We are very happy to report that it seems like Grace is still gaining weight; unfortunately, we believe most of that weight is coming from her "Special Milk" (Pediasure/older toddler formula) instead of food because she continues to be an extremely difficult eater. We let her eat as much as possible at the table, and then when she gets down we try to feed her the rest of her food while she is playing (or, if it is before bedtime, watching a show). We consciously fight with her less than we used to about food, but she is still not very motivated to feed herself well. We have good days and bad days (like many toddlers, I am assured by other moms), but I always end up hoping, hoping, hoping that one day she'll wake up and just be a good eater!
Grace is not in school anymore (well, she has one more week of "camp" but they don't do lunch) so she is back to eating all 3 meals a day at home. I have to say I dread this a little bit, because it means I have 3 battles to face each day on the food front instead of 2. But I reached out to my fellow Nairobi moms and asked (via facebook, of course) what kind of foods their toddlers eat for lunch. I was just hoping to get some new ideas to try out. One mom said that her daughters like to eat finger foods out of an ice cube tray: they play with the food too, but also consume a nice variety. Sounded like Toddler Tapas to me! So I decided to try that yesterday. This is what my Toddler Tapas looked like, although to Grace I called it "ice cube tray lunch" (loaded up with many of her favorite foods):
Top row: carrots, apples, 2 chicken & apple mini-meatballs, corn, mandarin oranges, cucumber.
Bottom row: whole wheat bread shapes (heart, triangle, star, moon), hummus for dipping, peas, yogurt for dipping, sliced turkey shapes, more bread shapes.
When she sat down at the table and I explained her lunch to her, Grace told me, "Great idea, Mama!" And she looked like this for a few minutes...
...but I think I was a bit over zealous for the first time around. There was just too much food for her, and too much variety I think (although I hoped that would be a good thing). She didn't want to dip (I also falsely predicted the success of dipping), but ate all of the hummus off her finger and asked for more of that. She ate all of the apples, one slice of cucumber, one slice of carrot, 2 individual peas, and four (out of 8) bread shapes. There was a lot of food leftover and she refused to even try the mandarins, mini-meatballs, corn or turkey.
I decided not to fight her to eat more once she asked to get down; it was not a complete failure because she seemed "into it" and really liked the hummus, but she definitely didn't love the eating experience as I had imagined. A few things I learned for the next time I try to do Toddler Tapas:
- leave a few cubes empty so she can move around and/or sort her food as she likes
- put a little bit less of each item in there so that even if she just has 1 or 2 bites she can feel successful having eaten all of that food
- try some raisins and nuts next time
- maybe preview a dessert tapas as a reward for eating up
My intention in writing this blog is first to document my efforts - she may not be eating, but we are trying over here! - and second to ask if anyone else has some new ideas for me to try. I am very, very happy to steal other people's good ideas, especially when it comes to feeding Grace!