You Want To Put WHAT In My Mouth?

13 Feb

“Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.”

― Khaled Hosseini

One of the most difficult things I ever had to teach Oli was how to eat solid food.

Seems like a pretty simple thing doesn’t it?

Just open up the little jar of green, orange, or tan puree. Get the spoon ready. The baby, at this point, is watching in anticipation because they probably know what is happening. They get that look of excitement on their face like, “Really? It’s my turn?”

Usually by the time the baby is old enough for solid food they have been watching big people eat for a few months and know what to do.

See food.

See spoon.

See mommy scoop up food.

See the spoon coming towards mouth.

Greedily open mouth as wide as possible.

Get food in mouth and then immediately insert fist in mouth too.

Because really, what goes better with baby food than baby fist?

At least this was my experience with my son.

I’m sure you spotted a few obstacles that I encountered when I attempted this technique with Oli.

I got the baby food jar out and the little rubber spoon and set them on her tray. I opened the jar and had the camera ready to snap the classic baby expression that comes with the first bite of real food. I scooped up the green mush, brought it toward her face and…nothing.

My face fell when I immediately recognized my mistake.

I put the food up to her lips and watched as she clamped her mouth shut when she realized that I was trying to put something in there.

“It’s food Oli. Food like mommy and daddy eat.” I gently try to coax her into opening her mouth.

Nothing.

My baby had absolutely no frame of reference for the word “food”. She’d never seen people eat, had no idea that this was something people do, and had no clue that she was supposed to open her mouth and chew when I spoke the words “food” or “eat”.

When Seth came home that night I greeted him at the door with a bewildered look on my face.

“She doesn’t understand what food is. She doesn’t know that she’s supposed to eat. All she knows is the bottle and milk. The spoon and baby food feel nothing like these. How do we teach her to eat?”

Seth just shrugged his shoulders and gave me the reassured look that only a father who has no idea of what to do, but is confident he can work it out, can give.

“We just do. We have to show her.”

Over the next week I tried to do just that. I tried to show her that I ate food and did not drink from a bottle. I would take her little hand and raise it to my face as I ate. I let her feel the fork or spoon layered with food as I raised it to my mouth, feel the motion of my jaw as I opened and closed my mouth and then chewed.

Then I would sit her back in her highchair and attempt to feed her again.

“Come on Oli. Open your mouth just like mommy does.”

Nothing.

Eventually I was able to squeeze past her tightly closed lips and get a small amount on her tongue. She immediately tried to spit it out and stuck out her tongue. I quickly jumped at this opportunity and put a spoonful on her tongue. Unable to spit out the entire glob she was forced to close her mouth and got a chance to taste it. She realized that it tasted pretty good, but then she thought that that was the way she was supposed to eat. Every time I fed her she would stick out her tongue and expect me to put food on it. This technique soon became frustrating for her because she never got much into her mouth and most of it ended up falling off and onto her tray.

I was frustrated and again met Seth at the door after work. This time with an exasperated expression.

“I don’t know what else to do. This is not working and I’m out of ideas. Tomorrow, it’s your turn to try.”

“Ok.” He answers with that confident look on his face again. But this time rather than finding it comforting or endearing I just fine it annoying.

I’m thinking, “You think it’s going to be so easy and I’m going to laugh when you figure out that it’s more difficult than you realize.”

The next night I get everything ready for Seth’s feeding attempt and get the “I told you so” look on my face.

He sits across from Oli and then does something completely unexpected. He takes her face in his hand and gently pry’s her mouth open and puts the spoon inside.

“Open your mouth Oli.” He says as he gently taps the spoon against her lips and then opens her mouth for her.

At first the food comes right back out being thrust onto the tray by her tongue, but after a few more attempts she starts to open her mouth on her own. Soon afterwards all we had to do was ask her to open her mouth and touch her lips.

Apparently his interpretation and my interpretation of “We have to show her” were completely different.

Thanks to Seth’s straight forward attempt to show her, my girl learned how to eat.

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One Response to “You Want To Put WHAT In My Mouth?”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Young Nurse « I'm fine, but my Mommy has issues! - February 13, 2013

    […] Oli began to eat baby food I realized that her GI reflux, which I had been assured would dissipate when I introduced solids […]

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