Thursday, August 23, 2012

Baby Food

The last time I posted on here about Bugga's menu, we were just about ready to get started on solids. I started to hear more and more about baby-led weaning (BLW) where babies are given finger-size pieces of foods (versus starting with purees), so I spent a lot of time looking into all the options.

In the end I decided on a combination of approaches, and then handled each food case-by-case. The plan was to puree all foods for the First Taste (I'm referring here to the 4 days in a row I feed her something new to watch for any allergic reactions). Then, if a food would do better as a finger food where she can feed herself, we'd try that next.

We waited until 6 months of age to start Bugga on solids. If there is ever going to be a time where I can provide the most perfect foods for her, this would be it. I really enjoyed shopping for the best organic produce that I could find for my daughter.

I started with avocado, sweet potato, and butternut squash, in that order. Some parents don't always start with avocado, but since my kiddo is a little on the small side and avocado is the only type of produce with natural fats, (oh AND I love all things avocado personally), this would be good for her. She loved them all.

At this point, my daughter is 8.5 months old and has eaten many things, though I am still pretty tight with the reins (it's pretty much all from our kitchen vs. a restaurant or whatever).

For details on how to prepare these foods, please reference the Wholesome Baby Food blog - it is a great resource!

Here is our menu so far:

Always Puree/Mashed (so far...):
  • Sweet potato (mashed; tried to do steamed slices but they turned to mush and she couldn't pick them up; these mix well with some fruits and chicken)
  • Butternut squash (she liked this a lot, but I haven't made any since the first pureed batch that lasted the first month or so)
  • Banana (started pureed/mashed, but now I just slice and then quarter - this is the "stall" food in between bites of whatever she's being spoon-fed each meal)
  • Apple (steamed and then mashed - mixes well with chicken and other fruits)
  • Peas (steamed then pureed)
  • Green beans (steamed then pureed)
  • Spinach (steamed then pureed) (**side note - I now just keep frozen cubes of spinach in my freezer after this project for ALL of my cooking - so easy to just toss a couple into regular meals)
  • Peaches (baked then pureed)
  • Pears (baked then pureed)
Pureed then Finger Food:
  • Avocado (mashed and in slices, this is great to mix with other foods)
  • Chicken (not sure which list to put this on...I blended the chicken down to teeny bites, then shredded it further and usually mix it with something else - Apples get rave reviews)
Always JUST a Finger Food:
  • Blueberries (started these just cut into quarters right out of the gate - and these are already a favorite)
  • Watermelon (started with a giant chunk and let her go to town - what a MESS! - pureed versions are really watery, but mixes well with peaches to dial down the tartness)
  • Cheerios (as sold - these are great for on the go where you don't want to get into all the mess that comes with real foods)
  • Pasta (organic Cavatelli from Whole Foods - these are mini baby shells - the perfect bite-size for Bugga!)
More to come on this as we continue to expand the palette. Bugga had her 9-month well visit with the pediatrician today, and I specifically asked about peanut butter. I can do a separate post on this topic at a later time, but he is fine with us giving that to her when we are ready.

Also, you'll probably notice we skipped the baby cereals like rice cereal and oatmeal. I will probably go "back" at some point and give her oatmeal (because I love mine) but probably won't bother with the rice cereal.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Parenting Support #11

Could no one have been straight with me about how hard parenting is?

Yep, there are good days and bad days. It's tough, i won't lie but things will get better!! Whatever is going on will pass and on to the next thing. I am finally starting to feel back to normal again. My kiddies are 7,5 and 3. I stopped worrying about if the house was clean and whatever chores had to get done. Spend as much quality time with them as you can and enjoy those moments - they certainly out weigh the not so great ones!!

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Listmania: Toys We Love (in our house anyway!)

Most of my lists are for my personal reference, and perhaps this will come in handy again with the next baby. But more importantly, I hope it will help someone else who is looking for a new idea for some baby stimulation.

Toys We Love (Birth - 8 months)

Description: Not all these toys listed have been wholeheartedly appreciated during Bugga's entire 8 months, because interest levels definitely fluctuate! Links will likely go to the Amazon page where you can order the toy, or a secondary purchase location if it is not available on Amazon. And no, I don't get kickbacks from Amazon, but since I can order diapers (and anything else) at 3am from their app within 10 seconds, and get free 2-day shipping with Amazon Mom, I have no problem plugging them.

  1. Sophie the Giraffe. OK, so most parents have heard of this one, dubbed in many households as the "expensive French dog toy". It is used primarily as a teether for most, however our child seems to get the most entertainment out of repeatedly whacking her poor little head into the ground. Lovingly, of course.
  2. Tiny Love Gymini Activity Gym. Specifically, the little set of leaves that will detach from this apparatus. Sure, she loved all the other hanging animals that moved and rattled, but these rubber, colorful leaves ended up being what we brought with us everywhere so she could suck on - nope, not the leaves even - the TAG. Bonus for us - they make no noise whatsoever! *Apparently the exact version of the Gymini line we have is no longer available?
  3. Especially for Baby Under the Sea Bath Squirtees. I just picked up an ordinary set of animal bath toys for some water fun. These are really inexpensive, so if they had bombed, no big deal. But they didn't. Bugga didn't really care either way for awhile, but as the crab was usually the first one grabbed for bath time play, she became attached the crab. Some of these became pool toys, so only the turtle and the fish made it on our current trip out of state for the summer. And now? That turtle is as important as her phones (see below)! She uses it as a teether and loves it. AND this one makes no noise either! Win!
  4. Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Fun With Friends Musical Table. I mentioned this one in another post. And again, her favorite part is the detachable purple rattle phone. She usually crawls around the house with that clenched on one hand.
  5. Blackberry. Yep, the smartphone. My husband asked his IT guy at work for an old one, we wiped it down to sanitize it, and now she will carry it around and sometimes chew on it. Yes, perhaps this is because as adults we are very attached to our phones and she has already picked up on it. But it makes her pretty happy and is harmless. (My kid apparently has a gravitational pull towards phones - we are in trouble when she's a teenager!) (And I am sure some of you reading this might not approve of my child gnawing on baby-approved non-China-made materials, but sometimes you pick your battles.)
  6. Baby iPod. OK, it's actually called the Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes. We have used this since the beginning as entertainment during diaper changes. Any sadness is instantly gone when the lights start going. This trick still works, and now she knows how to "turn on" the music herself. And this fits easily into a diaper bag to go along with you for the day.
  7. Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Click n Play Remote. Yep, it's a "remote control". It was either this, or endless fussing about not being allowed to play with real remotes! And apparently a good teether, but everything at this age goes in the mouth so I'm not sure how picky she is about that topic.
  8. Bright Starts Stack & Play Blocks. She loves these. Two are crinkly; two have little bell rattles. My husband plays a game with her where he just tosses them around real fast right in front of her (they are very soft so when she gets bumped in the face with them, she loves it even more) and she just cracks up in hysterics. Playing alone, she loves to grab them by the tags and shake them around.
  9. Sassy Mini Sports Rattle. My husband is a soccer fanatic, so this was a no brainer. And it has been really easy for Bugga to hold this toy since very early on since it has the thin bar between the two soccer balls.
  10. Sassy Go Go Bugs. We got these as a gift due to her nickname. We've had these attached to the straps of her car seat since the early months, and she loves them. I'll often hear the bells of one of the bugs as she is waving them during one of our many drives around town.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Trick to Toys

Like all parents, I want to give my child everything she needs to be the best little person she can be. I want her to have the best education and opportunity that I can possibly provide. Somewhere during pregnancy, I started doing my version of extensive research on all sorts of toys that are on the market. I have bought books, I have read Consumer Reports and Amazon product reviews like it is my job, and I have questioned my parenting friends at every turn about the different brands they have invested in.

Something I hadn't thought too much about until lately are active versus passive toys. Nowadays, everything (almost) requires batteries, and then provides a child with musical entertainment, the alphabet, farm animal names, the colors...and all spoken in English, Spanish, and even in French. I think these toys are all great, and work that word-association thing pretty well.

However, electronic toys teach children how to play passively. They push a button, then they wait for something to happen. So yes, they are learning cause and effect, but they aren't actually DOING anything.

So now I try to balance these passive toys with active toys. You will see a lot of classic-style toy lines offering this type of play. Melissa & Doug and Plan Toys have a lot of beautiful wood items that are colorful and interactive, so I always check these brands out when I am looking for something new.

On a personal level, I find it interesting to see what is floating to the top as one of Bugga's favorites. We bought her the Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table (requires batteries). This thing is amazing! It has over 50 different songs, English and Spanish, a laptop, a phone, a piano, and a book. My daughter quickly became more comfortable with pulling to a stand soon after we got her this. But most surprisingly, her favorite part of it is the purple phone rattle that comes with this table. This phone now goes everywhere with us - perfect travel size!

Parenting Support #10

Could no one have been straight with me about how hard parenting is?

It is completely normal and don't feel guilty!! I agree with a previous comment though....having two is a handful and a half to say the least. Just know you are doing your best and the good times in the end will out rank the hard ones. That is why people decide to have another one!! You forget the hard stuff :-) You are a GREAT mom - I just know it.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Parenting Support #9

Could no one have been straight with me about how hard parenting is? one told me either! Yes, the rewards are so worth the bad times in between...but those bad times...ugh!!! My daughter and I have been having them more and more, especially now that she's 3. I frequently feel the same way you do, and the guilt associated with it. But trust me and everyone else above who has said's completely normal. And as they get older and more difficult and mouthier...oy!! You will never, ever hate your child, but there WILL be times that you don't like them very much. And vice versa. It's all normal. Just remember it is a phase, it does come and goes, and just when it ends...our daughters turn into teenagers...THEN let the tough times begin...

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Activity: Plastic Soda Bottle

My husband is addicted to Coke. Not the drug (whoa that would be a whole different level of issues for sure), but the soda. I have tried to wean him off but he will not have it. So we always have several 2L plastic bottles in our recycling bin.

Well today, Bugga and I had a great time playing with three of them. Here are some of the great games and learning points we were able to find with just this "toy":

  1. Bang two together - they make a very satisfying sound.
  2. Bang them against the floor - see how different the sound is?
  3. Roll them back and forth.
  4. Set one up and use the other like a bat to knock it down.
  5. Fake sword fighting like Star Wars!
  6. Compare the colors - we had three so two had red labels (the Coke) and one had a silver label (OK, yes I drink Caffeine-Free Diet Coke from time to time) - learn how to compare and see how things can be different.
I'm definitely not a child development specialist, but I am a mom, which gives me an appreciation for the moments when my daughter is learning something. And when it is from regular things we can find around the house (and free ones, at that), even better!

Slave to Silence

I'm not sure if I'm driving myself crazy, or if my craziness is justified. I freak out every time there is a sudden noise at night after my daughter has gone to bed, in fear that the noise will wake her up. What's the big deal, my husband always asks me. Well, for starters, she may not go back to sleep. Like for hours. This has happened almost never, but it IS possible. And guess who has to take care of her the next day on no sleep? That would be me.

It's one thing to take care of Bugga when she's tired and cranky and generally not happy with life. It's a whole different issue if I am feeling the same way. These are NOT good days. And because I know these kinds of days are horrendous, when I feel one of those days coming on, I about lose it.

My anxiety levels sharply escalate at every bark of the neighborhood dog, every creak of a floorboard, every release of the ice machine. My eyes dart to the video monitor to see what damage has been done, and should she not yet have stirred, I watch it carefully with a feeling of doom and confidence that she is SURE to wake at any moment.

And this makes me even more tired than I probably should be. I am probably a lighter sleeper than I have ever been, because I am listening for all those random noises that might disturb her. Why? I can't figure that out. Perhaps because there might be something I can prevent the next time, I don't know.

My poor husband. I snap at him now that we are parents, and most of it happens in these dark hours of the evening when I just want to have some responsibility-free time, but fear waking the baby. Why are guys SO LOUD? How does he not know how crazy I get when I ask him to stop making so much noise, and he just doesn't understand? I don't mean to be so controlling. But lack of sleep seems to make me that way. I'm not proud of it but I need to know how I'm going to get through each day and our household sleep is the primary detail.

But what I can tell you is that I know where every creaking floorboard is in my house. And I am going to lose my mind, I swear it.