For a while now, we have been having a fair bit of trouble when it comes to Spud’s meal times. Feeding her has become quite a struggle; we can never predict how she will react and it usually is a hit and miss.
We have tried almost every trick we know just to get her to open her mouth to take another bite or a spoonful, after she refuses to take any more of what I prepared after the 2nd or 3rd bite. There have been occasions when even before she tries anything, she decided not to open her mouth at all, not until after a lot of coaxing and pulling a few tricks here and there. Some of the tricks which came up in the spur of the moment had included me pretending to feed the cats or her toys, using a different spoon or a different bowl, giving her various types of other food – from jarred to mushy, just using hands or even me putting the spoon or the food in my own mouth so that she’ll take it from my mouth like a little bird (disgusting I know, but that sometimes can be the only way to get her to eat!).
When at one point she decided that she no longer wanted liquid food, she suddenly threw us a curve ball by refusing anything that is non-liquid. So much so, that in the last two weeks or so, we have been pureeing her food to death, as that has been the only way to get her to eat her meals. It suddenly seemed like she got lazy to chew her food…
Meal times with her can be really stressful, and I’d be lying if I say that initially I did not lose my temper when all this fiasco started. Not only was she being difficult by refusing every single bite I tried to feed her, she was also playing with food and created a lot of mess. Suddenly, I had food on my face, I had food on my hair, on my hand, on my clothes, on the floor…basically, I had food every friggin’ where but in her mouth! That was quite frustrating, especially when I have to go to work PLUS I hate, hate, hate having food smeared all over me. But after a few tries like that, I decided that I needed to try to remain as calm as I can, and where possible, let Silver Bullet takes over (until he gets frustrated; and by then I would have calmed down to take over from him again).
For a few weeks, that was our routine, and I have to admit that there came a time where I just dreaded Spud’s mealtimes, thinking if we could please just feed her only milk instead!
But for some reason, I pursued on. And the more I pursued, the more practice I had with my patience to keep my cool. In fact, somehow, I managed to relax and let her make the mess, and even able to look beyond the ewww factor of having her food all over me. I was past angry, and I was really just dealing with it. Very calmly.
Holding my zen as much as I can and pretending to be unperturbed by her antics (or that I have been severely soiled by liquid food at the same time), I continue to feed her again while she continues making the mess. At the same time, I also realized that she had wanted to hold her own spoon and started to clumsily scoop the food herself from the bowl. Funnily enough, as long as I allow her to do that, she allows me to feed her without any fuss.
That was when I instinctively decided to put a little food in another bowl for her to play with, while I keep the majority in the original bowl. That has now become our added repertoire at her meal-times and makes it a much more pleasant experience (for me). Although, that being said, I don’t know how long this trick will last before she throws another curve ball again.
The mess she makes is unbelievable, so much so that I feed her with only her diaper on every morning after her shower. There are days when I realised that I have splotches of dried baby food sneaking up on my clothes or my hair or my eyebrow after being in the office for a few hours!
I have come to a realization that the meal battles with her is not worth fighting, and now, resigned to the fact that if she does not eat now, she’ll eat later. And, if she just wants only liquid food, then so be it; and she’ll get only the mother of all pureed food till she has enough of it.
I guess this is one of the phases every parent go through…and no matter how hard it seems, as one of my friends with 2 kids used to say, somehow, mothers will always figure it out.