Eat like a French Baby

Willy Ronis, Le Petit Parisien, 1952
A few months ago, Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up Bébé received media attention for her somewhat controversial views on French parenting.  The American living in Paris presented her own experiences with French child-rearing guidelines about sleep, discipline and food.  While I didn't agree with all of her theories, I did find myself nodding "oui, oui" as she discussed how French children eat.

One of our friends has a three year old who eats only goldfish, applesauce and yogurt.  Now, I know about people in glass houses throwing rocks, but this is one parenting battle I sincerely believe can be easily won.  My child still doesn't sleep well.  She has temper tantrums when she doesn't get her way.  But...she eats a wonderful array of fruits and veggies.  She doesn't shy away from most anything we place in front of her.  From lentils and tomatoes to blueberries and nectarines, our little one loves the taste of variety.  She gets excited to sample what we eat.  I will try my best to ensure she doesn't become a chicken nugget, mac and cheese toddler.  
The French teach their children very early that food is a pleasure.  Karen Le Billon dedicates her own blog to this very concept: French kids eat everything.
From Karen Le Billon's French Kids' School Lunch Project
Granted I'm a nouveau parent, but here are my own somewhat vetted theories about raising a child who not only loves food, but also will eat most anything.  Let's face it, no one likes a picky eater.
  • Parents need to express excitement about what they eat.  Children observe how their parents react to food and mimic that behavior. 
  • Offer your children a variety of different foods at meals.  Textures and flavors make the meal interesting.  
  • Serve real food first.  Fruits and vegetables are always better for your child than anything you can buy in a can, jar or box (le duh). 
  • If at first you don't succeed, try again.  Just because your child doesn't like broccoli once doesn't mean you stop serving it forever or say things like "______ doesn't eat broccoli."  Keep offering it as an option.  Our palates change as we age and flavors vary according to preparation. 
Bon appétit, bébé!

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