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Toddler Tales: Independent Eating

22/10/2011 21:21 | Updated 22 May 2015
Toddler Tales: Independent eatingA toddler's increasingly independent eating habits...

Baby Diana has started to assert her independence in myriad ways: walking, screaming, ignoring me... and most recently, she's decided that she wants to feed herself, by herself. Using a spoon. This has led to a whole new host of eating problems, namely that I'm not sure any food actually makes it into her mouth anymore.

D's been eating with her fingers for quite some time now, but attempting to use a utensil seems so mature to me (yes, I'm still freaking out that this walking, almost-running child belongs to me. Where has the time gone? More crucially, why am I still unable to drive?).

Anyway, it happened the other week for the first time; I was feeding Diana some yoghurt and she was refusing to eat it.

"DA!" she screamed, pointing at the yoghurt and spoon. "DA!"

Now, I am not one of those mothers who can actually translate the babbling of her toddler (D's other "words" include "BA!" "GA!" and "MA!" all said with the same firm intonation and I pretty much have no idea what she's talking about most of the time), but I was confident that "DA!" in this case meant, "Give that to me pronto."

Unless, miraculously, Diana has learned to say "Yes" in Russian, which in theory I can teach her - well, my degree says I can - but in practise, I haven't, so it would have to mean that baby D is a genius. Which I'm fine with.

I handed D the yoghurt and spoon and made her the happiest babe ever for the few minutes it took her to eat a couple of spoonfuls and fling the rest of the pot around the kitchen, transforming the room into a Jackson Pollock painting. Bolshy, in an attempt to lick every last drop, was panting for breath after running from corner to corner in search of the stuff.

But now that I've allowed it to happen once, Diana always demands the spoon and whatever food is on offer, determined to feed herself. The problem is, she's not very good at it. I tried it out with spaghetti bolognese the other evening and I cannot describe the look of sheer joy on my daughter's face as she scooped and scooped and scooped, licking her spoon clean and savouring every morsel of... well, absolutely nothing.

She was thrilled with herself, despite the fact she didn't once manage to get any actual food on the spoon in question, or into her mouth.

D's new activity also means that each meal basically requires a full outfit change or bath immediately following (there's a lot of throwing and mushing and running her hand through her hair with tomato sauce still on it). Which is a great excuse to put her in more of her cute clothes every day.

Spooning food into her mouth isn't the only foodie development taking place. D has become a "feeder" (not a total surprise since I have been branded a "chubby chaser" by all except my husband) and she repeatedly tries to stuff spat-out bits of partially digested food into my mouth, giggling when I swallow it (which I do, because I think making your kid happy while torturing yourself is the definition of good parenting).

D is also experimenting with bigger portions, namely trying to eat whole apples at once (don't worry, I watch her like a hawk when she's got one). This started when her friend, who's vastly more experienced and expert at everything since she's two, placed one in her hand, and even though D initially looked petrified with fear, she diligently took a bite and was soon hooked.

Again, I'm not sure how nutritional this new technique is, because D only manages a couple of bites and then flings the apple on the floor, ditching it for more enticing munchables like Bolshy's chew toys.

However, it's pretty obvious to me what D's saying when she proudly waves her juicy apple around, occasionally gnawing on it and shrieking, "BA! BA!"

"How do you like them apples?"

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