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My Way Or the Highway

Madeleine’s moved to that enjoyable phase of eating known as “I can do it
myself, so back off lady, and by the way do you have anything else for
dinner that’s not already out?”

She’s pretty much
issued a baby fatwa on spoon-fed meals; a notable exception is yogurt,
which she’ll deign to eat a couple times a week. And if she’s feeling
tired or babyish, she’ll look for applesauce or a couple other pureed
fruits. Vegetables and meats, however, are totally out, so if anyone has
creative uses for pureed green beans I’ve got a freezer full and would
love to hear about it.

I serve her whole milk plain yogurt with
pureed fruits mixed in, and I’ll confess to even considering mixing in,
say, squash or sweet potato and hoping she’ll think it’s a chic new
flavor. But I’ve never had the guts to go through with it.

On the plus side, Maddie’s eating an incredibly wide range of foods now
and is much easier to feed from our table. She’ll eat Chinese food happily
(I make sure it’s not fried or dredged in egg first), loves Indian,
Italian, whatever. And it’s certainly improved my eating habits; she knows
she’s being scammed when she gets a turkey “sandwich” with Veggie Booty
while Mommy eats hot dogs with Doritos. So we eat together as much as

Breakfast has become the hardest meal for me. She’ll
tolerate iron-fortified cereal maybe once a week, but the rest of the time
it’s toast or –her favorite – a bagel with a schmear of cream cheese.
Cantaloupe she’ll still eat pureed; in fact, she won’t eat it any other
way, go figure. But having to rip her bagel into itsy bits gets old, and I
know it’s not as good for her as the cereal.

We’ve also moved
in the past couple of weeks to a big-girl afternoon snack rather than a
nursing snack. She now hits that cranky point around 3 p.m., and we
quickly head back to the dinner table for some carbs. Cheerios often play
a part, sometimes cheese, and God bless the makers of the Just
line. I think I keep them in business all by myself. We’ve
got dried cherries, apricots, mango, peaches, blueberries, apples, you
name it, all with no sugar or sulfur added. She’ll grab a handful of dried
mango and cram it happily into her mouth. She loves all the fruits and I
love how portable they are: no refrigeration necessary! Though I do have
to tear most of them into smaller bits for her, it’s a small price to pay
for having a healthy snack on hand anywhere.

The insistence on
self-feeding has also led to a slowdown of the whole process. When you’re
waiting on an 11-month-old to feed herself itty bite by itty bite, you
need to not be in a hurry to get anywhere. I’ll sometimes get impatient
and pop a few bites in her mouth myself but I can’t do it too often or
she’ll slow down even more just to tick me off.

So for now I
keep dicing foods up and hoping she’ll learn that dinner’s not a
three-hour affair. She’ll often cast longing glances at the tubs of dried
fruit but I hold firm (ish) to what’s on her tray, breaking down not too

And there is one way I can feed her by utensils. I can’t
believe I’m going to confess to this, but Madeleine will eat anything if
it’s fed to her on chopsticks.

Yep, I’ve really done it.

you think she’s spoiled? Be honest.


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