January Joy: Try some new recipes

One of the things I wanted to do for my New Years resolutions was to eat a wider variety of food. I don’t know about you guys but I feel we are in a rut of eating the same 5-10 dishes night after night, Spaghetti Bolognese, Fajitas, Stirfry, Pasta, Salmon… In winter theres the added problem of eating too much stodge so I wanted warming winter foods that wouldn’t make me look like a polar bear even if I felt like one. I’m not so sure about how I’m doing on that last point but I have found some great recipes I thought I’d share.


The Carb-free comfort dish: Cod, Cauliflower and Chorizo mornay
The healthy breakfast: Bircher Museli with Apple and Banana
The Vegetarian option: Roast Aubergine Parmigiana
The one your kids will eat: Cheesy ham and broccoli pasta

To inspire me with some new recipes I bought Good Food magazine and I really enjoyed it. All of the recipes above have been tried by us from this months magazine and I’m seriously considering a subscription – it’s £5 for 5 issues right now! Despite being carb free the cod mornay was amazingly satisfying and comforting, the bircher muesli is awesome for getting some fruit in right at the start of your day and the cheesy pasta was a massive hit with Bea – including the broccoli!

Have you tried anything new this month? – I’d thoroughly recommend all of these!

Love,
Rebecca x

Travelling with a baby: Stuff that helps

Before we went to Greece last week we bought some travel gear that we found really useful and I thought I’d share… along with some fun stuff. I wish I’d known about some of these earlier for use out and about at home to be honest, particularly the travel high chair, so don’t discount them if you’re not traveling anywhere!

1. Totseat Kids Travel Highchair £23.99
There was no high chair in our apartment and to be honest we were only offered them at restaurants 50% of the time or less… and I won’t go into the standards of cleanliness of the ones we received. Nothing bugs me more than Bea eating on my knee, squirming and wiping her hands, face and food on my clothes so this was a godsend. It fits on multiple different seat backs (we didn’t find one it don’t fit,) is very secure, rolls up really small and is washable. Genius idea and we will be using it regularly back home too. The only thing is that it doesn’t add much height, but we tended to sit her on a rolled up towel or something which gave enough height and I suspect if your baby was a bit taller then Bea (not difficult!) it would be better. (Koo-Di do a much cheaper one but it’s not adjustable for all the different chair backs so I imagine wouldn’t always work.)

2. Koo-di Pop-Up Travel Bubble Cot Around £40
You guessed it, no cot either… Maybe some other mums can explain to me how you travel with one of the usual travel cots – they seem so big and heavy for suitcases? We bought this months back for going to friends houses but it’s also great for holidays as it’s light, fits into a case when packed down and functions as a mosquito net too.

3. Koo-di Pop-Up Travel Bubble Cot £9.99
For a bit of fun we bought this for Bea for the pool. It was great – after the initial terrified meltdown when we first put her in it! It was brilliant because of the sunshade, so even if it was midday, we could put her in there to cool off and she was covered from the heat of the sun 🙂

4. Summer Infant Tiny Diner – Green £9.99
Another brilliant find for baby lead weaners or any tot eating out, this was perfect for knowing that she was eating off a clean surface. Some of the places we ate were a bit grubby on the table tops or high chairs and while I’m not normally a clean freak, the last thing we needed in the heat was a dehydrating tummy bug! We sat this under her bottom on a seat (it’s quite big) or on the table and it worked really well – another one we will be using at home too.

5. Frostfire Popup Beach Shelter with UV protection (50+ UPF)
We were worried about keeping Bea shaded so bought this for the beach, knowing that the village we were visiting wasn’t the type where you pay for a lounger and parasol on the beach. 😉 In fact, it was too hot even for this as it got hotter in the tent and we ended up buying a cheap parasol, but if it wasn’t as warm this would have been great – it provided good shade, a wind break and decent space for playing away from the handfuls of sand and pebbles that Bea was intent on shoving in her mouth!

Have you got any amazing finds for travelling with a baby? we’ve only got one year left before we have to start paying for her seat so I intend to do a lot more travelling with her over the next 12 months! 😉

Love,
Rebecca
xo

What I have learned about : BLW [Part 2]

If you want to read more about our experiences with weaning, Part 1 is here. 🙂

We didn’t need much for BLW but I did buy a few things:

Lassig bib: Becky recommended these as Bea is small (Ikea do some but they would have been massive on her!) and they are thin so no bulky fabric to restrict her moving her arms to pick food up. They are still too big, particularly round the neck so we layer them with a feeding bib underneath and hope not too much goes down her neckline!
Edit: I should say, we have 3 of these and the other great thing about them is that I throw them in the sink after using, give them a swish about to remove the food and wring out. They’re dry in 5 mins flat! Then I start a clean one every few meals.

MAM Dipper Set (Green). Weaning spoons are flatter as babies can’t shape their mouths yet to take food off a spoon, but when I looked for some they’re all really long – I assume to reach further when you’re feeding them, but that seemed really counterintuitive if I wanted her to feed herself – imagine trying to fed yourself with cutlery longer than your forearm?! These were chubby for little hands and importantly, the right size.

Plastic bowls – we put Bea’s food straight on her tray but if I made weetabix or porridge I like having a small bowl for her food, so we’re not using all of ours u

Lock & Lock Food Storage Set
– for leak proof food storage and taking out with us.

Snacks: Organix corn snacks, Rice cakes and Heinz baby Biscotti! I didn’t even think about shop bought baby food as a result of doing baby led weaning, but discovered these through friends. They’re great for a snack if you’re out or to keep Bea busy while food is cooling or being made. The only downside is that they look like Wotsits or Monster Munch which is a bit embarrassing! 😉

Mamas & Papas Baby Snug . We’re still using this, sat on the kitchen island as it’s virtually impossible to find a high chair that is the right height for a kitchen worktop (let me know if you have!) We bought the ikea high chair too as a handy spare for friends visiting, but haven’t used it.

We also have a Doidy Cup that Bea isn’t getting on with that well and a Tommee Tippee First Cup.

So, what have we learned…

Timing is everything
It took me a little while to realise that feeding Bea solids was a matter of timing, too soon after a milk feed and she wasn’t interested, too long and she was starving, for milk. The same applies to naps, if she’s tired she just throws the food around, so I try to give her her milk, then wait about 30-60 minutes before trying food, which give me a big enough window before her next nap.

Meal times take ages. We can easily sit watching Bea eat for 45 minutes at most meal times. That plus the cleaning up means it’s a big commitment. But it’s usually hilarious too. 🙂

Just because she doesn’t eat something on one occasion, doesn’t mean she won’t wolf it down on another. This has happened with weetabix, porridge, yogurt and a spinach and ricotta base that I made into fritters once and she rejected twice on the trot. Later she devoured some lasagna made with the same filling and she has since eaten the fritters too.

Texture is key. Bea loves carrots and I guess I could let her suck on steamed ones but as I need her to be eating reasonably before my return to work I over do them a little so she can eat them. The same goes for making sure fruit is very ripe, pasta better done than al-dente, etc etc. For this reason we’ve not had much success with rice yet, even risotto.

As for downsides, well, we’ve had our first choking incident which was very brief fortunately and dealt with by a couple of swift blows to her back, but scary in hindsight. It did make me question my commitment to the BLW cause, but it was actually a piece of softish melon she had bitten off herself that was the offending food, so if it can happen with that, I’m not sure what lengths we’d have to go to to protect her completely.

It’s also not as easy as the hype would have you believe… Bea can’t eat everything we eat as a lot of our food has hidden salt – I’m not confessing to a highly processed diet here, but you do have to read labels like a demon as things like bread, cream cheese, pesto, tinned tomatoes etc all often have higher salt than you should be giving to a baby. I make things easy by making more than we need of things like pasta and then varying the sauce – a bit of tomato one day, melted cream cheese another, and pesto on another day, for example. For things like the fritters or spinach and ricotta lasagna, I freeze portions. And because we often eat our evening meal later than Bea, I often give her leftovers from what we had for dinner, for lunch or dinner the next day. I do make her special food sometimes, just as you would with purees, but mainly because it’s natural to want the best for her and I enjoy making new things for her to try, or for example in the case of the spinach fritters, I was keen to get some iron rich foods into her.

Lastly, it’s such an all-comsuming process. Before weaning we were in a good routine, still breast feeding on demand and didn’t have to worry about schedules or fitting in meals or taking food with us anywhere. At first it felt quite restricting, preparing meals, thinking about feeding her, being prepared to do so with bibs and the like, and the time it took up. But I don’t know how differently I’d feel if it was purees, at the end of the day she has to eat and we’ve just adjusted, as you do!

The whole process has been really fun though. I love seeing her try new foods and flavours and it’s fantastic seeing how much she enjoys her food. It has also been amazing, and I can’t emphasis this enough,) seeing how much it has improved her motor skills. She now (at 7 months) passes food from hand to hand, repositions it in her hand to get a better grip and is learning how hard to grip things so they don’t get squashed in her palm or squeezed out if they’re slippery. She will use two hands to keep something in her mouth and is starting to develop her pincer grip. Her oral dexterity is better too, she can now chew things and pass food around her mouth more, sucking flesh off fruit and then dispatching the skin from her mouth with lightening efficiency! So, it was a great choice for us.

I hope you found this useful if you’re around the weaning stage like us or coming up to it. As before, just shout if you have any questions and please do share your experiences and tips in the comments too!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Resources:

What I have learned about: BLW [Part 1]

As the title suggests, we decided to go for baby led weaning (BLW) with Bea. I had so much to share about this particular topic that I’ve split it into 2 posts. Today is mainly our experience, and on Thursday I’ll be back with Part 2, sharing our essentials for BLW and tips. (And we have Erin’s fashion fix tomorrow if you’re not interested in weaning!)

My main concern with BLW was the emphasis that ‘food is fun before they’re one’ and reliance on continued milk feeds, while they (very) slowly increase their solid intake. At the time of weaning, I was going back to work in less than 2 months and was still feeding 5-6 or more times per day plus a dream feed. I decided I’d give it a month and if she still wasn’t taking much in, reconsider our options then.

Why did I go for BLW in the end? It just made sense to me. I read the book, and developmentally, it all made sense; why feed a baby purees when they can feed themselves? I felt I was relaxed enough to accept if she didn’t eat much because I was used to trusting her intake whilst breast feeding and I knew she was able to feed herself as EVERYTHING was already going straight into her mouth. She wasn’t quite sitting up when we started – as in, sitting unsupported in the middle of the floor, but was perfectly upright in her baby snug. It also appealed to my style of parenting. Within sensible limits of her having some structure, I prefer her fitting in with us. We eat out a lot (still) and it appealed to the lazy part of me, that I could just fed her the kinds of things we eat, ad hoc.

We started weaning 5 days before she was 6 months old. I had been determined to wait until 6 months exactly, despite the grandparents regular chimes of ‘she’s so ready for food!’ but when I did a bit of reading prior to starting, there is conflicting evidence about the benefits of postponing solids until 6 months (increased gut maturity, reduced risk of allergies…) against possible risks (one recent study found a 4 fold increased risk of diabetes if children were weaned before 4 months or after 6 months.) In the end it was simply convenient to start at the weekend so Pete could participate too.

In the very beginning my focus was on exposing her to as many tastes as possible. I didn’t restrict her to popular first tastes to babies (like sweet vegetables) and simply chose things that were convenient for her to eat – things that were naturally or could be made, stick shaped. One of the key ideas behind BLW is that babies feed themselves, which I found very limiting (babies of 6 months usually can only grasp stick shaped things and it takes weeks and months for them to develop the motor skills to pick things up with their fingers or grasp handfuls and release them into their mouth,) so we quickly introduced a weaning spoon which we preloaded and held out for her to take and put into her mouth herself. She was successful right from the beginning (as I knew she would be because of her tendency to put anything and everything straight into her mouth,) and that made things like weetabix, porridge and yogurt easy enough and moderately less messy.

Ah yes, the mess. I was warned BLW would be messy, so I was prepared for it and to be honest, I don’t think it has been that bad. We bought sleeved bibs (see below) and a piece of oilcloth tablecloth to cover our marble worktops. Apart from on herself, the majority of the mess is from dropping her spoon at the side of her seat or onto the floor and whatever is on it splashing off. I tend to eat with her (at least sitting with her,) so regularly spoon catch and keep a cloth handy to wipe up these spills as we go (because dried on weetabix is like cement, be warned!)

If you don’t have a baby or want to hear about nappies, you might want to skip this paragraph. 😉 Because I wanted to give Bea every opportunity to progress with weaning, we very quickly worked up to 3 meals a day, even if they were small. It took about a week before we started to see bits of food in Bea’s nappy (undigested) then after 2 weeks her nappies changed completely, confirming that she was taking a decent amount of food in. We are a month on now and she has dropped down to 4 milk feeds; One on waking, one around lunch after her morning nap, one after her afternoon nap, and one before bed.

So readers, I’d love to hear if you have anything to add here or if you have any questions for me. I’ll do my best to answer them. In the mean time, can anyone suggest a worktop height high chair that isn’t ridiculously expensive?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Resources:

Would you: Do Baby Led Weaning?

It’s a big month for us this month. Aside from #JanuaryJoy (yes, it’s still going on and there will be more posts this week!) Beatrice turns 6 months soon and we’re thinking about weaning. It seemed the perfect time to get these discussion and sharing posts going again and hear your thoughts on weaning. Please do share your thoughts and experiences – both myself and the readers find these posts so helpful I know, so thanks in advance!


Image from Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food

So, weaning. I think I’ve said before that I live in quite a hippyish area of Manchester and I could be forgiven for thinking that everyone does baby led weaning. Before having Bea it seemed like BLW was just the thing to do but I wasn’t sure if I was fully on board with it – it looked messy and I wondered if it was just the latest middle class fad. Since having Bea my thoughts were that I couldn’t do BLW; I’m going back to work when she is 8 months old and as she has thus far been exclusively breast fed (and I have no plans to add in formula once she’s over 6 months,) I’m aware some of her milk feeds will drop, even if I express and that she will need to be getting some nutrition elsewhere.

So I bought the baby led weaning book, fully expecting to disregard it but I am strangely drawn to the idea now. For those not familiar, the book suggests allowing your baby to start eating soft but normal foods (like steamed broccoli for example,) anytime after 6 months that they show an interest. No purees, no spoon feeding, just let them feed themselves. The catch is that the first couple of months or more are very much about learning and playing with food. Babies don’t know how to chew food or pass it back to their throat to swallow initially, but then slowly learn and improve. Milk feeds remain the vast if not entire basis of their nutrition which on reflection actually makes more sense as breast or formula milk is way more nutritious than a bowl of pureed carrot or apple will ever be.

And now I don’t know what to do. I think I want to do BLW. It seems right for Bea and for us. Everything we have done so far has been based around listening to her – her sleep routines and so on but is that because they suited us? Some passages in the book liken giving purees to force feeding and make it sound awful, when like many other baby methods in various books on sleep or behaviour, millions of children have been brought up like that without damaging lasting effects. I don’t really buy into the theory that BLW makes kids less fussy and choose healthier options in later life – surely fussiness is natural toddler behaviour thats inevitable as they get to exercise some choice combined with a bit of boundary pushing, and once a child is exposed to sugars etc, won’t they need some parental moderation of those things naturally? I do however like the idea of her self moderating her intake, just as she has whilst BF. On the other hand with pureeing Bea would eat what I gave her, I wouldn’t have to worry about the salt or sugar contents as I’d be making it and she would no doubt progress easily to being less milk reliant as I go back to work. I still plan to keep feeding her as long as expressing, feeding when I’m home (which is going to be 4 days out of 7 after all,) and my milk supply allows. I wonder if my leaning towards BLW is partly emotional attachment to BF – I do feel guilty that my return to work may impact on her feeding even though I know I should hold onto it as long as possible given the benefits to both of us. Many people tell me that their BF baby just has water or initially some expressed bottles when they are apart, then BF as usual when they are together, but is that me being selfish and hanging onto it, when she might actually really miss it or be hungry in my absence?

So, there’s lots of food for thought there and I’d love to hear your experiences, particularly around your return to work. In case it’s relevant, she won’t be at nursery initially but with my mum at our house or with Pete, so whatever we choose will be easy to continue in my absence.

Wade in readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo