Feeding the Baby

When Kick was about 10 months old, we were out with her at restaurant. She was fussing, and I got out one of these things to feed her. She ate, shoved it away, fussed some more, and ate again, and I noticed an elderly lady at the next table giving us the side-eye.

I know my kid is loud. I’m sorry. If she doesn’t shut up in a second I’ll take her outside for a walk around the scenic, diesel-stinking parking lot. I promise you I’ve got this.

Eventually Kick settled down and noshed, and after a few minutes the lady came over to the table and said, “Can I ask you a question?”

I braced myself and nodded.

“I had my children 60 years ago,” she said. “What are you feeding her?”

Turns out she’d never seen a pouch of baby food — portable, no mess, baby can suck the stuff right out — before and was curious. We chatted for a while about what babies ate then and now, and she looked at the ingredients: organic this, kale that, quinoa all over the place.

I thought of that instance when this came up last week: 

One bill directs the state workforce agency to drug test some layoff victims applying for unemployment insurance. Another bill calls for a separate agency to implement drug screening for a variety of income support programs, including the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And the third bill restricts two-thirds of SNAP purchases to “healthy” foods, while also banning the purchase of “crab, lobster, shrimp, or any other shellfish.”

These are some rules that are already in place, for example, with regard to bread [pdf link which is horrifying]:  

NOT ALLOWED:

  • Any package not equal to 16 oz
  • Healthy Life 100% whole wheat (high fiber)
  • Bagel bread, bagels, pita bread
  • Muffins, English Muffins
  • Frozen dough, frozen bread and rolls
  • Sugar-free or with Splenda, double fiber,with flaxseed, or gluten-free
  • Organic

With regard to cheese:

ALLOWED:

• Displayed in the dairy case • 16 ounce package only
• Reduced fat is allowed

Blocks:

  • American
  • Brick
  • Cheddar (mild or medium only)
  • Colby

NOT ALLOWED:

  • Sharp or extra sharp cheddar, swiss, fresh mozzarella
  • Shredded, sliced (except American), crumbles, cubes, sticks, and other shapes
  • Cheese foods, spreads, products
  • Specialty, goat cheese, smoked, herbed, flavored, cheese from deli case, imported, organic
  • Reduced sodium, reduced cholesterol, lactose-free
  • Kosher (unless printed on check)

With regard to baby food, and this is where I lost the plot:

NOT ALLOWED:

• Any container not equal to 4 oz • Organic
• Squeeze pouches
• Added cereal, granola, or yogurt • Meat or poultry, rice or pasta(for example, dinner, casserole, soup or stew)

• Casseroles, creamed vegetables
• Desserts (for example, juice & fruit blends, pudding, or cobbler)

Because do you have any idea what it’s like to feed a baby?

I’m not a food Nazi with regard to the kid. I feed her organic food because on average it’s just as easy as non-organic, because I’m lucky enough to live in a place with access to food like that, that isn’t that much more expensive than other kinds of food. (Kick eats plenty of french fries and loves mac and cheese. This is my kid. There will never be a time when she turns her nose up at a potato chip.) She gets the food pouches just to ensure she’s getting regular fruit and vegetables — it’s a guarantee, as opposed to the general crapshoot that is getting a toddler to eat regular-sized-human food.

While I was learning to feed her solids, she would inhale something one day, then refuse to eat it the next. It was infuriating. I would go out and buy half a dozen jars of some turkey flavored thing because “ooh, she loves it” only to open it up and have her throw it at me. She loved oatmeal, each and every single day, oatmeal mixed with applesauce, until one day she decided she was never eating that shit again. (I refuse to have toddler food battles. That way madness lies. You get in a war of wills with a 15-month-old, you deserve the shellacking you’re going to take.)

So we wound up with lots of half-open jars. Luckily Bucky ate baby food. Until we discovered the pouches, we were playing a percentage game, figuring that if we got more food, on a daily basis, IN THE BABY than we did ON THE BABY, she would grow and her brain would develop and it would all be okay. Sometimes she ate 2 ounces, sometimes she wanted more. I stopped calculating how much all the baby food cost because it made me want to do things like wrap her up in a towel and syringe the stuff into her.

“I’ve force-fed Claire,” I said to her once, when she was being particularly reluctant to take sustenance. “You’d be a piece of cake compared to her.”

This is a kid without any known food allergies. Without any major disorders or diseases we have discovered. She is not lactose intolerant or reactant to gluten or dyes, and her likes and dislikes are ordinary. AND IT WAS STILL A COLOSSAL PAIN IN THE BALLS TO GET FOOD INTO HER.

So imagine, if you will, my coming home from one of my two jobs, and not only having to grocery shop in 6 minutes because her sitter leaves in 10, but to do the complicated math that says, “this but not that, and only this much, of this color, from this place.”

Imagine my having to contend with buying specific sizes of food that pretty much guarantee I would be wasting some of it if not most of it since most baby food jars/packages tell you the baby has to eat it RIGHT NOW OR IT WILL GROW SALMONELLA AND THE BABY WILL DIE. Imagine my taking my $200 or so a month, and blowing half of it on stuff I knew she would probably not eat, even if I couldn’t calculate particularly which foods those were at the moment.

Imagine my discovering something she WOULD eat, which some fucking busybody asshole in the legislature has decided she cannot have, because I don’t feel bad enough about myself that day apparently.

How in the CHRIST.

There are a number of unanswered questions in these bills, which are all over the country — no spending on this, because it makes us feel virtuous to say so, and no spending on that, because we would blow cash on it if we were poor and you can’t be anything like us or the earth will cave in — the most pressing of which is, why the fuck are we bothering?

Do we think parents just aren’t bugged enough about the fact that they can’t feed their babies without help? Do we genuinely think that? Because I know the imaginary welfare queens are just out buying bling with all their government checks, and the imaginary pimps are filling their grocery carts with soda and steak and charging it back to You, Mr. Hard-Working Taxpayer, but I know of no actual parent who rejoices in the need to navigate benefits to keep his child from starving.

And making those benefits harder to navigate — my local grocery store has just started putting labels right on the shelves as to what is allowed and what is not, to save people embarrassment at the checkout line — does not feed those kids. It doesn’t employ their parents or even in the cases where their parents are irresponsible fucksticks, it doesn’t teach their parents anything. It just makes the people who want to feed their babies work harder to do something that shouldn’t be hard to do at all.

The woman who approached me in the restaurant smiled at my happy, fed baby and her pouch of food. “I wish we’d had those when I had kids,” she said.

A.

19 thoughts on “Feeding the Baby

  1. I would enjoy meeting any nutritionist that consulted on the list of allowed foods for babies and ask if they have ever actually fed a baby. And what do people do when recalls further limit the choices they have? http://www.phillyvoice.com/beech-nut-baby-food-recalled/

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  2. filkertom says:

    The very definition of ” the devil is in the details”. The need for these jerks to be moral scolds, to feel superior to those they’re supposed to be trying to represent and even help, is insulting and offensive.

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  3. The perfect answer is WIC checks good at any regular supermarket to cover nutrition for kids under school age and nursing or pregnant mothers if they qualify for Medicaid/insurance premium support under the ACA in the same proportion that they receive support for health insurance. Those checks should specifically include age-appropriate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc that have been shown to improve health quality. Call it a cost-cutting measure for Medicaid. Or a cost-cutting measure for special education budgets. Or a cost-cutting measure for prisons…..Feeding children healthy food is essential to giving them a good start in life.

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    • jenroses says:

      When K was a baby, we had WIC. Acres of milk, cheese, peanut butter, eggs. I was vegetarian at the time so our main protein other than those was soy. Which she reacted to the first time out. And then eggs. And then dairy. And then peanuts, by which time I”d given up WIC not because we didn’t still qualify, but because it was impossible to actually eat the provided food.

      I think babyfood is kind of a racket anyway–purees are gross and pretty much unnecessary and it took me THREE babies to stop bothering with them, and guess what… the child who did not have any food pulverized to a fine paste, who ate pretty much whatever he could swipe from my plate as early as he could swipe it… is the one with the least food issues of the three. He never once had infant cereal. Only thing we ever use it for is finger paints anyway. Never had anything out of a jar. I offered him one of those pouches and he spit it out and when I tasted it, it was disgusting and looked like it had gone bad even though it was newly opened. We never tried one again. I think his first puree was baba ganouj or hummus.

      But all of that is beside the point. The whole concept ends up being racist, classist and utterly devoid of functionality. All that money that will be wasted on compliance could better be spent, I don’t know… feeding people?

      As my sister says, “We could do so many things to help people who are struggling to find work in an increasingly automated world. Like a guaranteed minimum income. Safe housing. But no. Ban ketchup. That’ll help.”

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  4. Dan says:

    I understand the need for SOME regulation and limitations… but the bullshit that we “poor” folk have to deal with just to make use of these government “assistance” programs is unreal. I have been in situations where I qualified for “help” but didn’t even apply for it based on the simple reasoning that I’d rather short myself, and feed my children what they’d actually eat, than deal with the red tape and hassles involved in finding the things I was “allowed” to buy, and would have to fight tooth and nail to actually get into the child… Some fights are important to life… Some just aren’t worth it.

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  5. Peggy Dee says:

    It kills me that these highly educated, highly motivated, prima Donna’ s that can’t figure out how to cook without freezer or a microwave, to actually prepare a decent healthy meal for their children think they deserve high tech, astronaut tested, suck the food from a tube, prepared food for their welfare babies.

    I’m not dissing poor mothers, I spent 20 years dirt ass poor when Nick and Roxy were little. I got no help form the government and I By God made do, did with out and cooked for my kids NO MATTER HOW YOUNG OR PICKY THEY WERE.

    The Government is not required to bow to the particular eating habits of every picky ass undisciplined, uncontrollable child of entitled mother too lazy to spend 30 minutes out her busy day to prepare adequate nourishment for her child.

    There are hundreds of thousands of children who all have to be fed off the money collected by the state, so if the State treats your child so deplorably. Get off your lazy ass and get a better paying job instead of blogging all day, so your little Angel doesn’t have to be marginalized by the resrictions of sucking at the government teat, if it’s such an inferior way of life and all you can do is bitch about how terribly you are being treated instead of showing a little gratitude for what MY MONEY is providing for your child.

    YOU WANT MY TAX MONEY…SHOW SOME GRATITUDE BITCH.
    I’m 61 years old, my 37 year old partially did able Vet and his 2 children live with me. My in tire retirement fund went to legal fees trying to terminate the kid’s mother’s legal rights. Now I run my Stained Glass company from my home so I can be there to pick them up from school, cook their meals do their home work and get them to bed on time. We get no Government aid or foodstamps because I own my house.

    BOTH my kids need groceries, shoes, and Gabe needs a new materess. So why don’t YOU bitch a little more about how hard you have it.

    I ‘d much rather be spending the money you don’t appreciate on my own babies.

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    • I was going to comment on the above post, something to the effect that conservatives really don’t want to help poor people at all, because they’re obsessed with said people taking what they view as THEIR money (right out of their pocket, apparently), and thus they throw roadblocks into social safety net programs in a poorly-disguised attempt to chase poor people away from them altogether…when I happened to page down and your comment just says it all.

      Jeez, lady. Were you asleep when the Lord was handing out empathy or something?

      For your information, when the government takes your tax money…it’s not YOUR freaking money, not anymore. It belongs to the government, and they can redistribute it however the law specifies. Otherwise, you know what? I’d insist that NONE of my tax money go to the Department of Homeland Security, or the enforcement of the Patriot Act, or the drone program, or ANY foreign wars. I’d direct ALL of my tax money right into SNAP, and TANF, and all those other social programs you so despise. Because I know that even seven years after the 2008 financial disaster, there are still people in this country who need the help.

      Unfortunately, I don’t get to direct where my tax money goes, and neither do you. If it goes to programs you and I don’t like…well, suck it up, buttercup.

      Furthermore, you don’t know squat about people on SNAP or TANF, and you have NO BUSINESS intruding into their lives. Just because YOU did blah blah blah while you were dirt ass poor blah blah blah fart doesn’t mean everyone can.

      “You want my tax money…show some gratitude bitch”? Sorry, no. If people quality for programs, they get them whether they show “gratitude” or not. But as far as I’m concerned, you can take your rotten, chip-on-your-shoulder attitude and, as the British say, sod right off.

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    • Ravan Asteris says:

      Fuck you, you arrogant hag. You are so self righteous and unknowing that you didn’t even read through the article. You are so illiterate that you didn’t comprehend that the person writing this *isn’t* on benefits, only imagining what it would be like to be micromanaged by the likes of judgmental scum like you.

      You are such a sack of shit that you assume that you *know* how “lazy” people who work two jobs and don’t even have a stove or freezer are. You are so fucking lazy yourself that you bitch about people who get benefits in one paragraph, then whiiiine about how hard you have it the next.

      Did you know, or did your son tell you, that most enlisted military families qualify for food stamps because they make so little? Do they not “deserve” your tax money too? Why didn’t he “get a better paying job”? Or is your hypocrisy that deep?

      You are 61, and your fucking worthless children and grandchildren that you can’t really afford still live with you. You pretend to run an artsy little “company” from your own home, so you can be a helicopter grandmother. If you actually had a job you wouldn’t be poor!

      You don’t have enough money? Boo hoo! Go out and get a real job or two and teach your brats some independence instead of whining about taxes and people who can’t work, or who are the working poor.

      I’d love to stay in my house and work at home on my artsy little cottage business, but that doesn’t pay the fucking bills. So I work, even though disabled by hemiparesis, 40 plus hours a week, but my family doesn’t lack groceries, shoes or a new mattress. I do my craft business in my spare time. Unlike you I don’t whine about it – I’m proud that I can support my family even though I have a disability.

      Get a real job, you lazy bitch, quit pretending to be an “entrepreneur” making cottage crafts crap. Do your hobby business on the side, and quit dragging people who aren’t so fucking arrogant and pretentious as you are.

      I pay my taxes without whining about paying for the poor to eat, have clothes and housing. I am offended by the massive corporate welfare that shitheads like you seem to think is just fiiine.

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    • You sound very tired and angry. I understand. But the question you should be asking is where is the government you have been supporting all of your life now that you need them? Instead of looking to others in need and vilifying them, put that energy towards demanding more for yourself and your son. A baby that gets organic kale and corn baby food from a pouch is not the reason you are not getting the support you seem to need.

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    • spork_incident says:

      You seem nice.

      SHOW SOME GRATITUDE BITCH

      The conservative mindset in four words.

      .

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    • jenroses says:

      Just curious how much of a deduction you take for your mortgage. Or if you got a credit for health insurance on your taxes. Did you take any deductions at all? Because I was shocked at how much we spent on taxes this past year… until I looked at how large our deductions were, and our deductions actually exceeded my maximum annual income as a single mother. So tell me…. if we had well more than $1000 for every month of the year last year in tax deductions, compared to about $1000 worth of total benefits I got between food stamps, child care assistance, medical and welfare payments when my eldest was tiny and I was a single mom, who got more “government assistance?” Yes, we put money in, but proportionally, I actually paid more taxes when my kid was 7 and I had very few “benefits”.

      And yes, we’re supporting currently six people in our household plus a seventh in college, but even so, I don’t feel like that entitles me to bitch about what someone else puts in their mouth.

      My family raised me to think that examining other people’s grocery baskets or asking how they were paying for them was the height of bad manners.

      We sent out something like 25-30 grand in taxes of one type or another last year. I’m way ballparking and probably low on that because I don’t have the property tax figures at hand right now. And I consider that the price I pay for living in a society where most of the people are educated, where people who fall on hard times don’t starve, where people can get health care when they need it. If it took sending out more money for there to be better education and better healthcare and more food for the poor, I’d pay it gladly, as it is I help house people who would otherwise not be able to find good housing, I help buy food for people who are struggling to feed their families, and if I want them to eat good, healthy food, I put money into our co-op, which gives people ORGANIC produce. When I helped the co-op put food boxes together for Thanksgiving, some people questioned why the boxes were so “nice”, and I said, “We put in what we wanted to contribute, the kind of food we want to eat, and we were able to help every family who asked. Why the heck shouldn’t a poor family have a nice meal? Why shouldn’t they be able to celebrate a holiday with their families? I WANT them to do that. The more joy people have, the more support, the less financial stress, the less depression, illness and barriers to work they have. THe less domestic violence they have. The less my car is broken into. The less my house is broken into. The less I worry about my adult kids being out at night.

      People have this idea that because something is one way “right now” that it will always be that way and that people want it that way. I got off of welfare as fast as I reasonably could without starving my kid or leaving us homeless. Because being on welfare SUCKS. I broke my ankle not long ago and had this feeling like “I can’t do anything right now. I really hate not doing anything” and it called back all those messages of “you aren’t doing anything, you must be lazy.” But you know what? I stopped using my crutches as fast as I could. I started doing things as fast as I could, but mindful of overdoing, because a relapse would be worse than the original injury.

      MOST people drop the crutches as fast as they are able. And they are less likely to “re-injure” themselves if they have enough support to really heal, to really get back on their feet financially. Quit assuming that welfare=lazy. Quit assuming that people want to be poor. Quit making something already demoralizing even more demoralizing.

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    • Kevin Hayden says:

      Another product of Georgia’s educational system who can’t spell is advising strangers how to raise their kids, making assumptions about the author of this blog post who she knows nothing about, instead of responding to the important points that were made. How special.

      And via her business website, everyone who read her comment knows exactly where she lives and her phone number. That sure seems a bit unwise.

      Then again, it’s pretty obvious that her online missives are dedicated to all the important things in the world that poor people could learn from.

      Like this: https://www.facebook.com/rainnwilson/posts/10153234393403555

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    • mothra says:

      I was fixin’ to get all mad at Peggy Dee until I got to the “in tire” part. Then I knew this was a clever satire. Well done, sir. Or lady. Well done indeed.

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  6. Get off your lazy ass and get a better paying job instead of blogging all day, so your little Angel doesn’t have to be marginalized by the resrictions of sucking at the government teat, if it’s such an inferior way of life and all you can do is bitch about how terribly you are being treated instead of showing a little gratitude for what MY MONEY is providing for your child.

    YOU WANT MY TAX MONEY…SHOW SOME GRATITUDE BITCH.

    You must have missed the part about:

    So imagine, if you will, my coming home from one of my two jobs …

    Neither of which involves running this blog. I wish this paid enough to call it a job. I don’t need any help right now, thank God. I’m eating fine tonight and so is my family.

    The entire point of this post was that I have no business telling other people what to eat.

    Apparently that’s your job!

    My in tire retirement fund went to legal fees trying to terminate the kid’s mother’s legal rights. Now I run my Stained Glass company from my home so I can be there to pick them up from school, cook their meals do their home work and get them to bed on time. We get no Government aid or foodstamps because I own my house.

    Sweetheart. Nobody is asking you to justify your existence and yet here you come full of stories about all the adversity you’ve overcome and all the trials you’ve faced and how you alone, with your own strength, have come through it all. Good for you. Literally no one gives a shit here, but good for you.

    If we give you a medal for Winning Suffering, can we all get back to work figuring out how to make others suffer less? Because that seems to be your hangup, the lack of attention paid to you you you. If we all agree that you are the bestest, maybe you will feel better, relax, and somebody else can buy whole wheat bread and sweet potatoes without you crawling up their colon.

    It’s so sad. It’s so needy. Just stop it, please. Take whatever solace you need from telling us all how hard you’re working, and go read a book, or take a nap, or learn to crochet. I can teach you, if you want to learn how to crochet. You can make an afghan and feel good and stop auditing the grocery carts of strangers at the store. That’s the whole point of this. Get there. I know you can.

    A.

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  7. Rachel Holmen says:

    I find food pouches quite useful for myself; I can leave them in the car for days without refrigeration; I can bring them onboard airlines without any trouble; mostly the food is low sugar and salt-free.

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  8. SG says:

    “SHOW SOME GRATITUDE BITCH” really needs to be a(n) (ironic) tag for any post about kicking people when they’re down.

    But what exactly is a “GRATITUDE BITCH,” and what am I supposed to show said “BITCH?”

    Also, Ms. A, I was unaware that you apparently do not pay taxes. Sweet!

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    • SG says:

      Having said that, the post in question just made me sad, not angry…that kind of free-floating hostility must be a miserable burden.

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  9. devonlabelle says:

    Why shouldn’t SNAP funds be used for Seafood? Why don’t we allow people to have money to feed their kids the way they want? It is absolutely rediculous to tell someone on government assistance that they can’t buy healthy food for their family. Our governing bodies are not helping people they are harming people.

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  10. andynwagu says:

    It is some how ridiculous to tell someone on govt assistance that they can’t buy healthy food for their families.

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