The Seven Eating Habits of a Toddler

I have noticed that most toddlers have seven basic eating habits. I probably haven’t come close to covering all the different styles,but here are some that I have observed.
  • “OMG what is this poison you are trying to feed me?” – This particular behaviour is when you give your toddler food (usually your carefully crafted meal) and your toddler acts like you are trying to poison them. They may, if your really lucky, take a nibble, but mostly reacts violent and hurls it across the room. Usually this ends up with the food being chucked at the floor, cat, the tv, or if your really unlucky your head.
  • “Food Addict” – This behaviour is usually observed when your toddler eats or is about to eat their favourite food. Especially if its junk or sweets. There can be laughter, clapping, dancing, or a simple huge smile. But in general an overall happiness. When you remove this beloved food you have anarchy. Tears and screams. Hello tantrum central.
  • “I can eat it mum, what do you mean spaghetti doesnt go up the nose?” – This is when your toddler insists on eating themselves. Usually without utensils (though even if they DO use them it doesn’t make much difference), and usually when it is the messiest food around. Particularly if it stains (like bologna sauce). This type of eating style results in mess, usually all over your toddler, the seat, the floor, the cat, the table, and you. Food will also be found in random places like in the nappy, behind an ear (not necessarily the toddlers) , or down your shirt. BUT your toddler will be happy and eat a great deal. My tip, if at home strip your toddler down or put them in something you don’t care about getting dirty that way the damage is limited.
  • “Are you sure that is edible?” – This one is more of a look your toddler will give you. You present your food and they look at it in stunned disbelief. It’s almost like they can not believe you would have the audacity to put such a crime against toddler-hood in front of them. This can be followed by the “OMG what is this poison you are trying to feed me?” reaction or “I can eat it mum, what do you mean spaghetti doesn’t go up the nose?”.
  • “My name is Piggy Mr Piggy” – This one for us is random, but for some a way of life. It’s when your toddler seems to develop a black hole of a tummy and just shovels food in.
  • “A-N-I-M-A-L!” – This is when your child is a bit of a feral. They will eat off other people’s plates (while they are still eating), finish off siblings left overs, eat any food spilled on the floor. This is similar to the “my name is Piggy Mr Piggy” behaviour but with the difference off they wont stay put in the chair oh and sometimes they may and growl if you try and take the food off them.
  • “Well it’s green and furry it must be edible” – Probably the most revolting eating behaviour is when your child finds some long-lost, piece of food, that had been hidden only god knows where and proceeds to eat it. If your lucky you catch it before they get it in their mouth. If you are not lucky, be prepared for a heart attack. Some signs to look out for; Looking at something under a piece of furniture intently, going very very quiet.
  • “I don’t want it but you can have it” – I have yet to work out if this behaviour is sweet or gross. The food is usually half eaten and slobbered on when your toddler decides they want to share with you. I try to think this is sweet because otherwise the slobbered mangled food would freak me out (also I pretend to eat it and do a crafty slight-of-hand-mummy move that results in the food going nowhere near my mouth. I am ninja!).

My Experience With Breast Feeding So Far

When I became pregnant with Mouse, I knew I would breast feed. It was my intention to breast feed exclusively. I eagerly read the book provided by the hospital on breast feeding. I paid close attention in class. I thought I was prepared even if still nervous about it. Many of my pregnancy dreams involved breast feeding for the first time. It was constantly on my mind.

There are many reasons to breast feed, including boosting your child’s health early on. A baby gets more nutrients from his or her mother’s milk than from formula. This helps with the immune system and development. Not to mention mother’s milk is free.

Despite my best intentions, I ran into trouble early on. My milk didn’t come in fast enough and I was forced to supplement with formula. Mouse was introduced to the bottle three days after she was born. We were fortunate that she took to it without any difficulty. Although I have nothing against feeding formula to babies, I took it hard that I had to supplement my breast milk with formula. Given my emotional and sleepless state at the time, is it any wonder?

I almost gave up breast feeding several times during those early weeks. Between getting the latch just right to surviving the cluster feedings when she’d feed practically nonstop all day or night . . . I can’t tell you the number of times I was in tears over the process. I was told to hang in there for at least six weeks. If I was still having trouble and wanting to quit by that point, then I could. Somehow I persisted. Amazingly, or so I thought at the time, when that sixth week mark hit, I no longer felt breast feeding was a hopeless cause. I was enjoying it. How could I not love those moments when my little one fell asleep, cuddling my breast, satisfied?

As the time approached when I would have to return to work, I began to despair. I wasn’t able to find time to pump. I had maybe two frozen bags of milk for Mouse. A friend suggested I pump an hour before each feeding. The problem with that was Mouse was eating every two hours. While I could do it, I wasn’t up for it. All I would do all day is pump, feed, pump, feed. It just wasn’t practical. Breast feeding was a two handed job for me and so pumping while she fed on one breast was not an option either. I am sure there were other things I could try but my frustration got the better of me.

I resigned myself to the fact that Mouse would take formula while I was at work until I built up a supply. It wasn’t as if she wasn’t being given formula occasionally already.

Mouse is almost exclusively on breast milk now. We feed her by both breast and bottle. I pump at work during the day, and find it quite challenging. I am not one of those women who is overflowing with milk. I can count the number of times on one hand that my breasts have leaked. Although sometimes my breasts ache when full, they don’t hurt the way I’ve heard it described by other women. When I asked a friend how many ounces she pumps a session, she described filling one bag and needing to grab another and filling that one as well–with one breast (a good tip to remember: never compare yourself to others). I’m lucky to get an ounce some times. The most I’ve gotten from one breast is two and a half ounces–and that’s first thing in the morning. It feels like it is not enough, but I have heard it is normal. It’s too early to tell if it will be a problem later. For now, Mouse is fed breast milk from the bottle at daycare and I nurse her when she is home with me.

Soon I will be introducing Mouse to solids and then it will be a whole new ballgame . . .

Do you (or did you) breast feed? What difficulties, if any, did you run into? What about pumping?

Bottled success!

Back in January I blogged about the difficulty we were having with introducing bottle feeds for our daughter and how I wished we had used a bottle more regularly earlier on.  I have since read that in many cases, even with exposure to a bottle early on, some babies simply start refusing it after a while.  So perhaps mixing it up earlier on may not have worked (I don’t feel so bad about it now!). 

With the start of childcare looming the pressure was on to find some form of solution to our milk issue.  In the worst case scenario, we could always feed her milk from a cup as she seemed to have a lot of interest in drinking from a cup or  an “adult” drinking bottle.  Luckily, in the meantime, with a little patience, we have had success with feeding formula from a bottle. 

With the introduction of solids I was keen add some water to our little one’s diet.  Putting it in a bottle, she showed some curiosity in the water and possibly in being able to try and feed herself with the bottle.  At first she did not take much and she seemed to spit out most of the water that she sucked out.  But after a week or so she seemed to be drinking a little more, although it was hard to tell exactly how much she was swallowing.

Our first attempts at feeding formula from a bottle went the same way as feeding expressed milk from a bottle.  A bit of sucking, directly followed by spitting it out, followed by tears.  To get her used to the taste I started to mix it with rice cereal for her breakfast, and that seem to go down well.  Next, we gave her a small amount of formula from the syringe we use to administer her liquid vitamins each evening, which she always laps up eagerly, and that seemed to work too.  The next step was to feed her formula from a medicine cup which also was successful as she loves the “adultness” of drinking from a cup.  Finally, having had some success with water from a bottle, and formula from a cup, we decided to try formula from a bottle, and it worked!!  Cannot tell you how excited and proud I was!

I am hoping to be able to continue to breastfeed even though our daughter will be having bottles of formula at daycare starting next month, but will have to see whether my body adjusts.

Starting Solids.

When I wrote about this two weeks ago, I never imagined that the day for giving my not quite four-month old son would be today. Something happened this last week, my husband called it a growth spurt, I called it Karma. It’s karma for me opening my big yap and announcing that my son sleeps through. Almost immediately, when I hit “publish” it started. The waking up at four in the morning for no visible reason. We offer a dummy, he takes it and nods back off again, sleeping through till 530am. But still, the waking!

And then he started refusing the bottle altogether. I have guessed some of this is teeth related. The boy is dribbling like he’s trying to fill a pool, and his fists are constantly in his mouth. Something is going on in his teeth area, but something has also been going on in his tummy area, too. I think it’s empty.

After much uming and ahhing and googling today, my husband and I made the executive decision to start solids. No, he’s not six months yet. And I was hoping to not start him until then, but he has been making it very clear by chewing at us when we eat, and by opening his mouth when I eat something with a spoon that he wants himself some food. NOW. He’s clearly ready for it. So we made the leap.

It went surprisingly well! He spat out the first mouthful, as expected. Then he grinned, smacked his lips and opened his mouth for more. He finished the full two tablespoons of cereal I had mixed up, and acted as though he could go for more when he had finished. We left him at the two tonight, just to watch for allergies, reactions and upset tummies. So far, he’s had some bottle and gone to bed where he conked out immediately. The real test will be at 4am tomorrow morning. I am hoping this has him sorted, and that I’ve done the right thing.

We will keep him on the rice cereal for a couple of weeks, and then I will start adding pureed vegetables. Crossing fingers, and toes that this is not a big disaster like trying to get my daughter to eat, was.

What’s on the menu?

Jan_Baby_20110129_23

It was good to read Tamking11’s take on “Feeding the Masses”.  It is a relief to know feeding your children can be a struggle for everyone, and that even if your kids are somewhat fussy about food, they turn out ok.

When to Start

As with everything baby related, there is so much information and differing opinion on when is a good time to start on solids.  Over the years, advice has changed, but most recently 6 months seems to be the magic number – early enough to help satisfy up their growing bodies’ needs, but late enough to prevent onset of allergies.  Many sources also say that it is possible to start as early as 4 months if your child is showing signs of interest or needing extra feeds, although some are adamant about not before 6 months.  I did, however, recently come across a forum where mothers were starting their babies on crushed up rusks in milk at the 12 week mark which tends to go against what all the health professionals recommend.  There is also the theory that formula fed babies should start earlier than breast fed babies, at around the 4 month mark.

We decided to start our daughter on solids at four and a half months as she was showing a lot of interest, and opened her mouth if food was put near it.  It has been a gradual process of trial, error and persistence.  Sometimes she eats well and other times she doesn’t – hard to say if it is due to the type of food being served, where she is sitting (bouncer, play seat or lap), time of day, her level of tiredness or proximity to a milk feed.

When to Feed

The majority of reading suggests it is best to feed solids after a milk feed.  The reasoning for this being that at this early stage babies get nutrients from their milk and so it is best not to fill them up on solids before milk.  We wondered if this made much sense given the baby might be too full up on milk to want to try the solids at all.  Plus sometimes she would go straight to sleep after a milk feed so the timing would not work out at all.  I was glad to see this exact issues is covered by Robin Barker in Baby Love who suggests not to feed straight after a milk feed except in certain circumstances.  As a results I have completely relaxed on this issue, and just feed her solids when it fits in the day regardless of when the last milk feed was.

We started off with small meal a day, moving to two meals a day at the 4 week mark, and have recently moved to 3 meals a day at the 6 week mark.  I tend to find that she feeds best at the last meal of the day, around 5-6pm.

What to Feed

We started off with rice cereal.  Easy to prepare, nutritional and fairly bland.  Mixed with some expressed milk it made for a familiar taste for baby.  The first couple of days she was a little unsure and did not eat much, but by the third day feeding was a little more successful, and rice cereal remains one of her more favourite foods.  At the moment, we are trying to get her used to taking formula from a bottle with little success, but we have been able to mix it with rice cereal for one of her daily meals to get her used to the taste.

Next we tried mashed potato and then several purees of the milder vegetables, trialling each for a few days before moving on to the next.  I had heard that it can be better to start with vegetables rather than fruit because if a baby gets used to sweet tastes it may be harder to go back to the savoury tastes.  I should not have worried as we have since had much more success with the savoury than sweet.  Mixing the new vegetables with rice cereal or previously accepted vegetables has been a good way to introduce the new foods and keeps it interesting.

So far, here is what we have tried:
– Vegetables: Potato, carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, pumpkin (preferred roasted rather than steamed), zucchini, parsnip (no luck with this so far)
– Fruit: Pear (took several goes, and blending with rice cereal or other vegetables helped), apple (initially no success probably due to the use of Granny Smiths, have since used Royal Gala with more success, a friend also suggested adding a touch of lemon juice to cut through the sweetness, my mum suggested adding sultanas to take away the tartness), avocado, banana (hated it!)

Guidance

I borrowed Feeding your Baby and Toddler by Annabel Karmel from our local library, and found it to be a great source of information and ideas.  I definitely plan to purchase one of her many books to help with our future food adventures!

Feeding the masses

I am a lousy cook. I’m also a fussy eater.

Neither of these things makes for good home cooked meals for the kids.

When Lucy was a baby she hated pretty much every thing I ever put in front of her. Unless it came out of a jar. I wish I was kidding here, but home-made mashed potato, pumpkin, peas, brocoli.. you name it, she would spit it. Even pureed fruits, jellies, custard that I made. Every night, week after week after week. One day I turned to a jar off food in pure desperation and she ate it. The whole jar. Talk about crushing my spirit!

But! I would persevere! I would cook more food for her, she would eat it! It would be healthy! Organic! Home Made!

It would be thrown on the floor, spat out, vomited up. You name it, she did everything with it, except actually consuming it.

It drove me to tears. I even resorted to feeding her home-made food out of empty Heinz baby food jars. It took me half an hour to clean it off the kitchen cabinets.

I’m pretty sure she was about nine months old when I just gave up, and started giving her jar food. I’ve since learned that it’s not actually my cooking, just my kid is as fussy as they come. (You know how people say, “They’ll eat when they’re hungry?”.. Yeah, not my kid. To this day she’s still small for her age because she STILL barely eats. It’s something I’ve had to adjust to, but at least now she’s old enough to bargain with).

My son Oliver is (almost) four months old. I’m already having night sweats just thinking about the fight I’m likely to have on my hands when it comes to starting him on solids, and he won’t be starting until six months.He fights every feed (formula) as it is. My daughter was exactly.the.same.

My kids sleep awesome. They just don’t eat.

 

 

Breast and Bottle–Mixing It Up

 

bottlefeeder

At the beginning I had every intention of primarily breast feeding, and then expressing regularly so that Dad could share in the feeding experience.  There was also the potential benefit of being able to leave baby with a sitter/relative.  It just never really happened – laziness, never knowing exactly when to express, worrying about having enough milk to express, expressing enough, laziness – and I am regretting it now.

The first couple times we tried feeding with a bottle, in the first couple of months, she seemed to wolf the milk down.  Then we left her with my parents a couple of times in her 3rd month, and while she wasn’t completely happy about feeding from the bottle, she did it.  A few weeks ago we tried feeding expressed milk with the bottle again, but this time there was much unhappiness, frustration and many tears. 

Since then we have tried to persist with the bottle every one to two days, different teats, warming up the milk, warming up the teat, different person doing the feeding, and first thing in the morning without having seen me, but still not much luck.  Often she will suck a bit, but then spit the milk back out… fussy little girl! 

Possibly she took a little more this morning… fingers crossed we will get there in the end.  Otherwise, does not bode well for transitioning to formula at 6 months as I had intended.

If you are breast feeding, I definitely recommend regularly mixing things up with a bottle as soon as possible, once you are comfortable with the breast feeding.  Just gives you a bit of extra flexibility.

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