Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Carrots today, tomorrow the world

Fine dining it ain't, but it must still be a nice change. And at least the young 'un hasn't choked and required an application of the Heimlich maneuver.

It's been about a month now since Mum started Sonny on solid food (click here and here for previous posts on this subject). She began with powdered rice out of a carton, mixed with milk: About four or five spoonfuls as a starter before the milk main course. Sonny slurped it up so enthusiastically that he's already graduated to the next stage: Boiled carrots mashed into a pulp. Sure, it sounds dreadful, but the little fella has been attacking it with gusto. Mum makes up a big batch, then pops an ice-cube tray's worth of carrot cubes into the freezer for daily use.

Back when we were growing up, we were sold the idea that carrots were so good for your eyes, chomping on a few would all but give you x-ray vision. These days, our understanding of nutrition is slightly more advanced. By introducing carrots, therefore, we mainly want to get Sonny used to eating different sorts of things as early as possible. Mum's already plotting sweet potato next, plus rice and even egg yolk. We've heard more than our share of horror stories about children who - at the ripe old age of 3, 4 or more - insist on mother's milk direct from the 'tap'.

In a way, our dietary strategy mirrors our broader parenting plan (this sounds grander than admitting we're muddling along with little more than an amorphous skein of strategy points). "Mixing it up" would be a handy shorthand: The idea is that the little fella should be comfortable with constant change, a variety of inputs and strange new things invading his space with regularity. Life, after all, throws us surprises almost every day. We wouldn't want fear of change - whether it is in food or cast of familiar characters or much else - to become ingrained through maintaining too controlled an environment.

Mind you, we all know that children require certain bedrock assurances to keep them emotionally rooted and secure. They must know, for instance, that their parents will always be there to provide for their needs, dispense advice and clarify things when confusion threatens to swallow them up. Until they are seven going on 18, in other words, it will all be about maintaining a balance of unshakeable certainties and constant variation: Such are the emotional nutrients that will be needed to raise a well-balanced young fella.

That, and plenty of carrots.