Back in the heady days when Frank was six months old, I could not wait to get him started on solid food. Oh, the fun we would have! I pictured his smiling face as I introduced him to all of my favourites which, naturally, he would love too. I even envied him the chance to discover it all, like, you know, that feeling you get when you recommend an amazing book to someone and you’re so excited for them but at the same time a bit sad because you wish you could be in their shoes and read it all again from the start?
Have I learned anything about parenting yet?
It hasn’t quite worked out that way. Frank likes milk. He will tolerate things that are related to milk, like yoghurt and cheese, or milk from a non-human. To everything else, his reaction ranges from very mild curiosity to imperious rage. I’m trying to be patient and give him time, but I can’t resist the thought that maybe I just haven’t found the right thing yet, like maybe he would love Mexican food, or pad thai, or persimmons? A little glimmer of hope crept in when I gave him a boiled egg and showed him how to dip the soldiers in the yolk, explaining, in the way you do, “dip dip”. He caught on to the idea of dipping straight away and ever since has been trying to dip anything and everything. If he has nothing to dip into in front of him, he holds his food out to you at arms length saying ‘da da?’ until you oblige. Sometimes he tries the food after he’s dipped it. Mostly he just wants to keep playing the fun ‘da da’ game infinitely. But still, I could see a way in.
A few good things for dipping:
Smoothie: made thicker by adding a little less milk and/or some frozen fruit. Good for dipping toast soldiers or chunks of fruit.
Creamed spinach: wilted in butter and blitzed with a couple of spoonfuls of cream. He did not like this one.
Soup: so far simple creamy vegetable soups, made on the thick side, with crackers, have been the most popular.
Beetroot: based on one of our all-time favourite things to do with beetroot from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. Blitz a couple of medium sized cooked (boiled or roasted) beetroot – about 150g – with about 45g toasted walnuts, a couple of teaspoons of red wine vinegar and about 50g soft goat’s cheese. Season to taste and add olive oil to get a dippable consistency.
Chinese dumplings: with a 50/50 mix of soy sauce and rice vinegar. I also tried him on sushi with a little puddle of soy sauce, which he was not remotely impressed with.
It strikes me, writing this, that with his penchant for dairy and dipping, Frank would love the baked camembert on the menu at the moment. If you come across me with a small boy and a box of molten cheese, feel free to share your baby feeding success stories…