Cooking for Dummies (or, What to Feed an 11½-Month-Old [Not That She'll Eat It {Or Maybe She Will, Who Knows?}])

One of the things we're having the hardest time with, kid-wise, is mealtimes. I will be the first person to tell you that I have ZERO IDEA what the hell to feed a baby. I mean, we know that she takes three 8-ounce bottles of formula a day -- although she usually ends up wearing about 6 of those 24 ounces -- but beyond that, we are completely clueless. Her previous foster family told us "she eats table food," but that's such a weird and generic statement that it could mean anything, really. And it's not like we can feed her what we eat, because by and large G and I eat junk. (Yes, we are working to change that, but it's really hard to give up Little Debbie Snack Cakes cold turkey, you know? Don't you judge me.)

We're trying to use our judgement and her signals to determine what to feed her, when, and how much. I will say this about the Cupcake -- she is not a finicky eater. Not usually, anyway. She eats very well, and she'll eat pretty much anything. Not that she ought to, mind you. Parmesan garlic mashed potatoes + "tender chicken and stars" jarred food + formula with iron = REALLY NASTY STINKY DISGUSTING BABY POOP. Whoo, boy. And that is saying something, because baby poop as a general rule is pretty rank and vomitous.

All of our "resources" (our parents, plus other parents we know, plus all the parenting books and magazines that we have been able to scrounge up) have been telling us that around this age, kids want to eat what their parents are eating, or something like it, anyway. But they also want to do a lot of things on their own, which means we need to come up with "finger food" versions of our dinners. Like, the other night, G and I had chicken parm and spaghetti for supper, so we fed the baby some toddler pasta and sauce plus a cut-up chicken nugget, and she did great. Other times: well, not as such, no. Sometimes I really think all she wants to do is chew on her Crocs.

I also think we're having trouble because we are getting close to a growth spurt, if we are not already smack dab in the middle of one. Cupcake eats like a horse in the mornings, and she will eat all sorts of concoctions that I cook up for her. She has oatmeal for breakfast almost every day, and I mix it with whatever strikes my fancy when I am "building" her meal -- leftover fruit dessert or pudding from the night before, mashed bananas, applesauce, yogurt, jarred food that has other kinds of grains in it (i.e., rice cereal with pears or so-called cinnamon raisin granola -- all of which, by the way, looks and smells EXACTLY like applesauce, so I don't know how she can tell the difference).

Since she isn't really fussy, that gives us a chance to be creative and try something new almost every day. This is the closest I've come to "cooking" for the Cupcake. Today I combined oatmeal cereal, kids' vanilla yogurt, jarred mango, and diced toddler peaches, and let me tell you, she nommed that mess right up. (I would have, too -- it smelled just like a Rita's mango gelati.) She loves fruit of all kinds: we've had mango, papaya, bananas, apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, and "mixed fruit" so far, all with great success.

But when it comes to dinnertime, we can't always figure it out. We had Tuna Helper for dinner last night, and she had some kind of jarred chicken stew with Goldfish crackers and Cheerios and I swear to God, I never thought we were going to get her to stop eating. She didn't leave so much as a crumb on her high chair tray. Tonight? She ate maybe 10 radiatore noodles and a dozen spoonfuls of her mixed vegetables, hardly anything at all, and then she started thrashing around and throwing everything on the floor and just generally giving us a hard time. And we can't figure out the rhyme or reason to it.

All we know is, we must be doing something right, because the kid is a pooping machine. Lawd sakes and boy howdy.


  1. I'm going to go out on a limb that babies are just like adults when it comes to eating - some days they're really hungry and others they aren't. Does she eat less at dinner on days she's snacking? (Do you let her snack?) I'm sure you guys will figure it out. And you probably can give her the same things you guys are eating; when you have spaghetti, you just have to cut it up smaller, or make macaroni instead ;-)

  2. Today will be a test case: we're going to try to feed her chopped up ham, mashed potatoes, and some sort of vegetable at Easter dinner. We shall see. Just in case, tho, I have prepared a "mystery concoction" of yogurt, oatmeal, and other stuff, and we have packed that in her little lunchbox with the cucpakes on it.