Helping Baby Transition to Toddler: Puff, the Magic Snack

Gabe is changing, from my little baby to a big boy, one Puff at a time, and it’s driving me crazy.

First, Gabe’s hair changed, from the soft brown of birth to the platinum blond of a toddler. Then came the babbling, non-stop chatter of a little man finding his voice. But then, his perfect gummy smile gave way to the pearly whites of a toddler ready to eat food and leave Daddy and Papa in the dust. Then, as if to break the final pieces of my baby-clinging-heart, he reached his growing paw out towards the table, grabbed a Puff, and slowly brought it to his mouth, dissolving and swallowing any hope I had of his ability to remain a baby forever.

I’m a storyteller, of course, and I have been so lucky to have my husband Dom and our son Gabe, my constant muses. I also have a husband who seems completely and totally willing to allow our son to grow up at his own pace.  Dom’s the first to recognize that it’s time for the next size in a diaper, he’s the first to retire an outfit from Gabe’s clothing rotation, and he’s the first to introduce new foods into Gabe’s diet. I’m the one sitting in the rocking chair in the nursery like an insane person muttering “My baby” into the darkness.

So when Dom came home from Babies ‘R Us with Gerber Puffs, I told him he should get comfortable sleeping in the car for the night. His charm won me over, however, and I agreed to give these things a go. Essentially, they’re little whole grain snacks for older babies to pick up and chomp on. And if there are no teeth, it works out as well, because those little snacks melt in your baby’s mouth after a few seconds, so there’s almost no reason to worry at all.

Unless you’re me. In which case your fear of choking cripples you every time your baby is either awake, or sleeping, or moving. So those first few Puffs, my hands were white-knuckled on the dining room table, looking at the wall in the opposite direction of Gabe until it was over. When we didn’t need to call the morgue, I found that Gabe actually really liked them. The taste, the consistency, and the satisfaction of being able to give himself all conspired on his face in a way that was cute, and new. And for me, I realized that we’d moved into a new phase of his growth.

He isn’t tiny, but he’s not big yet either. And when he’s getting cranky, his ability to be in control of something as simple as feeding himself a snack, it comforts him. He isn’t eating his feelings like his Daddy yet, but that’s what being a teenager is for.

For now, I get to watch as my little baby gets a little bigger, a little stronger, and a little more self-sufficient every day. Whether I like it or not. Thanks Gerber.

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We've published 1,200 stories on Gays With Kids, many of which were written to help gay men become dads and to help gay dads navigate fatherhood. Within the pages of our website, you'll find inspiring and even heroic stories involving families created through adoption and foster care, surrogacy, co-parenting and heterosexual relationships. Throughout each of these stories are two common themes: the incredible loving bond between dad and child, and the realization that even those who share similar paths to fatherhood encounter experiences that make their journeys uniquely their own.

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Dr. Antwon Chavis is a general pediatrician practicing in Portland, Oregon. Antwon has a wide array of interests, such as adolescent medicine, mental health, and working with children and adolescents with behavioral or developmental issues. He and his partner, Nate, are proud fathers of two cats, Doc and Blerg.
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