I never thought I’d be so happy to be eating breakfast at 5:30 AM with my toddler.
Honestly, I was so ecstatic I almost woke my husband so he could share the moment. (Turns out, we did wake him as I’d accidentally left our bedroom door ajar…)
Cub is an easy going dude. Sure, he has tantrums and his favourite word is “No(n)” (depends if he’s speaking in English or French). Overall, I’m a really chill Mama, and I don’t fret excessively about his well being. I generally have a lot of faith in my ability to parent effectively. The one thing I do lose sleep over, however, is food.
Cub doesn’t eat for me. And when I say doesn’t eat, I mean he will often not eat one single bite of anything at breakfast or supper. At lunch, when he is usually at Day Care, he is a total gourmand: his Day Care Mama lists off the plates of food he polishes off and the healthy snacks he eagerly anticipates.
I still breastfeed Cub, but I know lots of Mamas who still breastfeed and whose children still eat meals. Even on days when he’s been at Day Care all day and I don’t nurse him when we get home, dinner is still a battle. At bedtime he nurses, and I nurse him when he wakes at night. I had him night weaned, but while staying at my parents and sharing a bed, we regressed… it was just easier.
I am not particularly concerned that he isn’t getting the nutrition he needs: he is a healthy, big kid and his pediatrician was nonplussed when I mentioned his picky eating. I just want to feel the satisfaction of feeding my kid! I want to see him eat what I cook, enjoy the cute little arrangements of food I set out for him, share time sitting at the table together without tears.
While he might skip breakfast, I know at 10 AM he is enjoying a healthy snack at Day Care, that lunch will be consumed and that a light snack after nap time will be served. On days away from Day Care, eating with me might be marginally better. While we were at my parents’ place for 3 weeks, breakfast was hit or miss, lunch almost always forgotten, and supper was served using animated airplanes from my Dad.
So, back to my 5:30 AM breakfast date:
He went to bed having only eaten a few meager spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, and of course he nursed. The first time he woke up, I went to him and I honestly can’t remember if he nursed or not. When he woke at 5:30 AM, I would normally have nursed him back to sleep for my own sake. (Hence his lack of desire for breakfast, one would hypothesize.) Instead, I said, “You can have milkies after you have breakfast.”
I braced myself for the worst.
But he just said: “K.” (My kid doesn’t say “Okay,” or “Yes,” by the way.)
Then he added, “‘fast.”
Never having heard him ASK for breakfast before nor agree to food before milkies, well, this was a huge triumph! We got out of his bed, he followed me to the kitchen and we chose our cereal. As I was pouring, I told him to go sit down at the table. “K,” he said.
I served him his bowl. He started gobbling it down happily, chatting with me as we both ate. “Dog! Chien!” and “Oh, cat!” He finished his bowl, and said, “Encore!” (More!)
After he was finished eating, he asked for his water. With it still being so early (he normally gets out of bed at 8), I suggested we go lie down again and he could have some milkies. So we did lie down again, and he had his milkies, but once Papa was up he was eager to go see him.
I know it might seem self-evident: nurse less, child will eat more. I had just been too lazy to test out that hypothesis in the morning, having seen it not make much of a difference at supper time.
I know there are plenty of children who get up at the crack of dawn, so I can tolerate getting up with the birds if it means I get to share breakfast (instead of a meltdown) with my Cub!