We’ve entered a new chapter in our life with Oden: solid foods! I’d read that when a baby starts to be interested in the fact that you’re eating, he might be ready to start trying something himself. Oden suddenly was captivated by everything we fed ourselves, so at a dinner party one evening, I gave him a taste of avocado. He loved it!
Since then, it’s been an adventure! We’ve slowly added new things to his culinary repertoire, one at a time. I have a wonderful little machine in which you can steam fruits or veggies and then puree them, so I have been making my own baby food: pears, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots. Oden’s also tasted egg yolk, grits, ice cream, and syrup from our plates. I think there are a few “forbidden” foods at this age, but if he wants to try something, we give him a taste! He also likes a quinoa instant cereal that I will mix with smooshed banana, pears or apples. He recently tried his first graham cracker, which was a gleeful, gummy mess. He also sucked on a piece of seedless watermelon on Labor Day- so American!
Just because he wants to eat doesn’t mean he knows how, and it’s been funny to watch him learn to use his little mouth. Getting a spoonful of food into his moving-target mouth is like a video game for us (with extra points for not getting anything up his nose). It’s hilarious to watch his facial expressions when he gets a bite of something tart. I make the classic mom face while I feed him, opening my own mouth when I want him to open his. It’s so cute to see him lean forward with his mouth wide open for another bite of something, just like a sweet little baby bird. So far, sweet potatoes seem to be his favorite!
With baby teeth being a reality and seeing how he enjoyed feeding himself the graham cracker, I’d researched other baby-friendly foods and wanted to make something over the holiday weekend. Monday was day three without a shower so I’d tossed my hair into a messy bun. Oden had decided that napping was for chumps; I’d barely had time to locate and sip my lukewarm coffee before I heard him babbling away in his crib. I scooped a few bites of leftover carrot cake into my mouth before heading upstairs to retrieve him, rationalizing that the carrot part made it a healthy-ish breakfast. I wish I could label it as “just one of those days” but really, chaos with a touch of mayhem seems to be the new normal with a baby in the house.
The night before, I’d felt a new sharp little tooth poking out of Oden’s top gums. This would be tooth #4 for our over-achieving little 6-month-old and, by the way he was chewing on his fingers these days, I knew more were on the way. By some miracle, I had all of the ingredients for a simple teething biscuit recipe I’d seen. Maybe cookies would make teething easier, since they generally make MY bad days better! With John off on a bike ride to clear his head, I strapped my big boy into the baby carrier and set my mind to baking the cookies.
In my short time as a mama, I’ve learned that flexibility is vital. This applies to cooking, as well. You may or may not have to stop everything to change a poopy diaper. You may or may not have to dive with the burp cloth to prevent that giant drop of drool from landing in the ingredients bowl. You may or may not tell yourself that the brownest banana you’ve ever NOT thrown in the garbage would just add more sweetness to your recipe. All of these things may or may not have happened on Monday. Go with the flow, and watch those grabby little baby hands!
The recipe was easy, just a few ingredients: wheat flour, rice cereal, mushed banana, coconut oil, cinnamon. I’d read about generic rice cereals containing arsenic when I was pregnant (!!) so I’d been careful to find a good one. I started by microwaving the solid coconut oil until it was liquid. Then, with Oden’s supervision, I combined all of the ingredients in the bowl and added a few tablespoons of water to loosen it up. I let him try a little bit of banana with cinnamon, since he’d never tasted the spice. He went back for more so I knew he liked it.
The best way to mix this dough was definitely to remove my rings and get right in there with my hands! Oden was fascinated! Once the dough came together, I floured my (mostly clean) countertop and rolled it out into an even thin layer. As I looked down at Oden’s chubby little bear paw, reaching out to “help,” I felt a tear come to my eye. Sure, maybe I was overtired and needed more coffee, but I couldn’t help but think about these small daily moments and the memories that were being made- maybe not for him, because he won’t remember…but I will.
With the dough rolled out, I found my heart-shaped cookie cutter and placed the cut-outs onto a cookie sheet. I baked them for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, as the recipe directed. Of course, I burned the first batch into crispy critters. Mama life!
Luckily, I had enough dough for another attempt and baked them for less time. I tasted one of the crunchy ones. There was not a lot of sweetness in them and they didn’t easily dissolve the way I’d like for a baby cookie to do, but maybe that’s because I over-baked them. The certainly weren’t the satisfying “cookies” that I would prefer, but there’s only one critic that counts in this scenario, so I handed Oden a biscuit. He wasn’t sure what to do with it (he’s just starting to figure out food), and I wasn’t sure he liked it… but he kept going back at it!
Next time, I think I’ll add some apple or pear along with the banana to help with more flavor and maybe texture. I think more fruit might make it soften in his mouth more quickly. I’ll definitely remember not to bake them too long. Oden is too young for crispy crackers! That said, I helped him hold another biscuit yesterday when his angry new teeth seemed to be torturing him. He liked trying to hold his own biscuit and feed himself, and the biscuit softened quite a bit as he drooled all over it (yay, bath time!). He seemed to really like it, and I think it helped massage those sore gums. Success!
Me? I went back for more carrot cake.
Basic Teething Biscuits (recipe from Boys Ahoy)
- 1 cup infant rice cereal
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 large mashed banana
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 4-6 tablespoons of water
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, starting with 4 tablespoons of water and adding more if necessary. The best mixing tool is your hands! Roll out onto a floured surface to ¼ or ½ thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut biscuits and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes (but don’t burn them!). Definitely supervise your little one as they attempt to eat a biscuit. Mama tip: Give it to him right before bath time!
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