Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Look Who's Talking: 11 Months Old!

Hey guys! Today Forest is 11 months old, just one short month away from the big 1 year celebration. This past month has been a mega-one. Forest’s little mind has developed so rapidly and even though he’s not walking just yet, he’s inching closer everyday. And he’s quite the ball of energy! I thought he couldn’t get any more hyper but this month has started a fascination with rough housing and physical play in general. He’s definitely all boy which means he’s definitely a handful. He keeps life interesting that’s for sure. Never a dull moment with this adorable 11 month old. Without further adieu, here he is to tell you just a little bit about what he’s been up to this month. 

Hiya guys. You’ll never believe all of the new things I’ve learned to do this month. I’m so busy learning that naturally I’ve had to cut out about an hour and a half of sleep per day so that I can continue practicing my new skills. My mom and dad are not so thrilled about the early mornings and short naps but life is way too interesting to spend too much time dozing in my crib. You can sleep when you’re a teenager, ya know? Here are just a few of my likes and dislikes at this point in time. 

1) Music class.  
My mom decided to enroll me in an enrichment class for the fall. I begged her to choose swimming but she said the times conflicted with my nap schedule.  I tried telling her I don’t need no stinkin’ naps but she didn’t listen. Instead she put me in a music class and it is all sorts of overwhelming. There are kids running everywhere, loud unexpected noises, and lots of strange adults. Does this sound like fun to you? 
I mean, I do like the music and when we get to play instruments it’s pretty cool but I spend a good chunk of the time huddled behind my momma’s legs with tears streaming down my face. She insists I’ll get used to it and I’m just what she calls an ‘introvert’ so it may take me some time to see the fun in absolute chaos. Doubtful. 

2) Afternoon naps. Earth to mom- I don’t want to take my afternoon nap. I don’t know how I can communicate this to you more clearly. I’ve conceded that Morning naps are a necessary evil but afternoon naps just have me on the bummer elevator going down. My mom insists that I need two naps till I’m at least 12 months old so every afternoon we go through the same fight to the death. It’s so exhausting that 75% of the time I actually end up needing the nap after all. Well played, mom. Well played. 
3) Getting spoon fed
Pureed food is for babies. I am 11 months old now, Mom. Get with the program and give me a cheeseburger. Please. 

4) My mom’s new photography obsession. Lucky me gets to be her model which usually involves her prodding me to be still. ‘Staying still’ is not part of my natural skill set (which is another reason I dislike music class).  

5) When my mom leaves the room. It’s terrifying.  Experts call it ‘separation anxiety’ but it could be more accurately described as ‘separation FULL-BLOWN-PANIC-ATTACK’. I mean, is it really so important for you to use the bathroom that you would abandon your only child in a completely safe environment for no more than 45 seconds just so that you can empty your bladder. What kind of mother are you????

6) The cow on peekaboo barn. It’s the only thing more terrifying than when my mom leaves the room. 

1) Clapping.  
I could literally clap all day long. It’s great fun. Sometimes, when I'm supposed to be ‘napping’ I’ll just sit up in my crib and practice clapping (Oh, sorry Mom- you said it was time to 'nap'? I could have sworn I heard you say it was time to 'clap'. You can surely understand my confusion.). I clap in the stroller, in my carseat, in my highchair, in the grocery cart, while sitting, while standing, while swinging. On a train, in the rain....you get the point.

I just can’t get enough. 

2) My walker toy. 
I’m getting pretty frustrated with my inability to walk freely, but my lion walker helps me get around the house when crawling and cruising just won’t do. It’s the most fun to sprint down the hall. 

3) Sorting shapes. 
Except for that stinkin’ star in the middle. I swear it’s easier for a rich man to get into heaven than it is for that star to fit through it’s coordinating hole. 
I’m convinced there is a conspiracy against me and it actually doesn’t fit into the hole at all. The big wigs at Fisher-Price are just testing to see how long I’ll keep trying. It’s probably some pre-requisite to get into these Bay Area pre-schools. Of course, I know how to get the star into the stinkin’ box. I just take the top off and toss it in. 
How’s that for brains? All the other shapes are great fun and I love that every time I sort one correctly my mom claps and tells me I’m the smartest baby in the whole world.

According to her, I should just skip preschool and apply straight to Harvard. 

4) Books. 
They are the best. I love when my mom and dad read to me but I also like to sit and flip through the pages by myself. 
My favorite is definitely ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear’ but I’ve got lots more if you’re needing any recommendations for your next book club. Might I suggest ‘Where is Baby’s Belly Button?’? (Spoiler alert: It’s under her shirt.) 

5) Samson. 
He is my best buddy and always good for a giggle. 
6) Brushing my teeth. 
It's a real hoot and I get pretty stinkin' excited when my momma hands me my toothbrush.

Dental hygiene is the coolest. 

Alright guys, I’ve got shapes to sort, xylophones to play, and naps to fight. See y’all for the big ONE next month! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Baby Led Weaning

Warning- mommy-centric post to follow so if you aren’t in the business of raising babies, this may not be of particular interest to you. You’ve been disclaimed. Carry on. 

So as babies approach their 1st birthday they begin eating more and more adult food. There is a movement going on referred to as baby-led weaning in which babies sort of skip the pureed stage entirely and jump right into chewing whole pieces of solid food. Instead of pureeing a strawberry, why not just hand the baby a strawberry and see what happens?

We dabbled in letting Forest feed himself from the beginning, but we also fed him a great deal of liquefied food as well. Yes, I have pureed meat. And yes, it is disgusting. But don’t tell Forest that. He seems to love everything I spoon into his mouth so it’ll be our little secret. As far as he knows, it is super yum-yum! Which is good for me because the only thing more disgusting that puree-ing meat is having pureed meat spit all over your face by a disinterested 10 month old. 

Anyhoos, the point of this post is to let y’all baby mommas (and daddies!) know of a few grown up dishes that are also very baby friendly. This cuts down on food prep and gets them used to eating what you eat. Trust me, if you can avoid preparing a separate meal for your kids and your adults you will be much happier. Plus, ain’t nobody got time for that. 

So here are my favorite simple dishes that can go right from your plate into babies mouth.

1) Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos . Click on this link for recipe. 
I just give him the sweet potato and black bean concoction along with a side of mozzarella cheese and small strips of whole wheat tortilla. This dish is crazy simple and easy but so healthy and delicious. I can’t say enough how much I love this recipe and how baby friendly it is! Double bonus points- it’s a crock pot meal. Seriously, this recipe was made for baby mommas. 

2) One Dish Baked Salmon with roasted veggies. (Click on this link for recipe.)
I forgot to take pictures so here is one from the original source.

I just separate the salmon from the skin and divide it into bite size pieces for Forest. For veggies, I usually choose carrots sticks, green beans, or cherry tomatoes. Sometimes the carrots need to be softened a little before to make them more baby friendly. He LOVES roasted tomatoes, which is great because so do we! 

3) White Chicken Chili. (Click on this link for recipe.)

Shredded Chicken dishes are great; perfect for little fingers. Beans are another great starter food that really helps them work on their pincer grasp. 
Forest loves beans more than almost anything else on earth, so any sort of chili or bean dish is always a hit with him. Because this one is a bit soupy, I just use a slotted spoon to separate the chicken/beans/etc out into a separate bowl for Forest.    

4) Taco soup. (Click on this link for recipe.)  This is similar to the above recipe. It does have a bit of a kick so now that Forest is eating table food we try to use mild ingredients to tone down the spice. Still, we want to prepare his gut for Cajun/Mexican/Indian food so we are trying to gradually introduce a little bit of spicy flavor into his diet. For this I usually use a slotted spoon to separate the meat/beans/corn/etc and add cheddar cheese into a bowl for Forest. 

5)Classic American breakfast. He loves scrambled eggs and pancakes and these are easy baby friendly dishes to whip up for breakfast or dinner! 

You can make whole wheat pancakes and either spread fruit or peanut butter on top for a bit of sweetness.  Forest loves plain ole pancakes so that’s an option too if you don’t want to use syrup. French toast cut into bite size pieces is a good one too. 

We like our chicken enchiladas spicy! Way too spicy for a baby’s tummy. Instead of going without one of our favorite dishes, we make alterations to Forest’s plate. I will basically make our enchiladas with shredded chicken and cream cheese and then separate a baby portion out before I add in the peppers and spice. That way he just eats shredded chicken with cream cheese and shredded tortillas while I don’t actually have to prepare anything extra for him. 

8) Hamburgers and Sweet Potato ‘fries’. 
Just cut up the Hamburger patty into bite sized pieces. ‘Fries’  are a great learning food, though I recommend just baking sweet potato spears because fried foods are a little harsh on the tummy

I could go on and on about baby friendly meals, but you get the gist of it. Basically- make what you normally make and just present it to your kiddo in a baby-friendly way. They are super capable of self feeding and chewing solids (even without teeth!) and will surprise you with how early they can master some of this stuff. 
The most important thing is for you to be comfortable so good foods to start with are bananas and steamed or boiled carrots. Also, rice puffs and rusks (Num-Nums) are great for practicing self feeding and will probably build your confidence in what your baby is capable of. 

I still make some pureed stuff (mainly fruit to add to his oatmeal) but he’s getting more and more resistant to my efforts to spoon feed him mush. 
Instead of pureeing bananas and blueberries I just give him half a banana and 20 blueberries and let him go to town. Yea it can get messy and yea the dog ends up eating some of it, but all in all it makes my job as a mommy a bit easier to hand off some of my responsibilities to Forest.  
Plus, he’s ALWAYS been clamoring for independence so feeding himself is a big thrill for him. And the biggest plus is that it usually allows me time to drink an entire mug of tea while it’s still hot! What a luxury!  

Dinner has been an easy transition since he mostly eats whatever I've prepared for the family but lunch is a bit tougher. I’m not a big lunch person so I generally make a smoothie or eat some cheese and crackers while baby naps. I’ve been having a major brain freeze when it comes to preparing varied and well rounded lunches for Forest. Lately it usually consists of half a banana, some grapes or blueberries, string cheese and some Auntie Anne’s Cheddar bunny crackers. Not exactly a gourmet meal. 
A friend suggested gnocchi and edamame which I will for sure be trying next week! Do you have any go-to toddler friendly lunches that don’t require a ton of prep? Please help!

Some extra tips: 

1)Buy organic when possible, especially when it comes to the dirty dozen. 

2) Buy full fat cheeses and yogurt. Babies don't need to be on a diet- in fact, the chubbier the better!

3) Don’t be afraid of spice, but certainly ease them in. We started with cinnamon, coriander, and cumin and now feel ok using mild chili powder, red pepper and cayenne pepper in small quantities. 

4) Make sure to supervise your baby anytime they are eating. It’s not uncommon for them to gag but this is a super efficient reflex and sounds scarier than it is. They are great at coughing things up if they get stuck in their throat, but you definitely want to be on the scene if anything goes wrong. Forest had two scary instances in the beginning with strawberries but lately hasn’t had any issues.  

Anyone else have great baby friendly meal ideas or any tips or experience from their own weaning process?