Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Alphabet boy

It’s no secret that my eldest son is a bit of a picky eater. Preschoolers are notoriously fussy eaters, and as long as nobody tells Simon the omnivore that, it’s all good.

What might qualify as a little more quirky is Tristan’s predilection for food shaped like the alphabet. It’s beginning to look like a bit of an obsession.

It started innocuously enough with letter pretzels. I was looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous goldfish, and aside from the salt, these pretzels are a reasonably healthy little snack. They are also Tristan’s absolute favourite food on the planet, and have been for close to three years.

It only took me about two years for me to figure out, Hey – if he likes letter pretzels, maybe he’ll like letter shaped pasta, too. And so I bought a can of Alphaghetti, and he gobbled the entire bowl down. (I searched high and low for a link to Alphaghetties, but apparently everyone’s favourite neon orange letter pasta doesn’t exist on the Interweb.) And Nancy, you will be so proud to hear that I didn’t even wash the tomato sauce off of them first. I’ve come a long way – and gone through a lot of washcloths- from the days when I used to suck the tomato sauce off the ravioli bits before giving it to my toddlers.

Somewhere along the way, we added ‘letter cookies’ to his list of favourite foods. ‘Letter cookies’ is what Tristan – and now Simon - calls the Loblaw’s knockoff version of Oreo cookies, called Eat the Middle First. (Letter cookies because, well, they have letters on them.)

Last month, in a stunning cognitive leap, I rediscovered Alpha-Bits cereal. Of course, Tristan adores them. He wants them first thing in the morning as a dry snack, and he wants them again with milk for breakfast. And he must tell me all the letters that every single spoon-or-handful contains.

So now that I’ve discovered a theme that is working for us, do you have any suggestions? It would probably be a good idea for me to invest in some letter-shaped cookie cutters. Think those things would cut through a steak, or a piece of chicken? Anybody know where I can get letter-shaped carrots, or broccoli?

(Edited on January 27 to add: if you've ever had a picky eater, you MUST peek over at Nancy's blog for a few suggestions on how to make an ordinary lunch extraordinary. I'm not sure whether I feel incredibly inadequate or extremely excited to have a bunch of great new ideas. I'll let you know whether they pass the "Eww, I'm not eating THAT!" picky preschooler test.)