It still amazes me that such a tiny
demon human can wreak so much havoc.
7 months old. The “golden age” of babyhood, so they say. Baby’s developing sense of humor, curiosity and inquisitive nature are in full force and boy is it a fun time. Except when it wasn’t, recently.
Peanut was (still is) such a good baby. Good sleeper (kind of), cute, happy and healthy. Always eager to try the next step, I started her on solids at 5 months old. Baby sweet potatoes. Baby carrots. Baby peaches. All met with a gooey, smiling face smeared with food. ‘What a good eater!’, I thought to myself.
And then it came to a screeching halt when she turned 6 months old. I started having a real time trying to feed her dinner. I’d get home. She’d start to fuss, I’d whip out her favorite, pureed carrots, slap a bib her and BOOM!….ready to go, right? Yeah no.
Her cute little nose turned up at the sight of carrots, meal time soon became a horrible shit show of screaming, tears, a messy child and mom cracking open the wine a bit too early.
“What IS this kid’s beef?”, I asked myself. “This kid is hungry but she’s not eating. I must be doing something wrong.”
“Probably!”, said Hubs with a grin, the smart assery not being withheld.
So I had Hubs try to feed her, thinking maybe she just hated my face.
Nope. Apparently she hates his face, too.
Golden age my ass.
For weeks we struggled with dinner and during the weekends, all meals throughout the day. I’d get 2 spoonfuls in of food in and the crying would begin. I’d have to resort to force feeding her during her loudest, open-mouthed wails. Meals typically went like this:
Me: “Okay, peanut! We’ve got some carrots tonight! You like carrots, right??”
Peanut: (staring back, suspiciously.)
Me: (getting about 3 spoonfuls in)
Peanut: (turning her head and starting to fuss, closed mouthed)
Me: “Oh, c’mon. You’ve barely started. C’mon! Say ‘ah’!”
Peanut (continuing to fuss)
Me: (getting a spoonful in when she opens her mouth to moan)
Peanut: “Pbbbbpbbb!” (yeah, that’s her razzing, spraying the food out back at me)
Me: “C’mon! Say ‘ah’! ‘Ah-ah-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah ah!”
Peanut: (starts to dance to the beat)
Me: (eating her carrots)
Peanut: (starts playing with her hands)
Mack Truck: *fart*
Me: “You’re killing me, Smalls.'” (and I start to make her scrambled eggs for the 3rd night in a row)
The shittiest part? She’d eat for everyone else in the world except me. Daycare lady reported she couldn’t feed her fast enough during the day. Grandma said she eats just fine for her. Hell, I’m pretty sure that shifty homeless character that roams our neighborhood and remarks at how good of a watch dog Peterbilt must be (ha!) would have better luck at feeding her her strained peas. Cigarette in tattooed hand and all.
I felt ashamed. “I’m a joke of a mom!”, I’d say to myself. ‘I might as well get Mama June’s phone number so I can get pointers on how to integrate Mountain Dew into Peanut’s diet.’ As a mother, I’m supposed to be the one to keep her well fed, clean and happy but meal-times were the exact opposite of that. To add salt to the wound, she’d wake up hungry multiple times in the night. So now not only was I Suck-mom, I was a very sleep deprived Suck-mom.
I ran myself silly trying to figure out what was wrong. I tried using different high chairs (nope). Different bibs (still ripped them off). Not using a bib (lol). Finger foods (kid can’t live off of scrambled eggs and baby cheese puffs, despite what Mama June said). Buying a special high chair toy (she chucks it across the kitchen. Now a bulldog toy). Re-positioning her high chair to face a different direction (running out of ideas here).
I even (stupidly) tried introducing meats during this time. DO YOU KNOW WHAT JARRED BABY MEAT SMELLS LIKE? For those of you who don’t have kids, it smells an awful lot like wet cat food. And for those of you who have never owned a dog and a cat at the same time, cat food is like caviar for dogs, the holy grail of all foods. It’s stinky and they’re not supposed to have it, which makes it even more irresistible. All it did for me was create an audience of wide-eyed, drooling bulldogs around me and the high chair while Peanut wailed in frustration. Peterbilt with 6″ drool fangs, trying to lick the air and Mack licking the baby’s feet, probably imagining that they were cat-food flavored Popsicles.
I was about to accept the fact that mealtimes were just going to suck thoroughly until Peanut went off to college.
Last week, on whim, I gave her a taste of pears while preparing her dinner. She opened her mouth for more. And more. And more. And I opened a full container of pears which were inhaled. Once that was done, I had her finish off her carrots from the day before. Done. Cracked open a jar of baby beef. Woofed down. No tears. No crying. In fact, she was doing her little happy little babble noises and performing a primitive form of ‘wax on, wax off’ on her high chair table.
Holy crap. I figured it out! I have to prime the Peanut. Basically, start off each meal with a food she really enjoys (pears, yogurt, etc) and then once her appetite has been whetted, start with the veggies and meats. It’s worked every time since. We even have a baby food vocabulary built up:
Baby opens mouth, eats food, gulps, opens mouth in fast succession = Is good.
Baby casually eats = Meh.
Baby sprays out food at face = Rather not.
Baby spits out food and shudders = Um, yuck?
Added bonus? Her large supper allows her to sleep through the night. And I’ll drink to that.
Cheers. To the next hurdle. *Clink!*