Too much excitement just might kill me!
Like any toddler, Monkey’s favourite foods are cheese, chips, chocolate and cheerios (CH-ch, CH-ch… Get it? Sorry…). I’m pretty sure he would live on those foods alone. He can recognize chocolate even if the packaging is something he’s never seen before. I have no idea how he does that – its like he has choc-dar or some superhuman sense of smell or something. He can pinpoint a block of chocolate buried under a mountain of old cereal boxes in the back of the pantry.
I’m a fan of Ellyn Satter’s Child of Mine, and we try to follow the idea that the adults choose what, where and when to eat, and the child can choose whether they eat, and how much. I try to offer somewhat balanced meals, with a carb, protein and a fruit or vegetable every time.
For a while, everything was going pretty smoothly. But when Monkey’s cancer was diagnosed and we were spending a lot of time in hospital, things got a bit wacky. The hospital dietician told us that of course they recommend healthy balanced diets etc etc, but really under the circumstances if the only thing he wanted to eat was hot chips, then we should feed him hot chips. Especially at his age, it’s important that they don’t forget how to eat, and chewing is important for the development of muscles which are also needed for speech.
So I’m trying to get my mojo back on offering him regular, balanced meals. I do find this theory somewhat complicated by the fact that Monkey still doesn’t have predictable nap times, so deciding when to feed him is a bit of guess work. Plus when he was stationary it was much easier to cook nutritious foods for him!
And now that he uses the sign for “eat”, sometimes we just go find something when he asks. He also knows that the pantry and fridge are where the food is kept, and will go stand in front of them when he wants something.
This means that often we will open the fridge for him and let him point out what he wants (usually cheese. Sometimes butter…). It’s not my ideal, but now that we’ve started it, its a hard habit to break!
To be honest we’re pretty lucky though. I don’t want to jinx it or anything, but at the moment Monkey still eats some fruits and vegetables. He loves carrots and cucumber, apples and watermelon, rockmelon and blueberries. Sometimes he’ll eat these in preference to anything else. When he had tonsillitis he ate nothing but watermelon for dinner (and the nappies that resulted were truly special). And sometimes he’ll lick all the butter off his crackers and then eat it straight off the knife.
He loves pasta, especially spaghetti bolognese, and will shove it into his face in double fistfuls. This is totally adorable, and makes the biggest mess ever.
But like me, he doesn’t seem to be a fan of breakfast. I keep serving it (most important meal of the day and all that) but he rarely eats more than one or two mouthfuls, if that. Could be because he wakes up with a belly full of milk though, and I’m not trading the extra sleep for anything!
So I really do feel like he’s listening to what his body wants, and I think it’s important for us to support that. But I also don’t want him banging on the pantry every 5 minutes begging for food (at the moment he only does it when he’s hungry, but I hear it’s a thing). How do we steer away from letting him choose when, and back to set meal times? How do I find time to make him more nutritious options? Do I even need to? I don’t know!