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Putting Cora's Meals In Her Own Hands

Cora’s been a pickier eater than
Maddie was, and I think part of it is that I simply haven’t
had the time and energy to devote to the whole Starting Solid Foods
thing that I did the first time around. Our lives have been in such
upheaval that I haven’t exactly been the picture of
consistency about her meals, if you know what I mean; she
hasn’t had homemade baby food for several weeks, and I keep
forgetting to introduce new foods every four or five days, but the
worst is that I sometimes just forget I’ve got to feed the
poor kid!

We’ll head out for the day and
I’ll have snacks in the bag for Maddie, but when we stop for
lunch somewhere and Maddie’s munching happily on a chicken
sandwich and a fruit cup, I look over at Cora’s car seat and
she’s eyeing Maddie’s meal hungrily and I realize I
have absolutely nothing to offer my youngest daughter. Oh, well,
I’ll justify to myself, kids this age don’t really need
solid food right now anyway; it’s mostly to get them used to
the tastes and textures. Throw in an extra nursing, I figure, and
she’ll be ok, forgetting she’s not six months old any

I know, I know, bad mommy.

All of this to say that Cora’s a bit of a handful at
mealtime. Breakfast is usually the easiest; baby cereal and a jar
of pears is Cora’s standby, and she loves it. Cora’s
always in a good mood in the morning, and sits down at the table
with a smile on her face and a song in her heart. But lunch, thanks
to my tendency to skip it, is a hit-or-miss affair and she’ll
often eat just a few bites of a food. And by the time we get to
dinner, unless I’ve timed it just right with naps and
nursings, Cora is a bit cranky and not really interested in
developing a taste for pureed chicken or squash.

Cora’s favorite things to do at a meal, in fact, are to bang
the table, try relentlessly to grab the spoon out of my hand, and
sweep constantly for anything other than her food to put in her
mouth: stray napkins, bits of lint, old macaroni crusted on the
underside of the table, and so on.

Which is why I am absolutely giddy over the fact that Cora is now
nine months old and officially allowed to try finger foods. I
started Cora on milk products (plain yogurt and mild cheeses) a few
days ago and she loves them, much to my relief. In fact,
she’s not content to stay with her mild cheddars but wants
the smoked gouda her big sister is eating! Cora will devour almost
an entire carton of plain yogurt at a meal, giving her lots of good
fat and protein and giving me relief that my kid will actually eat.
But nothing compares to the fun she has with that hard cheese
– feeding herself.

When Cora becomes restless and starts banging and sweeping, I
simply break off a few tiny bites of cheese and casually place them
on her tray, not really looking at them. Cora pounces immediately,
thinking she’s found some forbidden fruit, and shovels them
into her mouth. And while she’s ruminatively masticating her
cheese pieces into submission, I can slip a few spoonfuls of
chicken or prunes in there with no problem.

Cora loves feeding herself so much that yesterday I tried the Baby
Gold Standard of finger foods – Cheerios. Sure enough, she
gobbled them up, crowing with delight. So now I’ve got a
snack I can take around with us – something to cut the hunger
pangs while running errands, and to break the boredom when she gets
restless in her car seat.

Cora loves her new food options so much, in fact, that she now
points to her food lineup on the dining table and tells me what she
wants – pointing and thumping at the Cheerio box, for
example, or bobbing vigorously when my hand hovers over the yogurt
container. My girl seems to be happy to be out of the “first
foods” stage and ready to take over her own diet. At least a
little bit.


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