Friday, September 2, 2011

The Strange Habits of Toddlers with Food

I have been a parent for almost eighteen months, and one of the things that I notice is the strange way that toddlers behave with their food.  But not just that they try to eat crazy things, but what I find amazing is what they actually do with their food.  Now, if you want to know what kind of crazy things my child has eaten, I will certainly oblige your request.  Other than picking up and trying to bite every rock, stone or pebble that she sees, my daughter has an affinity for insects.  This grosses my wife out.  Now, my wife lived in Thailand for six months in college, watched street vendors peddle bugs as snack food, and she even ate tadpoles in a Karen village once, and this still grosses her out.

The first bug that my daughter ate was a stink bug.  It was very easy to find one because last year, they were everywhere. If you do a little bit of research; however, you will find that there are several cultures that actually eat stink bugs all the time.  I have heard of Asian cultures that fry them until crispy and use them like croutons on salad.  Then there is the country of Botswana that regularly has them in their markets. (Those are stinkbugs in that giant bowl)

The next insect my daughter ate was ant larvae.  For those of you who don't know what ant larvae is, it is the egg stage of the ant life cycle, and the little eggs are usually under rocks and they look a lot like rice.  Who can fault my daughter for wanting to eat one of her favorite foods?  She loves rice!  And if you remember, I spoke of Thailand a few paragraphs back, guess what one of the insects sold in their markets is?  You got it, ant larvae.

The last bug that she ate was a fly.  Now, there are all sorts of creatures that eat flies - frogs, snakes, plants, fish, etc. - but I couldn't really come across anything where humans ate flies, although I'm sure they do somewhere.  So, I found the next best activity that you can do with a fly other than eat it - CHOPSTICKS!

But like I said in the introduction, I'm not really concerned about what she eats as much as a certain behavior that my daughter performs with her food, mostly because I have no idea how to react to it.  When she was younger, she would put copious amounts of rice into her hair.  I'm not sure if this was because she was self-conscious about her lack of hair and was trying to hide it, or if she just heard it helped your hair grow faster, or maybe she was just a one year old eating rice. I never did get my answer, but since she has actually stopped ricing (yeah, I made it a verb) her hair, I'll chalk it up to being a one year old. 

Now, the behavior that I cannot explain is her love of wearing food as a hat.  If I look away from her at dinner time, I find myself frequently saying, "Dear child, you have meat on your head!" when I turn back around.  I try not to make a big deal about it because I don't want her to do it with every food just to get attention, but it's so hard not to laugh.  Maybe she is practicing for a future P.E.T.A. (People Eating Tasty Animals) campaign.  Maybe she is the next Lady Gaga.  Maybe she is trying to be like Bruce Willis and make fun of Lady Gaga.  Maybe she is just a toddler looking for attention.  But how do you know?  Do I encourage her because I want her to stand for something she believes in, like eating meat?  Do I encourage this behavior in the name of ironic art?  Do I encourage it because I want her to have a good sense of humor that makes fun of ironic art?  Do I discourage it because it's wasteful?  Do I ignore it and let her lose that fun part of her personality?  As a parent, there are times when you just don't know what to do, and this is one of those times.  Nobody prepares you for the "meat hat" parental decision!  This was not in any of the books!


  1. I hear you, I have a toddler (2 years old) and she loves to mash things in her hair - of course it's always on the days where she just took a bath. As for eating bugs, I'm kind of grossed out by that, but in China they do eat certain bugs and it's consider a delicacy (according to my relatives there).

  2. I think kids secretly know how to aggravate us the most! - "of course it's always on the days where she just took a bath"

    Also, thanks for the global perspective on bug eating! I was hoping some people would share their thoughts or experiences about Entomophagy.

  3. My son has very curly hair, and let me tell you, I no longer let him near bananas unsupervised!

  4. Harriet, that's very funny! My kid has very fine hair, so I can't imagine dealing with the curls. And bananas? Nice.

  5. Hi Matt!

    Just stopping by to follow me fellow tribe member! :)

    I have a 16 month old baby girl! One day she had a SPIDER in her mouth!! I went crazy.. it was a big one too! It was dead i think!..

    Anyways... YOur baby is super cute!!


  6. BTW I cant seem to find your GFC so I followed you by NB and liked your FB page!

  7. Hello fellow tribe member... Hysterical!! We have a houseful of stinkbugs - would she like to come for a snack?

  8. Angie, thanks for following! GFC should be right above the box for twitter and facebook, but sometimes it loads slowly for me. Oh well, NB ans FB will keep you informed. And yes, my kid is cute. I am already having nightmares of boys coming to the house... thanks.

    Karen, under the advice of our physician, we are keeping our daughter on a stink bug free diet. Thanks for checking out the blog!



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