Usually I start these posts off with some sort of anecdote, but instead, I thought I would simply show a clip.
This is an example a “good” feeding experience when my daughter was almost one year old:
As I said, that was a “good” experience. You can see from the clip she ate all her oatmeal, and most of the food stayed where it should be and not on the floor, or in my face.
With that said there have been worse situations – one in particular involving blueberries that I do not wish to think about.
Suffice to say, the entire eating and feeding experience has be a trying experience, and like many new parents going through this process, it can be defeating and discouraging.
Sometimes, I would think to myself:
“Man, I can’t wait until she learns how to properly feed herself. I’m looking forward to the day where she’ll just eat without me having to worry about it!”
Things also go beyond just feeding. In the early stages of teaching my daughter to eat solids, I still remember the science lab-like setup in our kitchen.
We would steam, blend, bake, boil, pre-chew (okay that last one was a joke), every organic vegetable known to man, hoping to find the perfect combination. Often times she would devour what we feed her the first bite, only shut her lips and treat it like poison the next.
I remember during this stage my wife and I felt pretty defeated.
Up until this point our daughter had steadily gained weight. But at 13 months, when she began to become a pickier eater, that’s when her weight started dropping. And the truth is, we’ve always been spoiled by the fact that she was always a good eater, so the loss of weight hit us pretty hard.
We felt that we had failed as parents, despite feeling that we had tried everything, but she still wasn’t eating. The more she didn’t eat, the more the pressure mounted. It began to feel like how it was when we first brought her home, with the constant tracking of how much she ate, and measuring dirty diapers, and doctor check ups.
I was warned how difficult things were going to be with a newborn, with the constant crying, and sleep deprivation. But I had no idea that feeding my daughter would put my patience and sanity to the test once again.
Before kids, I had no idea that feeding my daughter, or taking her out to a restaurant would require so much effort.
But now I know.
I now know, the pressure of getting your kid to eat.
I now know, the struggles of meal planning and preparation.
I now know, how it feels to not get to eat your food when it comes nice and hot.
I now know, the tag-team technique of alternating between shoving down your own meal while the other parent feeds.
I now know, how it feels to lose the battle of wits between a tiny human and a full grown human.
I now know.
And when our friends who don’t have children watch us at restaurants, we feel their beam of pity and concern.
I can see it in on their faces as they are thinking: “How are they this patient?” or “Is it always like this?” or “Should we stare, or not stare?”
Rest assured, we are fine. And please don’t pity us. We’ve come to realize that this is just the process of getting food in our kids.
Believe me, the first time we were at a restaurant, we did care and we were super self-conscious of what people would think if our daughter had a meltdown.
In fact, I remember us only going to noisy and spacious dim sum restaurants so that if she cried or screamed, no one would notice.
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But eventually, we just stopped caring. We starting going to the places that we used to go to, and we started to worry less about what people thought, and more about what needs to be done.
As long as this kid eats, we didn’t care if she screams a little or makes a big mess.
“As long as she eats.”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always a terrible experience, every once in a while we’re treated to those little moments that make everything okay.
Moments like this one:
How do you even get mad or frustrated when you’re treated to things like that?
And that’s the thing – like everything so far with this parenting gig, things do become rewarding.
This kid knowa how to push my limits, but she also knows how not to break me. She just knows when to throw me a bone once in a while.
I could be sitting there feeding her for 45 minutes with no luck, but somehow by the grace of her mercy she decides to take in four consecutive pieces of chicken in a 30 second span.
My inner voice goes from, “F this bull crap!” to, “I’m the GREATEST!” in a matter of seconds.
These are the rewarding moments.
These are the moments where you realize it’s all worth it.
Such is the theme of this parenting thing, isn’t it?
We emotionally beat ourselves up, and bend over backwards for our kids, but we still endure it.
We endure not because we are sadistic or stubborn, but only because we are parents and that’s how we are wired.
And you know what? It’s not all doom and gloom.
The eating and feeding process is slowly getting better and better.
My daughter is slowly learning to feed herself, and little by little those tiny wins are slowly becoming large victories.
So if you’re a parent who is struggling feeding your kid right now, I promise it does get easier. I know every child is different, but I can confidently say that every good parent is the same, and your efforts and intentions eventually get rewarded.
And with this, I leave you with the most recent and unremarkable video of me feeding my daughter.
This is not to brag or anything. But rather this is to show that eventually they get it.
Comparing it to the first video in this post, this is proof that the feeding experience does get easier.
And for me personally, if I didn’t write this post, I would not have the opportunity to see the improvement.
So please, no matter what stage you are at, enjoy these moments.
Cause eventually our restaurant frustrations will no longer be us trying to get our little humans to pick up a spoon and feed themselves, but rather it will be us telling our big humans to put down their devices and interact with us like how they used to.
If you have questions or comments on your own toddler feeding experience, I would love to hear from you!