Mithridates and the Temple of Cheerios

Some parents test jarred baby food out of curiosity, but live to regret it. Do not try to be a hero and eat baby food, unless you have made yourself immune by Mithridating.  The ancient king Mithridates so feared being poisoned, that he ingested it in daily small doses to build up immunity.  Yes, baby food tastes that bad.  Fortunately, your baby doesn’t know any better, so keep this information to yourself.  Kids are very perceptive; if you taste their food and gag in front of them, your message is no longer encrypted.  Don’t try to be deceptive by saying, “Mmmmm, yummy!”  He’ll see your pupils dilating and know you’re lying. 

When your baby has a few teeth, he can start eating strained or finely chopped meats.  Unlike adults, who can enjoy a cold piece of pizza, babies tend to like these meals warm.  If you try to heat a baby food jar more than indicated on the directions, there could be a grenade-like explosion in your microwave. Of course, most baby food is a dark orange color that stains easily.  Moms are still waiting for a line of clear, stain-free baby food and women’s clothes made out of burp cloths. 

It doesn’t take FBI training to spot a mom on the street – simply check her pockets for bags of Cheerios. Usually around eight months, babies learn to feed themselves this beloved staple of mothers everywhere.  In case you’ve always wondered about the Apotheosis of Cheerios, you will quickly discover the glory of having a few moments of freedom during mealtime and shopping. Not only will you buy stock in the cereal, you will buy barrelfuls and rent a storage space if necessary.  A handful of this bargaining chip can be used when you need a moment of peace at the table or in the store. 

You should never leave your baby alone while he is eating, even if he can feed himself.  Babies who do not have a full set of teeth should never be given choking hazards such as hot dogs, nuts and seeds, grapes, popcorn, candies, peanut butter, or apple chunks.  Look out for strings on banana pieces and deli meat. 

Every mom ends up playing the Airplane Game to feed her baby at some point.  In a moment of desperation, you will find yourself flying a spoon through the air and revving the “airplane” engine for landing.  You don’t have to feel a secret shame from playing this game occasionally, but don’t make it a habit.  Soon your baby will come to expect this constant entertainment, and meals will be unacceptable without a performance from the Blue Angels. It could make mealtime very unpleasant (unless you were a theater major). 

If the baby has been enjoying a meal and suddenly turns his head or refuses more food, he is done eating.  Playing with food and throwing it at your head or on the floor are also clues. Say “No!” firmly and take him out of his chair immediately if he persists. Most first-time moms follow a Five Second Rule:  If the dropped food has only been on the floor for five seconds or less, it is okay to pick it up and give it to the baby.  The Corollary to the Five Second Rule states that by the time baby three or four comes along, dropped food found the next morning means leftovers for dinner that night.

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