Seven months in: A sonic boom of development

The Baby celebrated turning seven months old yesterday by perfecting his brand-new skill of pulling himself to stand in his play yard (read: baby jail) and taking his first standing up dump. (Sorry, grown up The Baby. Sometimes you have to overshare. You’re welcome I don’t use your name.)

In the same vein as my other milestone posts, here’s a quick stream of consciousness list about this particular moment in our lives.

Seven things about seven months

Seven things about seven months

  1. The past two or three weeks have been the developmental equivalent of a bullet train. The Baby has gone from sitting up and scooting a little to full on crawling, getting to sit up on his own and then pulling himself to standing whenever he can. He also has four teeth now.
  2. This burst of development means I’m locked in a babyproofing arms race. He’s no longer content for very long to hang out in one (safe) place and play with toys, so much of my time is spent following him around the house while he conducts and ever more alarming complimentary babyproofing audit of his surroundings.With the speed and fervor of a predator on the hunt, he crawls from the top of the basement stairs (baby-gated) to the cord of a lamp (now stashed behind a piece of furniture) to a fistful of dog hair (forever a losing battle) to the bedroom wastebasket (just generally dump-able and full of trash). We’ve taken swapped out most of the outlet covers with these, and now that our house is no longer an active construction site I’m getting caught up on general decluttering and keeping the floor cleanish, but this upcoming weekend will be spent strapping all our furniture to the walls and likely banishing our never-used TV to the basement since it’s an extreme tipping hazard.
  3. Because that’s not exhausting enough, he’s paired it with the two filthiest words in parenting: sleep regression. I’ve done minimal research on sleep regression (some sources deny its existence/link to particular times in a baby’s life?) but I guarantee it’s happening right now. While I used to be able to put him down drowsy for naps, he now must be fully out before I lay him in his crib or I have to start over again. Naps that were stretching to 1.5-2 hours at a time without interruption have gone back to the dreaded 50-minutes-then-come-rock-me-back-to-sleep variety, every single time. I have avoided nursing him to sleep at bedtime for months and months now, but he is insistent about it now. And, very worst of all, he is now waking up at 4 a.m. – not for a quick snack and to go back to sleep, but to nurse nonstop except for yelps and flailing and general disruption until we finally get out of bed at 6 a.m. Please, sleep gods, don’t let this last too long.
  4. The babbling, oh the babbling! The baby’s favorite sound to make is MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH-MUH, that every so often truly sounds like he’s calling out for me. I know from hearing him say it as he rolls a truck across the floor or watch his mobile that he’s not really saying, “Mama,” but it’s a really endearing look into the future I can look forward to with a talking baby. His dad continues to read this book to him all the time, but I think I’m winning.
  5. Eating is starting to look more like eating. We’ve been at the baby led weaning thing for just over a month now. The amount of food stuffed between his legs and seat or scattered across the floor or smeared into his hair, while still abundant, is starting to be slightly less than the amount of food we put in front of him. I have actually witnessed him chewing and swallowing food at just about every meal. I’m sure having four teeth helps a little bit. Even though it is truly a godawful mess, I’m really glad we went the BLW route. He gets to experience food through all his senses, which is probably pretty helpful for his raging development. He gets agency and independence to make decisions for himself. And it’s really fun to watch and share a meal with him. It also has forced us to eat way healthier and way more vegetables than we otherwise would.
  6. Books – you can also look at them! The Baby’s approach to storytime has typically involved trying to get the book into his mouth, period. Aside from a couple favorite board books, he just wasn’t interested in hearing stories or looking at pictures. I ended up steering clear of all our non-board books because he’d just try to rip out the pages. It still depends on his mood, but more often than not at bedtime he will look at the pages while we read to him and even tries to turn the pages (on board books) without trying to rip the book out of our hands to shove it in his mouth. Here’s hoping he’ll become a voracious reader in the regular sense as he keeps growing.
  7. I watched my first movie since becoming a mom. It seems absurd that it took me seven months to watch a movie, but there it is. The Husband and I have started watching an episode of TV on Hulu now and again once The Baby goes down, but Saturday night was our first time sitting next to each other on the couch (actually, our poor neglected dog lay in between us) and watching a full length movie. Yes, it involved rocking the baby back to sleep twice, but we did it. We even had popcorn and beer. It was like a vacation.

There you have it! My baby is torpedoing toward toddlerhood and I’m just trying to keep up.

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Seven months in: A sonic boom of development

Weeknight Meal Weds: Black Bean Burgers

Weeknight meal for new moms: black bean burgersFinally, the return of my extremely popular not-really-recipes food series for haggard new parents. I hope you all weren’t starving in the meantime!

Kind of a good-news/bad-news situation here.

The bad news: This is varsity-level effort for new parents. Something I’d recommend you work on during a Sunday afternoon while you have some extra help with the baby. (What can I say? I never thought the day would arrive, but it does start to get easier to cook when your baby can crawl under the couch entertain himself on the floor for awhile.)

The good news: Make a batch of these, pop them in the freezer and you can have several easy weeknight meals. The other good news: They’re super healthy and really tasty. The other other good news: This is a baby led weaning-friendly recipe.

The other bad news: This is a great example of what I refer to as “improv cooking” which means I didn’t measure anything and used leftovers in the recipe, so… good luck. Be creative. You’ll be fine. I adapted my recipe from the Pioneer Woman who clearly pays closer attention to her cooking than I do (and has stronger forearms and/or forks).

Black Bean Burgers (Good Enough for Baby)

Ingredients

  • About 1.5 cups of cooked black beans (If you’re feeding this to your baby, cook the beans yourself so you know there’s no added sodium, as babies can’t have salt and canned beans are super salty.)
  • 3-4 slices of bread (check the sodium content in your bread, too)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small onion
  • About a half cup of leftover mashed potatoes (optional)
  • 1 small beet
  • Dried herbs of your choice – I used oregano and thyme
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic powder or chopped fresh garlic
  • Kosher salt (just for your portions)

If you’re eating the burgers tonight, you’ll also need

  • Washed baby spinach
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Hamburger buns
  • Mustard, ketchup, etc.

Instructions

Black beans

Drain your cooked black beans. Don’t rinse them. (If you’re using canned beans, remember this probably isn’t a good BLW meal, because of salt.)

mash black beans

Mash them up in a bowl so they’re still chunky but smashed enough to stick together well. The Pioneer Woman used a fork but I guess my arms aren’t strong enough for that.

DIY breadcrumbs

Meanwhile, toast some bread. I used four pieces of whole wheat bread, but three of them were butts. Making your own bread crumbs is another good way to control salt, but if you can find low sodium breadcrumbs (and I’m leaving it entirely in your hands to do your BLW/sodium research), skip this step. (If you don’t like the state of my toaster oven, you should see my office hahahaha someone please come clean my house.)

breadcrumb grind

Let your toast cool off a few minutes so it doesn’t steam up, then grind it up in a food processor/bullet/etc.

black bean burger mix

Add to your black beans: The breadcrumbs, the herbs and garlic, a half teaspoon or so of chili powder (The Baby seems to like a little spice, but I didn’t go nuts on this recipe), the egg, a shredded small beet and a shredded small onion, and if you have it, some leftover mashed potatoes. (Mine had sauteed onion, zucchini and peas in it from some zucchini boats I made the night before. Salt reminder goes here.)

mixed black bean burger

Mix well and let sit for a bit. (The beets make it look like bloody red meat a little, don’t they?)

salt and blw

If you’re giving some to baby, pull out a portion to leave unsalted, then add kosher salt to yours.

burgers sizzling

Heat a cast iron skillet and add a little canola oil (I also used some butter – aim for unsalted, said the broken record.) I’m getting used to a new stove (backdoor brag) so I got the pan a little too hot. Don’t be like me. Cook your burgers thoroughly on both sides. If you’re planning to freeze any, turn the heat down so they’re good and cooked but not super browned.

black bean burgers dressed

To serve, melt some cheese on your burger, then put it on a bun (or two pieces of bread if you’re improv cooking and don’t believe in grocery lists). Add mustard and baby spinach and enjoy.

baby's black bean burger

Here’s The Baby’s portion. The cheese helped hold it together a little, and because I was cautious about how much salt was in the burger itself (and he didn’t have anything else with salt in it that day) I didn’t feel nervous giving him any.

freeze black bean burgers

I froze the leftover portions first on a cookie sheet then wrapped them up and put them in a freezer bag. I’ll just turn the pan on nice and low and cook them from frozen the next time we eat them.

Bon apetit, my dear mamas. I know this is a more time-consuming recipe, so if you can’t pull it together, may I offer an alternative *recipe from my earlier days:

3 string cheeses, eaten on the couch while nursing. Three heaping tablespoons of frozen yogurt, eaten in front of the refrigerator. No more than two high fiber cereal bars, eaten in front of the computer while the baby naps. One very well-earned bottle of your favorite IPA.

*Not suitable for BLW.

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Weeknight Meal Weds: Black Bean Burgers

Baby led weaning, indeed!

adventures in baby led weaningI hadn’t heard about Baby Led Weaning until I was pregnant and a friend asked if I planned to try it, but once I started reading about it, I was committed. It makes a lot of sense to me that babies should be given lots of variety, and the agency to decide what they want to eat and how much of it. As someone who was fed purees as a baby and grew into a kid who didn’t eat anything but peanut butter and jelly, mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets until basically college, I wanted to give The Baby every opportunity to start off on the right foot with food.

When I explained to my mom what BLW was, you’d have thought I was explaining how I was going to feed The Baby lit firecrackers and broken glass. When she was raising kids, purees were the only way to go because choking.  (As the BLW book explains, gagging ≠ choking, and babies gag easily and regularly as they figure out how to manipulate food in their mouths. As long as you’re supervising and not giving them nuts, whole grapes or other obvious choking hazards, they’re going to be fine.)

And while my mom still is adorably cautious about the whole ordeal (she peeled cherries for The Baby and then proceeded to cut them into pieces about the size of a small booger), I think at this point her delight in The Baby’s messy, exuberant dinners has diminished her fears about having to rescue him from a too-big piece of food.

This all started about a week ago. Although The Baby has been advancing pretty rapidly developmentally, sitting up with very little assistance needed, putting anything in sight in his mouth and gnawing on it with his gums, everything I’ve read has said not to start BLW until baby hits the six month mark, that any earlier than that is just too early for the baby’s digestive system and can up the risk for choking.

But I was holding a fussy The Baby at the dinner table during family dinner on Sunday, trying to finish up my corn on the cob so we could get him to bed, when he grabbed the other end of the corn cob and started chewing and sucking on it with the determination of a starving dog.

After that, The Husband and I tiptoed around the fact that this particular baby was leading us headlong into a new phase, trying to stick to the 6-month recommendation. The Husband would surreptitiously let the baby suck on the bitten side of a whole apple; I’d offer a chunk of banana in the mornings after TH left for work. Finally, unceremoniously, we gave in and started offering food on the regular. Each day The Baby has tried something new, and each day he has impressed us with his enthusiasm for whatever’s on the table (and his capacity for making a gigantic, gigantic mess.)

Here’s a short list of things The Baby has *eaten so far during his short but promising career:

  1. Corn on the cob
  2. Apple
  3. Banana
  4. Toast fingers with apple butter
  5. Cheddar cheese
  6. Mushrooms, beet greens and carrots out of a tomato-based soup
  7. Broccoli
  8. Penne pasta with broccoli and chicken
  9. Roasted potato
  10. Asparagus
  11. Roasted green beans
  12. An assortment of Indian food on naan
  13. Watermelon
  14. Peaches
  15. Frittata with spinach, onion and cheese
  16. Roasted sweet potato fingers
  17. Rice with sweet potato and chick peas mixed in
  18. Cucumber sticks
  19. A taste of mom & dad’s morning smoothies (usually beets, bananas, blueberries, spinach and almond milk)

So far, he hasn’t outright rejected anything, though the texture of cheddar cheese threw him a bit, and the tartness of some fruits makes him go a little walleyed. I’m really happy we opted to go this route and can’t wait to continue exploring new tastes and textures with my favorite little gourmand.

As a bonus, his eating our dinners has forced me to step back toward healthier meals from my exhausted and defeated approaches to dinner in the recent past. Someday soon I’ll revisit Weeknight Meal Wednesdays with a BLW-friendly meal.

Join the conversation: Did you go the BLW route? What were some of your baby’s favorite foods? Any tips for someone just starting off?

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Baby led weaning, indeed!