Subplot
The Decision Is In

In Which I Go Total Mommyblogger Up On Your Ass

Shh. Come here. Slowly. Casually. 

God. Seriously. BE COOL. ACT NATURAL.

I need to tell you something but I'm absolutely terrified I'm going to jinx myself and ruin everything, so I'm going to type it out very s-l-o-w-l-y and s-o-f-t-l-y and hope that maybe the vengeful gods above are too distracted right now to pelt my ass with lightning bolts.

(And yes, it IS also Invent Your Own Hodgepodge-y Religious Deities Day today. Thanks for asking.)

So we appear to have stumbled upon a solution to Noah's picky eating habits. 

And by "picky" I should clarify: This child has eaten NOTHING since his first birthday. In fact, he has continued to ruthlessly edit down his list of acceptable foods ever since, meaning that up until a few weeks ago he would willingly eat ONLY the following:

1. Dry Cheerios

2. Plain toasted waffles

3. Peanut butter & jelly, though he usually opened the sandwich, licked off the peanut butter and left the rest

4. Grilled cheese, except for the "cheese" part

5. Pizza, but only the crust

6. Individually wrapped cereal bars

7. Frosting

And that, my friends, was seriously it. No fruits, no vegetables, no meats. There were, once, a handful of other foods he'd occasionally eat, that have dropped off the list one by one. He rejected macaroni and cheese, for Christ's sake. I became the mother who would have been THRILLED to see my child agree to eat a damn chicken nugget or hamburger or french fry. I hid traces of pureed fruits and vegetables and beans in whatever I could, but seriously, look at at that list. My subterfuge options were quite limited, at best. The kid drank a LOT of homemade smoothies, packed full of dubious combinations like...apple juice, pineapple chunks and frozen broccoli, which he would drink no problem. But put any of those ingredients in front of him, in solid form? Forget about it. 

We read books. We ate as a family. We ignored him. We refused to short-order cook and did the whole "division of responsibility" thing where we placed food in front of him and that was that. Well, except for the histrionics and wailing that accompanied every meal. And the no eating. He skipped meal after meal knowing that he'd eventually make it to breakfast where he could get some Cheerios.

We tried playing hardball. We pushed and insisted and threatened and re-served rejected foods over and over. He threw tantrums and whined and was sent to bed early night after night, and it solved nothing except for further entrenching everybody into a miserable battle of wills. 

We tried peer pressure and bribery and "just one bite" and a good five dozen other tactics that YOU KNOW aren't going to work but the tactics everybody SAYS will work aren't working and it's driving you crazy because OH MY GOD, the buttons this kid manages to push at dinnertime when all you want in the world is for him to EAT SOMETHING. BESIDES CARBS. AND AIR.

Another problem, besides how incredibly limited his diet was, was that Noah was a s-t-a-l-l-e-r, even when he was served an acceptable or favorite food. Meals stretched on for h-o-u-r-s, or until we gave up and dumped his plate. He sat and sang and turned around and flopped upside-down off the edge of his chair and pretended the spoon was the Millennium Falcon and ate at a rate of one bite per 20 minutes. 

This meant he was frequently getting hustled onto the school bus at 12:15 with only a third of his sandwich eaten -- the sandwich he was originally served over an hour before. This meant dinnertime was a constant nag-fest as Jason and I attempted to keep him focused and on task and EAT, NOAH. TAKE A BITE. 

One night, during a torturous meal of spaghetti and meatballs (translation: practically naked-from-sauce noodles, one sad little turkey meatball that I put on his plate like always, knowing it will be pointedly ignored but "they" tell you to "keep trying!", and a metric ton of parmesan cheese that he deigned to eat granule by granule)...I got frustrated with the stalling and told him I was going to set the timer on the oven. He had 30 minutes. If he finished before that, we'd have time to do something fun, like watch a movie or play a game or have some dessert. He could choose, too.

If he didn't finish, or at least come close, I'm sorry, you're going straight to bed. BECAUSE YOU HAVE A TERRIBLE WITCH OF A MOTHER WHO STILL MAKES BATCHES AND BATCHES OF PUREED BABY FOOD EVERY WEEKEND TO HIDE IN YOUR MEALS AND STAVE OFF SCURVY AND RICKETS.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that child ate every bite of spaghetti. And then he ate the meatball.

In between bites, he would ask how many minutes he had left, nod appreciatively, then get back to the task at hand.

The next night, I upped the challenge with some fish sticks. Noah has never eaten fish in his entire life, nor any meat or vegetable or foodstuff "cleverly" covered up with delicious crunchy breading. (Meanwhile, Ezra prefers them with a nice spicy cocktail sauce.) I put a plate in front of him, and set the timer again.

Five of 'em, down the hatch, like it was no big thing. "I like these!" he announced.

Since then, Noah has eaten -- WITHOUT PROTEST OR ASSORTED STURM AND DRANG -- rotisserie chicken, steamed peas, roast pork loin, mashed sweet potatoes, bison chili loaded with extra vegetables, chicken nuggets, a tzatziki and chopped tomato pita sandwich, spinach linguine and the inside actual cheese part of a grilled cheese sandwich. 

Since the fact that he couldn't see the timer seemed to cause a wee bit of anxiety, we upgraded (with his occupational therapist's advice) to a visual Time Timer clock, which allows him to see exactly how long he has left. His beloved Ms. Meredith uses this to help him with transitions and focusing problems during their sessions, so it seems to have positive connotations for him, and holy mother of Timex, he continues to eat anything and everything we put in front of him. 

Is it still, at the core, bribery? Yeah, I guess. He does indeed get to choose "something special" when all is said and eaten and done. Some nights it's a cookie, or a lightsaber duel on the Wii, or a boardgame, or a DVD. Which are exactly the things we LIKE doing with him after dinner ANYWAY...but were all precisely the things we weren't doing all those nights he spent sitting at the table for two hours moaning over a plate of pasta, or the nights he was sent to his room for throwing a massive tantrum over our refusal to serve him peanut butter and jelly 27 meals in a row. 

In other words, I DON'T CARE. I WIN AT EVERYTHING. I bet u r jelus like a 23-month-old at his big brother's bday party, amirite?

Noah-5th-bday-1

Noah-5th-bday-2

Noah-5th-bday-3

Noah-5th-bday-4

Noah-5th-bday-5

Noah-5th-bday-6

(Yeah, these photos were a stretch in relevancy. But I am feeling gleeful and reckless. I'M CRAZY, MAN. DRUNK WITH TIMER POWER.)

(OH SHIT LIGHTNING BOLTS EVERYBODY DUCK.)

 

Comments

baltimoregal

That? IS AWESOME! My parents never did figure out the secret with my picky brother- it took him until college! (Of course, now he eats salad, sushi, etc.)
I think you may just rule.

Kathryn

Go you! Glad to hear it!

mswas

Damn straight I'm jelus. I'm using the timer tonight for my SEVEN YEAR OLD!

Natalie

That's awesome! My parents totally used the timer on me when I was a kid. I don't know that I was especially picky, but I was definitely slow. And stubborn.

Good for you!

nina

I have used the power of the timer in other situations, and it is, indeed, magical. I don't know what it is that gives it this wonderful ability to affect kids, but no matter what it is I want from my guy, if I set the timer first, it is far more likely to get done. Congrats!

Suzanne

Excellent!

My picky eater gravitates towards white food. White. Except for broccoli, that is.

When I deconstruct unfamiliar foods, he tends to try it. (same chicken as in the chicken nuggets, same cheese as in the grilled cheese, etc)

At 14, he finally decided about six months ago that he likes salad, as long as it has Thousand Island dressing. That's the one thing I won't deconstruct. Once he realizes it has pickles in it-I'm screwed.

kat f.

i want to cheer out loud but i am surrounded by people. i am cheering inside. yay! i hope it lasts!

Mary Beth (Cats, Books, Life is Good)

I don't think it's bribing at all - just re-labeling your after dinner activities! Besides, as long as Noah is eating, who cares?

Ezra looks just like my youngest brother did at his (next oldest) brother's 6th birthday when he was so jealous, especially when the birthday boy got a Matchbox car of the General Lee. He went stamping upstairs calling everyone a "bad pig!" - his worst possible curse:)

Jenn

My SIL has to do the same thing with our nieces because it turns out that she and her husband have other things to do than sit at the dinner table for 3 hours.

jodifur

Not really related (but related to the picture)Michael is DYING for that R2D2 play dough set. He just saw it in the store and begged. If he knew Noah had it he would start again with NOAH HAS ALL THE COOL TOYS.

Amy

Amazing! I love that he even tried bison chili with extra vegs!

Tracy

Totally trying this with my super picky boy!!!!! Excited for you guys!

G.G.R

Fuck yes dude!!

Miss Grace

I must try this.

Stacy

I am impressed at the foods that Noah will now eat. Not a little jealous because my son will try none of this (and the timer won't solve my problem). But mostly wanting to eat supper at your house. The food sounds awesome.

Mo

Aha! Must be a cosmic agenda to reveal the magic of oven timers to exasperated moms! I recently discovered the oven timer could replace me as the messenger that my 4 year old's Wii time is up. Strangely, when the oven timer delivers the dreaded news, kid turns off the Wii and comes upstairs nonchalantly. If I deliver the news, the wrath and fury is unrelenting. Hurray for over timers!

The Other Laura

Wonderful!

Clarabella

Bravo. You are a certified genius!
And I am stealing your strategy of both smoothies AND the timer!

Susan

Dude was hungry...

Roberta

Fucking genius. BRAVO, LADY!

Gina

OMG! That's awesome! We've got the same problem with our son, and have had for years now. We're SO trying this at my house now. I sure hope it works. Thank you, Amalah.

eve

You just described every meal with my 6 year old son. I'm going to buy a timer right now!

Roberta

BTW, I don't think it's bribery. I think it's structure and a concrete expectation/rule. Noah seems to work well with that in other ways, so why not this? YOU ARE STILL A TOTAL FUCKING GENIUS (should anyone doubt).

The Domestic Goddess

Damn.That's freaking amazing. Even after visiting a feeding clinic our kid didn't eat that well. Until one night I was all, "The hell with you. I'm sitting and eating, I don't care if you eat pretzels for dinner." And then he proceded to down an entire steak. I kid you not. Golly ned, we were stoked.

Sprite's Keeper

A timer, huh? Okay, Amy, I will try this tonight. My little picky eater has picked one too many fights and I'm looking for better options than Parents magazine approved "been there done that bought the book" techniques.

Elizabeth

Kudos! How exciting.

Also? "Since then, Noah has eaten -- WITHOUT PROTEST OR ASSORTED STURM AND DRANG -- rotisserie chicken, steamed peas, roast pork loin, mashed sweet potatoes, bison chili loaded with extra vegetables, chicken nuggets, a tzatziki and chopped tomato pita sandwich, spinach linguine and the inside actual cheese part of a grilled cheese sandwich"

You guys eat better than Mike and I do, and that is just feeding us. Not trying to please two little ones. Can we come over?

Jaelithe

From one mother of a (formerly) pathologically picky eater to another:

Anyone who would criticize you for bribing your child to eat healthy food needs to shut up until they have walked a mile in your shoes.

Also, I tried this timer thing on my kid and in our case it totally didn't work (he got much too anxious about the timer and focused on the ticking clock instead of the food). But bribing him to try new things by promising a chocolate chip as a reward for each bite did, slowly but surely, broaden his diet significantly. AND I AM NOT ASHAMED.

My kid eats sushi now, people. My kid who at one point wouldn't even eat Cheerios because they were too adventurous.

Of course, he still takes an hour and a half to finish dinner. Sigh.

Alicia

Hooray for the Time Timer clock and your ingenuity! Also, I love that Ezra has the palate of an old worldly traveler.

bethany actually

HOORAY for stumbling onto solutions! HIGH FIVE for mamas (and dads) who will keep trying and trying and trying and trying even when they would rather bash their heads against a bricks wall! And wow, the list of foods he'll suddenly eat and like...that is so awesome! I'm grinning ear to ear. Good news like this is so welcome. :-)

Cara

That's awesome, Amy! I'm definitely going to have to try this because my 5 year old won't eat a vegetable to save his life (except sweet potatoes) and is constantly demanding that we make him a pbj for dinner.

Erin

That's great! I still remember being willing to eat things I didn't like (but now love) in order to get the cookie after dinner.

My kid is only 8 months, but I was a terrible eater when I was little so I'm just waiting for the karmic revenge to hit.

JB

Yay!! I'm so glad for u that it worked! I'm totally filing away that idea.

Liana (Suburban Mom)

Just have to say - I love your blog. You consistently make me laugh like a hyena at work - on those days when I'm not doing the ugly scrunchy face, trying not to cry at work because of your posts! Your boys are adorable and you are GENIUS!

Kailee

My parents once used the timer trick to get me to practice the piano when I was seven. I was rewarded with things like an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen or a video rental.

But, I hated the piano. So, one evening, while I practiced for the designated 30 minutes, I used my little brother's Fisher Price tape recorder to make a recording of my practice. I had a brilliant idea of just playing that tape while I would sneak off to play My Little Ponies in my room. The flaw in the plan? The fact that the piano could be seen from the kitchen and the living room.

In the end, it worked out for me. My parents soon saw that piano lessons were a waste of money. So, I GUESS I SHOWED THEM!

But, back to your post, WAY TO GO! Seriously, that is an awesome breath-through. Also, um, when did Noah become a KID? He looks so grown-up in those photos!

Julie

I hope you had the biggest sense of, "Dang. That was a great idea I just had. I rock".
Good for you! That has to be a huge weight off your shoulders for the time being! I hope Noah will start to realize how much better he feels all day when he has a decent amount of food in his tums, and he will keep it up!

Cheryl S.

Hooray for Noah! AND -- I may totally steal this idea! Basically, all my daughter wants to eat is junk food, mac and cheese and chicken noodle soup. I wonder if the timer would help?

Leah

OHMIGOSH, I love this!!! I have been dealing with meals like you describe with my two-year-old lately, and I think this may help!! You are fabulous - thank you!

Jeannie

Yay! I luckily cannot relate to the food struggles.... I have the opposite problem, my kids eat everything in site! (which might sound awesome, but really is not)

Shannon

God that just makes so much sense. I'm thinking it's not the meals that bothered him at all but the unstructured time.

jenny

Awesome, good for you! Wow. That initial list of things he would deign to eat is awfully familiar, down to the parmesan.
My ten year old has finally gotten a little better with his list, he will eat any part of the pig as long as it is salt cured and smoked. And he'd always drink milk, so I felt like if I could get protein down I was doing pretty good. But now we have braces, which has totally thrown his approved food list for a loop, and we're back to not eating much at all. Sigh.

judi

i'm just curious... do you know why this works? what's the reason that knowing the time both focuses him on eating and yet simultaneously distracts him from complaining about the foods... it's kind of fascinating to me.

i don't specifically remember being a picky eater but i do remember that i hated drinking milk. my mom would frequently play a sort of number game with me, where she'd say, "ok, five more big gulps" and i'd count them out. or she'd say, "ok, now trying drinking until the clock says [whatever time]" and i do remember that that usually did the trick.

sneaky sneaky ;-) (but now that i'm a new mom - i love these ideas!)

Kelley

That is AWESOME! Isn't it nuts how something so "simple" could finally come to the surface and actually WORK? Congrats!!!

kim

ROCK ON, GENIUS MOM

Beeeee

Oh how I love this post (I have a 15 month old on a similar hunger strike). I dare say that if I figured out a magical solution I may just shout it from the heavens.
Kudos to you!

Lisa

Oh god, delete delete! Just yesterday I finally told someone how we solved bedtime and then last night was HELL again! TAKE IT BACK!

Jen L.

That is freaking brilliant! And I'm very much stealing the idea. (Giving you full credit,of course. Possibly even an engraved plaque for our kitchen if it works.)

Megan

Are you kidding me? Are you effing kidding me? Jealous doesn't even begin to describe...I make four dinners some nights! One for the adults and three different ones for the kids. Something I swore I would never do....ugh. I just don't have any fight left in me at dinner time. I can't stand the screaming fits. Should I try the timer....

Plano Mom

It's not bribery. Even before the timer, if he would have just finished up his dinner you would have done something fun with him.

Bren

I am SOOOOOO going to use that trick! My daughter has a limited list of acceptable foods as well and also has to be reminded CONSTANTLY to eat!

Beth

holy shit, a-dog! that is great and well done. also, let's call it a 'reward' as opposed to a 'bribe' because... just because.
you're the man now, dog.

Kim

I have been hoping for you to have a break... some kind of break...any kind of break. Maybe this is it. Good job Noah. Good job Amy. You guys ROCK.

nanann

Hmmmm, wonder if this technique will work with my 2.5 year old non-eater? Might be worth trying since nothing else works!

Very jealous you got your 1 non-eater to eat! I must say my non-eater has totally thrown me for a loop since her older sister eats anything! (opposite of your kids)

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah

I use timers like crazy. They are secret magic tools. My iPhone timer was worth $400 all by itself.

TheGoriWife

Homigod, I just stumbled upon this miracle myself not 48 hours ago, and it's working just as beautifully over here. My kids'll eat anything and everything but our problem was the stalling. He takes forever to eat, literally hours. Every meal was punctuated with regular tense "Take a bite"s and we tried lots of things to get him to speed up. On playdates, we'd started leaving early because I was starting to get nervous looks from the other mothers once lunchtime came around (Like: Doesn't she know she's contributing to the problem by hovering over him all the time shouting at him like that?) On Monday, I got the time-out timer that we don't even use and set it for 45 minutes. He didn't get through everything, but by lunch the next day he'd caught on and he finished before the timer went off. (I think, though, that part of his motivation is that he hates the sound of the buzzer.)

Although I don't know if I'll be able to bring my timer to lunch playdates. Maybe we should get together for a lunch playdate so that we don't feel awkward setting our kids up for lunch together with their respective timers :)

Goddess in Progress

WOW!

My son is also a slow-poke eater (and a slow-poke many other things), as he's too busy singing or making up nonsense words or whatever 3-year-old boys do. In our (new to us) struggle to get out of the house in time for school, I started dealing with his slowness by saying I'd set the timer and whatever he didn't eat before it beeped got thrown in the trash. That sped up the process, considerably.

However, I'm amazed that it worked on the new-foods front, as well! That's awesome! And let bribes be bribes, who cares as long as it works. It's not like you're saying "take a bite of broccoli and then you can eat this entire half-gallon of ice cream."

April

Soooo glad you found something that worked! We're still struggling with food issues. But the Time Timer...it's like magic or some all powerful god. All we have to do is set that sucker up, explain the rules (only 30mins of t.v, 15mins of room cleaning, etc.) and magically, it gets done with few to no complaints! All hail the Time Timer!

liz

AWESOME!!! I'm so excited!!!

MS

Holy crap. My jaw just slammed into my desk. A timer?! Really?! Couldn't someone have sent a little email, tweet, hell, even a telegram about 2.5 years ago to save some of the agony?

Clearly, you are brilliant. Here's to some enjoyable meals that don't involve only air!

Brandi

That is great Amy! Fist bump! Right here!

I am 29 years old and still a picky eater and I really wish I would have been pushed more to eat new things as a kid. And I hope my future kids will take after their dad, because my husband will eat most anything.

But i'm so happy that you found a solution! Yay!

Liz

Way to stick it to The Man! Er, ya know, The Boy.

Ezra cracks me the hell up!

Sarah

Magic! I'd applaud, but I don't want to get hit by a lightning bolt. I think a happy smile is safe though.

Superjules

Brilliant

Heidi

This all sounds eerily like the kinds of things we're doing with my 5-yr-old to get him to do ANYTHING (though, oddly enough, eating is not a problem). We just got the same timer last week to aid us with limits and transitions; it's been a big help with bedtime and off-to-school-in-the-morning. But "Time Timer"? This name has been bothering me since we got it. Redundant much? What else would a timer time, other than time?

Carolyn

*whispers quietly, so as not to provoke the attention of the gods* HOORAY!!!! How upsetting that the timer suggestion wasn't anywhere in all the books you read, but it's AMAZING how well that worked! What a breakthrough for your whole family, congrats!! :)

Christine

Wow. Noah's list of accepted foods looks awfully like my Monkey's - except you'd have to leave the jelly out of the PB&J, and he will sometimes deign to eat french fries (which I totally count as a vegetable). I don't think the timer would help us, as he's fast enough eating his twice-daily peanutbutter sandwich (honestly), but I'm willing to give it a go.

How much of it do you think is just being five? I've heard it's a good age for picky eaters to start experimenting. And I'm holding on to that for dear life.

Liz

We did something similar and called the time, family time. And he was able to choose the activity as well ... legos, game, school (he is always the teacher ... he loves that power) and we had to all be together. Before, our meals too carried on and on and on and on. Not so shockingly, he picks up the pace if he's facing family time versus the bedtime routine.

Dr BS

Great news! BTW you successfully used 2 interventions supported by behavioral psychology research; explict timing (aka a timer) and a positive reinforcement contingency (bribing is getting someone to do something they shouldn't for a pay off, reinforcing is providing a pay off for socially desirable behavior)

Dr BS

Great news! BTW you successfully used 2 interventions supported by behavioral psychology research; explict timing (aka a timer) and a positive reinforcement contingency (bribing is getting someone to do something they shouldn't for a pay off, reinforcing is providing a pay off for socially desirable behavior)

gemma

I am SO pleased that in the midst of all the rubbish stuff, something is going well for you.

Nancy

Will definitely try this tonight with our dawdling eater!

Katie

Genius mama!!!

Vanessa in NC

Holy moly I am placing an order for that timer and trying this the minute it arrives! My 6-year-old only eats 16 foods (and I'm counting muffins and toast separately here, agh) and we've tried food therapy and regular old evil parenting to get him to try new things.

Heather

Wooohooo! I'm glad you found something that works for him :D

Deborah

I am so getting that timer. Congratulations, and let's all hope that other kids respond the same way!

Deb

Oh, Amy, I am so happy for you. What a great idea, this timer thing. I use a timer to encourage the kids to pick up their toys or to help with a quick "cleanup" of the house. I set it for ten minutes and they race around to see who can pick up/put away the most stuff. It's brilliant....sometimes, they even want me to set the timer AGAIN SO THEY CAN DO MORE!

MommyNamedApril

we use the timer trick too, although i'm not going to lie, our results haven't been nearly as dramatic. and, HELLO, it's not bribery it's Positive! Reinforcement!

Candy

T. Berry Brazelton always said bribery is a perfectly acceptable means of parenting. Good on ya!

Hairy Farmer Family

Oooo, hooray for Noah!
*glances nervously at the sky for lightning bolts*

We went through a protracted period of extremely limited menu options with Harry, and I know it's such a worry. We've done... yeah. Pretty much everything you mention.

Then... I went to a conference on paediatric eating disorders a little while ago, where the main speaker was the UK's foremost dietary specialist consultant paediatrician. She's the one the other docs refer food-aversion kids to when they are 7 or so, and will ONLY eat 'junk'. She was a revelation to me.

The main core of her advice was: Give Child What It Wants To Eat. Wait For Child To Grow Up. Kids will, she assured us, develop absolutely fine on chocolate, crisps (chips) and high-sugar foods. (She did mention that a good dentist was advisable!)When they get to about 8 or so, she told us, there's a big developmental change that enables them to bring lots more mature, rational common sense into play about just what they put in their mouths, but she reckoned before then it was all pretty visceral for kids. She drew the analogy that if the child is backing away from a plate of disliked food it is being strongly encouraged to eat, it's about like how you would feel if someone offered you a plate of mashed-up slugs, and told you to eat them or go hungry. (I froze with guilt!) She told us that if a child is predictably only going to eat 20 bites a day, then she would prefer that those bites were high-fat sustaining peanut butter, for example, rather than broccoli. Vegetables (in children with pronounced food issues) she viewed as an absolute waste of a bite. She then went on to explain a good deal of the latest research has shaped current thinking, including how the weaning age in the UK is in the long process of being reduced from 6 months to 4, as they now think the food-suspicion neural development stage kicks in about - you guessed it - 6 months, and the GimmeNewTastesToTry stage is over. And she spoke about how Disliked foods contaminate Liked foods: eg, if child likes the texture and taste of mashed potato, but one day you sneak hated chopped carrot into it, then instead of gaining carrot on your menu, you will simply lose potato. I nearly bounced up on my feet in the room, howling Yes! Yes! That's happened to US!

And... well, I digress. A long way. But we've suffered the whole not-eating thing here, s the point I'm making, so I do really understand how worried you are about Noah's intake, and how fabulous it is that you've found the individual lever that helps him make the mental jump to Food Confidence. Joining you in genuflecting to the Holy Mother of Timex!

Mermil

I am using this the minute I get home from work. My son, who has an egg allergy, eats candy, cereal, grim little egg-free waffles and french toast sticks, tortilla chips from chipotle, and yogurt. Oh, and oreos. That is the sum total of his diet as a three year old.

BRILLIANT, woman.

Mermil

I am using this the minute I get home from work. My son, who has an egg allergy, eats candy, cereal, grim little egg-free waffles and french toast sticks, tortilla chips from chipotle, and yogurt. Oh, and oreos. That is the sum total of his diet as a three year old.

BRILLIANT, woman.

Virginia

Hoooray for you!!! I swear your Noah and my Maxx are cut from the same cloth when it comes to meals.

Lately I have discovered that a "Happy/Sad" chart works for Maxx. When he's cooperative and eats or does his homework without a stupid fit of hystronics or clowning, he gets a check mark in the Happy box. When he doesn't co-operate, he gets a check in the Sad box. Nothing else has changed,- just little marks on a piece of paper. Why on God's Green Eatrth that motivates the kid, I will never understand.
But it does. And I'm using it.

Keller

I have a ways to go until I can use this type of method (my little guy's only 7 weeks old), but I will definitely remember this. The timer probably adds so much excitement to his evening. It gives him something to look forward to!

Halala Mama

You DO win at everything. And screw the bribery talk...it's either "go to bed" (acceptable punishment) OR "live your life" (what most people do). :) I've watched my son's acceptable food list just get weirder - hot dogs? NO. Pizza with banana peppers? Gimme some of THAT.

Martha H.

That is so AWESOME!! Wish I could get it to work for my daughter!! Maybe I will try it. Noah is amazing and I love to hear all the wonderul things he is doing! And not to leave the Mighty Ez out, he is simply fabulous, too! So is their mommy!

Nina

That's awesome Amy. Timers are magic.

Mel

I'll share my special tip: When the magic of the Timer Time clock wears off, go to Radio Shack and buy him a timer he can wear on a string around his neck -- like your old PE teacher had in junior high. My grandmother gave those as gifts to her great-grandchildren and they all loved them. We timed everything! Can you get dressed in under four minutes? How long to put the Legos away? How long does it take to walk to the bus stop? Can you get your math homework done in under 20 minutes? Can you brush your teeth for one entire minute? That was a thing of beauty, man.

Tam.

I'm green. I am that jealous.

I just ordered that Time Timer Clock. Please Jesus let this work. lol...

You rock Noah! And you too Amy. :)

Susan

Congratulations and thank you, because now I have a new tactic to try on my daughter, who refuses to let anything "healthy" pass her lips.

Susan @WhyMommy

You win!

Wallydraigle

I started timing things a few weeks ago with my two-year-old. Not this kind of thing, which is still a little too much for her tiny brain, but if she wanted me to, say, read to her, and I was busy, and I said, "In five minutes!" I'd set a timer. And it TOTALLY WORKS. What did pioneer parents do without timers, I ask you?

kdiddy

hey, whatever, man, as long as he's breaking out of that slump. finding something that works is always a huge triumph. congrats and cheers!

Sarahd

Dude, I actually got chills reading the list of things he has now eaten! I also have a picky, slowwwwwwww eater. I am SO trying the timer thing at breakfast to see if we can actually get out the door to school on time this way. Thanks!

Brian

I use a timer the other way around. He wants to keep playing and playing and playing and playing... So, I set a timer. When it goes off, he's done. He doesn't even complain. The extra bonus is when I ask him how much time he would like to have. 4 out of 5 times, it's less time than I would have given him (e.g. I was going to give him 10 more minutes, and he pick 4).

Maybe you could ask Noah how much time *he* would like. You never know, you might get even luckier...

TodayWendy

That's brilliant! And it doesn't sound like bribery to me, it actually sounds like you're just making the natural consequences of his actions far more tangible than they used to be.

KarinNH

I was like Noah as a kid! And since my mother had some control issues, mealtime was battle time. Not fun.

With my own kids, I refused to argue over food. So for several years, I pretty much did what Hairy Farmer Family talks about in her post. Apple slices and chicken nuggets every night? No problem.

When they hit late elementary school, I told them they didn't have to use manners if they were eating vegetables. They were free to chew with their mouths open, not use a fork, talk with their mouths full, etc. but only for vegetables. It just about killed me, but it worked. Now they eat everything, even things I won't touch.

The timer is sheer genius though!

lis

seems more like a positive reward method to me :)

funny how that worked. go noah!

Erica

In other news, my Emma still only eats peas frozen from the freezer because you suggested it once on this here blawg. She prefers them Icey Cold and Frosty, Mommy.
I roll my eyes and serve them happily. I wish her brother would eat them. She eats the veg and he eats the protein and betwixt the two of them I have one solid eater of food. la la la!

kellyannecat

Wow, what an awesome story! My daughter lives like an air fern - this gives me hope!

chantale

I'm going to have to try the timer with my son. He hasn't gained a single pound in 15 months and has dropped 45 percentiles due to his refusal to eat anything. Like Noah, my Ashe will only eat about 7 items regularly. Cereal, pb&j, faux bologna sandwiches, faux chik'n nuggets, watermelon, scrambled eggs, rice. That's about it. He doesn't like sweet food, hates cake/icing. I'm willing to try anything to get him to eat.

Issa

WTF is wrong with bribery? I'm all for it. A timer. Huh. Who knew. I'm glad it works though. YAY NOAH!!!!!

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