Before Bellamy was born, I had many conversations with my husband on bad habits we needed to kick before she arrived, many centering around diet. We were healthy-ish, but we knew her two little eyes would watch our every move and help develop her perception of how she should treat her body. Wanting her to do the best with her health, we decided to clean it up and make her diet—as well as ours—a major priority.
We had an OK time with breastfeeding. It wasn’t the best experience, but much of that I attribute to my personal barriers I had to tackle. She wasn’t nursed beyond six months, and she was always getting formula, too. Determined to do better with solids, I vowed to make all her baby food. Starting with simple purees like sweet potato and carrot or green bean, pea and avocado, I made big batches in the crock pot and froze the contents in ice cube trays. Once we tackled a foundation of vegetables, we moved into berries (an easy move—she loves all berries) and eventually banana. I wasn’t keen on too much banana up front, as it’s harder to go from sweet to unsweet, in my opinion.
She sprouted teeth a little later, but she got many all at one time. (We’re talking four teeth at once in two separate waves. She is now working on No. 9!) Those chompers allowed for an introduction to tomato, cucumber, black beans, salmon and spinach quesadillas. I started realizing how true the advice is to prime your baby’s palate early. She was developing taste preferences I didn’t respond to until I was an adult. I was so pleased to watch her eat plentiful amounts of ingredients I knew worked for her benefit. I finally felt like I was doing my best for her.
Then she started putting together what certain foods were, what they looked like and how they tasted. She started showing preferences that were less-than ideal to work with. As many moms know, this can be frustrating! Not only are these ingredients expensive and time consuming to put together, but it’s a rock and a hard place to try and teach a 1-year-old that “this is dinner, and I’m not making anything else.” Telling that to your 9-year-old feels more justified than putting a baby to bed without enough grub. I’ve been caving lately and grabbing the blueberries or a piece of bread to put my mind at ease. I just try to remind myself that it takes consistency and continual effort to make good habits.
To be honest, I do get stressed out about what she consumes. I’ve resorted to making smoothies for her most days to know she’s getting enough of the good stuff, but I worry about her just liking it because it’s sweeter than not. Ironically, I do this for myself, because I would rather blend a cup of kale than eat it raw. I’m setting the example I said I was trying to avoid, but at least it’s a smoothie—and yes, she loves them. One of her main words these days is “more.” She will take a bite or a sip of something and let me know she’s feeling it by immediately responding with, “More!” It sounds more like “muh,” but I can typically make out what she’s getting at.
It’s pretty amazing how much parents love their kids and how quickly their wellbeing becomes a consuming priority. I hope all our efforts to set her up for nutritional success will pay off, and that she will carry it with her into adulthood. That’s not to say we don’t enjoy plenty of treats, too. I took her to the farmers market the other day, and we totally shared a cookie. I’m also on a carb-loading frenzy right now (due with our second baby in less than two weeks!), so we may or may not have had most of a french baguette as a snack later at home. Oh, well! Tomorrow is a new day with another smoothie waiting.