The second installment in ‘Eleanor Eats’ has been awhile coming… Daddy’s ‘little hippo’ is still going great guns in the food department, no worries about that! At almost 12 months old Eleanor is still happy to be spoonfed, she has not entered that phase of spoon refusal, but honestly I much prefer her to eat finger foods! Is it more mess? Absolutely. Is it easier though as I don’t have to sit there and feed her? You bet.
From a very early age (about 5 months) I would offer Eleanor finger foods – strawberries, chunks of banana, watermelon, pieces of toast or chunks of cooked pumpkin or potato. As her pincer grip improved we moved onto things like sweet potato chips, but while her ‘fist grip’ was great she would hoe into beans, stalks of broccoli or asparagus in her chubby little fists.
I am no babyled weaning expert, we by no means are an exclusively BLW family here, but I’ve probably done 50/50 purees and finger foods, slowly moving more towards finger foods as Eleanor’s skills improve. Absolute staples in the BLW arsenal have been bibs with sleeves/smocks which Grandi makes and a little vacuum cleaner, also known as Tessa! I honestly don’t know what we’d do without our little ‘Hoover’! Although nowadays Tessa very much has to be kept outside whilst Eleanor eats as they are beginning to collude to drop food rather ‘accidently’. Hmmm…
Eleanor having teeth hasn’t really made much of a difference to her eating, she still only has two bottom teeth though, perhaps some top chompers might get things demolished faster but at the moment her hard gums seem to do the trick! Although Eleanor is an excellent and enthusiastic eater, she will still go through phases of eating not much and then loads. Growth spurts, teeth movement and general health (she had tonsillitis at one point so it hurt to swallow) all play a part in this obviously. At 6 months old I upped the meat in Eleanor’s diet – chicken and spinach nuggets, meatballs, sausages, leftover shepherds pie or a bolognese sauce from our dinner is great. I remember reading that the iron levels in my breastmilk drops off after around 6 months – I am no nutritionist though so please correct me if I’m incorrect!
If you’re anything like me I’m always on the look-out for baby food inspiration, so here are some of the favourite finger foods that I make for Eleanor…
- chicken tenderloins strips in parmesan
- sweet potato fries
- mashed potato balls
- broccoli and cheddar balls
- chickpea patties
- zucchini and corn fritters
- any sort of tortellini/ravioli
- pita bread with avocado or vegemite cut into wedges
- chicken and spinach nuggets
- apple, cinnamon and linseed muffins (sugar free)
- banana and oat pancakes (sugar free)
- pork and fennel meatballs (I make these for us with spaghetti so just set some aside for Eleanor’s next day lunch/dinner)
- polenta fingers
Hands down what Eleanor basically lives on though are these zucchini/carrot/bacon (sometimes no bacon) cheese/egg muffins I make her though. A mini quiche of sorts, it has taken me a few attempts to get the ratio of veg to egg just right, but now I will make a big batch of these once a week. Perfect little lunch (or lazy dinner!) for Eleanor, and truth be told Daddy steals them for his work lunchbox, mini heart shaped and all!
Overall, the babyled weaning/finger food approach has been hugely beneficial for us thus far. Eleanor has never refused to eat anything, she is a hungry, healthy little girl with a keen interest in food, what Mummy and Daddy are eating and cooking and will definitely try anything put in front of her. I have added in spices and different tastes for her over the last 6 months – for instance in her little veggie muffins now I add in curry powder, and she loves it! Eleanor will quite happily eat a left over Thai green curry of ours (although it’s never very hot for Daddy!) She also readily eats spiced dahl with loads of different flavours, and our bolognese sauce is always quite peppery the way I like it, Eleanor doesn’t seem to mind.
Breastfeeding I have never omitted any foods from my diet, Eleanor has always just adjusted accordingly. I am still breastfeeding Eleanor 2-3 times a day (when she wakes up in the morning, sometimes before her afternoon sleep/sometimes not, and when she goes to bed for the night). I have no plan to wean her, although I can see it on the horizon.
Eleanor most definitely ‘eats what we eat’, although she eats her dinner at 5.30-6pm most evenings, and we have our dinner after she’s gone to bed. This isn’t ideal as I’d like to sit down as a family to eat, but as Eleanor grows I can see this changing. For instance, her bedtime has generally always been 7pm as this fitted in to when she would start to crash and burn, nowadays though she could happily stay up until 7.30-8pm without getting too ratty so we could eat together (Matt usually gets home just in time for 7pm bedtime). Because of pure family dynamics/timing Eleanor will quite often eat what we had for dinner for her lunch/dinner the next day. She also often just has a ‘deconstructed’ version of my lunch also – my standard lunch is a ham, cheese, tomato, baby spinach, mushroom and avocado wrap. I will cut everything up and pop little bits of all these ingredients, including the wrap, on Eleanor’s highchair tray. She inhales raw mushroom, something I just threw on her highchair one day, who knew?!
Now, I realise that all of this may be a case of ‘famous last words’ (I can hear the scoffs!) so perhaps come back to me in another year with a stubborn 2 year old refusing her dinner…but…so far, so good with the theory that BLW babies are ‘better’ eaters. In my (limited so far) experience Eleanor’s interest in food, texture and taste has been nothing but positive.
Fingers crossed it is the beginning to a healthy and blossoming relationship with food for our little hippo!
To see inside my brain of baby food inspiration, you can click over here to my Pinterest board: ‘for Eleanor’s tummy’.