Getting your kid to eat — easily one of the least rewarding jobs on the planet. My son needs to eat roughly six times a day based on his sleep-snack-dinner-sleep pattern. A meal can take anywhere from 20-60 minutes from the time you strap him into the chair to the time he protests getting his face cleaned. That’s two to six hours a day, everyday, just to feed him. That’s one to three 3 months of my year spent not doing laundry, dishes, working, or sleeping, but feeding my child.
What is worse is that feeding time isn’t even what I would consider quality time. It’s a messy, frustrating, panicky time and often involves him crying. Finding the right combination of foods that will meet his nutritional needs, while is something he is willing to actually swallow is also damn near impossible. If I’m going to invest this much time, I need results, and to get results I need the right tools. So, I have put together a short list of “must haves” to get through meal time with the boy.
First and foremost its all about containment. If he is going to be eating six times a day, that means he is going to be drinking at least six times a day. Enter the sippy cup. But this is no ordinary sippy cup. I’m talking about the spill-proof kind with the weighed bottoms so they never tip over. Plus, since babies have fat little sausages instead of fingers, get one with handles. The cup should be small enough to travel with but large enough to ensure a fully wet diaper come changing time. It also helps that the cup is also spill proof — meaning no matter how many times your child throws it from the high chair, you won’t be cleaning milk up off the floor, couch, dog…you get the point.
Secondly, it’s about retention. Meaning, how can we keep most of the meal on the tray and not on the floor? After all, the goal is for the baby to eat and for the dog to not get fat. My son can be seen in this photo sporting his Tommee Tippee brand bib. It’s made out of some fancy space-aged rubber that curls up at the bottom to form a bowl. Often, my son can be seen digging into this trough in search of a missing Cheerio or using it as a funnel to pour the rest of his food directly down his throat. The bonus of the bib is that it acts as a catch-all for whatever food would have ended up on clothes, furniture or the floor. The cost savings realized by this thing are almost immeasurable.
Finally, this last one is for when all hope is lost and no matter how hard you try you just can’t get your kid to eat. I offer this solution — Gerber Graduates Yogurt Melts. Buy them. Store them. Have them for emergencies. Once your little yogurt melt addict has their fix they will sit peacefully. It should be noted that the melts are a gateway food, and can often lead to your child eating much of their dinner without even noticing the switch. This gift from God also doubles as the ultimate distraction. What’s that? The kitchen is backed up and your food will be a little slow. Not to worry. Just whip out a bag of these to keep your little one calm. Now I do understand that while they may not be the cheapest snack food on the shelf, it’s hard to put a price on 10 minutes of peace while you enjoy your coffee.
Good luck. Personally I’m looking forward to more teeth and hopefully less trouble.