Friday, March 15, 2013


One tip that is well-known by parents of "picky eaters" is to involve your kid in the kitchen.  Studies have shown that if a kid helps prepare food, he is more likely to eat it.  It has to do with taking ownership and feeling pride, but for more extreme kids like Caleb, it also has to do with being exposed to the food in a neutral and friendly environment.  Every time he can touch his food, or maybe get a little on his finger and lick it, he gets that much closer to wanting to actually ingest it.

We've had problems being able to involve Caleb in his own food prep.  We can't exactly have him flip his chicken in the frying pan, or use the can opener on his can of green beans.  Pretty much everything else he eats is fresh (like fruit), so it doesn't take any prep.

Then I see all of these good moms who bake cookies with their kids and I get a little jealous.  I'd love to create treats with Caleb.  But his food restrictions come into play once again, and we're left trying to do more painting and outside play and reading and everything else that we do to remind ourselves that you really can have fun without involving food.

But, food can be fun, too, and it is a necessary part of life, and we do spend every day trying to get Caleb to eat something by mouth.  So of course I want to have fun in the kitchen with him.  It's just hard.  And the hardness of it sometimes makes me a little bitter towards food.

But then I found this gluten-free cake mix that basically contains nothing but rice flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, sugar, salt, and chemicals.  It called for butter and eggs and such, but instead I used a can of club soda that was made with nothing but water and chemicals.  (We love chemicals here!  Caleb may react to "natural flavors," but not "artificial flavors.")  Since the club soda had a bit of a bitter taste, I added some artificial almond extract (nothing but chemicals!), some sugar, and some pure cocoa powder (which is Caleb-safe).

I hushed the inner voice in me that always says, "If you don't make a mess, you don't have to clean a mess up" and let Caleb not only stir but help spoon batter into the cupcake liner!  (Alright, alright, I wasn't going to let him fill the liners, but he started to do it anyway and I didn't want to turn our fun little afternoon together into a "STOP THAT!  YOU'RE MAKING A MESS!" fest.  The whole goal was for Caleb to have fun.  So I let it happen, and I was pleasantly surprised when he dripped a tiny bit and tried to wipe it up with a paper towel. He is my son after all.)  :)

 Every time his hand would dip into the bowl, I would encourage him to lick it off of his fingers before cleaning it off on the towel.  He was a fan, which kind of surprised me. :D
Licking the bowl, of course! ;) 

 His first bite!  So exciting!  I made frosting by blending up pure granulated sugar and mixing it with rice milk.  Regular powdered sugar contains corn starch, which Caleb can't have.
Having leftovers the next day--he wanted me to take his picture.  :) 
 This is his "I'm biting down and this cupcake doesn't stand a chance!" face.  :)
The aftermath.  Eventually he didn't want to nibble any more (he never really took any real bites, just little nibbles), so before allowing him to get down from his seat, I told him that he had to lick his fingers.  Yes, finger-licking is highly encouraged in our house.  Again, if he can have a tiny taste of food, in a way that's fun and different, then we will eventually make progress with actual eating in a more socially acceptable way.  So licking his finger eventually led him to say, "My finger is dirty!"  So I would say, "Oh, it's dirt!  Don't lick it!  That's so gross!"  And he would lick the chocolate off and I would say, "Ewww!!  That's gross!"  We had great fun, and he actually made a dent in his cupcake!

The cupcake making went well, the cupcake eating went well, and some time we'll do it again!  Maybe we'll make some marble ones, or just vanilla, or find other artificial flavoring extracts to try to change it up.  It was fun to feel "normal" for one afternoon, and it's awesome to be able to give Caleb a little more variation on his plate.  And come November, he can have a birthday cake for only the second time in his life!


MeganandClaudy said...

This makes my heart happy!!!

Coffee Mama said...

I found lots of artificial flavor choices at walmart! Love them!

Alice Anne said...

Awwww, yay! There's always a way. :)