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Goldfish crackers have become the 5th food group.

Goldfish crackers have become the 5th food group.


There was a time when baby would happily double fist mounds of delicious homemade food I had made her, shoving it into her mouth. She had no preferences back then, she was just happy to eat food. I’d make her homemade chicken soup with homemade stock, chunks of chicken, bowtie pasta, carrots, peas and onion. Chicken curry with potatoes served over jasmine rice. Homemade meatballs that were simmered in a sauce for hours, served on pasta, and topped with cheese. Homemade mac n cheese with my own béchamel sauce and chunks of poached chicken and broccoli. Grilled salmon marinated with soy. Roast chicken. Home fried potatoes. Rice porridge. Fried rice with egg, chicken, peas and carrots. Scrambled eggs with ham and cheddar cheese. Cinnamon toast. Grilled cheese with tomato soup. Pancakes with blueberries or chocolate chips. Fruit salad with berries. Roasted sweet potato. Roasted spaghetti squash. Homemade meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Scalloped potatoes. Potatoes au gratin.

I thought if I crammed in all those foods while she enjoyed them, then she would continue to enjoy them and not become the typical picky toddler. I thought I figured it all out. It was so easy. I was downright smug, thinking to myself, I bet all these other parents didn’t open their toddlers up to a variety of foods and that’s why they’re such picky eaters, eating only processed chicken nuggets or slices of plain white bread or mashed potatoes every day. Sooooo smug. And I have a food blog, right? Maybe I can create a little foodie that’s open to everything. I can train her. It can work….right?

Since she’s turned one, baby currently eats oatmeal in the morning with some fruit. For lunch she eats a few pieces of grilled cheese and a yogurt. For dinner it’s a lost cause, she eats her tears as she cries and throws a tantrum, shaking her head at every option I offer her. Peas are thrown. Rice is on the floor. Chunks of fruit splattered on the table, on the wall, on my hair, on the cat. After 10-15 minutes of crying she reluctantly obliges and shoves a couple of peas in her mouth, then shakes her head again. She wants nothing to do with my cooking. I am a big fat failure.

Every time she throws my food on the floor, the food I take 30 minutes to an hour preparing, the food that takes me time during the day to plan out, the food I buy at the grocery store, that I pick up at the farmers’ market, I react the same way I always do – as if a judge on Iron Chef just threw my food on the floor, as if it were garbage that wasn’t worthy to be 12 inches from their face. Completely frustrated and hopeless, I end up going on a tangent that usually goes something like this: “Don’t you understand that I worked hard on this? This took me an hour, do you know how long that is? This isn’t Kraft Mac n Cheese! It’s homemade Béchamel sauce with sharp cheddar I shredded myself! I stirred this Béchamel for like 10 minutes! I don’t even know how to pronounce Béchamel but it sounds fancy and you should like it because it’s not processed cheese from a box! I’m making you nice, homemade food, why can’t you appreciate it? I’m not a bad cook!!!!”

Baby usually sits there silent, giving me a puzzled look, eyebrows arched, like what is mommy saying? What do all those words mean? I want my goldfish crackers. Look at the cat! I don’t like mac n cheese. I’ll make a dirty face. Mommy won’t give me what I want. I’ll throw the mac n cheese all over the wall. Now it’s off my tray and on the wall. Problem solved.

At least that’s what I think she’s doing. I don’t know. But usually after one of my long winded rants, I laugh at myself for treating her like she’s a food critic about to write a bad review in the newspaper about me. Or that she’ll write on her blog about how Soupbelly really is a crappy cook. That I’m a sham. And the laughing turns into crying. And baby cries and I cry and Chris comes home from work and sees food splattered all over the dining room and takes her straight to a bath so I can spend the next half hour washing dishes and scrubbing food off the walls, carpet, and highchair. And it’s these precious moments that I really, really hate parenting. If I can’t cook properly, what can I do for her? I can’t sing lullabies to her because it sounds like a cat being strangled. I’m not creative enough at playing games. I try to dance with her with music playing but she wonders why mommy is having a seizure. I can read books to her but she rather just flip the pages than listen to mommy’s monotone voice. Everything I do for her seems so mediocre, the bathing, changing, playing, reading. Cooking seemed like the one thing I might be able to do better. But it isn’t.

So I guess we’ll go through the goldfish cracker, yogurt and oatmeal stage. I don’t know what I’d do if this is a transition to some Kraft Mac n Cheese, Chicken Mcnugget, Chef Boyardee pizza in a box, Mountain Dew stage. Because as we all know, goldfish crackers are the gateway food to Mcnuggets. For now I’ll dance like I’m seizing and read books in my monotone voice and hope it passes soon. Real soon.

11 thoughts on “Goldfish crackers have become the 5th food group.”

  • Gosh I loved this post. It made me laugh and cry with relatable tears. Unfortunately my kids now only want kraft Mac and cheese. Forget the homemade stuff. They turn their noses up at it. Yes I feel like a failure. :). Hug!!!

  • Hang in there. My mother never gave me processed foods, even when all I wanted was pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese. She just gave me that. At least was home made. And then the stage passed without the aid of a McNugget 😉 You are a wonderful cook, she’ll learn to appreciate you again!!

  • I am totally in that phase too. At least my 15 month boy eats well at daycare. 1 meal on 3, that’s not too bad!
    As read in baby books, no balanced diet is expected for kids before 4 years of age. So no worries! It’s a PHASE!

    What works with us is a mix of mashed potatoes with protein (meat, fish or beans) and vegetables in a harsh puree. Looks disguisting, but works better than anything else. Also the apple compote is a real winner as for his favorite fruits cut in pieces (bananas, pears).

    Good luck with that!

    Marie-Claude from Montreal, Canada

  • I just wanted to let you know how much I love your blog I’ve been reading it for a little over a year now and if you only knew how many of your recipes have gone in my keeps pile. Out of all the food blogs I try to keep up with I honestly love Soupbelly the best just thought I’d let ya know.

  • I hear you! I admit to confidently thinking the same thing as you – I’ll bet I have the only 11 month old that LOVES tofu curry! I patted myself on the back all the time. And guess what my youngest son’s favourite food is? Processed cheese. (thanks to Grandma and Grandpa. I don’t have that kind of food in my house!). My daughter is a goldfish maniac.
    No good answer. Just keep giving it to her and hope she’ll come around. Some nights my kids come around to my cooking (which is good cooking, I swear too!), and some nights they don’t. Luckily none of them are starving, so if they only want 10 bites of supper… so be it!
    That said, my kids are a bit older than yours now (6, 4 & 2). Good luck & keep cooking good food for her.

  • I am one of the LUCKY ones who has actually sampled your cooking on many occasions, and believe me, everyone, this woman is a FABULOUS cook!! Your child will grow to appreciate that, I have no doubt!

  • We are so in the same boat! And its so frustrating!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    I had to start pureeing the food again. Then out of no where – he’d eat some weird non pureed sandwich or something.

    There’s no rhyme or reason.

    Peanut butter and Jelly has been a life saver but we’re now seeing a rash from the peanut butter so that’s out until we feel confident to trial a different nut butter.

    And if one more person tells me, “He’ll eat when he’s hungry!” I think I shall chop them up and cook them instead. UGH!

    How can they possibly survive on this amount of food?!?!?!? How do you make sure they eat fruit and veggies like this???? My guy is already little 15% for weight…. grrrrrrrr.

    Hang in there mama!

  • Baby is like Bond villain… no! Baby is BETTER than Bond villain. Bond villain needs sidekicks and secret lairs to accomplish their goals. Baby just needs to ability to spit. Go Baby!

  • Alessa – I broke down and got velveeta mac n cheese 🙁 But at least I added peas and fresh tomato chunks…she actually ate it the past couple days. Sometimes I guess I have to swallow my pride and let her swallow processed cheese.

    Chiara – I’m going to try making pasta with butter and parmesan cheese. Never thought about making dinners simpler. Thanks for the idea 🙂

    Marie-Claude – My mom used to work at daycare and she said a lot of the babies ate better there than at home, their mothers said they refused to eat most meals home at all. I don’t know what special ingredient they add in daycare food…but I may want some 😛 I tried your idea, the mashed potatoes with meat and veggies but she refused to try it. Apparently she needs the foods to be separate. Oh well.

    Lynn – Thank you so much for your comment, it makes me feel better 🙂 Alot of pressure to keep the site up to standard now 😛

    Heather – You’re right, sometimes I try the same foods 4 or 5 times until she comes around and actually eats them. Persistence works…unless I give up out of frustration that is. And now I’m starting to count how many bites of supper she eats like you said…after 10 bites I breathe a little sigh of relief and think to myself, if she throws the rest on the floor, at least she ate 10 bites, haha.

    Jerri – Thanks for the compliment! Let’s hope she comes around soon!

    Sheila – Similar thing happened to us. I cut her grilled cheese sandwiches into little squares and she always ate them, then she refused for the past week. So I cut them into strips instead, and SHE ATE THE WHOLE THING. It’s like, the way it’s shaped determines whether it tastes better. I don’t know her percentile on a weight chart, but she seems to be healthy enough. She does eat…just not as much as before. I read that they eat less after 1 year because their growth slows down…but how much less is normal? Worrying about this drives me crazy sometimes….then I watch her run around the room like a maniac and see she’s doing just fine 😛 I hope you guys are doing well too!

    Tv Food – You’re too funny.

  • Don’t worry until she goes off to college, she won’t appreciate all your planning and hard work. Until then, I hope your pantry is well stocked with goldfish crackers! Thanks for the delightful story!

  • ahhhhhhhhhhh i know, babies have the worst taste in food. they’re so gross. i wish i could tell you it gets better. my 3.5 year old tells me she wishes i could cook something as good as the macaroni in the blue box when i give her a plate of homemade cassoulet! i think as soon as you so much as let your kid see something like a goldfish cracker, it’s all over. they put meth or whatever drug is the most addictive in those things and kids can smell the meth with their eyes.

    …i think our generation has done amazing things as far as culinary progress goes. cooking has gone from a matronly fat lady in an apron thing to a full on iron chef ninja samurai showdown. i guess we still have a fat lady in an apron but we love her so because she puts butter in her butter. i enjoy cooking so much because nobody ever made me a bechamel sauce, ever. i hope we’re not really turning our kids into mountain-dew chugging, funyon gobbling creeps!

    thank you for a good laugh in the morning… not many babies get a mama with such a sense of humor xoxo

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