I popped a bit of Asian pear into my 13 and a half month old son's mouth. I followed up with a sliver of home-baked challah, which he took from my hand and fed to me.
"The best thing that ever happened to us was the baby food mill breaking," I said to my husband.
"Oh that plastic thing?" he asked.
"Yeah," I grimaced thinking of how the contraption spurt liquified squash into my face last time I used it.
After boiling vegetables, my husband (who I placed in charge of solids) ground yet another bland pulp which our son refused. He refused carrots, peas, squash, avocado.
The following day, the mill sat on the kitchen counter covered in dehydrated carrot bits, impossible to clean. "We should try to wash this right after using it," I said. My husband agreed.
We used it about six times before it became unusable -- the rubber gasket no longer fit into the slot, causing hot, sloppy food to leak on the counter. We could not remove the metal grinder plate either.
"Thank you for your many minutes of fine service," my husband quipped as I tossed it into the trash a month later.
The more expensive metal food mill from Bed, Bath & Beyond worked better. I cooked up a batch of frozen peas and put them in the mill. A turned the gear and watched the interior of each pea separate from its thin pea shell. I waited for the peas to appear on the plate below. Nothing happened. Looking under the mill, I found the peas' soft interiors clinging to the metal. I scraped the mush into a bowl and had about a teaspoon worth of precious pea blap.
My son refused it.
I scrubbed the six dishes I had made (plate, bowl, baby spoon, mill base, grinder plate, mill gear), which had yielded a teaspoon of pea blap and a baby who simply wanted to nurse. I was glad to oblige, as nursing yields zero dishes and a happy baby and momma.
I experimented with applesauce in the mill, but the mill separated the skin from the pulp, as promised, but I like apple skins in my applesauce. I dumped the contents in to the food processor, and made applesauce. I then scrubbed the mill base, grinder plate, mill gear, processor lid, housing, blade, and wiped the processor base. I packed up the sauce along with diapers and dropped my son off at my in-laws.
"He really didn't like the applesauce," my mother-in-law said when we returned.
From a first-time parent's perspective, a parent who is sleep deprived, a parent who is hoping solids might improve a six (then seven, then eight, then nine, then ten, then eleven) month old baby's sleep habits... it was all very frustrating.
"Not sleeping? Try solids," was common advice. My son did not like solids until he was about eleven months old, or so. At twelve months, I began to become concerned that I might need a second job when he hits the teen years. I've heard this from many nursing mothers. At one year, the appetite takes off.
Before that, Beren practiced the martial skill of parrying when we stuck a spoon in his face. A parry is a block that deflects a blow or strike with a weapon or empty hand. He was quite gentle but quick and certain. He now opens his mouth like a bird when hungry and wags his head "no" or turns away when full or uninterested.
Recently, Edible Jersey featured an article on homemade baby foods. Jared and I had discussed mass producing and freezing baby food, but we found it wasn't necessary. We never got around to it either. We began to eat better for it, adding more fruits and vegetables to our meals. We excluded common food allergens, and began to add them once he turned one. In went onions, garlic, citrus. We ate Thai coconut milk-based curries, chicken, apples and almond butter, fish soups. Hot pepper, lightly cooked eggs, and some dairy remain on the side.
Feeding baby who wants to eat is a joy. We eat together. We eat the same foods. We eat from the same plate. Before he became a good chewer, I chewed difficult foods for him. Eating slower, so we, well, usually my husband, still the solid foods leader, feeds Beren. I am still a bit of a speed eater. Momma never knows when she will be called to defend the cubs. She needs to be well fed.