Feeding Himself With a Spoon: What a Mess!

(Left): Mason feeds himself Greek yogurt with homemade peach puree–and tries to snatch my phone when he catches me photographing him.

Our efforts to teach Mason to feed himself with a spoon have been in full swing for about a month now. He seems much more motivated to use the spoon when he’s at school. I suppose it’s because he’s sitting with eight other kids, all around his age, who are doing the same thing that he’s doing. It’s absolutely precious to watch all of them in action (the girls are dainty, the boys are sloppy). At home, we generally practice every night at dinner, with yogurt or applesauce. It always starts out the same way: He studies his spoon and then takes a few spoonfuls of the food in front of him and feeds himself very well. I get excited and cheer. But after a few minutes he tosses the spoon and scoops up handfuls of his food and shoves it into his mouth. It’s really cute but the mess just stresses me out! I mean finger food is messy, but this is mess on a whole other level. By the time he’s finished, there are globs of applesauce or yogurt everywhere. Any tips on helping him master the skill, with a little less mess?

11 Things I Can’t Believe Mason Enjoys Eating

His smile was cute but Mason’s behavior was not at dinner on Tuesday. He rejected most of his meal, played with his sippy cup instead of drinking from it, and put his feet up on his high chair tray (gross!).

I’m thrilled that my 12-month-old has such an eclectic palate, but that doesn’t mean mealtime is always easy for us. In fact we’ve had several finicky and frustrating mealtimes at our house lately (see exhibit A above). Take Tuesday. I picked Bug up from daycare and his teacher told me had been a champion eater all day — oatmeal, various fresh fruits, lasagna, whole-grain muffin. I was psyched, I get so excited when he eats well. Then we got home and I offered him six different finger foods he’s loved in the past, in the spirit of Dr. Sears’ advice, and he spit every option out. He even rejected yogurt with fresh peach puree, one of his faves. What did he finally eat? Plain macaroni noodles by the fistful. So. Annoying. All of this is normal, according to Sears, since kids tend to get picky once they turn a year old. But it’s still frustrating.

When things get tough —  like dinnertime every night so far this week  — I can take comfort in all the times that he’s eaten things we swore he’d never like. Here are the foods that I’m amazed he enjoys so much. What about you? Is there anything that your babe likes that you can’t believe he/she enjoys so much?

1. Lobster Ravioli. This one made me nervous (What if he has a shellfish allergy?!), but Chris gave Bug his first taste of shellfish with winning results.

2. Gazpacho. We let him try this bold summer soup because he kept sticking his fingers in Chris’ bowl. Mason has enjoyed it ever since, including at his birthday dinner.

3. Garam Masala. My friend Jeanne convinced me that my then-nine-month-old would probably like her curried lentils, which feature a tiny pinch of this strong Indian spice. She was right.

4. Broccoli. My first experience with babies and broccoli was traumatic, but fortunately my kid likes his “trees.”

5. Vanilla milkshake. Only a dad would dare give a shake to a one-year-old, but Bug tried a few drops of this rich and creamy treat at a Washington, DC, diner and loved it.

6. Green beans. Mix this healthy veggie with Greek yogurt and fresh pear puree and you have Bug at the first spoonful.

7. Feta cheese. It was love at first bite and now Mason enjoys this tangy cheese tossed with orzo and spinach.

8. Edamame. I didn’t even know what it was until I was until college, but Bug eats the protein-rich bean several times a week.

9. Kalamata olives.  Tangy and delish, Bug can’t get enough of the stuff.

10. Peas. Green veggies are usually a tougher sell than yellow ones — they’re not as sweet  — but if you mix peas with Greek yogurt and curry powder, Mason can’t resist them.

11. Pesto. It looks years for me to acquire a taste for this pungent sauce but Bug loved it when he tried it on chicken and pasta at daycare last week.

Food Play: From Yogurt To Finger Paint

I messed up at dinner last night. While Mason was eating a slice of brown rice bread topped with melted organic cheddar cheese, I fed him a spoonful of lentils that were apparently too hot. (Bug likes his food tepid — anything warmer than that just won’t do.) He immediately burst into tears and stuck his hand in his mouth. My heart broke. I knew I hadn’t scalded him — I tasted the lentils before I offered them to him and thought they were cool enough — but I hate to see him cry, especially if I did something to cause it. I gave him cold water as a peace offering but once the tears dried and I saw his reproachful expression it was clear that he’d be slow to forgive my blunder. Next I tried to feed him a spoonful of Greek yogurt mixed with organic banana and peach puree (recipe below).  He took one look at the spoon, shook his head no, and buried his face in the armrest of his high chair. I couldn’t blame the kid, I hadn’t exactly inspired his trust. I had given up on the lentils but I wasn’t ready to give up on the yogurt yet.

How to win his trust back…

I put the bowl of yogurt in front of him so he could see that it wasn’t the too-warm lentils. He flashed a huge smile,  dipped one hand in the yogurt, and smeared it all over his high chair before I could react. (When he was 3 months old we had a similar incident with mashed potatoes at a restaurant in Philly, but he was too young to realize what he was doing back then.) I had two choices: shut down the yogurt finger painting or let it happen just this once. I chose the later option. I thought it was so cute I texted a photo of him in the act to my mom. She texted back: “Suggestion, don’t let him paint with his food. I’ll bring him finger paint next time I come visit.” I see her point and I certainly don’t want to make a habit of letting Bug play with his food, but this was the first time I had ever let him indulge in some food play. The scene was too adorable for me to put the kabosh on it this time,  so instead I snapped more photos and laughed along with him. Sure enough, he lost interest 5 minutes later and finished all of his dinner. What would you have done? Do you ever let your babe play with his/her food? Share your stories here — and if you have photos, share them on our Facebook page!

Yogurt with Banana-Peach Puree


Full-fat Greek yogurt
2 fresh peaches
1 banana


1. Cook peaches. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Add sliced banana. Puree until you reach desired consistency.
2. Add two ounces of puree to two heaping spoonfuls of yogurt. Mix until well combined.
3. Freeze leftover puree for up to three months.
4. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

7 Simple Peach Recipes & Ideas for Your Baby

Fresh peaches are in season right now and the lush, ripe fruit is so healthy for your babe. Peaches are packed with calcium, vitamin A, and potassium — all essential nutrients for a healthy, growing baby — and they’re so delish. Mason loves peaches. He ate slices of fresh peach for his snack Friday afternoon and he enjoyed peach puree in his oatmeal Sunday morning. Here are Bug’s fave ways to eat this sweet summer fruit. Does your babe like peaches? If so, what is his/her fave way to eat them?

1. Basic Peach Puree

2. Smashed Peaches

3. Peach Yogurt

4. Sweet Potato-Peach Puree (pictured above)

5.  Peach-Pear Puree

6. Cooked and diced with sweet potato, a great finger food combo

7. As a topper for tiny pieces of waffle or pancake. Just substitute peaches for the blueberries in this recipe.

Curried Peas with Yogurt

Best for Babies 8+ Months Old

The last week or so has been all about replenishing our stock of homemade baby food. Our life is crazy busy (like yours) so it helps to have several servings of healthy food in the freezer that I can just grab and heat up when mealtime rolls around. We’ve been traveling a lot so I haven’t had time to cook. Now that we’re home and things are settling down a bit, I’m loving all the time I have to cook. To help replenish our stock, I wanted to try something new — but I also wanted to make something Mason was sure to like. Since he loves  yogurt, peas, and curry powder, Fraya Berg’s pea recipe seemed like the obvious choice (plus we loved her apple and cabbage puree with raisins).

This new twist on peas was a snap to make. I cooked organic frozen green beans, then combined them with full-fat Greek yogurt and curry powder in the blender (no more fancy baby food making equipment for me). I tasted the puree as soon as it was ready, and it was absolutely delicious. The peas were bright and beautiful, with a rich, creamy texture from the yogurt. The curry powder added a very slight hint of spice. Mason loved it.

If you haven’t introduced your babe to spices yet, this is the perfect recipe to start with. The spice is very subtle, even more so than in my curried lentils recipe, and the recipe is calcium-rich and chock full of fiber from the peas. (Just be sure to use fresh or fresh-frozen green beans — canned beans are loaded with sodium.) My variation of Fraya’s recipe is below. Try it out — and let us know what you think!

Curried Peas with Yogurt


Peas, frozen or fresh, 10 ounces
1/3 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon curry powder


1. Cook peas until soft, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse.2. Combine peas, yogurt, and curry powder in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. For a thinner puree, add water.









What Mason Ate Today

Best for Babies 8+ Months Old

Mason kept up his Oscar the Grouch act today but instead of being peckish and finicky he ate everything that was offered to him. Pure bliss for both of us. Nothing makes me happier or more satisfied these days than when Mason eats well. And because of all the teething pain, eating well has not been at the top of his agenda. I’m also excited because I whipped up a new recipe last night —  Apple-Cabbage-Raisin Puree, inspired by a Parents.com recipe — and I find it endlessly satisfying when we get to add another dish to Bug’s list of fave eats. Here’s our magic menu. What did your babe eat today?


6 oz. Cherry-Banana Oatmeal
Organic banana puffs


2 oz Apple-Cabbage-Raisin Puree
2 oz diced avocado
2 oz diced, cooked apple and sweet potatoes


Organic apple puffs


4 oz Pear-Green Bean Yogurt
4 oz Turkey-Apricot Puree

Teething Babe? Ease the Pain with Ice Cold Smashed Fruit

smashedpears Beautifully smashed pears

Teething has hit our household. Hard. Sure, Mason’s had symptoms for the last several months–he turned 10-months-old on Father’s Day–but we’ve reached a whole new level of teething intensity. He’s frantically chewing on his hands (and everything else), drooling, fussing, and clinging to me yet the child has no teeth yet. None! Just all the symptoms, worse than ever. Yesterday was so bad that when I arrived home from work last night my nanny handed him to me and wished me luck getting him to eat dinner. I was able to coax Mason to eat Pear-Green Bean Yogurt (one of his faves) and diced avocado–but only after giving him a dose of baby Motrin and even then it was a struggle. He went on to drink 12 ounces of formula between 12:30 and 4 am so he was clearly hungry. Poor bug.

I had planned on shredding chicken for Mason and freezing it after he went to bed. Instead I smashed fruit. The soft consistency would be easy for Mason to manage with his swollen gums, and I could serve it to him very cold to help relieve the pain. Mason had been completely uninterested in the frozen bagel that my pediatrician recommended to help ease teething pain. He hated the mesh teether with cold fruit that a friend gave us, and the frozen waffle that another friend suggested we try got thrown across the room more times than I can count. Perhaps smashed fruit would work.

I started with fresh pear. Bug has loved this sweet, luscious fruit since he first tasted it at five months old. Since I’m transitioning him to chunkier purees and more finger foods, I mashed the peeled and cooked pears with a potato masher instead of pureeing them. The result was a juicy, chunkier pear mixture that Mason enjoyed this morning with his oatmeal. I noticed that he sucked on the fruit a bit before swallowing it so I’m guessing the cold did feel good. And he ate a great breakfast! I made extras–I always do to freeze for later–so when I serve it later this week I’ll mix in fresh cherry, blueberry, banana, or apple to keep things from getting boring.

Check out the recipes below (under the pics) — you can use them to smash or puree the fruit, depending on which texture works best for your babe. Let me know what happens! And, I’d love to hear some of your tricks for combating teething pain, especially if they involve food. Do dish, please!

pears_draining Draining and rinsing the pears after cooking

smashing_pears Smashing the pears with a potato masher after cooking


Smashed (Or Pureed) Pears


Organic pear


1. Wash, peel, and dice pear. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
2. Strain pear to remove excess water and mash with a potato masher. Or puree until you read desired consistency.
3. Freeze leftovers in 2- to 4-ounces portions.
4. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Smashed (or Pureed) Blueberries


Organic blueberries, fresh or frozen


1. Wash blueberries. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
2. Strain blueberries to remove excess water and mash with a potato masher. Or, puree in a blender or food processor until you read desired consistency.
3. Freeze leftovers in 2- to 4-ounces portions.
4. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Homemade Applesauce


Organic gala apples


1. Wash, peel, and dice apple. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
2. Strain excess water. Mash with a potato masher for a chunkier texture. Or, puree in a blender or food processor until you read desired consistency.
3. Freeze leftovers in 2- to 4-ounce portions.
4. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Smashed (or Pureed) Cherries


Fresh or frozen cherries


1. Wash and pit cherries, slice in half. Cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
3. Mash with a potato masher. Or, puree in a food processor or blender with a bit of water, breast milk, or formula. S
3. Freeze leftovers in 2- to 4-ounce portions.
4. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Smashed (or Pureed) Bananas


Organic banana
Water, breast milk, or formula


1. Peel and slice banana. Mash with a potato masher. Or, puree in a food processor or blender with pre-mixed formula or water until you reach desired consistency.
2. Freeze leftovers in 2- to 4-ounce portions.
3. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.