Dear sweet babies, eat your goddamn food.
When my oldest was little, I remember reading about how Alicia Silverstone chewed her food and literally dropped it into her baby’s mouth straight from her mouth. Yeah, this happened. I remember her saying that her baby would literally reach and claw for her mouth when she was eating because that’s what he had learned. Again, yes, this was an actual thing. In real life. Yeah, so I did NOT do this. We are not fucking birds, Alicia. But, what I did do was buy and use a baby food mill, the same kind my Mom and Nonna used with their kids and it’s probably the most useful baby thing we ever bought. It’s a hand-held, manual food grinder specially designed to grate baby’s fresh food into smaller pieces. Our oldest is 15, so the one we had for him is long gone, but we bought our blue Kidsme baby food mill used from Boomerang Kids for $8.99 for our youngest. (You can get them on Amazon for only $20-$25).
I know what you’re thinking. But, no, your blender cannot do what this thing does. No. No, it can’t. Stop thinking about it. A food mill still leaves some texture in the food, it does not puree it. Texture is what makes food interesting and eating pureed food all the time is boring. Your baby is going to god damn tell you that to your face. A food mill simply breaks (or grates) food down into small pieces that can still be gummed and chewed and the textures can be enjoyed. Plus, it’s portable. I took ours everywhere - out to restaurants, to dinner parties, to relatives’ houses, to our big family trip to Portugal. I stuck it in the diaper bag and my son always had something to eat. I’d just take a bit of what my husband and I had on our plates, mill it up and feed him directly from it. Chicken, asparagus, curries, salads – sure! It all went in. When he was done eating, we stuck the mill in a freezer bag and when we got home, we washed it or put it in the dishwasher. Easy and we didn’t have to bring our own baby food.
Of course, not everything needs to be milled. Pasta, rice, grated cheese, oatmeal, soft-cooked veggies etc. are fine on their own, which still gives you a chance to do some Baby Led Weaning. But, sometimes I just don’t want the fucking mess and the wonder of if my dog or the floor ate more than my kid. Are you with me?
There’s little self-feeding tricks I’ve learned along the way, too. My favourite one to do is smoosh together the milled food to make little mounds for my little to pick up and eat himself. It’s a trick we use often so that we can eat and he can eat AT THE SAME TIME. Here he is eating roasted sweet potato, pork tenderloin and green bean mounds. No, he does not like bibs.
He also really loves rice and pasta, so I also like to mill only the meat and veggies and serve that mixed into the rice or pasta and we high five and win at life. As evidenced by these pics of what my food looked like and his. Same stuff, easier to eat.
Another? Giving him one spoon of food while loading up another spoon works now that he’s older and can get it into his mouth more often. He likes trading spoons with us and then we double win at life.
The other reason I love the baby food mill - I love to cook, I really do. I cook a lot. My husband and 15 year old son cook, too. We are probably those annoying people you hate. Sure, we’ve catered our cooking to the likes and dislikes of everybody in the house. I am celiac, so no gluten for me and my son and husband don’t like squash at all, so we’re likely not going to be making butternut squash soup with homemade sourdough bread for supper, so that I can just eat soup alone & sad and the boys can just taunt me eating delicious bread. That just doesn’t make sense. But, we will not make 2 suppers at the same time. First of all, we don’t have time for that, secondly, if we did it’s fucking annoying and thirdly, we don’t want our 15 month old only eating plain white pasta for supper for the 4th night in a row when there’s delicious stir fry for everyone else. We put effort into that shit kid, eat it. When both my kids were first starting on solids, if they needed to try carrots, guess what side dish we were eating that night?! Overcooked carrots. Again, I’m just not into doing any more prep or cooking twice. Hats off to you if you do!
Now, I’m going to come clean with you, I have a salt tooth. I love salt WAY more than sweet. Chips and popcorn are my jam. I like to season my food with salt, not so that it’s salty, but so it brings out the flavours in whatever it is I’m making. But, WHO suggests you don’t add salt to your baby’s food because their kidneys aren’t yet ready to process this extra salt. FUUUUUUUCCCKKKK, that’s terrible for adult taste buds. Apparently, they are already getting enough salt from your breastmilk or formula. So, to prevent our little from getting too much salt, we just salted our food afterwards until he was about 1 and then gradually added salt in while we were cooking again. We got used to it. We learned that meatloaf tastes like actual ass this way, but you do what you gotta do for those tiny kidneys.
So, all in all, I’ve found that the best way to get your kids to eat what the family eats is to actually eat what the family eats pretty much from the get go. From one mom to another, food mills allow you to do this without being a fucking bird. I know that Baby Led Weaning is all the rage right now, but having this as a kind of in between works. I find my son eats more and definitely more healthy stuff when we mill it.
Now that he’s 15 months, has 4 top teeth (nothing on the bottom yet) we’re using our food mill less and less. He eats everything we do (especially now that he can have honey and a bit of salt) and this kid eats more than us some nights! Oh, and our 15 year old eats pretty much everything, he’s not picky. I really do think it’s because they both ate the “family food” from a young age.
Obviously, I don’t have everything figured out. Tonight the little decided he wasn’t eating anything unless it was off of our giant serving spoon while holding onto a fork for dear fucking life.
You know what real winning is though? Changing a diaper and seeing bits of carrots, peas, spinach and rainbow chard in there. High five to those nutrients!
Sarah is a dope mom with a love of cooking. She'll be gracing us with recipes she's learned through the years, so stay tuned.