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!