There was a time when feeding my son was easy. The only thing he consumed was milk, so my wife and I just had to make sure he had enough and we were fine. But, as a baby does, he grew and eventually started eating solid foods. At first those solid foods consisted of nothing more than mush, but even in weird and distasteful combinations, he ate it all up with few issues.
Now I find myself missing those easy days of six months ago because the boy is developing into a bit of a picky eater.
One of the first times we tried giving the baby food off our plates — after we’d gotten approval to do so from his pediatrician — was at a Mexican restaurant when we discovered he loved refried beans. After that revelation, we ate at Mexican restaurants a lot whenever we had a chance to go out to eat.
Then a couple months ago, he suddenly decided he did not like beans anymore. At that point, he was eating a lot more table foods and was generally a good eater, but there were certain things he didn’t like, such as avocados.
That was the first sign his tastes might be changing.
These days he eats a wide variety of foods, but we can never be sure whether he’s going to be into a food he loved just the day before. Luckily there are some surefire hits when it comes to feeding time — and that’s usually bananas and banana-flavored foods. Unfortunately, he can’t just eat bananas all the time, though he probably would if we let him.
During his last visit to the pediatrician, we were warned about this possibility and the chance he would become a grazer, which is just eating a little here and a little there throughout the day.
The other important thing I took away from that meeting was the fact that babies won’t starve themselves. That seemed like a weird thing to say at first, but once I thought about it and realized he would definitely eat when he got hungry, it took a lot of the pressure off feeding him for me.
Now I understand that I don’t have to stress about him not eating enough when I try to feed him. He can’t verbally tell me he’s not hungry, but he can definitely relay that information through his actions. I do my best to give him foods he will enjoy that are also good for his little growing body, but if he’s not interested in eating, I’m not going to try to force the issue.
I do a lot of bargaining and pleading when we get to the last two bites of a bowl of oatmeal, but even then there’s only so much I can do. If he ultimately won’t eat the last of the food, I can either try to save it, throw it away or eat it myself. Usually I end up doing the last of those options.
In addition to being choosy with what he eats, the boy has also started protesting the idea that he has to sit in one place while consuming his food. He sees his mother and I eat like that, but he likes to do things his own way. So when we’re eating out, we make him sit and eat or take him out of the restaurant so he doesn’t disturb other patrons. But at home, he mostly just toddles all around while we’re having dinner, coming up to both of us every so often to get a quick forkful before heading back off to explore.
And as long as he’s eating, growing and is healthy, I’m fine with however he wants to eat his meals.
William C. Wadsack is the managing editor of the Herald Democrat and a first-time father. He never realized just how expensive children could be until the birth of his son. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WCWadsackHD.