Monday, November 10, 2008

Wisdom from a still-learning mom to new moms!

I haven't ever heard a mother say that her child eats her food well. Either it is because a mother is never really satisfied with how much her child eats, or it is because she is afraid to say aloud that her child eats well, for fear of a jinx.

I fretted a lot in the initial months, after Puttachi's solid feeds increased and milk feeds decreased. I always felt that she never ate enough, and I even had a post asking you all for help.

But with time came a certain amount of wisdom - that she probably just has had enough. I have never force fed her, but I used to persist. I would try to distract her, or make the food interesting by adding something she likes to it - I would try everything possible to get a couple of more spoons of food into her mouth. I now realize that it is a waste of time, energy and effort. Both Puttachi and I are happier if I just let go after a couple of tries when she has announced that she has had enough.

I also have seen that if she eats nothing at breakfast, she tends to eat a hearty lunch, or if she nibbles at her lunch, she has a huge dinner. Or if she starves today, she gorges tomorrow. So ultimately, she does make up for it. And with great difficulty, I have learnt not to worry and to trust her instincts.

There are some days of course, when she doesn't eat well for three days at a stretch, and just when I start worrying, I see a new tooth sprouting, and then realize why all the fuss - toothbirth pains!

Every child is different, and all we need to do is identify and recognize our child's special characteristics. Puttachi, for example, cannot eat too much at one go. I discovered this very early on with a hint from my doc. So I am forced to split her meals into two or three parts. For example, she eats her rice and dal and vegetables first, and then eats curds after an hour, and then a fruit half an hour after that.

How you feed the child and in what form - this also changes very frequently. I used to make a rice-dal-veg concoction for her initially, which she would eat without a fuss. Later, trying to bring her to mainstream family food, I started giving her a bit of our food, which was fine until it was new and interesting, after which she wouldn't have it any more. Then I discovered that she likes plain dal and plain vegetables and plain rice, but not all together. So I started giving her dal, with salt and ghee and some garnishing, which she would polish off. Immediately after that I put a pile of vegetables on her plate which she would eat all by herself, and I would follow it with little balls of rice, which she would eat with gusto. This worked for a long time - but seems to be undergoing some change now. Fine, I'll just watch her for a while and the think up something else. Psst... parenting fosters creativity, don't you think?

Another thing. There was a time when she would be more interesting in playing, than eating. Distracting her with stories and songs and books did not help. My aunt told me that she had no problem with her son, she would just keep a book open in front of him and he would gobble down the food. I wondered why Puttachi didn't do that. If I put a book in front of her, she would totally ditch the food and start reading the book.

But from the past ten days, this strategy is working. I put a book in her hands, and feed her - and she just eats up the whole thing. How long this will last, I don't know.

And some more tips. If the child asks to eat on her own, let her. Half of the food will fall on the floor, but if you don't mind cleaning up the mess, this is good for both you and her. Whatever you say, some food does go in. She is happy, you are happy. But of course there is a strategy there too. To ensure that some food does go into her, I tell Puttachi in the beginning that the food is veryyyy hot, and so I am huffing and puffing on it to cool it down and am feeding it to her, and that she can eat it herself when the food cools down. It works. She eats up half the food without any fuss, and just after her tummy is a little full, she wants to eat by herself. After that, I let her. She does tend to eat up the food herself. With a spoon, fingers, whatever.

Another strategy - starve them. Space out breakfast and lunch, such that your child has to come to you asking for food! She will eat better and faster too.

Puttachi hates milk. I don't understand that. [My sister and I were milk lovers - we drank milk at least four times a day - my sis, in fact, would ask my mom, "Amma, I am thirsty, give me milk." Our neighbours used to tease my mom, telling her that she needed to rear cows.] Anyway, so I try to make up by giving her other milk products, like curds, paneer and cheese, and put milk into any food that can possibly take milk!

Next post: Some recipes that have worked well for Puttachi.


Deepa said...

You won't believe how familiar this sounds! I have still not reached the stage of letting go when S completely refuses her meals (which is pretty often!) Maybe I'll get there soon!

SloganMurugan said...

TV! The cure for all problems.

Usha said...

Catching up with Puttachi updates in one go - she seems to be growing really fast.
Naughty girl, dropping sand on other kids' hair! Does she call you thuthi still?
you could write a manual for first time mummies shruthi, very well observed and recorded!!

Mama - Mia said...


you make it sound simple!! Cubby refuses to eat since past coupla months almost!

he eventually does run but after much distraction, begging, hollering et all that jazz!

and 10 days osmething worked at a stretch! with Cubby its just 3 meals tops that it works!! its so maddening!

am trying to space out the meals... lets see how things go!

will wait for the recipes! :D



Anonymous said...

nice post, can anybody tell me what books do we need to buy for <2 yrs baby girl and from where i can get in bangalore.

Thanks in Advance.

Anonymous said...

Even my year old daughter doesn't drink milk. I have been asked by the doc to give her 500 ml of milk but I have no clue how to feed her. The doc doesn't consider the milk I put in her ragi and oats.

Sachin said...

Hey Shruthi, informative post!! Will pass it on to S if you don't mind? Hope you get the message. :D

praneshachar said...

every child is unique and every parent is different. very few parents do think like you and try alternatives. so many will make a routine and child gets frustrated and always cries when food comes out it is a painful thing for child. u must be creative and think of alternatives and so many alternatives shruthi has depicted all of those who are now busy in taking care of their off springs please follow and find the wonderful changes. those who are expecting can make note and get ready to welcome their child with smiles and nurture the child with all tit bits from here
Thanks shruthi for wonderful narration with all minute details and I am saying this as you are giving many many to read and learn. everyone would have done their own way very few do it like u so kudos to you and wonder kid puttachi who is behind this. have great time

Devaki said...

I've always wondered why moms run after their kids to feed them! Starve them till they ask for food - sounds like my policy. :)

Oh well, I'll know when I start running around myself, I guess!

Shruthi said...

Deepa: All the best :D
Sloganmurugan: Ah, I'm trying so hard to fall into that trap!
Usha: Yes she does, but only when asked my name :D
Abha: My experience is that it will get better in a couple of months!
Anon: Sapna book house, Odyssey, etc have good books. There is a very nice second hand book shop in 4th block Jayanagar that has many many board books - if you search, you get great ones in good condition.
Anon2: My doc says that as long as she eats milk products, and I add milk into her food, she doesn't need to drink milk!
Sachin: :D Rest on mail!
Pranesh: Thank you!
Devaki: AT some ages, if the parent doesn't persist, the kid is perfectly happy not eating, but simply playing. And then they get so hungry that they get cranky and cry and go to bed hungry! :D You'll understand :D

- -