I had this idea...no, that's an understatement...I had a conviction until this past Saturday. After years of being a total nut job about food, we, as parents, were never going to do anything but trust M about her own consumption habits. I've read countless books and articles about how babies and toddlers know how to feed themselves, about the importance of just letting them be and remembering that they don't have hang-ups like the rest of us. For a while, meals at our house looked like this:
Me: "Mama made you special carrot sticks with apple sauce and ginger. Three of your favorite things rolled into one!"
M: Slow blink. One hand slowly slides towards the plate. Suddenly, the plate is upset down and empty. Carrots litter the floor.
John: "Would you like something else to eat instead? We have yogurt and applesauce and chicken and tofu and..."
M: Affirmative nod.
And then one of us would pick her up and carry her into the kitchen and open the refrigerator and the cupboards and let her pick out what she wanted to eat. And then we'd feed it to her until, you know, she started shaking her head "no" and trying to smear the rest of her meal to the dining room table.
This past Saturday, though, M was sick. She was snotty and pukey and feverish and a wreck. She refused apple juice over and over again and wouldn't touch a single thing. We tried to remember if you're supposed to starve a fever and drown a cold or the other way around...that is, until we realized she had both going on, at which point we quit trying to remember and became seriously convinced that we had to get something into the kid somehow.
Out the window went our efforts at breezy my-kid-knows-what-they-need parenting and into the car piled M and me. We trekked over to Target where I bought her Pedialite before taking her to the baby food aisle and letting her pick out every food item that had her true love Elmo's face plastered on it.
Every. Single. One.
Sitting in the cart, her booger-laden face sparkled. It might have been the fever, but I'm pretty sure it was the mountain of Elmo food she finally was allowed to touch (prior to this I'd been telling her the character-advertised foods weren't for sale...only Nana can buy them, I explained).
Once home, we settled down on the floor amongst her booty. One by one, we opened each package. At most she ate a bite from each.
At least she ate a bite from each, we reasoned. And she downed the sugary nastiness that is Pedialite.
It was our first meal-time barter. You can have this if you eat it. Eat one more bite and you can stop. We went on and on, filling our weekend with attempts to get some food into our kid.
And now that she's better? I'm back to thinking that we probably could've laid off, to believing that the kid knows what she needs and will make sure she gets it for herself.