Thursday, August 05, 2010

It'll chew you up

 No one ever told me how much fun it is to introduce food to a baby. Except for the milk and soy intolerance, we give T a lot of different things to try. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 offerings before she'll actually try something or decide she likes it.

Meals are fun and relaxed (I love Baby-Led Weaning! no stress!) - I plop bits of things down on her high chair tray and she eats them, or not. What she doesn't eat, the dogs eat. Lately she's been eating like a CHAMP - Miss Baby finished a pint of blueberries in about 4 days. Which is no small feat since we cut them in half, and she picks them up one by one. It's like watching a mini zen master doing active meditation.

Breakfast takes a long time - BabyT signals the end by picking up the things on her tray and deliberately dropping them over the edge, or sweeping everything off her tray with her arm, which I think is pretty funny. (Ask me again later.) Sometimes we spend 45 min to an hour eating so it's also a nice time for me to catch up on email while I sit and make sure she doesn't choke. (I have some paranoia about choking.)

Before we started T on solid foods I read most of Ellyn Satter's book "Child of Mine" and really liked her philosophy around the "division of labor" regarding meals. It's my job as parent to provide a range of healthy options, and BabyT's job to decide whether and how much to eat it.

No power struggles about how much she's eating. No "airplane" games or coaxing her to take "just one more bite". Babies and toddlers have great inborn sense of how much they need to eat, and over time will consume all the different things they need (as long as you offer a variety of food groups, etc).

The few times we tried to spoonfeed her in order to get her to take her iron supplement (massive FAIL), it was stressful, and I felt like this horrible, food-pushing mother. So I quit. It's easier to just shoot the supplement into her cheek during changing time - she hates it but at least I'm not also making her eating experience miserable. We usually follow it up with some milk and lots of snuggles and cheers so she gets over it pretty quickly.

Current favorites are ham and sausage, and of course, blueberries. Our girl likes her meat. Which I'm sure she inherited from her daddy. Oddly, she also likes really garlicky hummus, and the spicy black bean soup I made. I guess all those salt 'n' vinegar chips I ate when I was pregnant made a difference :)

I'd love to hear your suggestions on what to feed a baby who's gotten good at feeding herself.  We can't quite just give her what we eat yet, due to the milk/soy issue, but we're getting close.  I'll just need to modify what I cook sometimes.


  1. "BabyT signals the end by picking up the things on her tray and deliberately dropping them over the edge, or sweeping everything off her tray with her arm." Ivy does that too. The latter I call the Windshield Wiper, and it's almost as annoying as how she throws her sippy emphatically to the floor every time she's done taking a drink.

    Apart from her diet staple of string cheese--which I guess is out for T--Ivy likes cubes of wheat bread, any kind of meat, quartered grapes, bananas, canned or cooked sweet potatoes, canned peaches and pears--I get the kind in juice and rinse them in a strainer so they aren't super sticky--and of course Cheerios, puffs, and those freeze-dried fruit bits. Oddly she doesn't like pasta, which, given how her brother turned out, is fine with me. The other day I gave her one of my Triscuits to prove to her she didn't really want one, and she went and ATE IT and asked for more. Even I don't like to eat Triscuits without chewing them really, really well...and I have molars!

  2. I've always hated the puree stage, but both of my kids really needed them because nursing and bottles wasn't enough. I gave them up as soon as I could though. :)

    Any and all fruit in chunks is Rae's favorite food. I don't think she has met a fruit she doesn't like. She loves graham crackers, but she only gets those on occasion. It took several meals, but Rae had decided that she likes pasta, but it has to be plain. Tomatoes, peas split in half (choking phobia here too). Broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, and green beans are all well received.

    Besides fruit, her absolute favorite meals include tofu bits (I know Baby T can't have that), meat, avocado, beans (whole, but we watch her very carefully) or rice. The only think she won't eat is green peppers, which maybe not so coincidentally, I stopped liking when I was pregnant with her. :)

    She will eat our spicier meals, but gets upset if she accidentally rubs her eyes. :(

  3. @rachel - thanks for the tips! The canned fruit will come in handy for winter. We are now getting a CSA box with more fruit than I know what to do with, but in the winter it'll just be lots of apples.

    T also likes crackers and other crunchy things, and she only has about 0.25 teeth.

    @Adrianne - I DO NOT envy your situation. Feeling like you HAVE to get food into your small baby must be super-stressful. We only started T on solids at 6.5 months and I swear it was a month before she really ate anything noticeable, and 2 months before it actually affected her milk intake. If I was worried about her eating enough it would have driven me over the edge.

    Pasta is iffy here - I think she doesn't like it cold out of the fridge but will sometimes eat if it's room temp or warm.

  4. Adam was a maniac for pasta (still is, sadly) and I used to make a bunch of overcooked pasta for him and store it in a ziploc bag in the fridge. When it was mealtime, I'd put some of it in a strainer (we get a lot of use out of our little strainers) and run hot water over it until it was warm and soft. He probably would have eaten it cold, but it's a heck of a lot more tender and flexible once you heat it up. :)

  5. I loved doing the baby-led weaning/feeding with my daughter! It was messy, but so much fun. We did tons of fruits, lots of veggies and her favorite always was pancakes!

    Unfortunately, my boy did NOT do well with the baby-led weaning/feeding method. We had to do purees and cereals for reasons I won't go into now, but boiled down to spoon-feeding or my sanity. Everyone needs a (mostly) sane mom, right? Anyway, he's now (at 14 months) doing better with finger foods, and he especially loves toast, pancakes (I make good ones), bagels and other breads. Also fruit slices and pieces.

    Sounds like you've got a great attitude and your baby girl is enjoying herself! Have fun with it!


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