From the moment my daughter was on solids I was determined she would be provided with a healthy, well balanced diet. While there were many mums out there giving their babies cakes, biscuits and chips I would only offer my baby fruit, veggies, meats, yoghurt, breads, cheese etc. Over time, I gradually introduced a bit of margarine and some of the dry biscuits. I sometimes wondered if I should even be doing this but still felt pretty good about the diet my daughter was receiving. Strangers, family and friends often tried to hand her a sweet biscuit, chocolate or lolly but I was very proud of myself for refusing the offers. My daughter never asked for any of those things, in fact she seemed completely uninterested in them, and I thought it was great she ate so well.

My ultimate goal was that she wouldn’t know about cake until she was two, but alas, at twenty two months of age I caved in. I didn’t make the grade. Today we went to the library for story time. Today was a special occasion at the library. A new parenting collection was being launched, complete with morning tea and a talk by a prominent children’s illustrator. Princess Toddler had a wonderful time listening to ‘Five Little Ducks’, copying the movements from the story read to her and making her own ‘baby in a bath.’ Then the librarian announced the Humpty Dumpty cake would be cut up for the kids.

Princess Toddler and I selected a few books to borrow and then headed for the front counter. I thought that as usual she was oblivious to the sugary foods on offer. But today was different. Today she said ‘cake,’ ‘cake.’ I ignored it at first. Then she said it again as one child beside her munched away on her tasty morsel. I said, ‘yes, cake’ and we borrowed the books. But on the third expression of ‘cake, cake’ I realized I had to make THE DECISION. Do I deprive her of the cake and make sugary foods a sought after forbidden fruit? Or do I give her some cake and get her taste buds craving sugary foods over healthier options?

Well, I decided on the first option. I went back inside, took a piece of cake, and guiltily handed it to her. I watched as she enjoyed scoffing the entire piece, icing and all. As a final attempt at redemption I then gave her a strawberry from the adults’ fruit platter. But it was cold comfort. It felt like my first real failure to be the parent I want to be. Have I caved in to societal pressure? Will my daughter crave sugary food from now on? Will she be demanding lollies at the supermarket checkout instead of asking for a piece of bread? Am I setting up for future poor eating habits so many of us follow today? Should I have handled it differently? All these thoughts run through my mind. But I’m hanging on to the hope that it was a good sign she asked for another strawberry, instead of more cake, as we left the library. I guess only time will tell now.

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