Alphabet boy

by DaniGirl on January 25, 2006 · 13 comments

in Uncategorized

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.)


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Snack Mommy January 25, 2006 at 11:25 am

Welllll, Campbell’s makes a yummy alphabet vegetable soup. Big hit around here. Who knows, you may, just may sneak a pea in along with the letter O.

2 nancy January 25, 2006 at 12:43 pm

Yup – that same veggie oup also big hit here simply cause of the letters. (oh, and the ‘dinosaur eggs’ too, translation – kidney beans)
There is dry letter pasta that you could add to any soup. You could try to make your own as pasta, but they are a little small.
Cut &/or present his toast / sammiches / fruit / pancakes / french toast / scrambled eggs / crackers and cheese / chicken fingers/ etc. to show the letter T. (D & M also big hits here for Daddy and Mommy. Oh, and pets’ names letters too) How about presenting any of his food into letters? We have quite the array of food presentations – I’ll blog about it this week!! Yes, I have pictures.

3 BeachMama January 25, 2006 at 3:19 pm

I was going to suggest the same as nancy. Cookie cutters work great for cutting sandwiches and stuff into letter shapes, but will he eat it if it is arranged in the shape of a letter or word? You can always use the cookie cutters to arrange the potatoes, etc. Now if only I can get everything to look like crackers we would be off and running 🙂
Anna

4 Renee January 25, 2006 at 4:16 pm

Mark likes to make the kids pancakes shaped as their first initial. they still love it!
P.S. Tell him the carrots are ‘I’s or ‘L’s (lower case).

5 SilverCreek Mom January 25, 2006 at 4:41 pm

Your soo lucky Dani
I bought aplpha bits knowing how much Nathan loves letters too. took one bite and did his old. “this tastes good Mommy” and spits it out. So I’m eating them. LOVERLY. Tried Alpha getting and got what;’s that red stuff on it? Although the little monkey will eat plain pizza. Go figure.
I make grill cheese into flowers. He loves it.

6 Marla Good January 25, 2006 at 5:54 pm

How about piping food from sandwich baggies? You can write on crackers or breads and stuff with cream cheese type stuff if you spoon some in a plastic baggie and snip off the end.

7 Madeleine January 25, 2006 at 6:30 pm

We used to play “how many letters can you make?” So carrot sticks can make L, M, N, K, H, and so on. Any straight line food works — you could slice a sandwich in 4 strips and go wild. Penne pasta is fun (but no sauce!). The trick is to gradually eat down to the last I.
Oh, and cucumber slices start as O and can be nibbled into D and C. This one is still fun at 5.5, and is usually followed by “I have green teeth.” Which is funny the first two times.

8 Tanya January 25, 2006 at 9:15 pm

Hmmm… I know our health food store carries 3-colour organic alphabet pasta. The pieces are bigger than alphagetti (maybe an inch high) and sort of hollow. Hard to explain. Anyway, the brand name is Entouka. Maybe you can find it your local health food store?
I found it online…but I’m POSITIVE I didn’t pay that much for it…
http://www.feelgreatfoods.ca/product.php?p=8726#

9 Kerry January 25, 2006 at 10:10 pm

They have letter-shaped whole grain pretzels at Loblaws, you know. They’re really good, too!

10 DaniGirl January 26, 2006 at 1:39 am

You guys are the most clever, creative, funny people. I do so love all of you.
Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll keep you posted.

11 liz January 26, 2006 at 10:15 pm

Tater tots come in alphabet shapes too.
I’ll bet there are other things as well in your grocery freezer.

12 liz January 26, 2006 at 10:59 pm

Tater tots come in alphabet shapes too.
I’ll bet there are other things as well in your grocery freezer.

13 SheilaC January 27, 2006 at 6:56 am

You can cut processed cheese slices into almost anything, if they are cold straight out of the fridge. Unfold the plastic wrap but leave the cheese sitting on the plastic underneath. Cut with a butter knife. We do initial letters, cars, numbers, whatever’s cool that day. Cookie cutters work well on sliced cheese or sandwiches too. I prefer “real” cheese, but the kids would only eat processed for a couple of years.
The year the kids were 3 1/2 we spent a month doing the “Letter of the Day” as on Sesame Street. We tried all kinds of new foods starting with those letters, which was very interesting for the grocery list! The kids didn’t like everything, or even half the new things, but they got a lot better at tasting new foods.
We made an alphabet scrap book (a page a day) with pictures cut from magazines and store flyers, which we still enjoy reading 2 years later.
I’ll email you the list of foods. It was quite a bit of work, but also good fun. And the kids really learned the alphabet, and words that start with each letter. You will know when your son is ready for this kind of activity.
Best wishes,

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