Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bait and Switch

I tricked my baby. Fooled. Swindled. Hoodwinked. Bamboozled. I'm not proud of it but desperate times call for desperate measures. When it comes to feeding time, I'll do whatever it takes to get some nutrients into her. Even if it means being sneaky and underhanded. Parenting rule #1 -- you do what you gotta do.

I knew that she was going to love fruit, it is after all Nature's candy, so I was trying to save it for last. I finally gave her apple sauce, which as expected she ate well. Her favourite food so far though is baby pears. She absolutely LOVES them. She gobbled them up. She even ate a whole jar. Who could blame her? I tasted them myself (just by licking the tablespoon before throwing it in the sink) and it was DELICIOUS! I may have to start getting it as a dessert for myself.

Thankfully there are some vegetables that she likes (not LOVES but at least tolerates) -- sweet potatoes, green beans and peas. Unfortunately, she hates meat. The chicken and broth was a flop. The beef and broth made her gag and cry. I tried getting those mixed chicken with rice dinner things and she wasn't having it. I tried mixing meats in with other vegetables that she likes and she screws up her face. No matter how small an amount of meat I mix in, she can taste it and is not impressed. When a child is older you can try to reason with them "It's good for you. If you eat your veggies then you can have dessert!" At this age, you're S.O.L. If she doesn't like it, it is not going in her mouth. Her lips are locked shut unless of course she starts wailing (which happens as well) but you can't really shovel food into a screaming mouth (well you can, but it's cruel and I don't want mealtime to feel like a punishment.)

You would not believe the lengths I go to to get her to eat. Some days it's really a challenge. For a while she seemed to be enjoying eggs which was a relief because at least I was getting some protein into her. But then I guess she got sick of them because the last time I tried giving her an egg yolk for lunch she barely touched it. Sometimes she just doesn't seem interested in eating anything. I sing (anything from nursery rhymes and lullabies to showtunes. Bohemian Rhapsody. Whatever it takes. One day I did about a 10 minute rendition of "menamena doo doo ba doo doo.") When I feed her sweet potatoes I say "One potato two potato three potato four..." When I TRY to feed her chicken I do the chicken dance. Anyone who saw me would assume I'd lost my mind.

Getting her to eat meat without gagging or crying has been the hardest thing so far but I found a sneaky way to get her to eat it. I alternate spoonfuls of the things she loves with the things she hates. The old "Bait and Switch." I give her a tiny taste of fruit (apple or pear) on one spoon so that she opens her mouth wide for the next spoon only to find, to her horror, that it's a heaping spoonful of chicken. Dang. She screws up her face and looks at me as though I'm Judas and have clearly betrayed her. To make it up to her and take the taste away I follow it with a spoon of her delicious pears. I do feel kind of bad for fooling her but I got her to eat two tablespoons of chicken that way so I figure the end justifies the means. Besides it might be a good lesson for her to learn early in life -- you have to take the good with the bad and you never know what the next day (or the next spoon) will bring. If only everything in life were as sweet as baby pears.

Michelle seemed to have a sugar rush after all her baby pears. I even got a video of her eating them:

Feeding is a challenge most days. I just try to entertain and distract her long enough to get through the meats and veggies. My sister warned me it probably won't get easier as she gets older. Kids can be very fussy. My sister said that a lot of the foods she loves she doesn't even get to make anymore because the kids won't eat them so there's no point. You have to accommodate them. Sometimes you're just happy if they'll eat anything. I hope Michelle won't be a terribly picky eater. I just never know from one day to the next how she'll be. She surprised me at my Mom's place and ate an entire tube of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes were one vegetable she didn't mind but she'd never had more than a tablespoon of it without starting to complain. Then all of a sudden she was devouring them. Maybe she has hit a growth spurt and needs the extra calories. Or maybe she was just happy to be with her Grandma. Grandma's lap was the high chair while I fed her there.
So far she's had rice and oatmeal cereal which she usually eats pretty well. She even wanted an extra tablespoon last time. She liked the rice at first but then seemed to get sick of it so I started her on oatmeal. Now I mix them together, a tablespoon of each, which she seems to enjoy. I give it to her at night (and I even have a bowl of my own oatmeal so she feels like we're eating the same thing. That makes her happy. She's always curious about my food and seems jealous when I have pasta or pizza.) She doesn't mind sweet potatoes, green beans and peas. She detests carrots (can't say that I blame her) and abhors chicken and beef (they are gross in pureed form I must say.) She loves applesauce and ADORES the baby pears. There are still several foods to try her on. I have to wait three days each time to test for allergies. I'm anxious to try the rest of the fruits because I'm pretty sure they'll go well. I managed to find baby turkey mixed with vegetables but I'm nervous about trying it because the chicken mixed dish was an epic fail. At least I can always resort to the "bait and switch" approach but I'd rather she actually enjoyed the foods and ate them willingly rather than tricking her into swallowing them.
Like eating, sleeping is kind of hit and miss. I never know from one day to the next how it's going to go. Some days she has a bit of a nap in the day. Other days she doesn't and is super cranky. Some nights she'll fall asleep at a decent hour, other nights she's up until the wee hours. The worst is when she really seems zonked and falls asleep early and I think "Yes! She's down for the night! Woo hoo!" I run around and get things done and then try to head to bed at midnight or 1 a.m. only to find that she's WIDE AWAKE as though it's morning and won't settle down so I get no sleep at all. Sleep deprivation can be unbearable. A couple of times I was so tired I could barely move, felt weak and lightheaded and so overwhelmed that I burst into tears. The problem is that when she sleeps you never know how long it's going to be so it's really hard to do anything. Sometimes you think you've got an hour and you only get five minutes. I used to take daily showers (I miss those!) but now I'm lucky if it's once or twice a week. When I do take one I rush through it in about 2 minutes or less because I keep thinking I hear her crying, even if she isn't. I remember having a couple of bubble baths when she was younger. It's been a while since I've risked that. I LOVE baths though. I keep waiting for the magical night that she sleeps through the night. There were a couple of nights that she did sleep well but she still woke up every two hours to nurse and then go back to sleep. I don't mind breastfeeding her through the night. I just wonder if/when she'll ever reach a point where she won't need that.

I am grateful that at least there are things that she will eat, that she's adapting to me breastfeeding her a little less, that she's a healthy weight now and doing well overall. She's almost seven months old now. Pretty soon she'll be able to have Cheerios, bits of fruit, bread and cheese. In just a couple of months so much will change. It still blows my mind how much and how fast they grow at this stage. So when I'm having a rough time feeding her or a tough night where she won't sleep, I try not to let it get to me too much. I know that the day will come when I'll look back at this time and think how wonderful it was and how much I miss her being so small. So I'm enjoying it while it lasts. It goes by so fast. I'm taking lots of pictures and videos to hold on to these moments forever. The past six months have flown by. I know that the next six will too.

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