Is Your Tot Refusing to Eat? Entice Him With One of These Dips.

When Mason’s being a picky little pill at mealtime, I add a dip to the mix, and watch him dig in. Last night, for example, he was more interested in his toy cars than dinner, so I added a dish of hummus to his tray, and suddenly he was gobbling up the strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and multi-grain crackers on his plate. (Sadly the pasta sat untouched, but you can’t win ’em all!) Sometime he eats dip by the spoonful, but since we give him healthy dips, I don’t mind. These ideas have worked for us. Any of your own ideas to add?

Eggplant Dip — Multi-grain crackers, bell pepper, tomatoes, chicken.

Cucumber-Yogurt Dip — Bell pepper, carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, chicken.

Ketchup — Mason likes everything better with ketchup.
(I like Annie’s natural ketchup because it doesn’t have sugar or corn syrup.)

Hummus — Try it with chicken, bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, and apple slices.
Make it or buy it at the store; we like Sabra’s classic and roasted red pepper hummus

Peanut Sauce — Try it on chicken and lamb.

Guacamole — Try mild to medium guacamole on carrot sticks, toasted pita wedges, and tomatoes.

Photo: Eggplant Dip,

Why Mason is Thrilled I Was Out of Town Last Weekend

When mommy’s away, it’s always the right time for a sugary sweet treat! I left a mostly playful list of eating dos and don’ts for Chris before I hopped on my flight to Park City, Utah, for a work trip, but I’m not so sure he read it:)

Have funny pics of your kids living it up while you’re out of town? Share them on the High Chair Times Facebook page. I’ll publish some favorites on this blog.


Nutella Crepe With a Change of Clothes

Warning: Giving your toddler chocolate in public may leave you red in the face.

While visiting our friends Jeanne and Christian in Washington, DC, last weekend, we checked out a new crepes place. Mason and their three-year-old daughter Audrey split one with nutella, bananas, and whipped cream. Audrey emerged from the meal spotless. Bug wound up covered in it. It was so bad I had to strip off his clothes in the middle of the restaurant.

Judge me, it’s fine. Had I seen another mother pull a stunt like that, I would have thought Who undresses their kid in public? Jeanne and I might have even snipped about it on the way home.

But, really, I had no choice.

I knew carrying him to the bathroom with a fresh change of clothes was out because there was nutella everywhere. I could have carved out a picture in the wad on his shorts. So I debated dragging him outside (at arm’s length), finding a garden hose, and spraying him down. But it was 115 degrees out and I was convinced he’d get a sunburn.

It was clear the clothes would have to come off right there at the table, and then I’d change him into fresh ones. Fast. Jeanne eyed Mason and agreed that it had to be done. She even helped me out.

At least our weekend wasn’t boring.

Care to share your most mortifying restaurant story since becoming a parent?

Smartphones No Match for Pacifiers, At Least In Our House

You’ve been there. You’re on a crowded train or in a packed grocery store, and your kid has a complete meltdown. If you’re like me, you dig something out of your bag and hand it to him as quickly as possible to make it stop. OMG, everyone is staring! I usually give Mason a toy or a snack. Chris hands over his Blackberry. Immediately.

According to a report by ABC News, he’s not alone. A new survey by the U.K supermarket chain Asda found that 27 percent of mothers shush unhappy kids with their cellphones, while 25 percent use a bottle, 21 percent offer soft toys, and nine percent proffer pacifiers.

Makes sense. Little kids love all of that stuff. Electronics are bright and shiny, noisy and fun, and sometimes off-limits. But I suspect the percentage of moms who hand over pacifiers and bottles is lower, in part, because of the social stigma of letting your kid have them. At least that’s why I don’t do it. I can just hear the judgment already:

Your kid is drinking a bottle? Why aren’t you breastfeeding?!
He seems too old to be drinking out of a bottle! And is that juice?!
You let your toddler have a pacifier? His teeth will be ruined!

No thanks.

Our dirty little secret is that the paci is boss in our house, even though Mason is  nearly 2. And he gleefully drinks a bottle every morning and every night (sometimes he wakes us up in the morning by yelling BABA! BABA!, his name for the bottle). Although Mason loves gadgets, nothing can compete with his precious baba, or his beloved paci.

Our pediatrician told me to ditch the bottle at 12 months, 18 max, but we’ve missed that boat completely. And I’ve surreptitiously avoided mentioning that Mason takes a pacifier at night. I don’t have the heart to deprive Mason of two things that he loves so much. At least not yet. I mean, nobody ever went to kindergarten with a pacifier or a bottle. Right? Right?

Although I’m passionate about Mason keeping his creature comforts, I’m way too embarrassed to let him take a paci to the playground or (gasp) school. And the bottle is strictly forbidden unless it’s first thing in the morning or last thing at night. And we’re home. Just the three of us. Alone.

Anyone else have a tot as bottle- and pacifier-obsessed as mine?

Snapshot from Breakfast This Morning

Mason loves to rub food into his hair while he’s eating. I have no idea why. It’s totally strange. But something about it makes him very happy, so we roll with it! And we take lots of pics.

This morning he mugged for the camera with a bowl on top of his head; it was filled with Cheerios until he dumped them out on his tray. His little face is covered with jam because his “real” breakfast was a PB&J cinnamon-raisin bagel (he only wanted the cereal after he saw daddy eating it). Remember how enamored Mason was with the tiny Os when he was first tried them at school?

There’s a pic of him wearing his French toast during Father’s Day brunch last Sunday on the High Chair Times Facebook page. I’d love to see more of your favorite messy food photos with your kid–the last round was awesome! Share them on FB today.

Major Gross Out: Mason Eating After Other People

I’ve missed you guys! We were out of town for several days over the holiday weekend, and in an effort to unplug, I didn’t bring my computer with me. We traveled down to Charlotte, North Carolina, to visit family, and everyone had a great time. Mason especially loved running his grandparents around and playing with his cousins (he’s one of four boys under 3!). But a new eating quirk surfaced on our trip that has me really freaked out, and I’m dying to hear what you guys think about it.

Mason ate a lot–especially if it came from another person’s plate. At an Asian-fusion restaurant one afternoon, for example, he ate my grilled tofu and soba soup, as well as Chris’ beef fried rice, but he refused to touch his own shrimp dumplings. At lunch another day, he ate half of his grandpa’s chicken salad sandwich after rejecting his own meal. He liked his vanilla ice cream at the local ice cream shop, but he preferred to, gulp, lick from everyone else’s cone. At a Memorial Day cookout, he ignored his cheeseburger and dug into Chris’ cheeseburger (above) instead. And so on.

On one hand, I was psyched to see him eat so well. But I was so grossed out, you guys. Repulsed. Like, OMG, did he really just lick that half-eaten ice cream?! I nearly gagged.

I mean, I’ll share my food with Mason once in a while, because he came from me, so it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But I hate the thought of Mason eating after anyone but  Chris and me, and I really hated watching it happen.  (If I had my choice, everyone would stick to their own plate all the time, but so it goes.) I didn’t grow up in a household where people ate after one another, and I think eating after someone else is germy and spitty and just plain yuck.

For Mason’s sake, I sucked up my horror. No need to share my neurosis with my 21-month-old. Whenever possible, I minimized the communal sandwich and tried to redirect his attention to food that hadn’t already been bitten into to. But there was definitely a lot of sharing going on throughout our trip, and I’m betting I was the only one in the room (secretly) bugging out when it happened.

Am I crazy, or can you relate? Should I have said something, or was I right to just let it go?

Granola My Tot Loves

Mason finally likes granola. In the past, he’s refused to eat it, the texture seemed to bother him. But he stuck his little fingers in my dish while I was snacking on it last night, and helped himself.

I was eating gluten-free Kind Healthy Grains Oats and Honey Clusters, so I’m wondering if maybe there was something a bit different about this granola’s texture since it’s gluten-free? No idea. But this stuff might be worth a shot if your tot has rejected granola in the past.

Granola can be a great source of whole-grains such as oats, and some granola also has Omega 3-rich flaxseed. And it makes a great topper for yogurt.

*Note: I do not accept compensation for product coverage. If I blog about a product that my family has personally enjoyed, it’s done purely as a service to my readers.

Photo: Kind Healthy Snacks

Tacos, a Toddler Favorite? Imagine That.

I guess it should come as no surprise that Mason likes tacos. Despite the fact that mealtime became a pain in the a-s shortly after he turned 1–some days he’d eat everything on his plate, other days he’d reject nearly everything–he’s always enjoyed surprising spices and flavors. He fell in love with curried lentils at nine-months-old, tasted his first bite of  foie gras at 11-months-old, and slurped gazpacho at his birthday dinner last year. But I’m still a little shocked every time that he loves something unexpected.

Perhaps I’m traumatized from all of the food throwing.

Last night Chris made chicken tacos with corn tortillas. We added roasted tomatoes, red onion, three cheeses, guacamole, and fat-free sour cream–and they were delish. Mason flung the tortilla, but ate everything else. He liked the guac so much that he finished it off with a spoon after his chicken was gone (and laughed the entire time he ate it). I was so excited I texted multiple friends, but restrained myself from broadcasting the news on Facebook.

This morning Mason threw all of his breakfast on the floor, except for a few crumbs of blueberry muffin. I suppose he was just reminding me that he’s still a toddler whose behavior/moods/likes/dislikes will stay impossibly unpredictable for a while. Love my little boy, nonetheless.

Has your kid eaten anything this week that’s surprised you?

Photo: Soft-shell chicken tacos via John Resnick/

New Study: Mothers Prefer Chubby Tots…But I Love My Skinny One!

Moms think chunky is cuter when it comes to their tots, a new study suggests. Researchers in Baltimore examined 280 mothers aged 18 to 46, 72 percent of whom were overweight themselves, and the moms who had overweight toddlers believed their children were normal weight, whereas the moms of underweight toddlers wished they were plumper.

The findings suggest that “U.S. mothers often do not have a realistic idea of their offspring’s weight, and many still cling to the notion that a chubby child is healthy child,” according to an article on MSNBC.

“A long time ago, it was OK to value a chubby baby when kids were underweight and we had potato famines and what not,” said researcher Erin Hager, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “It was a sign you’re doing well for yourself.”

“But that is not how it is today in the United States,” said Hager, whose study appears in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Although this study was narrow in its scope, I feel like it’s pretty representative of the opinions of the moms I meet.

As the mom of a skinny 20-month-old, I can relate with moms who wish their kids were plumper. There are times when I pray Mason would pack on five pounds, so I wouldn’t have to defend his size to other moms, or hold my breath every time he gets weighed at the pediatrician’s office. But, truly, those are my issues, and I’m trying to change my attitude. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on what a happy, joyful child Mason is.

What about you? Do you obsess over your child’s size?

Photo: Toddler via Chris Leachman/

Hot Mess at Breakfast

My little man has to be one of the messiest eaters ever. He’s generally covered in food from head to toe by the time he’s finished eating. I still don’t understand how he gets it on his socks when he’s strapped into a high chair. (Remember the ultra-messy chocolate chip cookie and yogurt pics?) After a friend saw the cookie pic, she asked “Is he eating that cookie or wearing it?” When it comes to Mason, the answer is both.

Earlier this week he showed off his mad messy skills at breakfast while digging into PB&J toast. He discovered an affinity for it last weekend, shortly before he took a swig from the shampoo bottle, and he’s requested raisin bread with peanut butter and blackberry jam every morning this week. Which means I’ve been scrubbing the sticky stuff out of his hair every morning before school.

I captured this photo Wednesday morning, and I love it. It’s Mason at his mealtime best: happy and incredibly messy.

Have some great shots of your kid at mealtime? Share them on the High Chair Times Facebook page for your babe’s chance to be featured on the blog.