in true first-time parent fashion, we made a few mistakes with carter. one of the biggest was allowing him to choose what he eats at meals. i feel like it started innocently enough when he was a baby and not able to eat the things that we were having. but then it just kept going. not really out of conscious choice even, it was just easy and sort of happened.
fast forward and the kid is now a few months away from being 4 and it's high time he learns to expand his menu. honestly, as a family, we are on the picky side anyways so it's not like the kid is going to be forced to eat outlandish things. we are talking simple things here--tacos, hamburgers, grilled chicken. one of the biggest obstacles we have faced since he started eating food is that he does not like pasta. at all. like none. no macaroni and cheese, no spaghetti, no lasagna, nothing. which does limit us somewhat, but oh well.
so we have started either making him eat what we are having if it is something reasonable that we know he has eaten in the past. i refuse to force him to eat thing that i KNOW he just doesn't like because i had to as a child and well, it's just mean. if it's something we know he doesn't like, like pasta, we will give him 2 choices of alternatives that are also off of his normal menu, but he usually does have to at least try and take one bite of the pasta anyways. if he doesn't eat, then he doesn't eat. and let me tell you, he has not eaten a meal many times in the recent weeks. it's no sweat off my back if i don't have to cook something extra for him anymore. if he wants to go to bed hungry, then so be it. if he chooses not to eat what is offered, he can have water only until he either eats it or it's morning. so there. we are meanies and my child is starving.
side note: one would think that skipping so many meals might reduce one's weight a bit, but that hasn't seemed to be the case for my 51-pound 3 year old :-)