Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Year in Review – End of a Decade

Henry is 1 today.  It’s a perfect birthday.  Every New Year, he starts off with a perfectly clean slate.  It’s a wonderful ending to a wonderful year.  I do have to remind myself, however, that it’s also the end of a decade.  It was the first full decade of my adulthood, when we all experienced a major tragedy – September 11, 2001.

Last week, on our drive to Milwaukee, Chris listened to NPR as Henry and I dozed off.  I awoke to a recorded radio broadcast of the 9/11 attacks.  The broadcast instantly brought me back to Columbia University.  I had a morning class, and returned to my room without getting wind of the attacks, although there was a smell of burnt rubber in the air.  It still gives me the chills remembering that my Dad had a work lunch scheduled at the Windows of the World in the Twin Towers that day.  The lunch was cancelled at the last minute, and on 9/10 he left the country on the same flight that was hijacked and ultimately crashed in Pennsylvania.  He dodged two bullets that day, and so did I.  If my father had died on 9/11 my path would’ve changed drastically.  He was the one who encouraged me to apply to the law school where I met my Chris.  It’s hard to imagine where I might be if things hadn’t worked out for my Dad.   
This year has passed by so quickly.  I’m so glad I sat down and organized a picture memory book of Henry’s first year.  For parents especially, time passes in a flash.  I know that if I don’t sit back and remember every year, I’ll wake up one day grey haired, wrinkled, blind, toothless, shrunk down, and hunch backed and wonder where the time went. 

Henry had his first birthday cake last night -- carrot cake with cream cheese icing.  E and I made it from scratch, and she decorated it.  We had dinner at Chicago Kalbi, and he gobbled up his dumplings, beef, chicken, shrimp and rice.

Carrot Cake Recipe -- most recipes call for vegetable oil, but E prefers to use butter.  YUM!
3 Sticks, plus 1 T unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 t baking soda
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t salt
4 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots

Cream Cheese Icing
3 8 oz packs of cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 (1 pound) box confectioner's sugar
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Butter 3 (9-inch) cake pans with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, and beat. In a medium bowl or on a piece of parchment, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and mix well.
  • Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the eggs, beating well after the addition of each. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Fold in the nuts. Divide between the 3 cake pans and bake until set and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest in the cake pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove from the pans, and let cool.
  • For the Frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating constantly. Add the vanilla and pecans.
  • When the cake is cool, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread the top with cream cheese frosting and top with a second and third cake layer, spreading the icing between each layer. Spread the icing around the sides of the cake and let harden slightly before serving.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Documenting Baby's First Year

Henry’s First Birthday is TOMORROW!  I cannot believe that exactly 1 year ago my OB/GYN was calling to tell me to get to the hospital for immediate induction.  I’ve decided to document each year with a personalized picture book.  I chose, but also like the Apple books.  I selected my favorite pictures from each month – there are so many, and wrote up captions describing his likes, dislikes, developmental milestones, etc.  I also have a traditional baby book, but this 1 year picture book is more visual and brings it all together nicely.  I'm hoping I will continue to do this for each year and each child.  As the youngest of 3, I'm well-aware of the likelihood of achieving my goal.  I was always bitter that my two older siblings had leather bound gold embossed baby books, and I had nothing.  So, I do have a some bitterness to keep me going!    

Birth: 7 lbs 5 oz, 21 in
1 month:  9 lbs 13 oz, 21.5 in
2 months:  13 lbs 5 oz, 23 in
4 months:  16 lbs 15.5 oz, 26 in
6 months:  19.4 lbs, 27 3/4 in
9 months:  21.6 lbs, 29 in
12 months:  his doctor's appointment is in January

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Handmade Christmas Project

For Christmas this year, I decided to make a crochet hat for everyone in our family.  This meant making 20 hats.  I started in July 2009 and finished on December 23, 2009.  My mother and sister-in-law taught me to crochet 3 years ago, but after making a few scarves I lost interest.  I rediscovered crochet through Youtube!  There are free and straightforward tutorials.  I like and have lots of free patterns and tutorials.     

When in the mood, I crocheted for a couple hours a day (during Henry’s naps).  I had a fun time picking out colors and styles for each family member.  Jo Ann fabric became a popular trip for Henry and me.  I also sewed in fleece linings for each hat.  It was the first time I ever made handmade Christmas gifts.  Everyone seemed to appreciate the hats so much more than anything else I’ve ever given.  Although, not all hats fit perfectly, I was able to adjust the fit.  For example, I did not expect that both our nephews (ages 5 and 6) would have the same size noggin as their parents.   

On to my next project!  Amigurumi (編みぐるlitみ lit. knitted stuffed toy) is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures.  "Amigurumi." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 3 Dec 2009, 00:42 UTC. 28 Dec 2009  Here's an example below.  

Monday, December 28, 2009

Baby's First Christmas

Notice the tree:  soft, petite and limp.  Notice the ornaments:  crowded at the top of the tree. Notice the chairs barricading the tree.  Notice the baby:  innocently gazing up at the camera after swiping at multiple ornaments and stuffing long fir needles into his mouth and chewing them like gum.  Henry’s first Christmas was AWESOME.  It was a beautiful white Christmas.  We took Henry sledding in the slush.  My sister hooked her dog up to the plastic sled, and he hauled the sled up the hill.   We went for walks, and played 6 rounds of Wits and Wagers and 2 rounds of Settlers of Catan (all while Henry slept).  We decorated Christmas cookies.  Every year we try to out-do each other with funny designs and clever use of the cut-out cookies to create unexpected shapes.  It’s pretty obvious from the pictures which cookies are my sister’s (the trained pastry chef) and the rest of ours (lay cookie eaters).  The favorites were the dog (originally a stocking cut out) and the reindeer (an upside down gingerbread man with 2 holly leaves).  We opened stockings, sang carols and ate omelets and kringle on Christmas day. At my sister’s (a half-Jewish household), we played dreidel and lit the menorah on the last night of Hanukah.  I discovered that dreidel is a really fun game!  We even found time to see Avatar in digital 3D – amazing.  Unfortunately, Henry missed out on the movie.   

He did, however, spend time with 3 out of his 4 grandparents, 6 out of his 10 aunts and uncles, 5 out of his 7 cousins and of course both of his parents.  Henry was showered with love and gifts from family and from Santa.  His favorite gift was the Fischer Price Little People Fire Engine Ride On.  He’s addicted to sitting on the seat, holding the handles and getting pushed around the room.  He also has started walking while holding on to the fire engine.  The songs aren’t getting on our nerves yet.    
It’s hard to believe that his 1 year birthday is this week.   

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Making Homemade Baby Food

I’ve always been a “natural” food eater.  Yes, I enjoy my florescent orange cheese puffs now and then, but I will always prefer fresh fruits and vegetables and a balanced meal to prepared grocery foods.  I hold the same values for my child’s meals.  Packaged baby food is as natural as packaged food can get.  It usually contains water plus whatever the food is and ascorbic acid, which has vitamin C.  Perfect!  But, the jars can get expensive, especially if you buy organic.  I have the luxury of buying packaged baby food when it’s on sale, and I make the rest at home.  The jarred food is extremely convenient for travel, and when I haven’t had time to make purees.

I use the Beaba Baby Cook to steam vegetables and fruits.  I feed Henry the steamed veggies in finger pieces, or in the same contraption, I blend the food into the pureed consistency I choose.  The Beaba Baby Cook also reheats frozen foods.  It’s extremely convenient, and there are fewer dishes to clean.  The only caveat is that it is on the small side, which means I have to make multiple batches of food now that Henry seems to eat the same amount of food as I do.  This issue doesn’t bother me, however, as Henry doesn’t like to eat the same food every day.  And I’ve stopped freezing most his food, as he finishes the fresh food before it goes bad.  When we started solids, I would freeze the extra food in ice cube trays, and then pop them into a Ziploc bag.  

We received a few baby food cookbooks as hand-me-downs and gifts, and have found them somewhat useful.  They are not necessary, as there isn’t much to steamed carrots.  They are helpful to know at what temperature to roast chicken, etc.  I’ve mostly gone to for recipes.  I found a great meatball recipe there, which Henry likes.  And the site gives ideas on what foods go well together.  Before I found this site, I was mixing together things like avocado (raw) and prunes (steamed and pureed), which made my sister gag. 

I generally buy Henry’s prepared baby food at 4 places: Target; Toys ‘R Us; the grocery store (Jewel or Dominick’s) and Milwaukee.  The stores in Chicago have promotions on certain brands regularly.  I love stocking up on food in Milwaukee generally, as there is zero sales tax!  It’s a very progressive philosophy – the government doesn’t tax the “necessities” of life.  We visit Milwaukee once every month or two to see Chris’ parents, not to solely to buy food.

Henry enjoys the jarred food, and I’ve found that Earth’s Best has a great variety of organic puree mixtures.  It’s on the pricey side, however, and I’ve found the “O” organics brand of baby food at Dominick’s, which is more affordable than Earth’s Best and Gerber Organics.  Henry doesn’t eat exclusively organic, but I try to feed him mostly organic foods, just in case it actually makes a difference in his health.

He's turning out to be a great eater, and onlookers watch amazed as he shovels large amounts of broccoli, cauliflower, cheese, bread, dumplings etc. into his sweet little pie hole.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Weaning Off the Boob: Week 2

After slowly weaning Henry from his 4pm nursing session, I moved on to the post-morning nap 11am feeding.  I was hesitant as he’s always been a good nurser at this time, but we forged ahead.  I intended to follow the same slow process that I had invoked to drop the 3pm session.  (See Weaning Off the Boob:  Week 1)

On Saturday Chris got Henry out of the crib after his morning nap.  They played and read books in his room.  I was in the kitchen cooking up a variety of purees and finger foods for the next few days.  Henry didn’t cry or look for me.  When they came out 30 minutes later, I realized we had unintentionally dropped the 11am feeding without the slow weaning process.  I figured the next day he would put up more of a fuss if I got him after his morning nap, but again there was no protest.  Second feeding down! 

Now he’s nursing twice a day (morning and night), and he’s gone to bed without nursing in the past.  On Monday he refused to take the bottle from the sitter.  I anticipate that dropping the last feeding of the day will go smoothly.  Most books say that the last feeding of the day is the hardest to drop, but I know that won’t be the case for us.  Henry doesn’t associate nursing with going to sleep, as we spend around 30 minutes between his last feeding and bedtime playing, taking a bath, and reading books.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Applying for Baby’s First Passport

Last week we applied for Henry’s first passport.  I’ve had all the necessary paperwork, identification documents and passport photos ready for months, but until now, Chris was too busy to get off from work.  The passport application requires that both parents be present, otherwise a notarized statement is needed.  We arrived at the post office just in time for holiday and lunch hour traffic.  The people watching made it all worthwhile.  Just as the rush began, two of the postal workers went on their lunch breaks.  There were 15 customers ahead of us, all with big packages.  The line slowly shuffled forward.  My eyes focused in on the speedy postal worker, Pamela.  She shuttled out 6 customers, plus processed a baby passport, while the other two postal workers helped 1 customer each.  I hoped we’d get her, and we did!  The process went off without a hitch.  See the government travel website for requirements.

For a minor under 16, he/she must apply in person with both parents present.

1)    Filled out Form DS-11 
2)    Both Mom and Dad must be present with the child
3)    Child’s Birth Certificate
4)    Mom and Dad’s driver’s licenses
5)    Photocopy of both Mom and Dad’s driver’s licenses
6)    2 recent passport photos of child
7)    Check or Money Order to US Department of State $60
8)    Standard processing fee - $25

Monday, December 21, 2009

Great Toddler Pre-Walker Shoe: Umi

Henry is coming up on 1 year and still isn't walking.  He's a very fast and efficient crawler, which is probably why he sees no point in walking.  He likes standing, and often uses inanimate objects to walk assisted.  e.g. a chair, a cardboard box, his Little People Garage.  He also loves to climb.  e.g. our kitchen step stool (a necessity for my 5 ft frame), his Little People Garage, the wicker bins under our window bench.

Although he isn't walking, it's now too cold to go shoeless outside.  Baby shoes can be expensive.  Even Carter's baby shoes can run $30+.  At the $30 price point, I think the Umi pre-walker shoes are easy to put on (velcro), and not as easy to take off.  I find the brand much easier for Henry to wear than Robeez.  Emu also makes an affordable and adorable infant shearling bootie that is super warm.  Sometimes I have to use my finger as a shoe horn, but once they're on correctly they stay on pretty well.  It's hard for crawlers to keep their shoes on, and when they're close to walking you want them to have a good fit.  The shearling booties aren't the best for walking, but they are the warmest booties that I've found.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baby Class Reviews: Old Town School of Folk Music: Wiggleworms 12-24 months

Baby Class Reviews:  Old Town School of Folk Music:  Wiggleworms 12-24 months

I will be rating baby classes on a 5 star (*) scale.  I will also review price, age, size, length, cleanliness, space, parking, open play toys, instructor, content, Henry’s opinion, mom’s opinion, other moms, music, make-ups and activity.  Some of the classes are exclusive to Chicago, and some are national/international chains.  For a stay-at-home mom in the winter, baby classes are part of a survival guide.  A baby class introduces you to other moms with babies of the same age, and gets you out of the house.  Plus, baby gets to interact with others his age, which is great for his socialization and development.  

Old Town School of Folk Music
909 Armitage Ave, Chicago – the class I’m rating
4544 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
2120 Lincoln St, Evanston
5250 Wolf Rd, Western Springs

*****FOUR STARS *****

Price:  $240 for 16 week session

Age:  12-24 months

Size:  Small.  Around 10 moms/babies

Length:  45 minutes

Convenience:  Calling the Old Town School of Folk is a cluster f.  The wait time over the phone can be 30-45 minutes.  The staff at the front desk is generally crotchety.  But you can sign-up online.

Cleanliness:  Not at all clean.  The building is an actual school, and reminds me of an “old school.”  The rug is old and brown.  The walls are a dingy cream color.  We wear our shoes in the room and it doesn’t seem that the toys are cleaned after every class.  (Scale: Super, Very, Kind of, Not at all)

Space:  Small 10 X 10 room and the décor is a little drab.  There are a few student drawn pictures on the walls. 

Parking:  Street parking in Lincoln Park has been easy.  Parking lot at the Lincoln Square location.

Open Play Toys:  There are instruments used during certain songs.  There is no open play.

Instructor:  All the instructors are career musicians! 

Content:  Caregivers and babies sit in a circle.  The songs are classic and traditional, and the kids enjoy the interactive clapping and bouncing.  There is story time and walking in a circle (all the kids in this class were walking).  The class isn’t super active, but this age is more about learning structure and interacting than just physical play. 

Henry’s Opinion:  H enjoyed the music.  He also liked playing with the piano and guitar at the end. 

Mom’s Opinion:  I’m looking forward to learning more traditional songs and activities through Wiggleworms.  Also the class is 16 weeks, which will foster more comfortable relationships with the other moms and babies.  And 16 weeks can also be a negative if you get sick of it.

Other Caregivers:  The other moms/caregivers are very friendly.  The small classes allow for real interaction, and the small room forces physical proximity.  The class we tested also happened to be very racially diverse. 

Music:  A: Great traditional songs.  All the instructors are musicians.

Make-ups:  Call to schedule a make-up class.  The wait on the phone can be ridiculously long. 

Activity:  Not as much physical activity, however, mental activity is encouraged.

See other Baby Class Reviews.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weaning Off the Boob: Week 1

Henry’s 1 year birthday is fast approaching, and I’m gearing up to get him off the boob.  The thought of weaning really stresses me out.  Of course, at the same time I’m excited for the new freedom weaning will give us.  An entire year of being a willing prisoner to Henry’s nutritional needs has flown by, but I think we’re both ready to move on.  I’ll miss the quiet moments we have together, and I’m very nervous about dropping the morning feeding.  Every morning Henry wakes up famished and he dives head first into my chest for his first feeding. 

Henry still nurses 4 times a day (7am, 11am, 4pm, 7pm) in addition to three meals and a snack.  My goal this week was to drop the 4pm feeding.  The 4pm feeding is usually an afterthought for him, so I knew that would be the easiest feeding to drop.  Last week I attempted feeding him formula, a silly idea considering he would be on formula for 2 ½ weeks.  The thought was to gradually wean him off the boob onto a cup (without having to pump).  He gagged and spit it out.  Apparently, formula is not his favorite.  A friend recommended I try a few different brands of formula, but I accepted that it would be a waste of money and time to attempt using formula. 

Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the 4pm feeding I let him nurse for 5 minutes, and then didn’t push him to continue.  Monday, I skipped his 4pm feeding all together.  We played, avoided the nursing rocker, and then had a big snack of finger foods and purees.  He did not bat an eye.  Tuesday, we did the same with the same results.  I didn’t pump, and only felt slightly uncomfortable until his 7pm feeding. 

We continued doing 3 nursing sessions a day until Saturday, when we moved on to feeding #2 (11am).

One boob feeding down sans drama.  Phew and Yahoo!   

See Weaning Off the Boob:  Week 2

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cleaning Baby Boy's Peeper (aka. Penis)

Changing a baby boy’s diaper is simple, right?  Wipe.  Diaper.  Done.  Not like a girl, where you have to remember front to back.  Actually, there’s a little more to it, and Henry and I learned the hard way.  Around Henry’s third month a friend was over, and she watched as we took a bath – I wore a bathing suit.  She wrinkled her nose in disgust at his little peeper and said, “Is it supposed to look like that?”  His foreskin was looking a little strange.  The head was shrunk into the skin.  I inspected more closely and discovered that the skin was growing back together!  “Blurg.” -- as Tina Fey/Liz Lemon would say.  I pulled the skin back a tiny bit and it resisted and then pulled back revealing some raw skin.  Poor little Henry didn’t scream, but it didn’t look pretty.  I put Aquaphor on the area and made sure to clean his peeper’s head really well at every diaper change.  Henry’s pediatrician instructed us to pull the skin back at every diaper change; otherwise it would grow back again.  This has happened to three other baby boys we know.  Since then, I pull the skin back really well and clean around Henry’s peeper head meticulously.  I have a fear that he will blind me by peeing straight into my eyeball while I’m inspecting.  But it hasn’t happened yet.  Thankfully, we haven’t seen the shrinking peeper again.    

Monday, December 14, 2009

Making Mommy Friends

Around Henry’s sixth month, I started to feel lonely.  My friends had all continued on the same path, and I had diverted to a completely new life.  Being one of the first of my group to have a baby was exciting but sometimes alienating.  I needed to find some new friends in the neighborhood who could empathize and keep me company during the workweek.  Plus, Henry needed some friends too. 

I decided to make a concerted effort to be friendly with moms in the neighborhood.  It was June, and everyone was out taking walks and going to the park.  I often saw the same moms and babies out, and started chatting with random moms at the swings or on a neighboring picnic blanket.  It had been years since I was the “new kid,” and it felt extremely awkward.  It didn’t help that people thought I was Henry’s nanny.  I was quickly reminded that some people are just plain unpleasant and strange.  One woman was extremely friendly, which relieved me, but after 3 minutes she started complaining about how her husband is always out late.  It was too soon for that conversation.    

Meeting a mom and her baby without context can be an awkward situation at first.  It’s almost like a blind date.  I met many moms before meeting M.  She and her baby (“C”), who looked to be the same age as Henry, were sitting on a neighboring picnic blanket in the park.  She was having fun with C, talking and playing.  I can’t remember exactly what we talked about, but the most common way to strike up a conversation with a mom is to ask how old her baby is.  M happened to be the same age as I am, which was an added bonus.  It seemed we were destined to be friends, as we discovered she lived in an apartment formerly rented by a close friend of mine.  She even invited me to her Catholic mommy group after hearing that I was having trouble meeting other moms.  Although she warned me that some of the moms were quite conservative.  Perhaps she could tell that I wasn’t conservative from my t-shirt, which read “Peace.  Back by popular demand.”  We chatted for almost an hour and exchanged phone numbers.  We bumped into each other at the park the next day, and M immediately said; “I hope I didn’t scare you off with the Catholic mommy group.”  I was relieved that she brought it up.  She was my type of friend, unafraid to bring up an uncomfortable topic.

Initially the only thing we had in common was our motherhood, but soon we learned we knew 2 people in common.  She and her husband are the godparents of a baby whose father was a college classmate of mine.  It really is a small world.  We texted each other when we were headed to the park, and if we were both free we’d have a mini-play date.  Our babies, although 3 months apart, played great together and were on a similar schedule.  As we learned more about each other, we had play dates at our apartments, carpooled up to the farm in the suburbs and met at restaurants for lunch.  Henry and C splashed in the baby pool together on our roof deck, and happily sat in restaurant high chairs across from each other.  C and her mom have since moved to the suburbs, but we still chat regularly and plan to keep up our visits.  

I also met some moms who live down the street through Chris’ work friend.  Three families live a block away, and have invited us for many play dates and morning pajama parties.  There’s something special about taking a walk with your baby and waving to familiar faces in the street. 

The easiest way to meet moms with babies of similar age is in a baby class.  We’ve met lots of moms and even dads at baby swim and music class.   

It's been very helpful for me to have a diverse portfolio of mommy friends.  I know full-time working moms; part-time working moms and stay-at-home mom friends, all of whom help me keep things in perspective.  I also commiserate with moms on Facebook and  I enjoy having a network of friends in the mommy world and I know Henry loves meeting new people and being around other babies. 

Hooray for my new mommy friends, and of course hooray for my old non-mommy friends.  For me, having both equals sanity.  

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Schedule Meals for Guests to Bring at

When you come home with a new baby it is customary for guests to bring a meal.  Meals are a great welcome home gift, as the last thing you want to do is worry about making your next meal.  It was such a relief to have nutritious homemade frozen meals as a go-to.  Thanks to everyone who sent over meals!  

There is a new website,, which provides a calendar you can share with relatives and friends.  Guests can sign up for free days and indicate what they plan to make.  You can indicate foods you like, foods you dislike, allergies etc.  Out-of-towners can even buy gift cards at restaurants that deliver in your area.  It’s a fun and easy way to help your guests treat you without causing a lot of hassle. 

It sounds like a great new gadget for parents of new babies.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Constipation is Sad

“Sad” is probably not the first word that comes to mind to accompany the word, “constipation.”  But it’s exactly how I feel when Henry gets constipated.  Like many babies who start solid foods, Henry has a tendency to get stopped up.  I have to ensure he eats good “poo foods” every day.  If I am successful we have great soft stinky poos 3-4 times a day.  If I am delinquent, he will not poo for an entire day, and when he does poo he tearfully screams in pain.  It is so hard to watch. 

Great poo foods for Henry include:  peaches, pears, plums/prunes, pureed lentils, blueberries, and pear juice.  Bad/constipating poo foods for Henry include:  bananas; apples; tofu and avocado.  Note:  every child’s digestive system is different, which explains why I specified that these foods work for Henry.  Lentils were the magic poo food at the beginning. 

It also helps to massage his belly and do bicycle kicks with his legs pushing up on his belly.

I have a constant battle with poo.  We have a love hate relationship.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Finger Foods!

Starting finger foods was such a fun milestone for us.  As someone who loves to cook and eat, it’s been so much fun introducing Henry to new foods.  He loved the independence of feeding himself, and it was less stressful for me.  All I had to do was watch for choking and insert some pureed foods now and then.  We started with Gerber puffs, which melt in baby’s mouth, and once he mastered puffs, we tried Cheerios.  I started slippery fruits and steamed vegetables a little early, which was a mistake.  It was very stressful for Henry, as he had trouble getting hold of the slippery food.  I read that sprinkling baby oatmeal on the outside can decrease slipperiness, but it didn’t work.  We went back to dried grain finger foods until around 9 1/2 months, when he really had the pincer grip mastered.  Now at 11+ months, he still gets purees, but a large portion of his nutrition comes from finger foods!  A great starter gadget for solid pieces of food is the Sassy Baby Safe Feeder.  Place a piece of banana in the mesh and baby will suck on the mesh without risk of choking.

Suggested Finger Foods

Broccoli florets – frozen or fresh - steamed or boiled
Cauliflower florets - steamed or boiled
Carrots – diced and steamed
Peas – steamed and crushed
Avocado – beware, very slippery
Sweet potato – roasted or steamed, long fingers for holding and biting

Pears – very ripe – either sliced in long pieces for him to bite off or in bite sized pieces
Blueberries - halved
Raspberries - halved
Strawberries – quartered or diced
Bananas – ½ inch slices
Grapes – quartered and peeled
Cantaloupe or Honeydew – very ripe
Baked Apples - diced

Chicken Breast – roasted, baked, poached – shredded by hand or ground
Turkey Breast – roasted or baked – shredded by hand or ground
Fish – baked or poached – shredded by fork or hand -- avoid high mercury types
Dumplings – in bite sized pieces
Turkey meatloaf balls
Tofu – silken tofu is easier to chew -- beware, very slippery and messy
Cheese – start with shredded then move to cubed

Rice Cakes
Toasted Whole Grain Waffles
Whole Wheat Toast
Gerber Puffs
Mum Mum rice crackers (oblong rice crackers that is easy for baby to hold)
Whole Wheat Pasta – rotini is a great shape for easy pick-up – overcooked to very soft

Monday, December 7, 2009

Starting Solids: Purees to Real Finger Foods!

After his 4-month pediatrician well visit, the doctor gave us the green light to start solid foods.  At the time he was nursing 5 times a day.  Until 6 months, baby’s solids are just “for sport” as the pediatrician called it.  His nourishment should still come from formula or breast milk.

The first month of solids, I supplemented Henry’s nursing with solids once a day.  I chose the 2nd feeding of the day (11am). After one month of trying solids, I supplemented nursing with solids twice a day – 2nd and 4th feedings of the day.  Around 6 ½ months, Henry ate solids four times a day (breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner).  He gradually ate more solids, which allowed me to cut nursing back to 4 times a day (9 months). 

At the start I began each feeding by nursing, and then I would supplement with purees.  Henry has always been a good eater, and when he’s hungry he wants to eat immediately.  Some babies won’t eat purees if they are full on milk, so you will have to gauge your little one.  In the case where baby won’t eat solids on a full stomach, try feeding solids before milk.  Or try feeding a little milk, solids, and finish off with the rest of the milk.   

We started with baby rice cereal (found in the baby food aisle) mixed with enough breast milk to make a very soupy consistency.  It’s not surprising that Henry gagged, rice cereal tastes like cardboard, and he wasn’t used to swallowing anything but milk!  I tried feeding a few more spoonfuls of the watery mess, and quit.  We tried rice cereal for 3 days, but he never warmed up to the rice cereal.  In fact, he still doesn’t enjoy plain rice cereal.  After 3 days of rice cereal without any allergic reaction, we tried pureed Yukon potatoes for 3 days.  We tried a new food every 3 days, and when there was no reaction we would move on to another food item for 3 days.  After Yukon potatoes we tried sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, applesauce, peas, oatmeal, pears, peaches, avocado, green beans, yogurt (6 months), etc.  He loved all the foods I gave him, except the peas and green beans.  Now he’ll eat them without much protest.     

At 10 months I started encouraging more real people food, and supplemented with purees.  Henry now enjoys feeding himself whole grain waffles for breakfast with fruit, supplemented with baby oatmeal.  For lunch and dinner he’ll have pasta with shredded chicken or fish and soft cooked vegetables.  As a late afternoon snack, he usually has rice cakes or puffs and fruit.  (See Finger foods entry tomorrow).

Solid feeding requires patience and persistence.  It can take 45 minutes to finish a meal, and a lot of it ends up on the floor, in the crevices of the high chair and of course on baby.  It’s amazing where food particles can burrow: between baby’s neck rolls, behind baby’s ears, between baby’s toes, in baby’s hair etc.  Just have fun with it, and don’t get too stressed out if baby wires his mouth shut and shakes his head.  

Thursday, December 3, 2009

5 Day Old Baby -- Guinness' Youngest Ad Model

This baby boy, Park Eun-sung, will be memorialized as the youngest Ad model in the Guinness Book of World Records.  He was only 5 days old when he "worked" his first job.  He couldn't open his eyes yet, but he's now famous for his adorable expressions.  Maybe the first days of a baby's life should be held sacred.  Or maybe a 5 day old baby doesn't notice the intrusion.  I'm glad we got to keep those first few quiet and delicate moments just for us.  I wonder if the advertising agency trolled the halls of the postpartum floor looking for funny looking newborns.  Hopefully he got a big fat check.      

p.s. I finished "Breaking Dawn" and am learning how to Tweet!

Breaking Dawn Hiatus

That's right.  No posts yesterday or today, because I'm spending every free moment reading a trashy tween novel -- Breaking Dawn is the 4th book of the Twilight Saga.  It's better this way.  No one wants to read about how Chris' feet are burning hot like a werewolf's feet would be.  Or how I was relieved that there were no vampires around when I sliced my hand open with a kitchen knife.

I'm back next week ... assuming the vampires don't get me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Henry's First Thanksgiving

Henry’s first Thanksgiving was one we’ll always remember.  I made 2 pumpkin pies and an apple pie with him crawling under foot.  I gave him wooden spoons and plastic bowls to play with as I rolled out the dough.  He quietly sneaked small scraps of dough that fell to the floor.  Thankfully, I didn’t see any serious allergic reaction to the butter – just some more eczema.  It’s virtually impossible to bake precisely with a toddler underfoot.  Thanks to, I was able to put together a “fool proof” pie crust that was also baby proof.  Although I burned one of the crusts and myself in the process, it turned out tender and flaky.  Cooks Illustrated recommends using vodka, which evaporates off in the oven.  I plan to use this recipe every time I make pie.  At dinner, Henry tried butter free Stove Top stuffing (due to his allergy), and had his first Turkey leg.  He immediately fell in love with both, and screamed bloody murder when the feast ended. 

After Thanksgiving the Andersons went on their annual tree cutting expedition.  Last year, we took home the prickliest bush in the world, a Scotch Pine.  I wouldn’t even call it a tree.  It was so spiny we couldn’t decorate it.  In the end, we dragged it down our hallway and chucked it out our back balcony, instead of causing us major injury by dragging it down 4 flights of stairs.  This year, with the memory of our last tree still fresh and our new curious toddler, we decided to get a smaller softer tree.  Chris’ brother found the softest tree in the world – White Fir aka. Concolor.  The needles are so soft you can hug it.  Perfect for Henry!  We trimmed it yesterday.  There are no low hanging ornaments, and we put chairs around it to prevent Henry from getting to it.  We know he’ll try to eat the fallen needles and will probably knock it over, but having Henry’s first Christmas tree is worth it. 

Happy Holidays!