Sunday, January 31, 2016

How to keep your toddler happy while you fix dinner

Somehow when my daughter turned one, suddenly one of her newest attributes is a complete lack of patience.  This seems especially true when it comes to food.  She still has a limited vocabulary, so my normally smiley, adorable child (see exhibit a) 
exhibit a: Happy LB

turns into a screeching banshee.  This in turn makes for a crazy mama.  Through trial and error, I think I have slowly over the last 3 months come up with ways to rid our home of our banshee without the use of any supernatural powers.  I thought I might share them with you in hopes others will not have to suffer as we have.

1.  If at all possible wear your little one while preparing your meal.  I've mentioned before I am a big proponent of babywearing.  I am not sure any shopping or cooking would get accomplished in my house without it these days.  Wearing her works well for me when cooking a meal that takes more than 15 minutes.  However, if I am just scrambling eggs or reheating something in the microwave.  The only downside to wearing my little one while cooking is that the sleepy dust sometimes gets to her before I'm done cooking.  Not that big of a deal since she usually doesn't sleep more than an hour on me.

2. Find a quick food to start her off with while you get the rest of her meal together.  For me, I like clementines which can quickly be peeled.  Frozen peas, berries or fruit that either don't need to be cut or can be precut such as blueberries or mango also work well in our house.  I also like applesauce especially now that I put it in this nifty reusable pouches I will be reviewing tomorrow.  I like that I can put my own homemade applesauce in them and keep them ready to go in the fridge for either mealtime or snacks.  Preprepared smoothies also help to keep her occupied.  Depending on the ingredients, I can make them and store them in the fridge for later in the day.  
LB loving her applesauce
3. Edible playdough gives her both something to do and eat while I am occupied.  When I was younger, I loved edible playdough made with peanut butter, honey, and powdered milk; however due to LB's lactose intolerance, I had to find another recipe that worked for us.  I tried this recipe for edible playdough, but I substituted oat cereal and coconut oil.  I initially tried it with dye I had leftover from her birthday cake but am planning on testing it out with some natural dyes.  

4. If LB wasn't too hungry, I had some success with a suction toy.  I got the one in this picture by Sassy.  

I bought mine in a toy lot from a Facebook yard sale, but if you want to buy one new from Amazon here.   Nowadays, she has figured out how all of these suction toys, bowls, plates, etc.  So, sadly they don't stay on the highchair tray long.  

5.  Find someone else to entertain the little one.  I only get to use this one when DB isn't working; and I'm sure it's a luxury out there for lots of other mamas as well.  I say use them when you can.  When this is an option, I will have him give me 10-15 minutes depending on what I need to get her food plated and then, have them join me in the kitchen.  

6. When all else fails, throw on some music and dance.  Seriously, I was surprised at how well this works.  Mine happens to love upbeat music from the 50s especially Elvis and Little Richard though REM is also a popular choice.  You don't have to take a single dance lesson to make a toddler happy.  In fact, the sillier the better.  She loves seeing me do the twist or the Carlton; however just swinging my arms in the air will make her giggle.  Dancing while scrambling eggs is definitely doable even for the someone like myself who lacks coordination.

7.  If you have a room for a pack and play in your sight line while getting her plate together, you may get a few moments peace.  I don't have a way to have this set up in our house since the kitchen opens to a narrow hallway.  If you're ooking for new ways to entertain your little one in the pack n play, I would suggest the magazine trick my mom told me.  The summer after I was born, my mom swore the only way she could get canning done was to hand me an old magazine to rip up.  I loved it, and LB is quite the fan as well. 

I hope at least one of these tricks makes for easier meal times for you and your little one.  I'd love to hear any suggestions you have as well as I'm always looking for new tricks to try.  

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