John, at 9 months, has yet to meet a food he doesn’t like. You name the vegetable, he loves it. You name the meat, he’s inhaled it. Fruit is his best friend, and he thinks cheese is the best snack in the world.
People will frequently ask how I got a kid that is seriously the (knock on wood) least picky eater you’ll ever meet. Part of it, I think, is that we’ve never been timid about food around here. If it’s yummy, we eat it – quantities depending on how healthy it is. So when we began offering him solids, there was no angst for him to pick up on. If you don’t think kids can pick up on your emotional reactions to food, you’d be surprised how much they really do. They pick up on everything, and that factors in to how they process the new information you give them.
I had the opportunity to sit in on a seminar by Dr. Alan Greene, and then later to talk to him at length on the phone while I was still pregnant. He has a wonderful website and Facebook presence, too, and is a great resource. He’s a big proponent of a whole family approach to nutrition, which means that everyone eats healthy – not just the baby. If the kiddo sees you eating healthily, he or she will, too. Knowing that there are two little blue eyes taking in what is on our plates, too, has made both Tom and me more aware of what we put in our bodies, too. Good stuff all the way around. We also consult LittleStomaks, too.
Greene gave me a ton of tips and encouragement. Later, I met a wonderful group of moms online who also have March babies, and we began talking about solids. I began picking the brains of those moms whose older children were fans of healthy eating, and were not picky. As John began exhibiting the signs of needing more than formula, and began showing a real interest in what his daddy and I were eating, we began mulling over the idea of introducing solids to him. His first food? Avocado. Then peas. Then green beans, etc., until we wound our way through fruits and vegetables. I made most of his food myself. Once we were certain there was no allergic reaction, we moved on to the next item.
Soon we began offering more combinations – usually from what we were having from dinner. Eventually, once we were certain he had the chewing motion down, we began offering less mush, and more pieces of food. Today, with very few exceptions, we all eat the same thing as a family, with the only concessions for John being cutting it to smaller pieces, and perhaps cooking the vegetables a smidge longer.
I can’t tell you how much easier it is to go out now. He eats off our plates, with perhaps the addition of a side or a cup of fruit so he doesn’t eat ALL Mommy’s food. But just leaving the house with a couple diapers, an empty sippy and a bib? Freedom, I tell you. FREEDOM.
For moms who are about to reach that stage where kiddo can eat finger foods and pieces, I can tell you the easiest thing to do is have items you can mix and match. Eschew the baby food company’s ready-diced stuff (for one thing, they only offer carrots and apples). For as much as two dollars cheaper, you can go to the canned fruit aisle and pick up diced pears, peaches and oranges packed in juice (not syrup) in six pack portions packaged in cardboard sleeves. Or, better yet, you can peruse the farmer’s market or produce aisles for fresh fruit. In the winter, I generally have a mix of both fresh and canned, since it’s harder to find stuff in season and local. Steam, roast or sautee the stuff that won’t mash down with a fork, and everything else, just dice unless it’s already bite sized, like blueberries.
Here’s what I typically have on hand:
- Diced pears
- Diced peaches
- diced Strawberries
- Mandarin oranges (get the kind packed in juice, they’re softer)
- String cheese and colby cheese sticks (I buy the bags of individually wrapped ones, and then slice off wee pieces for the boy)
- Yogurt (I love Yo Baby, but I also buy vanilla yogurt in large tubs to mix another serving in to various things, like his cereal)
- Turkey, diced
- Chicken, diced
- tofu, cubed
- Diced steamed carrots
- Thawed frozen peas
- roasted and diced butternut squash
- roasted and diced sweet potato
- Diced green beans, sauteed
- Frozen spinach (which he loves cooked in a little bit of olive oil, with some parmesan cheese)
- Whole wheat gold fish crackers
- whole wheat pasta
- brown rice
Now, all of this is on hand to make simple meals in the event that we’re eating something too spicy for tiny tummies (like when Mommy makes hot wings, for instance) or he’s eating when we don’t (which can happen a lot on the weekends with breakfast, because that’s when Mommy and Daddy tag team some sleeping in). It also makes for good snacks, and nearly any of these things could also be thrown in a baggy and taken with us if we were not sure of a particular restaurant’s menu (like when we went to the sushi place).
But that’s pretty much it. We now have a boy that devours tofu and spinach, loves eggs and tomatoes, and can’t get enough of mushrooms. Spaghetti is awesome, and black beans are really yummy, too.
I just hope it continues!