Thursday, September 23, 2010

finger foods

tiny, soft plums

I’m pretty sure it happened overnight. One day, the baby was happily slurping down every and anything I could run through a blender and the next day, all he wanted was That. What You’re Eating. Give It To Me Or I Will Make Terrible Yelping Noises Until You Figure Out That Babies Need Lattes Too.

[I'm sorry baby, but the last thing you we the neighbors need is something to keep you up at night.]

quartered tomatoes

And we haven’t eaten them same since. From that day on, I literally could not walk into the room eating an apple unless I also carried a dish of apple chunks for the baby to… what? I mean, he had like two teeth at that point and not very effective ones at that, but he wanted that food in his mouth and once he got it in his mouth, even if he hadn’t figured out how to “process” it, good luck getting it back. Suddenly, those teeth were daggers. Occasionally, two hours later we’d find the half-eaten chunk of apple deep in his shag play rug. Babies, man. Good thing they are cute.

lima beans

And so we started on finger foods. In the first “phase”, I looked for things I believed he could mash up in his mouth: soft, skinned chunks of peaches; bananas, avocado, cooked carrots. He loved cantaloupe and watermelon (it was summer here, after all) and then one day, we discovered he loved tomatoes too when one he had tomato seeds all over his shirt and he’d apparently managed to pluck a cherry tomato out of my farmer’s market haul and helped himself to it. Soon it was bagels and even pieces of chicken and within a four week period, we’d gone from carefully introducing only one food at a time to realizing that there was not a thing on earth that the child wouldn’t eat. I hear from parents of toddlers that this phase doesn’t last very long so I’ve decided to enjoy it.

boiled fingerling potatoes

Our first finger foods (simply stuff we had around that went over well):

  • Banana
  • Ripe mango, melon, peaches, plums (peeled, pitted)
  • Avocado
  • Roasted potato or yams
  • Roasted or steamed carrots, broccoli, cauliflower
  • Strawberries that had been quartered lengthwise
  • Bagels and whole wheat toast “sticks”
  • Cheerios or the equivalent (but please do not get me started on how much I disliked so-called various organic Healthy O’s. I will clear the room with my rants)

Our second finger foods:

  • Bits of roasted chicken, broken-up meatballs
  • Soft, fresh mozzarella
  • Softly scrambled eggs, pieces kept large (see my technique here)
  • Halved grapes
  • Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
  • Bits of pita dipped into hummus
  • Hard-boiled eggs, chopped into chunks
  • Any roasted vegetable

Some fun stuff we found at the market, once he got that early stuff down:

  • Doughnut peaches (yup, their little hands can hold them, just try to get the pit away before they eat that too)
  • Seckel pears (ditto, except I didn’t get the core away in time and it was… gone)
  • Baby apples (excellent photo op, too!)
  • Quartered teardrop tomatoes, which are often softer and sweeter than the greenhouse grape ones
  • Sugarsnap peas (not saying I think these are the safest, but the baby went apey over them)
  • Fresh lima beans, lightly cooked
  • Tiny seedless grapes

How I approached it: Although we started with the recommended “bite-sized pieces” I noticed that the baby was best able to manage foods cut into a “finger” shape — about 1 to 2 inches long and a 1/2-inch thick. It’s hard to do much with a little cube but pop it whole into your mouth, but the baby could hold onto one end of the longish piece while nibbling on the other, just like you or I would eat a carrot stick.

Next up: I freak out and start making a lot of soup.