Q&A: that unbelievably annoying spitting stage

Michelle writes:

"We are flummoxed by my 10 month old’s food-spitting.  It is actually pretty cute…the minute we present him with ANY type of food (baby puree, toast, fruit chunks, even the “puffs” he usually loves) he starts blowing raspberries.  The only problem is that, apart from drinking bottles, he hasn’t had a single bite of any food in several days.  He doesn’t seem in pain, so I don’t *think* he is teething or suffering from a throat infection or something.  Rather, he seems playful or even triumphant about it.  But here’s my question- isn’t 10 months too young for the toddler-style testing?  Is this something babies do when they are leaping forward in other ways?  He is also about to start walking and struggles/fusses a lot in any position other than standing.  Is he basically trying to talk, and I can diffuse some of this behavior by doing baby sign language- which honestly feels a little silly to me?  Is he just destined to reject food and become one of those really picky eaters who only eats fruit roll-ups and peanut butter?"

First of all, I need to put my foot down and insist that no one diss the baby signs. Baby signs have the power, so you can think they're silly all you want, but once you see them in action you'll change your tune. And when your 9-month-old can tell you "more," "all done," "milk," "sleep," and a few other things, you'll be happy you did them.

Now, on to the question. Michelle labeled this a "lighter" question, but I get a version of this at least every month, and some of the parents are truly upset about it. I think it's hard for some parents to see their children testing boundaries and exerting their will so soon. When you've been used to a cuddly, compliant baby and suddenly you have this creature who just won't stop doing something that seems so counter-productive, it can throw you for a loop.

I also think that some parents react with a distress or rage about spitting that's out of proportion to the actual even because it hits something in them. If you were punished or harshly dealt with about eating and food and table manners when you were a baby and toddler, then your child stepping out of line (so to speak) is going to trigger those really anxious, rage-filled feelings in you. If you recognize yourself in that description, good! Now that you know what's going on, you can use those feelings to tell you what you need healing from. It's a good opportunity to give yourself what you didn't get when you were a child.

Now, as for why Michelle's baby (and yours) are doing this spitting thing: Michelle pretty much hit everything. It is too early for toddler testing, but it's right on time for older-baby testing (which no one wants to tell you about for fear that you'd say you were going out for a gallon of milk but you'd never come back). There's a 46-week developmental spurt, and I think part of it is that, but really I just have known so many many kids (both of my own included) who've started to really want to just do what they wanted and now! when they were 10 or 11 months old. 

Add in the physical stuff, and yeah, you've got a would-be tyrant with little ability to make his desires known and a very limited ability to go where he wants to go. You'd be cranky, too, in that situation, and would do whatever you could to piss off The Man

So, seriously, try the sign language (at the Michigan State free ASL dictionary or the Signing Time DVDs), and don't get too upset about the spitting, because it's just a result of frustration on his part plus exploration and being able to do something that feels cool.

Oh, and some of us would be happy if our kids ate both fruit roll-ups *and* peanut butter. Sigh.

Cast your vote in the comments for the most annoying baby/toddler behavior that isn't an actual problem but makes/made you nuts.

0 thoughts on “Q&A: that unbelievably annoying spitting stage”

  1. I pretty much can concur with everything that has already been said. It’s a phase, he’s learning and too young to know what he is doing. I can still remember my son doing the same thing when he was around that age and yes, the dribble out of the mouth phase is coming most likely.I also agree with baby signing. It’s not too late to start and be consistent! It feels a little silly until you realize you are COMMUNICATING with someone who can’t verbally do so yet. Its so amazing to see things click in their little mind when they sign back to you and then get what they ask for. Totally worth it!!!!!!!!!

  2. Most annoying thing my 15-month old does that isn’t really a problem: picking at my clothes while she nurses. She doesn’t pull my shirt up or anything like that, she just… picks. And it drives me batty.Another vote for baby signs here. My parents thought we were complete freaks for doing it, but we’ve sold them many times over. My daughter doesn’t have to scream or cry to get what she wants; she just signs. It makes life so easy and more peaceful. And it’s amazing to be able to see what interests her in the world. You’d never think there were so many doggies to see at the store!

  3. My 20-month-old has gone through various spitting out phases. For the mealtime stuff – if he seems to have spit because he’s tasted something he doesn’t recognize or doesn’t like, we just tend to ignore it (saying something like “you don’t want that right now? Ok, here, have some of this”); similarly, if he seems to be spitting because he’s finished his meal, we just say “All done? Ok” and get him down from the table (and this can be after only a few mouthfuls – much less stressful to let him down than to battle over a few extra mouthfuls – and he really does seem to know his own hunger and capacity at any given time). However there is one type of spitting that drives be crazybonkers – when he asks for banana, takes a mouthful, spits it out, and then asks for “MORE mama”, repeat, repeat, until the banana is gone. I get SO wound up – how can you possibly want more – you didn’t eat the last mouthful! When this particular spitting phase was at it’s most recent peak, a couple of months ago, I happened to be reading Lawrence Cohen’s “Playful Parenting”, and decided to try something. Next time he asked for banana, I got one for myself too. Then, when he took a mouthful, and spat it out, so did I – but really, really over the top, with loud “Bluuuurgh” sound effects and tongue hanging out and all. He looked at me, stunned, and then burst out laughing and said “More!”. We carried on like that for the entire banana – and we were both in fits of laughter – I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. It didn’t stop the spitting immediately (though in a week or so he’d lost interest), but it did totally diffuse MY anger over the spitting. Obviously it’s not an approach you can use in every situation, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

  4. My big button-pushing issues are food related too, and it’s driving me *nuts* these days. In our case, my almost-5 yo isn’t eating ANYTHING. I swear, she’s been living on air for the past month. I fully, fully believe in the advice I’ve read and heard and passed along myself: that they will eat when they need to and as long as you’re offering healthy choices no one is going to starve or get malnourished.But holy frijoles, it’s hard to remain calm when that primal alligator brain instinct is saying “CHILD MUST EAT! UG, MUST NOURISH OR SPECIES WILL NOT SURVIVE!”

  5. I wholeheartedly agree that sign language is amazing. I started signing with my daughter when she was about 3 months old (more to learn the signs myself and get used to doing them). She didn’t start signing back to me until about 11 months…so be patient! And it’s never too late to start.My daughter’s most annoying behaviour right now is blowing raspberries with food in her mouth. It’s her way of saying she’s finished eating. Why, oh why, can’t she sign “finished” instead of spraying food all over the place?! (My reaction is to look at her seriously and tell her that if she’s finished she should sign “finished”. It works to stop the spraying then and there.)

  6. I just wanted to chime in with sympathy. My only practical suggestion is to try crackers (we started with baby mum mums, and cheerios) to engage his brain in other exciting ways.My other approach was to invest in a lot of big bibs that really worked. Um… enjoy this stage though? Because my son’s next one was climbing. Everything. 🙂
    The baby signs did help in the long run, and I’d do ’em again in a heartbeat. I used the Signing Time DVDs shamelessly to get us both started, and got a little break during that time, despite the evils of television.

  7. agree to ignore.i want to believe it is a way she is learning; learning cause/effect or pre-verbal skills or even some motor development.
    that helps me keep my ‘cool’ or things in perspective….

  8. My son spits not food (because he wont eat) but water when he is done and raspberries just for fun. Honestly this doesn’t bug us at all. When he blows a raspberry we blow one back. It was one of the first forms of mimicking he did, it made him so happy when we would do it too.Daycare doesn’t seem to think it’s fun. They mention it… but hey I am working on him eating ANYTHING.
    Personally it is the hitting and scratching that I am more worried about.
    What drives me nuts though. He wont eat, but he wants to play with my food. He will take a peach and just desicate it, or my berries. It’s not enough to give him one to play with he keeps coming back for more and more, squishes them, stops on them. I love fruit! and it just kills me when he does this, esp. berries (they are expensive). It would be one thing if he ATE them, but I am trying to relax at a night and enjoy some fruit (ok I am strange) and HE.WONT.LEAVE.IT.ALONE.

  9. My 8 month old’s raspberries are still gentle.Is it a “me do” thing? Can you switch to foods that are more self-serve and see if that helps or more like what everyone else is eating? My 5 year old was eating a bowl of cheerioes with formula on them when she was 10-11 months old – everyone else at the table was having cereal for breakfast too.
    I think the formula/breast milk in the bottles is more calorie and nutrient dense than any kind of solid food, so as long as he’s getting a reasonable number of bottles, don’t panic. I think it’s pretty normal to have highs and lows in the solid food department, for whatever reason.

  10. My 2.8 yo is spitting (water/spit, not food) all the time lately and it makes me nuts because it seems so disrespectful. He’s responding well to the guidelines “only outside or in the sink/tub, and never on people” but he still does it sometimes when he is angry at a reprimand/limit. Otherwise he seems to do it because it’s fun (although I feel like it might be connected to potty training emotions somehow, he’s on the cusp). But we’re spending 2+ hours a day in the backyard so he can drink from the hose and spit, get it out of his system.But yeah, the most annoying behaviors for me are the ones that are straight-up defiant, that I can’t apply logic to/problem-solve. and that put me instantly in a power-struggle situation that I just muscle my way out of and feel bad about later.

  11. No advice, but I just had to say that my 16 month old doesn’t raspberry, she just opens her mouth and lets the food fall out. Her 5 yr old sister thinks it’s hilarious, which doesn’t help. Adorable, aren’t they?

  12. I noticed the comment that it’s funny…which it is. I’m sure you know this already, but make sure you don’t laugh at it. In fact, the best thing we found to help shorten that lovely phase was to ignore it entirely. I mean no reaction what so ever. No smile, no frown, no comments. Nothing. And the pahse passed.Just be prepared for the dribble thing to come up next. At least when they open their mouths and let food/drinks pour out, it’s not projected onto the carpet.

  13. i agree to not react. i have found that when my son drops food on the floor or spits it out or other limit-testing things, if i ignore them he stops. i only do ignore it if it’s not dangerous of course.for example, for a while he was scratching me on my face more in an enthusiastic and interested way than a mean way. i taught him that it hurt, using the baby sign. i wanted him to understand that it hurt mommy when he scratched. then he would scratch me and make the sign. he was simply learning about the world, but it was bad. he didn’t understand not to do it. and when i tried to explain or reframe it, he kept doing it. eventually i stopped reacting and simply put him down and went and did something else for a couple minutes. it stopped very quickly. and he never does it now.
    so it might work to simply take the tray away and stop meal-time when the spitting occurs. but mostly, i think you’ll have to just weather this one.
    my least favorite behavior right now? my son (14.5 months) puts his ENTIRE hand in his mouth until he gags. of course, the first couple of times i gasped and said No and tried to stop it. and he LOVED that. so he keeps doing it. i have mostly ignored it, but it’s hard and i think he can tell it gets my attention if i hear him gag.
    re: baby signs
    i really think baby signs are amazing. my son has 50 or 60 words he says–not signs, words–as well as about 10 or 15 signs and i’m sure that the early signing we did with him (we started around 6 months) really helped. it’s true that he didn’t use them for months, but once he started, he picked them up very quickly. you don’t have to do things like “yellow” but things like “outside” and “sleepy” and “nurse” and “eat” are just amazing. he loves to communicate and knows that it’s possible. they make life so much easier. he can tell me when he’s thirsty etc etc. and lately, helping him label his angry/mad/frustrated feelings has prevented him from hitting himself or bitting his fingers or the toys that are frustrating him. i really think it helps. i highly recommend it.

  14. Stuff like this is always obnoxious. Just plain maddening, really. But when my daughter goes through a phase like this, I just keep telling myself it is JUST a phase. It will pass, I promise you, pretty much no matter what you do. Ignoring things like this always seem to work best. The less you react, the better. At 10 months, your son doesn’t need tons of solids anyway. Unless this carries on for months and months (which I promise it won’t!) don’t worry about needing to do anything major.One idea would be to offer solid foods a bit more infrequently. I would fall into the trap of “she’s doing this weird behavior, so she’s not eating enough, so I should try to feed her more often, but then we’re dealing with the spitting/dribbling/etc. more often, and I’m getting more frustrated,” which tends to keep spiraling on and on.
    Is he doing this no matter who feeds him? The only other thing I can think of is putting a small amount of food on the tray, and then “walking away.” You obviously don’t want to leave a 10 month old alone to eat, but sometimes ducking around a corner would be enough to remove the “audience” factor, and my daughter would eat when she thought I wasn’t looking.
    Hang in there! You’re doing great, and this will pass.

  15. Okay, a note from the baby version of me.Your laughter, mom, is a drug. When I realized at around 9-10 months that I could do something that would MAKE YOU LAUGH, I became an instant addict. I remember clearly, standing on your lap, your hands still needed to prop me so I didn’t fall, and grabbing your nose, and you pulling your face away every time I did, to the side, and laughing every time. I cannot express the urgency to do it again – it was the only thing that mattered in the entire universe, making you laugh. It was power and connection and glory. The sound of it wiped away all other experience in the world. There was only me, your nose, my hand, your laugh, again again AGAIN. It lit me up, your laugh. It made me certain of the rightness of being, of my essential power as a being, that I could create that sound in you that created that joyful urgency in me. It was my only task, my path in life, and it was the focus of my being.
    Every time you laughed, I had to, was compelled to, was driven to repeat it, to hear that sound again, to MAKE that sound come out of you again.
    ***jump forward to motherhood***
    I remember the first time I did something that made my firstborn son laugh. I was awash in joy and urgency and a compulsion to repeat what I’d done, to get that laugh again. I blew another raspberry and another, until we were both overwhelmed by the stimulus and were as compelled to stop as we’d been to continue.
    And at that point, I remembered standing on my mother’s lap (I’d remembered this often throughout my life, it was one of the touchstones that told me I was loved), and the world came full circle.
    So, yeah. You thought it was funny once, it is now a drug for your child, one they must must must must have. It kicks off endorphins in their brain that are more potent to them than anything a chemist could create. I suggest a two-pronged approach for extincting it – 1) yes, ignore, bland, non-react. 2) find another way to laugh together that can feed the addiction in a way you can enjoy forever (which really, is one of the best, being addicted to making your mother happy… too bad it ends up with so much competition from other urges later! Sigh.)
    Also, yes, the awareness of self starts, and that means the awareness of choice starts…
    another story from memory… I remember eating spaghetti as a full-body experience. I can remember feeling every sensation, sitting in my high chair, watching the family now and then, but absorbed in grasping the noodles, sucking on them, rubbing the glorious sloppy-greasy-lumpy-smooth sauce on my cheeks, sucking on the noodles again, rubbing them around in the sauce on my tray, feeling the noodles slide down my throat – and (sorry) the slippery feeling of pulling them back out again (ew as an adult, but WOW the senation as a child, I don’t think I can feel with anything like that detail now!). Repeat repeat repeat, fascination, deep hum of pleasure, experience the exact texture, the movement of my tongue and lips, the experience of feeling my teeth against food (they’re full of nerves, teeth are, and send so much information to the brain in childhood… less so now, unless we bite a bit of sand…).
    ***
    I have sympathy for both sides. The child who recognizes their power and is so lushly embedded in their physical experience, and the mom who is not into this whole thing from this end, thanks. Find them another outlet, and be boring and less-engaged and less-fun on the track you don’t want them to take. Being engaged on the preferred track and less engaged on the no-thanks-please track (and linking them to the need in time – that is, finding the nearest-in-time moment to engage on the positive side so you meet THEIR need to have you engage as soon as possible), that has extincted so many behaviors we didn’t want, so many times, and usually in about three days if I’m reliable about it (longer when I’m not, but it still works).
    Good luck. Have fun, too. And ditto to everything Moxie said about finding your own healing for things that were issues for yourself. That’s a huge huge player in the stress/anxiety/unhappy reaction.

  16. @ Maria “that they will eat when they need to and as long as you’re offering healthy choices no one is going to starve or get malnourished”True fpr most, but not an absolute. There could always be an underlying digestive (or other) issue and a child presented with healthy foods really can develop symptoms of starvation. But I doubt that’s the case with a baby having fun spitting his food 😉
    Most annoying older baby eating thing? Nursing baby, who is cruising at very tender age, expects (tries) to bring nipple along with. Yow!

  17. Oh, and ditto on the baby signs. Honestly, they’ll invent their own if you’re paying attention, so why not suggest some that you can recognize (and others will too?). G invented his own ‘No/Done’ – he flipped his ear with his fingertips. It started when he had an ear infection and eating hurt, and so he’d take a bite, it hurt his ear, he’d flap at his ear, I’d stop because it obviously was uncomfortable… he connected the dots himself, and began to flip his ear any time he wanted me to stop – done with food, done with play, No thank you (done before he started), etc. He was highly verbal, so he didn’t use many signs overall, but we stuck with the theme and used ‘real’ ones with the rest of the kids (DH and I had taken an ASL class for ‘a thing to do together that has nothing to do with wedding planning’, years before…).One of the things I find utterly charming with the sign is the fact that M and R will spontaneously use More when they’re happy and want something to repeat, even at some later time – and they’re utterly unaware of doing it, it’s just a gesture that comes automatically with ‘this is/was a happy experience, let’s do that again’. They haven’t used sign in two years, intentionally, and yet it is still embedded… just want to squeeze them it’s so darn cute when it happens. 🙂

  18. Forgot the question at the end… most annoying for me was the casual hand over the side of the tray, open fingers, while watching mommy with so much intensity that they weren’t blinking. Here. goes. my. food. I’m. dropping. it. now. SEE?ARGH. It’s the oh-so-slow, come-stop-me, ha-too-late! thing that bugged me to death. Early version of nyah-nyah, you can’t CATCH me (which was a game my elder sibs played on/at me endlessly whenever mom wasn’t looking… grrr. powerlessness and me are not a happy thing.) Food spitties just ended up in ‘oh, you want to feed yourself? Okay! Here!’ and they had something new to explore and stopped bothering with the spitties. The open-mout-food-rolls-out thing was for me an indication of dislike, so I just stopped offering that food (it was quite specific to the food, in our case). I don’t think I could list all the behaviors that they had, between the four of them.
    Oh, yeah, hair-styling with the food frustrated me, because I knew it was going to be misery to get out later. But … I also knew it wasn’t going to stop by me freaking out about it. (M still tends to run her hands through her hair when she’s eating with her fingers… mmm, butter hair. Bacon hair. Syrup hair. Thankfully not so much on the oatmeal hair anymore.)

  19. 15-month-old Liz knows a few signs, and has even invented a few of her own. I love it! It makes communicating so much easier!As for annoying habits…she loves having water poured on her head! I can’t count how many times in a meal I have to say, “We don’t pour water on our heads inside” or “I’ll put the drink up to your mouth, not on your head.” And when we’re outside, and it’s somewhat okay to pour water everywhere, she always ends up with a soaked dress! And it makes me crazy.

  20. We went through a “refuse to eat stage” at about 10 months. Not so much spitting, just not eating. She’s not a great eater now, but she does eat a few things reliably, and she’s certainly not starving.We didn’t do sign language until day care started it and Pumpkin started signing things to us and we couldn’t understand. Then we got the signing time DVDs. Pumpkin LOOOOOVES them. She picked up several signs very quickly, as well as a couple of new words. I wish we’d done this earlier. We noticed an almost immediate decrease in number of screaming tantrums because she could TELL us that she wanted a cracker, or whatever. She also really enjoys “naming” things with her signs, particularly cars and birds.
    Oh, and a couple of weeks ago, she did her “I like this/I want more” sign while nursing. That was just too wonderful.

  21. Most annoying toddler/preschooler behavior is EATING. Here is a typical conversation in our house:Me: What would you like for breakfast?
    Alex: Nofing, thanks. I’m not going to eat today.
    Me: (cheerfully) Okay! (then I walk into the bedroom and hit a wall with my fist).
    It’s soooo hard to not have a reaction to that – not just for nutrition sake, but when he’s hungry, he’s kind of a bear to deal with. When he’s fed, he’s a total joy. Maybe the teachers at his new school will be able to get him to eat, but I am harboring secret doubts.

  22. My 18mo blows raspberries with a mouthful of food. Also sweeps food grandly off the highchair tray when she wants out, even though she knows how to say “all done” and “get down” and is always responded to when she does. I keep telling her to say “all done” instead of flinging the food but clearly flinging is much more fun.Also, this: “If you were punished or harshly dealt with about eating and food and table manners when you were a baby and toddler, then your child stepping out of line (so to speak) is going to trigger those really anxious, rage-filled feelings in you.” Wow, total flash of recognition.

  23. Totally need to have a shout out to Baby Sign. My 13 mo uses about 10 signs. We started when she was 4 mo or so and it took her until 11 mo or so to start using them. When she did we were blown away. I am still blown away by them. My parents were skeptics too, but now they are blown away and are looking up signs on the internet to teach her new ones. And the other person who is blown away is her doctor. She thinks E is the smartest baby ever!! Anywho, the main point is it really does help them communicate with you.E’s most annoying thing right now – squishing any food she does not want to eat in her fist, rubbing it into the tray of her high chair and then dropping it on the floor. Oh so fun. Thank G I have dogs who will clean most of it up!! :~)
    Actually her very most annoying thing is that she is biting us. We have a great little book, Teeth are not for Biting, which seems to entice her to bite. Hmm… The problem is when she had no teeth (didn’t get any till she was 12 mo) she used to bite my husbands toes and it was funny. We laughed and laughed and it was a game. Now – not so funny. Trying the, “get a hug instead” – doesn’t seem to be sinking in. Also the – “chew on a toy instead” – sometimes works. I’m leaning now towards the put her on the floor , state, “no biting” and walking away for a minute. Wish us luck!! Any suggestions other than bite her back would be gladly accepted.

  24. Aaron, find something she can bite that you all agree is as silly as the toe biting and act like it. It’s the reaction she’s looking for, I bet. Even grand pretend ‘OH NO, don’t bite TEDDY! NOOOOOoooooo!’ with a sly look and silliness may serve. (Try Playful Parenting for strategies, they sound like they’d fit her style well, and probably yours, too. Not that I’ve read the book, yet, but I trust Moxie’s opinion.)

  25. Thanks Hedra, I’ve actually bought the book but have yet to have a chance to read it. I like your suggestion and will try it. Yes, it would definitely fit her style and mine. Thanks again.

  26. My son was the exact same at 10 months. I didn’t think it was defiance so much as having more fun playing with food (throwing/ blowing raspberries) than eating it. I completely ignored both the raspberries and food throwing and the behaviour stopped (not immeditely mind you, maybe after a few weeks or a month?). My son was also a very picky eater until he was twelve months. I even was a poster on Ask Moxie about it and was concerned about sensory integration issues because he seemed so texture picky. Then, on his one year birthday, he ate chicken satay off my plate and started eating everything no matter the texture or taste. At 19 months, he’s a little pickier again but I never worry about his nutrition. My point is that at 10 months, please don’t worry about his solid food intake! “under one, food’s for fun”, right?My son’s most annoying behaviour now is throwing – he knows he’s not allowed to throw things in the house so he looks right at me, and I say “no throwing in the house” and then he throws and says “oops!” as if it was a mistake. humph.

  27. I’m going to chime in again with some more annoying behaviours that I’m sure everyone can relate to.The Diaper Change. It is like trying to dress an octopus.
    Toilet Bowl. What is the obsession? And the locks? If the darn thing would actually suction to the tank it might work!

  28. T is biting now, too, with glee. “No bite, kisses” hasn’t made much of an impact. He does it when he’s super happy (all wound up and he pounces on me with a huge smile) or super tired (fussing/snuggling on my shoulder and thank goodness that most of the time my shirt takes the brunt of the bite). He pulls hair, too. Mine and his. Not sure what to do about that but I suppose it’s just something he needs now and it won’t last forever.We are closing in on 11 months and he has abandoned raspberries for the open mouth food drop. Chew, chew, aaahh, plop. He also clears his high chair tray/smashes the remaining food as an all done signal. We are still working on signing and I make the all done sign for him but apparently the grand sweeping gesture is just as efficient in his mind.

  29. @ Julie:”Me: What would you like for breakfast?
    Alex: Nofing, thanks. I’m not going to eat today.
    Me: (cheerfully) Okay! (then I walk into the bedroom and hit a wall with my fist).
    It’s soooo hard to not have a reaction to that – not just for nutrition sake, but when he’s hungry, he’s kind of a bear to deal with. When he’s fed, he’s a total joy.”
    UGH, yes! We are definitely going through it. She has energy, she’s growing, appears entirely healthy, so I really do think it’s normal appetite variations, maybe exacerbated by the summer heat, but – argh!

  30. < < The Diaper Change. It is like trying to dress an octopus.>>For real. I am running out of neat, new, here hold this, items.

  31. Another vote for eating. My almost-9-month-old just will not eat solids. Everything–baby food, table food chunks–is rejected with pursed lips or dramatic gagging. (But he’ll eat the dust balls he picks up off the floor…) I know it’s fine for kids to not eat a lot of solids until later, but my milk supply is falling and he’s nursing every 1 to 2 hours because he’s so hungry. And the formula that he used to accept when we did it once in a while is rejected now as well. He’s a small kid as it is, so we’ll see if he has gained any weight since his last appointment when we have his 9-month check next week.Oh, and the yelling. Everything is at top volume: happy, sad, righteously annoyed at the world…

  32. Oh, the diaper changes! Ugh. She totally makes a break for it as soon as she’s got a naked butt. The only thing that helps a little is giving her something that is *not a toy* for her to hold. (You know, safe, friendly, but someone else’s. A mitten gave me big success one time. Do not even ask me why I found a mitten in the diaper box in August. In Florida. Now I can’t find it.) Still, it’s hard to find something suitable in the moment.

  33. Wait wait wait… I need to back up to something Moxie said… “When you’ve been used to a cuddly, compliant baby…” A what now? I totally have the cuddly part, but they can be compliant? How do I get one of those?!?! ;-)I also view the spitting and blowing raspberries and dropping foods all as ways they are discovering how things feel and how to manipulate things. For some things, I ignore, and other I use Playful Parenting. Also the baby signs are fantastic (once she learned the sign for melon to go with more, our little girl was in heaven). So nothing new to add on those fronts.
    As always, when we discuss food issues, I will recomment Ellyn Satter’s Child of Mine. I know hedra recommends another book by her, too. It really helped keep me calm about eating issues and not worry in this area.
    As for things that are annoying, lately the Pumpkin has been discovering the joy of mushing food into her hair. Thank goodness bathtime comes right after dinner.
    Also, I hear ya with the diaper changes. The Pumpkin likes to suck on wipes, and she also likes to help wipe down there. I have to be quick to make sure she doesn’t wipe and then try to put it in her mouth. Kids can be so gross.

  34. Irritating, but only to me: the constant opening and closing of doors. Oh, but there is something about the sound of a door closing (over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and …) that makes me want to sell her (my daughter’s the one that did this) to the gypsies. And if you really want to get me fired up, SLAM that baby. Oy, the rage!I actually encouraged the spitting/raspberry thing for awhile, as an alternative to my little boy’s beloved (by him and only him) high-pitched shrieking sound. The dogs in the neighborhood have still not recovered.
    He also had the open-mouth, dribble-milk phase a couple of times — both correlated, I think, with teething periods.
    These days my kids like to get my goat in the car by encouraging each other to say rude things, IMMEDIATELY followed by a sing-song-y apology. “Stupid Mommy … sorry, Mommy.” “Poopoohead Daddy … sorry, Daddy.”

  35. My eight-month-old just started the spitting game last week. He figured it out in a restaurant high chair, and now that he’s seen what a fun reaction it gets from his parents, he does it at every meal. At first it was amusing, but now it’s frustrating. Suddenly all this toddler-ish attitude is emerging, and I have to confess it’s pretty frightening….I wish I could fast-forward through the toddler years to, say, age five. There are good things about the toddler years too, right? right? anyone?

  36. My coworker told me that he taught his daughter “the first rule of comedy.” It’s only funny the first time. Because he has trouble not laughing, at least the first time.

  37. @ Laura – Honestly (so far!) I love the toddler stage SO much more than babyhood. I find my son so much more fun to spend time with at 19 months than, say, 5 months, and when they start talking it it truly amazing. Yes, defiance and trantrums occasionally, but when it’s good, it’s SO good…

  38. Oh my, eating. My 14-month old is past the raspberry-blowing-with-food phase, but last night he gleefully tossed his *entire* dinner onto the floor without eating a bite. I offered him food from my hand – “No!” I ate some myself to prove it was tasty – “No!” So I left him alone with it for a moment to get myself a glass of water, turned around and he is SWEEPING HIS ARMS ACROSS THE TABLE, SPRAYING FOOD EVERYWHERE.I normally try not to yell, but my kneejerk reaction was to shout “D, NO!” which he, naturally, thought was *hilarious*. (This is why I try not to yell – it makes me feel like crap for yelling at the baby, and it doesn’t even have the advantage of *working* because he thinks Mommy’s Loud Voice is the funniest thing he’s ever heard. I’ve had adults tell me I can be scary sometimes – why doesn’t it work on my kid???)
    This all led to Baby’s First Timeout. Not because I necessarily thought he’d learn from it, but because I needed him immobilized (in the play pen) while I swept up all the barley and scrambled eggs he’d tossed on the dining room floor. It’s times like this I wish we had a dog.

  39. From my “vast” signing experience (n=2), I just wanted to pipe in that 9-10 months is early for a baby in a non-immersion environment to start signing back. But once it starts it has the potential to Change Your Life. Pretty much as all time parenting decisions go, signing with babies is way, way at the top. (Dramatic much? Yes. But really.) My son, now 2y4m, had about 4 words at 4 months ago (all picked up in speech therapy); now he has hundreds of words and is dropping his (200+) signs and it makes me so happy and sad.Annoying stuff for age 2: eating shoes during diaper changes. GAH!
    Annoying stuff for age 4: Fear of any kind of public restroom, esp. automatic toilets. Much bribery involved. Occasionally “accidents.” Said my husband, “Is it really an accident if she intentionally peed in her pants [rather than sit on an airplane toilet].” We get than it’s loud and startling, but we have to go places sometimes! Involving planes and rest stops!
    Annoying stuff for both: Too much soap. If left alone for handwashing after potty (or if the 2 year old decides to do it himself), PALMFULS of liquid soap! It’s so wasteful (of soap AND water)! Drives me around the bend. Especially since I don’t want to have to get up and hover every time the bathroom gets used. I have a life! Sort of, I mean.
    Hey Moxie, how about a post on teaching abstract concepts (conservation! money!) to preschoolers?
    @ Laura: Yes. Toddlers can be So.Funny. On purpose and not on purpose. And hey, most of them still nap…for a while.

  40. @Laura- I’m with Suki and loving toddlerhood so far (Pumpkin is 16 months). Watching her learn how to communicate, watching her learn how to do new things… its a lot of fun. I love going for walks with her, taking her out of her stroller at the end and watching her running along, laughing with the joy of just being out of her stroller and moving about. There are lots of things like that, too. And I find toddler tantrums less mystifying than the baby meltdowns. Usually I know *why* we’re tantruming, and sometimes I even know how to make it stop.I never really knew what to do about the baby meltdowns.The annoying thing I’m hating right now- applying sunscreen. We are people of northern European descent who live in Southern California. Everyone in the family has to have sunscreen on every day. Only one member of the family fights and screams and rubs it in her eyes in the process. We’re always rushed in the morning, and having to spend 5 minutes singing “Old MacDonald” (Pumpkin’s current favorite)while demonstrating that sunscreen isn’t yucky by smearing it on MY nose is getting really, really old.

  41. Oh yeah, Mouse went through a big “only if I can feed it to myself” phase around this age. Not much spitting, but she would not eat from a spoon at home for anything. (Daycare was a different story.) I think she lived on avocado chunks and grated cheese for a couple months. (I’m pretty sure “cheese” was her 4th word and “mommy” her 5th word–she still loves the stuff). It passed.Then we had the “dropping food I don’t like on the floor” thing around maybe 15-16 mos. Had to back waaay down on the “no” excitement, tell her what we actually wanted (put it on the tray) and then clap and yelp and jump around when she did the right thing. It passed too.
    Most annoying thing right now? Kid will not touch a sandwich, even if everything it’s composed of is something she likes. Why do I care? Because we not only have to pack lunch for preschool, it has to be a lunch that can be eaten outdoors away from school since they eat on their daily outing. There are lots of options of course, it’s all fine–it’s just that a sandwich would be so darn easy. Hmph.

  42. my 16-mo kidlet is going through a hair-pulling phase, and she thinks it’s hilarious to hit people. It’s getting her in tons of trouble at day care. It IS getting better slowly but she still resorts to hitting or hair-pulling when tired or wanting attention. Sigh.

  43. @Kate, YMMV and you may or may not be up for this in the first place, but when Mouse went through a public toilet fear thing the only thing that worked was for us to sit down with her (i.e. behind her, straddling the back of the seat, clothed of course) so she could be cuddled in arms while she went. I came up with that in desperation one day and it worked until she got past that phase. To this day she hates the loud flushes in public bathrooms and always asks if she can go out of the stall before I flush. We’ve also offered bravery prizes (stick of sugarless gum or something) for dealing with toilets she finds yucky.@everybody, I find toddlers more fun than babies, and preschoolers more fun that toddlers, too. 🙂

  44. Annoying behavior of an older baby (my son is 10m right now): SCREEEEEEEAMING at the table. I mean, like Junior Pterodactyl. Want more Cheerios? How about some water? Just feel like making heads turn? SCREAM AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS! Repeatedly! Of course this means that we can’t go out to eat and every conversation at meals is like “So I talk[screeeeeeech]ed to my [screeeeeeeeech] Mom to[screeeeeeeeeech]day and she [screeeeeeeeeech] Matthew dammit!”Sigh. We are working hard on signs but he just looks bewildered and then screams again, like “didn’t you get it the first (fiftieth) time?” But I know at the very moment when I start to secretly pack for Tijuana, he’ll stop.

  45. Two annoying behaviors here:1. Gagging or pretending to gag himself with spoon/fork/fist while eating (not to the point of actually throwing up, but still annoying)
    2. Breath holding/grunting/banging feet against sides of crib while falling asleep (while I’m leaning over the crib rubbing his back). Just his ways of drifting off but really annoying

  46. 1. The toilets! I still have to cover the “magic eye” on the autoflushers for the 5 year old. And she needs to get as far away as humanly possible before the Loud Flush. She does think it’s darn funny when it’s my turn to go and the magic flusher “flushes me”.2. The Pterodactyl at the table – the 5 year old, when a baby, had “the attention getting cough” which she used whenever the conversation strayed from her. Then it progressed into the screech. Now at 5, she still finds something Important to say whenever I ask my husband, “How was your day?” But we’re working on it. It’s a trial.

  47. The 2.5 year old “helpfully” removing her diaper after she poops. And also after we put her to bed at night, resulting in a wet bed at 3:30 a.m. It’s great that she gets it and wants to help and move toward being diaper-free but, honey, this has got to stop.

  48. Eeek – Cathy, you hit my beaner on the head. What started as the attention getting cough has just progressed (at 11 months) to the screech which means absolutely everything under the sun. I am late getting on to the sign language bandwagon but am really hoping that will help to lessen the screechiness.

  49. @Cloud, we used durascreen stick for faces, and ‘drew pictures’ on the kids when they were this age (and then rubbed it in after done drawing). They still ask me to draw on them now and then. (Durascreen was one of the few my kids didn’t react to horribly. It’s not one of the ‘safe safe’ kind, though.) Anyway, maybe painting it on her face with a paintbrush might work? (We let G paint the calamine lotion on his chicken pox – back before the vaccine was mandatory in our state – and he preferred that to having anyone else do it.)@Charisse, I’m with you on the sandwiches. I’d also love kids who would eat soup. Any soup. Plenty of other options, but sometimes soup would be easier…
    @Laura, I also loved toddlerhood more than babydom, and preschool more than that, and K-1 even more, and then it’s been a more gentle upward transition since about then, but still ‘it just gets BETTER’ – their brains get so interesting, they develop ideas on their own, they tell stories… okay, so sometimes they cannot stop talking. At all. But it’s still cool.

  50. @Shaynee – Re:Everything–baby food, table food chunks–is rejected with pursed lips or dramatic gagging.Has the Dr. recommended testing for reflux? A friend’s nursling showed no other signs until solids were introduced, and they didn’t catch it until she still wouldn’t eat (just nurse) after 2-3 months of being offered (9 mo old).

  51. Haven’t read all comments– but wanted to reiterate that it is all just exploration and like Moxie and others have mentioned in previous posts kids eat when they are ready. My really good eater (for the most part) didn’t start properly eating until he was past the 1 year mark and then he was fine. Before then we had lots of spit up and food everywhere.As for annoying toddler behavior– Can i put in a plug for the need to test gravity constantly. Even though the dropping of things comes with a very cute “uh-oh” i really am tired of the panda trying to prove the laws of gravity.

  52. My 11.5 month old is reassuringly normal by the looks of things!!Raspberries, spitting out food, clearing the tray of food when she’s finished, and, of course, staring me straight in the face as she drops her cup slowly from the high chair.
    I haven’t been stressed by any of that really. Perhaps I should be, but I figured the clearing of the tray was her way of being helpful since I always clear the tray when she is finished. I also think that the spitting is her way of feeling new textures and tastes. She has an amazing ability to sort out any lumps. Mashed banana mixed in yoghurt is easily separated. And as for dropping the cup…she always seems so fascinated by the resulting thud. I don’t stress because I just fugured that she would eventually grow out of all these social no-nos. I hope I’m right.
    What annoys me is the constant fascination with turning the TV on, then off, then on, then off, then…you get the picture!
    Crikey!!
    I’ve tried saying No, then picking her up and moving her away from it. Of course, this is a great game. She gives up after the third or fourth move. I also sit with my back to her pretending to be engrossed in one of her books. Then often works in drawing her attention away from the TV.
    At 11.5 months, is it too late to start signing & reap the benefits??

  53. Mine (12 months) also really enjoys swiping his arm across his high chair tray and letting the food fly EVERYWHERE! Usually this only happens if he’s just DONE and doesn’t want to be in his chair any longer.Yesterday he got angry with me when I said, “No more books, it’s time for bed,” after we had read oh, ten books and he’d nursed on both sides. He whacked me in the side of the head, and so I simply put him in his crib and walked out of the room. Returned a few minutes later (of course he was howling), and he was very sad but fell asleep within minutes. I wish we could be over this hitting AND biting!

  54. @Laura….it is a lot of fun, most of the time. Don’t worry, it gets better. I did not enjoy at all 12-20 months. Those were hard, HARD months. But at about 20(months), things just got hilarious. Alex is now 2.5, and says the most hysterical things. The most recent one is to announce to everyone (no matter where you are – public or at home) “It’s TOO HOT for pants!” after which he will remove his pants and walk around in his underwear (he has just learned how to put on and take off his pants by himself and is very VERY proud) Times like those I want to keep him this age forever…..because in about 10 years, that will just be creepy.And while I would love to be able to use the bathroom alone and without commentary, it IS rather nice to hear “Nice JOB, Mommy! I’m SO PROUD of you.” after a bowel movement. TMI? Sorry.

  55. If someone started a “rental dog company” for mealtimes, I would so be there! I need an automatic floor-cleaner for the food that ends up down there (both on purpose and otherwise). The peas tend to roll to the far corners of the room, and then we’re lucky if we find them….the rest get stepped on – yuck.

  56. @Sam- 11.5 months is definitely not too late to start signing. We didn’t start until about 14-15 months, and it has gone great.I’ll also give you a little encouragement to keep up with the say no and redirect strategy. It was frustrating as all get out at the ~12 month mark, but now, Pumpkin doesn’t try to touch the TV, or open the garbage, or go in the “forbidden” room (our office. It is lovely.

  57. 1) I am soooo relieved my daughter is getting over the “oatmeal hair” stage. From 10 months to 3 years- it’s been a long, painful road, and I’ve only got about a month or so until #2 starts in but hopefully this stage will be less painful for a boy.2) I honestly don’t know how people have toddlers without having a dog. I think that’s why food exploration never bothered me- I NEVER have to pick anything but bananas up (Our pup hates these and smooshes them in the carpet).
    3) I know I’m in the minority here but I hated toddlerhood. From about 14 months to 22 months I had to stop myself from jumping off a bridge every time I passed one. No.Patience. For. This. Stage. They’re cute as hell and for goooood survival reasons:).
    4) You’ve all inspired me to check out Baby Signs and the Signing Time DVD for my 8 month old. Someone (Maria?) mentioned a parenting 60 day thingy- this would be it for me. I know the last challenge kind of went down the shitter- has there been any talk of doing the parenting one? Maybe after school starts?

  58. Amen to all who have said it’s exploration. We’re always trying to be more chill about things, & go with the flow. That’s why I loved what Cassie (@8:15am?) wrote – such a beautiful story about eating a banana with her child playfully & in such a wonderfully light-hearted way, it was so very touching!Diaper changes are tough/funny – our 9 month-old DS usually does not want to sit still when we decide he needs a change, so we let him run around naked for awhile until he decides to sit for a spell & is finally open to being diapered. (Yes, we’ve had poop on the rug a few times. But easy enough to clean.)
    We introduced solids on his 9-month birthday & immediately started him on table food (pretty much anything we eat that does not contain nuts, honey, seafood, or eggs). Mass-produced, jarred baby food makes ME want to gag so we figured we’d skip it. A friend of ours who started essentially force-feeding her girl rice cereal at 4 months was appalled at our choice to do baby-led table feeding – “but he’s never going to learn to swallow!” Seriously? He swallows just fine.
    We’ve been using the sign for “change” since day one, along with “milk,” “more,” “all done,” “bath,” and “dog.” I thought he was attempting to sign back “more” the other day when he was eating avocados.

  59. @Kate: Yes, the soap thing. We let T. play with a bar of soap in the tub – what harm could it do, right? Then he got water in his eyes and, just as we’d taught him, calmly wiped it away with his (extremely soapy) hand. Hilarity ensued.@Suzanna: Yes, the gagging. Sigh. Fist, spoon, whatever. “You gagged yourself!” Laughter. Repeat. And yeah, it’s worse if we react (quite hard not to, though I’ve managed to suppress the full-body shiver at this point) – but by now it’s mostly about self-entertainment. He cracks himself up.

  60. Totally there with you. Could have written this except mine is only 7.5 months. Happiest, easiest baby in the world until he decided he wanted to crawl and walk right now, damn it! except he can’t do either yet. So he just shrieks in frustration at all the things he wants but can’t propel himself to. He is pretty much happiest holding onto things and standing up but well, he’s 7.5 months! He can’t do that all day long.And he doesn’t spit his food yet, but he does take everything he previously loved to feed himself and throw it to the dogs who gather around his high chair instead. Apparently it is much, much more entertaining to feed them than to feed himself. And he thinks it is hilarious and is just so darn proud of himself when they gobble down whatever he rejects.
    I have to just keep reminding myself that he is not unhappy, just frustrated. And that frustration is good, since it is what spawns innovation. And that I want him to test limits and figure out the world for himself. It just makes it more work (and much more exhausting) to hang out with him.

  61. Coming back to say @Suzanna – how could I possibly have forgotten my own personal insane-maker: the inability to just LIE STILL and go to sleep. It’s like you said – the movement is clearly just his way of helping himself to get to sleep, but it has driven me to angry tears more than once. We have: leg kicking, gentle (but persistent) hair pulling (his and mine), head smacking (his), finger pulling/playing with (mine), freckle rubbing (mine), and his current favourite, nose picking (his, thankfully). This all goes on both during a pre-sleep nursing session, and once he’s in his cot and I’m patting his back and singing to him. If anyone has any ideas on how not to let this drive me completely bonkers, I’d love to hear it.@various people – I’m really, really loving toddlerhood. Yes, it is full-on, and exhausting and hard, but holy cow is it fun. You can just SEE their little brains going a mile a minute, and when else do you get to be excited by your kid responding to your husband farting by saying “MORE Daddy poop!”

  62. “most annoying for me was the casual hand over the side of the tray, open fingers, while watching mommy with so much intensity that they weren’t blinking. Here. goes. my. food. I’m. dropping. it. now. SEE?”Ah, yes, my almost 3 year old was a master of this. It’s just like the Jedi mind trick maneuver!

  63. jameson (20 mo) eats everything, which is extra wonderful since he was a micropreemie & intubated 18 weeks & had a feeding tube. i’m not into the watermelon-as-hair-gel thing, but i try not to react & just clean him up later. i don’t mind if he drops something legitimately, but i *hate* the swiping food into the floor! argh! i guess it seems disrespectful of the food and the chef to me. he’s just getting to the octopus-in-pampers stage. that one will get worse when he can walk, i guess.he’s just starting to sign. he knows ‘all done’, ‘more’, and once in a while, ‘milk’. but why, WHY didn’t he use it last night instead of crying for two hours????

  64. Ah, yes — administering the diaper change to an octopus. I am reluctant to post this for fear it will stop working, but at the moment (approaching 17 months) my DS is willing to respond (nicely) (even when he’s otherwise an upset/mad/hyper/squirming disaster) to two things: “Can Mama have a PEEK-A-BOO???” (and he will…lie peacefully on his back, cover his eyes and then pop his hands off and grin at me), or “Where is Mama’s ear/nose (or DS’s ear/nose?” — the two body parts he can identify quite reliably. That produces somewhat more motion and so is a bit more problematic, but still much better than octopus baby.

  65. As soon as my daughter discovered that she could blow raspberries (about 9 mo. old) she started spitting food all over the place. This was also the same time she decided that she’d much rather feed herself (wouldn’t eat from what I gave her, only off her tray herself) and then she would proceed to throw her food on the floor piece by piece when she got full, while spitting her milk all over the place blowing raspberries. Oh, and then she’d huck her sippy cup clear across the room. Over.and.over.and.over.again throughout the meal.I swear I was about to “go out for a gallon of milk and never come back”. Once I was so mad about this (the rage Moxie was talking about – oh did I ever feel that) that I hucked a piece of brocolli right back at her when she threw it at me. It stuck to her cheek and I’ve never felt like such a crap mother. But she eventually outgrew it and now she eats like a champ. No spitting, throwing, or other supremely annoying things. She’s 14 mo. now and stopped the annoying behavior at about 12 mo.

  66. Baby’s communicate long before most parents start to catch on. My daughter started signing at 7 months and by 14 months had 100 plus “words.” Watch Signing Time on PBS or get the DVDs. Now at 19 months her verbal skills are better than age appropriate and she signs words she can’t yet say.

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