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No Clowning Around: The Serious Business of Feeding a Toddler

The Joker, Courtesy of DC Universe

When it comes to a baby's first words, all parents wait anxiously to hear one word ("Mama/Dada"), most can't wait to hear a certain three words ("I love you"), but, if you ask me, there's no two words better than the two words my daughter uttered for the first time the other day...

I had just come home from a long day at work. I was tired. I was cranky. I was hungry, but my wife and I passed each other at the door as she was on her way out to meet a friend for dinner. "She's all yours," she said, kissing me on the cheek before slamming the door shut. "Don't forget to feed her...," she screamed from the safety of the driveway. "Good luck! She's in a bad mood." And there I was, alone, face to face with the only person in the world who could make my mood look chipper- my 18-month-old daughter; the worst eater in babyland. Things were about to get ugly.

"D.D.? You want to eat?" I asked? "No!" she said emphatically, her head buried in a pile of books she had yanked from the shelves. "That's great," I said, "'cause Daddy's tired, and he's going to feed you now!" It's not the kicking, or the screaming, or even the wailing that I mind - it's the indecision that really gets to me? One would think an 18-month-old would have a clue as to what she liked, after all it's not like Miss Picky has the most varied diet, but every night we go through the same thing: I open the fridge and I give her her options...


"Fried Rice with Peas, Carrots and leftover Turkey?"
"Eggs and fingers (toast)?"
"Cucumber salad?"
She thinks about it: "No!"
"Fruit Salad it is!"

Now, maybe it's just me, but I always thought I'd have to force my kid to eat fruit. But every day we seem to go through a pint of blueberries, a jar of tangerines, and at least a handful of plums. Problem is that's all my kid eats. And I don't know if you've ever cleaned the diaper of a kid that lives on blueberries, but it's not the sweet smelling bouquet you might imagine it to be. They're also messy, and just the right size for my little girl to fling across the room where they get lost under furniture, but found by every bug that makes their way in to the slowly cracking foundation of my circa 1950's style home. And, when she's not in the mood to eat, it's a free for all.

So there I was, bitter, bibbed and ready for war. As I waited for the Mexican movie stand-off to begin, I sat face to face with my nibble-at-a-time nemesis, sizing her up before the battle began. I gave her the evil eye. She reached forward and grabbed my nose. I started to fake cry. She did the unexpected- she didn't throw her food? She didn't throw a tantrum? She didn't make a sound, other than to say: "more peeze (please)...." as she stuffed her face silly. It was amazing. The more she ate, the more excited I got. The more she enjoyed her food the more I relaxed and started to feel at ease. But, why was this night any different than any other? Why was I getting off so easy?

So finally, when her plate was cleared, and she fully packed away her second helping of dessert, I had to ask her: "D.D.? Why did you eat for Daddy?" She stuffed one more morsel in to her mouth, chewed it, swallowed it, took a sip of water, and looked a me with a big smile and said: "Dadd-ee Fah-nee!"

I accept that.

Good Fellas,  Movie Clip: "Funny, how?"(click)
Note: Rated R for Language and feeling of impending violence.

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Reader Comments (3)

Hilarious! Picky toddlers can make mealtimes so frustrating, but I think we make it harder than it should be. Sometimes humor really makes a difference. :) Also, I love that you share related links as resources - great idea! Thanks for sharing!

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAbigail

Okay, I sincerely busted a gut laughing at this one. Have you seen the book The Petite Gourmet? Excellent cookbook for toddlers and the "fruit fiends". I recently found that pumpkin blended with apples got the seal of approval...Mind you not the pumpkin pie mix filling but the true canned pumpkin mixed with apples. Good for the 'fruit fiends" Good luck

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Thanks! I'll check it out. I can use all the help I can get...pumpkin and apples is a great combo, especially at this time of year when I can take her to pick her own.

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFodder 4 Fathers

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