One of the greatest (and scariest) things as a parent is watching your child become more independent – except for meal time. There are so many things about toddler meal time that just make it a fun and exciting adventure every time you sit down to the table, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks you’re never entirely sure what you’re going to get. We have been very lucky with my daughter, she is a good eater and has been from start. She was trying to eat foods at 3 months old….so we let her (that’s what baby lead weaning is all about right?!?!) but that brought a whole new set of challenges to parenthood.
There are some very interesting things that happen when you allow a child to feed herself and most of it has to do with where the food ends up. When the Munchkin started getting annoyed with meal time around 10 months we started giving her the spoon/fork to feed herself or just pick it up with her fingers and that’s resulted in finding food in various places, especially when we go to change her for bedtime. She’s had cheerios in her diaper, yogurt in her eye, peanut butter in her hair, and peas in her ears. It’s gotten to the point where dinner time almost always ends in a bath now because she attempts to feed herself and it tends to go horribly wrong from an adult standpoint.
She has also become aware of the fact that there are dogs in the house who will conveniently eat anything she drops or throws to them. As a result of her meddling the dogs have put on a few pounds and for the time being I’m really not sure about what to do about it, because how else would I keep the floors clean if they weren’t around to eat up all the food that falls to the ground or clean her high chair when she’s done?
Lastly, she can’t communicate with words. She’s saying some words but she’s not reciting the Gettysburg Address just yet. This makes it difficult to decipher exactly why she isn’t eating something that she ate just fine yesterday. We’ve been very lucky with the Munchkin, she eats pretty much anything and everything we give her. She’ll never quite give up on a food, she’ll try it and spit it out multiple times and then you can get her to try it the next day. I’m hoping this trait sticks around but it can make it difficult to understand why she doesn’t want to eat something, especially when it’s something she’s had multiple times before so this leads to a whole lot of me sounding stupid trying to get to the bottom of it: “Mommy doesn’t understand, does your mouth hurt? Are you not hungry? Do you not like green eggs and ham today?”
If you have ever wondered what it was like to feed a toddler, go look at some abstract art and imagine talking to the Swedish Chef and then I think you’d have some clue of what meal time looks like in our house!