Do you make a meal out of mealtimes?
We have weaning pouches, plates, boxes, finger food, fancy forks and knives but what happened to – eat it or you’ll go to bed hungry?
I see picture after picture of boxes with sticks and straws, animal shaped sandwiches, information about how to get your toddler to eat by cutting the food in the teeny tiny star shapes, covering it with edible glitter and being self satisfied at the end of it.
Some toddlers are difficult. I have had one easy and one difficult with food. I refuse to sit for 30 minutes making a lunch that looks too good to eat. By making I mean the bit AFTER it’s ready. The bit where you sit, chop, trim and compartmentalise it all. Like a food jigsaw.
I sit Mojo down, I give her a plate – not a box, not a pouch, not a packet, there are no bells and whistles and there are no fucking fairies on forks – a plate of the food she will eat. IF she does not eat this food, she will not be offered other food. That isn’t how it works. I spend time preparing a meal for the family. Therefore the family can eat it.
I don’t want to spend extra time putting bloody cocktail sticks with ducks in the Hungarian chicken I just spent an hour cooking, then portioning it all out into tiny fucking boxes. No. That isn’t how it works.
BUT MY TODDLER EATS SO MUCH BETTER!?
Yeah, I bet they do. I bet all that over pampered meal time fun really does help. But let us get a little bit more ‘real’ here. If you need to spend the next year of your life making the breakfast, lunch and dinner look pretty are you doing it for you or them? Toddler’s are notoriously difficult. Toddler eating, sleeping, tantrum taming and potty training is all the same for me. It takes time, patience and nothing fancy. No one said it was going to be easy.
You put them in bed, you have a routine, eventually they will stay there and sleep.
You show them the toilet, you help them learn how to use it, eventually you have a potty trained child.
You keep them calm during the mother of all tantrums, you don’t reward the behaviour with sweet distractions, you don’t reward it with negative (telling off, shouting… pointless) – eventually your toddler will wonder what the fuck they are doing on the floor, get up and act as if nothing happened.
You give them a meal, in the same way you give everyone else. They eat it or they don’t. 9/10 your stubborn little toddler will give up EVENTUALLY and eat.
I want my toddler to be her own person, but I also want her to understand that until she can make it herself she will enjoy and appreciate what she is given, even if it doesn’t come with singing Koala bears covered in pink glitter and flamingos on cocktail-fucking-sticks.
Sometimes raising a toddler is like Game of Thrones.