Mealtimes used to be a much simpler affair. Obviously, at the time, it was all very new to me and I certainly didn’t find breastfeeding, mixing bottles and mushing up random foodstuffs ‘simple’. But at that time, I hadn’t yet experienced life with a toddler.
Here are the differences I’ve noticed with mealtimes for Baby and meal times for Toddler:
Meal Time with Baby
Baby is hungry. Baby is always hungry (1 million times a day and night). Unless of course, you’re trying to keep them on a schedule, in which case they will not be in the least bit interested in food at their scheduled feed time and Gina Ford can fuck right off.
- Get your muslin at the ready.
- Prepare boob or bottle accordingly.
- Here, stick this Boob/Bottle (delete as appropriate) in your face hole.
- Have a burp and possible clean up (for you both) if baby has puked most of it up.
- Have a drink.
Meal Time with Baby, During Weaning
Baby is getting a bit grumpy and grumbling.
- “You hungry? Let’s go have some food.”
- Place baby into their highchair with one of those bibs with sleeves that covers everything.
- Cover the floor. Hell, set up a Dexter style kill room (if you haven’t watched Dexter, you should. Great parenting and life tips) or simply sit both of you naked in a bath, it’s easier for the post clean up.
- Have plenty of baby wipes at hand and at least 5 rolls of kitchen roll.
- Select a couple of mushable food items, such as avocado or banana, add some milk if required. Mush it up in any old bowl, with any old spoon/fork whilst baby gurgles and coos and flaps arms about in excitement at the prospect of food.
- Ask “Would you like to try this gross mushy stuff?” as you glide a loaded spoon into their open eager mouth. Seriously, you can aim anything at their mouths it doesn’t matter the colour, consistency or smell they just want to eat it. Baby scrunches face up in disgust and spits it out.
- Ask “How about this other gross mushy stuff?” as you aim alternative mush at their face hole. Baby’s eyes widen and a gummy grin appears, accompanied by an appreciative ‘mmmm’. Winner. This mush is what they will happily eat for every single meal for the rest of the week/month.
- Baby is left looking as though they’ve done a stint in Pat Sharp’s Fun House and removal of the bib with sleeves reveals that they’ve somehow managed to get food inside the bib and into their lap and even into their nappy (HOW?). They have mush in their eyes, hair and, somehow, up their nose. This will take some significant baby wiping or perhaps a bath. For you both.
- Have a drink (there’s a theme going here isn’t there?)
Meal Time – With Toddler
Toddler is playing happily and then it happens, as though an invisible switch has been flicked somewhere. The head raises, the eyes move towards you and lock on, the head slowly follows and ‘FOOD MUMMY!’ Shit. The Child wants food available to her NOW. All systems GO GO GO GO!
- You try to reach the kitchen but the Mini Dictator is wrapped around your leg, yelling for food as though you’ve been starving them for days, trying to claw their way upwards, often resulting in the pulling down of your trousers (not amusing when you have guests. Definitely not amusing if you have guests and are ‘going commando’).
- After attempting to drag your leg, and them, across the floor for a few stinted steps, you relent and pick them up, desperately hoping it calms their urgency a little. It doesn’t.
- Most people require both hands to prepare food. Try and explain this to a toddler. They do not give one single, solitary shit that not being held for a minute will significantly speed up the food prep process, thus getting them their much desired meal much faster. They absolutely must be held so as to oversee the preparation (and to try and fuck it up as much as possible).
- You try and give them a snack to keep them busy and receive a sharp ‘NO!’ as the offering is grabbed and launched across the room.
- Attempt to butter bread with one hand, using a thumb to hold down the piece of bread and index finger to shakily drag the knife across whilst balancing the impatient toddler on one hip. You rip the bread. Bollocks.
- Put toddler down to much protesting, yelling and kicking and ignore them as you’ve realised it makes much more sense to just get the damn food ready as fast as possible.
- Present food to a now very pissed off toddler. It is cut and presented in exactly the way they loved it yesterday. It is on their favourite plate. It is the perfect temperature.
- It is cut the wrong way and the presentation SUCKS! They completely despise the plate it’s on, they wanted the Peppa Pig one (the one they hated yesterday). It’s too hot! Everything offends them terribly and subsequently is thrown across the room and up the walls.
- Lose your shit (you’re allowed). Pick up toddler, take them to their naughty step/ chair/ cupboard/ gaffer-tape to the wall and leave them to cool down.
- Pour a massive glass of wine and throw it back as though it’s water and you just crossed a marathon finish line whilst simultaneously, violently and silently giving the V’s through the wall at the Toddler.
- Pick up the scattered food and place back on the same plate, exactly as it was before.
- Toddler wanders back into the kitchen/dining room, spots the exact same plate as 5 minutes ago with the exact same food laid out on it in the exact same manner and declares ‘oooh food!’ and ‘Peppa Pig!’ as they happily tuck in, giving you a big, toothy, grateful smile.
- Collect the discarded spoon or fork from the floor. At what point do you just give up trying to get them to learn to use damn cutlery?
- This is the part where you can get them back for their earlier behaviour; clean up time. Smother them in baby wipes (which they love playing with and emptying everywhere but hate having anywhere near them if in parental hands (giving them a thorough scrub whilst they have a massive hissy fit about it and you calmly say aloud ‘oh poor sweetheart’ and ‘you’re nearly all clean, nearly done!’ but actually, in your head you’re triumphantly yelling ‘TAKE THAT YOU LITTLE FUCKER!’.
- Decide that for the next meal you will use their nap time to prepare their food and be ready so as to avoid the previous drama (Spoiler: It won’t make a bloody difference).
- Have another drink.
You can read the last blog in Amber’s brilliant Baby versus Toddler series here
Based in Cambridge, UK. First-time blogger, part-time Secretary and full-time confused Mum to a female toddler and ever-growing bump (also female, due November 2016). Amber enjoys reading (on the rare occasion she gets to do so), staring at stuff she can’t afford to buy on the internet and blogging (obviously).