014  
Anonymous Annie said...

You're brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

9:24 PM, January 19, 2014  
Anonymous Kate Sonders Food Writer said...

This is incredible. Molly, I hope you realize how incredibly fortunate you are that your daughter has such a flexible palate at such a young age. We "feed" our 3 year old son that which we're eating, and it is very touch and go. He loves flavor and spice, yet hates texture and has developed a lot of irrational food fears. Keep doing what you are doing! Hopefully her "picky switch" will remain off!

9:37 AM, January 20, 2014  
Blogger Maggie said...

This was great! Thanks. I have some of the same ideas for feeding my daughter, and it's great to read some affirmation.

6:57 PM, January 20, 2014  
Anonymous Edie said...

You are such a good mama. A natural. June is going to be amazing. Like you.

7:52 PM, January 20, 2014  
Blogger Christian Simple said...

So Cute and I love reading your post. It make sense. God Bless!

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11:53 PM, January 20, 2014  
Anonymous Kristin said...

You are very wise. And hang onto that "what is true today might not be true tomorrow" attitude. You will almost certainly need it again & again!

4:26 AM, January 21, 2014  
Blogger ashley said...

This is EXACTLY how we approach food with Huxley. Completely and totally the same. And now, at 3 years and some change, he eats everything. You just have to follow your gut with kiddos and food, you know? Oh, you know. You totally know.

1:00 PM, January 21, 2014  
Blogger Kristen said...

I'm not a parent, but I love your philosophy. And I just saw this article that totally supports it:


1:48 PM, January 21, 2014  
Anonymous 10 legs in the kitchen said...

I have to say, coming from a parent to dogs, not kids, I really enjoyed reading this no nonsense, humerous account of feeding June. I have been a silent reader of your writing for years and am inspired and humbled by your every post.

3:36 PM, January 21, 2014  
Blogger Mish Fong said...

That was terrific!
And so is your lovely family. Thanks for sharing Molly.

6:58 PM, January 21, 2014  
Anonymous JamieB said...

I am always interested in how other mothers feed their kids. I'm working on getting my kids (2 & 4) away from eating "kid food". Some days are easier than others. But I agree with you in that children need real food. Right now they are loving your recipe for Minced Beef, with lots of lime. I've always loved your perspective on food and eating, thanks for posting!

7:08 AM, January 22, 2014  
Blogger anon said...

Love this! We are raising twins who are almost 1 and it is so easy to get frustrated when one gobbles up everything in front of him and the other moves food from his tray over to brother's...yet they weigh the exact same! So apparently they get what they need.

10:09 AM, January 22, 2014  
Blogger Valerie Barber said...

Your daughter is so cute! I love your approach to feeding babies. Your blog is super-cool. Thanks and please keep writing.

10:40 AM, January 22, 2014  
Anonymous Terry Covington said...

As the mother of 3 now-grown daughters in their 20s, I felt like cheering when I read your post. People feed babies too much too soon many times now, with cereal put in bottles to help them sleep through the night, and things that really are not that great for the baby. I followed pretty much what you do -- mostly common sense, not forcing them to finish something, letting their own hunger guide how much they ate. We went through picky days and really eat-a-lot days. I myself have struggled with being overweight, and so I did not talk about "diets" or do things that I thought would lead them to be preoccupied with their own weights. They are all now healthy, normal weight adults, and all of them (even the really picky kid) love to cook. You obviously have a happy, healthy kid, and that's what counts the most. :-)

1:05 PM, January 22, 2014  
Blogger Rachel Kate said...

Love this post! Our approach to baby- and toddler-eating is also strongly influenced by both Hungry Monkey and Nina Planck's books. I found lots to like in Karen Le Billon's French Kids Eat Everything, too. Our kid loves Brandon's pizza, too. (Delancey was her very first pizza experience!) Thanks for sharing your perspective--and those adorable photos!

1:32 PM, January 22, 2014  
Blogger Vanessa Vite said...

I do not have a baby but hope to one day... I just wanted to say that I just adored this post and wanted to thank you so very much for every post you write as they are always insightful, lovely, and is a highlight of my day. Thank you

3:43 PM, January 22, 2014  
Anonymous Sheila@Chinaberry said...

What a level-headed approach to feeding June. I sure appreciate your ideas.

5:00 PM, January 22, 2014  
Anonymous deepsrecipes said...

Hey thr,
First time here. Great blog !Lot of well wishers.Really appreciate ,Molly.Your babe is so adorable!

9:43 PM, January 22, 2014  
Anonymous Dana said...

I adore this post! I have almost 4 weeks to go and just so ready to meet my baby girl! Natural foods are important to me and for baby but on the same token, nothing wrong with the not-so-good stuff either. I love your take on this topic and I'm looking forward to introducing her to many different smells/textures/and tastes and having fun with it. :)

6:39 AM, January 23, 2014  
Anonymous Vals said...

I have an 8 and a 5 year old. They eat anything from lamb chops, roast duck (their favorite), Brussel sprouts and the like. We have been lucky and have had no allergies. My approach to food has been similar to yours: keep it low key, do not make it grounds for battle or grounds for praise and give something new a try at least 15 times before proclaiming defeat. Also, cooking from scratch, tasty meals helps. One thing I have never done was to rush and cook a second dish for my kids when they did not like their main meal. Whatever I cooked for us they ate and if they didn't, it meant they were not hungry. And yes, my kids have gone to bed on occasion with no dinner when they did not want to eat. Guess what, they were fine and stopped asking for a dish of Mac and cheese instead of the stew I had made. My (non-American) pediatrician recommended early on to skip baby food and just give them what we cooked for ourselves. It has paid off. Love your blog, by the way. Many dishes are a staple in our house with your granola mixes being a must in my pantry.

2:27 PM, January 23, 2014  
Anonymous Vanessa said...

Molly, I'm not a mother and do not have children but I got so much enjoyment from reading the paragraph of foods that June has tried and likes to eat!

6:06 PM, January 23, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like most things, the best way to lead is by setting a good example. My husband and I are adventurous eaters and we are very proud of the fact that our kids, 12 and 10, will try anything. They may not especially like everything, but they will at least try it. We have instilled in them that food is an adventure. And we let them know that we are proud of them for being adventurous. We never prepare special meals. Everyone eats what has been prepared for the family. It's far too easy for parents to fall into the trap of cooking for the pickiest eater. So far, it has worked well for us. Good luck with your precious little one. She sure is cute!!

8:50 PM, January 23, 2014  
Anonymous Karina said...

Great pictures!! Took me back to my children's toddler years! Thanks for sharing!!

10:18 AM, January 24, 2014  
OpenID T. Crockett said...

I bet you'd enjoy the Dinner: A Love Story blog.

2:51 PM, January 24, 2014  
Blogger Heidi Johnson said...

I read your post although my kids are 23 and 28 and I don't need to worry about these matters any more. I love your honesty, approach, and humility. I wish more parents could see that their decisions and approaches are right for them without having to push them on others or judge what others are doing differently. And, I love your approach. It was pretty much mine and my grown up boys are "good eaters" although one does have a major sweet-tooth.

6:16 PM, January 24, 2014  
Blogger Margo said...

Great post. June is so adorable and enthusiastic in these photos!

My kids are 5 and 8 and great eaters. I think the biggest thing we did (tip from my best friend) was to not react to any likes/dislikes, to stay dispassionate and unaffected. Like you were saying. And to feed them everything we were eating.

7:26 PM, January 25, 2014  
Blogger rb and jaw said...

That last photo is frickin hilarious! Saddest thing since finding out I'm allergic to wheat (aside from now being "one of Those People"): not going to Delancey anymore. I literally cried the first night for that reason. Xo

7:29 PM, January 25, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most important thing you've said here, to me, is to let HER choose how much to eat. So simple, but such healthy advice that nips all sorts of present and future issues right in the bud! Thanks so much. Funny how common sense can elude us in the most practical moments...haha

3:47 PM, January 26, 2014  
Anonymous Britt said...

Molly what a wonderful read! I have a 3-and-half year old and my approach was really similar to yours - offering foods but never commenting on what he choose to eat. Now that he's older, he asks for his fair share of lollipops - but just this morning, he picked out his own breakfast - sesame tofu, roasted garbanzos and a carrot. I was so proud that I commented on a blog about it ;)

7:36 AM, January 27, 2014  
Anonymous spsprd said...

Molly, You should know that "Approximately A Soup" has figured heavily in my life and in a recent blog post at http://unrulygardener.me

Yours Truly,
Totally Addicted

6:43 AM, January 29, 2014  
OpenID LA Friday said...

Molly, this post is brilliant. If every parent ascribed to your views on feeding a child, food issues would disappear. When my daughter was growing up, we had one rule: you had to taste the food. If she didn't like a food, I prepared something else. As a kid, I was held hostage at the dinner table until I cleaned my plate--or sent to bed without supper. I did not like milk, but my mother fretted over it and found ways to get it into me. Turned out I was very sensitive to milk. Our bodies (even very little ones) know what they need, want, and desire.

10:43 AM, January 29, 2014  
Anonymous Kimberley said...

I just love love love this. (As a person with no kids.) It speaks to how we should all eat, I think. Feels so strong and intuitive and right.

9:44 PM, January 29, 2014  
Anonymous Evie said...

This post was such an enjoyable read! Thank you for sharing this part of your life and experience as a parent. June is SO cute :)

10:16 PM, January 30, 2014  
Blogger Diana Silva said...

Love your approach! Do the same with my 18 month old, who by the way loves your oat pancakes

11:59 AM, January 31, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across this blog by a "science mom" and found it interesting. It's about babies being able to digest starch. I thought you/your readers may want to read through it...hope you find it useful.


9:36 AM, February 12, 2014  
Blogger Melissa said...

Thank you so much for deciding to write this post. I am so happy to read that I am not alone in the fact that my son prefers to eat fruit, milk and meat (plus carbs). Oh the meat eating, my son is a true carnivore. He will even eat fish.
I love your whole approach to feeding June, I take the same approach but I didn't find the peace this approach brings until my son was about 13 months and stopped eating anything green. I fretted constantly over it, and I wish I had just let go sooner but I guess we all have to find our own way in our own time. Thank you again, I really enjoyed reading this and seeing some pictures of June!

11:17 AM, February 17, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! It reminds le ro relax a bit. This is my personal philosophy, though with the addition that four year olds (my oldest) can handle to be told they have to sit on their chair and eat more than one spoon of the dinner. But, beeing monitored by nurses and doctors telling you your kid is not gaining bought weight, by far, (my youngest) can make anyone stressed out and act against your own gut feeling. Like, ok, i know i should not coax her, but come on, they are going to weigh her tomorrow! And will not care very much that she is full of energy, not picky and generally happy and active (yes, the climbing type of toddler). Only that she is not following the expected curve for her birth weight. I need this reminder. Hey, she loves beans, why should she not get them just because some dietician says she needs more energy, at least if she eats beans she eats something.

11:27 PM, March 01, 2014  
Blogger Annika Velji said...

"Whatever is true today may not be true tomorrow." That pretty much nails it! By the way, our girls were playing together a little bit at the zoo today, and it just hit me that it was you as I was reading this article! She's a sweet baby. :)

6:15 PM, March 25, 2014  

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