10 Facts on Feeding Young Kids

Remember when food was that stuff you consumed when you were hungry? Me neither. Somehow parenting changes that. Gone are the days of cooking one meal that everyone will eat and consuming food that is actually warm….

Boy Making Peanut Butter Sandwich

1. Everything is stage. It will pass. Just like that penny your baby ingested.

2. On long trips, let your children eat whatever processed crap you can get your hands on.

3. If you count ketchup as a fruit or vegetable, it’s likely your child is eating a balanced diet.

4. Never tell your child that the ice cream truck sells ice cream. Tell them it sells vegetables.

5. If it’s 6 PM and you have not made supper, declare it “Backwards Day” and serve breakfast for dinner. Limit this to 6x per week.

6. Keep an emergency vegetable tray in the fridge. If other parents visit your home, pull it out and appear responsible.

7. Eating your child’s Halloween candy is akin to martyrdom: it saves your kids the pain and humiliation of cavities.

8. Look for opportunities to practice your child’s literacy skills. Buying food with unrecognizable ingredients aids this educational pursuit.

9. Teaching toddlers to smuggle candy into movie theatres is the first step towards teaching them to become financially independent.

10. Realizing that “meal” stands for “Mommy Eats, Always Last” will help you become accustomed to choking down cold food.

About the writer

Leanne Shirtliffe, of IronicMom.com, is the author of DON'T LICK THE MINIVAN: Things I Never Thought I'd Say to My Kids. She’s also the mother of tween twins, a phrase that’s hard to say after two glasses of wine. When she’s not wasting brain cells tweeting @LShirtliffe, she teaches teens who are slightly less hormonal than she is. She lives in Calgary because she likes complaining about the weather.

From Around the Web


Tricia 3 months ago

#4, ice cream truck: we told our kids that when the truck was playing the ice cream truck song it meant that they were all out of ice cream! This bought us a few years.
I also told them that the candy at the grocery store checkout line wasn’t for kids, it’s dog treats!

TF 7 months ago

I hear number 10 loud and clear,but she forgot that last means finishing the kids leftovers lol

Hillary 11 months ago

Just because they asked for chicken 2 hours ago, doesn’t mean that 2 hours wasn’t ample time to decide that chicken is actually gross.

Heather Davidson 11 months ago

Love that and I’m stealing it :-)

Heather Davidson 11 months ago

#5 is breakner and a beloved back up plan and #6 is genius.

Marta Milea 11 months ago

lol, I love #10 – so true

Nicole Slaughter 11 months ago

#10 in my house, every darn TIME!!!

Sarah Mazur 11 months ago

This isn’t sarcasm. It’s real life!

Katie Barnes Webb 11 months ago

The Halloween candy one. LOL

Stephanie Rogers 11 months ago

#9, exactly! LOL And Ice cream truck wants to come before each meal. WHY?

Jennifer Denson Black 11 months ago

This article is absolutely stupid!

Sallie Lewis Fulmer 11 months ago

I am to tired to read right now! But I am def reading this!

Rossella Frascoli 11 months ago

Of course ketchup counts as vegetable… exactly like nutella counts as fruit!!! :-)

Viviane Lopes MaresGuia Stirling 11 months ago

hahahahahahha me and my husband always eat the ice cream once they’ve gone to bed, too many times the little monsters ate the ice cream while we slept in the morning, not anymore little kids, not anymore

Marian Randall 11 months ago

Love this!

Jessica Taney 11 months ago

Same here! As I’m cutting it off their pb&j sandwich, then I consider it my lunch. Lol

Lindsey Sylvester 11 months ago

It sounds like a lot of people are okay with feeding their kids unhealthy meals on a regular basis. I get the occasional Mac n cheese but seriously many of these posts talk about the most unhealthy foods. It’s disheartening as a full time working mother I try to feed my kid organic, healthy options and give her choices if she’s not into what I made. I’d rather her be healthy and have me struggle to find something she’ll eat rather than eating food laced with dyes and chemicals.

Alexandra Palka 11 months ago


Stephanie Pucci 11 months ago

And each kid gets a “pass” on one meal, but one meal only. I will make them something separate for that meal. If they don’t at least attempt to eat whatever I give them, they go to bed, so I can usually shove at least half a meal in them before I give up

Stephanie Pucci 11 months ago

I’ve learned to eat while finishing dinner/dishing up the kids. Then I can eat something hot. Sometimes I sit down with a plate too, just for fun since I don’t usually get to finish it, I just want the kids to see me “finishing” my food lol

Kimberley Smith 11 months ago

A friend of mine tells her child that if the ice cream truck is playing music it means they’re out of icecream! 😉

mowammee 11 months ago

Just beware the pennies. The newer ones contain zinc which when mixed with the stomach acids causes holes to form in the stomach/intestines which lead to death.

Christopher And-Kim Parsons 11 months ago

best comment ever….still laughing…

Shannon Doran 11 months ago

Lol #3

Karen Jean 11 months ago


Jenifer Mitchell 11 months ago

I was beginning to think I was the only one!!!

Adrian Pocsi Skinner 11 months ago

That was my mom’s rule and mine.. As kids get older if they can make it they can eat it.

Fran Munster 11 months ago

Definitely #10!!

Melissa Iaconelli 11 months ago

Love #10!

Alison Huitt Vega 11 months ago

Some of the reply that other mom’s write are kinda funny.

Kelly Jordan 11 months ago

Thanks Al!!! She has always been in the 90+ percentile. I didnt know what the ice cream truck was for YEARS!!

Alison Soltau 11 months ago

At least the dogs are getting well fed. They sit like sphinx under my 20-month-old’s high chair waiting for the inevitable plate throwing. Before he does that he psychs them out a few times by pretending to drop stuff and pulling it away at the last minute.

Sarah Almeida 11 months ago

Lol #9

LOri Dumm 11 months ago


Anne Marie Lynne Mattockz 11 months ago

Lol number 3 was my house for 2 freaking years!!!

Alison Huitt Vega 11 months ago

Made me think of you Kelly. Not that’s it’s going to help with Ky.

Maria Schumacher 11 months ago

#5 last week, #10 at every meal!

Jamie Irwin 11 months ago

I’m all for #9. Dollar store run he we come!

Magalie Franco 11 months ago

#1 to #10

Jamie Riccio 11 months ago

Ah, so true…

Susan Bussey Stowe 11 months ago

Uber proficient in sarcasm…criteria for profession :)

Whitney Prieto 11 months ago

Number 10 has been me the last couple dinner times. Lol

Jennifer A. Koschnick 11 months ago

Number 10 so true

Shaleshni Chambers 11 months ago

Number 10

Shailyn Volk 11 months ago

Hilarious ha

Danielle Kinahan Christie 11 months ago

Hahaha so true!

Summer Ford 11 months ago

The pennies don’t always come out…sometimes they have to be surgically removed…just an fyi lol

Lisa Briscoe 11 months ago

I’m so looking forward to #7 in a few weeks!!

Nabila Habib 11 months ago

Totally practice number seven! :-)

Jenny Gray Hough 11 months ago

#9 makes perfect sense to me.

Mel Frausto 11 months ago

You have never experienced motherhood until you have hidden a chocolate bar on your jewelry box ^^

Ginny Schultz Vandenburg 11 months ago

Ha! I don’t even get a hot meal when we go out to eat. By the time I have the kids’ meals cut up, ketchupped, offending pickles removed from plates, etc., my own meal is lukewarm at best. Honestly I’m so used to it now that I genuinely don’t care anymore.

Heather 11 months ago

LOVE that the comments are all Cheering! Maybe the “don’t click unless” is actually working here and keeping all of the NOT Scary Mommy Moms away!

Sarah Stovin-Menchaca 11 months ago

Love it! Especially #9. Who can afford movie tickets AND candy?!

Denise 11 months ago

Number six is awesome! How did I never think of this.

Jessica Harlow 11 months ago

Here’s my tip. Eat your food before you call everyone to the dinner table. That way you get to eat hot/warm food and can still concentrate on force feeding your picky eaters.

Brandie Kennedy 11 months ago

Preston swallowed a quarter at age five…and when the radiologist asked him to be still so he could take a picture of his tummy Preston smiled and said “cheese!” Dinner that night was a a restaurant called Baskin Robbins!

Angela Roster 11 months ago

Breakfast for dinner is the best! I almost served cereal tonight when my son asked to eat something from home (guess we’ve been having takeout too much), but instead I suggested tater tots and string cheese. He said tater tots and milk. So we did that.

Brandie Kennedy 11 months ago

OMG..I could add so many things to this list!

Amy Snipes Jennings 11 months ago

My four year old swallowed a dime not long ago. He came downstairs after his nap and told me so matter of factly, like it must happen to people every day. Kids are a hoot, let me tell ya.

Diane Burke Ptacin 11 months ago

Sarcasm? This is all gospel truth!

Maeve Rhuad 11 months ago

I’m really lucky my son is a great eater. My step son’s I want to strangle. And, I always eat a hot meal. I serve everyone first. Their food gets cold while they wait for me. Ha!

Lindsey Walters Tucker 11 months ago

Love #9. And yes we have already done it:)

Krystyna Braden 11 months ago

And it’s ok if they will only eat their food after it’s fallen on the floor or into the couch. Immune system building.

My Dysfunctional Life 11 months ago

I’ve eaten more bread crust than any human should ever consume.

Amy Brown 11 months ago

#10 sook true! And #7 is one of the reasons to take my 21 month old trick or treating!

Beth Laf 11 months ago

#10 yes yes yes

Bernadette Milone Palmese 11 months ago

10!!!! OMG 10!!!

Desiree DeLooze 11 months ago

#10? That’s me. I can’t even sit through dinner. Somebody always needs something.

Trish Mayhugh 11 months ago

My kids are all fully grown. One even has kids of his own. We NEVER had food fights. If they didn’t like what we were serving, there was always PB@J or Raisin Bran. As they will in the future all have kids of their own, I know it will pass along. NO PROBLEM!

Tabi Mott 11 months ago

Our ice cream truck plays Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.
It’s really odd for summer

Tracy M. 11 months ago

Love this!

I told my daughter that the ice cream truck only plays music when they’re OUT of ice cream. I also told her that they didn’t sell the cereals she saw on TV in the grocery stores here in NYC. She actually bought it until she was about four and I made the mistake of taking her down the cereal aisle.

Rebecca Pletka 11 months ago

#10 I threw my son’s bday party yesterday and my food had been sitting awhile because of all the running around I had been doing and when I started eating some again my cousin asked, “you’re going to eat that now?” – umm, yea? Unless there’s a bug in it. Lol

Hannah Petersen-Barton 11 months ago

I told my kids that the ice cream truck is a truck that drives around and plays music for people to enjoy outside in hot days.

Nancy McKay 11 months ago

Oh this is great!

Caroline Pagé 11 months ago

Lol! Love the ice cream truck strategy!

Wendy O’Connell Bevers 11 months ago

Wait, what? You mean to tell me that other parents lunch is not served at 2:00 in the afternoon, consisting of cold leftovers from an almost 1 year old?

Pamela Waling 11 months ago

I told my kids the ice cream trucks plays music when he’s sold out. Bwahahaa! I think they are slowly catching on. 😉

Caroline Miller 11 months ago

#9 has my name all over it haha

Amanda Brelage 11 months ago


Heather Stanford 11 months ago

Ha #9 :)

Elizabeth Stott-Sn 11 months ago

#5!!! Always my go too… Even when I am crazy broke.

Sara Stenberg 11 months ago

Pancakes for dinner again!

Elizabeth Williams Monahan 11 months ago

My kids think it’s the “medicine truck.” It’s worked for over 2 years. When they hear the music they go in the opposite direction.

Katherine Calicchia-Bertram 11 months ago

Nope, just attempt to feed my kids three times a day. I just ate for the first time today actually

Christi Monson 11 months ago

Addendum to #1: Sometimes that “phase” will last a year or more. If your pediatrician isn’t worried and you kid still has the energy to run around like a wild thing, chances are (s)he is getting plenty of nutrients.

Heather Beavers 11 months ago

Hahaha!!!! Love it :)

Heather Tallent-Weiford 11 months ago

Number 10. Definitely.

Stephanie Marot 11 months ago

I somehow manage to not eat cold (neither does my husband)

Dot Whited McCumsey 11 months ago

I’m soooo happy I don’t have to deal with #6. The few who visit are pretty much the mac n cheese for lunch kids who know where the pantry full of snacks is. And so are the moms.

Julie DeFrancesco Fletcher 11 months ago

Yes I see no sarcasm, just day to day living with a child! If they’ve eaten something, anything, you’ve won! Gluten free organic free range picked by virgins on a full blue moon be damned!!!

Melissa Kay Hampton 11 months ago

I called it “the music truck” for a long time…until my husband, unaware of my lie, actually took the kids to it to get ice cream! (You’re killing me, Smalls!)

Tammy Matte 11 months ago


Molly Al-Jawad 11 months ago

10. Every. Single time

Amy Andersen 11 months ago

4 6 & 9 lmao

Lisa Francesca Votto 11 months ago

My daughter believed the ice cream truck was a truck that played music for the neighborhood for a year until she realized what the kids were getting from it!

Sarah Lubcke Faridi 11 months ago

6,9, and 10

Jessica Elliott 11 months ago

The truck that passes our house is a “funny truck”, only the ones at other places sell fun stuff. Ours plays music to make kids happy.

Katherine Calicchia-Bertram 11 months ago

Three times a day this nightmare is my life. I love you for this.

Alexandra Melara Davies 11 months ago

Hey girls! Eggs and toast for dinner! Again.

Denise Wayne Krieger 11 months ago


Rebecca Lawhorn Huff 11 months ago

Lol! Isn’t ketchup a vegetable?

Kristin Randall 11 months ago


Marina Robbins 11 months ago

Yes! I concur #6!

Melissa Walters 11 months ago

Also, the ice cream truck only plays music when they are out of ice cream.

Melissa Munkers 11 months ago

Sarcasm? I read nothing sarcastic.

Danielle Matthews 11 months ago


Cheryl 2 years ago

My husband told me that when he was a kid his grandfather told him that the ice cream truck only played music when it was out of ice cream. He bought it for a while.

The Mean Mama 2 years ago

I eat while I cook, that way I always get hot food AND I can pick out the good stuff. (plus hungry mama = cranky mama)

Jenn Sparandeo 2 years ago

Well put! Unfortunately it doesn’t get much better once they hit their teens. My oldest daughter’s best friend is the pickiest eater I’ve ever met. She will only eat certain kinds of cereal, chips, potatoes in most forms and some pasta. And she covers everything, even mac and cheese, in ketchup. Gross!!!!

Roshni 2 years ago

Ha! I did a post about my picky eaters this week. But, I adopt those strategies as well….thanks for some new tips too!

CyndyNewsome 2 years ago

If someone else tells them what the Ice Cream truck really is, tell them the song only plays when it’s out of ice cream.
You HAVE to taste the Halloween candy before your kid to make sure it’s not poisoned.

janeen 2 years ago

it’s 8:18 and i just sat down to eat dinner… for the third time. the first, the puppy (sounded like a great idea at the time) peed all over the couch. the second time, my 18-month old woke up from me screaming at the dog. the only thing that would calm him down was a “pah” (lolli-pop), so a “pah” he got. in bed. at 8:00pm. hey, at least it was organic! and finally, mom eats, always last!

Nicole 2 years ago

Thank you! Feel relieved now! My life was filled with healthy, and constant weight management as a child; and I limit my son but not as restrictive. He eats crap and bad things but also eats all his fruits and veggies, and stuff. I let him be a kid and enjoy all the flavors of childhood too!!! lol

Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense 2 years ago

My 7-year-old just found out last year that the ice cream truck sells ice cream. We had him convinced that it was a “music truck.” You know, just a nice guy driving around playing music for free for the community. =)

NewMamaAt40 2 years ago

I had a mental picture of duct taping a box of Reese’s Pieces to my someday little boy’s back under his shirt. Then he’d bounce as all toddlers do and the jig would be up!

Candace 2 years ago

I love the veggie tray!

Jenelle 2 years ago

Mommy Eats, Always Last in this house. Drives. Me. Nuts!!!!! Even on the days Daddy makes dinner and is the instantaneous hero for creating hamburger helper (gag!), somehow Mommy is still the one choking down congealed cheese goop as she clears the dishes. And washes every fucking pot in the kitchen. (Isn’t Hamburger Helper toted to be a one-pot meal? Why can’t my husband grasp this concept????) At least he thinks he’s helping.

Maria Bellos Fisher of Hereditary Insanity 2 years ago

The emergency tray of veggies is my favorite! We used to brag about how our kids would eat anything, and it was true for a while — they do still eat vegetables — but my 5 1/2-year-old daughter has evolved, it seems. She doesn’t like onions or peppers; she avoids spicy foods, even though she loves tacos and chili; and she told us she’s now a vegetarian — the kind that doesn’t eat chicken, but does eat steak. It will pass. It better.

Jill 2 years ago

And cherry Popsicles count as a fruit, right? :)

Lindsay 2 years ago

so true!

J 2 years ago

Also, any word on when the “no eating vegetables phase” will be over? My 15 year old has been going through it for going on 16 years.

J A 2 years ago

Does bbq sauce also count as a vegetable? Because if so, we’re golden.

Jodi W 2 years ago

So true! mommy always eats last and its always cold….

Rachel 2 years ago

Yup! The ‘ol “checking your kids Halloween candy”! Gotta make sure it’s safe! …Especially the Mars Bars!

Meggan 2 years ago

My 3 year old subsists on a steady diet of of dairy, fruit, and carbs….it’s just a stage though, so no worries. 😉

Amanda 2 years ago

So true. I love hearing new moms complain about eating cold food. I tell them they will get used to it! And both my kids think it’s hilarious to lick/chew the shopping carts :-

Cass 2 years ago

Bread and noodles. Given the choice that is all my child would subsist on.

Laura 2 years ago

I’ve done #5. Breakfast for dinner is the best fallback.

Marie 2 years ago

I’ll have to remember the vegetable tray one, its a keeper for sure.

Patricia 2 years ago

Great post – wholeheartedly agree with junk food on road trips! Up until now, I thought I was the only one trying to prevent random licking of the minivan! Thank god we are not alone. (I’ve also asked them not to lick the handrail at the airport terminal. Some days I’m so grossed out, I can hardly keep my wine down).

Alison Bradley 2 years ago

#5 works even when the kids are grown!

Jennifer 2 years ago

My daughter thinks I’m the coolest mom ever when I sneak candy into the movies.

Michelle 2 years ago

Hilarious!!! And way too true lol #1, #6 & #9 are my favorite :)

Crissy W 2 years ago

Ha ha at least I am not the only one and yes ketchup counts 😉

Jamie 2 years ago

Kinda sounds like my dinner table although we have tears and crying! I just want them to eat!

Katie Lee 2 years ago

I need to print these rules out and pin them up at home in my kitchen!

Leslie Sansom 2 years ago

I agree with all of them except #1. My son has been going through the “I don’t eat anything” phase for 10 years! Everyone said he would grow out of it, and I am still waiting. He has a list of about 5 things he will eat.

Momchalant 2 years ago

Never thought about lying what the “ice cream” man in the truck sells.. genius idea.

Leslie Rayborn 2 years ago

#9 & 10 for sure! Loved this list.

catina 2 years ago

Love it! I don’t have to worry about #7, I live in Holland where there is no Halloween!

Ally 2 years ago

#3 hands down. If it weren’t for ketchup lately, my kid wouldn’t eat. Hilarious. Thank you for this morning laugh!

Sara 2 years ago

Hilarious!! My 5 yr old daughter likes to taste everything!!! Don’t lick the minivan!

Veronica 2 years ago

This is my life.

angmo 2 years ago

I just don’t get how babies and toddler’s survived the stone age you know like before ketchup and kraft dinner existed…it’s just baffling. A constant struggle everyday to get my kiddo to eat anything nutritious.

Alisha 2 years ago

My dd2.5 is in a picky eating stage. She likes peanut butter and jelly or Mac and cheese/grilled cheese. She only eats fresh raw fruits and veggies. At least she gets her food groups, even if she eats the same things everyday.

Amanda 2 years ago

LOL I’ve always gone by this list!!! 4,5 and 6 are hard ages to make do anything…I’ve found myself eating left over crust from a pb&j and half eaten bowls of mac and cheese…And I was happy, because I felt like that was a whole meal LOL.

Brooke Lewis 2 years ago

I seriously laughed out loud! :)

Angie H 2 years ago

LOL this is my life!! My toddler isn’t overly fussy, however my 9 year old is ridiculous! This made me laugh.

Arnebya 2 years ago

There may have been a time that I Googled “lycopene poisoning” because of the amount of ketchup my middle daughter ate.

Angie 2 years ago

Oh #10, how right you are!

Amy 2 years ago

Who knew I’d think the four major food groups were cheese, yogurt, grapes and cookies? *sigh* Thanks for this. :)

Sarah Davis 2 years ago

Ketchup! Bravo!

Ellen 2 years ago

Love. This. Also a favorite? A decorative sign I saw that reads: Tonight’s Menu – Eat it or Starve.

Emily 2 years ago

True story. Thanks for this!

Nicole 2 years ago

I request an edit on #3, please. Ketchup is a fruit AND a vegetable in our house. This OR nonsense would make it seem like my kid is malnourished or something 😛

Michelle C 2 years ago

LOVE the acronym for MEAL! Can’t wait to read the book!

Sharon 2 years ago

Love this post. These rules should be given to new moms by their ob or midwife. FOR REAL.

Evin 2 years ago

I’ve become something of a food bitch since my kids have mild allergies but this was hysterical and so, so true!!!

Kari Haugeto 2 years ago

Finally the truth about how to feed the kids on long road trips. So glad to know I’ve been doing it right. Now I’m off to buy more ketchup!

Nancy 2 years ago

The ‘what’s for dinner tonight’ question just got answered thanks to #5. Pancakes it is. Perfect.

Suzanne 2 years ago

I don’t have to worry about #6, my MIL thinks we’re horrible parents so she brings her own vegetables and fruit when she visits :/

Murphy Must Have Had Kids 2 years ago

*too (oops)

Shannon 2 years ago

#5 saves lives in my house!

Murphy Must Have Had Kids 2 years ago

I couldn’t survive without #5. You can change it up a bit too…sometimes pancakes, sometimes waffles, french toast, different ways of cooking the eggs. Just sneak a little fruit salad in there to and voila! 😉

Kim 2 years ago

Love #9 – glad my son is learning about being financially independent early! These definitely provided some early morning laughs in our house!!

Practical Mama 2 years ago

“Mommy eats, meals last” = MEAL. Love it.
As per #6, I don’t know what kind of grandparents you are talking about but I know mine are the other way around. They’ll feed kids all kinds of sweets and junk they can get their hands on – even if they have to sneak them in. They wouldn’t let me and my brother eat this much sweets when we were little. It still baffles me, what setting changes after being a grandparent.

Jody 2 years ago

#2,9 & 10 really hit home!

swirlgrrrl 2 years ago

akin to #6 – pack fresh fruit and/or veggie to a play date to pretend your kid will actually choose that over the secret goldfish and candy you packed to keep her quiet.

Jessica B. 2 years ago

#10 may have to be framed!

desi 2 years ago

Both my husband and I were laughing at this. Number 5 got the biggest laughs, however.

Ilikebeerandbabies.com 2 years ago

This. Was. Epic.

Tori 2 years ago

I love this and can relate. Love #10, so true.

TK 2 years ago

Yup, that’s how we all end up! Healthy eating is good, but sometimes it’s just so hard damn to follow!