Egg allergy? Muffins it is then.

Watching the Little Mister eat anything I’ve made for him gives me an undeniable sense of satisfaction. Watching him eat anything at all is pretty uplifting, granted, but nothing beats watching him take to his mouth a morsel made by his mama.

It only 11 months, yes, but now that gag reflex is gone, the Little Mister is able to eat lumpy food, and even chew on bits of bread and crackers. He’s still being fussy, and I’ve not yet mastered getting him to feed himself anything other than bread and crackers, but we finally have progress. For the last two mornings he’s finished his banana mashed with weetabix. And he’s had about half of the lunch and dinner I’ve served up. Meat mixed with pear, apple or mango? Check.

I gave up slaving over my fancy baby food cooker months ago when the only thing he would eat out of it was pureed fruit. But this morning, buoyed by the success of an empty breakfast bowl, I cooked for Little Mister.

A couple of weeks ago, we tried to give him scrambled eggs. After he refused to eat them, he came up in a scary rash and hives around his mouth. I panicked and Skyped mum. I had an egg allergy too as a baby, but grew out of it.

So, after a little help from google, I made some egg-free, sugar-free banana muffins, adapted from a recipe I found online here. We had lunch out, at Te Papa today. The Little Mister ate almost half a muffin before throwing the rest on the floor. (Yes, I was so happy I wanted to tell everyone around me what had just happened, but I restrained myself and just gave my baby the biggest slobbery kiss ever.) Try them for your little ones, they are yum and oh-so-easy:

Sugar and egg free banana muffins:

In a bowl mix the following ingredients. Then, place a big spoon of batter into a 12-hole greased cupcake tin. Bake for about 20 mins on 170C. Makes 24.

1 cup rolled  oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 cup prune and apple puree (which I’d prepared earlier in the fancy baby cooker – just call me Nigella.)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch nutmeg
pinch cinnamon
tiny drop of vanilla paste
2 large ripe bananas, mashed well
1 1/4 cups water

banana muffins

And here they are

Dear Mama: Food Rules

Dear Mama, thanks for figuring out that I’m ready to eat now. I knew it wouldn’t take you long to notice, given you’ve been trying to feed me for half my life. But now that I’m ready, I think we need to lay down some ground rules – and of course – take it slow.

1. Crackers. I like these. Cruskits are good, and preferably the ones with only two ingredients: maize and salt. Rice cakes are good too, but only the little ones with apple juice added for flavour.

2. Bread. Let’s stick with white for now. Pita breads are good, but please make sure they don’t get too hard in the toaster. Ideally, they will be from a just-opened packet so they are fresh and soft.

3. Butter. This is fine in small quantities, and it must be INSIDE two slices of bread or crackers, so I can’t feel it on my hands. It feels yuk. Ditto vegemite.

4. Fruit. Possibly the one food I prefer pureed. Steamed fruit is just too slippery and slimy. Maybe I’ll change my mind next week, but for now, put the fancy steamer away. The same goes for carrots.

5. Meat and vegetables. Still not interested, sorry. Bread and crackers will do me just fine.

6. Mealtimes. I still think we have too many of these during the day when I could be crawling, cruising along furniture, and looking for drawers and cupboards to open.

7. Feeding me. I’ll do this myself, thanks. I’d rather you didn’t try and put food in my mouth. There will, however, be some occasions when I will eat pureed fruit. You’ll have to watch me  to judge when these are. Once I’ve had enough though, please put the spoon away promptly. Mostly, though, I’m figuring out how to handle food on my own – and I’ll stick to crackers and bread (see rules 1 and 2).

8. Handfuls. You’ve got the right idea with the perfectly-sized baby rice cakes. Excellent. And I think you’ve worked out that Cruskits need to be broken into longish strips so I can hold the bottom and eat the top. Watch they’re not too wide. Soldiers of bread are just fine.

9. Enough. Once I’ve sucked on my food for long enough, it gets soggy and it sticks to my hands. Please take it away. If you don’t I’ll throw it on the floor. That doesn’t mean I want you to pick it up, tell me about the three second rule, and offer it to me again. Throwing it away means I’m done.

Thanks Mama, I think we’re on the same page with this one.

Love and big open mouthed kisses, Milin Charlie xo

This time it really is progress

TONIGHT our little family ate dinner together for the first time. Let me explain.

We’ve tried it before. But the Little Mister is generally uninterested in food. By dinner time in particular. And it usually involves one of us distracting him while the other tries to trick him and get the spoon into his mouth. Sometimes we get two mouthfuls in, sometimes it’s five. Our food gets forgotten. He throws his toys on the floor. You see, we never eat together.

But tonight, the Little Mister held a piece of a corn wafer in his hand, and sucked and sucked and chewed and swallowed. He finished it. We ate our dill and lemon baked fish with vegetables and watched him. We finished ours too. He wasn’t sick.

I’ve been to the doctor twice about the projectile vomiting. Until now, anything not pureed into liquid form has come straight back up after a few scary moments of near-choking. At nearly 11 months, the Little Mister still has a very sensitive gag reflex. Apparently. Apparently it’s nothing to worry about. The doctor, who perhaps viewed me as a neurotic housewife with too much time on her hands, suggested we see a private specialist if we were really concerned.

I know that for under ones the most important food is milk – but that birthday has been rapidly approaching. And until now, there’s been no discernible progress. So, as much as I’ve tried not to be, of course I’ve been concerned. Recently though, it’s more that I’ve been sad for the Little Mister. He wants to eat. Sand, soil, bits of brick – he gives it a go (and then vomits over the kitchen floor again). I watch his friends with their lunchboxes. I’m jealous.

I have no idea why in the last few days things have changed but they have. Lumpy banana – he ate it. Buttered bread – he only gagged a bit. FORK MASHED CHICKEN AND PASTA – HE ATE IT (mixed in with creamy rice pudding, but that had lumps in it too.)

I’ve been optimistic before, but this really is progress. Maybe the Little Mister will be eating his first birthday cake with us after all.

Dear Mama: Some advice

Dear Mama, I’d like to help you. I think you’ve been struggling a bit with meal times, so here goes.

I’m nearly ten months old now, and, sorry to say it, but you’ve been a bit slow at figuring out this whole solids thing. You might remember (I do) that you first tried to give me some baby rice cereal when I was five months. Luckily for both of us, you figured out pretty quick there was no way I was going to eat any of that grown-up-like-food-stuff and you stopped trying for a while. (Lucky too that you realised baby rice cereal is awful and should only ever be offered in miniscule quantities mixed with lots of pear.)

After a bit of a break, you tried again. I’m not sure why you did this. I like bottles of milk just fine. Sometimes you could warm them up a bit more, but generally, they’re just fine.

You might remember (I do) that when I was eight months old I stopped fighting you so hard. I had to give it to you mama, your persistence was impressive. You’d sit me down every day and try and feed me with a soft blue spoon. Meanwhile, you’d tease me by using a metal spoon yourself. Didn’t you realise how good that would feel on my gums?

I tried really hard to show you how much I wasn’t ready to eat. I clamped my lips shut, turned as far away as I could from the spoon, and squirmed in my high chair. Sometimes I’d shout. Most times you didn’t get it.

But, as I said, after eight months, I gave in a little to your persistence.

Since then, we’ve made quite a lot of progress. For example, you’ve learnt that velcro-fastening bibs are a waste of time because I can get pull them off easily. You’ve also clicked that there’s no point starving me of milk, it doesn’t mean I’ll eat more grown-up-like-food-stuff. I think too that you’ve relaxed a bit about it all and now you give up sooner when I’m not going to eat. (Even though you took me to the doctor because you were so worried about me puking up all the time. I think you got the message from him though, that there’s no need to be neurotic and I’m just doing this on my time.)

But there’s still a whole lot of stuff you’re still not getting. Like finger food or anything actually solid: I will gag on it and throw it up. Why don’t you just stop giving it to me? And cleaning the high chair. Why do you spend so long doing it? I don’t care, you know, if the remainder of my last seventeen meals are caked onto its edges. I’m still not going to eat them. Instead of cleaning, you could be playing toys, or crawling, with me.

Then there’s the vegetables. This is where you really need help. I know you steam them up with apricots. I hear the scary blender sometimes when I’m trying to sleep. Just so you know, I can still taste the vegetables through the apricots.

Recently, you’ve started giving me banana and weetabix in the morning for breakfast. That’s ok, I can handle that. But please remember, as soon as I turn my head away from the spoon and drop my toys off the side of my high chair, mealtime is over. And please don’t forget to pick up my toys for me. Somedays mealtime will be over after one mouthful. Somedays I’ll eat a third of a banana. Just watch me closely for clues about which day it’s going to be.

But here’s the most important bit mama, and this is the bit that’s going to help you. When I’m ready, I’ll eat. Just like all those other babies we see at playdates, who eat toast and carrots and pasta, I’ll eat. For now though, no more doctors, no more sighs at the breakfast bar and hanging your head with sad eyes, and no more kumara and apricot flavoured meat and vegetables. Let’s just wait til I’m ready.

Lots of love and opened-mouthed kisses mixed with raspberries,

Milin Charlie xxx

 

 

Right Tools for the Job

METAL teaspoons. This week, they’re the answer.

I’m getting the Little Mister to eat a little, probably about a teaspoon worth of food, about twice a day. It’s not because I’m giving him jarred stuff from the supermarket, or because I’m being brave enough to do baby led weaning, or because he particularly wants to eat. It’s because I’m using metal teaspoons.

Meal time goes like this. Milin gets one metal teaspoon. He loves it. He bangs it on the kitchen bench like a musician. He also throws it onto the floor and then looks at me expectantly until I pick it up and give it back to him. And, crucially, he puts it in his mouth and chomps on it.

The Little Mister is teething. Consequentially, he loves teaspoons. They feel great on his gums and they’re pretty easy to hold and get into his mouth. So while he opens wide to get one teaspoon in, I’m there ready with another. Another one laden with pureed solids, that is.

I know it’s trickery, but it’s getting me more success at mealtime than any other honest attempt at feeding has. If we’re having a really good day, the Little Mister will even want to feed himself. But again, with the metal teaspoon. Which I gently guide into his mouth, and voila, success.

So, in the kitchen cupboard, are a whole load of fancy BPA free baby spoons. Some even change colour with temperature so you know if your baby food is to hot. But the Little Mister is too smart for all that kind of stuff. Baby spoons which are soft on the gums? No thanks, mama. Point one of those in the direction of the Little Mister and his lips purse shut, his head turns away from you, he bats at the plastic, and he arches his back so far in the opposite direction he almost does a full backbend.

Tony has been telling me for months to give the boy a regular spoon, just like he sees us eating from. I was convinced a metal spoon would be too hard on his gums. And I was also convinced I was doing the right thing by buying lots of different baby spoons, because surely the little boy would find one he liked. But no, Tony insisted, try a metal spoon. I suppose he was right.

More dubious culinary progress

OUR culinary adventures continue. I’ve written about numerous false starts. There was that time the Little Mister looked like he wanted some mashed banana. Then there was the time he ate a bit of mush from a squeezy pouch. The fact remains though, that the Little Mister doesn’t eat.

He’s got really good at formula guzzling, however, so I suppose that’s something. I think it’s making him fill out a lot. He’s got chubby cheeks and thighs and fingers. So cute.

But he still refuses to let me feed him with a spoon. Or a squeezy pouch. He has figured out that those pouches are just another feeding vessel. He’s pretty smart, my boy. I don’t mind him not liking the pouches. I was a bit miffed anyway that he would want those over the good wholesome fare I’d prepared myself.

I still like the idea of baby led weaning, but I’ve got my own hang ups on choking that are preventing us from charging down that road. I did give Milin a Cruskit the other day. He loved it, until he gagged on a bit that got stuck. Too scary.

Yet the only way the Little Mister is going to eat is if he feeds himself. This week he has started wanting to do it. About time. I’ve been giving him his little blue spoon so he can give it a go. The food goes everywhere, all over the table or high chair tray, all over his clothes, and then all over his hands. He loves to feel it and play with it on the spoon. Banana is particularly slimy and mushy. Then he aims it at his mouth. If there is any food left on the spoon by the time it makes contact, he eats. This is progress.

I figure it will help him improve his hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills, so surely it’s a good thing on numerous levels. He doesn’t seem fussy about what is on the spoon either, he just wants to be the one in control.

The Little Mister is also loving sucking banana or mandarin through a little net bag. Again, it’s because he can feed himself. How much he gets is of course negligible in calorie content terms, but he’s still eating. Today, he wanted mum’s apple, so he sucked on a big slice of that too.

So I think we’ve cracked it. We’ll just let the Little Mister feed himself, and one day, more of the food will stay on the spoon. Simple.

Rejection

I’m feeling rejected. I know the Little Mister hasn’t done it on purpose, but he has made me feel a little snubbed.

I’ve written here about having some success with food, but that was a one-off. In reality, the Little Mister still doesn’t eat anything. He’s going great with the formula, but when it comes to solids, he still doesn’t want anything I’ve made.

So, the freezer shelf is still full. I make up fruit-based purees, vegetable purees, cinnamon infused purees, expressed milk vegetable mashes – the works. I portion them up, carefully date and label them, add them to my colour-coded list on the freezer door, and put them away.

Each morning, I decide on a menu and defrost what I need to while he sleeps, getting ready, because today might be the day. I dutifully try and feed him breakfast and lunch every day, just as I have done for the past two and a half months. He continues to purse his lips, turn his head away, and flatly refuse to take the spoon.

I’ve just started reading the baby led weaning book, and I’m going to give it a go. I think we’ll have some luck with it. The baby on the cover looks a bit like Milin, and I think we’ve got the same high chair. This bodes well. The thing is, I’m yet to get over my nerves about choking and gagging. Perhaps once I’m a little further through the book though, I’ll be steaming up carrots and broccoli heads and handing them to my hungry baby with confidence. Maybe he’ll sit there, in his high chair, and smile at me before grabbing them from the tray, munching away at them, and demanding more. Maybe. But that’s down the track.

Today, mum, who is finally here from London, gave the Little Mister a squeezy pouch to hold. She helped him squeeze its contents into his mouth – which he opened. Voila. The Little Mister ate organic broccoli, carrot and sweet potato mash. From a plastic squeezy tube made by a machine in a factory. Then he ate some more.

I know I shouldn’t resent that there wasn’t any mama-love in that tube, but I do. I know I should be pleased that he ate something – anything – but I still feel rejected. I guess there’s always tomorrow. Maybe he’ll go off the squeezy tube and want a mouthful of home made goodness instead. Or maybe not.

Here he is – just before refusing to eat the breakfast I’d made him. Lucky he’s so cute.

No breakfast for me thanks, I’ve got rings and Sophie to chew on.