how we're surviving: eating solids part ii
For part one, click here.
I suppose it was a little silly to think that my baby would be satisfied with eating puree pouches. As soon as we gave her a taste of "real" food (read: added salt and spices), she would visibly gag whenever we tried to feed her any of the so-called baby-friendly jars or pouches. I mean, I get it; pureed chicken and broccoli with zero-added seasoning is pretty disgusting. So, it's totally my own fault for expanding her palate. But, in my world, that's hardly a bad thing.
So, as much as I didn't want to cook a lot of my baby's food, I wasn't left with much of an option when she started refusing the pre-packaged stuff. And, obviously, it's wonderful to feed my daughter healthy, actually-cooked meals; it's just a lot of work and I'm tired.
The lazy man's (mom's?) solution? She eats what I eat. Or, I eat what she eats. What I mean is that I've gotten very good at finding the middle ground between mushy foods that a seven-month-old enjoys and meals that an obnoxious foodie like me can also dig. There is still minimal cooking required and it's certainly more delicious than pureed turkey with sad peas.
Here is what I've learned:
your baby likes flavor
Avvie still eats the sweet pouches on occasion, since those are very tasty, but she likes them even better when they're mixed into full-fat Greek yogurt or baby oatmeal. As adults we hardly ever just eat a single food as a meal, so why should your baby? I also grate a lot of soft fruits like peaches, pears, and plums instead of using pouches. And don't forget about seasonings! This morning she had yogurt with grated pear and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Mike was sneaking bites when I wasn't looking.
your baby also likes texture
There's hardly a mother out there who isn't fucking terrified of her kid choking. But, unfortunately, they can't eat purees until they go to college. At some point, you have to start introducing lumps and texture into their diet so they learn how to gum (and eventually chew) food. So far, I've done this by giving her chunks of things like scrambled egg, soft bread, or avocado. I also mash up bits of pasta, beans, or fish, and spoon feed them to her. And just this week I'm starting to teach her how to pick up small bites like baby cereal puffs and feed them to herself.
cooking in batches is a huge help
Again, I'm tired all the time, so the last thing I want to do is spend five-plus hours making 10 pounds of pureed peas that she probably won't eat. But, since she eats such a small amount, making a regular amount of food can last her days or even weeks, if it's something shelf-stable. I can boil quinoa, keep it in the fridge and then add whatever sauce or pureed veggies I want for a quick and flavor-rich meal.
Another tip I learned from our nanny is to poach a few chicken breasts, puree them in the food processor, and then freeze in ice cube trays. Pop one out when it's meal time and then add whatever sauce or veggies you like. And once they master that, you can also buy pre-grilled breasts and slice them into tiny bits for gumming.
restaurant leftovers are awesome
Whenever we don't finish all our food (which, realistically isn't that often, but sometimes!), we'll always take it home and I'll give it to Avvie for lunch the next day. In our fridge right now there are black beans and rice, Indian dal, and meatballs, all of which can either be smushed up with a fork or put in the mini food processor for a quick blitz.
...and eating at restaurants can be too
Can she eat sushi yet? No. But I brought her to a Japanese restaurant for lunch yesterday and she wolfed down chawanmushi like a champ. She can also nibble on small pieces of bread and butter, flavorful sauces like tikka masala, or dips like guacamole or hummus. Even something like salmon can be flaked and mixed with a bit of sauce and spoon-fed. Most restaurants will have something on the menu that your baby can eat.
Do you have tricks that have worked for your baby? I'd love to know!