Baby-Led Weaning

My youngest turned six months on the 4th which means we are beginning to explore solid foods! We decided to just dive into it and do the baby-led weaning approach. This means that for the most part, we are just giving her food that we eat as opposed to spoon feeding her purees. Baby-Led Weaning The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater* has been instrumental in this process, especially since we didn’t use this method with my son.

When we went to the doctor for her six month appointment I was very surprised that literally everything has changed in regards to the introduction of solids since my son (now three) was an infant. Before, you did it in stages. You offered fruit and veggies first and held off on common allergens (such as dairy, nuts, and eggs). Because we fed him purees, we started with very watery mixes and gradually increased the texture until he was about nine months and could handle finger foods. Around then is when we started giving him proteins as well.

Now, anything goes! They no longer urge you to hold off on those allergens. We were told to go ahead and give them to her and to just keep Benedryl on hand and to be aware of choking hazards. At first this surprised me that it all changed in a relatively short period of time. Hindsight, we live in a world where one day one food is highly recommended and the next it’s all over the news that it will kill you. So I guess it’s not much of a surprise.

After reading the Baby-Led Weaning book by Gill Rapley, PhD and Tracey Murkett I honestly wonder if the fact that we relied so heavily on purees with our oldest is part of the reason why he is so picky. He has always had an issue with texture and won’t touch anything new. We are about a month into introducing solids to our daughter and so far she has not rejected anything. She is definitely in the exploration phase still, she doesn’t fully “eat” much of what we offer her, but she has always at least tried whatever it was.

The book does extremely well to outline why baby-led weaning is beneficial. It fosters independence and allows babies to really explore tastes and textures on their own terms. They are able to learn how to eat because they are completely in control over what goes in their mouth. They are touching it with their hands so it’s not a surprise when the food enters their mouth. They have to learn to work their lips and their tongue in ways that purees do no allow.

It also addresses the concern of choking. This is a very real concern for parents of young children. Parents tend to react to any sign of discomfort in eating and treat it as if they are choking. The fact is, if the child is coughing they are breathing. It is all a learning experience for the child on their journey to learn how to eat. They (and you) will learn how to correct any feeding issues as they arise.

Baby-led weaning is a great way to give the baby autonomy early on. It teaches them the mechanics of eating and saves a lot of time for parents as they don’t have to fuss over purees. There are many utensils out there to aid in the feeding process such as feeders*. However, like many things in the world of parenting, it really depends on your comfort level. I did not feel comfortable doing baby-led weaning with my son. I had to do a lot of research on it to work up the courage to try it with my daughter. You need to find out what is within your comfort zone and act accordingly.

It is really interesting that in such a short period of time she already seems a lot more adventurous with food than her older brother. I don’t know if it’s because of baby-led weaning or simply because they are different people. I’m sure it’s some combination of both of these, and probably other factors. I just hope that this journey continues to be a positive journey for all of us and that she does now grow to be as picky as her brother.

So I took a Break

I’m back!

I had a lot of stuff come up the last few weeks and decided to take a break. Here is some stuff I’ve been up to:

  • Home decor – Because adulting is hard, I never really formally decorated my house, mostly because we are still renting. It has always been extremely bland. We haven’t wanted to spend much money decorating a space that is going to be temporary. But I’ve sprinkled some of my own personal space into our home. I’m completely in love with At Home and Ikea. I have been binging HGTV and chanelling my inner Joanna Gaines.
  • I’ve been doing what I can to practice self care. It is extremely hard with two kids. That’s a big part of why I have been on a home decor binge. I have every intention of figuring out an exercise schedule and am looking into gym memberships that have childcare. I am a little concerned about how my youngest will do in a childcare facility, even if it’s just for like an hour. She is very attached to me.
  • I’ve been doing with an overly attached infant! It is a beautiful thing, I love how cuddly she is. I feel like I must be doing something right for her to rely on me so much. But it is also really hard on me, especially since I am a stay-at-home mom and have a three year old as well. There’s so many times throughout the day that she just wants to cuddle and sleep on me but I have to get her brother a snack or meal or help him with something else.
  • I have been entertaining and researching sleep training. My infant used to be an amazing sleeper. As soon as she turned four months she became an awful sleeper. I used to brag about what a good sleeper she was. As a newborn she would sleep 8 hours. At four months she went through a growth spurt and also a developmental leap. That’s when her intense attachment happened and her sleep regressed. We started co-sleeping out of absolute desperation. It’s something I always said I wouldn’t do. I know the dangers, but it’s literally the only way any of us get sleep. We do create a safe little “harbor” for her to sleep in between us. We push the pillows to the edge of the bed and she sleeps between them. We put her on top of the blankets. We did try to buy a co-sleeper but right now she is about to be six months so she is big (she was in the 85 percentile for height at her last appointment) and she is very active and rolls everywhere. So, we get little use out of the co-sleeper. As of right now, we are trying to establish a bedtime routine that includes her sleeping in her own crib. My husband puts her down and it takes a really long time. She usually will stay asleep. Out struggle is that she often wakes up sometime during the night (it varies when) and she won’t go back to sleep in her crib. I think part of the problem is that I’m the one that gets her when she wakes up during the night and because it’s me, she wants to nurse. I end up bringing her into our bed after a while of trying and she goes right to sleep. Because of that, I have a theory that a big part of the problem is that she prefers our mattress (a memory foam) over her own mattress. I ordered a memory foam mattress topper for her to help with that. If that doesn’t work than I will formally sleep train… but really hoping that it doesn’t come to that. I’ve been reading up on the No Cry Sleep Solution* to prepare because I can’t do the cry it out method.
  • I have been preparing for my youngest to start solids. This doesn’t really mean much preparing except that I am trying to research baby lead weaning. With Elliott we just did purees and then finger foods and I’m hoping that doing baby led weaning will expose her to more textures and also make eating more of a social experience so she is less picky. She has shown a LOT of interest in food and I have given her a few tastes and she has been interested in it all, so that’s really encouraging. So far she’s had avocado, peaches, pears, mum mum crackers, and a little bit of refried beans.
  • My whole family was sick for a week! I don’t think this requires much explanation. Germs suck.
  • My oldest started swim lessons. The first lesson went great. His second lesson was awful. He decided he was afraid of the water. He doesn’t like to dunk his head. He had ear tubes put in when he was a year and a half and ever since then he cries when water gets in his ears. He also hates water in his face, specifically his eyes. I went ahead and bought him goggles and I found a swim headband that blocks water from getting in the ears. But he just has so much anxiety about it that it’s going to take some time for him to become acclimated. But I’m really excited for him to get used to the water. I think that swim lessons are so necessary, if you can afford them. I’ve always been so anxious about him being around the water so I’m happy he’s learning how to safely be around and in it.
  • I’ve been job hunting. This has been an ongoing thing. Austin has a seemingly impossible job market. It is extremely saturated. The extreme competitiveness paired with the fact that I have to be extremely picky on location and culture because of the fact that I’m a mother.
  • I recently got accepted to grad school! I will be pursuing a masters in digital marketing and analytics. Hopefully that makes me a more competitive candidate in the job search! There isn’t much going on with that currently, but I am getting ready and am excited to register for classes soon.
  • My oldest is going through a potty training regression. Yesterday he pooped on my kitchen floor. Send help! I’m going to have to reinforce potty training with him. It’s only with poop. I think he has anxiety about going on the big potty. #toddlerproblems
  • We booked a much needed vacation to the Texas Coast! I’m really excited to get away with my family. We are renting a house for a weekend with our good friends who have a daughter a couple months younger than our baby. I’m very excited to spend some time on the beach.

I think that’s about it! Until next time!

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Sustainable Parenting

In light of Earth Day, here are six ways I incorporate sustainability and environment friendly habits in my every day life.

  1. But first, coffee. For real. I have a three year old and an almost five month old. Coffee needs to be given with an IV drip. Brewing coffee using a french press* is a great way of making a flavorful cup while saving electricity. Additionally, you can use the coffee grounds in your beauty routine! Start your day with a coffee scrub or mask. Wear your coffee as you drink it! It can also be used in art or as a sensory activity for the littles… just make sure they don’t eat it because nap times are sacred.
  2. Opt outside. We live in Texas and sometimes this is hard because of the heat. But every opportunity that I have I take the kiddos outside. I try to spend as much time as possible in our local parks. If it’s too hot to be outside for a long time I’ll take them for a walk to check the mail. We also have plenty of backyard activities, like a water table* so we are outside and staying cool.
  3. Natural lighting. It drives me crazy when my family turns on lights unnecessarily. A lot of us are just in the habit of having the lights on in the room when we really don’t need them on. Pull apart those curtains and open the blinds and let the light in! It sounds overly simple but if you can see perfectly fine in a room, you don’t need to turn on the lights.
  4. Black out curtains. We live in a two story house. Upstairs is incredibly hot in the summer and we do everything we can to stay downstairs during the day. But as I said earlier, naps are sacred. We use blackout curtains* in each of our bedrooms to blockout sunlight and help keep it a little cooler.
  5. Clean green. There’s a lot that can be done to be environmentally savy while cleaning. You can install low flow faucets around your house and get in the habit of scraping your dishes as opposed to using the garbage disposal. If you use a dish washer, only run it when it is really full. Try to cut down on plastics and paper by using reusable products. Try to opt for a dish towel or rag as opposed to a paper towel.
  6. Eat sustainably. This is something that is really hard when you have young kids, especially when they are as picky as mine. Try to educate yourself on what you are eating and the possible longevity and environmental impact of harvesting that food is. Also, grow a garden! Growing your own food and herbs is an excellent way to eat sustainably.

Reduce, reuse, recycle and have a Happy Earth Day!

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Who Doesn’t Like Cheese?!

I don’t think my son likes cheese. Which really begs the question: is he even my child? I’m almost five months in to a dairy-free diet because I’m breastfeeding my daughter and I’m not going to lie… I live a little dangerously and have cheese from time to time because cheese is amazing. (Before you judge please know that I am dairy free due to an abundance of caution because my son had the allergy and outgrew it. My daughter has never had any of the definitive signs of a dairy allergy, she just poops a lot when I have a lot of dairy).

I have tried everything to get him to like cheese. I’ve offered it in all forms, on all things, all of the times. Sometimes he nibbles on the cheese squares that come in the Lunchable package. So he sorta likes bad, cheap cheese. Sometimes he will poke his mac and cheese with his fork like a woodpecker pecks at a tree. But not even a pretend airplane will make it go in his mouth.

Friday he had pizza for lunch. He cried and said he wanted bread. I told him pizza is bread with cheese and tomato sauce. I offered to take the cheese off of it. He surprised me by trying it cheeseless. He looked at the remaining sauce and said, “That’s peanut butter!” I explained to him that it’s not, that it’s tomato sauce but he would’t hear it. I make a point to be honest with him about what he is eating… but I tried and he insisted that it was peanut butter. He was eating it so if that’s the lie he needed to tell himself to eat then cool!

Today, however, he refused to even be at the same table with the pizza. “I don’t like pizza! It’s yucky! I wanna throw it in the trash!” Pretty weird coming from a kid who ate pizza two days prior thinking it had peanut butter on it, but okay.

Kids do what they want. They hear what they want. They believe what they want. They eat what they want (kinda). And loving cheese is not a genetic trait, apparently.

Dinner Winner Plate Review

Making dinner a fun experience is a tried and true way of making any kid relax and hopefully eat at meal time. Recently we tried the Dinner Winner Plate to try to make eating dinner a literal game.

Overall, the concept is really cute. The plate is designed to look like a board game. Each square has encouraging phrases to get your kid to try whatever food is in that square. Once your child eats his way to the last square they get a treat! They come in a few different designs, the one we got was the dinosaur print.

My son is three, so he was very into the design. I make sure he had some things on the plate that he would like. He didn’t really follow the order of the squares, he just went right to the things he knew he liked. I had talked up him getting a treat if he ate everything, so when he ate what he wanted he said, “all done!” and then wanted the treat. I’m not sure if I should have not mentioned the treat or not. When I explained that he only gets the treat if he eats everything he got pretttttty mad. I got him to eat all but 2 of the squares, though he did nibble on some of the cheese. I did withhold the intended treat since he didn’t eat everything, but since he did do pretty well I gave him a veggie pouch and told him it was his treat. It was actually just in the last square before the actual treat and he had no idea.

I’m hoping that if we keep using Dinner Winner Plate that my son will start to see how fun eating can be and eat more of what is on the plate. I highly recommend it to parents who are dealing with a picky eater. Making eating a game is a great way to get them interested.

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Yesterday was my son’s third birthday! Planning a birthday party is stressful and, as we are now juggling two kids this year since our new addition in December, my budget and energy for this party were pretty limited.

This year his language developed enough where he was able to understand what his birthday meant enough to know he wanted a Paw Patrol birthday party. “I eat the Paw Patrols!” he said, and I can only assume and hope he meant cake.

Planning a birthday party for a picky eater is extra stressful. You want them to be a kid and enjoy themselves but also, you know not one of the fifty turkey pinwheels you bought is going to end up even close to his mouth. So you plan it early enough where you can squeeze in something he’ll eat before he (hopefully) naps. All while knowing that if all goes according to plan he is likely not going to care much for dino nuggets. And that is exactly what happened.

The day of the party we obviously talked up all things birthday related to him. He knew exactly what a birthday party was because of daycare. As soon as he heard the word birthday party he screamed, “I WANT CAKE!” I was able to reason with him by showing him his colorful Paw Patrol cake and reassuring him that we will eat it at the party.

His friends started showing up and he really didn’t care about anything else after that. Until it was time for his long awaited Paw Patrol cake. I want to really emphasize how picky of an eater my son is. It’s often impossible to get him to eat anything. So when I saw him tear into his cake I was thrilled. Last year on his birthday I tried to get him to eat a cupcake that was specially purchased for him and he cried. Progress has been made.

Giving a toddler a present is always an adventure. Seeing their excitement and hearing their giggles as they rip apart the wrapping is such a magical experience. And all of his presents were on point this year. I tried to choose the present to be opened based on who wasn’t distracted, a difficult task at a three year old’s party. My son saw the toy push lawn mower in the giant dino bag and excitedly started pushing it all around the house. When we asked if he wanted to open his others he decidedly said, “Nope!” and started another lap. He eventually opened the rest with the same amount of enthusiasm.

Overall it was a huge success. My extra picky toddler was able to tell me what he wanted with the only fail being the turkey pinwheels. At least he liked the cake. And the presents.

When my son started eating solid meals and snacks at one year old we didn’t think anything of the fact that he mostly ate chicken nuggets. And we should not have, children that are new to solids are going to be limited in what they eat. But as time went on, his friends starting becoming obsessed with the foods kids typically are obsessed with (mac and cheese, pizza, and pasta for example). My son is three and still refuses to eat any of these foods.

When we began to realize he was a picky eater we tried all of the methods. We offered him the food we wanted him to eat and if he didn’t eat it he would be offered it at the next meal. We catered to what he wanted. We didn’t cater to what he wanted. Ultimately, we ended up putting him in daycare when I went back to work in hopes that being around other kids would help him eat better. Not even that worked. Eventually, he ended up in food therapy.

Upon research, we learned that our son isn’t just a picky eater, but an extremely picky eater. He was so much anxiety about trying new foods that he would seriously rather go hungry then eat it. His eating was so bad that when pictures pop up from my memories, I can see that he used to be chubby and is now skinny and it makes me sad and worried.

When I was working it was impossible to do family meals. He would get whatever was quick and filling. When his sister was born I became a Stay at Home Mom again and being the one that gave him at least three meals and two snacks a day showed me just how much his eating had not improved. I made it my project to make it better. I don’t know if what I’m doing is the right way, but it seems to be working for us.

The first thing I did was make a schedule that made it so my son was eating every two hours that he was awake. Each offering, whether it was a snack or a meal, was high in protein and calories (snacks being less than meals as they are, well, snacks).

I make sure he drinks water except for at meals, which is when he got whole milk after he ate. I made sure he was not filling up on snacks and milk so that he’s actually hungry at meals.

I make sure he gets ample running around time, preferably outside. I try to get him to work up an appetite.

The one thing that I have done that has made the biggest difference is I started having family meals again where we all sit at the same table and eat the same thing. Phones and devices are not allowed. I make sure there is at least one thing on my son’s plate that he will eat. But he is offered what we eat. Sometimes on days when he hasn’t eaten much I panic and make him a smoothie because I’d rather him have something than go to bed hungry.

My son is still an extremely picky eater. I’m learning that this is a process and that he isn’t going to get better if I don’t show him healthy eating habits. We still have sensory snacks where we just play around with food to get him used to it and hopefully try it. I’ve also learned that a good portion of his poor eating habits is about control for him. I can offer him something that I “know” he will eat and he won’t just because he knows I can’t or won’t force him to. It is a very taxing battle.

I am not an expert in anything parenting related. But I can say that from my experience, everything that you want your child to learn needs to start at home. Lead by example. It’s one thing to tell your child to eat a well balanced meal, but it’s another to offer it to them and eat it along with them. Let them be little, but know they can’t be little forever.