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Another tedious post about baby eating. YAWN.

The whole providing the infant with sustenance adventure continues to unfold. For instance, I stopped buying this particular formula…

It seemed like the right thing to buy at the time...

And switched to this one.

The label should been a pretty good warning, huh?

And perhaps as a result, or perhaps just because time has passed, the experience of giving my child fake milk* has gotten a lot less fraught. Bottle feeding has its own nice features, turns out (in addition to not being painful). She just lies there completely boneless, whereas she wriggles and tries to rip my face off while nursing. There’s something rather pleasant about a totally limp baby… I have also discovered that the formerly impossible feat of trimming her toe nails is easily accomplished by one of us while the other gives her a bottle. HUZZAH. The morning and evening nursing sessions are now a lot nicer, knowing it’s just a brief interval of pain.

Meanwhile, Bun Bun has moved pretty fully into I reject all solid foods you offer, particularly at dinnertime mode. It’s an interesting experience, and makes me think a lot about how rich I am, because I can afford to have my child throw a perfectly good deviled egg on the floor, and not pick it up and eat it myself. Although sometimes I do. And I can’t help but think this has got to be a phenomenon of western-y culture, because our species could not have survived if precious food got wasted so continually… I guess I should still be exclusively breastfeeding or some shit? ANYWAY, it motivated me to finally buy a copy of the Ellyn Satter book I’ve heard such good things about (nice précis of the general approach here) from various sources. I like the approach because it means not desperately leaping up to find something your child will eat, after she rejects what you’ve prepared. That is so not my style, and I, like every other parent on earth, am hoping to avoid the whole I will eat only rice so you must make me rice for every meal phase some kids go through.

But I wasn’t sure how to handle the consequences of this approach, namely the shrieking. And what to do later, when I have to send my child to bed hungry because she’s rejected my delicious pasta salad? Thus far, I have to say, I haven’t found the concrete suggestions I was hoping for. And I suspect it’s because all you can really do is stick to the plan and endure. But the book has given me confidence that my child won’t starve if I provide some nutritious options and she chooses to have nothing to do with them, and that I can just try to stay relaxed about the whole fucking thing. Try, notice.

(The book also made me feel instantly bad about myself, like almost all books on anything to do with parenting tend to, hence my refusal to read them. For example, it assumes you’ll stop breastfeeding at the earliest possible moment, and seems to have an almost dismissive or hostile view on nursing beyond a year. Not that I’ll be doing THAT. But anyway, don’t read books, man. Just rely on my comprehensive and unbiased reviews.)

Anyway, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions, at least for the time being. No more choosing meals (we do meal planning, and have a list of things we like to eat) because I think she will like them. She won’t. No more making things special for her. I mean, yes, preparing fruit and bread, and continuing to make the things she reliably eats, like oatmeal, yes, of course, but no more oh would you like a nice scrambled egg for breakfast this fine morning? No, she wouldn’t. She can throw some scrambled egg on the floor the next time **I** want a scrambled egg.



*You know, I use terms like this and make jokes about formula being poison because of my own feelings about not being able to provide enough milk for my baby, but I hope I don’t hurt the feelings of anyone who’s been using formula all along. I assure you, I’m not passing judgement on anybody but myself here.

22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oak #

    You know, Mac likes one thing one day and hates it the next. His current phase is to eat whatever I put in front of him with one caveat – eat means to put it into his mouth, chew it and spit it right back out. Its like some crazy teenage girl eating disorder around here.

    But I’m of the same mindset as you about food – He’ll get what he gets and amazingly he doesn’t starve if he doesn’t eat whatever he’s given. Last night he chew chew spat (spitted feels so much better there) everything and then refused a bottle before bed. Woke up happy as a clam 12 hours later…

    There’s no right answer…just right ways to put up your hands and say “Ah, fuck it”.

    March 21, 2012
  2. Oh you crack me up – this is so funny! I like the way you approach this eating thing. You’re going to be doing it for a long time – feeding little Bun Bun – so you may as well do it the way YOU want to do it!

    March 21, 2012
  3. You’ll forgive me, I hope, but I’m laughing my head off over here about “eat what I give you” preventing pickiness. Ah ha ha ha ha. I mean, great if it does, and I hope so, but toddlers are little two-legged engines of screamy contrariness. And that’s on a good day. At 18 months Bug was snarfing down the garlic broccoli and the pad thai, and now, well, if he’s eaten a vegetable this week, we’re doing great. (I put one in front of him two meals a day, mind you.) Our (large) playgroup, who are mostly sane, nice people, have kids who’ve pretty much done the same. (Bug will also say “I don’t like warm chocolate chip cookies!” just to be contrary. THREE!)

    In any event, yes, I’m sure Bun Bun won’t starve! She looks quite the round little thing in your pictures. And this way it won’t drive you as crazy!

    (P.S. Maybe the hunting dogs ate Paleolithic toddler scraps.)

    March 21, 2012
    • Oh, you paint a terrifying picture. Of course, I never claimed she’s going to eat what I give her, OR that it’s going to make her less picky. My goal at this time (beyond maybe keeping my child alive) is to avoid having to cater to her whims, now and later. From what I hear/read from you and others, the refusal of all things looks like a cyclic process? So I keep holding out hope that she’ll enter a more receptive phase.

      March 24, 2012
      • Ah, well, that should work a treat then! 🙂

        It does seem to come and go. We’re coming; maybe you’re going.

        March 25, 2012
  4. Jen #

    We’re in the chew-chew-spit phase now. It’s nasty. I reflexively hold out my hand to catch the cud and end up handling a lot more ABC food than I would like. Which would be quantified as any amount greater than none. And sometimes, just to fuck with me, he’ll demand a bite of this off my plate, then yell “no!no!no!” and then want a bite of that and yell “no!no!no!” and then repeat until I want to stab my eyes out with a fork. Also the dog eats very well. She doesn’t even have to beg, she just lays under the chair and waits for manna to fall (get chucked) from the heavens.

    Just keep shoveling food in front of her and she’ll figure out that she either eats it or doesn’t eat. She seems smart. I trust she’ll survive.

    March 21, 2012
  5. I have always been perplexed by this eating and refusing to eat thing. Your sweet Bun Bun had such a nice run there only to start pushing your food buttons. It must have been in olden days that you starved picky children into eating whatever is offered (or they were breastfed as you suggested). We need a time machine to find out. I’ll start planning the wardrobe and see if I can entice Dr. Who into a new study.

    I have been negligent in reading any parenting books at all. Mostly, I feel that I will think that whatever I’m doing is wrong no matter what I read. I have accumulated enough anxiety without adding professional opinions to the mix. Something, I’ve admired your ability to point out and dismiss. And i do hope that this is a short phase. I shed a small tear for that poor deviled egg. I will imagine that Bun Bun will one day hear of how this most favorite of foods was so carelessly treated in her early years, that she will make up for it with acquiring a taste for capers and all fruits and vegetables brightly colored.

    March 22, 2012
    • One of the things she will eat is a pasta dish that involves capers. It’s an utter joy to see her delicately picking up a caper…

      March 24, 2012
  6. I hope I don’t hurt the feelings of anyone who’s been using formula all along.

    No hurt feelings here. We had our own adventures with the “10.45EUR/can but obviously high quality and really tasty” formula vs. the “4EUR cheaper but WHOA the gas and the green poo” version, and opted for the former. I still have half a container of the cheap stuff which I stick in one scoopful (out of 5) per bottle, and that doesn’t seem bother her, so at least we’re getting rid of it!

    March 22, 2012
  7. SRB #

    HAHA! Guilt Milk. It’s what’s for dinner.

    Fortunately, it hasn’t occurred to HGB to spit food back out me…yet. He will, however, just sit there, holding it in his mouth for an eternity and/or when i just stick my fingers and scoop it out about 20 minutes into the stand off. I am still nursing (and don’t plan on quitting anytime soon) BUT I also believe that what I put in front of you is what there is to eat, and if you don’t want it, fine. The end – dinner is OVAH. I grew up in a house that took that notion a little farther, which is to stay that you will sit there until your plate is clean and/or you will get it for breakfast. WHICH I DID. I won’t be going that far, but yeah. This is what’s for dinner, kid. Take it or leave it. He won’t starve.

    Babies are sly like foxes. I mean, unless they are straight up gagging or barfing up the food, they are just fucking with you. Show them who’s boss! And when they doth protest too much, break out the Ma Phones.

    March 22, 2012
  8. Ana #

    Just close your eyes, take a deep breath and repeat after me…”it’s just a phase”. Unfortunately this is true for the good stuff & the bad stuff alike. We were so gosh-darn SMUG when B was 12-18 months old—we gave him what we were eating for dinner and he ATE IT. Spicy, salty, colorful, whatever. His favorites were avocado, broccoli, beans, olives, etc… you get the point. Now, at 26 months, its all-beige all the time. He picks the broccoli OUT of the mac & cheese and wrinkles up his little nose—where did he learn this??? I pack EIGHT containers for lunch & snacks for daycare every day and the most colorful thing in there is the “tri-colored” pasta. We still give him some of what we’re eating, but it often ends with shrieking and the dog getting really well-fed. We do cave and offer something bland as an alternative (usually bread or fruit) & make sure he guzzles his milk because he’s gotten old enough to ask for “sumpin’ else” if he’s still hungry at bedtime.
    Oh and as for the cave-babies? I’m pretty sure they were nursing plus being sat on their parents’ laps and being hand-fed tiny bits off from mommy’s meal (this is how I’ve seen little ones eating in “developing” countries now, so I assume it’s the “old way”), so there wasn’t too much opportunity for wasting. When they are done or uninterested they leave, and there’s more for mommy! Sitting the kid alone in the high chair with her own portion usually leads to much more hijinx. Though, I’m kind of embarrassed to admit, I am not above picking a half-eaten quesadilla off the floor and calling it mine (if I get there before the dog).

    March 22, 2012
  9. Ana #

    Also, you are hilarious. As a former (and, likely, future) formula feeding mom, I am amused, not offended. I totally get it. Mom guilt, now available on amazon subscribe & save (seriously, you will save 30% with amazon mom, no need to throw your $ and you self-esteem down the drain at the same time) We didn’t have the pee-ing problem…just the explosive green shoot-across-the-room-when-you’re-changing-a-diaper projectile poops

    March 22, 2012
  10. Ah the guilt. I still feel it, despite pumping like a crazy person for 6 months. But now we are in a place where, well, there’s just so much MORE to feel guilty about. Like if I don’t feed him enough green vegetables in a day, or if I am in a rush and feed him myself instead of letting him do it, or if he is not getting a full complement of tastes and flavors to make him a good eater.

    So I am just winging it — I feed him (and he eats) pretty much everything, until he doesn’t and he spits it back out at you. Slowly, like he is just trying to dribble it out. And then he uses his finger to scrape any offending bits off his tongue. And that’s how I know the meal is over. SOmetimes I’ll give him some fruit for dessert and he will happily munch away, but sometimes the spitting is the sign that food time has ended.

    I can’t possibly read about this stuff — I’ll combust with worry and guilt. As it is he will probably never learn to use a spoon because I am too impatient to wait while he flings food all about. And I have not yet introduced him to chinese food or mexican or even thai, so I am sure that, despite my best efforts, he is going to eat rice and chicken nuggets and peanut butter on crustless white bread. And family meal time only happens a couple of times over the weekend. So, yeah, I’ve already screwed up massively. Oy.

    March 22, 2012
  11. Here is my promise to you: I will NOT buy books on parenting and rely on your comprehensive review. I much prefer reading your blog to the prospect of reading some shit book that makes me feel utterly inadequate.
    Seriously, Bunny, have you thought about writing the Mother of all books on how to ignore parenting books and trust that you are not going to kill/mutilate/starve/scar for life your child. It’s not like you are wont of things to do in your days, but if you did write that book, I would be first in line to buy it.

    March 23, 2012
    • I’ll add it to my “what to do if I don’t get tenure” list…

      March 23, 2012
  12. manapan #

    Tatoe’s getting pickier too, but he’ll still eat anything I put on a pizza and I’m hoping that will trick him for a good deal longer. And it’s surprising how good broccoli and spinach pizza is.

    Also, YES. You need to write a mainstream parenting book! Any way you can work it into a Real Project for your tenure committee?

    March 25, 2012
  13. Your attitude is spot on! I’m amazed that you have gotten to this level of wisdom so soon. It has taken me nearly 3 years and I would say that I am just coming into my own on this subject. I needed to live through several cycles of this to realize that a) these periods of wanting to eat only processed pork products and picking any microscopic spec of green off of foods will be back again – and again. And b) we will all survive through them. I now keep my eye on the long term prize of not turning my child into someone with an unhealthy relationship with food and do not [visibly] sweat the details.

    And, as one more parenting book-avoider, I want to book my advance copy of your masterpiece. Tell it sister!

    March 25, 2012
  14. I just got a Similac commercial inflicted on me by Hulu. AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH. I think my brains are leaking out my ears now.

    March 25, 2012
  15. Twangy #

    Bunny! I wondered why you were being so quiet! I worried! And only today did it finally dawn on me that I hadn’t updated to your new address – which, yes, I had read about, but had forgotten, remembered and forgotten again. OH WOE IS ME, bunny. I am sorry for my silly modern dimness.

    On the other hand, I have lots of lovely reading to do, while my class – eh – get-on-with-something-productive. Good to see you!

    March 27, 2012
  16. i think i just had a breakthrough about all this. i’m gonna write a blog post about it. real soon.

    basically it comes down to realizing that while i wanted to do these things with food in order to avoid power struggles, the real choice was between playing the inevitable power struggles to win or not. and dammit, i like winning.

    now that i’ve adopted a more machiavellian attitude, i feel better and the bean is eating more kinds of foods. HA. TAKE THAT, BABY.

    March 27, 2012
    • Oooo! Please do share the wisdom. I, meanwhile, will start production on our LIKE WINNING, HATE WHINING bumper stickers. Also, please also write the rant about formula packaging. (I swear I did not steal your idea for my humorous satires. I swear, teacher!)

      March 27, 2012
  17. Well hiya! I haven’t actually encountered a whole lot of the refusal to eat something. Jack appears to eat everything that I put in front of him although I often find out later that most of it was hiding out in his lap, but he chewed on it at least.

    He has started doing something a little funny where if I hand him something else….wait this would work better with an example. Okay he has a tortilla piece in his mouth and is chewing and I hand him a banana, he will push the tortilla out of his mouth to get the banana in. It is weird. He seemed perfectly happy eating the tortilla.

    I am sure I have LOTS of food battles ahead of me. I am not excited.

    March 27, 2012

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