My little guy is now 10 1/2 months old, and looking and acting more like a toddler everyday. He is standing for a few seconds on his own, walking while holding on to furniture, and climbing on everything his short little legs can pull up on. He can crawl across the living room and be halfway up the stairs in less than ten seconds!
His meals are also becoming much more toddler-like, in that we are avoiding purees as much as we can (sometimes those handy pouches like the Sprout or Happy Baby brands are convenient for on-the-go snacks!) and focusing on “real” foods. With this change, I have to repeat to myself almost daily, “I am not a short-order cook. I am not a short-order cook.” Sometimes it can be hard not to let his CF (cystic fibrosis for new readers) get the better of me. With CF, growth and maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult, but it is an important factor for good lung health. Also, once I give him his dose of enzymes (which he has to take before he eats, every time he eats or his body can not process the fat and protein), he only has an hour time frame to eat, and there is a limited amount of enzymes he can take in a day, so if he doesn’t eat well, then I have to wait at least a couple of hours before I can give him more enzymes to eat again. So for that reason, I struggle with the feeding choices. The part of me that is always concerned for his health wants to keep offering him things until I find something that he’s willing to eat. However as his dietician pointed out, doing that is teaching him to be in control of the food, which can lead to unhealthy habits. I know that this is true from experience: my now six-year-old only ate cereal, chicken, meatballs, corn, grapes, and snacks for the first four years of his life. Why? Because I would give in to his pickiness. If he wouldn’t eat the spaghetti and broccoli that we had for supper, I would make him his own separate meal of one of those things that I knew he would eat. Today, he’s a much healthier eater, but I wish I would have been persistent when he was younger about encouraging a variety of healthier foods for him. And so with my 10 month old, I am being persistent. I will give him a couple of options at snacks and 3-4 different foods for meals, and he eats what he eats. If it’s all or most of it, I feel good. If he barely touches it, I worry a bit about him gaining weight, but I don’t give in go through the fridge or pantry, shelling out food after food until I find something that he will eat. I does help me to know that I still nurse him or give some some formula after each meal, but the amount of that is slowly decreasing, and starting next month, we will begin transitioning him to whole milk! Stay tuned for next Munchkin Meals to see how that goes!
So, what does a day like this look like? I’ve taken a lot of pics to show you! (All from my phone, so I apologize about the poor quality. I’m definitely not a professional photographer!)
Breakfast: Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and a banana. He ate about 1/4 of a large bagel and several bites of the banana, and then I nursed him.
Mid-Morning Snack: Chobani greek yogurt. He has one of these almost every day, because it’s so healthy for him and high in protein. He almost always eats the whole thing like he did with this one!
Lunch: Grilled cheese and avocado (such a yummy combination!) with strawberry slices and a few yogurt drops. He ate about a 1/4 of a full sandwich (and I finished the rest of it!) but barely tried the strawberry or yogurt drops. A pretty light lunch. Then I nursed him again.
Afternoon Snack: Honeydew melon, string cheese, and Annie’s Organic Bunnies cheddar crackers. This was his first time with the melon, but he usually likes the cheese and crackers. However, this particular time he was completely uninterested. I did give him a bottle, for his vitamins and salt intake, but only 4oz, because I do not want him to fill up on formula alone. After the bottle, he ate a couple of crackers, but most of this snack went untouched. (PS-I also realized after taking these pictures how messy our highchair cover was that day! Just keeping it real.)
Supper: I made Creamy Cauliflower Soup (a recipe shared by Allyson at Domestic Superhero, except we used “real” foods instead of the low-fat versions. We need the higher calories and fat for my little CFer!) and BLTs. He was hungry and crabby before the bacon was finished baking (Anyone else cook bacon in the oven?? So much easier!), so instead of the BLT, I made a slice of whole grain toast and spread some avocado on it. He ate his whole bowl of soup (probably 1/2 cup) plus several bites of the toast. I nursed him afterward, and then he was ready for bed! Being so active (and down to only two naps a day) wears him out!
Some days are better. Some days are worse. But I refuse to let the fears of CF run our kitchen. Nutrition with CF-specific supplements will run it instead. And starting while he is young is the key.
Thanks for reading today! Be sure to check out the other Munchkin Meals link-ups for more healthy meal and snack ideas for babies and toddlers!
Chugging along with our Baby Tips for First Time Parents series, today’s topic is a personal favorite. Being a writer with an English degree, a baby’s language development is close to my heart. There are many tools that we as parents can use to help our babies get off to a good start in their language skills. Here are some of my best tips!
-Read. From birth. Every day. There is no better way to encourage a good vocabulary and an early desire to read than by reading to your baby on a daily basis. Take some time each day, whether it’s in the morning or before bedtime, to snuggle up with a few books.
-Have books accessible on your baby’s level. Whether it’s a low (sturdy) bookshelf or a basket or bin on the floor, having cloth books and board books available for your baby to grab, turn the pages, and look at the pictures on his or her own is also a great way to let them have early exposure to language in print form.
-Give them a constant play-by-play of daily activities. Babies are so curious about this world that is brand new to them. And as parents, we are their first tour guide. When we take the time to talk them through daily activities, a play-by-play of the day, (i.e. “Let’s change your diaper! Here are the wipes. Here is the diaper.”) it gives them an opportunity to hear a variety of words and to let them begin to make connections between the words you say and how those words relate to their daily life.
-Ask open-ended questions. This makes you feel a bit like you’re talking to yourself all day long (as an infant teacher, I was often in a room for 8 hours a day with only four babies to talk to… talk about one-sided conversations!), but it is key to encouraging your baby to respond and to develop the back and forth rhythm of conversational language. Listen for cues that your baby might be trying to attempt words or conversation. For example, here is a conversation I had this morning with my 8-month-old while he was playing with a soft ball:
“What is that?” I asked.
“Oh, is that a ball?”
Silence as he concentrated on picking up the ball.
“What does the ball feel like?”
“A ga da ba da.” (or some sort of baby babble!)
“Does that feel soft?”
“What can you do with that ball?”
“Can you throw the ball?”
(more baby babble as he chews on the ball)
“I see that you can taste the ball too! What does the ball taste like?”
-Repetition. Notice in the previous example that I repeated the word “ball” several times, since that was the toy he was playing with. Repeating the same simple words over and over again helps a baby learn to recognize words before they can even speak them. This is called their receptive language. Also, the words you repeat most often usually become some of the first words that your baby can speak, such as Mama, Dada, dog, ball, eat, etc. Generally speaking, the more often they hear a word, the faster they will attempt to repeat them back to you.
-Minimize the use of baby talk. Babies learn their behaviors through both their own curious exploration and through modeling that they see from their parents. It makes sense that if a baby is hearing proper language as opposed to baby talk, that they will learn to pronounce words correctly faster than if they are hearing them pronounced incorrectly. (Consequently, I need to work on this one! I have a bad habit of using the word “tweepy” instead of “sleepy.” Don’t ask where it came from, it just comes out! I’m working on this one right along with you!!) Babies do love a high-pitched voice, so it’s okay to use baby-friendly tones and inflections, as long as you are pronouncing words correctly and clearly for them!
-Finally, consider using baby sign-language. Some parents feel like using sign-language with their baby might delay their baby’s speech development, but it actually enhances it! Think of language development just like motor skills development. You need to learn to stand before you can walk, right? So I like to think of sign language as giving your baby “legs to stand on” before their speech can take off. If they can communicate with you clearly with signs (typically age 7-9 months) before they might be able to communicate using words (10-12 months), it may help them feel confident in themselves and their own ability to get their needs met. Also, imagine being in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. How would you get the things you need? If you’re looking for a place to buy a drink, you might ask a local using sign the universal sign for “drink” by cupping your hand and putting it to your mouth. The local will understand what you need, and they can point you in the right direction. They might even repeat the sign and say the word “drink” in their own language for you, so that you can hear it and hopefully remember it the next time you need a drink! Using sign language would help you feel more at ease in the unfamiliar environment and it would help you in making early connections with other people while you are learning their spoken language. These are some of the same benefits that sign language can give your baby. Click here for a short list of starter words for baby sign language!
I hope this list will help to strengthen your communication with your baby as she is developing her language skills!
Be sure to check back next Tuesday for Part 4 of this series where we will have some tips for your baby’s motor skill development!
Continuing my Baby Tips for First-Time Parents series from last week, part two covers cleaning (at home and away) and hygiene. Especially this time of year when the flu and other viruses are rampant, this is such an important topic to discuss. I hope you find some helpful hints here. Feel free to share some of your own tips in the comments below!
Cleaning and Hygiene
-Babies don’t need a bath every day. Typically, babies only need a bath every 2-3 days. Any more than that, and it actually dries out their skin! We tend to bathe our baby boy MWF or even only MTh if it seems like three times a week is too often for his skin. If this is a new concept for you, you might have two questions:
- Q: What if we use bath time as part of his nightly routine? A: Everything you do with your baby post-bath time (lotion, putting on pjs, nursing/bottle, rocking, reading, singing lullabies, etc) is your baby’s “bedtime routine.” A bath can be done right before your baby’s bedtime routine, but only 2-3 times/week instead of every day. In fact, it’s a misconception that bath time is relaxing to all babies. For some, it can be. For others, it is exciting! For example, bath time has the opposite effect on our little eight-month-old. He loves splashing, scooting, slipping, sliding, playing with toys, chewing on the washcloth… bath time is anything BUT relaxing for him, because he loves playing in water so much! I give him a bath during the day when he is active and playful, because that’s when he enjoys it most.
- Q: Won’t my baby get dirty? A: Yes! However, your baby’s body will stay relatively clean. Exceptions to this which might require an impromptu bath time might include a super messy sensory/art activity, an exceptionally messy meal (spaghetti!), or a leaky BM diaper (I’ve changed many diapers where it went all down the legs or straight up the back! A bath was a must!). Beyond those kinds of exceptions, the only parts of your baby that get messy daily are the diaper area (which is cleaned each diaper change), face, and hands. For the face, wash your baby’s face after meals and before bed with a warm, wet washcloth to keep it clean daily. As for the hands, that brings me to my next tip!
-Wash your babies hands often! For some reason, many parents tend to forget about washing their baby’s hands. To me, it is essential. Before and after they eat. After diapering (particularly when they start getting grabby with their little hands during diaper changes!). After playing outside. After petting an animal. And generally, anytime their hands look dirty. A lot of parents use a baby wipe to clean their baby’s hands, which is okay to get some dirt off when on the go, but it doesn’t take the place of good old soap and water. Not only will hand-washing help keep your baby clean and healthy, but you’re beginning a lifelong habit that is the number one way to help prevent the spreading germs and illnesses!
-Another way to prevent illnesses is through cleaning. However, not all cleaning products are baby-friendly. When you’re cleaning your home, keep in mind that most babies put everything in their mouths. You wouldn’t want your baby to put Lysol in his mouth, so you wouldn’t want to clean his toys with that either! That’s a good visual to keep in mind, but there are other potentially harmful effects of the chemicals in many cleaning products including eczema, allergies, irritating the airways, and eye irritation. Here are my favorite baby-safe products for cleaning at home:
- Dishwasher. I love tossing pacifiers, bottles, teethers, and any other small toys that can be washed in the dishwasher. It cleans and sanitizes all at once, and it’s super convenient!
- Washing machine. I wash all of the little stuffed animal toys, favorite blankets, and fabric books in the washing machine once a week or more often if needed.
- Soap and water. For toys that can not be submersed in water, I like to fill the sink with warm water and dish soap, use a clean washcloth to wipe off the toys with the soapy water, and then rinse them using another clean, wet washcloth. Let the toys air dry.
- Free and Clear detergents. While baby-specific laundry detergents like Dreft are unnecessary, if your baby seems to have problems with skin rashes, dry skin, or eczema, try switching laundry detergents to one that is free of harsh chemicals or dyes.
- Steam mop. I love the shiny, clean look of freshly steam-mopped hardwood or tile floors. I use the Shark steam mop on our floors rather than a traditional mop and bucket or the Swiffer mop, because it cleans and sanitizes the floor without leaving behind any chemicals! With a baby crawling around on the floor (and sometimes our little guy even LICKS the floor!) all day long, this is a must for me!
-If you do use spray products to clean, avoid using them when your baby is in the same room. When I need to clean the bathrooms, for instance, I clean with the bathroom door closed and/or the fan on during my little guy’s nap or after his bedtime at night. That way he is not being directly exposed to the chemicals in the air.
-I saved my favorite hygiene tip for last because it’s our biggest life-saver right now! Our little guy has a runny nose from a little cold virus right now, and his absolute least favorite thing is getting his nose wiped. Even the softest, gentlest dry tissue product will still make a baby’s sensitive skin around the nose red and irritated when you have to wipe it 10+ times a day! The best way to remove nasal congestion is by squeezing a couple drops of saline solution up your baby’s nostrils and then sucking it out with a nose bulb (keep the one they give you in the hospital! It’s the best one you can get!!). However, my little guy absolutely hates that and will fight and scream and I can barely do it without fear of hurting him. So the next best thing is a product called Boogie Wipes! They are small, wet wipes with saline already in them. They are so gentle that even wiping his nose with them all day long, his nose never gets red or irritated! It also cleans up any little dried bits of snot around the nose all in the same swipe, so it’s quick, convenient, gentle, and even our tissue-loathing little guy rarely puts up a fight with Boogie Wipes!
I hope you’ve found some of this information helpful, or that you can pass it on to some new parents who might!
Be sure to come back next Tuesday for Part 3 of this series where I will talk about some tips for helping your baby reach those first developmental milestones!
What are your favorite cleaning and hygiene tips for babies?
In honor of my sister and her boyfriend who are expecting their first baby boy very soon (and my first nephew!), I wanted to put together a few tips that I’ve learned from nine years of being an infant teacher and 6+ years of being a mom. For first-time parents, caring for a baby can be overwhelming, exciting, nerve-wrecking, and blissful all at the same time. There are so many questions that I had as a first-time parent, and over the years as an educator and mom, I’ve learned the answers to many of those questions. That being said, I still don’t have all of the answers, and these are just a few tips for some of the many, many questions that will arise when caring for your baby for that first, precious year. Please consult your doctor and your own parenting instinct to find what is right for you and your baby. I hope this series of posts works as a good starting point to answer some of the perhaps less obvious or less talked-about questions that arise in caring for your baby.
The topic of today’s post in the “Baby Tips for First-Time Parents” series is one of the most important:
Health and Safety
-When your baby becomes mobile, he needs a lot of practice before he becomes efficient in various motor skills such as sitting up, pulling himself up to stand, and walking. Falls are inevitable. When a baby falls, I would guess that most of the adult population reacts in one of two extremes: either they gasp with a look of worry or panic and rush over to console the fallen baby -OR- they smile, cheer, or clap and say “You’re okay!” with a lot of feigned enthusiasm. Here is a better reaction: do nothing. Maintain a neutral expression so that your baby can decide how he feels about the fall. Then base your reaction on his reaction to the situation. If he is okay, but you panic and your face reads “Oh, no! He’s hurt!” then that will cause your baby to think “Oh no, look at mom/dad’s face! Something must be wrong!” In contrast, if your baby is wailing because they are feeling pain from their fall, but you’re smiling and insisting that they’re fine, it’s not validating their feelings. If we fell and hurt ourselves, how would we feel if someone watched it happen and then was smiling and clapping about it? We would likely feel a little resentment towards them. Babies are smart enough to pick up on these unspoken messages. In fact, they are the only messages that a baby clearly receives, as they understand facial expressions and tones and their corresponding messages long before they are able to understand the meaning of our words. Hence, the best way to react to a fall is to remain neutral until the baby reacts, and then respond according to their feelings. If they cry, console them and validate their feelings: “Ouch, that must of hurt. I’m very sorry that you were hurt from that fall.” Calmly, but empathetically. Repeat the words this way until they calm down. If they fall but come up smiling, then it’s okay to smile back and say, “Yay! I’m glad you’re okay after that fall!” Obviously, if the fall is severe, you should take appropriate emergency/first aid actions. Which brings me to my next tip…
-Consider taking a CPR course that includes infant CPR and first aid. It is unlikely that you will need CPR for an infant, but you want to be prepared in the case of an emergency. I think we all agree that it would be better to know and not need it than to need it and not know. The American Heart Association and the Red Cross are two good options for considering a course. They will also teach you what to do about infant choking, which is the part of the course that you are most likely to need, since most babies explore things by putting them in their mouths. It’s also the only type of CPR/first aid that I have ever had to perform on an infant, with the exception of basic first aid for a few minor cuts and bumps from falls. Having the knowledge to potentially save your baby’s life is invaluable, and I strongly recommend an infant CPR/first aid course to all parents, grandparents, and caregivers.
-Speaking of choking, use an empty toilet paper tube to check items for choking hazards. The simple rule with choking hazards is to drop the object through a toilet paper tube. If it fits inside or falls through, your baby could choke on it, and that object should be kept out of your baby’s reach.
-Have your car seat properly installed or checked. We called and made an appointment with our local fire station before our first son was born to have the car seat installed, or you can use this local “Inspection Station” locator from SafeKids.org. SafeKids also has this comprehensive list of car seat and travel safety for infants (and children of all ages!), including how long to keep the child/car seat in a rear-facing position, where to place the chest clip (at the child’s armpit level), how tight to have the car seat’s harness straps (you should only be able to just barely slip your finger in between your baby and the straps. No slack!), and to never leave your baby alone in the car.
-To keep your baby safe when he is asleep, be aware of the SIDS-prevention sleep safety tips. Always place your baby on his back to sleep, use a firm mattress, and your baby’s crib should be empty. No bumpers, no pillows, no blankets, no toys. It should be a crib, a firm mattress, a fitted crib sheet, and your baby. That may sound bare and boring, but if you think about the crib’s purpose, it should be boring. You want your baby to associate the crib with sleeping, not playtime, and any extra accessories not only prevent your baby from having a safe sleep environment, but they can also be distractions to your baby that may hinder him in falling asleep or confuse him about the purpose of the crib: plain ol’ sleep.
-At one point or another, your baby will get sick, and the only one who can truly help you with your baby’s illness is your baby’s pediatrician. However, should your baby need medication upon your pediatrician’s recommendation, I have one tip for using those little syringes that they provide for dosing an infant’s medication. I always had trouble getting the proper dosage because there would always be a little air bubble in the syringe, taking up space where medication should be in order to get the proper dose. Frustrating! To get rid of that air bubble, fill the syringe with the medication, and then press out the medication back into the bottle. This will leave a bit of medication in the tip of the syringe, instead of air. Then you can fill the syringe again to the proper amount, and the dose will be more accurate without that pesky air bubble!
-Finally, keep hazards out of reach, but remember that no amount of “baby-proofing” can take the place of the watchful eyes of a parent or caregiver. In fact, we do very little baby-proofing in our home. We baby-proof mostly through supervision and redirecting him to a safer place, should he encounter a potential danger (ie, the lamp cord!). Do the baby-proofing feels right to you (a good tip is to get on your hands and knees and explore your home at your baby’s level to find potential hazards), but know that no amount of baby-proofing is 100% safe and your baby should be monitored at all times. Babies learn quickly and should never be underestimated!
I hope these tips will help you in some way, or that you can pass them on to a first-time parent you know! Come back next Tuesday for Part 2: Cleaning and Hygiene.
If you have any additional Health & Saftety tips for babies, please leave them in the comments! I’d love to hear what you’ve learned through your parenting experiences as well.
The first Thursday of the month (and the new year!) means it’s time for Munchkin Meals via Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life. Check out what the other mamas are feeding their little ones!
Last month, we were having trouble with getting enough protein in our little guy. He just hates those plain old jarred meats (the ones the smell and look exactly like cat food… can you blame him??). I think we’ve come to a nice compromise, one that leaves him full and satisfied, and (hopefully) will pacify his dietitian as well! We have a clinic appointment at the end of the month, so here’s hoping!
He is still waking up once in the night to nurse (actually, he generally wakes up more than once, but I will only nurse him one time). That time can vary between 2am and 5am. He’s definitely not a consistent sleeper, and our dietitian (man, she’s pesky! But we love her!) really wants him to stop nursing overnight. I try to put him back to sleep without nursing if he wakes up before 4am, but sometimes the little guy will just scream and howl, and for the sake of everyone’s sanity, I will nurse him. He always gulps and gulps likes he’s just starving, so I don’t think it’s simply a comfort thing. That part has been a struggle with trying to wean him off of his nighttime nursing, but I’m hoping that we get it resolved soon. My thought is that he is probably not getting enough during the day, and he’s waking up to make up for it at night. It’s a vicious cycle.
Even though his nighttime feeding is inconsistent, he is extremely consistent that 8-8:30am is breakfast. Whether he nurses at 2am or 5am, his internal clock seems to tell him he is hungry right around 8am every morning. It’s a nice schedule to have him on, because it gives me the morning free to get his older brother’s breakfast/lunch made and drop him off at school. When we get home, I give my little guy a few Gerber “Puffs” and a sippy cup of water in his highchair while I prepare his morning medications and enzymes along with his bowl of cereal and fruit. Those puffs are like baby crack! He loves them, and they have been wonderful for letting him practice feeding himself. My favorite thing about them is that since they have no fat or protein, he doesn’t need enzymes to eat them! What a great way to let him “snack” between meals or while we are on the go. He also loves bananas for breakfast, but he hasn’t mastered picking those up on his own yet (I give him half of a banana whole rather than cutting it into small pieces… kind of like the baby-led weaning! He prefers it that way). What he is getting good at is using his sippy cup. Ever since I bought him the Nuby brand with the handles, he is able to do it mostly on his own with occasional help. Woohoo! He also nurses about thirty minutes after his cereal, because the enzymes are good for one hour from the time we give them to him. After that, he has to wait until the next feeding to eat, so we try to make the most out of those little enzymes!
Anytime between 11am and 12pm is lunchtime. I typically eat leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, and then I give my little guy a few pieces of whatever I am eating to try. He’s still learning to pick things up and get them to his mouth, but he loves baked chicken and is able to chew and swallow it easily in very small pieces at a time. I don’t think he gets enough protein from such tiny portions to satisfy his dietitian though, so we also give him a jar food “dinner.” I’ve discovered that he prefers the “3rd foods” and mixing them with a substantial amount of his daily salt intake. He gets 1/4 tsp of salt per day added to his foods, so I generally divide most of that between his lunch and dinner jar foods. I’m hoping that this combo of small portions from my own lunch and the jar food “dinners” is a good compromise to the nasty jarred meats that his dietician wants and what I prefer, which is him getting into the habit of eating whatever the rest of the family eats! So far, so good! And again, he nurses about thirty minutes after his lunch.
At about 2:30 or 3pm, my little guy will nurse again. (I’m sparing you all a picture of me nursing. You’re welcome!) 😉
Like lunchtime, we are getting our little guy in the habit of eating a baby-friendly version of whatever we are eating. Last night I made homemade tomato and cheese tortellini soup (delicious!) and breadsticks with a side of peas (we were trying to use up our leftover peas, can you tell?). I gave him small portions of each, but his favorite was a big chunk of breadstick. I think sometimes he prefers the smaller pieces that he can pick up (like the puffs or pieces of meat) and other times he prefers a big chunk to hold on to. Also like lunch, he gets another portion of the jar food dinner with salt and then nursing about thirty minutes later.
In a suggestion to help him sleep through the night, our dietitian recommended that we feed him a big bowl of cereal and fruit (which I mix with 2oz formula) for his last feeding before bedtime. It doesn’t seem to make any difference in his sleep habits, but he does love his cereal and fruit, so we give it to him anyway! He loves it so much that he slurped it all down last night before I could snap a picture, but it looks just like the breakfast bowl of cereal above. He also nurses, of course.
And that’s it for our seven month old’s day of eats! Thanks for reading our his progress!
How is/was your little one at sleeping through the night? Do/did they wake up to nurse or take a bottle? How did you wean them of it?
It’s the first Thursday of the month, and that means I’m hooking up with Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life for her Munchkin Meals linkup. If you’ve never read about Munchkin Meals, you really should click that link and check it out, especially if you have little eaters!
A proper CF diet is vital to my almost-seven-month-old’s growth and development, and I really want to get him off to a healthy start. We are still doing pureed fruits or baby cereal at breakfast, and we recently discovered that the baby boy loves avocado! He slurps that stuff right up. I mixed pureed avocado with pureed banana, and he ate a big bowl of it!
I’ve also started giving him small samplings of the foods that I eat throughout the day (as long as I’m eating during the one hour time frame when his enzymes are good!). I give him little pieces of the whole wheat bread from my sandwich or small bites of banana that he sucks off of my finger. He does really well with solid foods as long as it’s mushy. We discovered on Monday that even though he can hold a cracker and easily get it to his mouth, he still chokes on the pieces once he breaks them off. I don’t want him to have too many bad experiences that make him frustrated or scared of eating, so we will stay with the mushy foods for a bit longer!
Dinner has been a bit of a struggle lately. He was doing well with vegetables by themselves: carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, etc. However, per our dietitian’s request, we needed to start adding in the meats: ham, chicken, turkey, and beef. We have been using the Gerber brand with the meats and mixing it with homemade pureed veggies, but he doesn’t seem to like the meats at all. (Have you smelled those? They smell exactly like canned cat food. I’ve tasted them too. Bleh!) We are able to get him to eat them, but he definitely doesn’t enjoy it like he used to love the plain ol’ veggies. Sometimes it takes my husband, my older son, and myself all dancing and clapping and acting like complete weirdos to get him to eat without fussing about it. I have thought about making my own meats in a pureed form, but I’m not sure how to do that! Do I just cook the meats, add water, and blend it all in a food processor? I will most likely give it a try with some chicken soon to see if he will eat homemade meats better than store-bought. His body really needs that protein!
We will continue to work with him on the meat issue this month, and I hope that by the next Munchkin Meals, we will have better success! If you have any ideas or suggestions, I would LOVE to read them in the comments! Thank you!
Happy and healthy eats to you and your family! 🙂
After we got our son’s official diagnosis of having cystic fibrosis, I was angry. My tender and delicate three-week-old baby had been suddenly thrown into a lifetime of hospitals, treatments, and life-threatening possibilities. When I went onto Facebook to make the announcement of his diagnosis–because what kind of sleep-deprived, devastated parent wants to make that many phone calls?–I only felt worse. Seeing all of the status updates about the wonderful things happening in the lives of my friends and family was like rubbing the injustices of the world in my tear-filled eyes, and it burned. There were friends who announced their children’s healthy well-checkups. There were family members who were on vacation, relaxing on a beach with a drink in their hands, like they were never going to have a worry again. What really made me livid were some of the complaints.
“Traffic is terrible today!”
“Ugh, the house is a mess, but I don’t feel like cleaning. Anyone want to do it for me?”
“I’m so hungry! Is it lunchtime yet?”
“Some people are so frustrating! Can’t wait for this day to be over.”
In that moment, those complaints seemed so insignificant and petty. I wanted to scream, “Really? That’s what you’re complaining about?” While these people’s biggest worry of the day was whether or not they were going to have time to stop at Starbucks on the way to work, I had real problems. I had a baby with a life-expectancy of 38. I had to endure the blood tests, the long doctor’s visits, and sorting out the confusing details of a complicated disease. Real problems, people.
I was angry with the world.
But then I thought about it from my son’s perspective. Despite the disease that had manifested inside of him, he was still a beautiful and innocent newborn. He cried and nursed and pooped and slept just like any baby should. He was content with the world. The last thing I wanted was for him to feel angry. After all, it was his body that was affected by this disease. It was his life that was imposed upon, and no matter how much it affected me, it would always affect him more. I couldn’t let him grow up thinking that he had a reason to be angry. I didn’t want him to believe that anyone else had a better life than he did. Or was more normal. Or was luckier. Or was more blessed. Something in me shifted when I looked at my sweet baby boy and saw the kind of man he needed to be: healthy, strong, and determined. I let go of the anger as best as I could, so that I could see my son as the perfect, tiny being that he was. I was grateful for him, and my Facebook status probably would have read, “I am such a blessed mama.”
Six months later, what do I complain about? I complain about the half hour wait at the doctor’s office. The never-ending piles of laundry and dishes. The grocery store being out of Cherry Pepsi. And somewhere out there, someone may overhear my complaints who is tackling something big. Something real. Something difficult. They may feel angry at my complaints. Just give them some time and perspective, and their complaints will be as good as mine.
**It’s Yeah Write Challenge Grid time! Come and join us.**
As I talked on the phone to a good friend this morning, we compared and contrasted our children. Her daughter is a few weeks younger than our baby boy, and they have a lot in common. They also have a lot of differences. My friend and I determined that there are probably two main reasons for the differences in a baby’s development, and how two babies of the same age can be on two different wavelengths as far as their interests and capabilities. I think it’s good to introduce your baby to a variety of skills to practice as well as lots of different things for their senses to explore, but it’s also important to keep in mind that like everyone else, babies have a personality too, and it’s important to be respectful of and nurture their own interests.
For example, my baby is six months old today, and one of his favorite activities is scooting around on his little belly. Backwards and in circles mostly. With a little bit of rolling back and forth. He can get where he wants to go, just not in a direct forward-crawling sort of way yet. He has mastered the ability to get his top half completely off the ground, and to get up on his knees… Just not both simultaneously. But for now, his way of being mobile is working for him, so until he decides that’s not doing it for him anymore, we’re okay with the scooting/rolling method of self-transportation.
With his newfound mobility, he’s also started a few brotherly quarrels…
His fine-motor skills also seems to be developing quite well, along with this hand-eye coordination. He can now easily grasp at whatever object is within his reach, and he can hold onto and manuver objects pretty well in his hands. He doesn’t take a pacifier often, but when he does, he likes to pull it out and put it back in himself. He’s got to be teething, because he also chomps on everything. Hard! And yet no teeth in sight.
He also has a pretty good self-awareness. He is aware of his hands, and he loves to grab his toes (and eat them… babies are so flexible!). He loves to look at himself in the mirror, and he gives himself (and other people he loves) big, open-mouth, slobbery kisses that are just to die for.
He is also now responding to his own name, and he has a good start on his receptive language skills, in that if we ask him, “Where is Mama?” or “Dada” or “Bubby” or “the dog” or “the kitty,” he will turn and find whoever you are asking about. We are starting to add more things to his language knowledge like book, ball, toes, etc.
Speaking of language skills, he has always been quite a little chatterbox, mostly in coos and vowel sounds. And lots of high-pitched squealing. But guess what his first “word” was………. MA-MA! YES!! He’s also started working on “Buh” probably the beginning sound of Bubby, which is how we refer to his older brother. Poor Dada… 😉
It seems like he’s doing something new, making a new sound, or a new face every day. They really mean it when they say that they grow up fast. And the way that they grow up, has much to do with their personality, and the opportunities that they are given.
Happy 6 months of age, baby boy!
I’m linking up today (and the first Thursday of every month!) with Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life for her Munchkin Meals! It’s so nice as a mom looking for adventurous, nutritious new foods to introduce to my little guy to have this as a resource every month. I’m always so impressed by the healthy meals that other mamas are creating for their babies! Take a look, and you’ll see what I mean!
The last time I posted Munchkin Meals, we were just starting our little guy (almost six months old now!) on some foods. He has taken to it so well, and we’ve tried several of the basic foods, and are starting to become a little more adventurous.
We typically start out the day with either rice cereal or a fruit. We have a gorgeous, HUGE pear tree in our backyard, that has produced more fruit this year than we can consume, and our little guy just loves it! Both our pears and our apples this year were just the juiciest pieces of fruit ever! And I love the homegrown appeal too.
We aren’t doing a lunchtime feeding yet, but we have started doing two meals a day, so he has dinner. He has mostly been getting either a fruit (if he didn’t get one for breakfast) or a vegetable for dinner. I made a pear-pumpkin combo that he really liked! But yesterday we tried something new: quinoa! He did so good with it, even though I didn’t puree it. I am impressed with this little guy’s eating skills.
I think he does so well with the chewing, because he has been taking his enzymes on a spoonful of applesauce since he was three weeks old. He has to take these before every feeding, breastmilk or foods, so I always nurse him after each feeding (and for a total of seven times each day) to make the most of these enzymes! Thank God for health insurance, because these little suckers are expensive!
We have also introduced a sippy cup with water, and he can drink from it like a pro too!
So far, feeding our little guy has actually made things a bit easier than made any new challenges. Now that he is eating foods, we put his daily amount of salt mixed in with whatever he is eating instead of having to make a two ounce breastmilk or formula bottle to put the salt in. Not having to pump and make a bottle has made things much easier in that aspect of his needs. However, I think the biggest challenge we will face with our little one’s diet is getting all of the high-calorie, high-fat, and high-protein in each and every day. It’s so important for his growth. I grew up in a home where my father was a diabetic, and therefore, we always had low-cal, low-fat, low-sugar diets, so this CF diet is a completely different way of thinking about food for me. It’s going to be tough at times to prepare foods, especially as he grows and starts to eat what we eat as a family, that have the full fat for him, but yet a normal diet for the rest of the family. But with everything else, it’s a learning process, and we have a great dietician at his CF clinic that I know will help us along the way! And thanks to Munchkin Meals, I find tips from other moms for foods that are naturally high in these things that our little one needs to give him the healthiest start possible!
Thanks for reading! Any suggestions would be so appreciated! 🙂
I am so excited about this post! My friend at The Concrete Runner has participated in Munchkin Meals via A Healthy Slice of Life several times, and I love reading about all the healthy and yummy foods that other mamas are feeding their babies. After our clinic visit on Monday, we got the go-ahead from our little five-month-old’s dietician to start some solid foods! Woo-Hoo! It’s such a big milestone, and I am ready and excited for him. Mostly because I know he is ready. I can’t eat or drink anything while holding him without his eyes getting as big as an owl’s and him grabbing at whatever he can get his hands on. It’s time for him to have his own meals!
We start simple, with a rice cereal. I bought the typical Gerber rice cereal, and I love it, because it’s iron-fortified and easy. However, I did all the Gerber stuff before with my first son, and this time around, I really want to make some of the baby foods myself. Especially since I stay at home now and have more time to do so!
So I found a recipe for brown rice cereal for babies, and I just cut the portion down a bit so that it would fit in my handy little silicone freezer trays. Aren’t these the best?
They were given to me by a friend, but you can find them here at Casabella.com. They are perfect for making big ice cubes for punch bowls, brownie bites, or freezing baby food portions. I’d say each cube is about 1.5 oz in portion size, and the food pops out so easily! Oh, and they are dishwasher safe. Love!
Here’s the way I prepared the homemade rice cereal:
- 2 cups brown rice, cooked
- 8oz formula (you can also use breast milk or water. I am breastfeeding, but I have a terrible time pumping, so he nurses mostly with occasional formula supplements.)
Add cooked brown rice and formula to a blender. (I love my Ninja blender/food processor combo!) Puree until as smooth as possible. Pour into ice cube trays. Freeze overnight. Pop each portion out of the trays once completely frozen, and seal in a Ziploc bag labeled with the date. Can be kept frozen for up to two months. When ready to serve, take one portion (or two, depending on portion sizes and how much your little one eats) and defrost the cubes. Add more water, formula, or breast milk until you reach the desired consistency, and you can warm it up if your baby doesn’t like it cold.
One whole block is a LOT for my little guy just starting out, and I didn’t realize until afterwards that you can slice each cube in half or even thirds, depending on how much your little one can eat. I hate to waste food! (You live, you learn.) You can also add fruits or veggies to this cereal for extra flavor and nutrients. Since we are just starting out on the solids, we keep it plain for now. He still nurses 6-7 times a day, and gets one serving of rice cereal (either this homemade version or the Gerber brand) for his supper.
So, how did he like it? It was still a little bit chunky, so I steered away from the bigger chunks of rice when spoon-feeding him. Otherwise, he did just fine!
I can’t wait to start adding new foods to his diet! Keep visiting Munchkin Meals every other Thursday for more deliciously healthy baby and toddler foods! Thanks for visiting!
What are some of your baby’s first favorite foods? Do you make your own baby foods, use store-bought baby foods, or a combo of both?