Navigating First Foods As a Nanny
As we strive to help parents navigate first foods, we want to bring you a variety of perspectives. Below is a guest post from a nanny introducing foods to her Little Buddy.
From October 2017 to June 2018, I had the honor and privilege of helping a tiny child learn about the world around him. I was Little Buddy's (LB) live-in nanny from when he was 9 months old to 17 months old, and wow, did we have a lot of adventures.
One of the greatest adventures we had together was learning how to navigate food. LB was eating solid food by the time I arrived, along with drinking breast milk and formula. His meals were comprised of a lot of purees—single-meats, mashed vegetables, spoonfuls of avocado and banana.
Around LB's first birthday, his grandmother, who had been cooking, pureeing, and freezing all of his meals, started to make purees that were both chunkier and easier to pick up, and more varied in flavor. I supplemented his meals with fruit, hard-boiled eggs, steamed vegetables, and homemade popsicles. There were a lot of rice and vegetable mixes, along with soups and stews. He ate bites of oxtail, and pieces of salmon shared from his mother's plate. I would roast vegetables for our nightly family dinners, and went from leaving a corner of plain vegetables for LB, to feeding him turmeric-roasted broccoli and cauliflower (we avoided the Brussels sprouts for a while, due to the layers and their potentiality as a choking hazard).
Coming from a family of Chinese and Yemenite Israeli descent, LB had a lot of early introductions to various allergens. His Israeli family introduced him to a peanut puff snack, and his Chinese family introduced him to sesame, soy, and eggs. On weekends, he would visit different family members with his parents; upon their return, one parent or the other would gleefully remark on how much LB enjoyed such-and-such new food. These ranged from scallion pancakes to Moroccan spiced lamb.
Even though LB had a variety of foods offered to him each week, being a toddler there were weeks where he would limit his diet to a single food and milk. In those weeks, it was especially difficult to ensure he was getting the suggested exposure to common allergens. Since finding Lil Mixins, it has become much easier to “sneak” these foods into whatever a child is willing to eat that week.
Once his baby chompers were fully-formed, LB loved to chow down on broccoli and cauliflower florets (we called them “little trees”), slices of zucchini and squash, and whole baby carrots, all steamed to perfection by yours truly. Cut-up blueberries and strawberries (one of his first words was “berry”) had met their match.
Little Buddy and I had so many adventures in our eight months together. We learned how to sing songs, read books, give high fives, and pick flowers, and so much more. But navigating the culinary world that is baby food was definitely one of our most fun journeys.
Becca has worked with children for the past twenty years as a nanny, camp counselor, English as a Second Language teacher, and babysitter. After years of traveling the world, Becca now lives in Philadelphia, where she is the founder of Edits by Becca, an editing and content development company. She is currently working as the content manager at Throw Like a Woman, a nonprofit consulting firm. In her spare time, Becca is on a lifelong journey to perfect her chocolate chip cookie and banana bread recipes, and to pet every dog she meets.