I’m not sure who was more shocked the day she first started eating solids – her or me. The look on Mabel’s face when she realised that the white stuff in the bowl was not, in fact, baby rice as she had grown accustomed to in the previous weeks – and loved emphatically – was one we had not yet witnessed before. This was not rice. This was cauliflower.
But let me back up.
Mabel has been bottle fed since she was three days old. I was unable to provide her the milk she needed and after one particularly stressful, tearful day of worrying she was going to starve or hate me, we decided enough was enough and out came Tommy Tippy. She took to the bottle like any good alcoholic would, with knowingness and a sense of resolute relief. Watching her eyes roll in the back of her head with content provided me with so much joy and reassurance. We were back on track.
She started sitting up unaided just after she turned four months old and around the same time, it became clear Mabel was more interested in real food. She would try to grab my morning smoothie, assist me kindly in drinking water and, one particularly noteworthy meal, even cried at a London burger joint when the food arrived on the table and none of it was for her.
So at five months and two days (thank goodness for family photo sharing apps like Lifecake to document each tiny or large moment), we introduced baby rice. Gusto is hardly the word for Mabel’s enthusiasm to what we now affectionately call her cereal. She loved and loves it as I write this.
Which brings us to cauliflower. After a little over two weeks of “cereal” being demolished twice, and in some cases, three times a day, we decided it was time to bring out the big guns. Or pureed cauliflower.
You might think why not just start with something easier on the palette? A carrot or sweet potato? Hey, even peas Mommy? Well, we have a ‘go big or go home’ approach to most things in our house and we wanted Mabel to approach food with a sense of adventure and wonder. Bemusement is what we got instead.
You see blitzed cauliflower looks suspiciously like baby rice and Mabel’s cute, squeezable face after the first few happy bites, when she realised this was not in fact her beloved cereal, was priceless. Tongue out, small gags and then – wait for it – she went in for another bite.
Day 1 conquered.
We are giving each new food a few days on its own so Mabel gets used to the flavour and so that we can be sure she has no allergies. So Days 2 and 3 were more of the same. She didn’t love the cauliflower by the end of its first stint, but hey, she didn’t hate it either.
And just like that, my baby was eating real food. Which brings me back to that original feeling of shock. But also pride, happiness, excitement and sentimentality. The world is now our oyster and we’ll cook it (or not in the case of oysters) and eat it together with overflowing love. This is one Mommy & Mabel moment Mommy certainly won’t be forgetting in a hurry.