Monday, May 4, 2009

Their Highchairs Are On Mount Everest

This is Part One in an Indefinite Multi-Part Post on Table Food. You used to call it Food... that was before kids.

Months 5-8 I felt in control of the food situation*. The Esq Tykes "ate" but it was bottles and something we moms call "solid" food but is in no way solid.

I introduced rice cereal at 4 months, follwed quickly by "solids". We introduced the sippy cup at 6 months (neither kid is any good at them but they do drink some water if you hold it for them). My kids may be "behind schedule" developmentally but my philosophy is that I will at least try to introduce things over a long enough period so I'm ready with the routine all in place when they are ready to develop said skill. It also lets me get ready mentally for each stage.

This month I decide I need to get a handle on Table Food. I was raised in a home where green beans came out of cans and we had set weekly nights like Chopped Liver (McDonald's) and Stewed Monkey Brains (Prince Spaghetti Night). Only since having kids have Husband and I come up with a set of go-to meals for us that are relatively nutritious and easy to make. I would really rather just insert an IV for my nutrition so I don't need to have choices or spend time cooking so I really want to encourage healthy behaviors in my kids and ensure they aren't the picky eater I am.

After 2 weeks of attempting it, I have determined that Table Food sucks. The kids can't eat what we do (especially since mine have no teeth and we don't get home early enough to make dinner) but we can't have them eating purees at 1 year old (can we? please?). Husband and I get home too late to make something for dinner before the kids eat/go to bed so I try to have a bunch of options in the fridge to put a couple of items on their trays before "solids".

Future blog installment will include, but not be limited to: Jar Food, I Heart You 4Ever; Fruit and Veggies = Wet and Slippery; Grocery Lists Are For Dummies.

In the meantime take pity on Mommy, Esq. and send me suggestions for finger foods to introduce and any infant-appropriate menus. Any tips for getting kids to eat what you put on their trays? (So far no luck with blueberries, peaches, pasta, watermelon, green beans, carrots - the kids won't let them near their mouths. The only winners are corn cakes (like rice cakes), puffs, Os and pancakes). What do people in daycare do with introducing finger food? Bonus points if you include suggestions on how to help incorporate the Nanny into doing the lion share of the work.

Visual evidence as to how my kids do not heart table food.

*Note: Except Miss Penny and her rejection of bottle food. She cannot have milk or soy so we are delaying Ned on most of those items too (except cheese because we always have shredded cheese in our house).


Liz Jimenez said...

Rice krispies. Baby MumMum's (I think you can get them at Trader Joe's and at the Market Basket in Woburn). Small chunks of banana or avocado, tossed in crushed rice krispies or cheerios (makes them easier to pick up). Black beans (smooshed, just a little to break the skin).

10 lbs of awesome in a 5 lb bag said...

Try those little star puffs. I don't remember what they're called but they come in a plastic cylinder, if memory serves, maybe a yellow and blue container. They come in a few flavors, and melt in the mouth.

I know that this is going to sound ridiculous, but try, on a weekend day, to make some food for them. Put some sweet potatoes or vegetables in a little mini food processor and puree it. My wife did that a bunch (and she works!) and our daughter liked pretty much everything that she made.

Just Kristen said...

Hello from the trenches! Baby Mummums are great...we tried those around 6 months with some success! I probably introduced puffs and cheerios around 7-8 months. Puffs were accepted first they melt really fast (the yogurt melts are really good, too). It took a LONG time for them to try and put it in their own mouth but just be patient..keep putting a few out and feed them the puree slowly so they get impatient and try to feed themselves. In fact, until very recently Luke could only pick things up...he couldn't/wouldn't put it in his mouth. We had kind of a breakthrough with graham cracker sticks and...then came them eating cheerios without gagging/vomiting (YEAH!). Over the last two weeks I have tried really ripe slices of pear (A++), toast (B+), slices of strawberries (B), slices of apple (D-), 1/4 waffle (B+) goldfish (A++) really steamed broccoli (surprising A++) pieces of babybel cheese (B). They still wouldn't be caught dead eating a stage 3 jar....without vomiting. For my guys...they seem to like bigger things they can easily bite off, if you give them smaller pieces they aren't interested (cheerios being the exception). The baby mummums will work well for your guys because you don't need teeth and it melts really fast.

The Mommy said...

There are these yogurt things made by Gerber that Sarah used to like. They're like puffed yogurt. I have read that sometimes you need to introduce things upwards of ten times before they'll be into it - ten times is A LOT!!! Eeeeps! Sarah is v. picky but I am surprised at some of the things she'll eat - whole milk yogurt, hummus, pasta is always a hit, those are some things for when they're a little older. It does take awhile from what I can remember . . . keep up with the purees if you can - S. had purees of some kind until she was at least a year - with other foods mixed in. Once we get into the summer it is a little easier with all of the fresh fruits. S. also really likes shelled soy beans - go figure. You'll find things that work. Another helpful thing to remember is that no child ever died of starvation who had food put in front of them - that helps me a lot especially on the days when toddlerdom takes over and she won't eat a thing!

Susan D. said...

For our girls, ditto on the pieces of banana, english peas, cooked pasta, but they may be a little young right now, pieces of baked sweet potato, and blueberries. I also pureed a lot of food for them in the beginning - sweet potato, apples, squash, etc. It seemed to give them a taste for it and the texture was like baby food. Not sure if your nanny would do that or not. I froze a lot of purees in silicone ice cube trays, so our sitters could easily nuke them when it was time to eat. good luck!

Mommy, Esq. said...

I love all the puree suggestions but as I'll post about I Heart Jarred Food 4Ever. Ned and Penny will have to suffer the indignity of not having homemade purees.

Donna said...

My ideas will not blow you away. I just pick everything I am eating apart and put it in little tiny bits in front of DS2. He chops away at it, but early on he would chew it (w/o teeth) and then spit it out. This still happens with DS1 sometimes. What I do though, is feed him from the table but also have a jar of stage 2 or 3 baby food ready to go. This ensures he is getting something in his belly. He loves to eat sausage (weird) and he loves peas and carrots. He also gulps down pasta. I cut it into tiny pieces. GL! It is not easy!

LauraC said...

Until the boys could eat "real" food, our day care had us send cheerios and puffs as options for finger foods.

Alex was both a BIG PUKER on table food and extremely picky. Babies and toddlers are naturally scared of new foods bc it protects them from eating something that may be harmful. That's why it can take up to 15 times or more for them to eat a new food. Alex literally would not touch new foods until the 15th time, crying hysterically when presented with new foods.

Anyway I read in Ellyn Satter's books to put 3-5 little piles of new foods on their tray at each meal. It worked very well. Once they liked a couple of things, I would keep putting 2 of those things out while changing up the other 2-3 to introduce new foods.

Alex also had a dairy intolerance so we had to carefully read labels to avoid anything with milk or milk solids in it. It was the biggest PITA.

If I had to rank the most frustrating experiences as a parent so far, they would be:

1. Transition to beds
2. Transition to table food
3. 18 month old grabby but no discipline stage

I can't put potty training on the list yet bc Nate has been super easy.

Neve said...

Table food menu and prep is nothing but a pain in the a$$.

On that note, here's what we've tried and it's a crapshoot as to what she's going to devour on any particular day:

-- Frozen peas, corn and carrots (easy to microwave).
-- Bluberries
-- Watermelon
-- Melon
-- Baby yogurt
-- Pears
-- Peaches
-- Cubed Tofu
-- Ground Beef
-- Ground Turkey
-- Meatballs (beef and turkey)
-- Chicken
-- Turkey tips
-- Pizza
-- Grilled Cheese
-- Apples
-- Cheese
-- Banana bread
-- Bananas
-- Cheerios
-- Toast with butter
-- Blueberry muffin
-- Smushed avacado
-- Pasta
-- Bread/rolls

K @ ourboxofrain said...

Harry doesn't do much finger or table food yet but I'm reading the suggestions you get and storing them away for a few weeks from now when we hit the same point. Now, he eats puffs, but prefers that someone else put them in his mouth. He recently figured out how to pick them up but rarely gets them from hand to mouth -- usually they get dropped or stuck to the palm, which results in some shouting. He also eats banana chunks, which he also prefers that someone else feed him. He can pick them up (and occasionally get them in his mouth) if they are covered in crushed cheerio. As for cheerios themselves, he's just starting those now.

We get most of our food info from Wholesome Baby Food -- Harry likes their suggested combos for purees (avocado, banana, and pear sounds gross to me but is one of his favorites). Their ideas for table foods/meals might be more cooking than you're up for, but if you prepped some of it on the weekend you could keep it in the fridge for during the week.

Her ideas (and recipes) for finger foods for the 8-10 month old crowd:
Her suggestions for finger meals:
Suggestions for meals (I think this one is more spoon meals rather than finger meals but didn't dig deeply):

Donna said...

Oh I have to add that some of the mothers on my May Mommies 2008 board used strained soup. It seemed to work for them. It didn't for me, DS2 thought it was too slippery to pick up!

Monica Marino said...

Ok, hmm... table food. Here's what I liked to feed Fiona:

Mashed up banana, later, cut up banana
Ditto avocado
All berries
Crackers (any form)
pasta (any form)
Baby Mum Mums (Baby Crack! Seriously!), puffs, any kid of small cracker-or-cookie-ish stuff
strips of deli meat
beans- white beans and pasta were a favorite
Sometimes I used the jarred food (carrots etc) as a "sauce" for the pasta - that was a hit!
French toast
Hard boiled egg
Grapes (chopped into teeny pieces, as I'm a choking freak)
Hummus- on anything
Graham crackers

Later- cheese and yogurt

Does that help?

Rebecca said...

Rice krispies. Baby mummums. (You can get them at the Health Food Store on Main St. in Reading). Trader Joe's didn't have them when I looked. Or by the case from Amazon. Beans. Oh, did my guys LOVE beans.

My 2 cents? Throw something on the trays after purees and see what they'll pick up and eat. I would NOT feed them by hand. What a pain! They are little still to be doing much with finger foods---it was right around 8 months that they started being interested and much later that they refused purees.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Oh geez, this can't be fun.
But I must tell you, once they get the hang of fingers foods, it's very liberating! Our secret is Annabel Karmel. The woman is a genius. She's a baby food goddess in the UK and Europe and she's done wonders in our house. Her recipes are healthy and creative, and the kiddos love em.

Jen said...

Before my 9 mo. old son "mastered" puffs & cheerios he liked saltines and biter biscuits that he could hold in his hand and eat. Today the twins & I had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. My daughter also likes a quarter of a mini-bagel with cream cheese :)

Bessa said...

Kids love black beans, and all you need is a can opener. Same with canned green beans.

We also give our (now 2 year old) daughter whatever we're eating. You'll be surprised - she loves scallops and shrimp. But not fried rice. Who knew.

Ditto whomever said well-done broccoli is great for first table food.

At daycare, they give all the table-food-starters (9 months to 12 months) chopped up pieces from the lunches they bring for all the big kids (1-4 yrs.).

Husband and I both work and do take-out a lot. Best picks? Chick-fil-a nuggets, cut up, with mandarin orange pieces (soft) and cut up grapes from their fruit cup. Chipotle will make a quesadilla with black beans and chicken if you ask for it. Kids seem to love Tex Mex (rice and refried beans).

Beware of the prepared foods for kids. I figured they'd be semi-healthy, but some of them are awful. And I'm not a health nut. I like the "Eating Right" brand I get at Tom Thumb a little better than the Chef Boyardee or even Gerber entrees.

Random note? My daughter LOVES veggie sausage links (Morningstar Farms) and it takes us only 45 secs. in the microwave to get some protein into her for breakfast.

Good luck. I found the table food stage to be MUCH easier than the baby food stage, so hopefully you'll get the hang of it.

Amy said...

I've mixed lots of ingredients into pancakes especially vegetables b/c my kids have always been more skeptical about the vegs. Any puree would work:pumpkin, squash, spinach, but you could also include finely chopped, maybe cooked ingredients. Dip in some applesauce and my kids would eat just about anything in a pancake:)

Anonymous said...

Some kids don't "take" to solid/"finger"/non-pureed foods until a year or later. It's totally normal. You got some great suggestions of foods to try... Just throw them on their trays and even if all they do is mush them around, no big deal. Eventually they will put something in their mouths. And may even like it! Until they are a year old, solid food is just for tasting and experimenting- they are still getting most of their nutrition from formula/breastmilk. And my dirty little secret is that I still let Alex, at age 2, eat pureed vegetables. (Earth's Best jars) He LOVES them, even though he can and will eat solid veggies. But I figure there's no harm in letting him have *more* vegetables if that's what he likes.

Anonymous said...

When we introduced finger foods to my two, we started off with Puffs before every meal. As they mastered those, we introduced other things until they were self feeding everything but the obvious stuff.

I make a lot of things in bulk batches on the weekends (pancakes, waffles, muffins, pasta), and also use frozen vegetables. Edamame has been great because they are bigger and easier to pick up.

Chris said...

I don't have much to add, since K is also just starting finger foods, but I do know that Baby MumMum's are also sold at Whole Foods if that helps. K sampled one a few weeks ago - she seemed to like it!

Anonymous said...

Skip the bacon. mom

What A Card said...

If you check out the files section on the MOT message board, I posted a file of suggestions of foods to feed 1 year olds. Not all will be appropriate as finger foods, but there's a lot of ideas to get you through the next few months.

(I had the same question as you when my guys were wee ones. I asked the MOT group, then compiled the answers!)