Thursday, December 30, 2010

Second time's a charm...

The other night we had turkey & black bean chili for dinner with Chicken's grandparents. I was eager for Chicken to try it because it's very healthy - turkey, beans, spices and crushed tomatoes topped some shredded cheese- and is something she could eat by the handful. I served it with rice, which is another BLW friendly food.
Well, Chicken wasn't interested. She was in a mood and spent the meal tossing food off of her tray. She didn't even seem interested in the cornbread I offered her!
Well, something I keep reading is to offer foods again and again. We had leftover chili last night and Chicken was in the mood to chow down! I skipped the rice because it's the most annoying to clean up when tossed overboard. Instead, I made her some soft polenta and mixed in some shredded cheese. She had chili and avocado too.
At first, she just mushed things around and got messy but then she ate pretty much everything in front of her, including second helpings. Luckily bath time follows dinner!
P.S. Polenta is a great food to have on hand. I like the precooked rolled kind. We've had it sliced and fried with breakfast and mashed up with dinner.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What the french, Toast!?!?

A belated merry Christmas to everyone! We've been busy celebrating and shoveling, since we got about two feet of snow on the day after Christmas. We don't have much to report from Christmas, since Chicken slept through Christmas Eve dinner and socialized through Christmas dinner. This post is dedicated to our snow day breakfast and was titled by Chicken's dad. :)
Breakfast is the easiest meal for us. Chicken is in a good mood since she usually is fairly well rested and has nursed upon waking. Plus, many breakfast foods are BLW friendly. On this snowy day we had yummy french toast. I had some slices of raisin challah in the freezer. Good bread + egg + milk = a pretty good breakfast for Chicken. Of course, throw in the vanilla, cinnamon and butter used to cook the french toast and it's even better. We had some breakfast sausage too. I'm careful to buy all natural sausage because preservatives are not good for little ones. Sodium is another concern when it comes to breakfast meats. I debated how to serve the sausage to Chicken because the links are just flat-out throat shaped, which made me nervous. I ended up slicing a link in half lengthwise. Chicken nibbled on half a link and seemed to like the taste, but she left a good bit of it on her tray.
The best part (for me) about this breakfast was the leftovers. I only gave Chicken half of a piece of french toast that day (though I would've given her more had she finished that much), so the other half was in the fridge. I cut it into strips a day or two later and toasted them for Chicken's breakfast. She had them dipped in yogurt. I wish I had a picture of that meal because Chicken surprised me by tearing the french toast into little pieces. Granted, challah is the perfect bread to tear up, but I'd never seen her do that before!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Vegetable Extravaganza!

This is why I love BLW. Chicken will try anything I put on her tray and usually she likes it. Last night she had: spaghetti squash, beets, cucumber, peas, carrots and corn. She also had chicken and hummus, but let's focus on the veggies here.
Vegetables seem to be an issue for many people. You're supposed to start with pureed vegetables, not fruits, when introducing purees so that your baby doesn't love fruit but hate vegetables. People are constantly telling their children to eat "just ONE more mouthful of peas". Jessica Seinfeld has made a career out of telling parents how to trick their children into eating spinach inside of brownies or whatever. Now, I'm not saying that I'm a pioneer here, or that Chicken might not still be one of those kids who hides her vegetables in her sock under the table rather than eating them. But, I sure hope we can eliminate some of those battles by her becoming comfortable with so many tastes and textures from the beginning.
Here she is showing off all of the many vegetables that she tasted at dinner. :)

P.S. Chicken's dad worked tonight so she and I had sweet potatoes, lentils, cucumber, cheese and rice cakes. Sounds gross but I didn't have a bunch of food around and didn't feel like making anything major for just the two of us.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Honesty is the best policy.

Today gets two posts. I had wanted to talk about dipping, but I also feel the need to post again about something that happened yesterday. I love the way that we're approaching solids with Chicken and I wouldn't do it any other way. With that said, I don't want to present it through rose-colored glasses. Aside from the fact that it's messy, which I've mentioned before, it can also be a bit nerve-wracking.

There is a lot of gagging involved, as babies explore food in their mouths and learn about swallowing something other than liquid. Many times people mistake gagging for choking. I suggest that anyone who has this concern should google for videos of BLW babies gagging, because otherwise the experience can be unsettling. The good news is that gagging is NOT choking and really prevents choking. Can a baby choke on "real" food like what I offer to Chicken? Yes. Granted, babies can (and do) choke on purees as well, but people are much more worried about choking on "real" food.

Am I worried that Chicken might choke on a piece of bread or meat? Yes, of course. I worry just as I do when Chicken lunges forward from her tush to her belly , face-first towards the ground, in an effort to crawl. It's scary! Just like crawling, eating (as opposed to being fed) is a learning process and learning often means taking risks. Here's where people raise their eyebrows..."You're willing to risk her choking just so she can eat real food??" Yup. It's important to me that Chicken develops her motor skills, confidence and independence, while learning about the world around her. That's why I hold my breath and let her dive forward, knowing that a face-plant is likely. Do I let her do that while sitting on a table? No. Do I let her do that near glass or other dangerous objects? No. Similarly, I give Chicken the safest possible conditions for learning to feed herself.

But, accidents still happen and that brings me to what happened yesterday. Sometimes Chicken's eats frozen slices of peach. Peach is good for the tummy and the frozen ones are food for swollen gums. Usually Chicken sucks on a piece until it thaws and then mushes it up or spits it out. Yesterday, she gummed the piece into halves and one half slipped past her gag reflex (all the way up at the middle of the tongue at her age) and back to her throat. Her dad and I both saw her panic. Her eyes watered and she seemed to be in some trouble. We whipped off the highchair tray and started unbuckling her instantly so that we could do the Heimlich Maneuver. Luckily for us, Chicken did her thing and worked the peach back up, coughing it out. She cried for a few seconds. We caught our breath and then she got back to eating.

So, everything was fine, for which we are very grateful. I learned a lesson about peaches. That's for sure!

Going for a dip!

So, after our discussion of spooning, I thought it was only fair to also mention dipping. Dipping is a big part of BLW and gets much attention in Gill Rapley's book. Dipping is a great way to serve foods that babies might ordinarily need help eating because they'd require a spoon. We still dip for Chicken and hand food to her, which she often grabs by the dipped end, but soon she'll be able to dip herself.
I really like serving food this way because it allows Chicken to be more independent, taste various combinations of foods and it's an easy way for me to serve her purees if I want to. I know, I know. Purees!?!? Yes, Chicken eats purees, but not very often and she still feeds herself like she does with yogurt and cereal. I have pureed fruits and veggies on hand in case we're out of fresh produce or are eating a meal, like pizza, which doesn't lend itself well to a side of asparagus! Also, some fruits and vegetables are helpful to move things along in Chicken's digestive system, but are hard to eat without an effective pincer grip, like peas*. So, last night, we had pizza but I wanted Chicken to have some vegetables, namely peas. I offered her pizza crust dipped in pureed peas and she enjoyed it!
Aside from purees and yogurt - hummus, bean dips, cream cheese and guacamole are yummy dips. As for what to use as "dippers"...Anything! Bread sticks (crunchy or soft), pieces of rice cake, strips of toast, waffle, fresh or roasted vegetables, pieces of cheese (just be mindful of salt content) are all great for dipping.
Here's a photo of Chicken with a piece of homemade waffle and some blueberry yogurt. Yummy breakfast!

*Note: The "P" foods: Pears, peaches, prunes (plums) and peas can help with constipation.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Muy Delicioso!

I love Mexican lasagna and my husband loves it too. What's not to love? It's basically a taco casserole dressed up like lasagna - layers of ground meat (turkey in our case) with beans and seasoning, salsa, cheese and tortillas. It's baked till it's bubbly and delicious. I've been craving mexican food so I made it yesterday and was eager for Chicken to try it. Of course, she decided to fight her nap and then nap during dinnertime. Luckily she woke up before it was too late and was in a great mood.
She got to try all of the components of the meal. Bits of meat, beans and pieces of tortilla tend to fall out whenever I cut pieces to serve so I just gave all of that to Chicken. She also had some yummy guacamole and some plain avocado. The pieces of turkey and beans are still kind of difficult for Chicken to get into her mouth because she hasn't developed her pincer grip yet. She's still working the bits into her mouth with both fists. She had some luck with this meal because the guacamole acted like a glue to keep the bits onboard as she worked her hands to her mouth. She seemed to really enjoying it.
We had leftovers tonight and Chicken wasn't as enthusiastic about the mexican cuisine. Perhaps it's because she was also eating spoonfuls of prunes (don't ask...) which she LOVES. Or, maybe she was just cranky. Either way, at least she got to try it!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The scoop on spooning...

I've mentioned before that Chicken eats from a spoon that we "load" for her. Some people who choose to BLW forgo the spoon altogether until their baby can load the spoon and therefore use it with total independence. Personally, I like offering Chicken yogurt, thick creamy soups, cottage cheese and cereal with the option to either eat from a spoon or dive in with her hands. Chicken's dad or I scoop up a spoonful of food and pass the spoon to her. She is getting quite good at getting the spoon to her mouth. Often, she ends up grabbing the bowl part of the spoon with her other hand, but it's all part of the learning process. She loves chewing on the spoon, particularly when she has teeth ready to break through. We're working on keeping the spoon on Chicken's tray between spoonfuls and when she's finished. Sadly, we've already lost two spoons that were licked clean with a bit too much vigor (AKA chewing!) by our pups.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You can't beat beets.

Chicken LOVES beets. Seriously! I never liked beets as a child, or at least I had myself convinced that I didn't, but I'm not sure I ever really tried them. I really enjoy them now and thought it would be fun for Chicken to try them too. We waited until her dad was working, because he doesn't like beets. I roasted them with some olive oil, salt and pepper (not much salt because it's not good for babies!). Chicken also had a mushroom and some bits of turkey burger. She seemed to really like the mushroom, but it got very slippery quickly. I ended up giving her some smaller bits, because as confident as I am that she can handle her food without choking, I'm much more confident when Chicken's dad is home!

Yes, she made quite a mess, but it was so much fun to see her taste yet another food and gratifying to know that, at least for now, she likes a food that many grown-ups don't like! I really hope this "sticks" because it will make eating so much fun for Chicken as she gets older. At some point, I'll have to give her a brussel sprout - another favorite of mine that isn't hugely popular.
Chicken had the leftover beets a couple of night's later and I served pork chops that night. I wished I'd taken a photo of her then because with the chunks of meat and squished beet everywhere, she looked like some sort of carnivorous beast! A cute beast of course!

Getting caught up!

I've neglected my blog (and my ONE follower - Thanks, Ali!) lately because Chicken's dad has been working A LOT! Chicken and I have been having lots of girl time, but that means I'm a tired mama! Anyway, I have three photos I want to share and some updating to do.
Chicken has become a pro at using her two bottom teeth. She scrapes food across them and shaves off bits to eat. She has also been swallowing much more food. She swallows very deliberately and my heart stops for a second now and then as her face registers what's going on. Since it's new to her to be swallowing bits of food, she seems to get a bit nervous herself and then somewhat satisfied when things go down smoothly. She's managing both large pieces of food, which she can retrieve from her bib and sometimes even under her tray now, and little bits of food, which she works up to her mouth with both hands.
She's also getting better and knowing how to handle mushy and slippery foods. If she holds them gently, she has an easier time getting them to her mouth. Mango, which can be slippery and often ends up stringy, can be difficult to handle, but she really enjoys it and is doing a great job eating it!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!

Chicken is very well-rounded. We're celebrating Hanukkah this week, while also setting up the Christmas tree. :) We had Chicken's grandparents over on Wednesday for the first night of Hanukkah. It was a lovely night and I loved having Chicken join us for a traditional dinner of roasted chicken and potato latkes. She wasn't in a great mood that night, which makes meal time a challenge regardless of whether she feeds herself or would be fed by us. However, she tried a bit of everything. She was a big fan of the applesauce I served to accompany the latkes. Honestly, this kind of bummed me out because that's basically just "baby food", but she is, after all, a baby! We loaded up her spoon with applesauce a few times and she enjoyed it. She tried sour cream, which she also seemed to like. Since she's a fan of yogurt and cottage cheese, I figured sour cream would be something she'd like.
(Chicken looks a little teary here...She was very tired, but still wanted to try some bites of dinner.)

Chicken's grandma made carrot cake for dessert. Now here's where BLW gets a little tricky. Chicken has tried pretty much everything her dad and I have eaten for the past two months are so. Does that mean we want her to be eating sweets and junk? No. Does it mean that we'll let her taste it? Usually. I say usually because I don't see any reason for her to have chocolate. She's exposed to the caffeine I consume, because she's still nursing. I don't think that she needs to have any more than that. We also (well, mostly me...) tend to eat dessert after she's gone to bed, so it's rarely an issue. But, if she's sitting at the table with us and we're eating dessert, I don't see the harm in her tasting it too. She was a HUGE fan of the carrot cake and probably would've had much more than what I offered her if she could have.

In reading back over this, I realize some people might not love the idea of a 7 1/2 month old eating fried potatoes and carrot cake. So, let's just remember the Cookie Monster comparison from a few posts ago. Chicken tastes, nibbles, and sometimes swallows many different foods, but isn't consuming an entire latke or slice of cake. In fact, she's offered a very balanced diet of foods and so far, she seems to enjoy them all!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Curd is the word...

When I was little, I'd request stir-fried cabbage for an after school snack. I loved chopped liver and every single vegetable. I also loved cottage cheese. I'm really hoping that Chicken is as adventurous an eater as I am and I think we're on the right track. Her new favorite breakfast food is cottage cheese. We wake up at 6 and after she nurses and plays for a bit, we sit down and enjoy fresh fruit and cottage cheese. I keep laughing, thinking of the little section on most diner menus with "healthy options" like fruit and cottage cheese. I don't think I'm brave enough to order this meal for Chicken out in public, since it often requires an immediate outfit change and "Clean up on aisle 6!" from our pups, but it certainly is a pleasure enjoying it at home!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Day!

Just a quick post because I feel like I can't let the biggest feast of the year go by without some photos of Chicken chowing down. We spent the holiday with my side of the family and Chicken certainly enjoyed herself. She ate: butternut squash soup, turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing and green beans.
It was wonderful for me to watch her enjoy being part of the meal
with her family. She got messy and made excited noises while eating, which I love. Here's a photo of her savoring her meal.

Monday, November 22, 2010

When it comes to BLW...Start big!

Often you hear to "start small". If you're going to run a marathon, you shouldn't run 26.2 miles when you start. If you're going to open a bakery, you probably shouldn't buy a space and open up without selling a few cupcakes out of your home kitchen first.
However, if you're going to introduce your baby to food
without relying on purees, you should start big. This was Chicken's lunch the other day: avocado, cheese, peach, potato pancake (leftover from a trip to Perkins), carrot and green bean.
I offered Chicken an bunch of options, all cut into shapes/sizes that she could handle easily. She tried everything eventually and got some more avocado and peach throughout the meal when there wasn't any left on her tray.
I noticed, during this meal, that Chicken ate with more gusto when she mushed, crumbled, mangled her food into smaller pieces. As I wrote last week, she's become an efficient raker. She passes little bits of food from one fist to the other, hand-over-hand, until they reach her mouth. I find it really interesting that she's making these developments from eating big pieces of food to choosing chunks that she wants and working them up to her mouth. Check her out:
She'll also eat this off of the back of her hands, which is good since lots of things end up there.
If you're wondering what a "finished" meal looks like, it depends on Chicken's mood really. Last night she was too tired to sit and eat dinner so her tray looked pretty much the same at the end of dinner as when she started eating. But, on this particular day, Chicken really enjoyed a lot of the food she was offered. She did a great job working a good bit of it into her mouth too.
Yeah, the bib pocket is kind of gross, but at least it does its job! I've started scooping out all of the food and putting it on top of the dogs' food at dinnertime. I figure if its healthy enough for Chicken, it's healthy enough for them too. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It is Fall afterall...

When starting BLW (also known as BLS - Baby Led Solids- by the way), it's important to offer food in shapes and sizes that an infant can handle easily and safely. Books, websites and other parents recommend "french-fry shaped" foods that are about two inches long. This allows the infant to grasp one end in his or her fist and still have some sticking out to put in his or her mouth. That's what we've been doing for the past six weeks or so. I'm noticing lately, though, that Chicken is really interested in the little chunks that are left on her tray.
Thus, the title of today's post...Chicken has become pretty skilled at raking. No, although her daddy would love if she raked the leaves in the yard, we're talking about about raking up objects with her hands. Not only that, but she does things with both hands. It's really cool to see her using her developing motor skills and hand-eye coordination to feed herself.Although this makes me worried (a little) about her choking, I'm doing my best to trust her while also being prepared should she need rescuing. Chicken is excellent at working food around in her mouth and spitting out what she doesn't want or doesn't feel she can swallow.
You'll see that she uses both hands to rake up food, shimmy the food to her mouth and then she spits out whatever she doesn't swallow (or drop). Check her out in action...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mess-essity...The mother of invention!

We aren't neat freaks. Clearly. I mean, we have two gross dogs. But, the food tossing situation is a bit out of control even for us. For a few weeks, we gave Chicken the benefit of the doubt. Her fine motor skills are developing. Opening and closing her hands intentionally is still a little tricky. Playing with food is part of the experience....Well, I think we've reached the point where Chicken may be either getting a kick out of the food tossing or trying to fatten up her pups as if they're turkeys at this time of year.
So, although Chicken's dad still wants to rig up some sort of food-catching net or device, the strategic placement of a TV table (part of this family for 9 years, I might add) is going to have to do for now. It works...and it doesn't. It saves me a few feet of bending over to swipe a discarded chicken leg out of a dog's mouth, but it also leaves food at doggy eye level as well. We're learning as we go here.
Our dogs are poorly trained anyway. They hover around the table. And, you can't exactly tell them to "Leave it!" when the food is landing ON them. So, this will do for now.

P.S. BLW ain't for the faint of heart!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Who doesn't love a bagel?

Here Chicken is basically rolling her eyes at me, giving her daddy the, "Seriously? She's taking another picture!?" look. I loved how she was enjoying her Sunday morning breakfast though! What I really loved was sitting with Chicken and her dad as we all enjoyed our bagels this morning. I like having her participate in our meals, rather than her either watching her eat or being fed something completely separate from what we're eating.
BLW is not for everyone, but I think it is a perfect fit for us. Yesterday, we had family in for a quick visit and we all went out to lunch. Chicken munch on a few sweet potato fries and some chicken (gasp!) off of my plate. Then this morning, we walked to get bagels and enjoyed them as a family. You may think that bagels and fries aren't very healthy, but think of it as a few nibbles of fries (sweet potato!) and lots of sucking, gumming and mushing of a bagel, which I imagine feels delightful on new teeth and tender gums.
Chicken is certainly thriving. Her dad and I both noticed some new chub had accumulated over night. :) She gets to share in meals with us. And, to top it off, her dad and I are making healthier choices, knowing that we might have our little one mooching off our plates. It's true! We all had cantaloupe with our bagels this morning and I find myself eating much more fruit and vegetables because I've already taken the time to cut them up for Chicken. So, we have a happy, plump baby and we're getting to enjoy our (somewhat healthier) meals. Yay!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chicken is 7 months old!

Chicken is 7 months old today. It's a good chance to reflect on the past month or so. It's been remarkable to see her figure out how to handle different foods and become a more confident eater. I thought I'd try to list the things that Chicken has eaten in the month or so since we started BLW. She's tried a wide range of foods, including:
  • watermelon, banana, apple, pear, prunes, kiwi, mango, cantaloupe
  • sweet potato, carrot, cucumber, squash, green beans, broccoli, bell pepper, potato, avocado, asparagus
  • bread, crunchy breadsticks, bagel, waffle, pancakes, rice, pasta, rice cake, pita, baby oatmeal, pizza crust
  • chicken, pork, ham, beef, breakfast sausage, scrambled eggs
  • yogurt, cheese, cream cheese
Some of these things might surprise you, especially if you're thinking of the "traditional" rules for introducing solids. For example, starting with vegetables and then moving onto fruits, meats, dairy etc. There's also the whole waiting period between foods. In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed many of their recommendations for how and when to introduce foods. Many of the rules regarding introducing foods developed because babies were starting solids well before six months old. It appears that by waiting until six months, many of those rules aren't applicable. Of course, you should check with your child's pediatrician!

We started BLW before talking to Chicken's doctor, but only with foods that aren't known to be common allergens. Her doctor gave us the go-ahead to try everything except for peanuts and honey. We introduced eggs and dairy at breakfast time (on separate days) in case she had a reaction, so that we wouldn't be dealing with it overnight. We haven't offered her strawberries or shellfish. Both have been known to cause allergic reactions more often than other foods and we have so many other things to offer her instead at this point.

You may be wondering what Chicken likes best out of the many foods listed above. Cantaloupe and cucumber still rank among the favorites. She enjoys blueberry yogurt, bagels, hummus on toast and pancakes too. She likes most meats the day they're cooked (nice and juicy!) but isn't a fan of the leftovers. :) Although some of the things she's tried aren't exactly "healthy", like pizza crust, we haven't offered her anything with lots of salt, artificial ingredients or added sugar.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taking our show on the road...

Well, really just down the road to IHOP. :) Chicken's dad was able to stay home this morning so we went out to breakfast. Eating out has been very pleasant so far (knock on wood!) since Chicken has started to eat at the table. She doesn't really require entertainment or toys, which makes things easier. We don't really need to bring anything with us. Since I knew we were going out to eat ahead of time this morning, I threw a bib and some sliced fruit in the diaper bag, but Chicken would've been just fine without any of that.
As is the case with most babies her age (I'm guessing) she was content playing with the menu and trying to grab everything else on the table while we ordered and waited for our food. Once our food came, we put her in the highchair and we all dug in. Chicken had some pancake, some cantaloupe and mango (from home) and some of her dad's ham. She had a taste of my eggs but quickly moved on.

Neither her dad nor I ordered anything especially for her and we didn't spend any time spooning stuff into her mouth. We did spend some time collecting discarded food from the floor, but I imagine that would happen regardless of what Chicken was eating. She got to check out the scenery, as you can see, and we all got to enjoy breakfast out. Not a bad deal!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Baby knows best?

When I was reading Gill Rapley's book, I was struck by a study she cited. Granted, it was conducted in the 1920s and 1930s, but I still found it interesting. Basically, 15 exclusively breast-fed seven to nine month-olds were followed for as long as four years to see what would happen if they were allowed to choose their own food. They were offered 33 foods (all separate, so nothing like soup etc). The babies were allowed to choose whatever they wanted and if they finished a whole portion of any food, that food was replaced so they could have more if they wanted. The children were given blood/urine tests to monitor their health. By the end of each child's participation in the study he/she was healthier than when the study began. Although some children would binge on things like eggs one day, they'd eat something different the next day. The doctor who conducted the study concluded that these children would eat the foods that they needed to stay healthy.

I thought of this today because Chicken has the sniffles. I was thinking about what I'd want to eat if I felt crummy and unfortunately soup isn't really a good food for someone her age! Aside from wanting soup, I always want ginger ale, juice, etc, which also aren't appropriate. So, I offered her a pretty standard breakfast: a pumpkin pancake, pear, cantaloupe and some pureed prunes (we're having a little potty issue...). Well, she ate piece after piece of cantaloupe. Even though it tends to be something she likes, she rarely wants more than a piece or two. She went through four pieces today, sucking out all of the juice, and then moving on to several pieces of pear, which she juiced too. Well, wouldn't you know it but cantaloupe has tons of vitamins, especially vitamin C. Apparently, pears have a good amount of vitamin C too, along with being very good for the digestive system.

Granted, I didn't offer Chicken 33 foods. (People who've eaten at our house probably wouldn't be surprised if I had, but still, I didn't...) But, she did decide to have more of the juicy vitamin C-rich foods than usual. It would be so cool if it was because her body was craving them to fend off her sniffles! Even if that's not the case, she ate a much healthier breakfast than I usually do!

P.S. I don't have a photo from this morning, but I think a post is pretty boring without one. So here's a photo of Chicken devouring pureed prunes the other day. Her highchair cover was in the wash and she makes quite a mess when given a spoon, so she was all set up on the floor...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What about cereal??

First of all, babies don't need cereal. It isn't much different than the cereal that you or I would eat, which is essentially carbs with some added vitamins & minerals. Cereal is bland so it's a good way to ease into foods if that's what you choose to do. I tried cereal with Chicken before committing to BLW and she didn't seem to like it or dislike it.
Just because we didn't start with cereal (really), doesn't mean Chicken doesn't eat it. I eat oatmeal most mornings and sometimes Chicken does too. I eat the instant maple & brown sugar kind. For now, Chicken eats the instant, flaky kind made for babies. I tend to give her cereal only when I have some pumped breast milk in the fridge. I can't bear to defrost "stashed" milk for the sake of cereal. Once we run out of her cereal, I'll probably start making real oatmeal for us both.
You may be wondering how Chicken manages to eat oatmeal if I'm not spoon-feeding her. Well, there are two ways. Sometimes I "load" the spoon and hand it to her. It helps to have more than one spoon handy because she either holds onto one to play with or sometimes tosses one overboard.
Yes, it gets messy! But, babies generally get messy even when they're being fed. Anyway, the other way is for Chicken to just dig in with her hands. Interestingly, she wanted no part of playing with the cereal or eating it off her hands at first. It's only recently that she'll put a little hand in the bowl and then suck the cereal off of her hand. She still doesn't seem to enthusiastic about cereal, but it's got a cool texture and makes for some fun!

She recently tried yogurt using the same technique. She seems to enjoy yogurt more than cereal, but yogurt is harder to keep handy since it's perishable and leaves a stickier, stinkier mess behind!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pictures don't lie...Videos really don't lie!

I took this video the morning of Chicken's recent check-up with her pediatrician in case the doctor had an issue with BLW or didn't believe that Chicken was really eating. Of course, the doctor didn't ask me for video evidence! I figured I'd share it here in case anyone wants to see how Chicken manages - in live action! This morning she had waffles and cantaloupe. Even though I watch her eat every day, I think it's really cool to see how she handles the melon, which is really slippery. You'll see that she looks a bit like Cookie Monster with more food flying than going in her mouth.
This is because at her age her gag reflex is still by the middle of her tongue, rather than the back of her throat. If she bites/gums off a piece of food that is too big for her to swallow or manage in her mouth, she spits it back down. Regardless of how much she actually "eats", you can see that she is developing a lot of skills and knowledge!

Sorting things out...

I've been debating what would be the best way to go about this blog. Something new happens every day - sometimes at every meal. So, I can't really dedicate a post to every new food that Chicken tries or every funny photo of her with different foods. Since I tend to be rather unorganized, I think that this will end up being fairly "stream of consciousness" rather than organized in any particular way. I apologize to those of you who would be more comfortable with organization, but hope everyone keeps checking in on Chicken.

Monday, November 1, 2010

All aboard the BLW train!

I am so relieved that Chicken's grandparents (& grand-aunt!) and pediatrician are on board with BLW. I was most nervous about her doctor because she tends to be a bit cynical. At Chicken's 6 month check-up, her doctor seemed totally agreeable to this manner of introducing food. It's hard to argue that it's working when Chicken is stripped down to a diaper showing off her belly and thighs!
It's also been great to see Chicken's grandparents embrace what we're doing. She had a lovely brunch with my side of the family a few weekends ago, munching on waffle and fruit. She had dinner with her paternal grandparents recently and they enjoyed watching her chow down on pizza crust and vegetables. When my aunt visited for a few days, she ate every meal with Chicken and actually ate chicken with Chicken!
Ok, so she has the wrong end in her mouth in this photo, but that's part of the experience!

Although everyone is a bit wary about the choking issue (myself included, to be honest) I think that concern is minimized by watching Chicken handle her food skillfully. It's also just so enjoyable to have her at the table, sharing in family meals.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Table for 3

BLWing at home is one thing. We have dogs to clean up tossed food and a proper high chair with a nice, big tray on which Chicken can squish and smear her food. It's basically just playtime, but with food instead of toys at this point. We love watching her work to get food to her mouth and giving her the opportunity to watch and mimic us.

Eating out is a whole different story...In some ways it's very easy. We don't have to pack jars of food or worry about keeping things cold etc. In theory, Chicken can just eat whatever we eat. In reality, I'm not ready for her to eat everything I eat, nor do I think everything I eat is healthy for an infant. So, we bring a few things like breadsticks, cucumber spears, etc and then prepare ourselves for her to demand to share what we're eating. It's amazing how strong she has become physically and how vocal she
has become about what she wants. Just weeks ago she barely acknowledged food and was perfectly happy with toys at the table. Now, she sees us eating and wants what we've got.

Depending on the place, it's sometimes easier for one of us to hold her rather than do the whole highchair thing. Although she can sit in a highchair, she's still little and isn't always sitting up as well as we'd like her to be if she's going to be chowing down. Also, it's a little easier to contain her discarded food if it ends up on the table rather than flung about from the highchair.

We don't eat out very often, but we can. We went on a mini-vacation recently, where eating out was pretty much the only option. Chicken managed a lunch on the road, two dinners out and two breakfasts at the hotel. Here she is helping herself to some of her dad's lunch. :)

The banana learning curve...

So, we started a couple of weeks before Chicken turned 6 months old. I'd read a bit online but wasn't feeling totally confident. I'm pretty sure these are the photos of Chicken's first experiences eating, aside from the banana and watermelon that she snagged while boating with Grandpa and Grandma.
She started with some sweet potato (I think) and banana. Cucumber was also an early arrival on the eating scene. It turns out that both of these are favorites of teething babies...banana because the peel is a wonderful texture for gumming and cucumber because it's cool and refreshing (Think cucumber slices on your eyes at the spa...AAHHH...).
You may notice that the first banana introduced got no love. It turns out banana is very hard to pick up peel-less especially with tiny, drool-covered hands. Banana with peel is easy to pick up but not very filling if only the peel gets nibbled. We both learned a lot those first few days and now banana is served with its nature-given handle and enough peel removed so that it looks like an ice cream cone. Perfect! (For now...)

Why is Chicken pigging out?

I figure I'd better answer the important questions first. So, now you know who Chicken is, but why is she pigging out? Well, we (mostly me with support from Chicken's dad) have decided to skip traditional baby food AKA purees and introduce Chicken to food through a philosophy called Baby Led Weaning. Basically, while still getting all necessary nourishment from breast milk, Chicken is learning about food by eating it. She's not being fed spoonfuls of purees, but is eating "real" food on her own. She's making a mess, learning a lot, and certainly keeping us entertained.
I'm not really sure where I first heard about Baby Led Weaning (BLW), but the idea struck me as one that made a lot of sense and I've been reading up on it ever since. (Gill Rapley is considered an expert on BLW and I use her book as a guide.)We sort of fell into the actual eating part by accident when Chicken decided that she must try my watermelon and banana a couple of weeks shy of her 6 month "birthday". Since then she's tried a myriad of foods. Some she likes. Some she doesn't. Some she swallows. Some she doesn't. The dogs are certainly enjoying the process and although it triggers my anxious nature more than I think traditional baby feeding would, I really like it too.
This blog is intended to chronicle Chicken's exploration of food. I'm starting a little late, as I tend to do, but hopefully I'll find enough quiet moments to keep it relatively current. I'd love to hear feedback and questions!
P.S. No, I'm not giving my infant a fork and knife. The silverware in the background of this blog is kind of ironic I guess (or maybe not ironic because I always use that word wrong, but whatever). Chicken gets down and dirty with her hands.

Who is Chicken?

This is Chicken at 6 months old (just a couple of weeks ago). Her daddy doesn't call her Chicken, but I do and I'm the one writing the blog. I don't really know where the nickname came from, but it fits for now.
Chicken is our first child, not counting our stinky, but lovable dogs. She lights up our life immeasurably.