Sunday, January 30, 2011

Battle Broccoli

As I've written, Chicken is not exactly a fan of vegetables. She's been eating more recently, particularly at lunch, and I've promised Chicken's dad that I won't stress about it. (If you know me "IRL", as they say, you're laughing right about now.) Rather than stressing, I've decided to offer Chicken many options and just hope she doesn't throw it all on the floor.
I made stir fry tonight, which is a great opportunity to enjoy vegetables. In many cases, stir fry is very BLW friendly, but I happen to like my vegetables bite-sized and that's not ideal for Chicken. She does best with big pieces, which she can hold onto and munch on , or tiny bits. So, I just cut some larger pieces of broccoli, carrots and yellow bell pepper for her and cooked them a bit longer than the smaller pieces for Chicken's dad and me. She dug in to the brown rice and chicken without hesitation, but ignored the vegetables on her tray. It occurred to me, while we ate, that Chicken hasn't been "regular" over the past few days. We're out of prunes, so I dug out a package of organic pureed peas, pears and spinach that I bought to try. Peas and pears are both recommended to remedy such situations.
Chicken LOVED this puree and it was so easy to serve because it squirts out like toothpaste. Anyway, she ate spoonful after spoonful. Then she signed "finished" so we cleaned her up. She got very fussy and vocalized some complaints (we're guessing) so we signed "more" and gave her back her tray. She picked up her broccoli and started checking it out. It looked like she wasn't really sure what to do with it. I leaned over and took a little bite of it. Then she took a bite and offered it back to me. (She's really into sharing lately.) We went bite for bite for a few minutes. I offered her some more broccoli and she went to work eating it, picking it apart, and offering some to her dad.
In my ideal world, I wouldn't interfere with Chicken's food experiences. I don't want to start manipulating her when it comes to food, which I feel parents do when they play the whole "Here comes the airplane!" game. However, my experience as a teacher tells me that sometimes you need to connect new experiences/skills to existing experiences and skills in order for someone to be comfortable taking risks. So, if Chicken likes sharing and ends up discovering that broccoli isn't so bad by sharing with me, then I'm ok with that.

P.S. Chicken's dad gets credit for the photos!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Let's do lunch.

Actually, let's do vegetables at lunch. I started thinking that maybe Chicken's veggie tossing at dinner has more to do with dinner than veggies. Her dad is home, the dogs are hovering and she's tired. Any of those things could mess with her mood to eat.
It's snowing here AGAIN and Chicken decided to hibernate this morning. She took a seriously long nap so I took the opportunity to make some soup. Chicken and I have enjoyed this canned organic soup but it's pricey so I tried to make something similar. I use vegetable stock, green lentils, sweet potatoes, carrots and butternut squash. Chicken and I had soup (hers sans broth), cucumber, and leftover roasted zucchini for lunch. She played with it all, but hardly tossed anything. She wanted more cucumber and zucchini and ate as much of the soup as she could get to her mouth. (Since I couldn't offer big pieces of vegetables in the soup, I cut everything really small and lentils are tiny, so it wasn't super easy to manage.)
Since things were going so well, I grabbed a little stalk of raw
broccoli from the fridge and Chicken tasted it, which really surprised me. She gnawed at the stem end and took three bites of the little leaves. She didn't love it, but at least it got a chance before being tossed!
This presents me with a challenge. Usually lunch is the meal that I just toss together and it's the one that we miss sometimes if we're out and about. However, it seems like it's my best chance to get some veggies into this Chicken. I guess I'll have to dedicate some more time to prepping vegetables so that they're easy to grab from the fridge in a pinch.

Monday, January 24, 2011

You take the good. You take the bad.

It's been a while since my last post. I was sick and we were consumed with playoff football. :) A few things are going on here in our little BLW world.

The good:
  • Chicken is getting so good at picking up little pieces! I served her avocado today and it was a little over ripe so I put it on a spoon and she kept picking the pieces off to eat them with her fingers (pictured above).
  • She rarely tosses her spoon on the floor anymore.
  • We went out to breakfast last week and Chicken was such a lovely dining companion. She gobbled up everything we offered her: fruit, eggs, avocado, toast...She was happy as a clam.
  • We've been working on two signs with Chicken. She's doing a great job mimicking the sign for "finished", although we're not sure that she really means "finished" when she does it...
  • She LOVED her breakfast this morning. She ate twice as much oatmeal as she has in the past. I made instant organic oats and mixed in some pear butter and cinnamon. Yum!
  • Chicken devoured chicken at dinner tonight. I was brave enough to give her a big piece and let her deal with it. She bit off some pieces that were making me nervous, but she worked on them in her mouth or spit them out and tore them into smaller bits.
The bad:
  • Chicken is in a phase (I hope it's a phase!!!!) of throwing lots of food on the floor.
  • She is on a vegetable strike, unless they're pureed that is. She has somehow figured out what foods are vegetables without tasting them. She picks through whatever is on her tray and tosses the veggies. Grrr!!
  • The signing of "finished" and "more" is frustrating for me because I'm not really sure if she's signing or just playing with her hands. If I miss the "finished" sign, I think it leads to more food on the floor.
And, just because I feel like I haven't posted in a while -
Here's what Chicken ate today:
Breakfast: oatmeal w/ pear butter and cinnamon, melon, blueberries
Lunch: rice cake, avocado, mango (LOTS of avocado and mango!)
Dinner: chicken, orzo with pesto, and maybe a bite of carrot that she ate accidentally...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Where's the beef?

It's right there - in Chicken's hands!

When people find out that Chicken eats "real" food, they always ask, "But, not meat, right?" Wrong. One of Chicken's first foods was chicken. She has tried beef, turkey, chicken and pork in various forms and preparations. When we first started out with BLW, I offered Chicken strips of whatever meat we were having for dinner and she'd gum away at them and suck out any juices. She's also had lots of ground meats and also some all natural sausages. Recently, I've been shredding up chicken rather than giving her big pieces and she's done great with it. We don't eat much beef, so she's definitely had more poultry than anything else.

I made steak the other night, though, and I was faced with a dilemma. Steak isn't really shred-able (at least not the cheap and rather unskillfully cooked pieces that I was serving) and I was nervous about Chicken's new practice of using her teeth to tear off pieces of food. I've become pretty confident that she can manage her food, but a piece of tough steak in her mouth made me nervous.

At first, I gave her a strip of meat that happened to be the outside edge of my steak. She tasted it and tossed it. She explored the other stuff on her tray and discovered baked potato, for which she went nuts. Who wouldn't?? She searched her tray for the teensiest smidgens of potato and gobbled them up. Then I gave her another piece of meat that was from the middle of my steak and had less marinade on it. She tasted it and seemed to like it much better. The meat was tough enough that she couldn't tear a bite off, though she did try. She gummed away at it, sucking at the marinade and the iron-rich meat juices. She didn't really use her teeth at all, but stuck it right where a new tooth is coming in. I think it must have felt great on her irritated gums.

I've been wanting a burger, so we took Chicken to the diner last night and I got my greasy fix. I order some steamed vegetables for Chicken, but she wasn't interested. I gave her a few bits of the greasy beefy goodness that I'd ordered and she gobbled them up. She played with the vegetables and ate some, but probably would've eaten the whole burger, bun and all, if I'd let her!

As I said, we rarely eat beef so I'm not worried about her having some tiny morsels of burger occasionally. Luckily, she really does like healthy foods. We had wild-caught flounder the other night and she really enjoyed it. Flounder is great because it's flaky and soft*. It's also low in mercury, which is important.

*Be sure to check fish for tiny pin bones before offering any pieces to your little one!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A "berry" exciting development!

First, let's clear the air. Yes, I did just do that...the whole very/berry thing. Let's move on.

We went to a party on Sunday and there were tons of yummy brunch foods to choose from. I offered Chicken some bagel, figuring she'd want to eat if everyone else was eating and I didn't want her to make a mess. She enjoyed the bagel but kept reaching for my quiche. We didn't have a highchair with a handy plastic tray so I offered her some pieces of quiche on my napkin and she tasted them. Some ended up on me and the floor, but she ate a bit and the dog helped clean up. I helped myself to some fruit salad. I hadn't planned on sharing with Chicken because the melon was cut into chunks -too big for her to safely manage in her mouth, but too small to hold on to and take bites- and then there were blueberries which she'd shown no interest in before. Well, of course, Chicken stuck her little hand right in my bowl and helped herself. She started with some honeydew and then some watermelon. We found a spot to sit and eat so that she food focus on managing those slippery bits in her mouth and I could focus on her, in case the too-big-but-too-small pieces caused a problem. She gummed away and ate piece after piece. Then she had some blueberries one by one. I think it helped that the fruit had been mingling for a while so everything had a chance to soften up and get juicy.

I figured she must've liked the blueberries this time because they were softened up and flavored by the melons. Why else would she like them all of a sudden? I bought some organic blueberries to offer her at home to see if she'd eat them plain. She went nuts for them this morning! Watching her eat them, it occurred to me that she was doing so well picking them up and getting them into her mouth. I've read again and again that, contrary to popular belief and practice, small pieces of food are less safe for babies than large pieces that they can hold onto securely. The development of the pincer grasp, seen here in a photo I found online, is a sign that a baby can safely manage smaller foods in his/her mouth (not including nuts and other foods that they need a full set of teeth to chew).
Well, Chicken isn't quite there yet, but she's super close!
Yay for her getting those little blueberries into her mouth so skillfully! I'm excited to have another fruit option to offer her for breakfast.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Will BLW work for you?

I've rewritten this post a few times...not an efficient use of nap time! It's tricky, though, because I want to share my feelings about introducing babies to food without insulting anyone or making it seem like I'm some sort of expert. So, let's start with this:

There's no right or wrong way to feed your baby as long as he/she is nourished, safe, and happy. I'm doing what works for me and am sharing that with you. My only experience is the past three months or so with Chicken, so I'm no expert. I'm certainly not a doctor, no matter how many episodes of House I've seen!

With that said, I know that some people who visit this blog are interested in BLW, but aren't sure if it's a good fit for their family. Here are some questions (and some accompanying information) I'd ask anyone fitting that description:

1. How old is your baby?
BLW should not begin before six months. There is no need to feed a baby under six months anything other than formula/breast milk and he/she will not be able to safely manage food before this age. Babies older than a year need nutrition from food, so a few nibbles and tastes of food (as is common when starting BLW) might not be enough. That doesn't mean older babies can't eat this way. It's a great way to learn about food, but you need to know that the actual eating doesn't start right away.

2. Who do you think should be in control of how much your baby eats?
If you think it's you, then "pure" BLW isn't for you. There's a lot of trust and faith required when BLWing...You need to know that your baby (6months -12 months) is learning about food and may not eat as much as you think he/she should.

3. Are you (and your child's other caregivers) comfortable with the gagging and mess that come with BLW?
Babies gag. Babies who eat solid food gag quite a bit. Whoever is feeding your baby needs to be ok with that. If the daycare provider, grandma, nanny etc is going to freak out every time Baby gags, it won't work.
Babies who feed themselves make messes. (Have you seen the photos of Chicken???) That's how they learn about food. If you're not ok with that, then this might not be for you.

4. What's your motivation for trying something other than the "traditional" (maybe common is a better word...) way of introducing your child to food?
BLW is about Baby learning about food. It's not about filling him up so he sleeps through the night. It's about him experiencing the textures, tastes, shapes, colors, sensations of food and the socializing that occurs when he eats WITH his family.

If your baby is six months or older and you want him/her to learn about food by self-feeding, then you can do a form of BLW for sure. There's a spectrum with BLW. Parents who spoon-feed purees and control what/how much Baby eats are at one end. Parents who offer "real" food that Baby eats independently are at the other end. As I've said before, I offer Chicken purees on a loaded spoon, which other BLW moms might not.

I'm going to start adding some tips for modifying BLW for moms who may want to try it, but aren't totally on board yet or aren't sure their child's other caregivers will be ok with it.

Here's my first tip: Let your baby (6 months or older!) feed him/herself cereal. If you're baby is able to eat oatmeal then skip the flaky kind and buy some real oats. (We use organic instant oatmeal.) Make it thick, with just enough water, formula or breast milk to cook the oats. Then put some globs on your baby's tray and let him/her eat it by the fistful. You can add in mashed up pear (or some spoonfuls of pureed fruit) and a dash or two of cinnamon. If you're nervous about it being too thick (it probably won't be), you can thin it out some more, but it needs to be thick enough to pick up. Be prepared for some oatmeal in the hair and even for your baby to just sit there at first unsure what to do. Oh, and be sure to join him/her by having your breakfast too!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Coming to terms...

Ok, here's the deal. I want Chicken to be the kid who eats her vegetables when no one else does. I was that kid. My mom would pack me bizarre lunches, including the cold leftover vegetables from the night before - asparagus, broccoli, whatever. I don't know what I was like as a baby when it came to food, but I turned out to be an adventurous eater and I enjoy (even if I don't always choose) healthy foods. I want that for Chicken.
The problem is, she doesn't like green vegetables. She tosses big pieces of broccoli to the side, spits the little ones out, waves asparagus at me like, "Uh...what is this thing?"
I think the big problem is that we're in a weird in-between time with regards to handling food and actually eating it. Chicken hasn't yet developed a pincer grasp (using thumb and forefinger to pick up tiny objects one by one) so peas are frustrating, as are tiny pieces of anything that I cut up. Big pieces of vegetables or whole pieces, like green beans) are hard to bite with her four (ok, 3 1/2) teeth. Or maybe she just doesn't like the taste of them...She eats beets and mushrooms for crying out loud. Why not a bean?? To her credit, she grabs the spoon from my hand to shovel pureed carrots, beans, peas, etc into her mouth but that's no fun!
Obviously this situation causes me agita. It shouldn't. We have years and years ahead of us to taste vegetables in their many shapes, sizes, textures and flavors. So, for now, I'll keep offering her big pieces, little pieces, raw pieces, cooked pieces (one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish). I'll offer her pureed vegetables too so that I don't lay awake at night worrying that she'll going to grow up to only eat Twinkies and pork rinds.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

On Today's Menu...

I have a few minutes and I want to add another quick post for today. So much has been happening in our little BLW world lately and I'm afraid I'm going to forget things...

I visit a BLW forum online and posted there asking other moms to share a sample menu of what their children eat in one day. I'm curious to know what other moms (and dads) are doing, especially since I don't know anyone else who is introducing food to their children this way. I got a wide range of responses, particularly because the posters had children of varying ages. Also, some moms are hardcore when it comes to health, others are dealing with allergies, and some are doing a modified version of BLW. I figured if I was going to ask other people to share their menus, I should share as well.

Here's what I offered Chicken today. She tried it all, but definitely ate more of some things than of others.
  • Breakfast: plain whole milk organic yogurt with some apricot applesauce mixed in, cantaloupe, pear
  • Lunch: polenta (soft with a splash of milk), shredded chicken, cucumber, tiny bits of clementine.*
  • Dinner: vegetable curry (eggplant, sweet potato, red bell pepper, carrot), brown rice, yogurt (to cut the spiciness of the curry). I mixed the yogurt and rice so she could eat it with her hands and she loved itI also offered her larger, plain versions of the veggies from the curry. She tried everything and seemed less affected by the spice than I was.
  • Here she is eating lunch. :)
*Many people warn against introducing citrus fruits to babies because of the acidity. Citrus can cause diaper rash, tummy upset, etc. I've often Chicken little tastes of orange, pineapple and now clementine. She loves it all. I always offer it with other foods and never more than a few bits for now. This goes for tomatoes too.

Soup's On!

When I was growing up, my mom would make homemade chicken noodle soup pretty frequently. Every time she made it I would complain and ask for soup from a can. I had to laugh when I went to share some of a can of soup with Chicken the other day and realized how unhealthy canned soup is. My mom was right all along! There is a ton of sodium, additives and preservatives. Plus, the cans are a well known source of BPA, which I try to avoid when possible. Luckily I've spent the past 10 years trying to make soup like my mom used to make.

So, this weekend, even though it was 20 degrees warmer than it has been, I decided to make some chicken noodle soup and I was eager to share it with Chicken. I simply used a slotted spoon, rather than a ladle, when serving up Chicken's soup so that she got the bits of chicken, vegetables and noodles without the broth. I also let her try some of the broth on a loaded spoon, but, as you can imagine, not much made it to her mouth. Of course, Chicken favored the noodles, but she also seemed to enjoy the chicken, celery, carrots and zucchini (not a regular component of my soup, but we had some). When she and I had soup for lunch the next day, I picked out the chicken and veggies so that she wouldn't eat a ton of noodles again.
This was Chicken's second experience with soup, since we had creamy butternut squash soup on Thanksgiving. I've been looking for more recipes to try that are low in sodium and full of good stuff.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wow. 2011! It's hard to believe...Chicken was in my belly in 2009, born in 2010 and here we are in 2011. We rung the new year in with some friends and family. Chicken indulged a bit, enjoying some pizza crust and a crostini spread with some yummy herb cheese. She also ate some pureed green beans, so that I wouldn't feel too guilty...

The new calendar year has never struck me as a time of new beginnings, probably because I taught for eight years and the new school year was much more significant. But, now that I'm home with Chicken, I'll join the bandwagon of folks with big plans for the new year. Aside from my personal goals for the year, I have some that relate to Chicken's food journey directly.

1 - Figure out how to buy more organic without going broke.
Is this one even possible?? I often find myself getting dizzy trying to compare prices and decide how to spend less but still buy what healthiest for Chicken. Anyone with a baby knows that shopping trips should NOT include wasted time debating what to buy!

2- Try some recipes from other cuisines and cultures.
I really want Chicken to be exposed to spices and flavors that are interesting and different. I'm not sure that her dad will love this plan, but I'm going to try anyway. My mom never "dumbed down" meals to appeal to me, just because I was a child. We ate tons of vegetables and often worked our way through whatever new cookbook she'd purchased...I even recall about of month of recipes involving bulgar wheat!

3- Relax and be flexible.
Ok, this should be my goal all the time, regarding everything. But, it's especially important regarding BLW. Sometimes I find myself panicking (not a far reach for me, if you know me...) about what to make for dinner or what Chicken and I should have for lunch. Of course, I want to offer her healthy options and make something that her dad will enjoy. Luckily, she's a baby and will play with (and perhaps ingest!) pretty much anything I put in front of her without judging me...So, a lunch of a slice of cheese, some pear, and hummus on a rice cake is perfectly fine for her even if she had the same thing the day before.
I tend to get myself worked up about whether something I gave her is the cause for whatever is or is not in her diaper. I need to remember that as long as she's not in discomfort and is not dehydrated, she'll more than likely work it out for herself!

4- Keep my eye on the prize.
The prize, in this case, is a healthy, happy baby. Sometimes I beat myself up because she doesn't "eat" anything at dinner, but rather plays with it all, or because she spits out broccoli every time she tastes it. BLWing does not ensure that Chicken is going to LOVE vegetables and eat like a grown up. I need to remember that!

I have a lot on my mind, as usual, that I want to post about when I have some time...Check back for some confessions, tips for busy moms who want to try BLW and my thoughts on soup. Woohoo! :)