It was actually a very sporadic decision. Bean was once again not eating his dinner on Saturday night. This time I was getting really frustrated because it was all his favorite things, and he wouldn’t touch any of them even though he’d been saying he was hungry for 20 minutes while I made it. I thought about it and I just knew that if I put that plate on the living room table and let him stand up to eat (like he sometimes does with snacks), he would eat it in no time. Maybe, I thought, it’s the location that bothers hims.
Everyday at school Bean eats all his food. His teachers say he’s an excellent eater, in fact. And yet when he’s at our table, he will barely touch anything. I know he’s a toddler and that toddlers don’t necessarily eat much at dinner time, but Bean eats nothing all afternoon or evening. And he’s a tiny guy who is starting to actually lose weight. So I have been really concerned about his lack of interest in mealtimes (or food in general). Desperate to try something to get him interested in his meals, I wondered if maybe he would eat better at a table more similar to what he has at school. So, Chris went up to Bean’s room and brought down a little table and chairs set my Grandma gave him for his first birthday. It’s been in his room for him to color at and play on, but we thought maybe he’d actually enjoy a little table that’s just his size.
We ended up having to move our entire kitchen around to fit this tiny table. We moved the kitchen table back against the far wall, which is fine since we aren’t seating four at dinner yet. We moved the high chair out of the kitchen and promoted Gracie to Bean’s booster seat. She’s been in heaven this weekend in her new chair. She just squeals as she eats now. We moved the bookshelf out from the corner and under the window, and made a little place for Bean’s table that’s close to where we are eating, but out of the way.
So far, it’s been a big hit for Bean. He is so excited to sit at his own table now. The rule is that if he’s eating (even just a little bit), then he can stay at his table. But if he’s not eating, then he has to come sit at the table with me, Chris, and Gracie. He cleaned his plate the first night, which made me really happy. And on the plates since then, he has made a good effort, which is more than he has been doing.
I think the name of the toddler meal game must be to keep things interesting. Bean ate really good for a while when I started playing with the presentation of the food he ate, and then he got bored with that and stopped eating. And he did really good for a while when I rolled all his fruits and veggies up into wheat tortillas with toothpicks in them and called them “toothpick sandwiches,” but then he got bored with that and stopped eating again. He did pretty good when we played, “The Game” together at meals, but he got bored with and stopped eating that time, too. The last successful bout of eating we had was when I mixed everything into bowls of all-natural, unsweetened applesauce, but he eventually got bored with that and stopped eating again.
I think the trick is to keep things fun and new at mealtimes. I’d much rather just put a plate of food in front of him and stand over him until he eats it all, but I don’t have that amount of time in my day and I don’t think he’d eat anything anyway. So, I’m okay with having to tap dance a little bit to get him to eat something. I’d rather jump through hoops and have him eat something than stand there frustrated while he eats nothing.
Anybody else out there have some tricks up their sleeve to encourage eating in their toddlers?
**Alright, folks. This is my last diaper bag post. I promise! It’s just been on my mind lately, and I had to blog it out!**
Now that Bean and Gracie are getting a little older, the needs of my diaper bag have changed. I don’t really have to carry around bottles and burp cloths and multiple changes of clothes for each kid. Now, my diaper bag is more about entertaining the kids when we are out somewhere. Actually, just this past weekend I cleaned out my diaper bag and repacked it for this new phase.
Though I don’t have to carry bottles for Gracie anymore, I still always make sure I leave the house with snacks for the kids. Not only does it keep them busy when we’re out and about, but it never fails that the one time I don’t pack a snack, both kids start whining for one. Usually, I stick with something simple that both kids can have so that I don’t have to pack multiple snacks. Goldfish are a big hit, as are graham crackers, Puffs, and apple slices. Also, I make sure that their sippy cups are full of water. (This has a picture of a bottle for Gracie, but as of this weekend she is a sippy cup only girl! Go Gracie!)
Because Gracie is still in diapers, I carry this little travel-sized diaper case with me. Inside there are two diapers, a small pack of wipes, and a small tube of diaper cream. If we’re just running out somewhere, I sometimes leave this at home because I have a very similar travel case that I keep in my car. But if we’re going somewhere all day, I toss this pack in the diaper bag. It’s really slim and light, so it doesn’t take up too much room.
A new addition to my diaper bag these days is an old formula box filled with some small, entertaining activities that I save specifically for meals out at restaurants. I just came up with this idea a couple weeks ago, so I haven’t filled it completely yet, but right now I have a brand new pack of special crayons (different than what Bean has at home), a pack of jacks (Bean loves to collect tiny things and put them in piles), and a container of Play-Doh. Bean loves this thing. When we go out to eat, he sits very quietly and plays with all his “new” toys. I think it’s a good idea to have some things that are designated for specific times or places. It makes them seem more important and special. Plus, the formula box is just the right size for Bean to have complete control over what he plays with. It’s essentially like having a tiny toy box that he can dig through at the table.
Another new addition to our “big kid” diaper bag are sunglasses. At first, I used to buy sunglasses for the kids because… I mean, what’s cuter than a kid in sunglasses?
But living in Florida, sunglasses are almost a necessity, even for wee ones. Bean has gotten to the point now where he asks for his sunglasses in the car when it’s really bright. So, I keep these in the outside pocket of my diaper bag now partly for pure entertainment, and partly for practical use. Even little bitty eyeballs need protection.
Other staples in my new diaper bag include activities that will keep the kids entertained. I replaced all the small hand toys and stuffed animals this weekend with activities instead. I put in coloring books, animal alphabet cards, lacing cards, and a few beginning reader sight word books that my mom got Bean for Easter.
I used to carry around a lot of baby toys for Gracie, but all she ever wanted were Bean’s toys, so now I just give her whatever he is playing with. If he has flashcards out, she looks at them with us or Bean gives her a couple cards for her to carry around. If he’s playing with lacing cards, she likes to wave around the strings. We basically just adapt whatever Bean’s playing with for Gracie and that seems to keep her attention these days more than baby toys.
I should also say here that when I go somewhere with just Bean, we don’t take the diaper bag at all. Instead, he has a little backpack that he carries. I put some activities and games in there, along with his sippy cup and snack, and he’s good to go. He even likes to carry it around by himself.
What about you guys? What do you carry in your bag for older babies and toddlers?
Bean is entering a new phase. I think this must be the three-year-old behavior people warned me about. These days, Bean is like a PMS-ing tiny warlord hyped up on steroids. He’s emotional, moody, demanding, bossy, and very rambunctious. My sweet, shy, quiet little two-year-old has become a little turd.
I say it with love, but it’s true.
The biggest change in him would have to be his roughness. I remember a few months ago we were at a birthday party for a little boy in Bean’s class who was turning three. There were other three-year-old boys there and I remember watching them push and shove and literally roll around on the ground playing in the dirt. Meanwhile, Bean was hanging out over on the sides, kind of close to me, just watching and checking things out. I remember thinking, “Thank goodness Bean isn’t a rough boy.”
It’s like all the rough and tumble that comes with being a boy just suddenly came surging through Bean in the past two weeks. He’s rough and pushy now. He kicks things and jumps on things and throws things and takes things from Gracie. I don’t think he’s intentionally being mean, but it’s like he can’t control it. He reminds me of the Hulk.
All these changes are driving me crazy! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Michael, is that how we play nicely?” over the past two weeks? Bean hasn’t sat in time out in months, but lately I feel like he’s been in time out more than he’s been out of it! To a certain extent I’m trying to let him ride through this phase. I know this is just part of being three and being a boy, so I try not to stay on him ALL THE TIME. But at the same time, there are rules in our house that we do not break. We share toys, we don’t push or kick, we treat our toys nicely. And no matter what phase my kids are in, those rules have to be followed. Which is usually how Bean ends up in time out…
The difference between the two’s and three’s from what I can tell is that at two, they are still learning how to control their emotions. You get random outbursts and meltdowns because they are learning how to use those emotions and actions, so they can’t really control them yet. And then they learn how to control them, so they like to practice using them – like, a LOT. Two was tough, but the actions (no matter how frustrating) made sense in some way.
But this three-year-old thing? From what I can tell, now it’s not about learning to control those emotions and actions, it is knowing what’s right and wrong and deliberately choosing the wrong, just to try and cross the line. I’m sure that psychologically he’s learning about boundaries and limitations right now and that these little acts of defiance are to test our limits, so I’m glad that Chris and I are holding firm about what rules we have in our house. But GEEEEZZZZ! This is going to be tough!
Last night Bean was particularly challenging. He wasn’t being very nice to Gracie and I ended up sending him to bed early because of his behavior. This morning wasn’t much better as Bean pitched a total temper tantrum about not having a THIRD bowl of cereal because we were running late for school. By the time we got to daycare, I have to admit that I was ready to drop him off. I had told him that he could have breakfast at daycare since he didn’t get to finish his bowl of cereal at home, so I took him into the cafeteria to eat after we’d dropped off Gracie. Normally, if Bean eats breakfast there, I just drop him off and he sits at a little table, eats his breakfast, and then the cafeteria girls take him to his classroom when he’s done. But this morning when I went to drop him off, he took my hand and looked up at me with those big blue eyes of his daddy’s and said, “Mommy, will you sit with me?”
I was so late for work already. So, so, so late. But it was so nice to see my sweet boy shine through for just a minute and so I sat down with him and we ate breakfast together right there in the middle of the daycare cafeteria. There was the normal rush of morning drop off going on around us, but Bean ate his waffle and talked to me like we were the only people in the room, and soon I felt like we were. It only took him about 10 minutes to eat his waffle, and then I walked him to his classroom before I left. And I smiled all the way to school.
Three is going to be rough. I can already tell. But three might also be very surprising on random Tuesday mornings, and that part I’m really looking forward to.
And Bean’s life changed forever.
Now, Gracie can get into his stuff. And if he moves it away from her, she can crawl over to it again. Bean doesn’t know what the crap is going on, but he knows he is not happy about it. He’s started doing this really funny thing when he sees Gracie coming towards one of his treasures. He throws himself down on top of his toys and covers them with his entire body, while yelling out, “NO, GWAYCIE!”
Chris and I didn’t really prepare for how to handle sibling rivalry. We had parenting talks about discipline and setting boundaries and potty training and religion and all that other important stuff. But we never really put a game plan together for sibling rivalry. We’ve been shooting from the hip for the past week, and, so far, we’ve actually got a pretty good system going.
Whenever Gracie starts getting all over Bean and his toys, we don’t go remove Gracie from the situation. It would be easy for us to just walk over when Bean starts freaking out and put Gracie somewhere else, but the fact is that Bean and Gracie are going to be playing together for a looooooong time, so Bean’s going to have to learn at some point how to handle sharing with her. Why not start at the very beginning?
When Bean starts yelling about Gracie taking his things, Chris and I usually say to him, “Speak nicely to her, Bean. Gracie is just a baby. She doesn’t understand.” And he actually does. He’ll stop yelling and instead use his sweet singsong voice he uses just for her. And he says things like, “No, no, Gracie. These toys aren’t for you.”
He used to snap at her and say, “No, Gracie! MINE!” But we quickly stepped in on that one. We treat the word “mine,” as a bad word in our house. If he says that word, we sharply tell him, “No, sir. We do not say that word.” That has helped with the temper tantrums this week a little bit because he has to find a different way to tell her to stop. Instead, he usually says things like, “That’s not yours, Gracie,” or “That’s not for you, Gracie.” Both of which are acceptable in our house.
We are coaching Bean verbally as he is talking to Gracie. We don’t go over to them and remove her, but we talk him through fixing the situation himself. After he has told her no, we tell him that if he doesn’t want her to play with his toys, he needs to go get her a toy that she can play with. Or, if he is hoarding all the toys (another thing that’s started happening since Gracie became mobile), we tell him he has to choose one of his toys to share with her. That seems to really help because it gives him ownership over the situation and he gets to make a decision about Gracie playing with his toys.
I know that this is just the beginning of sibling rivalry in our family. I’m sure we have years of this left ahead of us. But I figure at least we’re starting to handle it by teaching Bean HOW to handle it.
How do YOU handle sibling rivalries in your house?