Dear Natalie: Week 34

Dear Natalie,

After two months of diligently offering you solid food, you’ve decided that, ok, perhaps this is fit for consumption after all.

Watching you learn how to eat has been by turns fascinating, hilarious, educational, and downright scary. The amount of gagging has dropped dramatically (thankfully!), although every so often I do have to kneel directly in front of your high chair and make exaggerated chewing sounds and motions to encourage you to spit something out. We had a tricky situation a few weeks ago when you had a piece of egg noodle wrapped around your tongue, but you were able to figure that out without me sweeping it out of your mouth.

(Although I’m not sure I even breathed while I watched you work it out. Who knew egg noodles could be so alarming.)

But this week we have, without a doubt, turned the corner. You are eating stuff. 

You’re not picky and you’ll try just about anything we put in front of you. You don’t always eat more than a tiny scrap of whatever it is, but sometimes you surprise us. Oranges, for instance, you can’t get enough of, despite stopping every few seconds to shudder at the tart taste before stuffing a slice back in your mouth.

There is a clear favorite food: Happy Puffs. They’re like Cheerios, except they’re gluten-free, cost a lot more, and come in delightful flavors like hamster food “greens.” I taste everything I serve to you, and I’m going to be honest: happy puffs are not my favorite.

But you are cuckoo for veggie puffs. When we first offered them to you, you’d careful place a few in your mouth, hold them there for a bit, and then let the whole slimy mass slide out of your mouth and down your chin. Then you started chewing them, but would still eject them when you were finished. And now, finally, you actually eat them. Pick up, chew, swallow. You hoover up a handful of puffs in no time flat and bang on the tray of your high chair to ask for more.

Fear not; we do give you things to eat other than baby cereal. Your other favorite food is prunes, and you’ve also enjoyed scrambled eggs, strawberries, mangos, yogurt, bananas, pasta, and a teensy-tiny scrap of sausage cut out of the casing, among other things.

Now that the gagging is under control and it’s obvious you are actually tasting and enjoying all these new foods, finding things for you to eat is a lot of fun. It’s also encouraged us to clean up our eating habits, not only what we eat, but how we eat.

I’m going to level with you: before you started joining us for our meals, most of our eating happened while sitting on the couch and watching tv. I’d prefer for your memories of family mealtimes not to include the big glowing box, however, so we’ve made a big effort to eat together, at the table, with no screens of any kind present.

We’re not perfect but we’re trying to be better, for you and for us. So thank you for that, my hungry hungry hippo.

Love always,



  1. Dear Natalie: Week 35 | Happy Helmraths - April 7, 2014

    […] keening screech, one note held continuously until we pick you up or placate you with some puffs, at which point it dissolves immediately into a […]

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