Monday, July 6, 2009

MetaGirl's Eating Habits

When I first started making baby food for MetaBoy, I was die hard. I followed all of the instructions to a T to assure flavor, food safety, proper tenderness and texture, etc. I wanted to make sure that his first foods served as a gateway to a lifetime of gustatory pleasures. OK, I might have overestimated the seriousness of those first foods, but I stand by my intentions. From 7 to 12 months of age, he was unintentionally vegan because I was so cautious with everything I made for him. He only drank water, and did so happily (my theory: you can't miss what you've never had, eg juice). He ate all sorts of fruit, except apple sauce (odd, but true). And he loved eating. So as long as I was shoveling food into his mouth, he was happy. He never demanded to take the reigns. He was just happy to be eating.

Oh, how I miss that.

MetaGirl could not be more different. She hated having food put into her mouth. She only wanted to use the spoon as a toy. At some point, she settled into a groove where she allowed us to feed her. And then, as suddenly as it started, it was over; the spoon was banned. She refused all food that approached her with a spoon. We tried the obvious spoon, the sneak attack spoon, the stealth spoon...she was too good. She shut us down every time.

So when she was about 9 months old, I changed strategies. I stopped making baby purees and started looking for soft finger foods. It turns out that her refusing the spoon didn't mean she was refusing food. She LOVES finger foods.

I started her out with soft foods cut into tiny pieces, and she gobbled it up. We've done avocado, tofu, bread, peas, peach, apricot, plum, melon, watermelon, banana, cooked vegetables (e.g., eggplant, zucchini, carrot), and any other soft foods I could find in the refrigerator, freezer, or on our plates. One twist I've taken is to make a lentil puree, freeze it in one ounce cubes (these are great!!), and defrost as needed (e.g., one for a meal). When I reheat it in the microwave, it dries out just enough so that I can easily roll it into a ball for baby handling. I've slowly made the pieces of food ever so slightly bigger, but they're still relatively tiny. I did recently give her half of a small apricot without the pit, and she ate the whole thing. It was a hilarious mess to behold. With her newly discovered independence, she now happily eats her meals with the family.

The take home lesson? All kids are different eaters, but that doesn't mean that eating is off the table (har har). If your baby isn't eating, try a different approach. It might take a while, but take cues from your baby, and just be mindful of food size and tenderness for choking hazards.