His smile was cute but Mason’s behavior was not at dinner on Tuesday. He rejected most of his meal, played with his sippy cup instead of drinking from it, and put his feet up on his high chair tray (gross!).
I’m thrilled that my 12-month-old has such an eclectic palate, but that doesn’t mean mealtime is always easy for us. In fact we’ve had several finicky and frustrating mealtimes at our house lately (see exhibit A above). Take Tuesday. I picked Bug up from daycare and his teacher told me had been a champion eater all day — oatmeal, various fresh fruits, lasagna, whole-grain muffin. I was psyched, I get so excited when he eats well. Then we got home and I offered him six different finger foods he’s loved in the past, in the spirit of Dr. Sears’ advice, and he spit every option out. He even rejected yogurt with fresh peach puree, one of his faves. What did he finally eat? Plain macaroni noodles by the fistful. So. Annoying. All of this is normal, according to Sears, since kids tend to get picky once they turn a year old. But it’s still frustrating.
When things get tough – like dinnertime every night so far this week — I can take comfort in all the times that he’s eaten things we swore he’d never like. Here are the foods that I’m amazed he enjoys so much. What about you? Is there anything that your babe likes that you can’t believe he/she enjoys so much?
1. Lobster Ravioli. This one made me nervous (What if he has a shellfish allergy?!), but Chris gave Bug his first taste of shellfish with winning results.
2. Gazpacho. We let him try this bold summer soup because he kept sticking his fingers in Chris’ bowl. Mason has enjoyed it ever since, including at his birthday dinner.
3. Garam Masala. My friend Jeanne convinced me that my then-nine-month-old would probably like her curried lentils, which feature a tiny pinch of this strong Indian spice. She was right.
Alicia Silverstone is raising her three-month-old baby, Bear Blu, on a strictly vegan diet — no meat, fish, dairy, or honey, according to a report in today’s Huffington Post. Silverstone’s not the only one, notes author Katherine Bindley, who quotes several moms whose children follow vegan diets.Despite the health benefits that some experts say come with a vegan diet, including lower rates of heart disease and obesity, others think the diet is too risky for kids because it can lead to numerous vitamin deficiencies if done incorrectly.
My take is that babies and toddlers should be introduced to as many diverse, healthy foods as possible. They need the vitamins and nutrients, and they need to learn about food and eating healthfully. (I follow a gluten-free diet but I’d never impose a gluten-free diet on Mason just because it’s the way that I choose to eat.) If they wish to follow a special diet later in life, when they’re old enough to make those choices and understand the consequences, then we as parents should help guide their decisions. What do you think? Would you put your babe or toddler on a vegan diet? Or, if your babe is already on a vegan diet, what are the advantages from your POV?
Mason and Zann, at Cranky’s in Long Island City, NY, playing with toys and spoons while they wait for their lunch.
Mason and I had a pool and lunch date today with my friend Diane and her 15-month-old son Zann. The pool was gorgeous — it’s situated outdoors, on the ninth floor of Diane’s apartment building, and it offers a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. Most of our neighbors are out of town for the holiday weekend so the place was virtually empty. Mason usually cries when I take him into the pool but today there were no tears. He loved being in the water and he giggled his way through “Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall” (baby sits on the wall, we sing, and then baby “falls” into mommy’s arms in the waters). Today was Zann’s first time in the pool and he seemed to enjoy it, too, once he got used to the water. Before long, the boys were sitting in the shallow end together, splashing each other and us. After an hour or so we dried them off and headed out for lunch.
At Cranky’s, a cozy local coffee shop, we situated the boys next to each other in high chairs and gave them each their own disposable place mat (best invention ever). They snacked on organic apple puffs while we looked at the menu. Diane was part of the email chain last week, in which a group of local moms and I discussed our 1-year-olds’ annoying eating habits, so we decided to try out Dr. Sear’s advice and create a well-rounded buffet of finger foods for them. They drank whole milk and split an omelet filled with tomatoes, spinach, turkey sausage, and cheddar cheese with a side of whole wheat toast. They also shared a bowl of sliced fresh bananas, oranges, red grapes, blueberries, and cantaloupe. When the food arrived, we cut everything up into small pieces, gave them each a little bit of everything, and then let them pick and choose what they wanted to eat.
Mason, drying off at the pool. His skull-and-crossbones rash guard kept him from getting a sunburn on his tummy.
Turns out, serving 1-year-olds an assortment of finger foods (rather than two or three at a time) really works. Mason binged on the toast a bit, which Dr. Sears says is normal, but overall the boys ate well and were well-occupied. Both Diane and I felt good knowing they were getting such a nutritious lunch. We also enjoyed our meals and we had a blast watching the boys enjoy all the different flavors and textures (we got so caught up in how cute they were that I forgot to take a photo of their buffet to share with you! Apologies, next time for sure….) This finger food strategy worked so well for us that it’s going to be a model for how Mason eats in the months to come. Stay tuned as we report back on the combos of finger foods that work for us — and please share your babe’s faves with us!
Yesterday, Mason happily ate cooked apple chunks, as well as steamed edamame and carrot from his lentils. This morning he was picky and peckish.
I have a tight group of mom friends in my neighborhood. (I’ll call them the LIC Mamas here since we all live in Long Island City, NY.) We met during the postpartum period through mommy-baby yoga and a Sunday morning coffee group, and our babes are roughly the same age. I couldn’t have gotten through the last year without their support and advice. Yesterday, one of them emailed the rest of us in a panic. She and her family are on vacation, miles from a real grocery store, and her 11-month-old daughter was suddenly refusing to eat her typical faves. “She pretty much wants to eat cheese all day,” our friend wrote. “Thoughts? I’m ready to call the pediatrician.”
As it turned out, each one of us had experienced this phenomenon. One day our babes are eating every single thing we put in front of them, the next day they reject practically everything. Mason was a champion eater yesterday but he was peckish this morning. Despite a spread of cheese omelet, toast with blackberry jam, and fresh cantaloupe — all things he loves — he only wanted the cheese toast I was eating. Yesterday, on the other hand, he had a breakfast of crepes at home then went to daycare and devoured a second breakfast of eggs and melon and a lunch of pasta, pesto chicken, and fresh orange slices. He ate his new Sesame Street crackers on the subway on the way home and then he enjoyed veggie lentils, chunks of cooked apple, steamed edamame, and strawberry yogurt for dinner.
Jazzed to be out of his high chair — and in daddy’s arms — this morning.
In addition to making us worry that they’re losing important nutrients, our toddlers’ finickiness can be downright annoying. As another LIC Mama wrote in our email exchange, “Stuff he loved he now throws on the floor. He only seems to want purees after having completely rejected them for the last month.” What mom wants to spend hours making food for her babe only to have it thrown on the floor and devoured by the dog, stepped on and mashed into the carpet by a sibling, or unceremoniously tossed in the garbage?
Intrigued by our discussion, one of the LIC Mamas decided to get an expert’s take on our situation so she turned to Dr. Sears. Apparently, he’s been where we are. “When our first few children were toddlers, we dreaded dinnertime,” he says. “We would prepare all kinds of sensible meals composed of what we thought were healthy, appealing foods. Most of these offerings would end up splattering the high-chair tray and carpeting the floor.” He goes on to note that “Being a picky eater is part of what it means to be a toddler,” and he offers some very sensible strategies for getting them to eat a variety of healthful foods. I love his idea to make nibble trays with a range of finger foods, and I think dip is a great way dress up fresh veggies and fruits (just be ready for a mess!).
Have you experienced the same mealtime issues that we have? What are your go-to tricks for getting your toddlers to eat well?
Mason’s Hurricane Irene eats: A mix of homemade food, crackers, puffs, and formula
Hurricane Irene is expected to hit New York City tonight. We’re not in a mandatory evacuation zone, we don’t live by the water, and our apartment building isn’t a highrise, so we’ve decided to ride out the storm at home instead of leaving town. Hopefully we don’t regret that decision. Chris taped up all the windows and brought our furniture in from our balcony. But before we hunkered down, I insisted on one last run to the grocery store. Although we stocked up on essentials yesterday, I needed to pick up a few extras — and I was desperate for one last excursion before hurricane-imposed house arrest in our 800-square-foot apartment. God help us if we have to stay indoors beyond Sunday. Mason will be crawling up the walls, and I’ll be ready to pull my hair out.
The store was packed. It’s in the part of our ‘hood that is a mandatory evacuation zone, but everyone there looked totally relaxed. “It’s like a block party in here,” a guy next to me in the pasta aisle remarked. He was right and I felt like staying there as long as possible. Mason and I cruised slowly up and down the aisles and picked up hummus, cut up veggies, crackers, jam, whatever caught my eye since I was suddenly starving. Chris rolled his eyes at my collection of “necessities,” he was on to my game. He tried to hustle me along, I stalled for as long as possible. While Chris stood in line to pay for the groceries, Mason and I hung outside. The sky was gray and angry-looking clouds were already gathering overhead but the air was warm and there was a lovely breeze. Mason giggled as a Doberman Pinscher named Max circled his owner’s legs and a few people stopped to chat with us. Babies are a great conversation starter.
Back home, I took in our stockpile of food. Mason’s set for days. Our freezer is stocked with two different kinds of homemade applesauce (regular and blueberry), as well as banana, strawberry, and peach purees for yogurt and oatmeal. I also have frozen portions of veggie lentils, chicken with brown rice and homemade tomato sauce, and cheesy veggies, not to mention five kinds of cut up frozen veggies. Some of the food is thawing in the fridge; if the power goes out Mason can eat the thawed food right away and then the frozen stuff later. If there’s a lengthy power outage, Chris and I will resort to a diet of canned tuna, pickles, dried Italian sausage, beef jerky, bread, tortilla chips, bottled water, red wine, and dark chocolate. And we have lots and lots of candles, which could be romantic — unless the storm turns into a rager.
Here’s to hoping Irene stays a category 1 storm and doesn’t pick up any more steam as she makes her way up the coast. Are you on the East Coast as well? If so, what foods did you stock up on for your family?
What Chris and I will eat if we lose power for a long time