One of my biggest Eureka moments in this journey was while reading the Karen Le Billon book French Kids Eat Everything .. where she explains that the ENTIRE country of France does not snack outside of meals and only once! in the day!! during the afternoon Goûter (snack time) ..hmmm? what! only once a day? ..what!
Fast forward to the now and with some old fashioned patience ..we have been freed from the bondage of THE CRACKER! No crackers ..no chips ..just fruit fruit and fruit for his snacktime ..and occasionally some roasted nuts. My little guy rarely ever asks for crackers. A huge bonus is that he actually comes to the table with an appetite and going out requires one less thing to organize ..never-ending snacks! I am not going to lie, it is awesome ..and I find my brain a little bit less cluttered because of it. Whenever I get nervous about him needing a snack constantly throughout the day ..I just remind myself that if the entire Country of France can do it ..then so can I and so can my little boy..
DISCLAIMER : I have not become a total Dictator ..when we are with family or friends for play dates and everyone is sharing I don't say no to extra snacks and when I am preparing lunch/dinner I occasionally take a nibble and if my boy asks for a little taste when his curiosity is piqued by the daily lovely smells of cooking then I pull a stool up to the counter and get him to help cut up or stir and have a little taste! ...this is the perfect opportunity for him to taste some nibbles of veggies and other foods in a fun and curious way aside from the dinner table too.
-If the offered fruit snack is refused and as I edged toward dinner he was howling ..I would offer some salted roasted nuts like cashew (a bonus of cashew is that it is a very soft nut to easily crunch up, my little boy is almost three and a half and he still has No back molars grrrr) ..I find a little bowl of roasted nuts help stave off hunger while also providing excellent protein and doesn't totally kill the appetite.
-when my boy is a little older and the list of foods he willingly eats keeps growing I will start providing a higher calorie content in his afternoon snack ..but for now his refusal of foods and little appetite is the perfect time to keep to a fruit only snack time ..and has much to my surprise benefited in him learning to love many varieties of fruits.
-I offer a challenging new fruit to taste(kiwi) on a day when he didn't have a challenging lunch ..balance has been the key.
-a few months after I had totally weeded out the struggles with crackers I was able to reintroduce it using the cracker only after meals to get my son to learn to love and taste a great variety of local Artisan -and- European cheese (in my previous post -FOR THE LOVE OF CHEESE-)
-I rarely let him call the shots for snack time so that he doesn't think he is in control ..and because of all of the lovely fruits he is now receiving I don't feel like he is loosing out ..I do plan to let him become more involved when he is a bit older..
-I offer him his fruit twice a day ..a smaller portion in the morning at 9:30am ..and the second at 3pm everyday the goal being sometime smack in the middle between lunch and dinner time!
-I only offer one fruit not a mixture so that he can really get the full flavour and texture experience of each individual fruit ..I do however plan to offer him fruit combos in the future ..I also find -much to my annoyance- that if I offer two choices he only picks at one and leaves the other fruit untouched...
-Chocolate! I have not yet tried this one but my friend used chocolate fondue for dipping into as a trick to get her little ones to try new fruit flavours ..then reintroduce the fruit sans chocolate a few days later..
-I quietly place his fruits next to him while he is playing or sit him down to Story Time and have it already there ...quietly presented without any fanfare ..I find when I would point it out to him he was always ready with a quick "NO! "
-Cute little mini plastic forks (I have seen some incredibly cute mini shapes and animal forks online) or toothpicks and fun animal shaped bowls are a great little "invitation" to just get that important initial taste of a new fruit..
-Before he would happily accept his fruit snack I found the best opportunities to get him to taste and actually eat! fruit was when he was thirsty and had just exerted a lot of energy -For Example- when he was still in his stroller and I would walk him home everyday after a nice long play in the park or in the car ride home after playing at the pool, I would put the fruit snack into large ziplock bags so he could easily hold it and reach in for a refreshing taste..
-Early on in his total fruit refusals I would offer mostly raisins in the large ziplock bags (he has always loved raisins) and just 2 or 3 little pieces of fruit ..and in time he started to eat it all and I would slowly add more fruit and less raisins..
These days he asks me for apples or grapes or mangoes (his favorites) when he is hungry ..a 360degree turn from his total refusal of fruit and the dark days of "the cracker wars"!
..and here is an example of some of the fresh and dried fruits and nuts that my little guy is currently enjoying ..