For the first four months of Jake’s life, all he did was nurse. I don’t mean he was exclusively on breast milk (which he was…the kid refused the bottle from day 1, screaming as if it were hot coals we were offering him), but all he wanted to do was nurse. Most nights I was up every hour, sometimes every 2, to fill that growing belly of his. Everyone told me that at 10 weeks he’d sleep longer. 12 weeks for sure. As soon as he hits 13 pounds, something magically changes and he’ll sleep! At 4 months you’ll get a good 6 hours out of him. Bull. Bull. Bull. He was collicky and cranky and sleepless for what seemed like an eternity.
At his 4 month checkup, the doctor saw the desperation, no, the sheer misery in our exhausted eyes, and told us that with a little sleep training and solid foods, Jake might start to do more than just cat nap during the night. Thus began his voracious appetite not just for breast milk (still no bottle in his world), but also for all the fruits, vegetables, and cereal that we put anywhere near him. He would yell at us if we didn’t feed him fast enough, food smeared from his chin to his forehead.
At 6 months we got the green light to introduce him to any food we pleased. He lived for yogurt. He couldn’t get enough of strawberries. My pastina pomodoro was the best thing that ever happened to him. He ate quinoa. He ate muffins. My kid even enjoyed salmon. We couldn’t believe that we hit the good eater lottery.
As if he knew he would officially be considered a “toddler” at 1 year of age, Jake developed some strong opinions when he hit 12 months. If he hated what we were feeding him before, he never let on. But now, everything that went into his mouth came tumbling right out, his tongue pushing every last bit of food onto his highchair and the floor. He soon discovered what shaking his head and “nah” (no) meant. So those began to accompany that little tongue expelling his peas and carrots.
We were successful in teaching him some sign language, and so when we’re on the right track food-wise, Jake encourages our efforts by doing the sign for more (now accompanied by “muh”). He still loves his milk (cow’s milk these days), but salmon is hit or miss. And so is my pasta (like a stake through my heart).
All of the books and blogs tell you to call it quits on dinner if your toddler is refusing what you’re giving him. They say to try again next time, he’ll eat when he’s hungry, etc. But I’m Italian, and I’m unable to let anyone get up from a table without needing to unbutton their pants to make room. So neither I nor my Jewish husband are programmed to pack it up when Jake refuses to eat the first thing we give him. I am working on it, though. I really am. Until then, I will give him one option after another until that belly is full. And have the dog clean up everything Jake has spit out in the process…