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.