For a while I was worried about how to best ensure my daughter was getting the proper nutrients in her diet. However, I’ve come to realize that while I’m some 38 inches taller and many, many pounds heavier than her (not to mention much more adept at using my thumbs and other fingers), I’m still mostly powerless over what goes into her mouth.
There were about five minutes when she graduated from baby food in a jar to real food that she was a picky eater. That time has long since passed. Now, at 13 months old, she eats just about anything, particularly if it’s not at a mealtime, it’s not being fed to her, it’s not food and it’s not hers. Chances are strong that some of what she consumes contains vitamins and minerals. And that all of the bacteria she’s inevitably ingesting are unlikely to be deadly. Or at least a mother can dream.
That she puts everything into her mouth and chews it is beyond a teething phase; she’s simply realized early on that her lot in life is that of a garbage disposal. The fact that she doesn’t discriminate is good; my husband and I had just hoped that personality trait would have related more to people and relationships than items not fit for human consumption.
The other day we went to the playground and I was armed with what I thought was a respectable stash of snacks, including sippy cups, grapes, whole grain Goldfish crackers and MultiGrain Cheerios. She seemed perfectly happy noshing on all of it in between climbing up the slide and being pushed on the swing, until which time she spotted a puddle of dirty (is there any other kind?) water and a used Band-Aid, both of which were apparently more palatable.
We were at a friend’s house last week when she discovered a pacifier on the floor that had just been in the mouth of a sick 2-year-old. While she hasn’t used a pacifier in four months, my little girl popped it right in her mouth as if it had just fallen out. When I went to grab it out, she wailed the baby blabber equivalent of bloody murder. The same incident was repeated hours later except at a different friend’s house and instead of a pacifier it was a dog dish full of kibble.
I’m fairly certain she understands the word no. She just chooses to ignore it. In fact, there are few things as amusing to her as when I say it. Like when she goes over to the plants in our living room and starts picking off the leaves. I could even begrudgingly live with the leaf picking if only she would stop eating the dirt in the plants’ pots.
She grabs fists full of soil, examines it and then sticks it in her mouth, savoring it like a glass of fine port. Sometimes she just picks out the fertilizer and munches on it like movie theatre popcorn with extra butter. When she’s inevitably banished from the plants, she’ll oftentimes settle for the shoes lined up by our front door, choosing the soles of the foulest, muddiest pair to lick. At least there’s probably a little protein in the fertilizer.
Before feeding her a banana we carefully cut each piece into quarters to reduce the risk of her choking only to watch her cram five or six quarters into her mouth at a time as if she’s storing up for the winter or needs a potassium fix. A useful strategy, to be sure, if she were hypokalemic or a squirrel. (If nothing else, at least the food-shoveling skill will come in handy later in life should she venture into the realm of competitive eating.)
After most meals are over she’ll crawl around the floor under her high chair and pop into her mouth whatever she missed the first time around. When lying on the changing table to get a new diaper, if she uncovers leftovers in the folds of her shirt or belly, that’ll do, too.
She’s taken to peeing upon getting settled into the bathtub and then later, sticking her face into the water like she’s bobbing for apples, gulping the soapy urine-laced water. She also regularly crawls into our friends’ house next door and eats off their floor indiscriminately. If her name was Spot and she wore a collar it might not bother me so much. But it’s not and she doesn’t so it kind of does.
I guess if nothing else I should just be relieved that at such a tender age my daughter doesn’t sweat the small stuff. For better or worse, she eats it.
E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.