Parenting Fail: When Mealtimes Become Sensory Play and Mommy Loses It

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Parents of toddlers/older babies know what I’m talking about.  You sit down to a healthy balanced meal that you poured lots of thought and energy into making.  It smells delicious, it looks beautiful.  You go to give your child a taste and the dreaded locked mouth makes an appearance.  You decide maybe your toddler wants to feed herself, so you spoon some pieces onto the table for her.  She picks it up slowly.  She inches it toward her mouth.  You have hope that she will love your food.  But it never makes it into her mouth, for she’s already thrown it onto the floor.  I can normally roll with this, but after a full day week of this at EVERY mealtime, I’m all out of patience.

I cannot just let my child subsist on crumbs here an there.  NO! I can’t let her wither away into skin and bones! Doesn’t she know that she needs food to grow and develop? The answer is no. No, she does not know.  So when she smashed her food all over her tray and made it rain salmon and peas all around her, I lost it.  And then I felt awful.  “NO WE DO NOT THROW OUR FOOD ALL OVER THE FLOOR!!!” I said it so loudly that I startled her.  It was the second time in two days that I did this.  Nothing I had been doing was working and I was at my wits end.  I’m sure you’re judging me right now, so I want to share with you all the things I tried before I lost it.

Things I’ve tried:

  1. Redirecting the food throwing. “R, will you put that pea in the bowl?  Good job!” This works if she’s merely throwing food, and not smashing it as well.
  2. Simultaneous feeding.  “Can you feed that to mommy? I’ll feed you this at the same time.” This used to work, but no longer.
  3. Giving her utensils to attempt to feed herself.  This does not work.  She becomes wrapped up in moving the food around the table with her fork/spoon that she never eats a bite.
  4. Giving her her favorite foods every time.  This works temporarily, until her favorite foods lose their luster.
  5. Taking the tray away when she starts throwing food. This just makes her mad
  6. Taking the food from her tray the moment she starts smashing it around and ending mealtime.  This makes her happy, but then stresses me out because she hasn’t eaten a DAMN thing.
  7. Raising my voice.  “STOP SMASHING FOOD!!!” This does NOT work, and only makes me cry tears of regret afterward.

This challenge has brought up an issue I think will be huge for us in the near future–discipline.  What does caring discipline look like? What does it look like at each age?  I fear that my teaching background has caused me to expect way too much from my 15 month old and need to take it down a notch.  My hope is that I haven’t somehow damaged her with inconsistency and loony behavior on my end.  Here’s to keeping calm and carrying on!

 

More Blueberries, Please

Ever since Little Lady was born it’s been a challenge to feed her.  Whether from breast, bottle, spoon or fork, this has been our major struggle.  She is many wonderful things, but “good eater” is not one of them.  Because she’s inherited my lovely chubby cheeks, people think she’s just fine, but I completely disagree.

On the week that she turned 1, Little Lady realized that she was in control.  Gone were the days of mommy shoving a bottle into her mouth to try and get to that magic 16 ounce minimum of formula.  Gone were the days of tricking her into opening her mouth for an extra spoonful of oatmeal.  She could shake her head ‘no’ and purse her lips shut.  She decided that she didn’t want to drink anything for a week and there was nothing I could do to change her mind.

Since that week, it has been an on again off again struggle to get her to eat/drink what I’ve read to be the recommended amount of calories per day for a one year old.  In case you’re wondering, that number is 900.  I’m pretty sure Little Lady maxes out at 500.  But maybe I’m underestimating. You be the judge. Take a look at what she typically eats for breakfast, morning snack, and lunch.

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She pretty much just ate blueberries for the first 6 hours of her day.  Sigh…

Now here’s lunch:

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Now, I’ve read a few things stating that forcing a child to finish their food causes eating issues down the line.  So what’s a mama to do?  No, seriously…I have no idea.  I’m pretty much letting her dictate when she’s done eating, but that is not coinciding with the whole recommended calories thing.  Should I trust that she knows when she’s full? Or should I try to coax her into taking one more bite? For now, I’m just going to buy some more blueberries.