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Monday, July 25, 2011

Weaning: When Your Child Keeps Giving Food To The Dogs!

In a couple of short weeks, we will be celebrating The Boy’s 1st birthday. I’m looking forward to it in some ways – the marker of his first year, the first of many birthday celebrations to come; But in other ways I’m not looking forward to it, as it is the marker of him no longer being a ‘baby’ and it means that a whole 12 months has gone by since I gave birth to him yet still I am two dress sizes bigger than I was pre-pregnancy and I still don’t feel like I have the faintest, foggiest clue what I’m meant to be doing in this job as ‘mummy’.

As we all know, part of them growing up is all the fun of weaning. The Boy started on baby rice at four months old but wasn’t interested in the least – he wanted to move onto more interesting things from the moment we tried anything other than milk. The Boy has been exclusively formula fed since he was six weeks old – he rejected breastfeeding from the start, so for the first six weeks I was expressing and combination feeding, but after The Hubby returned to work it was just too much to try and look after The Boy, express for a good four hours a day, as well as clean bottles, make up formula and everything else that needs to be done all day. So anyway, he was five and a half months when we tried Rusks mashed in formula milk, and baby cereals for breakfast with fruit pots in the afternoon, and he’s done really well. On the whole he loves his food (though there are moments!) and he is generally good about eating.

The thing is, now he’s nearly a year old, I kind of expected him to be a little more independent about eating by now. I don’t know whether that’s accurate, whether I was expecting too much too soon, but I presumed by this point he’d be trying to spoon feed himself, certainly holding his own cup of water when he had a drink. He doesn’t; He’ll sit like a baby bird with his mouth open waiting for you to pop in the next spoonful or attach him to the water beaker. Finger food is a different matter: He loves getting his hands into that and playing with the different textures (and flinging a lot of it on the floor). And herein lies my current issue.

Our two hairy hounds of hell, one male and one female, are generally pretty good about not begging for food. The female is a bit weaker about it and she will sometimes forget herself and sit looking pleading at your feet while you’re eating, but she was a rescue dog and we don’t know her history, but she was very underweight when we first adopted her so I think it’s safe to say that, combined with the fact that she’s a complete bitch (I don’t mean that as an insult, I mean it quite literally!) means that she is constantly on the lookout for food. She’s a random cross breed and is a fairly small size dog (think about the size of a spaniel) so when she puts on weight it really shows. Our male dog is pedigree, and burns off his excess calories easily by all the running around he does, so a treat or two doesn’t hurt his figure; but she has quickly become a porky little rain barrel!

The trouble is, while neither of them will beg for food from The Boy as such, they are never far away when he is in the high chair at mealtimes. The Boy, such is his nature, wants to share everything right now, so whatever finger food he has; biscuit, banana, toast, whatever – he’ll have a couple of mouthfuls then offer it to the dogs. Now while they get interested, they won’t take it from him, as either myself or The Hubby (or whoever is feeding The Boy) is sitting there watching them closely to make sure they don’t – but if they don’t take it from him, The Boy will casually fling it on the floor. The female dog will break her neck on the laminate floor racing to get to whatever tit-bit it may be – she’s been known to eat orange and red peppers, carrot sticks and cucumber – but the male is a little more reserved and he’ll only eat it if it drops right in front of him and it’s something of interest – a biscuit or a piece of toast for instance.

I’ve tried locking them outside (very noisy – they bark and shriek like crazy to be let back indoors, and the noise puts The Boy off eating altogether as he is very easily distracted). We can’t shut them out of the room we have the highchair in as our kitchen, dining area and front room have no doors separating them, just open doorways, and the dogs aren’t allowed past the kitchen doorway into the rest of the house as the female cannot be trusted not to mess (again we think it stems back to her being a rescue dog, she’s fine when contained downstairs, but allow her the run of upstairs and she’ll ruin the carpet within a week). The female has a large cage in the kitchen that we put her in overnight or when we’re out (again because of the messing problem which she’ll do downstairs if left out overnight or while we’re out) so I have sometimes put her in the cage while feeding The Boy, which leaves the male dog free but he tends to go and lie in the front room when she’s out of the way. However it seems pointless as The Boy will still drop food on the floor in anticipation of when they come back into the room.

As I said, the male dog it isn’t so much of a worry, but the female is now seriously porky (her head looks out of proportion to her body!) she’s lost her waist entirely and she waddles about with her fat little bottom wiggling from side to side like a real hoochie! To top the problem off, I can’t take both of them out for a walk on my own, nevermind with The Boy in his pushchair as well, as the male is frightened of everything and goes scatty at the traffic and the noises it makes and the female has no road sense and just wants to bomb out into the middle of the road every two minutes. It takes both me and The Hubby to walk them, so we can have one each, and even then it can be a nightmare if you see another dog, or a cyclist, or someone on a skateboard or rollerskates, as the male dog will go scatty and flip around at the end of his lead barking (the vet says it’s a fear response) while the female dog will go scatty trying to get to them to say hello and potentially have her tummy tickled. Since The Hubby works funny shifts, nine times out of ten he isn’t home until The Boy is in bed, which means one of us has to stay at home, which means we can’t walk the dogs, which means the dogs don’t get a walk as often as they should. This doesn’t help the porky female wear off those extra calories!

I’m at a loss – If I stop giving The Boy finger food he’ll never learn to feed himself properly, but as long as I continue he is dropping it on the floor for the dogs and the female is hoovering it up like a mad thing and gaining weight by the day! Any suggestions gratefully received!!

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