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One of my fears is that my daughter will be a Fussy Eater.  My husband and I are the exact opposite of fussy.  Flexible vegetarians, we’ve been known to eat meat at the homes of friends and others.  But opting to generally go the non-mammal path is the closest that we are to “fussy”.  So, when she initially shunned the beautiful pear puree that I made for her with a borrowed Beaba, I was admittedly disappointed. Was this the beginning of the end??

Oh, believe me.  That first puree was so lovely, creamy even, even if there wasn’t an ounce of dairy in it.  Organic d’anjou pear perfectly ripe. I really wanted to eat it myself, it looked that good.  Elisabeth had no interest.  Or the sweet potato, the carrot, the apple or banana.  She tried the rice cereal my husband painstakingly ground up, with a little bit of breastmilk for added enticement.  She was game but in the end, it was all for naught.  Then, my baby-led weaning book arrived.  I skimmed through it while I was nursing her one night, looking for the highpoints and the absolutely don’t’s.  Of the latter category, there were surprisingly few.  Avoid honey was the main one.  The next day, I gave her a chunky slice of apple and turned my back.  A moment later it was in her mouth.  She worked away at it like only a champ.  We haven’t looked back.

Elisabeth loves having the real food that we eat.  The bigger, more choice piece the better.  Small bits don’t tempt.  She reached for a banana on that second day after the apple and now she holds a big chunk of banana in her hand, just like a little baby monkey would.  Elisabeth was crazy about clementines when they were in season! I’d give her a quarter of one and she’d suck the inner juicy bits out, leaving the outer “skin”. She eats slices of sweet potato, fake Cheerios (the ones without sugar), sticks of steamed carrot, sections of mango, wedges of zucchini, the occasional pizza crust, steel cut oats w/breastmilk, chunks of Havarti with horseradish and chives and more.

Here’s what we tackled Sunday:

  • Banana chunk and a piece of Gala apple
  • Red beet white bean hummus from the Weelicious cookbook.  No cracker or veg, just hummus on a spooon.  I’d loaded it with a head of roasted garlic and she loved it!
  • Most of a cucumber with some yogurt dill dip on it and a few tiny bits of tempeh leftover from last night’s dinner.  The tempeh was a surprise.  She doesn’t usually tackle the tiny pieces.  It seems like her tiny fingers are too chubby to get a good grasp.
  • Carrot crinkle cuts cooked with cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and a bit of spicy Cod

Elisabeth w.kaleThe cool thing about baby-led weaning is that Elisabeth is in charge.  She holds the food, works it with her gums and decides when she has had enough.  She is also getting a good workout with her gums by learning to chew, even if she doesn’t have any teeth yet.  I watch her for safety but also for what she seems to like and what doesn’t seem to be working. This works for me better because even in those early days of only purees, I found myself saying “just a little more” and “one more bite”.  That’s not the controlling mama I want to be, especially with a little girl and food.  I also noticed that I was personally disappointed when she didn’t eat more.  Not good.  I don’t want my feelings about her eating to be something that she notices or is influenced by, even if she is 8 months old.

When I know that I’ll give Elisabeth pieces (mango slices, apple chunks, etc.) , I go with organics.  If the veggies are integrated into something, they may or may not be organic.  They might be “just” local which still feels like an okay choice for me.  I was going to Whole Foods for the organics but my local Kroger offers a decent variety as well, for usually a much lower price tag so now we just get mainly the mangoes at Whole Foods. What hasn’t been a success so far are avocado, red raspberries (that size thing again, I think) and veggie frittata.  I think those will come in time.  And if they don’t, that’s okay too.  There’s something about her choosing what to eat and actually eating it which makes me think that there might always be a few foods she won’t like but if we keep going the way we are, Elisabeth won’t end up a fussy eater.

Like her mama, Elisabeth loves her homemade baked goods so I always offer her a taste.  We both love scones from Daisy Cakes and the Weelicious Sweet Potato Muffins.  She never gets very much but I always want her to feel included by getting a taste.  I have an idea, with no grounding in science or even a truism that I have seen, that she’ll be less likely to be a sugar fiend or only want dessert if she gets tastes periodically. But maybe! My main goal is 5x the fruits and veggies over an “empty” carb like a crust of bread or a taste of muffin.  With fruits and veggies, she “eats” until she drops the piece or seems to be disinterested.  With anything else, I give her a small piece to work on that I usually hold as well so I can have even more control over what she is putting in her mouth, just to be safe.

We keep trying things and each time, it’s an adventure. Elisabeth is exclusively breastfed so that’s where she gets all of nutrients, from that perfect food.  So anything else is gravy really.  Baby-led weaning is an experiment for both of us, for her a bit more play than for me but for both of us, it’s fun.  And my fussy eater fears have subsided a bit…for now anyway!

What are you learning about your baby and food?  Or, what do you want to try when your baby starts solids? Leave a comment below.