Ben and I have clogged our phones with photographs of Joan eating. Our baby girl is completely serious when it comes to food, and each day we are joyfully entertained as she learns to feed herself. We decided to go the Baby Led Weaning route, which to us meant that after Joan turned 6 months and showed signs of developmentally being able to manage food, we started providing an array of textures and flavours (in the hope that she will be an adventurous eater later on) and let Joan feed herself. And she’s really taken to this whole eating and self-feeding business. We eat our meals as a family and don’t force her to eat when she doesn’t want anything, rather we trust and respect her intuition (Joan is driven by instinct and is much smarter than us in this way). Though rarely will she refuse food, as our baby is sincerely obsessed with eating. When she likes something, she cannot get it in fast enough. “Finish what you’ve got in your mouth, Sweetie”, is commonly uttered at our dining table. When something is not particularly delicious (plain porridge or rubbery scrambled eggs), Joan will stare at me for a long while, as though letting me know that I’ve done better and to please not serve this again. I take note.
Our baby likes flavour.
Porridge with banana and (pureed) blueberries, steamed carrots with peanut butter, roasted pumpkin with curry powder, wedges of farm-fresh canteloupe, yoghurt with quinoa, omelettes with garlic and beetroot, banana pancakes and meat…ohhhh, she adores meat. At the end of Summer, while we were revelling in farm-fresh sweet corn, I served Joan chicken and corn soup (homemade broth simmered with corn, blitzed until thick enough to eat, and topped with shredded chicken). Baby girl proceeded to ecstatically grab handful after handful, shoving it in her mouth before she’d even begun to chew. And when we moved her plate closer to help her to reach with ease, she cried, fearing we were taking her plate away. Joan also loooooves lamb, just like her mumma. Over Easter we went to our friends’ house for dinner and Joan loved the slow-roasted lamb that was served (side note: that is my absolute favourite dish). She devours all she can out of the cuts we bought from Colin and Sally, including preservative-free sausages that were super tasty and intensely meat-flavoured (what a nice surprise to have sausages that taste like meat!), if not a little tough for her to eat without teeth (note: I removed the casing before giving them to Joan). Still, she will suck all the juice out of the sausages and other cuts she cannot chew and swallow and have a blast, sometimes gagging, happily and calmly so, along the way. We make sure to stay calm too and let Joan figure it out if she’s gagging (the first few times were scary, but babies are so smart, they know what to do), however it usually only happens when learning how to manage a new texture (something hard like toast or those sausages) or if she takes too much at once. Regardless, I make sure Ben is home with me when introducing a possibly challenging food for Joan, just for my own peace of mind. Lastly, I’ll note that we did a first aid course before bubs was born and refreshed ourselves of the information prior to her starting solids, and I definitely recommend all parents and grandparents do the same. But back to meat…yes, baby girl loves red meat, beef included. Before we bought that 1/2 lamb from Colin and Sally’s I bought meat from our local shops that stocked delicious, 100% grass-fed beef. I found myself reaching for the beef cheeks and making this braised dish again and again, so I thought I would share the recipe with you. Joan goes nuts over slow-cooked beef cheek, whether simmered in broth like this recipe or a tomatoey ragu. It’s a cut that positively melts into nothing, so she finds it very easy to gobble up. I usually thicken the broth/sauce with potato, extra carrots or sometimes quinoa, which helps her get all the cooking juice goodness. Joan will clean her plate whenever we serve this meal, Ben and I do too, though baby girl will also paint her eyelids in beef juice and inhale it through her nose with gusto. Yes, we’ve been using a mini nasal aspirator to extract food most days. It appears she just cannot get enough and I don’t blame her, it is rather scrumptious.