“It’s just a phase” is an explanation I hear over and over again when referring to babies/ toddlers weird and wonderful habits they develop. Each of these behaviours WILL eventually pass, soon to be replaced with another. Some seem common for most children to encounter at some stage, whilst others are lets just say “quirky” and really make you question if it’s something you have done to provoke it. For example, I have never eaten dog poo in front of my child (or indeed without him there, or ever in my life) but yet, this was “a phase” he unfortunately went through.
Whilst you are in the midst of The Phase it can be frustrating. Very frustrating. They vary in length and severity. So here are some of the phases I have experienced so far and possible ways in which you could deal with them:
The “Refusing to eat but will eat food off the floor” phase
You do everything the right way, you follow the Annabel Karmel book like a bible, you make all the appropriate mmmmmm noises with food, but still, your child goes through so many phases of not eating. Freaks me out because: 1. I think he’s going to wake in the night hungry therefore NOT SLEEP: 2. Confirms my fear that I am actually the worst cook in the world: 3. He’s going to be a fussy eater and IT’S ALL MY FAULT. I’ve found myself doing anything to try and get food into my son. So if he would ONLY eat it off the floor underneath his high chair, then so be it. Has this come from seeing me do the “5 second rule? Ok 10 seconds?? Who knows.
Solution: Clean floor before meal time. Casually drop some nice nutritious food on the floor after he point-blank refuses to eat anything you are trying to feed him. Try again to feed him. Give up, take him out of high chair and turn a blind eye to the fact he is delving into the 3 course dinner you have left on the floor. Make sure he’s had his fill then suddenly “catch him” and explain that it’s dirty to eat food off the floor. NB: Does create bad habits with floor food eating and a confused child.
The “Not wanting to be fed but not being able to feed self” phase
Another frustrating phase surrounding food, actually the bane of my life these days. At the ripe old age of 8 months (age varies), my son decided that he was totally old enough to feed himself. Non of this food however made it successfully into his mouth, resulting in a grumpy hungry child (and a poor dog cover in food). Grumpy hungry child will put up resistance if YOU try to feed him, no matter how hungry he is. This does get better as they get older and their hand/ eye co-ordination improves. But then comes the “wanting to only feed self by spoon” phase, whole different ball game.
Solution: The only thing for it is to make 20 times more food than you actually need in the hope that maybe 5% of it will make it into their mouths. The “one spoon for them one spoon for you” technique to try and sneak food in whilst they are concentrating on fondling the spoon/ food. Raid all cupboards in the house frantically cooking all food possible to see if it’s actually your cooking they are refusing to eat.
The “Not wanting to walk but not wanting to go in buggy” phase
This normally ends up with huge/ heavy/ wriggly toddler in one arm, whilst pushing buggy with other arm. Loosing count of how many times you have switched from buggy-walking-carrying-buggy. Just nothing is quite right for them.
Solution: Don’t leave the house.
The “Not brushing teeth” phase
Still in this phase.You’ve got to brush your teeth mate or else you’ll end up with dentures by the age of 5 and you will bankrupt the Tooth Fairy.
Solution: Keep buying a million different toothbrushes/ tooth pastes to keep things interesting (also as they keep throwing them down the toilet). Close toilet lid. Use YOUR toothbrush if he refuses his own (make sure you haven’t got any diseases). A toothbrush with a little sucker on the end so it sticks to things makes it more appealing somehow. Get everyone in the whole family to brush teeth at same time making it look like a really fun, happy activity. Distract child by any means possible whilst you try and sneak a quick brush in. One person pins down child whilst other person brushes, this does seem to make it worse though, so actually wouldn’t recommend this. Just try and get at least some tooth paste into the mouth, that must at least do something right?
The “Pulling up top and poking belly button” phase
All fun and games learning where your belly button is and showing how mummy has one too, and daddy for that matter. Child must then check every other person IN THE WORLD to make sure they have one also. The technique for this is pulling up a victims top to reveal (flabby, white) tummy. At home, ok no problem, out in public not so fun, other people/strangers……hopefully ground will open up and swallow me.
Solution: Make sure everyone you could possibly come into contact with that day is in fact wearing a body suit that can’t be lifted up and buttons underneath.
The “Weaning off Ice-cream” phase
I’m not sure if others have fallen into the trap of their child point-blank refusing to eat anything but Ice-Cream? When my son gets poorly with a sore throat/ cough I like to help soothe it with Ice-Cream. Medical reasons. Sometimes this will be the only thing I can get him to eat. Better than nothing at all I figured? But then we go through the awful stage of when he gets better and he has become totally addicted to Ice-Cream. So begins the Ice-Cream weaning.
Solution: Cold turkey is not a good plan, after all they have somehow discovered where the Ice-Cream lives, how to open the freezer door, and how to get the Ice-Cream out. So advanced. You need to do the weaning gradually. Mix the ice cream with what ever food you want them to eat, gradually decreasing the quantity of Ice-Cream. Can also feed them their dinner out if the Ice-Cream tub to confuse them. Change hiding place of Ice-Cream, better yet, be a good parent and eat it all the Ice Cream in the entire house to remove the temptation from you child.
The “Bin obsession” phase
Where on earth has this one come from? I guess it must be intriguing for them as to where stuff goes once its purpose has been served. Why do we keep putting things that THEY WOULD HAVE PLAYED WITH in that forbidden place. It basically must be another toy chest in a parallel universe that they must investigate. And what is that word “dirty”. That must mean it’s REALLY good in there. When the Bin Men come here on a Friday it’s like the Oscars. Big event. Bought me 10 minutes on Friday whilst my son watched them from the window. Bins are just the best, any bin, anytime, any where.
Solution: Buy toy bin? Say word “dirty” like a trillion times? Move location of bins. Remove child from bin. Stop buying toys and give child rubbish instead. Spend loads of money on a child proof bin. Take child to re-cycling centre, baby bin heaven. Call local council and see if Bin Men will come everyday to take bins so you can have a HOT cup of tea in peace.
The “Discovering willy” phase (only applies to boys)
Wow the amount of things they can do with it once they find it is impressive. I had no idea they were that stretchy! Any opportunity seriously. As soon as that nappy comes off, slapping, pinging, wanging, twanging, swatting, twirling, swinging and twearking: fun times. Even tries to get to it with nappy on and looks like Micheal Jackson.
Solution: Let them go wild I guess?!
The “Putting everything in the toilet/ bath/ any water” phase
Nothing is safe. Not only do you have to baby proof your house. You have to remove all objects that could possible get damaged through being immersed in water. And these toddlers are quick, before you know it they have whisked Teddy Dumpling off the bed and into the front crawl position in the bath. As I’ve mentioned before, toothbrushes and other items of dislike regularly meet their fate in the loo. So paranoid about my phone going swimming, or as we had a close call with the other day, our passports. Try explaining that to immigration.
Solution: Obvious solutions, close toilet lid, buy padlock for toilet lid, only have showers, buy a bath cover, like a swimming pool cover, do these exist? Give up and let them go wild but remove valuable items. NB: sometimes toilets already have “deposits” in. Must always flush toilet (thank you Lauren for the photo and the inspiration).
The” Dog poo eating” phase
As mentioned before, this was a most unfortunate phase. It only happened twice (I’m aware of) and actually caused slight panic and a desperate call to 111. The really worrying thing with this incident was that my son really seemed to be enjoying it, and was most upset when I took it off him. Then went back for round 2 the next day, seemed to have developed a taste for it. Such a bad mum, how did this keep happening? Doctors are going to think I’m an awful Mother and husband will definately divorce me (good job he never reads my blogs).
Solution: Cook food in dog poo like colour/shape? Maybe that was the appealing thing? Clean out mouth with soap and water, defo wont be doing that again in a hurry. ALWAYS check any outside area for dog poo. NEVER take your eyes off your child, ever (quietness is a bad sign). Make sure all dogs in the world have been wormed just incase. Teach dogs to poo in the toilet and flush.
The “Growling” phase
Did he in fact pick this up from the dog? I don’t remember growling that much in front of him. Obviously he would pick the best times to perform his party trick (ie. in a deathly quiet Library, no I haven’t bought my dog in here). They do experiment with their voices, some noise are cute, whereas others are kind of embarrassing and I never quite know what to do when it happens.
Solution: Growl back, they are trying to communicate with you. Take dog everywhere with you to cover up noise in public (dogs aren’t allowed in Library though). Congratulate child for being so clever and discovering new noise, but encourage other noises instead, maybe a sheep?
The “obsession with feet/ socks/ shoes…normally other people’s” phase
For us this started off with the nibbling of his own toes. Swiftly moving onto other people’s toes. Funny at the start yes, not so endearing when he did the rounds at the baby groups to have a taste of everyone’s feet. Then the obsession with pulling socks off begins, starts with theirs, moves onto others. Soon you have a small gathering of odd socks in your washing that you have never actually seen if your life, how on earth did they smuggle all these little cheesy souvenirs home??! None of their socks match anymore (yours haven’t for years but you started your child’s life with all good intentions) and you’ve probably single-handedly keep Tescos in business through your sock purchasing. This then moves onto shoes, same deal, more expensive, more anger involved. Then they start using shoes as a tool to tell you things ie: TAKE ME OUT. Then they start hiding your shoes, insisting taking a shoe out with them, eating shoes, throwing shoes, any chance to hold a shoe, sleeping with a shoe, it’s just all about shoes, SHOES SHOES SHOES (a man after my own heart it would seem?!)
Solution: Don’t leave any shoes of value within reach/ sight of child. Resign yourself to the fact that you may have to, on occasion, go out with odd shoes (no one will notice). Never spend much money on shoes (yours, theirs). Hope this isn’t some weird foot fetish. Get child into Reflexology Training asap. Might as well make it into a career.
Are any of these yours……
The “Posting” phase
Following on from the loosing of shoes/ socks. Have you ever considered they may have been “posted” somewhere. A term used for the hiding of an item by your child by posting it through a gap/ hole. So many things have been lost to the other side. Forever fiding things in unusual places: knickers in the peg bag, remote control in the watering can and half eaten rusks in shoes. Once you have been clever and discovered their favourite posting place, they change it. Always one step ahead of you Mum.
Solution: Cover all gaps/ holes in house. Put tracking devices on ALL items. Again, watch child at all times.
And lastly the “Taking off nappy” phase
Only just entering into this phase and I fear it could be a tough one re: nap/ bedtimes- undressing oneself to become comando in cot, which in turn could lead to a very dirty/ wet/ smelly cot and or child. Also leads to lovely little surprises left around the house for you if this happens during the day. Tip: follow the smell.
NB: Can come hand in hand with the “Discovering Willy” phase
Solution: Complicated clothes. Gaffa Tape?!
I’m sure there are many many more phases to come, but lets look at it in a positive way: it keeps things interesting, keeps us on our toes and prevents us from drinking too many hot cups of tea….which would obviously be bad for us.