I have a lot of experience with kids. I’m the oldest child in my family and although I only write about my sister, I do have half siblings that I looked after while we were growing up. I’ve also been a nanny twice; once to a set of newborn twins, and once to two French boys who were seven and nine years old at the time. As you know, I have three children and nine nieces and nephews, and often feed no less than three to six other boys who aren’t related to me over the course of any given week. Some of the kids are good eaters, others are a little more choosey, and there are even a few who have eating habits that remain a mystery to all who know and care for them. Fortunately, Matthew isn’t one of those children and I dare say that (to date) he is the best eater I’ve ever fed. Doesn’t the face in the photo above look like it belongs to a baby who loves to eat?
Matthew is 14 months old, and there isn't a single food this child doesn’t like. Well, I’ll correct myself by saying there is nothing that he’s tried that he doesn’t like. I did think he wasn’t all that fond of fish after he refused to eat it three different times, but he proved me wrong last week when he swiped a salmon cake right off my plate, stuffing small pieces into his mouth until there wasn't a single crumb remaining on the tray of his high chair. He’s enthusiastic about each meal, trying whatever I set before him, and delights in his dinner more than anyone I know. For those who are curious, here is a look at some of his current favourite foods and meals:
Fruits and Veggies: Avocado, dried mango slices, peas, carrots, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, pears, melons, grapes, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, green onions, spinach, kale, zucchini, bananas, oranges and mushrooms. He’s obsessed with blackberries and pops them into his mouth like they’re pieces of treasured candy.
Dairy and Dairy Substitutes: Yogurt (so much yogurt!), cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, feta, goat), kefir (in smoothies), and almond milk (starting to research quality blenders so I can make my own).
Meat/Poultry/Fish: The ones he eats the most right now are chicken, pork, beef, turkey and salmon. I don’t give him cured meats so there’s no bacon or sausage for the baby right now.
Grains: Pastas, quinoa, brown rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, farro, couscous, orzo, and oats.
Other Favourites: Hummus, beans, chickpeas, crackers, bread, wraps, bagels, natural peanut butter, jam, applesauce, eggs, spices and fresh herbs, and lentils.
In terms of actual meals, he definitely has a few favourites that he can’t seem to get enough of. At the moment he’s completely infatuated with smoothies. As soon as he seems me pull the NutriBullet down from the cupboard he clings to my legs in eager anticipation. We seem to drink the same one over and over before switching the flavours and fruits for something different. Our current pick – and I say “our” because we share a smoothie every morning – is made with baby spinach, frozen banana slices, a scoop of natural peanut butter, and almond milk. It sounds odd, I’m sure, but it’s really refreshing and tastes like nothing but peanut butter.
He loves beans so I add them to his meals whenever possible. We eat a lot of taco salads and he’ll have the meat and bean combination with some rice or pasta, as he can’t quite work his way around the lettuce yet. Chicken is a definite favourite, which is great because we eat that a few times a week. He especially loves roast chicken and has no preference between white or dark meat. He can’t get enough green beans, peas or broccoli right now, and is truly willing to try everything, including limes!
So that’s where we’re at with Matthew’s meals. He basically eats whatever the rest of us are having, and the only things I really hold back on are spicy components, excessive salt and sugar, and cured meats. I season his food very liberally, but skip anything that adds too much heat, so he’s developed quite a palate for a variety of ethnic cuisines. He’s a champion eater and I’m so glad he’s able to join us at the table now.
I’d love to hear: were/are your babies good eaters? Have you noticed a difference between boy and girl eaters? Is there anything your babies especially love? Any deliciously weird combinations like our smoothies?