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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Does your baby have a body image problem?

Erin loves food. She also hates food. She alternates between scarfing down everything on her tray, and flinging food over the side onto the floor.

I'm sure that's normal. Every baby probably has the same kind of love-hate relationship with their comestibles.

But how can you tell if your baby has an eating disorder?

Erin loves playing with her mirror, and at 11 months old she may understand that it is a reflection of herself that she is seeing (I haven't tried the smudge-on-face test yet, so I can't be sure). But I worry that she is trying to improve the way she looks so she can snag some coveted baby modeling gig.

You see, my daughter might be bulimic.

After nearly every meal she sticks at least one finger down her throat until she gags. Then she looks up at me and laughs, and her eyes say "This will make me prettier, dad."

I think it's my fault. I told her last week that she has chunky thighs.

Hey kid. You will always be the most beautiful girl I've ever seen. Now eat your cheese and carrot ravioli.


Seriously, though. What's up with the gagging?


BabyShrink said...

She's trying to get a reaction out of you, Dad! And she is! ;)
She's also discovering all the wild, wacky and wonderful things her body can do. (just wait!)
I have a toddler who actually pukes on command, just to get me mad (and I do, duh.).

So: ignore, ignore, ignore. And then ignore some more, every time she does it. Just act like she didn't do it. Ask her pedi if you want to be sure, (but not when she's listening! Then she'll know she's gotcha!)but it sounds like she's just doing it for effect.

Lisa said...

I'm sure she's either doing for your reaction or maybe it's just something that she can control. Mine is really into the "control phase" right now.

for a different kind of girl said...

While not ideal, the gagging method trumps smoking and excessive meth use as a means of weight loss...

(I kid, I kid... ;)... )

Backpacking Dad said...

babyshrink: thank you so much. I think I'll bump this over to your site. I hadn't even thought about literally asking someone what was up; and who better than you?

lisa: yeah, I've noticed that two types of things delight my daughter: being surprised by the world, and controlling the world.

fdkg: I agree wholeheartedly. I'll worry about the smoking and the meth later, when she has money. Gagging is free and it fits into her budget now.

SciFi Dad said...

I agree with the other comments; it's a combination of:
a) exploration (as in "hey, I wonder what happens if I try and swallow this finger?") and
b) experimentation (as in "hey, can I get Dad to make that same face this time?")

My daughter used to cry so hard she would make herself literally blow chunks... not gag; CHUNKS. Toddler puke is easily the most vile smelling shit known to man (and I've lived in a university residence).

emorc said...

Glad my baby isn't the only one going through the "will eat won't eat" thing. Although he'll always scoff down his Wheatabix in the morning. But no self-esteem issues in this house. Ask Matthew if he's a beautiful boy and he gives you a Look and says, 'Gorgeous.' And smiles.

Mandy said...

Unfortunately, my Michelin tire babies never say no to food and they have never tried to bend to peer pressure to appear thin.

Actually, I was somewhat relieved when Nate slimmed out around 1.5 years old. He was one porky dude.

Good luck with the gagging thing. Sounds like the other commenters have encountered it before!

mamatulip said...

Julia did this when she was about two years old. It was a phase that lasted for a while and at the time, I was either ready to pop with Oliver or had just delivered him, and Dave and I chalked it up to her trying to get a reaction out of us. We did our best to ignore it, as unnerving as it was (it *really* bothered me).

Stefanie said...

I agree with I'm a Different Kind of Girl, if you want to model you have to look good! There are no chunky baby thighs on the runway this year. I do have a contact at America's Next Top Baby Model. Would you like me to see if they're interested in having her come in for a look see?

Backpacking Dad said...

Stefanie: Sure. I'll send a headshot. But not until after her botox. :}

Musing said...

Not sure about the reason for the gagging.

It reminds me, though, of my fourth child, who had reflux issues and spit up all the time and on everything.

I had to buy a whole new wardrobe once he stopped doing that.

Jennifer said...

lol, our daughter does the same thing with the gagging. She'll stick her fingers so far back in her mouth and then gag until her eyes water. Goofballs!