You’re introducing a new food. Your toddler takes a tentative taste. Things seem to be going well. He hasn’t spit, gagged, or howled with rage/disgust/offense. He might even like it. You hold your breath. He’s going back in. He takes another bite. Success! He likes the new food. You get ready to do the happy dance. But then, just as you start getting ready to rock ‘n roll, the sky darkens. The music stops. The party is over. He only eats one teeny bite.

Your heart sinks. Only one teeny bite. It’s easy to feel disappointed.

Only is the loneliest word.

Only makes parents feel like crap. It throws all your efforts down the drain. You’re a failure. (Not really, but it feels that way. I get it. Ugh.)

It doesn’t have to be this way. You ARE doing a great job. You AREN’T a failure. One teeny bite ISN’T cause for disappointment. It’s time for a celebration!

To see this you only have to change the context.

My child only took one step!

Your child is learning to walk. She takes her first tentative step. Things seem to be going well. She’s pulled herself up to a standing position and is teetering on the brink of a step. She takes the step, but then falls down. You do the happy dance. Call the grandparents. Celebrate.

You’d never say (or think), That’s it? I thought you were going to walk across the room, or even start running!

Expecting children to go swiftly from exploring to tasting to eating is often unreasonable. Some kids can do it, but many cannot.

Learning to eat new foods is a skill that occurs in stages. Yet, as parents, what we want more than anything in the world is for our children to eat a new food the very first time they taste it. When kids stop after a single bite we feel—and convey—disappointment. Instead, we should celebrate.

The distance between not tasting X and eating only one bite is farther than eating one bite X and eating an entire serving of it.

In other words, celebrate the teeny bite because it signifies success. And your child has to only eat one bite before he can imagine/master/cope with eating an entire serving.

Thanks to my friend Venice for making this point so well on FB recently. Read more about sensory education.

Celebrate the single bite as if it is a huge success.

Because that’s what it is!

Change your vocabulary. Change your thoughts. Change the outcome. For more, read about the Happy Bite.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~