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!

A New Mom’s Summer Reading List

summer reading

I was one of those kids who wiled away a lot of my summers at the library or with my nose in a book in any number of beautiful summer settings – treehouses, porches, tents. (To be perfectly honest, I also squandered much of my summer days in front of the TV. I grew up in the ’90s, after all.)

Anyway, one positive change I’ve been able to adopt somehow during the process of moving to a jungle-like old farm with a baby is reading more. I credit most of this to the fact that The Baby is still sleeping in our bed at night (shut. up.) and I can get about two 40 minute stretches of staying awake time before he really can’t go back to sleep without me. With daylight pressing through the curtains at 9 p.m., I’ve got some time to kill before I can fall asleep, and reading feels more soul-nourishing than endlessly scrolling through my phone. Plus, writing more (blogging) makes me want to read more, and reading motivates me to write more.

While I love reading, I’ve never been very good at keeping track of what I’ve read, the authors I I like, or what I want to read next. So to propel me to a more successful next library trip, I thought I’d do a rundown of what I’ve read over the past few months.

Before I get to the list, a small item of blogkeeping: I made a Facebook page for TLMB! I figure there’s no quicker way to lose Facebook friends (especially the dude variety) than incessant posting about things like childbirth and baby poop. So instead, people who like reading about childbirth and baby poop (ya weirdos) can follow me here. If you’re a regular reader and on Facebook, won’t you do me a solid and like my page? Leave me a comment below if you are a fellow mommy blogger with a Facebook page and I’ll happily return the favor. Thanks, friend.

Okay, onto the book list.

TLMB Moms Summer Reading List

What I’ve loved, and what to skip

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

This was my first foray back into reading after the birth of The Baby. Nothing like reading about post-apocalyptic, gut-wrenching loneliness to cure the baby blues, am I right? Really, though, I loved this book, and if one can find hope after the apocalypse, can’t one find hope that breastfeeding will eventually stop feeling like nursing a baby crocodile? The writing was beautiful, and while I did wake up The Husband because I was sobbing during one particularly sad scene, I woke him up because I was reading really late into the night because I could not put it down.

5 stars.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Have you heard of this book? Of course you have. No, I haven’t seen the movie yet. Yes, I know I am way behind on Oprah’s book list. Honestly I finally decided to read this book because I binge-listened to Cheryl’s podcast (along with Steve Almond, whom I’ve also never read) Dear Sugar, and while it is way more earnest, almost uncomfortably so, than any other podcast I listen to, they do have a seductive way with words and I decided I finally needed to read for myself about Cheryl’s heroin binge. This is another tearjerker, and while sometimes I find myself resisting the urge to eyeroll when Cheryl describes how she got a tattoo with her ex-husband to commemorate their marriage/divorce or how she chooses her new last name (come on), the earnestness I caught on her podcast is the same earnestness and committed jumping-in-head-first approach to life that makes her story so compelling. If you’re like me and haven’t read this yet, it’s worth crawling out from under your rock to check it out.

4 stars.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Okay. I’m starting to sense a pattern I didn’t notice before. I have been bellying up to books that are seemingly way too sad. Books I actively avoided because of their obvious ties to loss. After my pregnancy loss and throughout my pregnancy I couldn’t think about sad things because I didn’t think I was strong enough to handle them, and I didn’t want to even acknowledge that sad things happen. I guess I’m stronger now. Anyway, this has been my favorite book of the summer so far, in spite of the fact that the shortest description I can offer you is, “Kid’s dad died in 9/11. His grandma was a survivor of the WWII Dresden fire bombing. Adventure!” I really loved this book, though. And I only cried a little.

5 stars.

Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

I love Rachel Dratch. Most recently I’ve loved her small part in Broad City. And yes, like the rest of America, I wondered with some chagrin at what happened to her after SNL. The beginning parts of this book felt very similar to Amy Poehler’s Yes, Please! (which I am just now remembering I also read… I love Amy, but this book didn’t hold a candle to Bossypants and is best reserved for an easy beach read… uh, 3 stars). Anyway, lots of “this is how my early comedy career went down” stuff, but when she gets into trying to date in her late 30s, the book gets better. I’m really glad I didn’t do any research on her or this book before I picked it up, because it was a really fun surprise (sorry, spoiler, but it’s in the GoodReads synopsis) that she became unexpectedly pregnant and had a baby! Yay, surprise mom book! Anyway, Rachel and Amy both fall short of Tina in their ability to move me or feel particularly insightful, but they are funny and charming and I will always root for them.

3.5 stars

It Sucked and then I Cried by Heather Armstrong

I picked this book up at the library because it sounded familiar, then I remembered I have been a sporadic reader of Heather’s blog, dooce.com, for awhile. I decided to read it with the embarrassingly aspirational perspective of a new and not particularly successful blogger who (though I will deny it to my ever-encouraging mother) will not die happy unless I publish a book. I like Heather’s blog. I think she’s really funny. Her book felt…like a bunch of blog posts. Like it could have used a lot more tightening up and thoughtful editing. Um, I didn’t even bother finishing it. I’m not trying to be a jerk, and yes, she’s the published blogger, but it made me feel reassured that I could write a book someday if she pulled it off. God, I’m a jerk. But meh.

2.5 stars

On that sour-grapesy sounding note, I will close for now. But I plan to do this every few weeks so you can keep up with my literary escapades. On my nightstand now: Baby Led Weaning (of course), The No-Cry Sleep Solution (also of course), Cannery Row (took a stack of my high school summer reading books from my childhood bedroom) and A Doubter’s Almanac, another random library pick-up that sounded pretty good.

What are you reading this summer? Anything I should pick up during my next library trip? (Parenting books, really sad novels (I guess), memoirs and classics I likely never picked up are all welcome suggestions.)

One last quick reminder to find me on Facebook and click the little pink picture below if you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

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A New Mom’s Summer Reading List

First Father’s Day Card from The Baby

DIY Father's Day Card from the BabyI’ve been meaning to share this craft since last weekend, but life got in the way again. It was The Husband’s birthday last weekend, and The Baby and I decided to make him a birthday card. I love how it turned out, and it was easy and fun to make, so I thought I’d share it with the wider momosphere in time for Father’s Day.

The Baby has been a kicking machine since he can-canned his way out into this world. He’s one of those babies who prefers to stand assisted on your lap than to sit. As I’ve mentioned before, his nickname is Kickpuncher because of all his flailing.

This craft actually first emerged on Mother’s Day, when I woke up early in the morning and tried it out on a pair of canvas totes for both of The Baby’s grandmothers. My tactics got a little more refined for this birthday card, but the essential formula is:

paint + kicking baby feet + surface = awesome abstract art

DIY First Father’s Day Card from the Baby

Materials

  • Watercolor paper
  • Non-toxic paints
  • Masking tape
  • Sponge brush or other paint mixing tool
  • A big piece of cardboard or wide, shallow box
  • A large container to use as a palette – even big paper plates work
  • Dish tub or other baby-sized bucket
  • Old towels and old wash cloth
  • Baby soap
  • Blank card and envelope
  • A helper or a place to put baby where he can’t reach his feet
  • Mod Podge

Instructions

Take some time to prep. This is best done outdoors or on a floor you can wash up quickly (obviously, avoid carpeting.) Put on some old clothes, strip The Baby down to his diaper and let him play nearby while you set up.

Lay out the cardboard or box and tape a few pieces of watercolor paper to it. You can also use the masking tape to mask off some parts of the paper to make a decoration.

20160527_112822
Tape your paper to the cardboard.

Fill the dish tub/baby tub with warm water and add a few squirts of baby soap.

Pick your paints. I used acrylic because it’s what I had on hand and it says on the bottle it’s non-toxic, but do your own research. Tempera paint is probably better. I like to hold up two paints and let The Baby pick his favorite. I squirt out some of this color onto my palette (I used big paper plates for the Mother’s Day craft and that worked really well; I couldn’t find them so I used bread pans for this one. The Baby has monster feet so this was kind of tough.) Anyway, for the Father’s Day card, I cut in some white to whatever color he chose, but only with about half the paint, to give it some variation. The picture below is just the tinted paint, but in the other half of the pan I squirted just the red, so he’d basically get a foot with each color. You can also do two similar colors (red and orange, say) in one go.

paint palette
Paint palette with The Baby’s first color selection, mixed in with a little white paint.

Pick baby up and hold him over the palette and let his feet press into the paint. Then pick him back up and hold him over the paper. If your baby isn’t squirmy, maybe you’ll get some neat footprints. But as I said, my baby is part Tazmanian devil and I wasn’t expecting or intending to get footprints, just fun colorful smears.

Once you’ve gotten a few good smears of your first color, dunk baby’s feet in the dish tub and give them a decent wipe-off with the wash cloth, pat dry. (Don’t worry about getting them immaculate; as you’re going to repeat the first several steps again.)

This is where it’s nice to have a helper to hold the baby, while you reset your paints. The goal is to keep baby from reaching his lower half, where there could be paint, at any time during this activity.

I did a total of three colors (with the white tint each time), as selected by The Baby. I let them dry for just a few minutes, basically the time it took me to clean baby’s feet and get new paint ready.

Baby footprints painting
A blurry photo of the finished painting. The Baby is an athlete and an artist!

Once you’re done, give your baby an actual bath. (Full disclosure: The Baby had green toenails for a few days afterward… whoops.) Also, the underside of your baby’s diaper will probably be a beautiful piece of art all its own, but resist the urge to keep it.

Once your baby’s artwork is dry, you can cut it to fit the front of your blank greeting card. (I suppose you could paint directly onto the card, but the watercolor paper doesn’t wrinkle when it gets wet, so it looks nicer.) I used Mod Podge to glue the painting onto the card and then put a coat of Mod Podge over the top of the painting too, to give it a little sheen.

Finished Father's Day card
Here’s the finished card. I cut and glued The Baby’s painting to a blank craft-paper greeting card.

There you have it! Easy, colorful Father’s Day card. I still have the other half of the painting that I plan to cut into strips and glue onto other, smaller cards I have, to use as thank-you notes. The next time I do it I think I’ll mask off the center of the card so I have a blank strip to write “Happy Birthday.”

It’s clear that The Baby has a blast when we do this, feeling the slippery paint on his feet, seeing the cause-and-effect of his kicking, and getting to splash around in the tub. And I like to think I’m instilling in him an early sense of generosity and the importance of appreciating others. I know he’s too young to really understand what we’re doing, but I figure if I start early, he’ll absorb the lesson more thoroughly as he grows.

Join the conversation: Have you enlisted your baby to help with any gifts or craft projects? How are you planning to celebrate your partner’s first Father’s Day?

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First Father’s Day Card from The Baby