Monday, March 10, 2008

Le Petit à table, part II

It took almost eight months, but le Petit's palate is developing and I can now say that he is a good eater.

(A good eater of something other than breast milk, that is. I can now see why it forms the base of a baby's nutrition for the first year!)

Le Petit loves bread. He no longer simply gums the slices of baguette we give him, but tears off chunks, chews them up somehow and swallows them. It still makes me nervous and I watch him carefully, but he seems to know what he's doing. It must be his French half. If he ends up with a piece that looks chokable, I take it away and he protests vociferously. "What, take the bread from my mouth?" he seems to say, and I remember that that is cause for revolution in this country.

Le Petit loves sweet potato. Boiling up and mashing one fresh doesn't take too long and makes me feel like a good mommy. See? I make my own baby food! Sometimes, at least.

Le Petit loves avocado. I give him bite-sized chunks that he'll sometimes take from my hand. His motor skills are limited and avocado is slippery, so if he's really hungry, he'll just open his mouth and wait for me to pop them in.

Le Petit loves oranges. Although it is hardly on any list of recommended first foods, my husband tears off tiny chunks and gives them to him. He loves it more than just about anything else, and squeals and waves his arms with excitement when my husband shows him an orange he's about to peel. I look the other way.

Le Petit loves Petit Suisse, a decadently creamy, unsweetened milk product that as far as I know only exists in France. It comes wrapped in paper in small, cylindrical plastic pots that you peel open, pop out, and unroll.

So far, if Brillat-Savarin is right, le Petit is true to his heritage. Avocado and sweet potatoes are considered "exotic" and therefore allergenic in France, though they're classic first foods in the US. But how many American babies skip the rice cereal and mashed banana and go straight for yogurt and baguette?

Still, I hesitate to push to any extreme, and prefer taking the culinary route between the continents. My in-laws' neighbor started feeding her children Roquefort at four months old.

"You've got to get them used to new tastes young," she insisted and I nodded. Yeah, perhaps not just yet.

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