Thursday, September 6, 2012

big people food

I am always behind my children when it comes to realizing they are ready for more substantial food during the first year.  Usually, their appetite starts to wane and the things that used to engage them are pushed away with looks of disgust on their faces.  Then it dawns on me after too many futile meals that pureed whatever just isn't doing the trick anymore and my 9, 10, or 11 month old is ready for more interesting flavors and textures.  I'm not sure why I have failed once again at realizing this in advance with my third child.  With every one of my kids I'm the one trying to play catch up while my child is begging for mashed lasagna instead of pureed carrots!

And so it goes with Ashlynn. She turned her nose up to pureed pineapple, banana and couscous last week.  Initially, I thought she was starting to get a cold or her gums were bothering her.  I noticed she was looking longingly at the zucchini fritters I was making for the rest of the family so I decided to chop one up and put it on the tray of her high chair.  She fed herself TWO entire fritters that night to my amazement.  That's when I realized I'd missed the boat once again.  It was time for big people food.
For whatever reason I felt pressure in the past to create toddler friendly meals for my babies when they were ready for finger food. My baby food cookbook has recipes for ricotta with poached fruit, ground turkey mash, all sorts of toddler friendly concoctions.  I was never really good at planning these sorts of meals so my older two girls ate lots of diced avocado, bananas, bits of rice and pasta.  This time around I've had a bit of a revelation when it comes to meals at this stage of development.  All I have to do is feed her what I'm making for the rest of the family with a few minor adjustments.  Usually this means pulling out a portion before the nuts go in or the extra salt or spice.  I mash it with a fork or blend it in the food processor with a bit of soft rice or couscous.  It's been liberating to not have to make something special for Ashlynn.

In our family we've decided that everyone eats the same thing and if the girls don't like what I cook for dinner they pick out parts they don't like, eat the parts they do and that's that.  I don't stress about how much they eat. They won't starve and I'm not making a special portion of something kid friendly for them.  If my girls turn their nose up to onion flat bread then so be it.  But they know they have to try a bite (our friends dubbed it the "thank you for making it bite" and we've happily added that to our parental vocabulary).  Most often they are surprised that it it's quite edible; good even.  I try to make family friendly meals so that everyone is satisfied. It doesn't always happen and I'm OK with that.
It's nice that I can feed my baby with the same philosophy now that I've figured out she's interested in more sophisticated foods.  The other night she had vegetarian chili mashed with rice (photographed), lunch was asparagus risotto (warmed and mashed with a fork and a Tbsp of water).  The chili and risotto were our family meals from this week.  What a time saver to just reuse what I've already made!  Roasted vegetables and chicken can be thrown in the food processor with a little chicken broth or water.  Pizza toppings can be mashed and served along side soft bits of the crust (which is what I plan on doing tonight).  Spaghetti with chicken sausage and spinach chopped super fine!  I know I did this with my other girls when they were a bit older but Ashlynn's interested at 11 months.  She only has three teeth so I have to be careful with texture (we are a little paranoid about choking).   She loves to feed herself with her hands or have me scoop it onto a spoon and then she'll put the spoon to her mouth.  This stage is so fun and messy!
I'm not sure baby food will ever photograph well.  This is vegetarian chili with rice.
What do you feed your pre-toddler?  Did you figure out they were ready for finger foods before they "told" you or were you like me...completely clueless?


Elyse said...

Thank you for making it bite!! Awesome! Glad we could help with that one. Still use it at almost every meal. :)

Sara said...

Yes Elyse, we thank you and Joe for the Thank you Bite! Most of the time they cringe and then taste it and are surprised it tastes good! I wish every food looked like Mac-n-cheese but tasted like vegetables. Kids get so hung up on what it looks like.

Heather P. said...

I love how you feed your kids everything you make, that is great. Caleb ate almost anything at first, but now he is starting to get an opinion about what he likes. If I sprinkle shredded cheese on most anything, he will eat it;).