No, You cannot feed my Child!

What is it with Nigerians and their lack of understanding of boundaries? When we were children, our parents constantly drummed into our ears not to collect food from strangers, so you would assume that in today’s world, strangers with good intentions would respect themselves and not even give your children food without the parents’ permission.

My first son is at that age where he’s too old of a toddler to sit in one spot, yet too young to understand instructions like “don’t collect food from strangers.” Because of this, I’m having to do extra monitoring because of some people who just don’t know better.

Earlier this year, I went to the passport office to renew my passport. In the room where I was to capture, my 17 month old son was running around freely and I was awaiting my turn, while monitoring him with my eyes in the very small room. I looked away for about for about a minute, and he had walked towards one of the officers, who was eating small chops, and she inserted puff puff into his mouth just as I turned my head back towards him.

I was so shocked that I didn’t react the way I would have assumed I would have reacted. I think I said something like “leave there” or “stop that” to my son who clearly couldn’t understand why he was being scolded. But what was more annoying was the woman’s response when she saw my reaction. She said something like “I didn’t give him anything bad. It’s just puff puff. It can’t do anything to him.” Honestly, I should have used that opportunity as a teaching moment to her, if not that she was a paramilitary officer. We know how power drunk these people can get in Nigeria, and it was a sensitive situation for me, as I was waiting to capture my face, and I couldn’t afford to offend anyone at that time. Lastly, the deed was already done, though I wouldn’t want her to do it to someone else’s child.

The fact that she considered it harmless meant she didn’t understand the gravity of her actions

  • Firstly, some people are allergic to certain kinds of food. She doesn’t know if my son was allergic to fried food, just like my cousin was. Yet she inserted puff puff into his mouth without my permission
  • She doesn’t know me or my son from Adam, she doesn’t know what I have been trying to teach him at home, and how her actions could create confusion for him at that tender age
  • She doesn’t understand the right/authority a mother has over the child. It would have been a different case if it wasn’t in my presence. But I was there and she didn’t even think to ask me first

The funny thing is the boy didn’t even beg her for the food. He just walked towards her desk when he saw her eating, she put the food towards his mouth, and he opened his mouth to collect it. After the woman did what she did and made her statement, I just ignored her and fumed internally.

I try as much as possible not to give my children processed food/sugar. At an event, I caught a man insert a can drink with straw into my son’s mouth at 20 months old. I don’t know how much my son had sipped before I saw him, but I instinctively jumped and drew him away, while screaming “no, stop that” at my son. The man looked startled and shocked by my reaction, while I just kept wondering why people could think they could just feed the child of someone who they know from nowhere. From what I have gathered, people don’t consider such sensitive thing as a big deal.

I am now wondering if I should make my son wear a badge or a neck sign saying “please don’t feed me.” I even went to Ali express to see if such signage was being sold. My grandmother’s burial is in three weeks’ time, and all sorts of people will be there. I have to do extra work to make sure no one offers him food, since we clearly don’t understand boundaries.

If you are reading this, and are guilty of feeding children you don’t know because you are being nice or well-intentioned, please stop it. Eat your food and look at the child, the child won’t die. And if you can’t stomach it, ask the parent for permission first, which they’ll most likely not give you, since you are a stranger. But please and please, understand boundaries, and stop offering food to children of people you don’t know.

Has your child ever been fed or offered food by a stranger? What did you do? If you have toddlers that are not old enough to understand these kinds of instructions, how do you prevent strangers from crossing boundaries with them while giving them free reign to walk about?


  1. If you could see the face i'm making as i read this, smh. Why would you give food to a child you don't know??? I don't even give food to children I DO know without their parent's say so. Including family members. My niece is 13 and I will still tell her to ask her mother if she can have whatever it is she's asking for lol.

    1. That is because some people are clueless about boundaries and etiquette. Still peeved as I think about it.

  2. I feel so weak reading this, I didn't even know people just randomly feed other people's children...the struggle of shielding our kids from people with no boundaries is endless! I'm currently at the stage of making sure people don't kiss my baby. I can see this other phase is waiting for me in front *sigh*

    1. Well done o. No one kisses my baby too. Adults carry many things these babies cannot handle, so we have to be cautious. We can't start expending money and energy treating diseases that could have been avoided in the first place.

  3. People feed strangers' children?
    Colour me shocked!


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