I have hit a parenting wall and need help: I’m desperate to get my child to try new foods. I feel awful complaining because my son eats pretty healthily, favoring things like hummus and cucumbers over traditional kid fare like PB&Js or mac-n-cheese. But lately we’re in a rut where he won’t break free from his food comfort zones. His sworn enemies? Pasta, cheese and salad.
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I have tried many, MANY methods to entice my son to eat new things. I’ve introduced new foods over 20 times (experts’ recommendation). I’ve blended things into foods that he loves. I’ve bribed and pleaded. I’ve even allowed him to select, prep and be a part of the cooking process. But when it comes down to actually tasting new foods, it’s a no-go. My frustration of this can be accurately summed up as ‘rage mountain.’
This was life before Milton (imagine a little blue blob of silicone with feet and a big mouth). Milton is a meal companion created by two Chicago parents and he might just change what’s happening around your dinner table. After my husband shared frustrations about our son rejecting three pasta dishes in one night, Milton was recommended by a co-worker. I was doubtful because I was running low on patience and sanity. What could this cute blue blob possibly accomplish?
Milton arrived in a little box with a picture book and seemed pretty harmless. The backstory: He lived on the moon where there are no colorful plants or foods to eat. This made Milton a sad gray color. One day Milton took a journey to Earth and he landed in a shopping cart heading into a grocery store. He was able to try so many different foods (crunchy! slippery! sweet!) that he turned a brilliant shade of blue.
Instructions encouraged us to give Milton a bath. After sudsing up the little guy in our powder room sink, my son happily placed Milton on the kitchen table. For the next few days, Milton was a part of every meal. My son eagerly shoved bits of food in Milton’s mouth and relished giving him a daily bath. Despite my hesitations, I found it quite sweet that he cared for the little guy so intently.
Real change arrived one evening when I announced that we were having salad for dinner. My son protested but I assured him that it was delicious and that Milton wanted to try salad to keep his blue color. After dutifully feeding Milton, I hear him pipe up, “I think I want to try some salad, too.” My eyes grew to the size of watermelons but I put lettuce on a fork and hoped for the best. He ate it and asked for more.
I was dumbfounded. Salad was scarfed down that evening as this little blue blob had somehow reached my son on a level that I could not. Using Milton not only changed the tone of meal time (from stressful to playful) but it gave my child an outlet for channeling his food fears. I didn’t quite realize the enormity of this until I was telling a friend that my son has been on a salad kick lately.
This friend was astounded and asked how I got my kid to eat salad. I shared my Milton experience and she cut me off. “Where do I get this Milton?!”
Let me stress: we are still on our journey with Milton and adventurous eating. But these days I recognize that little steps are best for a long journey ahead. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to prepare my son’s school lunch. He has requested a spinach salad. Seriously.