Feeding my toddler can often feel like a power struggle. There are nights where dinner is an enjoyable experience. When my husband asks how her day was and she shouts out the names of her favorite toys. When she cracks us up with her little quirks- like how she will eat almost anything if we give her something to dip it in. And most recently, the dinner table was where she surprised us by picking up a “big girl cup” and drinking from it without spilling. When did she learn how to do that?
But every once in a while, the table becomes a place filled with tears and stress. We can feed our daughter a meal one week, and the next she will turn her nose up at it as if we are trying to poison her. Sometimes she only wants to eat watermelon. Sometimes she screams for “black cookies” (Oreos) before we even put on her bib. And then there are times when she refuses to eat at all and instead (adorably) only wants to hold our hands as we all sit at the table. We want to make healthy food choices for her and make sure she is getting the proper nutrition, but lately that feels like a battle we will never win!
I know many, many parents go through a similar struggle every night. The following is a first hand account of a mom and dad (aka: my husband and myself) attempting to feed their 20 month old dinner. #thestruggleisreal
5:30 – The family sits down to eat dinner – lasagna, a staple in many households. A dish that Toddler has eaten many times before. Mom and Dad present the plate to Toddler. She immediately frowns. Mom and Dad sigh, knowing they have a long road ahead of them.
5:31 – “Too hot?” Toddler assumes anything she is served is going to burn her tongue, even a lasagna that has been out of the oven and cooling for the appropriate amount of time. She proceeds to blow on said lasagna for the next 3 minutes.
5:34 – “Wow look at this yummy lasagna! Mmmm, so tasty! This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten!” Mom and Dad try to coerce Toddler into trying a bite. She let’s out a firm “no!” and squeezes her eyes tight enough to force a small tear to roll down her cheek.
5:40 – After six minutes of continuing “No”s, tears, and overall dramatics, Mom and Dad have resorted to ignoring the situation. “Don’t look at her. Just go about your business. If we ignore her, maybe she will get bored and try a bite!”
5:43 – Toddler picks up her fork and licks the lasagna. “Mmmmmm!” Mom and Dad breathe a sigh of relief, dinner has been saved!
5:46 – “No!” More eye squeezing, more tears. Mom and Dad’s excitement was short-lived. They resume ignoring Toddler.
5:50 – “Mommy’s fork!” Toddler’s fork is not good enough and she requests to use Mom’s fork instead. They are exactly the same. Mom is desperate and trades forks with Toddler. Toddler picks up a piece of lasagna with her new, fancy fork and stares at it. Mom and Dad resume ignoring her, hoping the tide will turn.
5:52 – Toddler feeds Dad a piece of lasagna. He suggests she try a bit too. She cries.
5:55 – Once again, Toddler picks up a piece of lasagna and licks it. “Mmmmmmm!” Mom and Dad hold their breathe. She takes a bite. “Mmmmmm!” She takes another bite. And another. Mom and Dad stare at each other. “Do not look at her!”
6:05 – Toddler takes her last bite. Mom and Dad give her lots of praise. “Great job, baby!” “You ate all your lasagna!”
6:06 – Mom wipes Toddler’s hands and face. Toddler looks up at her and says, “More please, Mommy?!”
6:07 – Mom wonders if it’s too early for a glass of wine.