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Heather and I have butted heads a lot over feeding Annie because we have a pretty profound philosophical difference over what constitutes a successful feeding. In my mind, if Annie eats a nutritious meal, that’s a win no matter how much of a mess she makes. Heather, on the other hand, thinks that Annie needs to not just eat a nutritious meal but also not make a huge, freaking mess. As is usually the case with our disagreements, this one ended with me conceding that Heather was right and promising that Annie would keep messes to a minimum in the future.

There was only one problem with this. I can be a pretty messy eater myself, and unfortunately Annie seems to take after me. Still, I promised Heather things would change, so I launched a campaign to make that happen. It started with…

Phase One


I used to be pretty lazy when it came to putting a bib on Annie, but after one too many ruined outfits I became vigilant about putting one on Annie before she ate. Here’s the thing about bibs though – they’re pretty much useless! Well, at least with my kid they are. At the end of Annie’s meals she’d have a clean spot on her chest, but the rest of her would be coated with food.

Phase Two


One day it dawned on me to put Annie in one of my old T-shirts when she ate, and it did the trick (I suggest other parents with messy toddlers try this, too). Unfortunately, while I no longer had to change Annie’s clothes after eating, my old T-shirt failed to protect her (princess) hair, and that wasn’t going to fly. You see, in addition to being lazy about the bib, I’d also been fairly lazy in the past about putting Annie’s hair in a pony tail before she ate. As a result, Annie’s hair often fell into her food and became a sticky mess, making it even harder to brush (as Heather liked to remind me). To remedy this I made putting Annie’s hair up an integral part of “phase two,” but Annie nonetheless always managed to stick a yoghurt/chocolate/cheese covered finger into her hair and muck it all up. It was time for…

Phase Three


The shower cap kept Annie’s hair spic and span, but it didn’t stop her from ending up with grubby little hands that could quickly pull off the shower cap.

Phase Four


After a couple successful meals by Heather’s standards I thought I’d perfected things, but Annie had other plans. Just two minutes into her next meal she got her eyebrows and eyelashes covered in PB&J!

Phase Five



At last… perfection! Well, almost. Annie still managed to get food on her nose and cheeks, but cleaning up was a lot easier than it was back in the days of phase one.


So was Heather impressed? Not exactly. She seems to think that Annie should be able to eat without having to wear a hazmat suit, and I guess I see her point. On to phase six!