OK, y'all. I need some advice. (I know. I know. I'm asking for it!)
We're having eating/feeding issues right now with both girls. I'll start with Lyla.
After a couple weeks of accepting 3-4 bites of pureed "solid foods" at each meal, she finally got into mealtime and was plowing through entire packages of baby food at once. She would have kept eating if I offered her more, but I just kept thinking, Well how much am I supposed to feed a tiny baby all at once?!?!
The mostly water liquidy mush on a spoon was clearly not filling her up (even combined with nursing all the time) so we decided to start her on finger foods as well. She loves finger foods and now will not eat baby food. Sure, I can hold both her arms down, wait until she just happens to open her mouth, and then shove a spoonful in there, but then how will I know when she's actually hungry and when she's done?
I thought ditching the purees altogether was the answer. Just let her fill up on finger foods. We've been giving her whatever we eat in tiny baby pieces, and she's been happy.
So what's the problem?
For the past two weeks since we started this plan, she's been waking up a million times a night and is HUNGRY. I try everything I can to get her to go back to sleep without feeding her if it's only been an hour (or 30 minutes even!) since the last time she ate, but nothing works. Then when I give up and nurse her, she eats a ton! She's starving.
So what do I do? Nurse her more often during the day? Feed her finger foods more often during the day? Go back to pretty much tricking her into eating purees? Wait a few more weeks and hope things figure themselves out? She's been an OK sleeper, waking a couple times between 7 and 7 to eat. So I don't want her to forget how to settle herself back to sleep by giving her the boob every time she wakes up.
Now, to Gracie.
We've never had a problem with her being a picky eater before. We thankfully skipped right over that infamous picky eating milestone during the early toddler months. She just ate everything we put in front of her. She likes fruit, veggies, most meat, pasta, spicy, sweet, sour, whatever.
But for the past few weeks, dinner has been a disaster. It's not that she doesn't like the food or even that she says she doesn't like it. She just won't eat it. We beg, get mad, ignore, offer treats as rewards, fight, attempt to spoon-feed her, and after about an hour of table-time, eventually give up. Sometimes she's barely eaten four bites of anything.
I read a very timely facebook post by a couponing site that I follow saying she's not had one mealtime fight since the beginning of the year (only a few weeks, I realize) because she's started reading chapter books to the kids while they eat. They're so distracted by the story that they forget to fight about the food and just eat it. Even though her kids are a bit older, I figured I'd give it a try with Gracie.
It totally worked! For three days.
Last week, we were going through our new-normal, awful dinnertime routine, and Gracie finally let out a huge sigh, leaned over, grabbed her fork, listened as McMister and I sighed our own sighs of relief that she was finally going to take a bite, and fed that bite directly to the dogs. I couldn't help it; I busted up laughing. We were all so exhausted from the ridiculousness of it, and after thinking we were actually getting somewhere, she proved us oh-so-wrong.
We went back to begging, offering special desserts, whisper-yelling "OPEN YOUR MOUTH" for about half an hour, and that's when she picked up her new Valentine's Day place mat and tossed it like a ninja star across the table and somehow lodged in the baseboards behind Lyla on the floor.
So yeah. We're failing. Big time.
Do you have any suggestions? For filling up an almost-8-month-old? For convincing a toddler to stay in their seat (Lyla has the high chair now)? For getting an ounce of food into the actual mouth and stomach of said toddler?
P.S. if you follow the plan of saving the food they don't eat for their next meal (and next and next if you have to), do you really do that overnight? I mean, I can see giving them their uneaten breakfast again at lunchtime and their uneaten lunch again at dinner, but beefy lasagna for breakfast? I just don't know.