We’ve got some eating issues in the Baby Squared household lately. In the interest of A.) Making sure I’m not the only one out there going through this B.) Letting you know that you’re not the only one out there going through this, and C.) Getting free advice, I feel I should share.
The most annoying problem by far is the throwing of food. Lately, when the girls don’t feel like eating something, instead of just not eating it, they drop or fling it onto the floor. Broccoli? No thank you. Get the wretched thing out of my sight, please. Flick, fling, plop. Then they make the “more” sign in hopes that I will give them whatever it is they do want to eat, usually fruit, yogurt or Annie’s cheddar bunnies. When they’re feeling particularly punchy, they just start wiping their trays clean, flinging everything onto the floor. (Walls, etc.; while cleaning the other day I had to pick encrusted bits of mac and cheese off the windowsill with my nails — what was left of them post crib-sheet changing, that is.)
This is Elsa’s specialty, and we respond to it by sternly saying no, food is not for throwing, it’s for eating, etc., and take her tray away for a little bit, then give her another shot a few minutes later. The typical result: she eats a little more, then starts flinging again. Rinse, and repeat. It seems like despite our efforts to be “strict” about this one — eventually, we say OK, that’s it, meal’s over — it doesn’t seem to stop her from letting out her inner John Belushi the next time around. She knows it gets a reaction. So, what to do? Are toddlers this age capable of learning table manners or should we just let them act like Visigoths? (No offense to any Visigoths out there; I’ve just heard your table manners aren’t the best.)
The other issue is snacking. And this may be the cause of the uptick in pickiness / food flinging at mealtimes. Increasingly, it seems, the girls ALWAYS want to be eating. Clio seems particularly bent on carb-loading in the afternoons (a girl after my own heart). “Kah-ga,” meaning cracker, is one of her favorite words. I try to give her things like fruit and cheese as snacks if she’s already had crackers or dry cereal, but the girl will whine and fuss until she’s got something flour-based in her maw. Maybe I am just giving in too quickly. But she is damned stubborn. And do you know just how annoying a toddler’s whining is? Of course you do. And you know how much easier it is to give the kid the damned cracker rather than try to distract her with educational activities or take the time to cut up an apple and then convince her to eat that instead. It’s even worse when two toddlers are whining at once, like they’re going to DIE if you don’t give them more cheddar bunnies RIGHT NOW.
I suspect that I’m giving in too quickly to their demands. I know kids this age need snacks, but I’m guessing that we shouldn’t let them “graze” as much as we do. On the other hand, they seem awfully damned hungry. (But maybe it’s just an oral fixation thing?) I’d love to hear from the masses: Do you put limits on how much your little ‘uns eat between meals, or are you spineless like me? Does it matter? Am I setting them up for a lifetime of poor eating habits?
In the meantime, I’m about to embark on a perilous outing: I’m going with the girls, in 95 degree heat, to a toddler-filled birthday party for 4-year old twins (whose hand-me-downs make up a good part of Elsa & Clio’s wardrobe!), sans husband. All I can say is: I hope there’s beer.