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.