I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no Delia or Nigella when it comes to food; yes I can cook, I have a few ‘go to’ dishes & I enjoy making a Sunday roast. However, I’m not great at experimenting with new recipes, mainly because I begrudge buying a mountain of ingredients that may never get used again. I like to try new things when I’m out though & if I like something, will attempt to do my own version of it at home. My naïve self had visions of Benjamin enjoying whatever we put in front of him & have no texture issues whatsoever. I’d decided that my own OCD didn’t want him to explore his food too much with his hands, so created my own combo of baby-led & traditional weaning methods. I wasn’t going to blitz food to within an inch of its life, but nor was I going to encourage sensory food play in his highchair: he (purposely) doesn’t have a tray, as we want him to be sat at the table with us. Mostly, this has worked well. The faces he pulls initially are quite comical, then he realises that it wasn’t so bad after all, so just ‘gets on with things’ so to speak. He’s become aware that if he doesn’t eat something, Mumma offers no alternative; he will just have less. Mean? Maybe. But I’m not getting into the habit of cooking two different meals. It’s just unmanageable.
These last couple of weeks however, things seem to have changed. Apparently he’s started gagging at his Childminder’s house on some of his veggies & fruit. Disappointingly, he was nonchalant when presented with his turkey roast (maybe because it was sans gravy & on some subconscious level he felt cheated?! Which you can’t blame the boy for to be fair!) I was informed that he gagged on his mango, even though I’d mixed it with his favourite Petites Filous to make it less slippery than the day before: when an excited Benjamin, so pleased to see his Daddy, literally catapulted it out of his mouth onto the unsuspecting, unamused cat, who bravely sits next to his highchair in case he drops something tasty. However, regurgitated mango didn’t fall into this category for her it seemed. We don’t even speak of his sweet potato & red pepper textured mash anymore, as it apparently came out as quickly as it went in, in a very dramatic fashion & with two changes of outfit later, yikes! During one of his lunches, I’m sure lovely Tish (Sara’s Childminding Assistant, whom he equally adores) said that she ended up shelling his peas for him from his tuna bake! Seriously Benjamin, what is going on boy? Total diva. Personally I blame his eyelashes. This is the baby, whose party trick is to be able to put a single (whole) pea in his mouth, roll it around for a few seconds, then pop it back out of his mouth, holding it between his lips, before sucking it back in again & swallowing – complete with its shell! I was so concerned after hearing about ‘Peagate’, that the next day I went right back to basics & pureed everything (which I’d never really done before). I even whizzed up some raspberries, cherries & plums & mixed them with a Weetabix! I was particularly proud of my fruity creation (it tasted delicious after I’d made it) until Sara pointed out that it had literally set into a lump of deep red concrete & they had to use boiling water to be able to do anything with it. Then Benjamin, after plastering it all over his face first, turned his nose up at it anyway. Of course. Seriously, there’s just no appreciation for my efforts. I swear he’d be more than happy if every meal involved: buttered toast & fromage frais! I absolutely refuse to buy jars of mush, Tim & I don’t have things like that ourselves, so why would I want Benjamin to eat them? I conceded to Cow & Gate pureed fruit tubs, as my own efforts were clearly wasted on his now-fussy palette. I buy ‘baby snacks’ – rice cakes & veggie puffs; things that I just couldn’t practically make myself. Why is it that even though I decant these foods into plastic containers, Benjamin seems to instinctively know that ‘treats come in packets’? And when I’m sorting out the shopping delivery, he’s magically drawn to them whilst sat in his highchair: as they lie on the table, awaiting their new, yet temporary, Tupperware home. Just how does he know?!
I’ve found myself Googling again. This time my searches are more “when can babies eat…” rather than “is it normal for babies to…” After trawling the http://www.netmums.com discussion threads, it’s still often down to my own intuition it seems. I went ‘all out’ on Sunday & ambitiously tried him on some washed Spanish olives & manchego at IKEA – whilst everyone else in the family was scoffing meatballs & gravy. It was a great success: he loved them, I’m so proud, as I love them too, but no one else in the house does. I really wanted him to like houmous as well, but unfortunately this was clearly too strong a flavour for him to handle. These days I often find myself becoming ‘Sam I Am’ from “Green Eggs & Ham” over-enthusiastically trying to tempt him with various foods on a ‘platter’ & these dipped toasted sticks were no exception…”Would you? Could you?” “Eat them! Eat them! Here they are!” It was a definite no & he certainly didn’t change his mind right at the end unfortunately. He even removed & mic dropped his bib in protest after that particular snack. I half expected him to hold up a whiteboard with a score on it, saying something along the lines of “Mumma, I give you 2 & your presentation could be better!” Back to the drawing board methinks. I will not give up on houmous!
I write a note to Sara with his menu on it everyday. I’m very conscious of being one of those ‘over-eager mums’ but I think it’s important that everyone knows what he’s having, which probably says more of my culinary skills than anything else! I like the idea that at least if the adults know what he’s eating, they can talk to him about it; rather than just giving it to him without the faintest idea of what it actually is. My aim is to instill a love of food, feel positive about eating & enjoy the social aspect of sharing a meal, rather than just fulfilling a basic need. I am determined that this ‘gagging’ is a phase & he will go back to eating everything, regardless of its texture. This lunchtime, the boy has just polished off a bowl of spicy bean chilli (hmmm, can’t wait for that one to pass on through!) & managed to chomp down on whole kidney beans quite happily with his single tooth! There’s hope yet…
Thank you for reading. I’d love you to share your favourite baby recipes; I really need some more inspiration!