When your child refuses to eat, your parenting instincts go into overdrive. Suddenly, you have the urge to yell, “kailangan mong kumain!” On the other hand, it fills a parent’s heart with joy to see their little one happily munching away. The question then is, “Is there a secret to raise a child who is maganang kumain?”
TheTV host and mom Iya Villania may have found the secret for her adorable son Primo, who is now 1 and a half years old. Head to her Instagram account and you’ll find several photos and videos of Primo eating in his high chair or nibbling on a snack. Posts of the same kind can also be found on dad Drew Arellano’s page. Iya, who is also currently expecting, has dubbed the toddler as #PrimoThePandesalMonster on account of his love for the Pinoy bread.
Iya shared, however, that Primo wasn’t always as maganang kumain. In an interview during the Bambini Baby Cologne event held to introduce her and Primo as ambassadors of the product line last March 10, Iya told us, “I think there was a time that I felt he was picky but I think it was also just because I wasn't as familiar with his palette and his likes.” For example, Primo doesn’t like it when his food is too dry, said the mom.
Another secret? Iya shared that Primo is more likely to try something if mom is eating it. “When he sees me eating at the table, he'll come to me, sit on my lap, tapos makikikain siya sa’kin. So I have to make sure [the food] is something I would eat, because if it's on my plate he's going to want to eat it also,” she said. “If I don't want to eat [what’s on my plate], then I can’t blame [Primo] kung ayaw niya ding kainin.”
Iya also has tactics to keep Primo interested in eating during meals. “I have to be five steps ahead. Parang, ‘Ok, this is a potential distraction when he's eating. Please remove that from the table.’ Kasi the moment he gets distracted you might lose your chance of giving him a good feed or making him cooperate.”
The mom shared a funny story how Primo used to need a lot of reminders to pray before meals, which isn't the case anymore. “Minsan sa sobrang gutom na niya, [he’ll put his hands together] to pray agad! Natuwa ako kasi he got the routine of having to pray first before eating.”
Aside from hijacking mom’s plate, Primo loves to raid the Arellano household fridge and food cabinet for snacks. “Alam niyang pumunta sa pantry para maghanap ng biscuits. Alam niyang pumunta sa ref para maghanap ng prutas at ng gatas niya. He loves his fruits,” said Iya. Primo's current favorite: Kiat kiat (small mandarin orange).
And, the little boy's not “The Pandesal Monster” for nothing. “Alam niya na kapag may brown paper bag, pandesal yung laman. Kunwari may iba kang binili sa grocery [na nasa brown paper bag] na hindi pandesal, pipilitin niya — gusto niya makita [yung nasa loob].” It might be his favorite pandesal, after all!
As a host on 24 Oras, Iya gets to spend her mornings and early afternoons with her little boy, which makes her grateful because she doesn't miss Primo’s milestones. “Bigla na lang, he'll say something, ‘Oh, he just said bike! Alam niya na pala yung word na bike!’ Or, the other day nag ‘please’ siya. The other day, it's ‘bye.’ So just these little things that I want to be there to witness.”
She added, “I also make it a point to be there and be hands-on with Primo because there are certain values I feel responsible in instilling — yung hindi ko puwedeng ipaturo sa ibang tao because I know, at the end of the day, ako yung gagayahin niya. Kami ni Drew yung gagayahin niya.”
The mom didn’t fail to gush about Drew as a dad. He’s Primo’s playmate while she's the disciplinarian, but they both share in parenting duties. “If anything, I just need to let him know na ‘Love, please sit him at the toilet before he goes to sleep’ or ‘Love, please make sure you put him in the brief na may liner.’ I just need to remind him.”
Disciplining Primo, however, has proved to be a challenging part of motherhood, shared Iya as the appointed “bad cop” of the family. “[Primo] will give me the most nakaawa look. I’m not sure he understands yet, but I don't want him to get away with it just because he's cute.”
Iya also explained that, to some extent, she does think spanking can be effective but, “I don't want to have to,” she said. “Gusto ko umabot sa point na hindi ko kailangan — yung may takot na siya isang tingin lang.”
What does the mom love about Primo at this age? “He's funny! He tries to wear my slippers or he tries to dance,” she said. “Parang, mahuhulog siya ng alanganin. Aabangan naming kung iiyak ba siya. Tapos biglang, tatawa pala!” See Primo give kisses to his mom in the video below. Super cute!