5

What I Ate Wednesday, Baby and Me

I am loving these WIAW posts, and I’m especially loving adding Ryan’s eats in to the mix. This is actually what I ate on Monday, but heeeere we go!

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Breakfast: Ryan –  Leftover veggies and fruit from last nights dinner, PB&J pancakes after a snack of a banana cookie. Ryan’s breakfast is usually pretty consistent. Momma – Banana, spinach, blueberry smoothie with a side of baby and yellow dog. I only drank half because I was about to go run and I haven’t been very hungry in the mornings, maybe due to my new oil pulling obsession. (coming soon!) Also, this picture is basically my day to day life in a nutshell.

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Snack: Large iced coffee from Panera. With too much delicious 2% milk by accident. Reminded me of high school when I weighed the same as I did 9 months pregnant and lived of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, light and extra sweet. PSA: if you have a My Panera card, check to see if you have a reward this month of free coffee all month! I got this coffee fo’ free because I found out the day before I had the reward. BOOM. (If you check the bottom of your receipt after using your card, it will tell you what rewards you currently have and how many trips until your next reward)

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Snack 2: I try to eat when Ryan is awake, but he slept napped super late so I snacked on 2 chicken chunks from Friday’s leftover Greek kabobs to tide me over until he woke up.

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Lunch: Ryan – Egg squares, kiwi, apple, and assorted steamed vegetables I had in the fridge. (I go grocery shopping Tuesdays, so I try to clear things out on Monday to get an idea of what we have) Momma – Overnight oats I prepped earlier that morning with leftover yogurt from Friday’s tzatziki adventure. Coconut milk, PB, flax seeds and a later added chopped apple were also present.

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Snack: I’d planned to eat a Larabar as a snack, but I got caught up in testing recipes and before I knew it it was too close to dinner, so I ate the rest of those chicken chunks from earlier, and Ryan chomped some apple slices.

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ryan dinner

Dinner: Chicken, eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans. A half an apple chopped up after 2/3 of this went to the dog. Fridge salad for momma (random bits from my fridge: salad mix, chicken and onion caramelized in bacon fat, red onion, banana peppers, spanish olives, feta cheese, and a dollop of leftover tzatziki. Weird but tasty.)

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Dessert: A delicious Larabar to end the night. Chocolate chip cookie dough Larabars are my new addiction.

Linking up with Peas and Crayons for What I Ate Wednesday!

Do you make combinations to empty out your fridge, or does everything in your fridge have a meal assigned to it? Do you have a mypanera card? (you SHOULD.) What’s your favorite bar du jour? Let me know in the comments!

2

Baby Led Weaning: Step 2

If you’re just starting out with your Baby Led Weaning Journey, check out this post where I outline Stage 1, and the post on why we chose BLW!


BLW Stage 2

So, you’ve made it this far. It’s going well, you’ve found out your kid loves a few things and is still skeptical of a few others. And then you hit some bumps. What else should you be giving him? Why is he doing THAT? The next steps are even more fun than the first, but as with all things baby, they are even more confusing. Here is how we proceeded with BLW our son after the first few months.

PLEASE NOTE, I am not a pediatrician, nutritionist, doctor, or any combo there of. I am simply a mom who fell in love with baby led weaning while trying it with her own son and wants to share her experience with others. The intention of this post is not to give rules or even instruction, but to give another example of the possibilities and ease of this amazing method to other parents. Please always talk to your child’s pediatrician before trying anything with your child to see his or her opinion on it.

The following guidelines are things I noted and tried with Ryan starting at around months 8 or 9.

Keep on introducing more foods! –  I think this is the most exciting part of baby led weaning – seeing what your child gravitates to, what they like and dislike (for now) and sharing your favorites with them. Food is my language of love so to me it’s been such a bonding experience to cook for Ryan and show him what I love. To make this easy and stress free on myself, once we had a good base of tasty things already tried, I try to introduce something new at least once a week. This week was olives (olives are salty, and there are recommended guidelines on salt in the first year. Ryan’s very close to one year, I bought low salt olives, and I didn’t give him many, but do what feels right for you!) and he LOVED them. Sometimes I pre-plan on my calendar what I want to pick up at the store for him to try out, sometimes I wing it by just seeing what looks good or fun, and other times I just give him something I’m eating. This happens most often when I’m making salads, as things are already being cut small. If your child doesn’t like something, DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! Research shows that it can take 7 – 15 exposures (awesome article about feeding children!) before a child makes a decision on whether or not they like something. Don’t assume your kid hates something because the first few times it was ignored.

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Decide on meals – There are so many opinions on this throughout the internet. Until our 9 month appointment at the pediatrician, Ryan was getting a lunch and dinner of solids and nursing the rest of the time. After his 9 month checkup, Ryan’s doctor suggested 3 meals and 2 snacks. We haven’t necessarily gotten the entire 2 snacks since he is still nursing a good amount, but he gets breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and usually at least 1 snack. But as with all things baby, this is going to change as he gets older.

Figure out what schedule works for you – In the same vein, you should figure out what times your meals will be served. While this is beneficial for your baby to give him a sense of what comes next, I find it most beneficial for me, so I can schedule my day a little easier. Ryan is NOT on a nap schedule (awesome.) but this is what our day looks like. All of these times are VERY VERY VERY loose, but we do try to stick to meals 1 hour after he wakes up:

7:00 – Wake up, nurse and snack 1 of a banana cookie or freeze dried apple.
8:00 – Breakfast, usually 2 steamed veggies, breastmilk pancakes, and a fruit.
10/11:00 – Nap (nursed to sleep)
12:00 – Wake up, nurse (occasionally at this point) and play
1:00 – Lunch, usually egg squares, 2-3 veggies, and a fruit
2:30 – Depending on nap time, wake up time, and mood, snack 2 of freeze dried fruit or raw apple slices
3/4:00 – Nap (nursed to sleep)
5:00 – Wake up, nurse (occasionally at this point) and play
6:00 – Dinner, usually poached or shredded chicken, 2-3 veggies, sweet potato and fruit
7:30/8:00 – Bed

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Work on that pincer grip! – Around 9 months I noticed Ryan looking at broken off chunks of things with interest, so I gave him peas. Within a week he was picking up the peas with ease (I couldn’t resist, guys.) having honed his pincer grip. Slowly I started to move all of his foods from stick form to smaller bites. I actually found that he started to prefer the little pieces that he could just shove on in there. A better developed pincer grip as well as improved hand eye coordination from learning how to feed themselves is one the benefits of BLW and people are always shocked at how great Ryan’s is for his age. I attribute it 100% to BLW.

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Add in water – (This is a HORRENDOUS picture, but the only one I could find with a sippy? I swore I had more..) At 8 months we gave Ryan this sippy cup filled with water. After every few bites, I would pick up the water and bring the spout to his mouth, tipping so that he understood that water came from it. It probably took a month or so for him to get the point that if he sucked, something came out (it might be quicker for children who took to a bottle, but Ryan didn’t – this is just my own experience!) but now he gulps it down. We also cut out the little piece that makes sucking required after we saw Ryan biting it to get water out faster at around 10 months. He hasn’t picked up the concept (by that I mean, has no interest and no patience) of drinking out of a straw yet, but we’re working on it.

Don’t stress out – If I could teach you anything through this, it would be this: don’t stress out. If your kid isn’t eating a ton, she might not be hungry. If your son isn’t picking up the concept of a water cup, he might just need some time. If one day he only wants to eat apples and is throwing the rest of the food while resisting being strapped in to the highchair, he may be getting a tooth. (Not that that ever stressed me out of anything. Nope. Not me. Never.) Here’s an experience from our own journey.

We’ve quickly learned that, surprisingly, Alex is the worry wart when it comes to Ryan. I think this is due to my being with him all day long so I know his limits. But anyway, around month 8, when Ryan really started to get into food, he had about 2 or 3 weeks where he would put something in his mouth, chew once, put in something else, chew again and repeat until his entire mouth was full and would gag until he spit it out. I knew to just let him learn that it wasn’t cool to do that, but Alex would freak out and stress out. He would try to take the food out of his mouth or  take his food away until he was done.

Thing is, the times Ryan ate with his dad around during these weeks, he would gag more, spit more, and cough more. Ryan felt Alex’s stress and wasn’t being allowed to learn when to stop putting in more food, since Alex would manually take the food out of his mouth. Long story short, to compromise we both brushed up on the baby Heimlich and CPR, I showed Alex a few articles on choking versus gagging, and when feeding Ryan I would only give him one piece of each thing at a time. Eventually Ryan learned that chipmunking his food was no fun and got over it. Just use your intuition! Eating is a natural concept for a human, but the mechanics of it must be learned, like any skill.

Now go enjoy showing your little one the joy of food! I hope this helps clear up the mysterious BLW a little bit more. Below are a few different links you may find helpful during this stage!

Choking versus Gagging
Infant CPR
Infant Heimlich
Pincer Grip

And if you’re still in the beginning stages of BLW, here are my first 2 posts on the subject:
BLW Stage 1
Why We Chose BLW

Did you introduce solids with BLW? Do you plan on doing so? What do you think of the process? Let me know in the comments!

4

Breast Milk Pancakes

Confession time: I’ve been eating these pancakes for breakfast nearly every morning with Ryan since I’ve started making them.

As any breastfeeding mother can probably tell you, I went through a month or two where I was obsessed with pumping and freezing. I had a fear that I would stop producing, I would get sick, Ryan would stop wanting the boob, etc. etc. etc. that I just kept pumping as much as possible. Ryan never took to a bottle so the milk wasn’t (and isn’t) going anywhere, so once we solids I needed a way to start using it up.

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I’ve tried a ton of different recipes, and this is one I created after messing around and mixing a few different once. If you want, you can use all white flour, but I like the idea of using a little oat flour and reducing the amount of white flour in his diet. I don’t suggest using ALL oat flour – it makes the pancakes really dry and gummy at the same time. They taste like they haven’t cooked long enough, even though they have.  Also, you can use white/brown/no sugar, but PLEASE don’t use fake weird maple syrup.


I make a double batch of these, which will give you about 75 2-inch pancakes. When they’re cool, layer the pancakes with sheets of wax paper in between and then transfer to big zip top freezer bags when frozen solid. When you want to serve them, either taken them out and leave on the counter for 30 or so minutes, or put in a warm oven for about 5 until defrosted. We serve them with a layer of peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and maple syrup. For pre-pincer grip you can give them to baby whole or cut into sticks while post-pincer grip they’re perfect in little squares.

Breast Milk Pancakes

Breastmilk Pancakes
makes about 35 2-inch pancakes

1 cup flour of choice
1 cup oat flour (grind oats in food processor until flour-like in consistency)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup breast milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
3 tablespoons oil (I used canola for its light flavor and MSPI)
2-3 tablespoons sweetener of choice (maple syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, etc)
1 tsp, more or less to taste cinnamon**
Mix-ins of choice**

**optional.

Combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon is using in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk, vanilla, sweetener, and oil. Gently stir the wet and dry ingredients, stirring as little as possible while getting rid of as many dry spots as possible. Small lumps are fine, don’t over stir. Heat up a pan (or two, if you want to make this quick!) over medium, and grease it. Spoon out batter on to the pan once to temperature and cook 2-3 minutes, or until the sides are set and bubbles are forming in the center of the pancakes, then flip. You may need to play with the temperature a bit  as you go. About one more minute on the other side until golden and transfer to a wax paper lined cookie sheet. If you wish, add in mix-ins after the batter is scooped but still wet. These could be frozen blueberries, banana slices, sliced strawberries, or chocolate chips for older kids (or moms!) Once the batter is gone, serve with toppings of choice or layer with wax paper and freeze, then transfer into labeled freezer bags for storage.

1

Baby Led Weaning: The First Steps

Baby Led Weaning step 1

Beginning Baby Led Weaning seemed daunting to me at first, but once we got started it was easy as anything. While there are a few different steps and procedures we went through getting started, it really was simple and fun.

We bought our high chair after Ryan’s pediatrician cleared him to start solids at his 6 month appointment. We knew we needed something that would fit well in our small home, so we chose the Graco Slim Spaces high chair and are really pleased with the decision. The fabric is machine washable, it has a removable tray with two layers, (essentially two stacked trays for lack of a better description.) adjusts to grow with the baby, has an additional pad to support him when he’s smaller, and folds up to fit in small spaces. Essentially, we love it. And in terms of equipment, this the the number one thing you need, and really all you need.

I have found that the easiest way to prep foods for baby is using a steamer basket that is expandable and fits in a normal old pot. Chop up the food into sticks that are the length/width of somewhere between your pinky and your ring finger. Put into the steamer basket and cook up until soft. There are a bunch of different ways people test if the food is cooked and soft enough, such as if you can smush it easily between your pointer and thumb. I have found that if (at first – by now, Ryan can eat a lot of different textures) I can begin to smush or crush it when I push a chunk to the roof of my mouth with my tongue, it’s a perfect texture for little gums.

We started with carrots as our first food. Our pediatrician suggested starting with vegetables, because some babies have a hard time accepting vegetables after they have fruit. (Uhm, I can’t blame them.) As you can see, Ryan was a bit skeptical but he definitely ate and chewed them a bit his first go. At this point, he was shoving everything in his mouth regardless, so I knew the carrot would at least make it that far, but it was fun to see him start to nom it.

The first week or two, Ryan would take a bite or two and stop, and a few other times he wouldn’t bother picking up the food at all. On these days, I mixed a both of traditional solids introduction into the mix. I would smush up the carrot or sweet potato roughly with some breastmilk and put it on a spoon and let him taste it that way. Usually at that point, once he tasted the food he would have a renewed interest in the food and grab a stick and go to town, but other times he was more into the mush. When that happened, I took a different approach.

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We bought these baby spoons made by Gerber. They’re small and long enough for a baby to grab and the ends are great for scraping goo off baby face. I would pre-load three or four of them and hand one to Ryan and lay the others out. With that, he could essentially self-feed with a spoon. I found that I didn’t have to do this past the first few weeks, but it’s a helpful skill he has retained and we now use the same method for things like guacamole and oatmeal.

It’s important to note that most sources recommend spacing out the introduction of different foods by three days – that way, if your child has a negative reaction to something, you can easily figure out what it is. We followed this for the first month and a half or so but eventually we dropped the rule, mostly because I forgot.  Besides Ryan’s MSPI, there are no food allergies in our family so we were confident with our decision. If there are known allergies in your family, I would definitely consult with your pediatrician on how to handle food allergies moving forward.

I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no one plan for how to introduce solids. Do what is right for you, what is right for your lifestyle, what is right for your family. Everyone is different and that is so important to remember, especially as new parents who are confused and just trying to do right by their children. If you follow your gut, you’ll always come out on top.

-Morgan

**The links in this post are Amazon Affiliates links. By clicking on them, you will be taken to the Amazon page for that product. If you purchase, I will get a cut of your purchase, but this will not change your price or buying experience. All opinions of these products are my own and are not influenced by anyone other than myself or my family.

1

Why We Chose Baby Led Weaning

In my family, food is the language of love. All of my best memories from my childhood are linked to taste. My mom making special meals for birthdays. The taste of seven fishy dishes on Christmas Eve. A glass of Ovaltine my parents stirred up to ease my nerves the night before I started middle school. Homemade chicken noodle soup when we were sick. My dad’s first attempts at making dinners as a single dad. A big, creamy bowl of ice cream and homemade toppings for dinner on Valentine’s day. All of these have very specific memories of love and adoration linked to them.

When it became time to introduce Ryan to his first foods, I knew that I wanted his relationship with food to reflect our family values in addition to our values on healthy, whole foods. I wanted our son to grow up strong as well as making him feel loved, and I kept this in mind as I started researching how one introduces solids to a breastfed baby.

Ryan's first solids - steamed carrots!

Ryan’s first solids – steamed carrots!

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve had no experience with babies, so I’ve been starting from scratch with Ryan. I read a few different things that intrigued me – namely, making my own purees and baby led weaning. With Ryan’s allergy I knew that anything processed would be difficult and/or very expensive. After much research, we chose to introduce solids to our son using the Baby Led Weaning method.

There is a lot of information on the interwebs regarding this method that you can use to make your own decisions about BLW. I’ll put some of the links I found useful below, and I’m going to be posting more about our journey, but we couldn’t be more happy with how this has worked for our family.

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1. The ease of it. The number one reason that we chose BLW is that it seemed SO much easier. Weighing the time and energy required for spoon feeding entire meals worth of purees versus chopping up some food and throwing it on a tray seemed like a no brainer for our family. We really enjoy being able to eat as a family, all at the same time, without having to spend the entire dinner fussing over Ryan. I usually prep a bunch of different things and then pick and choose what to give him for each meal. (My fridge is a battlefield of tupperware containers.) Sometimes we chop things up and put them aside from our dinner prep, which makes it even easier.

2. Some studies show a link to reduced overeating later in life. I was a chubby kid. I was overweight my whole life until I lost 40+ pounds my junior year of college. I still have a tendency to over eat and to eat when I’m not hungry. It’s something I will probably battle my whole life, and I want to do everything in my power to prevent Ryan from having to deal with this. In my research, I found that many children who are introduced to solids using the BLW method are more likely to stop eating when full. This is because they themselves are in control of what they eat. When you feel a baby purees, you can’t be sure if your baby is full or not. When a child is feeding himself, he is able to stop eating when he is full, a trait that will hopefully follow him through his life.

3 It’s so much fun! There are fewer things in this world I find cuter than a 7 month old nomming on a banana. It’s so much fun watching Ryan learn different textures and tastes when he’s eating. He quickly developed favorites and things he wasn’t too fond of, but as with everything else with a baby, those are constantly changing. It’s so fun watching him pick up a piece of sweet potato, inspect it, and happily start chomping on it. Also, he picked up and honed his pincer grip very quickly, and BLW is often credited for enhancing hand-eye coordination and grip.

4. Emphasis on whole foods. In our family, we put a big emphasis on whole foods and clean eating. Yes, Alex and I don’t live by this exclusively and eat outside these guidelines on occasion, but we both agreed we want to keep Ryan on this diet as much as we can. With his diet restrictions being in place until he is 12 months, BLW and being able to chose whole foods and clean eat for our little boy is a necessity.

5. He is in control! With BLW, there is no guessing whether or not Ryan likes something. There is no forcing him to eat something he doesn’t like. Ryan is completely in control of what he eats. Yes, sometimes I have to space things out (like giving him his fruit last – if I give it to him with his whole meal, he will eat nothing but apples!) and sometimes I worry that he won’t be eating enough vegetables/protein/healthy fats etc. but usually at the next meal he’ll even it out. His body craves what it needs and he has the ability to listen to it.

So this is why my family chose Baby Led Weaning. If this seems like something that fits your values or that your family would benefit from, do some more of your own research! Our family loves it and Ryan is thriving on it. Here are some links and blog posts that I found most helpful when first deciding and starting out! Hope this helps, and feel free to reach out to me to ask questions and find out more information!

babyledweaning.com – the original source of BLW and where you should start!
whattoexpect.com – every mom’s first source for all things baby has a great article on BLW
babycenter.com – I found the comments section of this page VERY helpful!
simplebites.com – a great blog post on a BLW experience
ahealthysliceoflife.com – Brittany at A Healthy Slice of Life is a BLW advocate and documents her experience with implementing BLW with her two daughters and she even wrote a book about it!

-Morgan