It’s sort of odd sending Angstrom to daycare on a daily basis—that’s two meals a day (plus snacks) when he’s eating food that we don’t prepare. When we feed him, we have been giving him pureed foods, because that’s what he’s been eating. At school, he gets almost 100% finger foods. Realizing that, i decided to serve him a finger food dinner last night to see how he handles it—how much goes in him vs. how much gets painted on his face and flung to the floor.
Entering into dinner, Angstrom was fussy. It became clear pretty quickly that the main source of his displeasure was a growling of the stomach. He lunged and reached toward the cutting board as I was pulling the cooked, peeled, and chilled beet from its storage container. He squealed as I was cutting it, apparently worried that it wasn’t destined for his plate.
He grabbed the pieces immediately upon presentation to him, and shoved them into his mouth greedily, making loud smacking noises as he mashed them between his tongue and the roof of his mouth. He ate about half of a beet even before I could peel the peach that was supposed to go with it.
At first, I put just one or two slices of peach on his plate among the beets—I was afraid that once presented with the sweet option, he would ignore the savory. Angstrom surprised me again by continuing to seek out beets even as peach slices were before him, alternating between the fruit and the root. Put in control of feeding himself, Angstrom ate quickly. If I was going to get any protein in him, i had to act fast.
A packet of string cheese divided into thin strips completed the beet and peach salad. Angstrom plowed through the entire beet, the entire peach, the entire string cheese, and continued to want more. I gave him a few more pieces of beets while I scrambled to cook him an egg.
By the time I got the egg cooled down and in front of him, though, the frenzy of dinner activity had passed as quickly as it had started. he now howled not because he wanted more, but because he was done with dinner and wanted to get down. He howled still louder as I insisted upon the importance of cleansing his face of the purple covering he had plastered upon it.
As it turns out, though, letting him feed himself made dinner go much more quickly. He was engaged, involved, and surprisingly efficient. I can’t imagine he’ll be able to eat everything on his own yet (beans, for instance, seem a likely choking hazard; and he hasn’t yet the teeth to handle anything but ground meats). But, I believe as we approach his first birthday, Angstrom is ushering us into a new era of independence at mealtimes that (praise the deity of your choice!) should greatly reduce the need to craft purees on a nightly basis.
Now if only he could find the words to express his desires in a language other than howls.