Not So Yummy, Mummy
When my older son neared 18 months, he entered the food-throwing phase. Chalk it up to first time mommy-hood but I thought I had another 6-9 months before this would be an issue. Naively I believed this type of behavior was saved for 2-year olds. Turns out I was wrong. My son loved to eat and generally he’d liked many of the things I’d given him in the prior few months however once the 18 month-old bell rang, he became a picky monster who took to launching anything unappealing from his highchair. The throwing was accompanied by his baby voice uttering a devilish, “no, no, no” as the meal hit the wall. This is, of course, was followed by an impish grin as he happily ate whatever remained on his tray. If you are like me, you’ve spent countless evenings wiping up the floor and walls after the disaster, (more commonly known as dinner), has occurred.
Well Honest Moms, don’t despair. This behavior is totally normal (and appropriate). The key is to never let them see you sweat (and by that I mean, don’t laugh, smile, frown, yell, or do anything that would otherwise indicate a response to the behavior). If you do, it will likely make your lovable little monster think you are “playing a game” and the throwing is likely to continue. This very food-throwing behavior can inspire many of us to become short-order cooks, madly scrambling through the pantry to find the next option, in the hope that our little monster may actually eat a few bites. Clearly we can’t let the child starve, can we??
The best thing to do is to resist the urge to provide yet another option and cling to your mantra, “patience, patience, patience…” I like to remember the words of dietitian and kid-feeding guru, Ellyn Satter (and I’m paraphrasing here…), it’s the parent’s job to provide nutritious options and the child’s job to decide which of those options to eat. It will also help if you can teach your child at a very young age to indicate when they are finished eating. In our house, Aidan learned to wave his hands wildly to indicate “all done.” It is important to teach your little one to communicate when they are finished eating and to take this as your sign that he/she is no longer interested in food. Try to banish the thoughts that run rampant through our mommy minds, “but he hasn’t eaten enough” or “she only ate crackers.” Respecting your baby’s cues at meals is important and is the first step in raising a healthy eater.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ellyn Satter’s philosophy and haven’t read her book, “Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense” it is a Honest Mom must-have. She reassuringly provides practical advice on how to avoid emotional struggles at meals. It helped to relieve many of my meal-time anxieties and encourages us all to teach our children healthy eating behaviors and END the meal-time drama. What’s not to love?