There are two things that cause first time parents the most anxiety. Eating and sleeping. I know, I’ve been there. Is my kid eating enough? Why does that kid sleep so much better than mine? It’s stressful. The benefit of spawning more clones is that you begin to realise that you have absolutely no control over any of it. The baby has the power!
Today I’m talking about the eating side of things. Babies like eating. But it’s not always the things that you want them to eat. I have compiled a list of my children’s favourite foods as babies. If you’re expecting to see banana, yoghurt and blueberries, expect a surprise!
I’m going to start positively, with something which is actually edible. Milk. No matter what the source, babies love the milk. And research has shown that milk is tastiest and highest in nutrients between the hours of 12am and 5am.* In that case, aren’t babies clever to sense this, and seek it out intensely between those hours? Honestly, pure genius.
*not 100% true.
2. Stones, leaves and other organic matter
Organic is good. Organic matter, not so good. But babies love it.
You tend to see this most often when a baby has started walking, and takes those first few forays into the park or the beach. (Although if you have older children, it’s from the moment your baby can haul its under-developed muscles across the room.)
There they will find a plethora of mouthing opportunities. One of Little Girl’s favourites was stones. You couldn’t take your eye off her for a second, or she’d be crouched in that weird, bum-skimming-the-floor way that toddlers do, cramming them in by the handful. I don’t know what she found so compelling about them, be it the taste (ewwwwww) or the texture, but she carried on doing it long after she should have grown out of it.
Squeak loves autumn leaves. The girls have been collecting and discarding them around the house for weeks, and she’s never happier than when she’s got a mouthful of bitty, disintegrating leaves.
Sand is another, and it is the one that baffles me the most. We all had a mouthful of sand on a windy day at the beach. It is gritty and, quite frankly, revolting. But I had to stop taking Little Girl to the beach for a while because of this routine: eat, grimace, gag, cry, rinse and repeat.
I comfort myself with the fact that they are giving their immune systems a massive kickstart. Maybe.
I don’t know what they put in baby wipes to make them so addictive to babies . I suspect crack. Whatever it is, look me in the eye and tell me you never saw your baby’s eyes light up when they saw a packet of wipes. Yeah, *that* was convincing!
Squeak is pretty good at playing on her own. For short periods, anyway. And I like to grab those times to do nothing at all. Or write this. Now, over the years I have developed a heightened sense of hearing. Whatever I am doing, I always have one ear open, ready to activate the ‘someone is fucking with something’ radar.
So Squeak is sitting on the floor, playing with some toys. She’s babbling to herself and banging things together. I think, Wahey! And settle down to do something inane and time-wasting. Next minute, I sense something. Silence. The thing which every parent claims to desire, but knows should actually be dreaded. Then, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. I look up. Squeak has abandoned her toys, and is ripping the wipes out of the packet at a rate of knots. I drag myself up off the couch to rush over and stop her. She stops, and makes eye contact. She can see I’m on my way. Her bounty is about to be confiscated. So she does the only thing she can think of. She jams it into her mouth and starts sucking the life out of it.
The inevitable happens. The seizure of the ill-gotten goods. The outraged howls. And, as ever, my complete confusion. I mean, surely they taste like crap?
4. Small toys
It doesn’t matter how many times you say to your older children, “Please keep the small toys out of reach of the baby,” they always forget.
Do you ever wonder why babies follow their older siblings around? Some people say it is because they look up to them.
They are wrong.
Babies are not so much looking up as looking down, and waiting for the drop. The smaller the better. Swallowing size is good, but even if it is too big to swallow there is something very satisfying about rolling a tiny toy around your mouth. I assume there is, anyway, because Squeak never bloody stops doing it!
I have perfected the hooked finger method, much to her rage. In fact, she is now primed to run away as fast as she can (which is, thankfully, still pretty slow) as soon as she sees my hand approaching.
I always win, though. Choking = baaaad.
5.Fluff and crumbs
It isn’t until a baby acquires the pincer grip that you realise how shoddy your vacuuming technique actually is.
You’re sitting there, beaming with pride at how good they are at rolling, commando crawling or whatever. And then you see their forefinger and thumb come together to grasp something on the floor.
Your first reaction is, wow, that’s so clever! Then, ugh, what is that?? And it doesn’t matter if you are sitting so close to them that you are touching them, you will still not manage to stop them before they shove it straight into their mouths.
Favourites are: hair, dustballs and small pieces of plastic wrapper. A special treat is biscuit crumbs, the Holy Grail of all floor-related matter.
Sure, I could vacuum more, but where’s the fun in that?
Anyone with a child older than about 18 months has crayons in their house. Fact. And another fact is that they are never where they are supposed to be.
Ours live on the multi-purpose storage area that is commonly known as the floor. If by some chance they do make it into their intended box, Squeak soon comes along and tips the lot onto the floor. And as we have already established, babies love to eat off the floor.
I don’t know quite how she does it. In my opinion, crayons are pretty hard. But all I know is, I have a boxful of crayons with the ends bitten off, and a baby with blue drool. ‘Nuff said.
7. Your food
It doesn’t matter what you’re eating. It’s irrelevant if they have the exact same thing on their plate. All that matters is that you like it. And the more you like it, the more they will strain across the highchair, squawking at you, desperate for a bite.
Man, this pisses me off. There’s nothing that spoils a nice meal more than a whining monster trying to steal it off you.
Does anyone remember the film K-9? There’s a scene in it where Dooley gets in the car with a cake that he’s bought for himself. He takes a bite, and the dog starts yowling and nudging him so much that in the end he’s all, “Take it! Take it!” and shoving the cake in the dog’s mouth.
This is my life.
Oh! Before I go, just one last thing.
Things babies don’t eat:
1. Their food
They eye it with suspicion. They poke it. If you’re extremely lucky, they may even take a small bite.
Then, they sweep the lot onto the floor. And they lock eyes with you. And smile.
Babies are evil.