January 19, 2012

food, baby!

My daughter is an amazing mom - she took care of herself while pregnant, gave birth naturally (as in, intervention-FREE), feeds my granddaughter organically, and at 16 months, is still breastfeeding. She's a great mommy in dozens of other ways as well, (and my son-in-law is a fine baby daddy). My granddaughter is one happy, well-adjusted little girl.


See, she loves her milk and her bread and her rather pricey 'puffs' (cheerio-like organic snacks) and her baby food. They are "clean" foods. They don't get her fingers messy. They don't feel funny in her mouth. But she will not TOUCH real foods. And I mean that LITERALLY. Will not touch, much less eat.

I teased my daughter, "You can stop that, you know." Kacey agreed that, yes, she could, but she couldn't STAND for her baby girl to cry and she was afraid she would starve to death. I assured her that she would NOT starve.

"You're gonna MAKE me do this, aren't you?"

"Of course not," I said. "She's your daughter, it's completely up to you", but Kacey restated emphatically, "You ARE gonna make me do this, aren't you?!"

So I smiled and assured her I would help her with some "tough love".

We started the day with some corn, which Mayah refused with a tightly-closed mouth and a turn of her head. I tried to open her little mouth and insert a kernel, but she spit it right out. We repeated this process for about 20 minutes. She looked at me, then at her mommy, then back at me as if to say, "WHY would I want to put this weirdness in my mouth when I have mom's body 24/7 as a vending machine?"

She cried. She whined. She pouted. But she ate nothing. Fine.

A couple of hours later we tried some blueberries and grapes, but no way. She wouldn't even touch them with her fingers.

At lunch, we gave her a buffet of black beans, corn, tomatoes, strawberries, bananas and canteloupe. She did TOUCH it - as in, pick it up and throw it in the floor - but she would NOT eat it. Not one bite. She asked for her "milk", but Kacey did the hard thing and told her 'no'.

She cried. She whined. She pouted. But she ate nothing.

Following an afternoon of shopping and talking and bonding, my daughter and I went for coffee. We bought Mayah some all-natural gummy snacks. I attempted to push one through her pursed lips, but she clenched her teeth and looked at me with disgust and said, "M.E., darling, you know I adore you, but if you try to feed me ONE MORE BITE of ANYTHING today, I will shove these gummy snacks up your nostrils and suffocate you in your sleep."

So, I went to Kroger and bought a smorgasbord of options for her: peas, carrots, green beans, yogurt, berries, bananas, organic fruit strips, etc., and we went to meet our Darling friends and their child (Cohen) for dinner. We hoped Mayah might be inspired to eat after watching Cohen, for whom eating is a religious experience. But no.

She cried. She whined. She pouted. But she ate nothing.

Finally, at bedtime, she begged for her milk. (Begging = climbing up into Kacey's lap and making reverse waving signs with her hands as if to say "gimme, gimme, please, please!") Kacey firmly told her there would be no "milk" until she ate ONE BITE of something. So I put a piece of fruit strip into her mouth. She spit it out. I put it back in. She spit it out again, this time with attitude. I put it in a third time. It came back out. And a fourth time. The beauty of fruit strips, however, is they dissolve in saliva, so with each reinsertion, the fruit strip became smaller and gooier. Finally, it liquified in her mouth and we called it good. Twenty-four hours and all she had eaten was a fruit strip. Fine.

The next morning Mayah woke and happily ate a bowl of real oatmeal with blueberries, as if the previous day never existed. At lunch she ate a fruit snack and a bowl of green beans (she greatly enjoyed feeding herself like a big girl with her own little fork). For dinner she ate half a banana and more green beans. Every day since has resulted in new fruits and grains and eggs and veggies being added to her repertoire.

Stubborn as she was - IS - it only took one day of "tough love" for Mayah to decide we meant business. One day to learn it was a fight she wasn't going to win. One day to get her to eat foods she wouldn't even try before. One day to learn how to use a fork and feed herself. One day to get over her stubbornness. One day to cut their baby food bill by 75%.

One day.


Sara said...

All the while our food bill increases by 75% because our child WON'T STOP EATING. 3 meals already today and it's just 12:00. But it truly is fun to watch him enjoy his healthy food! I just wish he would share his metabolism with me :)

Alissa said...

One of the best lessons I was taught as a young mother-as in doing the mothering thing while young and with my first child-was that, given food, a child will not starve. You offer it to them, if they don't eat that time, they will eventually.
And, Sara, some of their metabolism would be nice!

mnpolutta said...

As a friend once told me, "Hunger is the best sauce."