By Peter Sessum
Everyone has heard for the “Freshman 15” for new college students but no one talks about the Toddler 10 for new dads. It is a common affliction that no one seems to be spending any time or research money on, but believe me, it is a real problem and don’t let it happen to you.
When we say “New dad” that is really relative. Fathers of toddlers are chronologically new dads it is more of a classification of activity. New babies do little more than sleep, poop, eat and look at you, pretty much in that order. Sure, after a few months they are holding their bulbous heads up and rolling over, but they are like art. Too delicate to play with and only good for looking at.
Then they start moving. This is why you should enjoy those early phases because walking quickly leads to running and that means dad is chasing. Toddlers need energy for all that running away and they are past the soft food until they start eating paste in Kindergarten (you know who you are). They also hit that age where there are meals targeting children with little toys that will forever clog up the back seats of minivans and fill random nooks in the kid’s bedroom. These foods are more substantial and more appetizing for dad than baby food is and that is where the toddler 10 creeps up on you.
Dads need to be willing to throw food away and lose the temptation to treat baby’s plate as an extension of his own. It starts with stealing a few fries. Or the kid ditches a nugget or two to play on the slide. Little stomachs and playtime distractions become silent enablers to dad. He justifies it with a “we don’t want that fry to go to waste” mentality. Or “that nugget is getting cold and the kid won’t eat it then.”
This can be especially troublesome when the short person is in between growth spurts and suddenly has no appetite. The kid that ate half a cow last week suddenly is full on two grapes. The solution is to let it go to waste. Chasing around the little ankle biters doesn’t burn enough calories to cover the additional food volume. At home, keep it as leftovers and heat it later. That saves both your pocketbook and your waistline.
Ultimately, being a dad is fun and one of the benefits is plate privileges and priority to the bag fries, but that power must be wielded wisely and with restraint. It is difficult to get around when you are round. This can, however, be a good time to teach the kid about healthy eating habits. Good luck and good dining.