Parenting 2.0

Posts Tagged ‘baby food

As the days, and weeks and months of motherhood whip by, my confidence in parenting continues to gain momentum: from being a complete rookie, to successfully (kudos to me and Borys) raising an (almost) 10 month old. One, among many, major factors in parenting is feeding. First it’s: Will I breastfeed or formula feed? Then it’s: Will I make my own baby food or buy store bought? And I suppose food related questions will continue to persist from here on in. I mean there’s always things to learn and people willing to lend their two cents of advice.

One thing I’ve noticed (and enjoyed) over the past few months is that feeding time has gotten progressively less messy: that was until today. I mean I used to deal with slippery hands and a messy floor on a daily basis, especially when Niko first started eating solids. One of his favourite tricks used to be getting a handful of cereal and then itching his face with his palm, all the while rubbing the mess onto his face, neck hair, you name it.

Tonite I saw the ghosts of feeding past come back to life. Niko made a huge mess with his dinner! If there was a running commentary for dinner time it could have gone something like this: “Hello cereal face mask. And oh, how I missed you cereal hair gel. And why not throw all my utensils and my bowl on the floor as well? I mean let’s just make a huge production of it!” But why not, really? I guess we’re all entitiled to periods of regression, and Niko’s no exception. Although, I have to admit, there is something alluring and perhaps even liberating about getting a handful of cereal and doing what you want with it. So in that light: Go Niko Go! But let’s just do it when it’s Daddy’s watch, next time.

Note: Niko’s hairstyle below, is 100% courtesy of the styling aids of baby cereal and his own hands. Contact me, if you’d like an appointment.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about baby food. Whereas once, it was all consuming, as of late the real estate deals and daycare dilemmas have been at the forefront of my mind and keeping me distracted. And, seeing as we’ve switched mainly to the Heinz variety, Niko’s eating issues seam to have dissipated. Even though my freezer still carries memories of my attempts at making baby food: those memories coming in the form of tiny little ice cube sized, homemade varieties, double sealed and aptly labeled and dated inside Ziploc freezer bags. Yes, every time I open my freezer I am haunted by the issues I used to face with making baby food, and getting Niko to eat. One thing hasn’t changed though: Niko still loves squash, whether it’s the homemade or store bought kind. Squash has become a go to food of sorts and is usually the first one he tries at lunch and dinner, my thinking being if he starts with a flavour he likes he is more likely to try (albeit perhaps unknowingly) any other Heinz delicacies (even meat) that I place in front him.

Niko has also developed a way to tell me when he’s had enough. I am still pretty much following the serving guidelines set out by the public health nurse when she came to visit last October, but sometimes if he’s got too much on his plate he becomes adamant that he does not want anymore. Even this morning as I tried to feed him his last bite of cereal – and it literally was the last bite: a spoonful I had scraped off the sides and bottom of the bowl -, he adamantly refused, and I caught it on video (Baby Niko Refuses his Last Bite of Cereal [0:25]). Yes, he seems to know how to say “No more. I’m full.” quite well: envision whining and head turning from side to side. He’s got it down.

Note: Please take note of my perfect manicure in the picture of me and Niko below. That’s just how I roll: dishwater and baby wipes ain’t got nothin’ on my nails.

It’s increasingly challenging to get the Little N Man to eat – it used to be that he resisted just meat, but now he’s putting up a fuss with veggies too. Oy! While Borys was taking care of Niko this past weekend, he too came face to face with the twice daily challenges of getting him to slurp down his lunch and supper. Breakfast is easy: cereal and fruit and he likes them both. But lunch and dinner are a different story, and whoever’s doing the feeding is faced with Niko’s perpetual head turning, pursed lip line, continual grunting and the occasional smile when he realizes you aren’t going to force feed him (not that that was ever an option). But I do press the spoon right up to his lips trying to entice a bite, only to have the food get sloshed all over his cheeks and chin, or up his nose as he rapidly moves his head from side to side.

Anyway, when I was away, Borys got a taste of this side of our son. I had tried to explain it to him, but there is something about experiencing things first hand that really forces you to understand the gravity of the situation; it’s one thing to hear about it, and another to experience it. When I got home this was one of the reports I received from Daddy Daycare:

Borys: Man, it really is tough to get the little guy to eat sometimes.

Me: I know! That’s what I’ve been talking about.

B: Like he doesn’t want to eat squash or anything. (Squash used to be his favourite.)

Me: I know…

B: So you know what I did?

Me: What?

B: I just mixed all his food together: squash, green beans, potatoes and bananas.

Me: And bananas?  Eww… What?

B: And you know what? He actually ate it all. It seemed he could tell it was different, but the bananas just overpowered the veggies and I figured it was better for him to eat it this way, than not to eat at all. At least he was getting his nutrients.

OK, good on you Daddy for thinking about the health of our son and creatively (albeit disgustingly) trying to get him to gobble up his food. And it did w0rk, so kudos. But did I say ewww? Cuz, EWW!

Anyway, today at lunch we were back at it. Borys at work, me at home and Baby Niko vehemently refusing his veggies. So, what did I resort to? Daddy’s new recipe of course. Truth be told, I was a little repulsed when I was mixing it up, because it looked an awful brown colour and didn’t really smell too good, but Niko did take a few bites. Maybe in total he ate about half of what I had taken out for him, which is better than what he was eating before the mix came in to play.  Once he started in with the refusing again, I chucked it. But not before trying it myself, and you know what? It wasn’t half bad.

OK, so Niko doesn’t like all foods, but he’s definitely in to some: squash, cereal, bananas, yogurt, avocado, all fruits, etc. I’ve noticed when he’s eating something he likes, he resembles a hungry little bird: eyes looking up at me and mouth wide open awaiting that next scrumptious bite. And when he doesn’t like something? It’s a tightly pursed lip line coupled with a lot of grunting and head turning.

The other day I was lamenting the fact that I do SO much laundry and also commenting that one day, when he was ready, Niko would be learning how to do it himself. But today, the little guy surprised me when he started feeding the dog. Yes, at only seven months old he’s already helping out. What a kid!

This is how it all transpired. Picture lunch time: Little N is sitting in his highchair, I’m trying to feed him and Frasier our poodle is hovering around awaiting any morsels that will inevitably hit the floor (good little wet mop that he is!). Anyway, when Niko notices that Frasier is there, he leans over and tries to feed him (or it may be to pet him, but when he’s got a handful of cereal caked on his fingers, Frasier can only interpret this gesture in one way). So, regardless of Niko’s intentions, Frasier takes the bait, swooping in with full licking power and slurping away the mush clinging to his tiny master’s hand.

Now, I know this isn’t the cleanest of habits, and for the most part I do discourage it, but I have to admit that it’s kind of cute when Niko leans over in his chair, and reaches out, only to have Frasier reciprocate! Two little pals, just enjoying each others company.

Note: Last pic –  “Busted!”

What’s the biggest parenting challenge since having the Little N Man? Feeding him meat! Well no, actually, it was probably the first two weeks of his life when he did his time on the inside (otherwise known as the NICU). But second to that – it’s currently happening and it has to do with meat and alternatives. They say (according to the guide given to me by the public health nurse) he should be having 2- 4 tbsps of meat and alternatives a day. But this is the result: he gags on egg yolks, develops a rash with sole, screeches, gags and pukes on chicken – not to mention holds it in his open mouth without swallowing, letting the saliva collect, until it all just naturally sloshes into his bib, or onto his clothes, or onto the floor. And during all these mishaps he continually wipes his tiny little baby hand over his mouth, into his hair, getting food up his nose and into his eyebrows. And sometimes I won’t find it caked there until I see him in a different light, say when we are out and about at a friend’s house.

Anyway, there is this pressure (perhaps self-induced) to get him eating these protein bits! In talking with my friend Laura last night, she calmed me down. Her son (who is almost a year and a half) is a very finicky eater. She has had lots of chats with her pediatrician about it, and he has assured her that every baby will develop in their own time. She also went on to say that the texture of meat is really hard to get used to. So it might not be so much the flavour but the grittiness (or however you want to describe the texture). Our solution then? We’re taking a meat holiday! Goodbye gagging, goodbye saliva collecting chicken, hello eating is enjoyable again! How long will this holiday last? I’d say a week usually does a body good, right? So for now I will continue to hone my culinary skills, but solely as a vegetarian baby chef.

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Who knew that making your own baby food could be filled with so many emotional hills and valleys? I mean I get excited about making the food, and trying the new recipes (hills), then I try them and they often don’t turn out as planned (valleys): lumpy carrots, too much pepper… But to be fair, the recipe called for it. Yes, the baby food recipe called for a teaspoon of pepper! (How was I to know that pepper mill pepper is more potent than the already crushed kind? Anyway, the dish was way too spicy, even for me. So what did I do? Repeat the recipe (hill) sans pepper and blend the whole shebang together: pepper-version with non-pepper-version, only to find that it was still too spicy (valley). Then after three days of a giant pot of green and too peppery slop sitting in my fridge I finally chucked it (valley).

Niko’s supposed to be eating meat and alternatives. So I found an interesting baby recipe for sole (hill), but when he tried it he developed a rash, twice (valley). Yesterday I resorted to store bought baby food (hill/valley – I’m not sure where to classify that one). I was worried he wasn’t getting enough  meat and alternatives; so I stocked up on Heinz Chicken and Rice, etc. And when he tried it? He shrieked like I have never heard before, and not in a good way (valley). I forced a second taste on him and again shrieking! (And again, valley). After the shrieking I tried it too, and I had to agree: blech! But how am I supposed to get him to eat  meat and alternatives if he doesn’t like the store bought kind (although we only tried one so far), won’t eat egg yolks, is showing signs of allergy for sole, and blah blah blah (valley).

Then today, I had renewed confidence (hill). I tried another baby food experiment (hill): Chicken with Apple and Sweet Potato. Sounds good right (hill)? I tried it, and it tasted good (hill). But when his highness tasted it at lunch, he ended up gagging (valley). Somehow I need to get him to eat meat… Niko doesn’t know it yet, but he will be revisiting Chicken, Apple and Sweet Potato for supper tonight (hill/valley?), but he’s going to try it on an emptier stomach: pre-cereal, pre-fruit. Fingers crossed that round two goes better than the first one!

Yesterday I headed to the grocery store, armed with a list and a mindset to buy the particular ingredients needed to create some new flavours for my Little Man. The world of internet blogging has introduced me to a site called Carrots are Orange where you can basically find a different baby food recipe each day. This lovely blogger (creator of Carrots are Orange) has a knack for kitchen creativity and I, or should I say Baby Niko, is reaping the benefits.

Luckily for Niko, I’m expanding and improving my culinary skill set since the Campfire Squash incident. Yes, I’ve stepped up my domestic game a notch and my repertoire now includes: skinning tomatoes (easier than it sounds), poaching sole (although my poaching technique is questionable) and thus creating “Sole” Mate Puree, all in the name of making baby food for my Little Man. Now wouldn’t Borys like it if I put so much effort into making adult food for my Big Man. Actually to be fair, here’s a conversation that transpired the other day:

Borys: I’ve noticed you’ve been cooking more lately. I like it!

Me (with an air of contentment and pride): Yah, I guess I have been cooking a lot.

Borys: Whoa there. I didn’t say “a lot”, just “more” than before. But I still like it.

Me (somewhat dejected): Oh…

B and Me: har har har 🙂

Yes I’ll admit it, for quite some time PC frozen lasagnas and countless other PC varieties made daily appearances at Chez Alli & Borys. But now, and maybe in part due to the years (yes, years!) of eating them, those frozen entrees just don’t have the same appeal. Thank goodness…

So today I will continue on my baby making, nix that, on my baby food making adventure. And what lies ahead, you may wonder: Chicken Pot Pie and an Avocodo, Banana, Blueberry puree (ingredients, at least at this stage in the game, I would never have dreamed of combining!) So, thank you Marnie, from Carrots are Orange – Niko’s taste buds are happy and all the while I’m honing my cooking skills.

As a gift, Niko was given a set of spoons: the theory being that while the parent is feeding the baby, the baby can also hold onto a spoon and practice feeding himself. In Niko’s case however, he just likes to get a hold of both spoons. I think he realizes that the one that he’s holding doesn’t actually have food on it, so eventually he tries to grab the food spoon and then drops (usually on the floor) the other one. And this cycle continues throughout the whole feeding.

It starts off like this: I will put the spoon to his mouth and within the first few bites two slippery little hands will reach up to mine and hijack the spoon. Slippery because they inevitably get covered in cereal or whatever the delicacy of the moment is. But he’s learning, right? His hand eye coordination is improving and that’s a good thing. Usually by the end of the meal, my hands equal Niko’s in slipperiness due to his little ones rubbing the cereal over mine when he reaches for the spoon(s). Fun.

If you’re wondering what that dark stuff is that he’s eating, well let’s just saw we are still strong supporters of the benefits of prunes! Which leads me to wonder: Why do prunes have such a bad reputation? Is it because of the job they do? I mean all they’re doing is benefiting mankind in a natural way, and yet they take the brunt of many food jokes. Poor little prunes. And come on, if you’ve ever tasted them, they’re actually good. Admit it.

Update: Just last week Little Niko Man was testing my patience by chewing the lip of his bib every time he sat down to eat. Now. that habit seems to have completely disappeared. It’s crazy how you can be all consumed by one thing one week and the next week it’s not even an issue.

Eventually the time will come when disciplining your little darling is necessary. It teaches him/her about limitations and the difference between right and wrong. I don’t think good behaviour is necessarily inherent: it needs to be taught. But when is the right time to start? Is six months too young? In my opinion, no. I guess it just depends on what type of discipline is used. For example, at this stage in the game grounding him might be a little over the top. You may be wondering what reason there could possibly be to discipline a six month old? But maybe discipline is too harsh a word: perhaps redirecting fits the bill better.

Here’s the situation: Niko has taken to chewing his bib, A LOT. Picture waterfalls of food onto the floor, onto his clothes, etc. – not a pretty site. At first I was just telling him in a sweet voice, “Put your little bib down. Please put your bib down little angel.” But this hasn’t worked at all. So last night I resorted to the “No” word. However, I want to be conscious of how I use this word – I don’t want to say “no” all the time, or it becomes meaningless. I would rather tell him a better option for his behaviour as opposed to just saying “no”, or “stop doing that”; giving him an option, shows him the correct way to behave while curbing the unwanted behaviour.  But at six months, when his understanding of language is so limited, the sweet redirection of “Put your little bib down.”, didn’t seem to be doing the trick.

And let me just clarify, that it is not so much the mess that I am trying to prevent – I mean every time he eats it’s a disaster: he basically gives himself a face mask of cereal, rubbing it in to his cheeks, his temples, his eyebrows, you name it. And when he reaches for the spoon I encourage him to feed himself, which creates even more of a mess – on the floor, on his clothes, etc. But these behaviours are all experimental and positive: he’s learning about food and the experience of eating. The difference with dumping his bib is that it’s not something I want him practice or learn. So, my solution?  A somewhat severe “No”, followed by a shake of my head and a (mini) teacher eye. He looked at me as if to say, “Oh my goodness. What’s going on?” And he sort of froze, stopped the bib business, and went back to eating without his bib in his mouth. So I praised him for his good habits, with lots of smiles and kisses.

But it seems Niko’s sort of like a goldfish at this point – he continued to put the lip of his bib to his mouth countless more times, but each time I stood firm with my “No” and pulled his bib away. I guess time will tell if my little rebel responds to this redirection or not.

Update: Tonight during supper Niko continued to eat his bib whenever he could (basically every five seconds or so). Borys’ response? “Shouldn’t we just let the little guy express himself as he pleases?”

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