I knew going into this adventure that the eating habits I was used to back home in North America were not what they are here in France. I knew this to be true for adults – those of you who have glimpsed through the memoir will remember our long discussion about such topics in chapter 16 – but I never really thought about it terms of babies. Then again, it only makes sense: if adult French people eat a certain way, it’s more than likely that that education began in the high chair…
Our pediatrician recommended that we begin to introduce solids to M’s diet around 5 or 6 months. At Christmas, home for the holidays, we began feeding her tiny spoonfuls of carrot, sweet potato, green beans, banana and pear. She opened her mouth like a little bird and grimaced at each new mouthful.
Like when I was pregnant, I read great amounts about babyhood and parenting, various methods and research. In the end, though, I decided to trust the people and culture around me. I hold our pediatrician in the highest regard. He’s written a book about child development from 0-2 years and has that unmistakeable confidence wrapped in gentle respect that infuses trust.
Our great friends from London, who we know from the memoir as Tyler and Anna, have decided to use the Baby-led weaning method, which is quite appealing in many ways. We recently spent a long weekend together with our respective little ones – they have a baby a month younger than M – and I was able to see first hand how their little prince picked up the pieces of broccoli and carrot, lamb (it was Easter!) or chicken. He mouthed them and smushed them and ate a bit too. I like the contact with food that this approach offers. We have introduced finger foods alongside little M’s regular diet.
I’m not 100% sure what the North American baby diet is these days as its been 20 years since my little sister was in diapers, but here’s a typical French baby diet:
7am Breastfeeding or formula
11am Lunch: breast milk (or 150ml formula) + 1/2 jar of mixed veggies (bought or homemade)
3pm Snack: breast milk (or formula) + 1/2 jar of fruit sauce (bought or homemade)
7pm Breastfeeding or formula
Same principle meals at the same times except we increase the lunch portion of veggies to 200g and add a dab of non-salted butter or olive oil as well as 2 teaspoons of meat (beef, ham, chicken, lamb or turkey) or fish or – once a week – an egg yolk hard-boiled.
And we introduce yogurt!
Snack becomes a whole jar of fruit sauced and dinner is 120g of mashed veggies or veggie soup, both with breast milk (or formula).
We increase the lunch portion of meat or fish to 20g or 4 teaspoons and we mix the veggies and fruit so that they have little mushy bits rather than being completely mashed.
For dinner, once or twice a week, we introduce into the veggie soup (250g now) grits or mixed-up pasta, and dessert is a whole natural yogurt or bits of hard cheese (comté, parmesan, gouda…).
And beginning at 10 months, we hand over a crust of our baguette to little bébé dear.
We decided to make all of M’s food so we bought the Babycook mini version which fits nicely in our Parisian kitchen. We basically chop a little more of whatever we’re eating that night for her, steam and mix it, and if there is more we freeze it in an ice tray for another meal. The little cubes are spectacularly convenient when we are pressed for time. For this, I found a great website called wholesomebabyfood.