Open Discussion Thread About Toddlers

I have about a dozen half-written posts to push live. I never seem to find the time to finish them, however. I only now just realized they are stories about Em and our day-to-day lives and they usually end in a question. So, because I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to making them public given my day’s seem to be getting shorter and shorter, I figured it might be worth a shot to just list them here and see if folks want to talk/discuss/commiserate, whatever.

Feel free to answer or discuss any of the questions below. I’m not necessarily asking for me solely, but I think that other parents who read this site may benefit from it as well.

1). How long does it take for your little guy to eat? (I’m talking finger-food eaters, young enough for a highchair.) Is there a record where this is concerned?

2). Do you give him or her dessert? How often?

3). At what age did you introduce McDonald’s? If you haven’t, do you ever plan to? (This is something I’ve been curious about. I wonder how kids discover it. We don’t eat McDonald’s in this house unless we’re pregnant and we see a commercial featuring a breakfast sandwich and our husbands are out of town.)

4). Do you plan on teaching your child about sex at an early age? I hear that many people are suggesting it begin as young as pre-school. (I am all for teaching Em about sex at a young age so he doesn’t ever potentially suffer at the hands of an adult. I am unsure of how to go about doing so. Although, TJ seems to have a secure grasp on how do to this. So I will most likely learn from him.)

5). What snacks do you give your child? (We have done pretzels, goldfish, Mum-Mums, Graduates’ Stars, Cheerios, String Cheese, and grapes and other fruits but we’re always looking for more ideas.)

6). What sources of protein do you give your little one?

7). If you’re not a religious person, and your son or daughter one day says, “What (or who’s) God?” What will you say?

8). Do you watch TV around your child? Do you let him or her watch TV? (We do. My kid loves BoohBah as freaky as that show is. He also loves Sesame Street as do I.)

It’s a free for all today, my friends. Ask whatever you want. Answer what you will. And as always thanks for stopping by!


  1. 1). Depends on what it is – but dinner takes about 30 minutes for her and that is the most finger-food filled meal – she can shovel down oatmeal or soft-foods if I’m feeding her fast

    2). We tried sorbet once because I was having ice cream (and she is allergic to dairy) – she looked like I was giving her poison – so we haven’t really tried desserts otherwise

    3). She’s had some fast food, but only because we were in an airport or traveling on a car trip, and it was just as a supplement – a couple of cut up chicken nuggets, maybe a couple of fries… I don’t intend to set that example as normal

    4). I don’t know about the teaching about sex yet – haven’t made up my mind. I know I’m supposed to teach her proper names for things, just in case. For now we use fun names but I need to figure that out.

    5). Snacks – I do a lot of diced fruit, a lot of graham crackers (and variations like the graham bears, graham bars), soy yogurt, mini-nilla waffers, piece of toast, frozen waffle – have done gold fish, pretzels but not as often (daycare takes care of snack most of the time) – and complicated by no dairy (and no egg, and no peanut)

    6). She eats anything we’ve tried – we typically do grilled chicken or lean beef or pork, but last night was Boca Chick’n Patty – sometimes beans but that leaves her too gassy I find

    7). We are religious so we’ll be trying to go to church for her to learn and make up her own mind

    8). We watch some tv, mainly sports, and she watches some tv, mainly Signing Times dvd or Leapfrog … I have used Sprout when she is sick.

    Curious to see other answers!


  2. Wow…a lot of questions…I’ll try to give my input on a few!
    1) Jonah has always taken less time to eat than I would for a less than 20 minutes? He is older this age (2), if he starts throwing and squishing, the food is removed. When he was Em’s age, I let him play a lot more.
    2)Dessert-a real sweet dessert maybe once per week, probably lesss. If we ate something for dinner that he is not fond of, I will sometimes top up the meal with fruit, so it is dessert of a sort?
    3)Ohhhh..McD’s…people are going to vilify me for this one! He had a few fries at about 8 months, just for sentimental sake-McD fries were one of my first solid foods written in my baby book. He’s had hamburgers or grilled cheese sandwiches a few times…but we don’t really eat there much, so maybe he’s been to McD’s 4 times in 18 months?
    4), he already knows babies are in mama’s tummies, and that only boys and men have penises, so I expect he’ll be asking how babies get into tummies next. He asked where eggs come from already. I plan to give him the truth, but fairly basic details. I don’t see any point in lying, but no point in explaining things like orgasms to a two year old!
    5)snacks? cheerios, raisins, dried blueberries, crackers dipped in hummus, edamame is a HUGE favourite right now, cold pasta, cherry tomatoes (halved at Em’s age), diced cucumber, cooked and chilled baby carrots, scrambled eggs are a frequent request, little muffins….
    6)Protein? cheese, eggs, edamame, and then meat at dinner time. I used to give him deli meat, but with all of the listeriosis scandal in Canada recently, that is off our grocery list permanently.
    7)The God question is a little harder. My husband is a Christian, I am not. So our son goes to church every week with his dad, and grandma, while I stay home. But the deal is that if he ever refuses to go, he doesn’t have to, regardless of age. And I full intend to teach him about dinosaurs and evolution too when he gets a bit older. Both of us grew up in families with one Christian parent and one aetheist parent, and it worked okay, so we’re not too concerned. And if Jonah asks about God, I tell him to ask his dad! ;)


  3. We watch a lot of sports as well! Football lately. He doesn’t seem to mind or show any interest. Sprout is like crack cocaine with him. Freaky. I need to get some leapfrog stuff! And I hear Einstein is great. True?

    Never thought of graham crackers! Good one!


  4. I don’t have kids but I did want to ask Kelly if her daughter is allergic to dairy or intolerant? I was born lactose intolerant and then grew out of it by age 2 only to grow back into it at age 15. I find that I can eat yogurt, frozen yogurt and sour cream if “active bacteria cultures” are listed on the ingredients. If not then look out because I get ill and fast. No ice cream, cream cheese or cheese for me. I drink Lactaid brand milk which is lactose free and I also use it to cook and bake whenever milk is called for. It comes in Skim, 1%, and 2% here in Canada and I can’t remember how many it comes in the US. Sorry if I’m rambling.

    One other thing regarding talking to your kids about sex. I say it definitely needs to be done but I’m not sure at what age. I was in the mall food court last week and a group of early teen kids sat a table next to mine. I would say the oldest was 13 and I was disturbed at the conversations they were having. The boys were talking about the size of their manhood and if a girl was “fuckable” or not. I was so shocked that I just sat there and didn’t move. They eventually got up to go and sit with some girls but I told myself that I hope my children do not talk like that at such a young age. Then I wondered how I would prevent it. I’m not sure.


  5. honestly, sometimes it’s like you’re typing the things that are on my own mind! our daughter is just a few months older than your son, so we’ve been dealing with a lot of these issues ourselves. i think these are big topics for most parents, and there’s probably no right answer, but here are mine:

    1) FOREVER. well, sometimes. sometimes she takes about 3 bites and tells me she’s done, and other times she takes her own sweet time and we sit there for 30 minutes. i try to be patient—as long as she’s eating, i’ll wait. if she’s mostly just playing with her food, then i’ll say that we’re done and we’ll go play instead. i have noticed that if she doesn’t eat much one day, she’ll eat a lot the next day (or vice versa) so i try not to worry about it too much, as long as she’s satisfied.

    2) No. not ever, really. She’s had the occasional cookie or bite of ice cream (usually when we’re out). I don’t eat much dessert myself, and my husband eats his late, well after she goes to bed, so she doesn’t have any reason to be jealous. But I feel like right now it’s especially important for her food to be nutritious—she doesn’t always eat a whole lot, she’s still growing like a weed (plus brain development, she’s still under 2) and now that we’re not giving her vitamin-rich bottles all day, i want the food she’s eating to pack a lot of nutrients, not a lot of sugar. the occasional treat is fine, but she loves her fruits and veggies anyway, so why start desserts now?

    3) We haven’t done it yet, but I’m sure it’s inevitable at some point. I think we’ll save it for car trips (when the play space might especially be welcome) and special occasions. Definitely not a regular thing. i don’t even like McD’s myself, so it’s not really tempting. But I can’t act too high and mighty, because she has had burgers & fries before, and even from In N Out, a california fast-food chain. (better quality, i think, but still not exactly good for you.)

    4) oh god i haven’t even started thinking about this yet, i cannot help you here.

    5) This kind of fits into the dessert question for me… I try to mostly buy nutritious snacks that are not overly salty or sugary. I feel like if she gets too used to having them all the time now, she will always want them over the healthier options. (Kind of like kids that will only eat chocolate stuff. I figure if their parents had never provided chocolate cereal/pancakes/sandwiches as an everyday option, their kid would never have started refusing everything else.) Actually I often use meal leftovers for snacks. Or crackers and cheese. We have had the occasional goldfish (although we prefer the Annie’s organic version). When out and about, I usually just bring a lot of cut up fruit and cheese, also raisins, string cheese, cooked veggies, cheerios-type cereal…

    6) We’re omnivores, so I pretty much give her whatever we’re having—although sometimes with less seasoning, and obviously cut up into bite size pieces. She’s had chicken, hamburger, salmon, lamb, pork. She’s also had bits of deli turkey breast. She doesn’t love it all, but sometimes she’s surprised me. (Loves the fish, ignores the hamburger!)

    7) Don’t have a good answer for this one yet either. Have thought about it (she attends a church-affiliated preschool, but we are NOT religious) but haven’t come to any good conclusion. I want her to respect differing beliefs and traditions, whatever their basis. Hopefully we can do that by modeling our own tolerance/respect, but not sure how to deal with the explicit questions of God.

    8) Not yet. But I have to work full time, so I don’t get much time at home with her and don’t want to spend what little time I do have in front of the toob. (There is also no TV at day care, though.) I think this is another thing that will come as she gets older and will be better able to understand/communicate about what we’re watching. I do think I will very strictly limit the amount of tv though—maybe one show per day or something. I didn’t watch much tv growing up and i do think that’s a good thing. I read a lot of books, did a lot of arts and outdoor activities. my husband’s family watches a lot of tv and it’s sad to see how it seems to prevent them from interacting with the real world and plays into the fears they have about society as a whole. i don’t want our daughter to grow up like that. On the other hand, I don’t want her to be a social outcast, so I’m open to renegotiation as she gets older and has her own opinions and pop culture/tv becomes more important to her. :)

    Good luck finding your answers! I think a lot of these questions/issues are things that evolve over time. I’ll be curious to see how the answers change as our kids get older.


  6. Thankfully, Tj and I have a lot of the same beliefs where as raising our son is concerned. We’re both very adamant about teaching Em about sex as early as our doctor and/or other professionals think we should. This came up more recently due to that whole McCain ad accusing Obama of teaching kids about sex before they learn how to read. When in reality it was a law passed to help kids learn what’s OK and what’s not OK. (I won’t go into detail because I fear google.)

    Anyway, after that, my head expanded a bit. I realized that we will approach that time sooner than later.

    I guess I am really looking to see if people have book suggestions regarding this topic. I wish there were classes for adults to teach their children about sex as early as possible.

    Also, heathercoo, I am not sure how to stop that. Perhaps a healthy conversation about sex early on will keep it from seeming so off limits and absurd? I don’t know. :[


  7. p.s. My last comment was in response to Heathercoo. Now, I will read Greta’s! Thanks, guys!


  8. 1. Usually 30 minutes. This seems like a long time to me but I guess not. The problem w/ my daughter is sometimes she seems hungry and I make her dinner, she’ll eat 3 bites and the refuse. Then she’ll come back later and want more. This probably isn’t good. I’m assuming she needs a breakfast, lunch, dinner routine.
    2. I go to work twice a week, the rest I work from home. When she’s not in my care, my Mother will feed her bites of rice crispy treats or cookies. I personally don’t agree with this so I’ve never done so myself.
    3. We don’t eat out much but I’m sure it’s inevitable at some point. I try to do her feedings before leaving the house.
    4. Didn’t even cross my mind until I read your blog here today. Oh jeez, I have no idea on what to do now..
    5. Cheerios is always a winner. Raisins, vans wheat free mini waffles, diced fruit, and pretzels.
    6. I’m a veggie so I feed here a lot of boca burgers or chic patties (which she loves). I’m not forcing her to be anything so I do also offer her meat (mostly chicken) a few times a week.
    7. I was raised Catholic and we agreed to baptize Kristyn and I make a effort to bring her to church as much as possible. Ultimately, I will let her choose what she wants when she’s old enough.
    8. I let Kristyn watch Seasame Street in the morning and an hour or so of Noggin at night. She’s only 13 months so I feel this is plenty. And as selfish as this sounds, I do work from home so I let her watch TV when I need to get something done for work and I can’t give her my full attention.


  9. 2). We held out on sweets for a long time, but once she tasted it she wanted it. We don’t keep a lot around, but at this point (my daughter is almost 6) we keep small soy ice cream sandwiches around pretty much all the time. She eats one daily I’d say. But they are small and I don’t feel too bad about them. We also do fruit popsicles and, when I have time time, I make my own smoothie popsicles with protein powder and a fruit/veggie juice base. These are one of the biggest winners and they’re good for her. Every now and then I might have chocolate around, she loves chocolate, but that isn’t very often. And I have to admit that she also loves Starbucks vanilla bean frapps, no whip. We go to Starbucks too much.

    3). Like sweets, once you open the door to McNuggets or chicken strips, it is hard to close it again. My daughter doesn’t have a wide range of food that she’ll eat and she tends to get low blood sugar which results in some massive meltdowns. So when we are on the go and she needs to have food, McDonalds is something I know she’ll eat. She only does chicken, she doesn’t eat fries. We do the apple slices and I don’t feel it is that bad.

    4). I do talk to my daughter about her body and I have even had her use a mirror to look at her body so she can see what’s going on down there. I’m not sure she understands, but my mom certainly never did with me. I think a girl needs to know about her body and how it works before the sex discussion comes in.

    5). My daughter is a little older—but we love graham crackers, raisins, tortilla chips, fruit/cereal bars, granola & fruit bars, smoothie popsicles, etc.

    6). Chicken, eggs, soy milk with protein, protein powder in anything I can sneak it into—smoothie drinks, milk shakes, popsicles mostly.

    7). My kid loves Jesus, but hasn’t really asked any deeper questions. She had a phase where she talked about Jesus all the time and we aren’t religious people. She carried around a Jesus action figure. But my daughter (who has autism) hasn’t expressed any deeper questions about religion. She responds to all the visual aspects, though—statues, stained glass windows, fancy buildings, etc.

    8). We watched too many videos when Annie was younger. She loved Sesame Street, Teletubbies, Madeline. As she got older we went through a Punky Brewster phase, America’s Funniest Videos phase (no matter what you think, kids love to watch people falling on their heads or hitting people in the nuts. It is primal humor.), Hannah Montana phase, Barbie movies (those are the worst!), Disney Princesses. But in the past 4-6 months my daughter has decided she doesn’t want to watch anything on TV anymore except Food Network and Project Runway. No more Disney channel (which is a very good thing), no more PBS Kids (Sad because I love Word Girl and Fetch). The only video we’ve watched recently is Schoolhouse Rock. I like that she has decided for herself that she doesn’t want to watch tv.


  10. 1). Evan is out of the highchair not but he used to take quite a while to eat. Now, he eats at a steady pace so he can get back to what he was doing before his meal. If he starts playing more than consuming, he is done and excused from the table.

    2). We don’t typically have dessert in the house. There is the occasional tub of ice cream (hubby has a sweet tooth) but the majority of “desserts” are yogurts or applesauce.

    3). Admittedly, Evan LOVES McDonalds. We do not let him eat it very often so it is still a real treat for him to get a hamburger and french fries. I always make sure he has plenty of fruit in him before (or after…and he’s no fan of veggies) so it balances himself out. He also gets a multi-vitamin everyday due to his disdain for veggies. (we keep trying, though!)

    4). I am in the same boat as you. I don’t ever want him to be mistreated by an adult and not know what’s right or wrong. He knows that boys and men have penises, but that is the extent of it right now. He’ll be 3 in November, so I imagine we will get a little more detailed (but still kid friendly, if possible). I have no idea how we’re going to do it though.

    5). Evan loves Cheerios, pretzels, yogurt, cheese, crackers, apple slices, oranges, grapes, goldfish, etc. He gets the occasional cookie when he visits his great-grandparents, and the occasional chip at home when we’ve had a tv night the night before.

    6). Eggs, Meat, etc. He loves both of them.

    7). We’re not religious, but we did have Evan baptised. I don’t really know how to approach this topic whatsoever. He has never shown interest in God but he loves to look at churches.

    8). We do watch TV around Evan…sometimes. We try never to have him sitting and watching something either of us are watching by keeping him busy with his toys, bath, etc. He does have a few shows that he watches regularly: Thomas the Tank Engine, In the Night Garden and Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs. He also has favorite movies that he likes to watch when he’s tired: Toy Story (1 and 2), Shrek (all of them) and Finding Nemo. Oh, and Alvin and the Chipmunks..but only at my Mom’s house, lol.


  11. No kids myself, but I asked my mom about a few of these recently, so I am going to chip in (I was asking her in hopes of getting some information for when we do have kids!).

    The dessert/snack thing…well, interesting case study. My parents never gave me sweets. Ever. My mom is a dietician and I grew up eating vegetables as snacks. Desserts were non-existent in my house because there are theories out there that sweet things are evolutionarily attractive to mammals (something about it not appearing dangerous or something? I really should ask her again), so I didn’t even really eat fruits. I have no sweet tooth at all now. Seriously – I eat fruit occasionally, but I am not a fan of sweet things. My brother, however, was raised the same as me and he rebelled and now lives off chocolate, candy and soda….anything can happen, really…

    My parents were always really open with me about sex as a young child (they clammed up as I got older, though). I remember having discussions with my parents about sex when my mom got pregnant with my brother. I asked her where babies came from and she sat me down and told me everything (in as non-sexual as terms as possible, obviously). I am also pretty sure I had some sort of story book that talked about body parts. My mom did say one of the toughest things about being so open with me at a young age, however, was that I wanted to tell everyone what I had just ‘learned’. This made me very unpopular with some of the parents in the very conservative town we lived in.

    I personally think the main problem with TV is advertising targeted at children. If you can limit that – by watching DVDs or public television – then I think it can actually provide some valuable stuff….questions, ideas, songs…it can supplement.


  12. Hey there…

    1) For us it can be 20 minutes – 50 minutes depending on how entertained she is!

    2) Dessert – not really… we will give her a couple bites if we have dessert, but that isn’t super frequent. Ice cream is a big favorite with amazing facial expressions.

    3) McDonalds? Not yet, but I am sure that at some point in the future I will break down and make a McStop and then feel guilty that I must get her something too. Maybe the apple slices and a 2% milk?

    4) Hope to integrate this into everyday life so it isn’t built up like the “talk” but more – this is natural and as important as your ABCs. Part of who you are and will be, but not blown out of proportion or anything to be embarrassed about….

    5) Snacks – pretzel sticks with most of salt removed, baby goldfish (the larger ones make her mouth stick together!), Cheerios, puffs (Gerber product), string cheese, teething biscuits, turkey breast and deli cheese, blueberries, bits of cracker….could go on and on.

    6) Usually whatever protein we are having (‘xcept peanut butter) in small bites – fish, chicken, beef, beans, etc.

    7) We aren’t religious, but both have different viewpoints on God/existence of God. That makes things touchy. Probably something a bit existential…. like God is all around you. Yeah, that will be confusing…

    8) Yep we watch the telly, but not very much. Mostly she still isn’t interested and I don’t keep much on the screen that shows violence (guns, fighting, etc.) but it is hard with all the movie commercials and tv promos.



  13. I feel guilty about the TV watching, but I am also guilty of turning it on whenever I want to get something done. Hell, some evenings I just need to hear a human speak, so I turn it on for that very reason. I hope I don’t create any lasting problems for him. We grew up around the TV and I think I turned out OK. Sorta hoping for the same for him. heh

    I wonder if there are any comparisons/studies being done regarding how often and much parents are in front of a computer screen while with their child? Would that be like being in front of a book? I wonder….

    Anyway, y’all rule for offering up a little snapshot into your life.


  14. SickDonald’s??? You are in the culinary capital of the country! Don’t even let him know what that word means. Teach him to say “Nobu” or “Mommy, I want to go to the Spotted Pig!” My neice who lives in Montana says “Eeew, that place makes me sick!” And, personally, I haven’t been to one of those places in over 17 years. I even refuse to use their restrooms if we are on a road trip. I’d rather pee on the side of the road than open up those grimy doors. Sorry, we don’t eat fast food and I can’t believe the people that go to that place every day. There is one right at the main corner next to my house and there is usually a line at the drive-thru at least 6 or 7 deep. It makes me crazy! I have a 1-year old and it really isn’t that hard to boil up some alphabet pasta and throw some sauce on it. Or just put some EVOO and some parm on top. I usually add peas and corn and carrot bits to the pasta too to get the veggies in there.

    Finally, there is a book published called “Bright From The Start” by Jill Stamm, Ph.D. It is “the simple, science-backed way to nurture your child’s developing mind from birth to age 3.” It is pretty good and an easy read and basically says “no screen time whatsoever” for babies. No computer, no TV, nothing. I guess it helps in my house because we don’t even have cable. There are some studies that are quoted in the book. But, I was raised with TV too and don’t think I turned out so bad. I am just really dreading the day when he asks us for those video games. Sorry buddy, we are going to have to say no to those for sure!

    Good luck and love reading your posts!


  15. Oh, worry not, Cate. I asked about McDonald’s because I have no idea how kids discover it. Em has no idea what it is at all. I bet it will happen whenever he goes to some type of school.

    I cook for him at least three times a day. He’s eating well. Even his desserts are homemade muffins and whatnot.

    I’m not sure I believe that TV will hurt a child. But maybe that’s just me trying to make myself feel better as we do watch it with him around.

    I grew up with it, as did my brothers, we’re A-OK. I dunno.


  16. hello there,
    so as a brit, living in spain but previously having lived in france here are my answers…which I hope will give you a different perspective from what you’re used to!
    – mealtimes are generally fast affairs for our toddler (21 months) because she loses interest quickly and wants to get down and play, the trick is to stuff as much into her in the first five minutes, however she accompanies us to restaurants and can eat and pick at food for hours if thats what we are doing…
    – dessert, yes after lunch and dinner – but dessert is either yoghurt/fruit or if there is a treat like cake or chocolate she may have that. Dessert is considered an integral part of the meal here so she rarely goes without.
    – funny you should ask about mcdonalds…she ate her fist half of a cheeseburger today, she has a six year old sister so has been introduced to certain foods much earlier than her sibling BUT this will not be a recurring experience for her, our rule foodwise is “everything within reason”.
    – no, I won’t teach my daughters about sex and I almost want to add exclamation marks to that statement…that is not my job, if and when she asks me questions I’ll answer them honestly at a level appropriate to her age, I will however protect her from sexual predators by teaching her about “appropriate and innapropriate” touching etc. I assure you that I’m not any kind of prude but teaching sex to preschoolers shocks me and dare I say? the majority of europe too…
    – religion, we always answer all the questions…when we can, for religion we say things like “a lot of people believe…” “in certain countries people believe…” “when you get older and you learn more about it, you can choose what you prefer to believe” and when she asks what we believe we answer honestly.
    – and yep for tv, when it gets inappropriate we change channels but we are not big television watchers here, I don’t think it becomes an issue until they really start watching at around five years old (unless of course its violent or whatever)



  17. sharon, i’m wondering if there is an age at which you would teach them about sex? or if you just wouldn’t at all? (you mentioned it was not your job, but i wasn’t sure whether you just meant you thought it was inappropriate at that age or if you think it’s someone else’s job. and if so, whose.)

    i haven’t really thought about this previously, but when i think of sex talks for a toddler i think of it in a pretty general, basic way. like this is how cows are made, this is how kittens are made, this is how human babies are made. nothing more than what you could see at a farm or the zoo. i’m genuinely surprised to hear that europeans would be so shocked by it, since americans tend to think of europe as being so much more ‘progressive’ with sex/body stuff.

    regarding computer time, i pretty much consider it the same as tv time. our daughter has seen a 2-minute clip of yo gabba gabba on youtube (and loved it) but not much else. but again, i think this would be different if i were home with her all day. since my time is much more limited, i’d rather spend the time interacting with her, no matter how tired i am. i did watch tv with her in the early days, but that was before she was even paying attention. and i know my husband had public radio on a lot when he was home with her more, so i’m sure he could sympathize with just wanting to hear a human voice speaking. :)

    i don’t think tv is inherently evil though, i think it has a lot to do with how you relate to it. my in-laws are pretty much addicted to it, it’s always on and it’s almost all they talk about. when they come to visit us, they get excited about having HBO in the hotel room as much (it seems) as they want to see us. they don’t really have any friends or hobbies outside the home. they were good parents to my husband, but their life revolved entirely around him, and now that he is grown they’ve replaced that with tv. my husband also has a tendency to tune everything else out when the tv is on, so in our house it’s easier just to keep it off most of the time. we do have a few regular shows that we watch, but they happen to be after our daughter goes to bed anyway, so we haven’t had to make that decision.

    I don’t think that completely banning tv and computers for all of childhood is really the answer. I’m pretty sure I read an article recently about how kids who don’t play any video games are just as socially maladjusted as kids who are constantly playing video games. Kids are going to be exposed to these things through their friends, thru school, whatever, and it’s important to teach (and model, as much as you can) moderation. They’ll grow up to be their own adults and will inevitably make their own decision, but I do feel that completely denying them something that all of their peers are doing (and is not harmful to their health) can have its own unwanted side effects.

    i also read/heard something recently that said that if you’re going to let your small children watch tv often, they’re better off watching programs where characters are interacting, having conversations, solving problems, etc., because these are the things they will learn from. So, Sesame Street is good, and even sitcoms may be of value, but teletubbies, while enjoyable for babies, is not so good because it’s just meaningless.

    anyway, sorry i don’t seem to be able to type more concisely, apparently these topics bring up a lot for me!


  18. I’m curious to know how one would teach a child what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate without teaching them about sex. I’m not going to give him a diagram or let him watch porn, but I think it’s important that he grows up not feeling ashamed about sex, or like it’s something to put on a pedestal.

    The thing is, we’re not a couple of perverts, we just don’t want our son to ever be afraid to tell us if someone were to even hint at taking advantage of his naivety. That happens ALL the time, and in every country. (Hell, Amsterdam actually has a political party whose main focus is lowering the consenting age to preteen.)

    I saw a documentary when I was pregnant. (Well, half of it before TJ made me turn it off because I was crying too hard) about a priest who molested dozens of children. I will never shake one scene from my memory. It was an interview with an asian man whose daughter had been molested by years by this man who they trusted enough to have live with them.

    At one point very early on and before she was molested he had told her that if anyone ever touched her he’d kill them.

    Much later after he found out that she had been repeatedly molested by their priest, he asked her, “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

    She said, “Because I didn’t want you to go to jail for killing a man.”

    When he tells the camera crew this, he’s nearly sobbing. It was so hard to watch. You just totally realized that he blamed himself entirely for this. Horrible.

    This is precisely the type of thing that leads me to believe education at an early age is key.

    Also? Kids take things perfectly seriously. I need to remember that, too.



  19. 1. Meals can take five minutes to an hour. depends on how hungry he is and if he would rather play with his food while he eats. Some days we don’t have sit down meals as he’d rather graze. I’m not concerned. He’ll eat what he needs to eat and I don’t offer foods that are bad for him.

    2. Most desserts consist of fruit or yogurt. If my partner has a swiss roll I might give him a bit of that. He had apple crumble the other day. He likes desserts, but I think he’d rather have them at lunch time than tea time.

    3. I gave him some french fries the other week when we had McDonalds. We don’t normally eat there though. I’m pregnant again and had a huge craving for the fries. Otherwise we don’t eat that kind of fast food. He had some of my indian over the weekend and seemed to enjoy it as he kept reaching out for more. Even the rice which he normally doesn’t touch.

    4. I haven’t even thought about sex. We don’t use silly names for body parts though. I don’t see the point as he’ll have to learn the correct terms eventually.

    5. We do cheese, cucumber, crackers, Organix cookies, raisins. We don’t actually keep a lot of food in the house so I just give him what is available. I know he needs snacks, but I will admit, some days I won’t give him an afternoon snack because I know if he has one, he won’t eat tea. I’d rather he eat tea than a snack.

    8. We have the T.V. on quite a lot during the day. I’ll put it on in the morning during breakfast and when he gets down the first thing he does is go over and turn it off. He’ll turn it on about five to ten minutes later. We watch Playhouse Disney except for one hour when 7th Heaven is on. If it’s not Playhouse Disney, the T.V. is on a radio station. Most times classical. I don’t have a problem with the T.V. honestly. He doesn’t sit and watch it non-stop. He plays and screams and talks and does his own thing and when he’s tired of it he turns it off.


  20. when you say that you’ll teach your child about sex I have a horrible image of adults sitting down with their children and saying things like “so the papa puts his peepee into the mommys peepee and they make babies” grossly exagerated but not so far from the truth for certain people.
    There is a huge difference between teaching your children about “sex” which would include for me talking about orgasms, foreplay etc. and teaching your children how to protect themselves from predators. Maybe we have misunderstood each other on that point?
    I will, and do teach my daughters to respect their bodies, that certain areas are their private parts and to respect those areas in other people too and we try to be clear on what appropriate (a hug for example from someone close) or innapropriate (a hand on your bottom that makes you feel uncomfortable) touching is, there are some good books that help with this because it really is a minefield and I fear going too far or not far enough in my explanations.
    Child abuse, even sexual is not all about sex and I would not want to mix everything up in her head, I think that its more important to give our children the courage to say no, even to an adult when that adult is making them feel uncomfortable.
    Finally, the reason I said shocked is because you talked about preschoolers…preschoolers are two or three and it scares and saddens me that this is the sort of conversation we may need to have with children that young…


  21. I do not have a little one yet so I can’t contribute, but I like the topic and I laughed out loud at the McDonald’s one. I don’t eat McDonald’s either, but I will admit that I crave egg mcmuffins when I’m hungover.


  22. I have to chime in about the dessert/sweets thing. We had dessert at most meals, but it was small things like a cookie. Sweets were never forbidden, but never pushed, either.

    Our neighbor’s kids were never allowed ANY sweets. The parents made a big deal about keeping them away.. they were the big forbidden thing.

    Yeah.. you guessed it. These kids were always constantly trying to sneak desserts at our house (or anyone’s house, for that matter!), and when we got old enough to bike to the store by our
    selves, they’d gorge on candy. I saw her years later. She was HUGE.

    That convinced me – all things in moderation! There’s enough things for kids to rebel about.. I’d never want to make food be one of those things too.


  23. Please tell me most of you knew what I meant by teach your kids about sex.


  24. My son is about a month younger than Emory, from what I gather reading your blog.

    1. Eating can take 10 minutes to 45. If he’s hungry he will really cram it in and keep going. Other days he literally eats three bites and then starts throwing things down. That is met with a stern no and removal from the highchair. He is also learning a sign to let us know he’s done, and we try to honor that to start teaching him to ask to be excused. Some days he grazes and eats from the bowl in his learning table. Do any of you out there think I’m creating a bad habit? Will that condition him to never want to sit at the table?

    2. We do give him dessert, but it’s usually some plain vanilla ice cream if we’re eating it or some cookies that I’ve made (gluten free, no eggs or nuts, usually with buckwheat flour or some other semi-healthy ingredients). I don’t treat yogurt or fruit or muffins as dessert. I let him eat them without any restrictions. Some weeks he wants sweet stuff like fruit and yogurt and other weeks he wants broccoli and green beans and sausage.

    3. We will probably never do McDonald’s because I’m celiac and can’t eat there, and we’re keeping our son gluten free for a while to try to prevent him from developing celiac disease. It makes me a little sad though that I won’t be able to share Happy Meals with him. I ate them occasionally as a kid.

    4. We will teach about sex at an early age, I imagine. I’m sure kids start asking questions about age 2 or 3. I will answer them honestly but not graphically. I will teach him about “private” parts and teach him about incorrect touching. I think I was taught those basics by age 5. I would do it sooner if I felt he was ready or in need of it.

    5. Snacks – gluten free pretzels dipped in homemade ranch dip, raisins, cheese, rice chex cereal dipped in yogurt or fruit or sunbutter (our son LOVES sunbutter), crackers with cream cheese or sunbutter, fruit chunks, homemade healthy cookies, muffins, veggies plain or dipped in homemade ranch dip, whatever we think will appeal to him.

    6. Protein – breakfast sausage, diced chicken, pieces of cheeseburger without the bun, plain black beans (LOVES them), chuncks of cheese, yogurt smeared on stuff, tuna salad made with egg-free mayonaise, tuna in macaroni and cheese, pieces of steak, haven’t tried egg yet (I’m afraid for some reason), and sunbutter (it’s nut and peanut free-we’re waiting on peanuts too).

    7. We are religious but do not go to church. Will have to figure out how to guide him.

    8. Not really much tv at all. I’ve turned on Sesame Street, and he stays interested as long as Elmo is on, but then loses interest. Nothing else interests him, well, except the one Baby Einstein video (it’s very good) but after he watched it 4 times he doesn’t seem too interested in it. Plus our tv is in our basement, and we spend most of our time on the main floor of our house where our kitchen and living room are. I will let him watch tv in moderation as he gets older and have some video games with limits. I think parents who do not allow it at all keep their children from feeling like they fit into mainstream. You want your child to feel confident, not like an outsider.


  25. 1. We have a good eater (so far) who will generally eat as much as we give him. At home, I would say meals last about 10-15 minutes. At restaurants, we can generally get away with 30-45 minutes, if he has Cheerios or some bread or something in front of him before the meal. During the meal, he is so excited to try bites of anything we give him, that we can keep his attention for a long time.

    2. Dessert? No, not really. He loved (uh, LOVED) his first piece of cake for his birthday, and he has had graham crackers at daycare, but no, he doesn’t really get desserts. He is a huge fan of applesauce with cinnamon though, and his eyes light up for it (though not as much as with that cake).

    3. We had Wendy’s at home the other day, and we gave Matthew a few small bits of french fry. He, of course, loved them, but we both agree that we will only let him eat greasy fast food-type stuff once in a great while. We both eat way too much fast food and pizza, and we’ve been trying to eat a lot less of that sort of food. That being said, we firmly agree that “demonizing” any type of food (or pretty much anything) is not the way we want to go. We don’t want him to think that french fries or hamburgers are evil things. The whole “everything in moderation” deal, I guess.

    4. Sex? Gee, I think my head just exploded. ;-) I think that we will probably start teaching the correct names for things and have mini-discussions about uncomfortable touching as soon as he seems to be ready to understand. The biggest thing I want to instill in him is that he can tell us anything, even if he’s unsure about something. If he is confused about why it’s OK for the doctor to touch him, I want him to ask us.

    5. Snacks? We definitely do Cheerios (love the Multi-Grain kind) and the Gerber wagon wheels – they take him a while to gnaw through and he loves them with a passion. He also loves toast.

    6. Like I said earlier, Matthew is a really good eater at this point in his “career.” So he’ll eat beans and all kinds of milk products. He loved the steak out of our fajitas last weekend, and he loves chicken and turkey, too. I have not given him bacon or ham yet because they’re so salty.

    7. As far as religion goes, my husband and I would classify ourselves as Christians, but we don’t really fit into any given denomination or whatnot. We have taken Matthew to church a few times, and I will continue to do so, but I think we will probably give him a generalized background of Christianity, and let him decide for himself. We live in a diverse area, so he will be around every major religion. We plan to teach him about being accepting of other peoples’ beliefs first and foremost.

    8. Yep, we watch TV. Matthew was a colicy baby. One day, in the middle of a 3-hour scream fest, we flipped past Mickey Mouse on the Disney Channel. Matthew immediately stopped crying. Salvation was found. He loves Disney. Mickey, Pooh, Johnny and the Sprites, and Hanny Manny. We don’t worry about the amount of TV he watches, though, because the daycare does not have a TV, so we know for certain that he doesn’t watch the box there. In the evenings, we like to sit on the floor and play with his toys and the cat while Disney plays in the background. He will play with his toys and then watch one of the song/dance routines. On weekends, when he is getting tired just before naptime, he likes to sit on our laps and watch an entire show.

    Yet again, if I had to give our overriding parenting principle, I would say that we do not demonize anything. TV is OK, in small bits. Fast food is OK, in small bits. As long as I am also reading to him, taking him to the park, playing with him, feeding him fruits and veggies, and generally making sure that he has a well-rounded existence, I feel OK with myself as a parent.


  26. I don’t remember ever loving to eat at McDonalds, it had more to do with the happy meal toys and playground.

    One habit I wish I had never picked up as a kid, and still have a hard time with is carbonated beverages like Coke and Pepsi. Dropping the caffeine has been as hard for me as dropping a smoking habit. So if I where to have a child, who wanted the occasional happy meal, that’d probably be ok, just no soda..eva! :)


  27. Michele, yes I assumed when you said teach your child about sex, you meant about bad touches/body parts..and age appropriate things! I never once considered that you meant telling a toddler graphic details!

    I remember being taught these lessons as far back as grade 2, and every year in school. Many of my friends who went to school in different school districts only received the pre-teen talk on birth control/periods/sex. We had such a broad range of topics through the years…one thing I am really grateful for.

    Funny though, the things that stick on your head. I remember in grade 5, we were so innocent in our questions! One of the girls wanted to know if horses had periods. And one of the boys asked if hair on one’s head is the same colour as pubic hair… ;)

    I think Milissa and Chele have really emphasized my main thought of parenting-everything in moderation, and nothing completely forbidden or demonized makes life healthier. Michele-thank you for posting this topic and questions, it is really interesting to read other’s opinions!


  28. FYI, Anthony is 14 months:
    1.) Totally depends. He can give us the “all done” sign after 5 minutes, or 45. No rhyme or reason, sadly.
    2.) He gets a few spoons of ice cream on the days that he and his Dad go for a run. Well, Tony is in the strolelr, but you get the idea, you get the treat after the work out!
    3.) Truly cannot remeber the alst time either my husnad or I had fast food. We’re not crusaders against fast food, but we don’t like it, so anthony won’t have it until someone else (birthday party?) gives it to him and we can’t stop them.
    4.) Haven’t really thought much about this one, but we certainly aren’t shy about naming body parts, so I assume we’ll play it as it lays and keep up the dialogue.
    5.) We like diced peaches and apples as snack, baby yogurt, Earth’s Best Oragnic Banana Rice Bars, graham crackers are HUGE in our house, and I also make banana muffins a lot. Cheerios are still huge and of course, Gerber’s “Lil Crunchers”. Those things are like crack.
    6.) We eat lots of chicken breast, eggs (quiche and frittatas – great way to get protein, veggie and dairy) and some tofu. Also, meatballs. Kid cannot eat enough of them. We use organic ground beef or ground chicken/turkey.
    7.) We go to an Episcopoal church, so this isn’t much of an issue for us.
    8.) He watches football and soccer and baseball with Daddy on the weekends, but I’m considering buying some old school Sesame Street DVDs soon.


  29. My children are now 21, 18 and 15. Fast food has never played a big role in their lives. I thought I’d respond on this thread just so that everyone who thinks McD’s etc., for dinner is ever a good idea: : 1996 Burger


  30. I’m late to the party, but wanted to comment on two things. #4 Sex ed for my kids started when we taught them the names of their body parts. IMO why teach the proper names of the face & then ‘cute’ names for other parts. I don’t want it to sound like there is something wrong with some parts. I grew up calling everything by it’s medical name & that’s what I’m teaching my kids. When we recited the body parts in public we did leave some out, and that started ‘private parts’ discussion. “Keep those parts private. You can touch those in private. No one but parents, certain relatives who are caregivers & doctors should be involved w/your private parts, etc.” For my toddlers I’m hoping that this is a good way to let them know that there’s nothing ‘bad’ about these parts, but they are not supposed to be shared with everyone. We started teaching about privacy to my son when he was potty trained so it’s all kind of connected. Now I’m getting questions about how babies come out of mommies, so that’s the next hurdle to figure out. So far I went to the hospital & the doctor helped satisfies the curiosity, but I know soon I’m going to have to elaborate for the 6yo.

    As for #8 I think I’ve mentioned that I work at home. I owe PBS a big donation someday for helping me raise my kids without daycare while I worked. I’m not proud of all of the TV they watched, but so far there haven’t been any horrible effects that we’ve noticed & they are almost 6 & 4. I also used Baby Einstein videos and Disney movies. They learned to operate the TV, VCR & DVD pretty early. Now when they are bored with TV they turn it off. They have great imaginations, great concentration, and great vocabularies. Not sure if it’s because of tv, in spite of tv or none of the above. (I also got them into a Montessori pre-school program 3 days/week, 2.5 hrs/day as soon as possible.) I had this philosophy based on nothing scientific that the longer I kept them away from the commercials & content on Nick, Disney Channel & Cartoon Network the better. (Until my parents let them see DC & Tom & Jerry on CN. I told them we don’t have DC & ended up having to block T&J. Too violent, although the music is great!) Not that some PBS shows aren’t great big commercials, but I felt most comfortable with the learning centered shows & no overt commercials. I also like PBS Sprout too & am glad there aren’t many toy or child focused commercials there. My son learned colors from Teletubbies, no joke. Also, Mister Rogers made me feel good about myself on the rough days as a parent(‘I like you just the way you are’ has brought me to tears,) and I learned some good parenting tips from Cailou’s mom & dad. I used to obsess over all of the negative studies done on television watching, but I’m a firm believer now in filtering what your kids watch & trying to limit it when you can. We also watch a lot of hockey in the winter, the local news & not much else when they are awake.

    Good luck finding what works for you.


  31. Late response to Heathercoo – sorry!

    My dd is allergic to dairy, egg and peanut so far, we’ve seen an allergist. However, they can outgrow dairy & egg – we’ve only gotten the skin test results so far, just did blood test on Friday which will help determine severity, we hope… she is fine on soy yogurt which has milk cultures, but regular yogurt – when it got on her skin, it turned red… minor reaction but still a reaction.

    She’s seemed to eat some cheese okay? But for now we are just avoiding it all unless its a minor ingredient in a baked good item.

    It makes it hard, because i would love to give her cheese & crackers for a snack – I feel like I always end up giving her graham or another type cracker right now.

    Anyone have ideas about a baby who will eat bananas in baby-food form and applesauce but won’t eat diced apples or diced bananas? She’ll eat other fruit like pineapple…

    Oh and I’m not a huge fan of the Einstein videos I have but I only have two. I’ve heard some are better. I LOVE the signing Times ones for babies (2 and under). I’m about to order vol 2 & 4 I think to add to our collection. She loves the songs and learns signs too which help sometimes with her frustration. Oh you are hungry, that’s why you are mad at me.


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