Balanced Diets are Over-rated

THEY are sweet, puree up nice and smooth, and gain a little something when steamed with a stick of cinnamon. Pears. The only food the Little Mister will eat.

It’s only since he was eight months that he has accepted any solids at all, so I’m not expecting him to be eating three balanced meals a day. But, I do wish he’d eat at least some savoury foods. Some days are better than others. Often in the morning I get him to eat some yoghurt and rice cereal with his pear. Other sweet fruits also go down quite well as long as they are totally liquidised and the main ingredient in that two tablespoon meal is still pear.

But should I try and mix in some meat or vegetables, he looks at me like I’m trying to poison him. Like I’ve betrayed him. Oh Little Mister, I just want you to eat.

I’ve tried finger food. Grated cheese, a bit of egg, a bit of bread, a bit of corn cracker, a bit of banana. Same result everytime. Gag, choke, vomit. The Little Mister isn’t ready.

So I wait. While his friends eat their lunch around him, we wait. I know all babies end up eating. I know the Little Mister is not starving – in fact, he’s drinking so much formula it’s quite the opposite. But on some days, like today, his total rejection of even a tablespoon of food makes me wish he could just tell me what I am doing wrong.

Then I’d make it better, he’d eat a balanced meal, and then we’d go back to playing toys. And crawling, and clapping, and waving, and trying to climb. Because all that stuff is way more fun than eating, after all.



Right Tools for the Job

METAL teaspoons. This week, they’re the answer.

I’m getting the Little Mister to eat a little, probably about a teaspoon worth of food, about twice a day. It’s not because I’m giving him jarred stuff from the supermarket, or because I’m being brave enough to do baby led weaning, or because he particularly wants to eat. It’s because I’m using metal teaspoons.

Meal time goes like this. Milin gets one metal teaspoon. He loves it. He bangs it on the kitchen bench like a musician. He also throws it onto the floor and then looks at me expectantly until I pick it up and give it back to him. And, crucially, he puts it in his mouth and chomps on it.

The Little Mister is teething. Consequentially, he loves teaspoons. They feel great on his gums and they’re pretty easy to hold and get into his mouth. So while he opens wide to get one teaspoon in, I’m there ready with another. Another one laden with pureed solids, that is.

I know it’s trickery, but it’s getting me more success at mealtime than any other honest attempt at feeding has. If we’re having a really good day, the Little Mister will even want to feed himself. But again, with the metal teaspoon. Which I gently guide into his mouth, and voila, success.

So, in the kitchen cupboard, are a whole load of fancy BPA free baby spoons. Some even change colour with temperature so you know if your baby food is to hot. But the Little Mister is too smart for all that kind of stuff. Baby spoons which are soft on the gums? No thanks, mama. Point one of those in the direction of the Little Mister and his lips purse shut, his head turns away from you, he bats at the plastic, and he arches his back so far in the opposite direction he almost does a full backbend.

Tony has been telling me for months to give the boy a regular spoon, just like he sees us eating from. I was convinced a metal spoon would be too hard on his gums. And I was also convinced I was doing the right thing by buying lots of different baby spoons, because surely the little boy would find one he liked. But no, Tony insisted, try a metal spoon. I suppose he was right.

The Art of Deception

Parenting, I am quickly finding out, involves a fair amount of trickery and deception. This doesn’t surprise me entirely, but what is a revelation is how much I am trying to trick the Little Mister while he is so young.

I understand the benefits of a little trickery. I believed in the tooth fairy. I remember her making me feel better about having a mouth full of blood and searing pain when I pulled a tooth out with the hook of a French knitting doll. A very dear friend believed for years that if she cracked the bottom of the egg with her spoon, she’d set the fairies free. It meant she ate her soft-boiled eggs.

But poor Milin, who doesn’t know any better or anything other than pure instinct, is already being tricked by me. Or at least I’m trying. A lot of the time, he is too clever and doesn’t fall for my little deceptions.

The formula in the bottle trick is taking it’s time, but we’re getting there. We’ve tried mixing formula with expressed milk, and we’ve tried putting expressed milk on the bottle so he thinks it’s formula inside. He’s not been fooled easily. He may have finally given in to taking formula bottles from Tony, but that’s not because the trickery worked. It’s because he’s figured out that if I’m not home, he’s going to starve unless he drinks from the bottle he’s being offered.

Our next trick is trying to get Milin to eat real food. On Plunket’s advice, because he has clearly developed an aversion to spoons, we are taking a week off trying solids. I’m relieved, because the daily battle was stressful for everyone. But, while we’re not sitting him at his high chair and trying to force puree down his throat, we are still working on the food goal.

Working from the supposition that Milin loves putting things in his mouth, we have started giving him rusks – and yes, he seems pretty happy to gnaw away at them. We’re also giving him spoons to play with. As in, the spoons are your friends.

He knows they’re not though. They don’t make a noise, they don’t have lots of bright colours and different textures or smiley faces to them. He’s onto me. And whatever way I look at it, (whether I believe it’s ultimately for his own good, or whether I think doing this will make it quicker for him to learn how to feed himself), it’s deception. It’s me trying to pull the wool over his eyes, so that when I try another bowl of pureed pear at the end of the week, he hopefully won’t scream as soon as he sees the spoon coming towards him.

Perhaps there is a time and a place for a little trickery. It doesn’t sit quite right with me though. And may that’s because I can’t see where it will end. Spoons, tooth fairies –  do they make our lives as parents a little simpler, or do they make the hard stuff a little bit easier to swallow for the little people who believe everything we tell them?

Spoon or toy?

And the spoon as toy trick works