Archive for the ‘Toddler Development’ Category

Women are no strangers to the hormonal changes: we go through them monthly, when we’re pregnant, even through menopause. Lately it’s been a roller coaster around here; I’ve ditched the birth control in hopes of having another baby (eek!), and thus turned into an estrogen monster.

My body doesn’t do well with medication. Rather, just as little goes a long way and I tend to react pretty strongly when I stop taking said meds. Same goes for birth control … it’s like my body has saved up all of the vicious PMS symptoms that the pill tends to ease and the moment my ovaries get the all clear, its hormone’s-a-ragin’.

Mix that up with a toddler and … yeah, I’m saying it: here comes t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

Case in point: I take Max to storytime at the library nearly every week. Twice now we’ve had to either leave early, or not go in at all due to his determination (re: tantrums). This past Monday, we get in the room fine and he is content to play with the lock and the handle of the door to the children’s room. Until we shut it. The entire class is treated to a cacophony of his cries for a few moments until I pick him up and distract him with the window blinds.

We then try to sit down and sing a rousing rendition of “Open Shut Them,” but to no avail. Max is on his back in the middle of the room, still crying. The librarian says, “Oh Maxwell, what is wrong now?” And I reply, “He’s still mad about the door.”

I do get him up and not crying. Go me, I am Supermom.

And then he sees the fire extinguisher.

Photo courtesy of Kenn W. Kiser.

Here’s the thing that drives me crazy about every children’s library: When they offer classes for babies, toddlers and the like, why on earth are the rooms in which the classes meet not baby proofed? There always are open closets, cabinets without latches, outlets without covers and darn it, fire alarms and extinguishers a mere three feet from the floor. I mean, duh.

So there’s my Max, going after the hose of the fire extinguisher, and every time I grab him, he lets out a protest yell. I finally stand in front of the object of his affection to stop him, and he yells, grabs my leg, and tries to bite me through my jeans.

Now I’m sure the other moms and kids have had enough of his antics, but I am beyond pissed. I give him the futile, “Don’t bite mommy!” grab him, the diaper bag and make our exit. He of course, is protesting leaving now, and I’m angrily whispering, “I can’t take you anywhere!” I’m fairly certain the librarians overheard me.

The thing that kills me more than the embarrassment of Max’s behavior is the embarrassment of my behavior. I’m the adult. I should know better. And it’s the failure that whatever I did—reprimand, soothe, deny—went completely ignored by my son. Why is it when our children misbehave does it seem that everyone else’s children listen and respond to their parents?

I don’t know if there is an answer to this, since my mom polling indicates that all moms have been there. In the meantime, I wonder how long we’ll stay away from the library this time ….


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Or as I like to call it: Help, My Toddler Won’t Eat! (All the time.)

Last week was our one-month check up with the nutritionist. The good news: Max gained almost one and a half pounds and now weighs in at a hefty 24 pounds, 8 ounces, a mere jump from the 15th percentile to the 27th.

But it’s not over yet.

He has come around to eating again, but meat is not on his menu. Nor eggs, nor cheese. So it’s a new wave of creative ways to sneak more protein into his diet: lima beans, edamame, milk, French toast, rice and beans etc. And of course, Pediasure supplements. Ugh.

I am not going to let it get me down. I worked hard for that one pound, six ounces. I have endured tears, and food thrown at me, and mopping up yogurt off my hardwood floors. I have endured constantly thinking about feeding my child; shopped until I couldn’t look at another nutrition label hoping for more calories and fat.

I have learned much over the past month when it comes to toddlers and picky eating. At least I know I’ve not resorted to this:

Below, however are a few things that have worked, and may help other moms out there.

  1.  Keep calm, and carry on. This is the hardest and most truthful rule. It’s incredibly stressful worrying about your little one, but even more so when his ability to gain weight, or lose it, hinges on what you’re feeding him. If he doesn’t eat a meal, take him out of his seat and move on to the next thing. If he disses that banana bread you made just for him today (and he will), just save it to try again tomorrow. If he screams and cries through meal time, remember there is always another meal time. It’ll be okay.
  2. Don’t let the doctors freak you out. Yes, it is an issue to simply overlook if your child is overweight or underweight. But don’t flip out. (See rule number one.) Even when the doctors give you that look: Oh, isn’t she delusional, getting excited over a little more than a pound? Even when the nutritionist comments about how she’s surprised your toddler is eating peanut butter and almond butter before the age of two—when at your last visit, she recommended you increase his nut butter intake. You know what is best for your child, so don’t be overwhelmed by all the suggestions they offer you. Just try one at a time.
  3. Switch up the eating pattern. For us, this meant swapping from the high chair to the table, in a booster seat. We added putting food in bowls and on plates, and when appropriate, spoons or forks. In other words, encouraging independent eating. Adding an additional snack also was helpful.
  4. Don’t stick to standard meal times. Max naps over lunchtime, and trying an “early” lunch did not fly, he wasn’t ever hungry for a meal. Our schedule looks like this:
    7:00 – 7:30 a.m. Wake Up
    8:00 a.m. Breakfast
    10:30 a.m. Snack
    11:00- to 12:00-ish Nap Start
    3:00 p.m. Lunch
    5:00 p.m. Snack
    7:00 p.m. Dinner
    8:00 p.m. Snack
    9:00 p.m. Bed
  5. Keep mealtime etiquette. Try to eat with your child, something about mimicking your eating works. Also, it offers more opportunity for them to reach for what’s on your plate. You can’t always eat with them, but you can have a cup of coffee, or hang out, or read them a story. Most importantly, just be nonchalant about the whole thing. Don’t offer praise or correct them for eating or not eating. Some days if they are eating, it’s better not to make eye contact. 🙂

So we move on to the next thing. And hope tomorrow, Max will eat that awesome chai peanut butter bread I slaved over this morning.

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Last Tuesday, our morning started with this:

Little Max was done with a diaper change and Ned watched him run into his bedroom, trip, and eat a face full of rocking chair. We went off to the pediatrician’s office to get him checked out, crossing our fingers that he didn’t need stitches. (Sidebar: We learned the hard, expensive way that most trips to the ER for cuts and whatnot result in no stitches, but instead just a $100 copay for the visit. And nurses goo-ing over our son.)

Luckily Max is tough, tougher than Mommy, I think. The day before his tumble we were at the peds office to see a nutritionist, reason being that our most recent wellness visit revealed that Max has only gained one pound since we left Florida in November. Which in the battle against his weight loss during month nine to month 12, we’re back to his original 9-month weight.

All of this is compounded with a giant immunization/Hep B shot cocktail given at his wellness visit, which basically causes Max to completely lose his appetite for the four days prior to our nutritionist meet and greet. We show up for that appointment to learn he’s lost half a pound over the weekend.

Top that off with the barrage of questions at our first talk with our new doctor. Is he able to stack blocks? Yes. Throw toys? Max had just thrown my newly-found sunglasses across the room mere moments before. That’s a yes. If you ask him to locate body parts, say his nose, will he point to it? Well, he puts his finger in his nose, does that count? Does he know at least seven words? Um, not all at once. Does he say “mama” and “dada”? Not directly to us, no.

At the end of this the doc looks at me and says, “Okay, well, be sure to work with him on that.” Hmm … maybe I should be working on a new doctor. By the time we hit up the nutritionist and then Mikey hit up the chair, I was at the end of my momma rope. What am I to do to fix all of this?

The lovely Kelly Ripa always tells this great joke, about how when you take home a new flatscreen television, you get a user manual thick enough to rival War and Peace, but when you take home a baby, they give you a single sheet of paper. Darn it, right about now, I wish there was a Mommy Manual.

I know that you can’t predict the health and development of every baby. I know I can’t prevent all trips and falls, and I know there is danger in comparing each child to an imaginary “normal” and wondering if he’s falling behind. Why doesn’t he have a giant vocabulary? Ned and I are both academics. Why doesn’t he say “yes” and “no” and “good-bye”? Why doesn’t he know where his nose is? (Actually, I think he does know, but he’s smart enough to know he doesn’t have to tell us if he doesn’t want to.)

I’m not going to lie; I’m completely freaked out that he’s not gaining weight. He’s growing, he’s in the 91st percentile for height. But clearly, his eating habits are not working. And it’s too much to cover in just 500 words. So we’re taking notes from the nutritionist, starting to use some developmental tools and hopefully making some progress, soon to be reported in future blogs, as I start writing my own Mommy Manual.

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