Week 41: Food, Glorious Food

Food is something that’s been on my mind recently, so why not let loose some good old-fashioned word vomit on the subject?

Ambrose’s transition to solids was a bit harder than I expected. Emphasis on a bit, because the kid didn’t hate solids, exactly, but he also wasn’t quite as keen on them as I’d hoped. I mean, look who his mom is! I love food! I figured food would be an instant hit!

What? This is a delicious, perfectly-ripe in-season peach? I give it a wholehearted MEH. Five out of five meh’s.

From Milk To Meh

Food was received with a whole-hearted meh on Ambrose’s part. Part of the problem, maybe, was that I had no strategy. I knew I was going to use a Montessori weaning table (more on that next week, probably), but couldn’t decide between Baby Led Weaning or going all-out on ridiculously cute homemade purees. Starting at around 5 months I fed him here and there, mostly just to experiment: mashed avocado was a no, mustard was a definite no, the KFC chicken bone with a little bit of chicken left on it got an eh, the sausage link was gnawed on. (Also note: this happened during our cross-country move, so it was a little bit of a ridiculous time to be starting solids in earnest anyway.)

In spite of Ambrose’s lack of passion for solid foods, on I pressed, determining my strategy as I went. As it happens, I ended up settling on a combination of Baby-Led Weaning and purees. Which is what the internet is in agreement is the best thing to do anyway, so go me.

And you know what? The more solids I offered, the more interested Ambrose became in them. I made him a lovely, delicious sweet potato-cardamom-coconut puree as the first real effort, and the first time I gave it to him, he wasn’t super thrilled. But then I continued, and well…

Needless to say, he ended up loving the sweet potatoes. And, in time, loving almost everything else I’ve given him. (Though he still isn’t a fan of avocados, unless they’re mixed with banana.)

It’s not to say I don’t still have ongoing anxiety about food, because I do, sort of. Ambrose still prefers purees, and doesn’t chew on solid food unless it’s a carb. (He sure does love pizza.) But I’m trying not to stress myself out too much, and to keep offering new stuff as much as I can, because I figure he won’t go to college still eating only pureed food. And if he does, well, I guess it won’t be the absolute end of the world.

So What Are We Eating These Days?

These days, Ambrose eats three meals of solids a day. For breakfast I give him some of my scrambled eggs (and bacon, but he’ll just suck on that for hours), or toast with peanut butter, or homemade baby pancakes. I’ll usually follow that up with a fruit puree mixed into full-fat greek yogurt. For lunch and dinner I try to offer a carb, a veggie, a protein, a dairy, and a fruit. Ricotta with fruit puree is another favorite around here; as for the other categories, I can usually knock out all three with a puree recipe like the spiced fish with carrots, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes I made a bit ago. I’ve been trying to blend things to a coarser consistency to help Ambrose get accustomed to chunks. And recently I’ve also been offering him more table food — last night, for example, he was a big fan of the herb-crusted salmon with roasted broccoli we ate together.

If you’re looking for a baby meal template, this is the best I have to offer:

Breakfast: carb + protein + dairy + fruit*

Lunch: carb + protein + veggie + dairy + fruit

Dinner: carb + protein + veggie + dairy + fruit

Maybe it’s not perfect, but motherhood sure isn’t perfect, and we do the best we can. As for portion sizes, I freeze my purees in 1.5-oz blocks using these silicone molds. For fruit, I re-heat one block and combine it with an approximately equal amount of ricotta or yogurt; for the combo purees I’ll re-heat two at a time. It seems like an awful lot of food for a munchkin, but my kid gets everything down most of the time!

The most important thing I can say — and don’t get me wrong, I need to take my own advice here a lot of the time — is don’t stress, and definitely don’t compare yourself to your mom friend whose kid is pounding whole pot roasts at four months of age! Solids will happen when they happen. Have fun with it! And take lots of photos, because food plus babies always equals hilarity at some point. (Case in point…feeding my child prunes.)

*I try to offer fruit only twice a day, and at the end of meals.

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