I have a confession…I don’t like feeding toddlers. Let’s face it. Feeding a toddler can be very challenging. And messy. Definitely messy.
Even after you spend the extra time needed to prep their food (steaming, dicing, etc), there’s a good chance the whole meal will end up on the floor. Sigh…

But rather than hear the trials, tribulations and triumphs from me, here’s what my daughter would tell you about eating, if she could talk. She is a year-and-a-half, but likes to think she’s going on four, just like her big brother. She is the sweetest, happiest, silliest girl ever. She is also very determined and spirited. She knows what she wants and she’s pretty darn good at letting you know what that is (or isn’t).

So while she can’t yet say more than a handful of somewhat intelligible words, I feel pretty confident in translating the following for you.

Here are the top 11 things my one-year-old wants to tell you about eating:

1. I am a girl of mystery. One day I will eat nearly as much as you eat, despite the fact that I am one-fifth your size. The next day, I will go on a hunger strike, refusing all food with more vehemence than you thought possible. On these days, you’ll inevitably worry that I’m not getting enough nutrition and/or that I’m going to wake up hungry in the middle of the night. You’ll just have to guess what kind of day it’s going to be. I like to keep you on your toes.

2. Just when you think you have me figured out, I will change. (Side note: the same could be said of my nap schedule, but that’s another blog post for another day.) Yes, I know I loved eating O’s for the past five months, but today I don’t want them. Not a single one. And tomorrow I will eat enough blueberries to stain my behind blue, but the next day I’m going to through them all on the floor. Just roll with it.

3. Speaking of food on the floor, no matter how much I love a food, it’s always more fun to throw it on the ground in one fell swoop. You clearly agree that this is a great game since you continue to refuel my ammunition. My grandpa also tells me that throwing food on the floor is a great way to get a dog, so I think I’ll keep this habit up for a while.

4. Chalk, sand, play dough, rocks and any random objects found on the playground all seem like perfectly acceptable items to put in my mouth. That home cooked meal you just spent an hour making (while I helped by emptying the kitchen cabinets, trying to turn on the stove and clinging to your legs)? Not so much. I mean, really….why would I even think of letting that get near my mouth? Better luck next time, mom.

5. Please don’t try to feed me. I realize that my spoon-to-mouth accuracy has lots of room for improvement, but I. Can. Do. It. MYSELF!!!

6. I don’t care that I only have 8 teeth, I want to eat everything that I see you eat. And please don’t even think of cutting them up into small pieces. Small pieces are for babies. I prefer big pieces that I can shove in my mouth to the point of near-choking.

7. My cheeks may look small, but they have an impressive storage capacity. That ball of food mush you just found in your shoe? I bet you didn’t even realize I’d been harboring that in my mouth for that past 20 minutes. Impressive, right!?

8. I like my plate to look like Gwyneth Paltrow’s wardrobe. Clean, simple, monochromatic and streamlined. I’m not a casserole kind of girl. So don’t load up my plate with a lot of options. Just one food at a time, please.

9. Don’t underestimate me by falling into that marketing trap that kids only like kid-food. Heck, I think broccoli is great. I will gobble it down faster than you can chop it up for me.

10. Don’t brag about how much I love broccoli. As soon as you tell someone how much I like it, I’ll spit it out faster than a flying ninja. It’s my job to humble you and I take that job very seriously.

11. Don’t give up on me. I may make it tough on you, but I’m a work in progress. It took me a lot of failed attempts to learn how to walk, so I need A LOT of chances to learn to be a good little eater, too. You’ll never really know if I like a food unless you give me lots of opportunities to try it. So please keep steaming, dicing and refueling my plate when throw it on the floor. I promise you, your efforts are worthwhile.

So, there you have it. Can you relate to some of these? Does your little one have anything to share? Caitlin is standing by, ready to learn!

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  • Hali

    This is too funny and WAY too familiar! I can relate to pretty much everything on this list except the mushy food ball in the shoe–that one hasn’t happened in this house yet. Can’t wait… 🙂 In all honestly, I don’t like feeding toddlers either. I’ve said this to my friends, I can get used to being spit up on repeatedly and never wearing completely clean clothes for the first 6 months, but my daughter having food from head to toe and then the floor and trying to wipe it everywhere….nope. Can’t get used to it and I sometimes find it hard to even think it’s cute! Thank God we have dogs. They have wormed there way even further into my heart since Evie started eating food! Regardless of the mess though, we both try and try again…steam, chop, serve…THROW and repeat. Gotta love it.

    • Laura Chalela Hoover, MPH, RD

      Hi Hali — Glad you can relate! I bet you’ve had the food in the shoe thing happen too, but your dogs got to it before you noticed. 🙂

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