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beyond breast milk

‘give peas a chance’: a book review

February 13, 2014
By BETSY BETHEL , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

When I first saw the title "Give Peas a Chance: The Foolproof Guide to Feeding Your Picky Toddler," I had two thoughts. First, love the play on words! Second, yeah, right. New parents beware: Any time you see the words "foolproof" and "toddler" in the same sentence, take it with a grain of salt.

But I liked author Kate Samela, a registered dietitian specializing in pediatric nutrition, from the get-go and was willing to give her a chance. Why? Because she starts out in her Introduction laughing at herself for being the one writing this book when she'd just that night had the experience of her son spitting out the ravioli she'd made and her daughter declaring it was "disgusting."

She goes on to say that even though they didn't eat the ravioli, the kids DID eat broccoli, meatballs and garlic bread, all washed down with 1 percent organic milk, so the meal was not a total loss and in fact, was a success. "I felt good about what my kids ate, how much they ate how they were sitting down to eat, and most importantly, how we got to spend 20 minutes (OK, maybe 15) sitting at the table - together."

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The first part of the book, Samela defends her theory that feeding kids is 10 percent food/nutrition and 90 percent parenting. She gets you started by assessing your solid-food eater's situation - not just what he does and doesn't eat (although that's part of it), but where he eats, how he eats, what's going on when he eats and how long he's expected to sit at the table (note: more than 10 minutes is unrealistic).

She also gets specific with each food group, charting what are good choices, why and how much to give. There are healthy snack ideas, planning meals and snacks based on age (starting at 12 months old), and a whole chapter on your child's digestive health.

Her main point is one you will hear from every pediatrician and food expert: Exposing your toddler to a variety of food. "Research has shown that it can take up to 15 times for a toddler to be exposed to one food before he is willing to accept it on a daily basis."

Then she lists 10 foods she thinks are worth the 15-time effort: oats, wild salmon, nuts/nut butters, soup, eggs, beans/legumes, yogurt, leafy green vegetables, bright orange or yellow fruits/vegetables and berries.

And she lists readily available products to try, as well as a few tried-and-true recipes.

Samela ends the book with a chapter titled "The Family Table," where she gives some ground rules. The hardest for me to follow, I hate to admit it, is "no short-order cooking."

Despite believing "I would never do that," I can tell you from experience that once you start this practice, it will never end if your child has any say-so. I fear my daughter will come home from college and expect me to fix her a grilled cheese while everyone else eats homemade lasagna or enchiladas!

So, while I still doubt this guide is "foolproof," it will give you - and your baby - a good start on nutrition basics, and could save you a lot of hassle as she grows.

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