Max Loves My Cooking

Max is shaping up to be even more of a gourmand than W, and he's a good little eater himself. After making the miscalculation of feeding M my very rich mashed potatoes too early, I backed off and got him eating the "first foods" selection of baby foods. Totally pureed, single item fruits and vegetables. Then when I was comfortable he had adjusted to those (I probably waited a week or so), I gave him some fresh avocado. Then some cooked egg yolk, and later yogurt.

Now that he's in his second month of eating, he's progressed to what the industry labels "third stage" foods. The food is still soft and mushy, but it's not always pureed to point of a perfectly smooth paste-- he'll eat foods with a bit of texture.

In fact, he shows a distinct preference for "real" food over baby food. For example, I think his all-time favorite food is carrots braised with celery, red wine, and short- ribs. He could not get enough of those carrots that were at the bottom of the braising pan. I don't blame him, they were delicious. Next time I make short ribs, I'll add tons of carrots and then puree them and freeze them (I have special little baby food freezer pots). Another day, T reported that he tried to get M to eat some sort of baby food fruit, but he wasn't interested, but was obviously hungry so he fed M the kale, carrot, and rice stir-fry baby food I'd made the day before, and he gobbled it up. It was flavored with ginger and soy, not your traditional baby food seasoning. Actually, other than cinnamon, I don't see many herbs or spices listed on baby food jars. The stuff is pretty bland, it's no wonder M prefers real food.

I made some oatmeal this morning, and W requested "candy" flavor, so I went ahead and put in a little brown sugar instead of the usual maple syrup. And raisins and cinnamon. I ran a bit through the blender, and M couldn't get enough. The jarred baby food oatmeal isn't bad, but I do admit that it tastes better cooked fresh. I try at least one spoon of whatever I'm feeding him, just so I know. I use a lot of the "Earth's Best" foods because they're organic and all the stores have them. But I don't think they taste particularly good. Non-objectionable would be a good descriptor. There is some new brand of organic foods that the walmart carries now, I forget the name, but they are sold in pouches rather than jars. I must say that THOSE foods are downright tasty. I would switch exclusively to them, but they are also downright expensive. But if T was still working it would be a no-brainer. But while I do buy some, I do try to make as much of my own baby food as is practical now. It costs me pennies to make a batch of baby oatmeal and portion and freeze it, versus $1.50 per packet for the pouch stuff.

Let's see, for protein I feed him yogurt (which all children love, right?), scrambled eggs, and fish. So far Max has eaten both tuna salad fish and cod, and gobbled both. He seems to enjoy chewing, even though he doesn't have molars. I think he'll be ready to eat home-pureed chicken soon.

It's only within the past week that he's really gotten into "chewing", so I've only scratched the surface of feeding him "people" food. My home blender and food processor can only get things to a "stage 3" level, so I couldn't feed him much on my own before now. But now I'm eager to feed him new things. It's just so incredibly satisfying to see your children begrudgingly eat prepared foods that I give them, but then light up and relish eating whatever it is that I've cooked from scratch. It does make me wonder about the kids who are "picky" eaters and only eat grilled cheese or chicken nuggets or whatever; are their moms not good cooks? Or were they not exposed to their mother's cooking at an early enough age? I think making baby food out of your regularly-cooked family meals is probably pretty important to getting a non-fussy toddler. W doesn't like *everything*, but he does for the most part like the sorts of things that I cook at home. But he's been eating those foods since before he could walk. And I never "dumb down" the food for the kids, they get it just how it tastes good to me. Which is often with a pan sauce (pan deglazed with wine, onions and herbs sautéed in the juices, sauce finished with cream is my usual m. o.). I think if all kids get to eat when they are babies is canned food, then it might be harder for them to adjust to freshly cooked food later. But it shouldn't be just ANY freshly cooked food, I think mothers should really be feeding them what they want to cook for themselves. Someone who loves casseroles should be feeding their babies pureed versions of those casseroles. If you rely on the take-out prepared foods from the grocery store (I certainly did when I was working as an accountant), then that is what should be tossed into the blender as baby food. I really suspect that the later convenience of having children who like the same kinds of food as you do is worth the extra effort when they are babies.