Toddler Eating Habits

As I said to a friend on Sunday evening as my toddler ran around their house during dinner as their toddler sat nicely in her booster seat at the dinner table, “I’m giving up on thinking that I really have any control over my child.” 

I know, this sounds terrible to say.    But really, I mean, I can choose to take control of him and let him have a complete meltdown on and evening where we are all supposed to be relaxing, or I can let him eat his meal on his own terms.   He had eaten some dinner at this point, but was much more interested in exploring his new environment.   Our hosts didn’t seem to mind, and it didn’t seem to bother my son’s friend, who was quite content sitting in her seat eating homemade peach ice cream with bites of chicken mixed into it (her own concoction).

And this is where I say, I’m giving up on thinking that I really have control over him.   He finally gave up drinking from bottles two days before his second birthday.    It has been a six month process, starting with taking away his morning bottle of milk.   About a month ago I decided I needed to take away another bottle, surprisingly, the nighttime one was the one he was willing to give up.    Naptime bottles were difficult, even though at daycare he hasn’t had a naptime bottle for six months.   Finally, a few days before his birthday I told him that if he gave up bottles altogether for one week that I would buy him a scooter.   I think the $30 was well worth it, and it seems as though everyone’s advice to me on the subject was to incorporate some sort of bribe…so welcome to the secrets of successful parenting.   Because, in the end, it worked.    Each day when he asked for a bottle I reminded him that big boys don’t drink bottles, but big boys ride scooters.   I think it also helped that I told him he only had to do it for a week.   By the time the week was over, he realized that he didn’t need his bottles anymore.   I took one empty bottle out and had him say farewell and then we went and got his scooter.

In the past two days however is where I really am aware that there are just certain things you have to let the toddler do on his own terms in his own time.   I can’t tell you how hard it’s been to get him to eat fruits and veggies (at least outside of being at daycare) in the past six months.   He used to eat anything, and then it seemed as though he was on strike.   So we implemented multivitamins and V-8 Fusion juice (which, from looking at the labels looks like the healthiest juice out there) and didn’t make too huge of a deal of it.    He also wouldn’t eat any sort of meat until he was about 20 months old, at which point he took one of my chicken nuggets from McDonald’s and decided he was now an onmivore.   He has also discovered about a month ago that the ground beef enchiladas from Luchitas are quite good and this is now one of his faves.   Sunday night he decided he likes green bean chips from The Fresh Market (I can’t blame him, they are tasty) and Monday night he devoured half a pound of strawberries at our neighbor’s house (thanks to the influence of Diego’s green iguana friend) then proceeded to eat more green bean chips and half a container of hummus.    This morning he handed me a container of applesauce that he wanted to eat.    Absolutely none of this was due to any effort on my part.

So, there’s my philosophy:   I’ll try my best to be a good mother and a good influence on him, but ultimately, there isn’t much I can actually control or make him do.    So long as it doesn’t affect his safety (like touching the stove or running into the street) I’m giving up on the “rules” and on worrying that I’m not the perfect mom.

Until next time,

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5 Responses

  1. Lorelei – I certainly can relate to the moments you describe! But I would offer one thought, just for…thought. 🙂

    Remember in the most trying times, when you really believe in the battle or the correctness of the choice you want your child to make or in the case of when you believe that you know best and that your child needs to benefit from that, that you are still the parent. You will always be the parent. I know this sounds a bit like the “because I said so” logic – and I’m one of the last to ever use that line, truly. But remember that kids are often testing their boundaries – it’s not personal so to speak. And in that sense, your being the parent isn’t personal either – you have a really serious job to do, raise your child to be able to be independent and make good decisions, to develop the discretion necessary to make good decisions and learn from the less good ones.

    Good luck!

  2. Thanks! Deep down I absolutely agree with you Jill, and that’s often at the root of how I handle situations so thank you for the encouragement. I often wish more parents felt that parenting is an important job.

    But sometimes I do have to remind myself that my kid is just being a kid and that for sanity’s sake all I can do is to laugh at the situation.

  3. Thanks for the comment.
    And i agree with you – as parent sometimes our control is only seemly and sometimes none at all. My kids are 4 and 11 now and still i wonder how much real control i have. i like to believe I do, but if i did, why would i check up on them to make sure thier doing what i told them to do????


  4. Hi,
    I added your blog to my reader a while back, but I don’t remember how or when I first came to your blog (maybe because of a Thomas the Train post?). Although I am just catching up, it is fun to read from a clevelander. I have been here almost a year so it is also really helpful to read about what to do around here.
    Anyway, I used to joke about being a failure as a mom because my oldest son took forever to be potty trained and my youngest only started sleeping through the night close to her second birthday.
    Trust me, I don’t have the permissive parenting style. I take my role as parent seriously, but I am trying not to take things to the point that everything should happen on my (or someone else’s) timeline. Otherwise I am being a dictator, not a parent/teacher.

  5. Thanks for the encouragement Renata! Often the best encouragement is just knowing that we aren’t alone.

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