When Ezra was five months old, on Thanksgiving, we tried giving him a little mashed up sweet potato. It was not an instant hit, though not a disaster either.
When he was six months old, I started trying solids with him in earnest. Mashed banana. Mashed avocado. Mashed squash. All with a healthy dollop of breast milk to make them softer and a little more familiar. He pushed most of the food back out of his mouth with his tongue, which is pretty typical: nursing babies make a pushing motion with their tongue to get the milk, so they start out doing that with food, too, even though it totally doesn’t work.
But after a few weeks, he had a breakthrough. One day, he seemed to notice that if he opened and shut his mouth, the food would kind of wiggle around in there, and get to where he wanted it. All of a sudden, he started eating a lot more. After weeks of feeding him maybe once a day, now he’s excited to eat something two or three times a day. We sit down to meals together. He likes to wield the spoon whenever I’ll let him.
So far, I’ve made all his food. I got a small collection of baby food cookbooks at my baby shower, and I had been combing through them in the month leading up to starting solids. But the thing that got me really excited about baby food, was my birthday present. Sandy, on Claire’s strong recommendation, got me a Beaba Babycook.
This little gadget is awesome. Expensive, sure, but it was a gift, and so I’m struggling to overcome my knee-jerk discomfort about having fancy things. Also, I love it. Perhaps it doesn’t do anything that you couldn’t do with a steamer basket, a food mill, and some patience, but it has some big advantages for me. Like, only one thing to clean. We cook a lot, and I sometimes feel like I’m doing dishes 100% of the time I’m in the house. Anything that cuts that down for me is a bonus.
Also, because it’s so convenient, and small enough to sit out on our countertop all the time, I find myself much more likely to do the thing that’s recommended by the fabulous Feeding the Whole Family: grab a few pieces of whatever I’m cooking for dinner before they go in the pot with all the stuff he can’t eat yet, and steam it for him. The other night we made turkey burgers. I grabbed a small hunk of the ground turkey for Ezra and steamed it with some frozen peas, then pureed it. Voila. Baby food, but at the same time he’s getting a taste for the kinds of things we actually eat.
As with everything, his breakthroughs come fast and furious. A few days ago, I noticed that he was able to handle a big chunk of banana that hadn’t quite gotten mashed. So I cut up a few small banana pieces and fed them to him whole. He loved it. Now he wants his avocado like that, too. And while he doesn’t love yogurt, he tolerates it much better when I mix it with some chunky oatmeal so it has some texture for him to chew on (inasmuch as his crazy gumming can be called “chewing.”)
And then yesterday, on a whim, I broke some Cheerios in half and held out the pieces to him one by one. The dry, crunchy texture surprised him a little, but as he felt the first one start to soften and melt in his mouth, he got more excited. He doesn’t have the motor control to pick them up one by one yet, but today he figured out that he can scoop up a bunch of pieces with his wet little fist and smash them into his face. My little gastronomic genius.