Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Food Wars

This is like Part II of my blog.  This blog is starting to evolve.  First stage:  Introduction to "Ginny's Happy Family."  Part Two:  "Food Wars."

Parenting seems to be the hardest task I'll ever undertake.  And I've hardly put a dent in my "parenting career."  My biggest concern at the moment is making sure my darling daughter is eating both adequately and nutritiously.  Today's doctor's appointment was the catalyst to finally doing something about her picky eating habits.  The doctor is not worried about her weight and height, although she is in the 8th percentile for weight and 24th for height, and my little peanut is healthy.  We talked about my concern about her eating habits.  The doctor agreed that this was a concern.  She suggested that I stick to my guns, and if she refuses what I put in front of her, let her go to bed hungry.  I've resisted for so long because I knew she was small and every bite counts.

Typical Anna Food Day:  half a pancake.  Snack:  banana.  Lunch:  yogurt cup.  Dinner:  1 1/2 chicken nuggets or half a slice of pizza. 

Let's document what she WILL eat first:

Fruits:  bananas, grapes, apples (but not always)
Vegetables:  corn, peas, beans (but not always)
Protein:  yogurt
Carbs:  pancakes, waffles, french toast, crackers, cookies, sugary stuff

Now let's begin a list of what I wish she would eat consistently, for starters:  peanut butter and jelly, cheese, eggs, meat, casseroles, mac n cheese, sandwiches.  Is this so much to ask?

I understand a toddler is picky, but we are seriously lacking in the protein department.  Not to mention the biggest issue is that she won't even TRY anything.  We'll sit down to dinner and she'll immediately start fussing if she's looking at something that isn't on her "safe" list.  I give it a shot for a few minutes.  I let her out of her high chair/seat.  I fix her something she will eat for dinner.  I admit that I sometimes have just fed her what I know she'll eat without even trying our grown-up dinner because it is easier.  And I blame it on being tired from work and just not wanting to face the tears.  My soft bleeding heart hates those tears!

Well tonight begins "food wars."  I will tell you about our emotional disaster of a dinner, then I'm going to do some research, and then I'll report back what I've learned and hopefully implemented.

Tonight:  I started off easy on myself.  We were going to have fish sticks, tator tots, and peas.  A very toddler-friendly meal, right?  I place all of plates on the table.  Eric comes in for dinner. We sit down and I buckle her into her booster seat and pull her right up to the table.  She starts crying immediately.  Full-out crying.  Not even a little whine.  I let her cry for at least 5 minutes, which seem like an eternity before putting her on my lap, both of our plates in front of us.  I'm eating my dinner with a crying baby in my lap.  She is trying to get my attention by pushing my head back and forth and wrapping her arms around me.  I finish eating.  She is still crying and I know that this isn't going to turn out well.  I make more attempts to get fork near mouth but she is obviously too upset to swallow anything.  I put her down and start clearing the table.  She clings to my legs.  I sit with her at the table, again trying to get her to take a bite of anything.  She is hysterically crying.

At this point Eric says to put her to bed immediately.  It is almost an hour before her bedtime, and I cannot stomach the idea of taking her right up to bed in this state, with an empty belly.  She hasn't eaten since 2pm (late lunch and possibly part of the problem, but goodness she should be at least a little hungry!).  So I stall, but it is apparent that she isn't going to settle down.  I start dishes, with her clinging to my leg and crying.  I make one final attempt at food, this time at the couch where I sometimes let her eat and roam the living room, taking bites between play time.  She's too upset, now, and my heart is breaking.  I start to tear up.  Eric comes down from his shower and he is still in favor of putting her to bed right away.  At this point, I have no idea what else to do.  She seemed somewhat interested in her sippy cup but wouldn't drink, but wouldn't let me take it away either.  So upstairs I go with her, sippy cup in hand.  I try to do the nightime routine of vitamin drops and brushing teeth, but she wouldn't allow me to do either of those.  I change her diaper, pull her pajamas back on, and turn out the light.  She is still gripping that cup with a tight clutch, and I try to pull her to me in a hug.  She is still crying and so am I. 

I lay her down with her two favorite stuffed bunnies and leave the room.  She cries for a second more, but by the time I am downstairs again she has quieted.  I am fully crying and I feel guilty.  I finish my dishes, and decide that I want to get this all off of my chest.  I am then going to tackle this like we did sleeping.  After some reading, we decided to give Cry it Out a try.  CIO worked for us and it was like magic.  Within three days she was sleeping through the night.  Those three nights were the hardest nights I'd had to face, but I have a feeling that worse is yet to come. 

There's got to be a method out there for improving a toddler's eating habits.  And I'm going to find it and share it with you, dear blog and possible readers.

So here is my mission.  Watch me set forth.

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