Our 16-month-old daughter has always been on the low end of the weight percentile scales for her age. She dipped down to 0-3% a few months ago, but averages around 9%. She’s normal if not a tad above average for her height.
She’s a noodle. We get really excited when she moves up a diaper size. She’s up to size 4. As if I didn’t have enough to be anxious about as a new mom, the percentile game added a number value to my self-perceived success as a parent. Though a bit underweight, the doctors assure us that she is doing just great developmentally, and suggest we mix butter into her food to get some extra calories into her.
As my mother-in-law noted, “This should be her biggest problem, that she is tall and skinny.” Both sides of the family are, probably like most Jews, food obsessed and body conscious. You can never eat too much or be too thin. Thankfully, as adults we don’t track our height, weight, and head circumference percentiles and compulsively share them with our friends and family like we do for our babies.
I think a main reason our noodle is such a noodle is that everything is more interesting to her than eating. This is odd to me, since I find one of the most interesting things in life to be talking about food, watching Chopped and Top Chef, cooking, and actually eating. Charlotte is in constant motion and does not want to sit still for more than three minutes at a time to do anything. It’s not that she is a picky eater, she just can’t be bothered.
We try all sorts of foods, and while she does love some good old Kraft macaroni and cheese, there is nothing she will sit and finish an entire bowl of… not even ice cream. What kind of child won’t eat ice cream? We serve Charlotte whatever we are eating for dinner and try to offer lots of variety from edamame to pad thai, cheese, and clementines. She loves broccoli and cucumber. The food with the least caloric intake on her tray is the food she wants to eat the most. We try to start the meal with her sitting with us at the table, but after five minutes when she starts throwing the food to the floor and declares “all done,” I let her out and walk around feeding her bites of dinner as she roams the dining room/living room.
Thank goodness she isn’t allergic to anything, which is why we have become such fans of bathtub peanut butter. For our nightly bedtime ritual, after dinner, when maybe she has eaten all of three tablespoons of food, we have bath time. While she is in the bath, which is the kitchen sink at my parent’s condo where she has a limited range of motion, we give her second dinner. First we were doing a lot of bathtub granola bars. She would eat one, maybe even two of those kid friendly apple bars with the Sesame Street folks on the box. But, as with most foods, she grew tired of granola bars so we moved onto spoonfuls of peanut butter.
When I was growing up, we ate dinner as a family, every night. We could go out on Friday, but only after shabbat dinner. My mom cooked a hot meal for every dinner: a meat, starch, veggie, and salad. While she isn’t the most adventurous gourmet, my mom reliably cooked a tasty dinner seven nights a week. She served up multiple dishes, and we were expected to eat what was for dinner that night. If we really didn’t like what was on the table and couldn’t make a full meal of the sides, we could go get a spoonful of peanut butter.
Which is how we got the idea to give Charlotte bathtub peanut butter. And so the spoonful of peanut butter tradition continues. L’dor va dor (from generation to generation). We can usually get three to six spoonfuls of peanut butter into her on any given night. She eats a bunch and then washes it down with a few sips of bathwater. We’ve recently discovered she also likes bathtub raisins. I hope we aren’t setting her up for a lifetime of eating while bathing, but for the time being, I’ll keep doing what works and bathtub peanut butter will stay on the second dinner menu.