I recently had one of those big parental “Aha!” moments. I figured out that some of the fruits and veggies that Simon is very picky about when they are cooked, chopped, incorporated, or otherwise altered, he is actually interested in trying when they are left whole. Apples, carrots, celery, tomato, bell peppers…all of these things he questions and picks out when they are visible in his dinner, or presented in a choking hazard free, “babied down” way. For example, if I give him a soup with pieces of cooked celery in it, he will avoid it at all costs. However, trust him to take a big bite off of a celery stick and he is tickled.
I am not exactly sure why this is the case, however, as his Mumma I can make an educated guess. I think he actually likes to try out new foods, but he wants to try them in their entirety. He wants to see the whole fruit or vegetable, and examine it, hold it, and take a big bite out of it in a way that lets him feel that he is in control. Toddlers like to have a bit of control (as any parent knows) and being given an entire apple, or whole bell pepper to test, rather than trying to hide it from them, might do the trick for some toddlers. (For others, the opposite might be true.)
Ever since I made this discovery, I have been buying produce intentionally to let him try in whole form. Today, Jeramy brought home cherries, and we let him try his first one by having him take little bites off of it, and explaining that there was a pit inside that you do not eat. Now that he has tried it and liked it, I think I can safely cut some up for him and know he will go for it without suspicion. I am so excited to keep offering him new things this way!
Note: I would never suggest giving a toddler foods that are not soft or cut into bite-sized pieces without supervision, due to the choking risk.