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Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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Toddler Food Groups

I'll go ahead and admit it - we used to eat a lot of meals in front of the TV. Yes, partly because I'm a terrible mother, but I also place some of the blame on the fact that we didn't have any furniture in the dining room for several years.

These days, we almost always sit at an actual table in real chairs for most meals. However, the main issue we still have at dinnertime - other than clearing off the table, deciding what to make, preparing the food, reminding the kids to wash their hands, making sure the main dish doesn't get cold while the sides finish cooking, preventing everyone from filling up on rolls before the rest of the food is brought in from the kitchen, and yelling at the kids for bringing toys to the table when they've been told a thousand times to leave them in their rooms - is keeping the baby entertained while we eat, now that she isn't zoning out to the Jeopardy theme song during dinner.

"But the baby can just eat while you eat, can't she? Won't that keep her occupied?" I hear someone asking. To which I reply, "Clearly you have never eaten with a baby."

After pushing a few strawberries around on her tray with a plastic fork, Madeline officially loses interest in dinner. The desire to escape from her high chair takes hold immediately. The first plaintive repetitions of, "Down? Down? Down?" begin, and I offer her eleventy million other kinds of food in the desperate hope that the rest of us can finish our meal in peace. She rarely touches any of them, opting instead to bang a bottle of ranch dressing on her head or rip a few napkins to shreds, but occasionally I can convince her to nibble on something, especially if it was something I had personally intended to eat myself. In that case, she'll gaze longingly at everything I put on my fork until I offer her a bite, which she'll hold in her mouth for approximately three seconds before spitting it onto the floor.

Last night my husband made a comment about the baby ignoring all her Real Food and instead gnawing on half a chocolate chip granola bar for dinner, but I assured him it's all part of a Balanced Toddler Diet.


As you can see, "Distractions" comes in as easily the largest Toddler Food category, and it's not hard to imagine why.

As far as I know, it's a documented scientific fact that people don't even require calories or vitamins until the age of four. Up until then, food is used solely as a motivational tool and a diversion technique by parents to coax children into doing things like putting on snow boots, quitting their damn whining, and sitting still while people over the age of four eat their dinner.

So go ahead and give your kids a handful of Cookie Crisp, if it'll keep them from dangling off your pant leg while you're on an important phone call. Bribe them with candy from the bottom of your purse when the long line at Target threatens to incite a tantrum. Use animal crackers to buy five minutes of quiet time at the computer, or break out the chocolate chip granola bars to get yourself three consecutive, uninterrupted bites of your own dinner.

After all, it's all part of a Balanced Toddler Diet.

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21 comments:

  1. At my son's 18 month well visit, the Dr asked if he ate a variety of foods. Since he was my first child, and I still cared about appearances, I said yes. My husband snorted and clarified, "A variety of crackers, maybe."

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    1. I laughed out loud at that, but seriously, the parents *have* to be a team at the pediatrician's office, if nowhere else! I consider it my husband's duty to stand by with a straight face while I tell the doctor that we always give the baby her nasty, stinky liquid vitamins. ;)

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  2. You did it again--that is, take the truth & make it hilarious!!

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    1. It's not *entirely* true (this is the food guide I go by, too). ;)

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  3. That pie chart looks like an accurate representation of a few of my coworkers. And no, they are not toddlers.

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    1. If only I could've made the Nutrition slice a liiiiiiiittle but smaller...

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  4. My eldest rarely ate as a toddler. He'd eat one meal a day if I was lucky, and there could be no variety of foods offered. He didn't even want the distraction foods. He was my healthiest child, rarely ever sick, and I am pretty sure Cheerios and applesauce were 3/4 of his food consumption.

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    1. I think Cheerios and applesauce sound like they have most of the important vitamins covered; your son was a very efficient eater!

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  5. All my youngest two eat are "distractions."

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    1. That's good, there's a LOT of variety in that category. ;)

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  6. Like fun you will. Those are MY rice krispies treats.

    In fairness, our perfect little girl has never eaten non-food items, though the "Found Items" section of the pie chart was my favorite. Also... you are.

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    1. You are. And you're right, the things we've found her digging out of the carpet and popping directly into her mouth have all turned out to be food items, after we pried them out of her clenched jaws.

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  7. Ahhhh, I loved this! From what I hear from other fabulous moms, my child eats well, but what most people don't know is that she only eats about 8 foods every. single. day. But as I'm able to get a grain, vegetable, dairy, and fruit into her, I've decided I'm now superwoman as so many women can't get half of that into their kids.

    My trick in getting The Kid to "allow" us to finish a meal? I let her watch cartoons on her LeapPad while she eats. I know, I know. I'm a horrible mother. But I'm pretty sure there are worse moms out there.

    RIGHT?!

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    1. I've heard legends of the mom who got her child to eat one thing from every food group, but I always thought they were just lies. I too my hat to you; I feel pretty good about my kids' diet, based solely on the fact that I've convinced them that yogurt with granola on top is a dessert. But all four groups? Stellar.

      And cartoons on the leap pad? I can't even figure out what's supposed to be wrong with that. ;)

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  8. Love it! We live it. My two year old somehow loves green beans...not sure how as every time her older sister sees them she shreeks in horror and dives under the nearest couch. They eat at a princess table in the living room with the tv on. I'm saving for all the therapy bills, I'm at peace with it. Funny stuff Robyn! Devan

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    1. Thanks, Devan! Actually, you're probably saving money on therapy bills - I can't imagine I'm doing my kids any favors by exposing them to our dinner conversations. PS Congrats on the green beans! I'm not sure my kids have ever seen one. ;)

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  9. Most scientific study Ever!
    It blows my mind that my children will run screaming from the table at the sight of broccoli on their plate. Yet - the fossilized Dora Fruit snack found under the couch cushions is the Most Appealing Thing Ever.
    I once watched my son eat the rest of a Kit Kat chocolate bar that the baby had gnawed most of the chocolate off. eewww! and what the? isn't the chocolate the whole point?
    Kids are gross. (also scientific fact.)

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    1. We must've been in the same science classes! You make such a good point about them refusing vegetables but being willing to eat stuff out of the floor mats in the car - I mean, I love some Kit Kats, but even I don't love them THAT much!

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  10. I believe my almost-2yo daughter lives exclusively on the distraction foods with the occasional tub of applesauce. She will happily eat anything with cheese (which we swore up and down to the pediatrician that we limit due to bowel issues--we lied)and would probably live exclusively on carbs if we let her. I consider it a triumph that I conned her very early on into thinking freeze dried strawberries are dessert, so she will usually eat some of those. ~Stephanie

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    1. Applesauce and cheese both fall into the Nutrition category, I'm pretty sure, which makes you a Super mom as far as I'm concerned! :D

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