What eating game did parents play with their babies before airplanes?
March 22, 2016 7:10 AM   Subscribe

I've been playing the "airplane game" with my son lately while feeding him. I've seen that game pop up in media from all over the world, so it seems pretty ubiquitous today. I'm curious, are there any records about baby feeding games from before there were airplanes?
posted by Kattullus to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Choo choo train?
posted by xingcat at 7:23 AM on March 22, 2016 [17 favorites]


It's not from a time before aeroplanes, but I know plenty of parents who pretend the food is a "choo choo train" instead. That might have been around longer. Of course there must have been a time before trains too.

Feeding babies mushy food on a spoon is far from universal though. Lots of cultures go straight from breastfeeding to finger foods.
posted by lollusc at 7:24 AM on March 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Show mommy how the piggies eat"? (from A Christmas Story)
posted by Vek at 7:50 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


While I have no ready answer to your question, here are some places to start looking:

It's true that solid food used to be introduced much later than we normally do today. Even then, I suspect that before the 20th century games were rarer than firmness.

Catherine Beecher was the Martha Stewart of the mid 19th century and the authority on all things about family care and nutrition. She might have something to say. You can read her American Woman's Home and A Treatise on Domestic Economy online.

More recently: Amy Bentley, Inventing Baby Food: Taste, Health, and the Industrialization of the American Diet and Mothers and Medicine: A Social History of Infant Feeding, 1890-1950 which might be a little late for your inquiry, but there might be something there.
posted by Miko at 7:55 AM on March 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I love this question so much but I have no definitive answer.

I guess you'll find out soon because kids want, nay, crave variation. My offspring, for example, was (or is it "were"?) fed with all manner of things, trucks, trains, boats, flying fish, albatrosses, toads, you name it.
posted by Namlit at 8:03 AM on March 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I used to pretend to be a mama bird and urged my little bird to snap up the bugs that were flying by her beak. Now I get her to eat salad by saying "Eat your leaves, little caterpillar, so that you can turn into a butterfly!" I wouldn't be surprised if similar nature-based encouragements were common.
posted by belladonna at 8:06 AM on March 22, 2016


My grandparents had a little rhyme that went something like "this is the church, and this is the steeple. Open it up to let in all the people!' And all the 'people' was the spoon which the child opens up for...
posted by JoannaC at 9:33 AM on March 22, 2016


My parents played "Pterodactyl," but I'm fairly old.
posted by Dolley at 9:47 AM on March 22, 2016 [33 favorites]


My grandparents had a little rhyme that went something like "this is the church, and this is the steeple. Open it up to let in all the people!' And all the 'people' was the spoon which the child opens up for...

That's a variation on a traditional rhyme that goes with hand gestures.
posted by zamboni at 9:49 AM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks, everyone!

Yeah, I don't think there's ever going to be a definite answer. Though the animal imitation game makes a lot of sense as the sort of thing that parents have done through the centuries.
posted by Kattullus at 2:17 PM on March 22, 2016


Oh, and of course an answer could be found in Dickens.
posted by Kattullus at 2:17 PM on March 22, 2016


A Christmas Story is a 1983 film set in 1940s America. It’s not related to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:57 PM on March 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Heh heh heh, I guess I saw what I wanted to see.
posted by Kattullus at 4:20 PM on March 22, 2016


My stepdad uses an animal rhyme with my daughter that I had never heard before- "Big old hawk, flying in the air, sees a little chicky-bird, right under there." There are accompanying motions. I suspect he learned it when his parents were feeding his younger siblings. It could certainly predate airplanes.
It works like a charm, too! She'll eat anything for her Grampie. Unfortunately it has a lower success rate when I do it.
posted by Adridne at 6:39 PM on March 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


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