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Archive for the ‘Toddler Eating’ Category

One evening, shortly after my last blog post was announced via social media, my dear husband Ned was cruising through his nightly ritual on his smartphone: looking at crap on the Internet. He came across my post and said, “Oh, is this your blog?”

*sigh* yes, Ned that is my blog. The one you’ve only read once before.

And he proceeded to read it. Halfway though, he asked me, “Who is ‘Max’?”

*sigh sigh* I explained to him that was his son’s name-change-to-protect-the-innocent. I then pointed out that I was “Molly” and he was “Ned.”

“Ned? Ned!” he protested. “You named me Ned?” I laughed. He glowered and said, “At the very least you could have named me something that fits. Like Thor or Gunnar.”

Seriously? This from He Who Never Reads My Writing? (Really, I’m okay with that part. It’s a long-standing tradition that none of my family really has an awareness of my published life. It is best, I have learned, that these people just stay out of it.)

So to honor Ned/Thor/Gunnar, and to celebrate Father’s Day, I give you my top ten things that fathers do. (Because, let’s face it, much of what they do falls into the pet peeve category for most moms; and well, we have girlfriends for that sort of talk.)

1.  The Shock of Poop. Ned/Thor/Gunnar gets the bedtime detail, just based on scheduling. I get the majority of diapers and getting Max up and putting him down, so nighttime is it for NTG. I’m usually in the laundry room while the poopy diaper is being ensconced, which is almost always followed by, “Oh dear GOD!” or “Jesus, what is your mother feeding you?” I laugh and laugh. Laugh harder when I then hear, “Max, no! Don’t put your hand there!” Hehehehehe.

One time when Max was just a few months old, we were traveling with him over the holidays. The moment we got to our seats on the plane, I could tell he’d pooped. NTG said he’d take him, and headed off to the airplane bathroom. He got back to our seats, handed me the baby and said, “Woah. That was a five-sheeter.”

2.  It’s Hard Enough Remembering to Feed the Cat. This sounds terrible, I know, but it is an universal dad thing. I have mom friends that leave their husbands detailed lists of what to feed the child, or just make everything themselves. Whenever I am out on the weekend—errands, grocery store, whatever—I will get the call from NTG, or I’ll check in with him, and we have the following conversation:

NTG: So um, I think maybe I should feed him lunch.

Me: Yes, yes. It is 12:30. Lunch is a good idea.

NTG: What do you want me to give him?

Me: *insert boring list of toddler lunch food items*

NTG: Okay. Sounds good, baby, see you later.

I then come home to find out my son ate nuts on the couch with NTG. Or Cheese-Its in the playroom. Or NTG saying, “He ate a bunch of those cheese puffs, but that was about it.”

3.  That’s Mr. Daddy. One of my most favorite things that NTG does: he teaches our son. Tools, putting together shelves, helping set up the big-boy bed. NTG is patiently narrating the entire way, letting Max participate. Laughing every time Max imitates the sound of the drill. It’s awesome.

4.  What Routine? Out to lunch on a Saturday, and Max had inhaled a buttered muffin, a bowl of grapes and a few tablespoons of ketchup via a few dozen French fries. We paid the bill, and were getting ready to go. I reached into the diaper bag and pulled out a wipe, and handed it to Ned/Thor/Gunnar. He looked at the wipe, and then at me, and asked, “What am I doing with this?”

I gave him a blank stare. He said, “Oh …” and proceeded to wipe up our son. I could not stop laughing at him.

5.  Fashion Sense Isn’t Needed at Night. In the morning, I’ll look at my son, who is wearing his “I’m Crabby” pj top with his construction vehicle pj bottoms, and ask NTG: How did this happen? He almost always responds with, “What? I just reach in and grab.” Clearly.

6.  Daddies Hang Out Better Than Anyone. See the image below for evidence. When this is just NTG messing with his smartphone for a half-hour at a time, it makes me crazy. But add the kiddo into the mix, and it’s cute. They’re like peas and carrots, those two.

MC Apr 13 012

7.  Brute Strength. This is helpful because sometimes kids just want to hug their mommies, or bite them, or hit them or do whatever they want (not what the parent wants), ’cause moms don’t retaliate. Also, some things are just heavy. Having dad around is invaluable, especially in the following situations:

  • Removing a screaming, kicking toddler from a room.
  • Transferring a screaming, kicking toddler from the park to a car seat.
  • Quickly moving a 30-pound kid up a flight of stairs.
  • Pack-muling it through an airport with a stroller, a carryon and a car seat in a protective cover strapped to his back.
  • Holding an infant still for first-time bloodwork, while Mom paces the room. (Dad may cry through this process. It’s allowed.)

8.  Teaching Inappropriate Things. My father was good at this. (He was notorious for teaching babies how to make raspberries.) Sofar, NTG has taught Max how to sing the Hofbräuhaus drinking song: “eins, zwei, g’suffa” (one, two, drink). I ignorantly thought this meant, “one, two, three.” No, now Max sings it, and clinks your glass three times with his sippy cup before he chugs his milk. Max also quite enjoys chanting: “Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi!”

Other offensives include: “hubba, hubba, hubba” and “Oh, sexy girlfriend!” From Parenthood, and Sixteen Candles, respectively. At least he’s not taught him, “No more yanky my wanky.” Goodness.

9.  They Love Kid Food. Sometimes I think that Ned/Thor/Gunnar prefers veggie chips and peanut butter toast to the coconut-crusted chicken with mango salsa dinners I prepare for him. Truly, between NTG and Max, I need to buy peanut butter, cheese crackers and Oreos in bulk. Whenever Max is done eating, his father isn’t far behind, snatching up grilled cheese and declaring, “This is delicious!”

10.  They’re Human Jungle Gyms. This also includes scary monsters, hide-and-seek, and wrestling. All code for: Daddies take the abuse. Just this morning I awoke to NTG and Max goofing around in Max’s bedroom. Ned/Thor/Gunnar is lying on the floor, his legs bent and feet firmly planted on the carpet, while Max proceeds to climb up and slide down his legs like NTG is his own personal playset.

I am told this kind of activity comes with a certain risk to man parts, but today, as I watch my boys, I notice NTG is uncomfortably resting his head in his hands. I ask, “Would you like a pillow?” He says yes, and I promptly give him the one off of Max’s big boy bed. NTG happily rests his head for about 30 seconds, until Max suddenly stops playing, stands up, walks over to his father, and yanks the pillow out from under NTG’s head. Max then runs into the other room, and throws the pillow into it, taking it as far away from his daddy as he can. Like, “Bam! That’s where that shit goes!”

I laughed so hard, I cried.

So there you go, NTG. All of the daddy-like things we love about you. Happy Father’s Day.

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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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Or, as I like to call it: Help! My Toddler Won’t Eat!

Last week, we found out at our 18-month wellness visit that Max, our little superhero, is in the 21st percentile for weight. To be exact, he weighed 23 pounds, 11 ounces, just a little bit more than his 9-month weigh in. So, we made a date with the nutritionist the following Monday.

Now Max was nursing a cold, courtesy of Mommy, plus he is teething, plus he had five shots at the doctor’s office, which meant that weekend, he wasn’t interested in eating a damn thing. We show up to discuss Max’s weight on Monday, and learn that he’s lost half a pound. Way to kick start that conversation, eh?

Now, we’ve already been through the masses of blood tests, back when he dropped weight at a year. So we move on to summarizing Max’s eating habits and getting a recommended list of foods to add to his diet, which includes

  1. One tablespoon of almond, peanut, or cashew butter on toast, bagels, waffles etc.
  2. One ounce of heavy cream per eight ounces of whole milk.
  3. Lots of dips: ranch, dressings, cheese sauce, with dippers like proteins, mini bagels and soft pretzels.
  4. Cream cheese, drinkable yogurt and puddings.
  5. Butter or olive oil on all veggies, breads etc.
  6. Pediasure for the days where he won’t eat a meal.

We also are to add a snack at night, and to try and increase his meat eating. For the next few days, this brings about a whole new shopping/food prepping reality that I’m still adjusting to. I’m checking yogurt shakes (RE: Danimals, Gogurt) to sneak a snack in him before naptime, but they’re all made with lowfat milk; same with prepackaged pudding, totally sans the added calories of whole milk. I’m giving him Tagalongs as snacks, the peanut-butter-filled Girl Scout cookies, because they’re an awesome 70 calories a pop. I’m smearing butter on everything, and making full crockpots of stew meat and pulled pork so he has some consistent meat choices.

And yet. He won’t eat.

At the most, he’ll snack on dry cereal and raisins and occasionally eat a slice of toast or a few tablespoons of peas. He’ll drink milk and some Pediasure. And for the past two days, running a low fever, I can’t even get him into the high chair.

We have tried a litany of excuses and suggestions for this new behavior, which began 12 days ago after his visit to the pediatrician. He’s teething. He’s running a fever. He’s trying to exude control. He’s not feeling well. He’s getting over the shots.

We also have tried adjusting mealtime behavior: from high chair to booster seat, at the table; not praising nor scolding him for eating/not eating; giving him smaller portions of food; remaining nonchalant during meal time.

Some days, I am so angry I cannot see straight. I literally have to walk away from the table, because it makes every neuron in my brain explode when he doesn’t eat. French toast? No. Pulled pork? No. Buttered corn? No. Grapes? No. Just no no no no no to everything that he once ate with vigor. Thank god we haven’t taught him how to say the word yet.

In discussing this with other moms that are dealing with similar issues, we find it’s the exhaustion of not finding a solution to the issue. It’s exhausting exuding so much effort and energy into preparing food that our toddlers turn their nose up at, or worse, squish it in their little baby fists. It’s wondering what to do now, when the problem isn’t just that they won’t eat, but that they need to gain weight, not contribute to losing more of it.

At the end of our conversations, we tell one another the same thing. “Keep calm, and carry on.” So for now, I shall.

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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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