The Mealtime Battle: Mommy vs. Toddler

Every evening around 5:30 pm, I get ready to enter into battle.  I arm myself with a smorgasbord of food:  Main meal…..check.  Back-up meal….check.  Last-resort-meal…..check.  My kitchen resembles a cross between a buffet restaurant and a war zone and I look like a frazzled waitress trying to unsuccessfully please her VERY demanding customer. I am stressed.  I am desperate.  I feel defeated.

Lately I have found myself wondering: Why does mealtime have to be such a struggle with my picky toddler? Can I put down my weapons and approach mealtime waving a white flag in peace?

IMG_0291 (480x640)I remember when my son reached the 6 month milestone…..I was filled with excitement at the thought of him devouring my home made meals.  Unfortunately, I was not able to breastfeed, so cooking and being able to feed my son food that I had prepared was extremely important and significant for me.

After making several ice-cube trays filled with home-made baby food c/o my brand spankin’ new Baby Bullet, I felt like a good mommy.  But when my son turned his face away in disgust at my pureed sweet potato that I had genuinely made with love, I was devastated.  I know this may sound crazy, but I felt a mixture of disappointment and rejection.  At the time, I knew it was irrational, he was a baby for Pete’s sake!! But his initial refusal was quite frustrating and confusing to me as it was not something I had anticipated.

In the months that followed, I became obsessed with trying to get my son to eat.  I tried it all: different textures, different flavors, t.v. on, t.v off, pleading, bribing, negotiating, ignoring…..I could go on forever.  My son’s eating habits were so bizarre and unpredictable and would fluctuate on a daily basis.  I think that’s when I fell into the common mommy trap of making 10 different things for supper hoping that something from this buffet of food would tempt him.

photo (3) (480x640)The peak of my frustration came when my son started daycare. Brace yourself for this……The daycare reported that my son was a “good, hearty eater”.  Huh???? They must have the wrong child.  How in the world could this possibly be???  At daycare my son was feasting on couscous and quiche while at home, his diet consisted of cheerios and toast.

I recently took my son to see his pediatrician for his 2 year check-up.  I discussed my son’s picky eating habits and as I predicted, he reassured me that this was COMPLETELY NORMAL.  He told me that as long as my son was getting one solid meal a day and grazing on a few snacks here and there that he would be just fine and that pickiness is a phase like any other that should hopefully pass.

logan_toddler_cheerioSo this week, I decided to try something new.  I made the conscious decision to stop stressing , to take the battle out of mealtime and to shut down the buffet.  After a year and a half, I think I finally get it.  Trying to “figure out” my son’s pickiness is futile.  I haven’t given up, and I hope that one day my son will take a bite of my lasagna and say, “mmmm….it’s so good mommy!!!”.  But until then……toast and cheerios it is!!

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