Hooper Eats.

This is a part II, you can read the first post on bringing in the help of a professional here.
Here are our goals:
-Willy and I need to be on the same page. I need to be a better role model (I’m as picky as they come. I ate cheese pizza and fries everyday Monday-Friday during my four years of high school. I live by the anthem that I eat to live, not live to eat. I was that kid who didn’t like her food touching. I was also that kid that sucked her salad dressing off her salad but left the lettuce. What? You didn’t know that kid? Welp, now ya do). Willy needs to not let his excessive worry over Hooper’s overall health allow him to revert to impulsive strategies that we’ve used in the past that got us to where we are now.
-We want to feel confident about our game plan. We need to believe it will work for us to stay true to it. It can’t just be rules to follow, the rules need to make sense and fit into our lifestyle.
-We’d love to shorten the time that meals are taking. Because still chewing a bite of food thirty minutes after it entered the mouth is as painful as watching a man with no fingers tie a shoe.
-We’d be stoked if he could add some more variety to his diet, but really we’d be grinning ear to ear if he just ate what we gave him now with some degree of ease.
Kary asked us to brainstorm our thoughts on the following statements (see items in bold). Here are our responses:
 Unless there is an undiagnosed medical issue, children will eat the amount that their body’s need and they will not starve. 
Both Willy and I agree this is probably true but neither of us can commit to this 100%. When Willy and I talked further, we both agreed that our issues stem from Hooper’s weight dropping consistently over his first year of life. We both adopted this notion that he was not healthy and that we needed to be more proactive in feeding him. In reality, while his pediatrician did monitor is weight more than the usual baby, he never declared him unhealthy and never suggested I supplement my breastfeeding with formula. We need help trusting that he will remain healthy even if he chooses skips a meal here or there.
Missing a meal will not hurt a child and in fact kids often have fluctuations in the amount they eat- sometimes they will eat a ton for one meal or even for several meals in a row, then they will eat very little for the next meal or meals. When a meal or two are skipped, a child will be more hungry at the next meal. 
I’ve read that you should not look at what a toddler eats over the course of a day, but instead over the course of a week. Nevertheless, it’s hard for me to trust fully.
-If your son has been gaining weight along a consistent growth curve, this is good proof that he is not starving and he is in fact getting “enough” to eat.
As of his last appointment, at 2 yrs old, Hooper was in the 50th percentile for weight, which is perfect. We don’t credit this to the fact he is not starving… instead we pat ourselves on the back for getting him to this point… one painful spoonful at a time. I know, we’re twisted. We need to have our thought process reversed, right?
– Kids have preferences for certain foods and they will hold out until they get those foods if they know from experience that this is a likely option. 
Willy and I both agree. We’ve gone wrong here one too many times, resorting to giving chicken nuggets when he refuses whatever meal we’ve tirelessly tried to get him to eat. We’d love to work toward undoing the damage and having a healthy alternative plan in place for when he does refuse meals — even if it means accepting that he’ll simply eat more the next morning for breakfast.
– Some kids eat slowly and/or graze on small meals through the day rather than eating a few large meals. Lots of adults eat this way too!
We both laughed at this one because he’s such a slow eater. He’ll scarf down certain meals (chicken nuggets, pizza), but the healthier stuff takes forever. I’d love to give him smaller more frequent meals, but the problem lies with his slowness at each meal in conjunction with his nap schedule. I’m not sure where I could fit in smaller meals. Some days it feels like I’m spending his entire waking hours trying to get the one meal in him. It’s so draining.
– Kids do what their parents do and they want to be just like their parents. Modeling the behavior you want to see is so important. 
Willy and I both agree. And I know I need to work on eating healthier so I can be a better example. It’s a work in progress for me too.
What are your responses to the bold statements above? 

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9 Responses

  • That picture is amazing. I can totally understand why you guys have been more high strung about Hooper’s eating because he was low weight. But, those statements from Kary are all 100% true (for kids and adults, actually). Hooper is really healthy and happy. Anyone who spends 5 minutes with him can see that. He’s also very adept at getting what he wants, so if he sees chicken nuggets in his future, he will probably refuse whatever else to get them 😉 He’s got a sneaky side. Like his mom 😉

  • Your first point hit home for me – my daughter is in the 7th percentile for weight (99th for height) and she drinks 18 ounces of formula, plus nurses twice and eats 3 solid food meals plus one snack a day. She is just a skinny, long kid. I worried about it for such a long time, but I’ve realized that regardless of how hard I try to get more calories in her, she is just fine. She eats a ton when she’s hungry and some days it’s less than ideal, but she is thriving and super smart and so active.

  • I agree with those. The thing that’s hard is wondering “if” something is wrong and we don’t know it. I will say, I am the mom that leaves my son’s plate out and he can go back and eat it as he pleases. I especially find with lunch, if he doesn’t eat much, a couple hours later, he will go back and eat the rest. Also, when he says he is hungry and wants something to eat, I usually give him two to three options and say he can choose.

  • Pretty interesting what Kary said. My son Kobe is at the 50th percentile too. He is just tall & skinny. I use to get so darn stressed at meal times as he was so picky & slow eating. But I decided to just sit back & let him eat at his leisurely pace & he actually eats most off his plate now (yippee!). And naturally when he is finished he throws the plate with whatever is left on the floor:( Introducing new foods takes forever, I have to put it on his plate 20 times (over 20 meal times) before he dares takes a bite. Your doing a great job Ashley considering you also have Van to feed too!

  • I needed to read this tonight. We’re having such food battles with our 3.5 year old – have been really since she was 2 months old and dropped to the 1%. Now she’s almost 4 and the size of a 2-year-old. I can’t help but worry, even though she’s perfectly healthy. She wants the junk-type foods and is stubborn enough to go to extreme measures to *try* and get them. She will hold food in her mouth for hours (!), even her favorite foods. It drives us up the wall, and we don’t know what to do anymore. Your blog posts about this are helping me hold onto what little sanity I have left.

    • Oh mama, I feeeeeel ya. Stay tuned… I have a post coming with what has helped some for us. You can email me too, if you wish. I know how frustrating it can be. xo

  • Fantastic image!
    I can kind of relate to this, but re. sleeping, not eating. You see, my kid eats like a food blogger. Almost everything I put in front of her gets tried, at least. Fish? NBD. Tempeh? Yup. Bok choi? Yup. I’d like to say that this is down to my amazing superglitterpower parenting, really, I would, but that would be a lie. I got a kid that eats, and that’s the luck of the draw.

    I did, however, not get a kid who sleeps. Also, luck of the draw. But I’m sure that her inability to sleep has been heightened by my deeply held beliefs and insecurities regarding sleep, abandonment, and love. I’m sure my inconsistant responses have helped condition her to resist sleep. But I don’t think that I “caused” her sleeplessness.

    It sounds like you guys are super self aware of your motives and beliefs regarding H’s diet. I have no doubt that you guys will reach your eating goals (which sound totally sensible, btw). Still, I wouldn’t put too much blame on your actions regarding his eating habits. It’s probably got a lot more to do with his temperament (in my totally non-expert opinion!!!)


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