I am happy to report, Liam is a foodie.
The title of this entry doesn’t suggest that at all, right?
For me, one of the joys of watching him develop was his reaction and reception of the foods I introduced to him once he started solids. Although it seems to be the norm to start babies on solids as early as four months, I decided to go the “conventional” route and start him at six months; it’s at this time that most experts say a baby’s immune system and digestive system are more developed and thus capable of digesting the various vitamins and proteins found in introductory foods. I also wanted to ensure that Liam was ready to wean slowly off his frequent formula feeds, although I never got the feeling he was that into his milk, anyway. Liam actually proved to be quite gluttonous once he started. There was no holding him back. That whole thing about start them on small amounts; two to three spoonfuls a day? Yea, right. Eventually, I adopted the attitude, if he wants it all, let him eat it all. From banana, to apples and pears, to sweet potato, to butternut squash, there was nothing that I put in his mouth, that he did not devour.
Then everything changed.
At about seven to eight months, I decided to introduce Liam to meats. I started with beef, as it was the only thing I had at the time. He loved it. Then I tried chicken; he loved that too. I was so excited his palate was increasing significantly. As time went on, I also started pureeing his food less, instead, leaving it a bit chunky so that he could start to master how to chew his food. I wish I had taken videos of his uncoordinated chewing as it is about the most adorable thing ever.
Recently, Liam seems a little more than less enthusiastic about the meals I spend so much effort and creativity to make. I actually bought a baby cookbook- a bloody baby cookbook! I don’t even have a cookbook for my damn self. If I want to get creative for dinner I hop onto the internet and combine recipes from random websites. In my defense, it is also a meal planner, to help me get an idea of what foods are great at what time. I really just use it for reference, I swear. Liam, however, was not impressed with my attempts. My cookbook/meal planner suggested that around nine months, babies begin to decide what they like the taste of from what they don’t, hence, becoming a picky eater. The only thing I could guarantee he wouldn’t turn down, at this point, was fruit- pear, apple, melon, blueberries, strawberries, banana- there was no limit to Liam’s desire for fruit.
But, I’ve figured it out.
Liam’s sudden dislike of my dishes have not come from him not wanting to eat it, as much as it is about the white little buds appearing from his gums. Yep. Teething. The acquisition of gnashers. Four at the top and one at the bottom. As if the two little peckers he already has at the bottom aren’t doing enough damage as it is. But, yes. Apparently, the discomfort from his emerging teeth has deterred him from eating. Sure he’d already been teething before but it didn’t affect his appetite. But now, it totally explains why he was demolishing the fruit purees which I often give him straight from the fridge. So, now, everything – except his milk, milk is milk as far as he’s concerned- is given to him cold. Although it limits the amount of meals he can have with meat in it, its a quick, and easy solution, and one which seems to be working out for both of us.
As much as I want him to get through his teething as smoothly as possible, I am equally excited for the emergence of his five new teeth. I’m dreaming of all the new foods I can try with him once he has enough teeth to continue his chewing practice. With his healthy appetite, I expect he’s not going to make it to difficult for me despite born and bred of two picky parents in myself and John when it comes to food; ironically, we dislike the same things. I’m growing, John, not so much. I’m still trying to get him to love sushi as much as I do.
Until Liam gets back to fine form, I’ll be sticking to basics with easy purees and chunky foods that Liam can have cold. Here are some of my favourite recipes that I used with Liam as he was introduced to solid foods from his cookbook, Annabel Karmel’s New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner:
Baby’s First Bolognese Sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 50g finely chopped onion
- 20g chopped celery
- 1 small clove garlic, crushed
- 1 medium carrot (approx 85g), peeled and grated
- 100 g lean minced beef
- 150 ml Passata
- 100 ml unsalted stock or boiling water
- ¼ tsp fresh thyme leaves or a pinch of dried thyme
- a pinch of sugar
- 3 tbsp Annabel Karmel’s Mini Pasta Shells
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion and celery over a low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the grated carrot and sauté for 4 minutes.
- In a separate pan, dry fry the minced beef until browned, stirring occasionally.
- Add to the onion and carrot. Pour over the tomato sauce, boiling water or stock and add the thyme and pinch of sugar.
- Cover and cook over a low heat for about 12 minutes.
- Remove from the pan and pulse for a second or two in a blender to make a smoother texture.
- Meanwhile, cook the shell pasta according to the packet instructions.
- Drain and mix with the Bolognese sauce.
I substituted with regular pasta elbows which I boiled and pureed and added no sugar or celery.
Porridge with Fruit
- 150ml (5 fl oz) milk
- 15g (1/2oz) porridge oats
- 6 ready to eat dried apricots, chopped
- 1 large ripe pear, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
- Put the milk, porridge oats and chopped apricots in a small saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes.
- Purée together with the chopped pear using a hand-held blender.
I had already made up my mind when Liam started solids that I didn’t want to use the tinned cereals from Nestum so this recipe was a great way to incorporate the usually bland oats with fruit. I found the pear also stopped the oats from getting thick and lumpy after storage. I often substituted pears with banana, apples, mango and other fruit.
Pear and Apple with Cinnamon Puree
- 2 dessert apples
- 2 ripe pears (eg: Conference pears)
- 4 tbsp pure unsweetened apple juice or water
- Generous pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
- Put the fruit into a saucepan together with apple juice or water and pinch of cinnamon (if using), cover and cook over a low heat until tender (about 6 to 8 minutes).
- Blend the fruit to a smooth puree.
Out of pure laziness, I rarely boil Liam’s fruit before I puree them but this recipe proves that boiling them does make them sweeter as it helps to extract the natural sugars from the fruit. When it comes to fruit the options are endless, as most combinations of fruit taste great together.
Although I bought the book, most of Annabel Karmel’s recipes are available online.