Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Exploring Food with my 18-month-old

My daughter Alessia is now 18-months old. Due to a senstive gag reflex and serious reflux problems when she was around 6 months old, she is a bit behind when it comes to solid foods. At 12 months, she would take the occasional mouthful of pureed food from a jar. At 14 months she would eat as much as half a small jar, and she enjoyed putting finger foods in her mouth, but she always chewed them a bit and then spit them out. In a single sitting she could go through an entire cup of peas this way. Right around 16 months she started swallowing some of those peas. I still remember that moment.


She's still very particular about what she will put in her mouth, and we are not generally allowed to put anything in there for her, but she is making progress, and it is great fun to watch. At her 16-month doctor's appointment, I told her doctor that at every meal we would give her something we knew she would eat and offer her bits of whatever else we were eating. He was so glad to hear that she was finally swallowing real solid food, that he didn't ask preciseley what she was eating, and I didn't tell him that at that point she ate cheerios, plain crackers, and peas.

One of things that I'm finding fascinating in all this is that it is impossible to predict what she will actually eat. For a long time if I offered any food that felt wet, she would pick it up and then declare "all done" and put it on the table. She wouldn't even taste it. So when I first offered her bits of kiwi, I thought for sure she would want nothing to do with it. She loved it. For months I have been offering her tastes of my yogurt with pureed fruit in it. In general she won't even try it, and when she does she makes a face. Two days ago I was eating plain yogurt. She asked for a taste and couldn't get enough. She'll eat rotini with butter and parmesan cheese, but don't put the same cheese on her rice. That has to be straight up. She asks for broccoli, but tastes it and spits it out. Bananas are good if I hold the banana and she takes bites. If I give her the banana and it gets mushy in her hands, she doesn't want it any more. She is very discerning about parmesan cheese (imported vs. domestic), but edamame were instantly accepted as peas. There are moments when I find all this very frustrating, I won't lie about that. For the most part I find it fascinating though. She's at an age where the world is one big science experiment. It's all about exploring, and I've decided that the key to not getting too frustrated is to take her lead on that.


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