Lovin’ spoonful

Mom found a fork & spoon set on sale at Wal-Mart and bought it last week. They are metal with orange plastic handles with a picture of a cartoon tiger on each. She put out the utensils for Philip during this week’s Sunday Supper. As has been the case lately, Philip picked up his morsels with his fingers. Until dessert. That’s when I offered him a bit of cake on the new spoon. And he actually opened his mouth and ate from the spoon.

For most three-year olds, this probably isn’t worth mentioning. In fact, it’s not that impressive that a toddler this age is still being fed and not feeding himself. I was pregnant at the same time as two other former co-workers. One gave birth to her daughter several months before Philip. The other had her son a week before Philip was born. Obviously we spent a lot of time swapping stories about our respective children. And it is natural to compare. So, I knew that Philip was behind on feeding himself. But it didn’t start out that way.

Looking back over older posts, I see that I was introducing Philip to spoons shortly after his first birthday. A few months later, I took a picture of Philip feeding himself yogurt with a spoon. Philip continued to prefer fingers over spoons, but he would use the tools himself on occasion or let me feed him his favorite baby foods with them.

I can’t remember when this stopped. It’s easy to capture the firsts and the doings. But one doesn’t know when regression has started. I guess I chalked up the lack of spoon usage to changing tastes and eating habits. At this point, Philip seemed to become more aware of textures. He started avoiding anything mushy or soft. Crunchy foods were and still are his favorites.

So, I can’t say when it was that I realized that Philip hated spoons.  I discovered a post from shortly before his second birthday where he is still using a combination of spoon, fingers and bowl to face. All I know is that there came a point when he would purse his lips and shake his head if I brought a spoon to his mouth. Never mind that I might be offering him something yummy like ice cream or the pistachio dessert that he was obviously relishing in that earlier post.

Despite this, my mom has been doggedly setting out a spoon at every meal that she serves Philip. I have to admit that I have given up. Usually the meals that I serve Philip contain the finger foods that he seems to prefer. Mom also persists in offering multiple foods to Philip at once. Again, Peter and I at some point observed that Philip doesn’t like to mix foods. Once he starts on an item, he rarely alternates with another food, even if it is something that he may like. This is one of the possible symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder that we discussed with the neurologist last week. But Mom refuses to give up.

So, following her example, I decided to try the spoon again at suppertime on Monday. Fail. Despite the fact that the spoon was serving the same cake that Philip gobbled up on Sunday night, it was tossed to the floor. Obviously, Philip gets his stubbornness from his grandma. But that didn’t skip a generation. I decided I wasn’t going to give up either.

I took Philip and Roscoe outside to play after supper. Once the sky began to darken, we came back in. That’s when I decided to see if I could feed Philip something from a spoon. In a complete display of obstinance, I chose yogurt as the target food. Now, there was a logic to this choice. When I came home from work,  I noticed that Philip had white stains on his shirt.

“Did Philip spill milk on his shirt?” I asked Peter.

“No,” came the reply.

“Was he playing in something?”

“Yes.” A man of few words.

“What?”

“Your yogurt.”

Ah-apparently Philip had taken a container of yogurt out of the fridge, broken the foil top and ended up wearing some of the yogurt. Oh, and leaving the floor sticky.

So, that is why I thought I would see if Philip would actually eat the yogurt instead of just playing in it. And, to my surprise, he did. Sure, he grabbed at the spoon frequently during this snack. He ended up with as much if not more yogurt on his hands, face, shirt, tray and floor as he did in his mouth & stomach. But he did eat from the spoon. Will he do it again tomorrow night? It’s hard to say. Will I keep trying?

Do toddlers like to play with their food?

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