As a first-time mom, one of the things I relied on in a big way is my own instinct. And that has held me in good stead so far. I saw a lot of mothers on support groups online and offline introduce their little ones to food beyond their own feed painstakingly. However, since the very beginning, I had a very different take on it. Right or wrong, it seemed logical to me and has worked for me.
Eating at the family table
This was probably one thing that did most of the trick. K seeing that she was getting what was on everybody else's plate increased her acceptance of her diet. So, be it the vegetables on the plate, fruits thereafter, rice, chapatti or anything else she has always been a very non-fussy eater. The one-vegetable-at-a-time philosophy was never followed.
We have also taken care to ensure that she is given her own plate and spoon. She will make a mess the first couple of times. After those few click-worthy instances, she will get a hang of eating independently. This also allows her to try everything on her plate alone, and you will understand her tastes and likes as well.
Home food on every plate
What we cooked is what she got too, only with a little less spice and salt. Both these ingredients were added to the main vessel at the very end of the preparation, after some quantity was kept aside for K. As a south-Indian family, our rice, sambar, pappadam and curd were and are dear to us. That is what she got too including all the vegetables. The mashed vegetables phase was completely overlooked. This went for a year. And at the turn of the milestone, she was introduced to the complete plethora of tastes at home. And today, she is a huge fan of vegetables and has a great tolerance for spices too.
No formula food
This, again, was a phase we completely jumped over. Be it on travels or at home, her diet was always drawn from what we cooked at home. She enjoyed Ragi for about six months. After the first six-month phase, there has never been anything special cooked for her alone - including formula. This also meant that she could adjust to food wherever we travelled to, including the train journeys we undertake from time to time.
We never said ‘no' to her for anything - be it even something spicy or hot. That way she has learned to respect when we caution her. And she now independently blows into anything hot on her spoon or avoids anything overly spicy, at the first instance we mention it.
All along this time, I have never force fed her. Given she is independent in having her meals, she eats when hungry. And this means, she has now started vocalising when she is hungry. This helps us avoid food wastage unnecessarily. She is also quite vocal about what she will have and what she won't.
Thus has been our journey over the past two and a half years, where she has her own preferences in terms of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Non-fussy and experimental - she is adventurous in her eating too.