Solid State

The introduction of first foods is looming, and as you can imagine it has been very much at the forefront of my mind. A love of good food and drink is a big part of what brought Mike and I together, and it’s still a huge part of our lives – it’s only natural that we’d be very excited about sharing this whole new world with our son. But like any new stage in parenting, we’ve got a lot to think about, and decisions to make. There are so many opinions about how to feed your baby, so many ways to transition from breast or bottle to solids – it seems I’m spending all my free time reading about it, and I’ll likely post a lot about it here in the coming weeks.

Julian has inherited my brown eyes and his daddy’s adorable dimpled smile, but we’ve also passed along something rather less appealing – our strong family histories of type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. Mike has been working hard to get his own health issues under control; I’ve been lucky so far that none of the issues I’m genetically predisposed to have reared their ugly heads. Knowing what we do about our family history, I think we both feel that one of the best things we can do for Julian is to start him off on wholesome, real food, and model for him the sort of good cooking and eating habits that will hopefully minimize his risk in the future.

roasted carrot and avocado salad

I hope that our boy will be a good eater, that he’ll enjoy a wide range of flavors and textures in his diet, or at least be willing to try things, but I assume nothing. I didn’t always eat the way I do now, nor did Mike, and to this day there are foods that are far from our favorite (sweet potatoes, anyone?), but that we’ll want to expose Julian to while he’s young.

That said, I don’t want to let the perfect get in the way of the good. I’ll admit that I enjoy a crisp, hot, gooey jalapeno popper just as much as I enjoy a heaping helping of kale sauteed with olive oil, garlic, chile flakes, and a hit of sherry vinegar. These days I have the latter far more frequently than I do the former, but I want Julian to learn that there’s a time and a place for all sorts of foods in his diet. Trying to banish junk food or sweets entirely just seems like a recipe for failure – I want him to know that just about anything is fine in moderation, and to learn to listen to his body’s cues about what to eat, when, and how much.

But let’s start at the beginning, with the transition to first foods. I’m currently giving another read to Nina Planck‘s Real Food for Mother and Baby, which I found indispensible during my pregnancy, but I’d love to hear about any other resources you might recommend. When introducing solids, what worked for you? Any advice for the newbies?

6 responses to “Solid State

  1. I used pretty much only used intuition and suggestions from our pediatrician and friends. Every kid is different – ours didn’t get any teeth until 14 months and to this day has an amazing gag reflex, which made certain textures difficult for her, to our great frustration. Earliest foods: sweet potatoes, avocado, all fruits made into a chunky sauce, bananas, whole wheat bagels, yogurt and cottage cheese and hummus. A bit later, we introduced meats and fish.

    Of course, I am also the parent of one of the pickiest eaters ever – a child who only eats a few key meals in steady rotation (though will eat most pure vegetables and fruits without any urging). That is not, at least I do not think, the result of us not trying to encourage different types of foods, but more the will of a toddler. At least I hope it passes!

  2. Mashed avocado. It was the first food For both of my kids. Love Nina’s book. Also, I loved your old blog, but this one is so you, so perfect. I love it even more. Motherhood is really good on you. Xo

  3. Needless to say I made all the girls food and I made all kinds. Yes, they loved it all, so much so that once I was out and forgot the food bag at home so I swung into Whole Foods and bought an Earth’s Best sweet potatoes or butternut squash (I forget, it was orange and something Brigid ate constantly) and Brigid refused the packaged food.

    I was proud and I wish I could say it sticks, but it’s random, so don’t get frustrated. One day they will devour 42 lbs. of peas, then they won’t touch them for 6 months. I wish there was a rhyme or reason to it. Brigid never ate meat for a long time, now any meat I put in front of her is gone (and she’ll tell me which animal on Ann Marie’s farm it came from!). Black beans were a staple, now not so much. Moira’s different and eats just about everything, but when she’s done with an item, she’s done!

    Purely technical, the OXO food mill was perfect, though man did my arms get tired when I would make a ton of food in one session and freeze it into ice cube trays. It felt like I was running bananas through the mill in bushels. Things I steamed plain and milled: carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, parsnips, apples. I made potato/leek soup with water and no seasonings (not as flavorless as you’d imagine). You can puree salmon and poached chicken, though honestly I thought it was horrible so I did it once and then waited until they had teeth.

    And don’t be sad when for a brief time the only thing they’ll eat is pasta w/butter & Parm or pizza. On the up side, I could live on pizza and pasta you can portion off to something you like with it.

    Oh, and it was a whole lot of fun when they showed my mother-in-law they knew to swirl and sniff their milk before drinking.

    Have fun!

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