...from baby food to toddler food to family food!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Babies Don't Need Breakfast

This is not to say they shouldn't eat in the morning, just that they don't care about adult perceptions of breakfast/lunch/dinner foods.  William would gladly eat avocado at all three meals....

Here are some simple recipes that William enjoys:

Basic Avocado Mash: 1/4 ripe avocado, fork mashed with 2 inches banana or 1-inch slice sweet potato

Avocado "Dip": 1/4 ripe avocado, fork mashed with 1 Tbsp. whole milk plain yogurt, tiny sprinkle of garlic powder
This recipe is delicious in many variations: add 1 tsp. pureed spinach and a tiny amount of sea salt and black pepper (this also would make an amazing dip for adults to enjoy!).  Or add 1 tsp pureed asparagus, peas, garbanzo beans....the list is endless. Avocado is a great base for baby food recipes, with its smooth, creamy consistency and mellow, slightly sweet flavor.

"Breakfast" Oatmeal: 1/4 of prepared oats (http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/oatmealbabyfoodrecipes.htm) warmed for 10-20 seconds in microwave, 1 oz. any fruit (William loves prunes, banana, baked apple or pears).  This is even more delicious with a dash of cinnamon and 1 Tbsp. whole milk plain yogurt!

Brown Rice "Dinner": 1/4 of prepared brown rice (http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/ricebabyfoodrecipes.htm) warmed for 10-20 seconds in microwave, 1 tsp garbanzo beans, 1 tsp squash, dash of garlic powder and/or salt/pepper.  A tsp. of any vegetable can be added to this for even more flavor, texture and nutrition. William has enjoyed this with asparagus, peas, spinach and broccoli.

Sweet Yogurt: 2 Tbsp. whole milk yogurt with 2 oz fruit, thickened with multigrain (or rice, or oatmeal) baby cereal.  Dash of cinnamon optional.  Just this morning William at this with about 1 oz (2 inches) mashed banana and 1 oz. pears. He loved it! Thickening it with the cereal not only adds nutrition and flavor, but also texture.  It tends to make mealtime a little less messy as well!

Savory Yogurt:  2 Tbsp. whole milk yogurt mixed with 2 oz. any vegetables, garlic powder, salt & pepper optional.  William had this at dinner this evening with 1 oz peas and 1 oz. squash.

Did you know that after 6-7 exposures to a new food, babies are more likely to show interest in them?  For William, peas, asparagus, spinach and broccoli took a few tries before he became comfortable with them.  He still pokes at the spinach on his spoon and tray, examining it like a little scientist faced with a mysterious new element! Avocado, his first food, is still his favorite.
I'm excited to introduce more and more new foods to William, because it expands my opportunities for creativity in the kitchen.  I'll continue to post more recipes as William and I discover them together!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Play With Your Food!

I believe in evidence-based practice.  This is an important philosophy in early childhood education and care, and I have carried it over into my parenting.  I try to make big parenting decisions understanding relevant research and how it can be used for best practice.  Based on the infant feeding research I did, I tried to approach the introduction of solids with a set of principles:

*Wait for signs of readiness (does William show interest in food? Is he able to communicate want/refusal (by opening mouth/turning away)? Can he sit independently? Is he physiologically ready for solid food?).  Refer to Satter's Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense for a full list.
At six months old, William was eagerly grabbing at food and intently watching my husband and I eat (or actually, watching our forks go back and forth from plate to mouth, with a serious forehead wrinkle).  When I first offered him a spoonful of avocado, he pulled it into his wide open mouth.  He began sitting independently on the day he reached the age of six months, and most importantly, he actually lost a few ounces during his 5th month! It is normal for exclusively breastfed babies to plateau in their weight gain around six months, as their increased activity makes them little calorie-burning machines! But a loss of weight indicated to my pediatrician (and I had to agree) that William was physiologically ready for some extra calories from solid food.

*Follow William's lead (be respectful of his responses to food and how he chooses to explore it, and "listen" to what he is communicating about food non-verbally, allowing him to develop a comfortable relationship with food).
This means tuning in to William's cues: is he looking at the food? Does he want to touch it? Is he totally uninterested? I usually place a new food in front of him so that he has the opportunity to touch it first, and the chance to put some into his mouth without the use of a spoon. I then offer it to him on a spoon, and allow him to turn it down, or to pull the spoon into his mouth (with a bit of directional guidance from Mama!). Yes, he gets very very messy at pretty much every meal time! This sensory experience is important, and outweighs the time it takes to clean up his face, hair, eyes, ears, hands, arms, legs, the highchair, splat mat, etc. And to change his clothes. I also feel that being respectful of William includes not cajoling him to eat with "airplane" deliveries of food, "sneaking" nutritious food into his diet or applauding the act of eating as if it were some great feat (Id' rather that the experience of tasting is reward in itself).  This sort of insincerity in the feeding relationship seems destined to cause serious issues down the road...but that is not to say that mealtime shouldn't be fun!

*Make "baby food" delicious. Have you tasted the "Stage 1" jarred baby food purees? They taste so vaguely of what they are supposed to be, it's silly.  Even when you get into the "Stage 3" combinations, there is no seasoning, other than the occasional dash of cinnamon!  I feel that teaching a baby to not just eat, but to enjoy his sense of taste necessitates the use of seasoning! Our pediatrician suggested I start with rice ceral mixed with breastmilk, and a scoop of formula for extra nutrition.  Although I respect her opinion, this sounded so "textbook" and so unappetizing to me that I decided to gather more opinions. I referred back to my books, looked online (I love wholesomebabyfood.com) and spoke with my favorite Lactation Consultant, who is also an R.N. and a true infant feeding specialist.  I weighed all of these resources with my belief that food should be meaningful and enjoyable, and introduced William to his first solid food when he was just over 6 months old.

While adhering to the guidelines for food introduction and allergies, I began introducing a new food about every three days (a single ingredient food), whenever possible using fresh, organic items cooked at home.  I also have used some jarred  Earth's Best Organic Baby Food , pouches of Sprout Organic Baby Food, Plum Organics Pouches and Bella Baby Organic Frozen Baby Food Pouches.

Here is a list of the foods William has had to date, in the order they were introduced:
Sweet Potato
Brown Rice Cereal
Oatmeal Cereal
Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
Butternut Squash
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
White Potato
Multigrain Cereal
Garlic Powder
Garbanzo Beans
Flax Oil

I think it is important for babies to have a nutrient-rich diet, including plenty of fat, protein and fiber.  Some of William's daily staples are: 1/4 avocado, twice a day.  1 serving whole oats or brown rice a day.  1/8 tsp. flax oil a day.  1 serving iron-fortified baby cereal (brown rice, oatmeal or multigrain) each day, used as thickener.  Approx 3 Tbsp. whole milk yogurt a day.  In addition, a variety of fruits, veggies, etc.

In my next post I'll give you the recipes for some of William's favorite combinations. Until then, remember to play with your food!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Do Your Homework Young Lady!

I'm not sure if this is strange, but I really miss school. Well, graduate school at least. I got my M.A. in Child Development in 2005. I loved grad school, because I was studying a topic that I'm fascinated by, and I was there because I wanted to be! In my family (I'm sure in most U.S. families), it is an expectation that one will attend college (and I did love my college experience, if not all of my classes), but grad school was a real pleasure. One of my favorite classes was called "Infancy." Doesn't that sound nice?

I still love to read about topics in child development, and motherhood has given me even more motivation to do so! Especially the "little details" I didn't learn much about as a student, like pregnancy, infant feeding and sleeping (which have actually turned out to be huge details. These issues consume the life of parents everywhere!).

When I was pregnant, my favorite resources were Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Regarding breastfeeding, the essential book to have is The Nursing Mother's Companion: Revised Edition
. I still use this book for reference on a regular basis! I found it particularly helpful to read some sections of this book before William was born- it dispels a lot of breastfeeding misconceptions, taught me how to get a good start, and helped me feel prepared for the challenges that can arise. It also has a short discussion on the introduction of solid food, which to sum it up was "take it slow," especially if you are trying to continue breastfeeding past the six month mark.  kellymom.com is also a wonderful resource for breastfeeding issues.

Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense
is my feeding bible! I bought it when William was approaching six months, the time when the American Academy of Pediatrics  recommends trying to start solid foods. I wish I had it before William was born, as it addresses bottle and breastfeeding as well. Ellyn Satter looks at the feeding relationship as one that develops from birth, and as a dynamic one. Both parent and child play a role in the relationship, and Satter stresses that parents need to "maintain a division of responsibility in feeding." This is not in regards to who feeds the baby, but rather what roles parent and child should hold to have a healthy, successful feeding relationship. She asserts that "parents are responsible for the what, when and where of feeding; children are responsible for the how much and whether of eating." This simple concept seemed to me to be a great way to approach the introduction of solid foods to William, as it echoes the approach I've always taken with him and breastfeeding ("on cue" rather than scheduled nursing).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Very First Food

Babies first use their sense of taste in utero, when the amniotic fluid flows by their tiny tastebuds.  Before birth (at around 27 weeks gestation), fetuses actually have more tastebuds than they will after birth! Their very sensitive perception of taste even picks up on strong, spicy flavors the mother eats, about two hours later. How cool is that??! But in utero, fetuses do not ingest food, instead relying on the nutrients passed to them through their mother's blood. (Bo-ring.)

Breast milk is the perfect first food for babies. Not only does breast milk production adapt to meet the baby's needs (not only in amount, but also in nutritional makeup, such as fat content) and provide amazing protective factors, but it also transmits the flavors of the mother's diet to the baby.

William tasted his first milk (well, colostrum, but we'll skip some details) no more than two minutes after birth.  He was placed naked onto my chest, and we gazed at each other, both of us beginning the dance of hormones and love that is baby/motherhood.  He knew instinctively to seek out food. Newborns are amazing creatures, full of inborn skills and knowledge!

Did he taste the chocolate soymilk that was the last thing I consumed before active labor made me nauseous? Or the spicy chili I had eaten the day before with the hope of speeding things up? I guess I'll never know, but to me these are fascinating questions!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father’s Day Slideshow 2010

Father’s Day Slideshow 2010
William and his Dada are featured in this Isis Parenting Fathers' Day slideshow!


After getting some feedback from friends, I'd like to add a disclaimer: I know that I have been lucky to have such a positive experience so far in feeding my baby solid foods, and I certainly do not expect this to always be the case! Changes throughout his development will surely affect William's tastes and attitudes about food, and especially the parent-child feeding dynamic. This is why I'm excited to write about this process!

Many new parents I know are finding the introduction of solid food to be challenging. Many babies show lack of interest or even outright dislike for solid foods! I think they realize that "breast is best!" But seriously, this can be a stressful time in parenting, and I'm certainly not here to brag about my "perfect" child....we've had our difficulties in other areas (nursing, sleep) during the first 7 months!

I think several things set William and I up for success in the introduction of solid foods: William's mellow temperament, his physiological and psychological readiness for solid food, the fact that I did my research (but not TOO much) on the topic, and the fact that I analyzed all of the information and came up with a plan that felt right to me (or really, what I thought would be best for William!), thus entering the process anxiety-free.  But who knows, it really might just have been luck so far! We'll see how things go in the future.......

Monday, June 21, 2010

Inspiration for this blog

In Februray of 2009, a girlfriend and I decided to take a spontaneous trip to New Orleans during my spring break week from school (I was teaching at the time).  It was the week before Mardi Gras, and little did I know that I was about 2 days pregnant....My wonderful friend "R" treated me to an amazing 5-course meal with wine pairing at Restaurant August (http://www.restaurantaugust.com/) while we were there, so I guess that was my little guy's (well, my little zygote's) first gourmet meal.

I have always enjoyed food, from both ends of the spectrum. Sometimes I crave a fine aged cheese or duck confit, and sometimes Chef Boyardee raviolis or a McDonald's cheeseburger.  It is the sensory experience that draws me in; tuning into the combination of sight, smell and taste can make food of all kinds an adventure!

During this pregnancy, I ate organic dairy and produce, and I avoided all of the high-mercury seafood and aged cheeses that we in the US are instructed to. I may have slipped up once or twice with a fried clam or a lobster roll....but it was summer and I was on Cape Cod! Anyway, my baby turned out just fine: William was born in November 2009 through natural childbirth, and tasted his first food: breastmilk! But I'll get into that more later.....

As new parents, my husband and I have had so many important decisions to make: breast/bottle, where the baby will sleep, choosing a pediatrician, circumcision/not (something I had NEVER thought of before!).....When it came time to start solid foods around 6 months, I put a lot of thought into it. My husband is the opposite of me when it comes to food: he has a very limited repertoire, and he does not enjoy going out to eat.  Can you believe that????!!!! His mother tells me all the time what a "picky eater" he always was, and I feared that this might be genetic!

I was inspired to gather information: what is "normal" when it comes to introducing solids in infancy? What is safe? And how adventurous of an eater can my baby become?

An epicurean is "devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially to the enjoyment of good food and comfort." Doesn't that sum up most of what early infancy is all about? This shouldn't be too hard......