I’d like to preface this post by saying that things aren’t the same for every baby. In fact, the reason Isobel took to the baby-led weaning approach so well is because she already had 8 teeth by her first birthday. Some babies only have two. This would really affect how long a baby might be interested in mushy foods. There’s no way to predict how any future children will react, but we’re going to play it by ear and listen to our baby’s preferences when the time comes. I have no desire to prescribe directions as to how other parents should feed their children. Rather, this is a log of our experience with Isobel.
When I was pregnant and nesting I read all kinds of books and searched website after website on how to make your own baby food. I was inspired by the thought of making baby food. I was excited by books such as this one that had gorgeous photos of pureed goodness inside. I happily contemplated roasting lamb and cooking up barely and pureeing a compote of dried prunes every night. My daughter will eat like a queen, I thought.
I went so far as to ask my family for a Beaba Babycook as a combined birthday and Christmas present. And I got it.
It’s still in the box.
At six months I dutifully tried coaxing her into eating rice cereal. Isobel showed a marked dislike for it and often refused to even open her mouth. To say she was not interested was an understatement. Each night I’d get home from work and when she was hungry I mixed up a bit of cereal for her that she angrily rejected.
Originally my plan was to get her acclimated to rice cereal before we tried anything else. I thought it would keep her feeling full longer and help her learn to eat. But I never willingly got her to eat a bite. I did manage to give her an impressive beard, though.
A coworker gave me a ton of jarred baby food that her child grew out of, and since it was the special organic kind I thought I’d give it a try before making my own. You know, find out what flavors Isobel preferred. I got Isobel to eat jarred carrots a grand total of once but that was it. After that she refused to eat any of the jarred food we offered. I ended up donating rest of the food to a shelter.
Eventually I found out that grandma and great grandma had been secretly feeding her refried black beans, a Guatemalan favorite, for a few weeks and she had been eating them with gusto. She also showed a marked preference for avocado. And strawberries. And whatever it was you happened to be eating, could she try some of that, too please? She wanted nothing to do with food in jars but everything to do with whatever that was on your plate.
So I let go of my dreams of becoming the Baby Food Making Queen of the Western Hemisphere. We started feeding her what was on our plate, as long as it was safe in size, texture and developmentally appropriate content. Basically, she would eat anything as long as it looked like you wanted it.
This became the way we had our meals, and I often roasted a sweet potato for my dinner in order to mush up a bunch to feed her. She loves broccoli, and carrots, but can’t abide the stickiness of rice. She’s fond of tofu in soup, and very early on adored raw onions.
For awhile the height of haute cuisine for her was a Ritz cracker but she soon moved on to the more sophisticated flavors of Wheat Thins and Triscuits. Cheerios are as popular with her as they are with her Mama. She is crazy about her Grandpa Doug’s ribs and enjoys a fiercely spicy taco truck burrito with her Dad. (You know, the kind that is too hot for Mama? She loves them.) When grandma gave her a lime she scrunched her face up hilariously but then immediately requested more. She’s noshed on fried octopus, and coconut shrimp and happily digs into the chicken my Mom brings over for her lunch. She loves cheese and clam chowder and lettuce leaves and apples. She eats bread and otter pops and potatoes and hamburgers.
The girl eats anything but baby food.
Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with that Babycook.