We’ve reached the Ketchup Phase.
If you’ve parented a child through toddlerhood, you’ve read that statement, smiled and nodded. Not listed in any parenting book is the “Ketchup Phase”, although I think it really is a rather common phase of development for young American children.
The Ketchup Phase happens somewhere between the ages of 18-24 months and may last until a child reaches age 4 or possibly 5. It begins innoccently enough, when ketchup is served with an appropriate food, such as beef or french fries. It soons spirals out of control, when the child learns that dipping into ketchup is more fun than actual eating. That dipping into ketchup, licking the ketchup and then dipping again (known as double-dipping) is a great way to stay occuppied at the otherwise boring dinner table. Once the activity of dipping takes precedence over eating. it is soon discovered that just dipping your finger into ketchup is just as easy and your finger doesn’t get nearly as soggy as say, an over-used french fry. Or piece of string cheese. Or piece of bread. Or broccoli (that is fun to dip with due to it’s tree shape, as long as you only lick, and don’t bite). And so, for atleast one meal a day for the span of the Ketchup Phase, your child’s main source of nutrition is simply ketchup. And since your child is toddler, if she’s not throwing anything, shouting no or running around naked, you let it be.