by Heidi Green
October 20, 2011
“Asante sana. Squashed banana,” I chant to Max as I offer him a spoon of the mushy stuff.
I can’t see a mashed-up banana anymore without thinking of Rafiki, the baboon from The Lion King. His nonsensical repetition from that popular movie makes perfect sense in this context. “Asante sana,” the Internet reveals is Swahili for “Thank you very much.” I thank him for taking a bite, offer him the next bite, and on we go. He may not understand the words yet, but he responds to the rhythm, and it feels a bit like mealtime conversation.
Not every meal is as fun as this squashed banana.
Although baby-led weaning using a variety of soft-prepared finger foods appeals to me in theory and we were able to go that route with his older brother Sam, we haven’t been as successful with Max. His gag reflex is still clearly apparent as he nears 9 months of age. He puts everything in his mouth (and I do mean everything—food, toy, or other!) but he gags.
At this age, the majority of his nutrition comes from breast milk, so I’m not concerned about his distaste for solid foods. It’s just a developmental phase, and he’ll grow through it. In the meantime, we try to give him small chunks of softened vegetables, fruits or noodles every so often.
As a result, we’ve resorted to what I call “spoonables,” focusing on yogurt and purees for his complementary foods. I’d like to say that all of those are homemade, but I sheepishly confess that they are not.
A busy schedule of kids’ activities has led to a pattern of one sandwich dinner and one take-out dinner a week. That’s fine for the big kids; I know they’re getting the nutrition they need through a variety of meals and healthy snacks. But it doesn’t provide an option for Max. So I have a stash of store-bought baby food for him to have when the night’s meal isn’t conducive to mashing, or when his gag reflex rejects the home-cooked, food-milled option.
I am sure there are tricks I am missing that would make these mealtimes easier. But this works for now. The mashed banana is fine, I remind myself as I thank him for taking another bite. Still, I admit that I am looking forward to the day Max will be able to accept more table foods—and feed himself!
Parenting four children between the ages of 34 weeks and 8 years keeps Heidi Green busy! Add in husband Michael, paid work and volunteer work, and life becomes a juggling act. Check in with us every week to find out how she manages (or not), and what she learns in the process.
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