Sunday, November 7, 2010

Feeding an Opinionated Toddler

Feeding a toddler is very different from feeding baby. It's easier in the sense that you can cook the same meals for everyone and not have to make separate dishes for your baby. On the contrary, feeding a little one who is having more and more of their own opinions every day can be a challenge. Devyn doesn't eat as much as she used to and this can be distressing, although very normal for a toddler. I would like to share some of the meals that I make for Devyn for a few reasons. Sometimes we get stuck and run out of ideas for feeding ourselves and our little ones and find that we are tired of the same kinds of dishes week after week. I'm a pretty adventurous cook so I am always trying new things to see what I can make that is nutritious and that will appeal to her. I also find that feeding Devyn is easier when I allow her to feed herself. When I try to spoon feed her she will take a few bites and then turn her entire torso around, rejecting any more of my advances.. kind of like the exorcist. When she sees me pick up her spoon she is already turned by the time I'm done scooping up a spoonful. She also does not care to sit in the chair for as long as it takes to consume a meal. When I let her feed herself it keeps her occupied. I put the food down on her tray (put the dogs away too otherwise its much more fun feeding them than feeding herself) and let her have at it. Without my attention she will generally eat a decent sized meal. Givng her time also helps because sometimes she loses interest for a few minutes and then goes back to eating again. Most of these meals are great for self feeding just because Devyn would rather do it herself at this stage. It's messy but it's nice to be able to eat my own food while it's still hot! Here are some of the recipes that I prepare for her although there aren't any measurements because I cook to taste and if you're making it for your baby, yourself and your baby, or your whole family, you will have to adjust amounts and flavors accordingly.

Fruit and Oatmeal
If I make hot cereal tasty enough, she will tolerate being spoon fed and she will eat it up! I use whole milk in her hot cereals to increase her daily milk consumption.

A small apple, peeled, cored and cut into small dice
Whole milk
Good vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
Butter (optional)

Put the cut up apple in a microwave safe dish with a little water and cover with a wet paper towel. Microwave until tender (60-90 seconds). Prepare oatmeal according to package directions. After adding oats to boiling water/milk, add apples, cinnamon and vanilla to taste. Do not leave out the salt because it makes a HUGE difference when making hot cereals. Cook until oats are tender enough for your baby to chew. Alternately you can use dried fruit (cranberries, apricots roughly chopped). Put these in the water and bring to a slow boil before adding oats so they can rehydrate and soften. For the adults I toast some nuts (walnuts, almonds or pecans) and sprinkle them on the finished cereal. You can add some brown sugar or maple syrup to sweeten if desired.
Veggie Scrambled Eggs
This is a great self feeding recipe. I serve it with 100% whole wheat toast that I offer when she's halway through with eating the eggs. I ate this quite a bit while Devyn was still in my tummy!

Eggs (duh!)
Frozen spinach
Shredded Cheese (cheddar, swiss, provlone.. anything not processed)
Onion, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute onions until softened in your choice of fat (butter, canola oil, olive oil). Meanwhile defrost spinach in a collander under warm water. Squeeze water out VERY well. When the onions are cooked, add the spinach and then the eggs. Scramble until cooked through. Sprinkle cheese on top and gently fold into eggs. Alternately you can use any veggies (zucchini, mushrooms, peppers.. the possibilities are endless). I will usually throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand.

Banana French Toast
You can substitute bananas for sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, soft cooked apple or pear.. whatever you have on hand. Using 100% whole wheat bread guarantees that you're getting the most nutritious whole grains. Pure maple syrup is actually good for your health with heart healthy minerals and antioxidants

100% Whole Bread
Good vanilla extract
Butter or Pam
Pure maple syrup
A ripe banana

Break eggs into a shallow dish. Add enough milk and mix with a fork until custard is light yellow. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon. You can either soak the bread in the custard or put the bread in a shallow pan and pour the custard over it, turning bread over so it soaks through thoroughly. Since whole wheat bread tends to be dense it's best to let it sit for a few minutes to allow it soften. Grease a hot skillet and cook French toast until golden. Top with sliced bananas and maple syrup.

Blueberry Smoothie

I like to use frozen fruit when I make smoothies because it makes it nice and cold without using ice. Any frozen fruit can be used. For health conscious mamas whole milk products probably aren't ideal, however they're best for your baby's growth and development at this time. You can use flavored yogurt obviously, but I only buy plain yogurt for Devyn and mix in fresh fruit to avoid sugar overload.

Frozen blueberries
Whole milk yogurt
Whole milk
Honey (Only for babies over 1 year who are not allergic. I only use a drop to offset the tartness of the blueberies)
Put all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth.

Roasted Vegetable Cream Cheese
I can't take credit for this recipe because it belongs to Alton Brown and I've been making it way before Devyn was even a thought. She is a huge fan though so I had to add it to the list. It's a little more labor intensive than the rest of these recipes but it's well worth it. You can serve it on crackers of make a sandwich with whole wheat bread.

1 small zucchini
1 small onion
1 red pepper
8 oz. bar of cream cheese
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Slice all vegetables and put in a baking pan, tossing with olive oil (enough to coat so they don't stick. Roast veggies in the oven, stirring occasionally until tender (about 40 minutes). Allow to cool thoroughly. Transfer veggies (not liquid) into a food processor or finely chop. Add cream cheese and combine. Season to taste.

Devyn's Quesadillas
Alternately you can make this using whole wheat bread so that it's more like grilled cheese. This is a pretty messy self feeding meal but oh so good!

2 Whole Wheat tortillas
1/3 roma tomato, small dice
1/2 Hass avocado
Shredded cheddar
Butter or Pam spray

Grease pan over medium heat and put in first tortilla. Top woth shredded cheddar and tomato. On the other tortilla, scoop out avocado and spread to cover. Place tortilla avocado side down on cheese and tomatos. Cook until cheese is melted and tortillas are golden and crisp on both sides. Let sit for a few minutes for the filling to resettle so it doesn't ooze out when you cut it. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter and into smaller bites if necessary for your little one.

Fried Rice
If you don't have time to cook brown rice the old fashioned way, Trader Joe's sells it frozen and it cooks up perfectly in 3 minutes. Ginger, garlic and soy are the holy trinity of Chinese cooking. The right combination of these yields delicious chinese dishes. Fresh ginger keeps well in the freezer but a little dried ginger works just as well. This is a great dinner for the whole family.

Brown rice
Frozen Veggies (I use broccoli, carrots, asparagus and peas)
Onion, small dice
Chicken breast, finely chopped
Scrambled egg (optional)
Ginger, grated
Garlic, grated
Soy sauce
Sesame oil

In a microwave safe dish, cook veggies until tender and cut into small pieces. Heat a little sesame oil in a frying pan or wok over medium heat. Cook onions for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add chicken breast and when it is halfway done add garlic and ginger. Sautee for 1 minute then add veggies and brown rice. Once everything is nice and hot add soy sauce to taste.

Pastina is tiny star shaped pasta. I grew up on this and its great comfort food that most kids love.

Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach or a combination, cut into small pieces
1 egg, raw and scrambled

Cook pastina in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Halfway through, add the veggies so they can cook with the pasta. When tender, drain and add back to the pot over medium hear. Add egg and butter and cook, stirring until fluffy and the egg is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Alternately you can add cheese, either with or without the veggies.

Friday, October 29, 2010

When They Say It Goes Fast, That's An Understatement...

Looking at the pictures from Devyn's first birthday party, I began to notice how much she's changed these last few months. She looks less like a baby and more like a little girl. If she wasn't still bald for the most part she probably wouldn't look like a baby at all. She's talking more and more every day, mastering her environment, eating grown up food and even taking her first steps. I'm amazed by her and how wonderful and trying this past year has been. Physically she's slimmer and much taller, even though she was never a chubby baby which was something that caused me to worry quite a bit throughout her babyhood (I can't believe it's past tense) and even presently. At this point I can blame it on her activity level. She's always been a very active baby. We had to swaddle her until she was almost six months old because of her restless sleeping. She would wake herself up all night long because of her flailing arms. She woke me up a few times because her flailing arms were slapping me in the face. Sleep positioners are supposed to be unsafe but for us the benefits outweighed the risks. I remember one night, rolling over and peeking a sleepy eye in on her in her pack and play pulled up to the side of my bed. My eyes shot open because she wasn't there! Instead of peacefully sleeping in the spot where I left her she was at the foot of the crib, in the dreaded tummy down position. To make matters worse she was swaddled! That's pretty much as dangerous as it gets for a newborn. She was living on the edge. The sleep positioner was the only way to keep her arms in control and to keep her from rolling away. She still sleeps restlessly, most of the time waking one of us with a foot to the neck or a swift kick in the gut. Her naps have shortened to one half hour nap once a day on most days to maybe a 20-30 minute nap twice a day. Every now and then she sleeps for an hour. Those naps would be heaven if I didn't start to panic that she was abducted by aliens or that something else just as awful had happened to her. I thought that her increased mobility would exhaust her a little more but that hasn't happened yet. She's active and is into everything and if you get in the way you had better watch your back. I interrupted her plot to tear up the bathroom this afternoon and placed her outside the bathroom door. She promptly took it out on a bag of mega blocks that was sitting there. Her personality is beginning to emerge and it's so subtle that I'm almost missing it. I realized that her favorite food is cheese because when I hold up a piece she says "Ch-th?" with a big smile and devours it. She says quite a few words but that is the only food that she labels. She knows what her "bap" (bath) is and goes to the bathroom when you ask her is she wants to take one. She talks about "dadat" all the time and although I thought she wasn't labeling me for months she was, I just didn't realize that "bob" (now "bobop") means mom or mama. She points to the "yight" when you turn it on, she points out the "dats" (cats) when she sees them and makes sure to say "yiiiice" when she pets them (although its more like she's smacking them in the face). She really does love them even when shes trying to mow over them with her little ride on car (which she just walks behind and pushes into everything and presses the buttons so we hear the music over and over...). She's starting to label her toys. She has her "baby" and her "behh ahh" (bear). She's changing so fast at this point that my head is spinning. She can get around better than any of us, that's for sure. She climbs over things, crawls under things, squeezes through things. I've lost her twice around the house already. She can walk but prefers to crawl because she hasn't mastered walking yet. Crawling is fast. If she hears something in another room she can be there before you even realize she's gone. I can't even imagine how things would be if she was only walking (most likely running). She has truly changed our lives this past year in a wonderful way. Not only has she intensified my marriage but she has brought the whole family closer together. I miss my tiny baby that's for sure but I'm also excited to see what this next year will bring.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Desperately Trying to Raise an Adventurous Eater

When it comes to food, I'm smitten. So much so that I decided to go to college to learn all about it. So naturally I want my child to be just as involved and, more importantly, as adventurous as I am. I'm not picky and I never was. There are a few things that I can't stand, but I can tolerate most of them if I have to. So introducing foods to Devyn has been an exciting experience for the both of us. I started out with a few guidelines: I wanted to make my own, I wanted to make her food interesting, and I wanted to feed her mostly organic foods. So off to Whole Foods we went once we got the green light. In the beginning she hated everything. The cereal, the veggies.. it was a lost cause.. I was frustrated and began to really dislike mealtimes. Once she got used to the idea, she began to come around. Now feeding her is the only time where a battle doesn't ensue. (oh yea and bathtime, unlike diaper changing time and face wiping time and nail cutting time.. well, you get the point) At this point she will eat anything that you put in front of her face, whether it's food or not. Even the pets are fair game. I cook for her using whatever I would like: onions, peppers, herbs, spices.. you name it. And it's only getting easier (and messier!) now that she loves to feed herself. I'm doing less pureeing and more dicing and letting her have a go at it and if it's on my plate (or the dog's) it's even better! She does well holding onto foods like bananas and toast and things of that nature (although she must be in close supervision in case she gets too eager and stuffs the entire thing into her little trap). She also loves to feed the dogs, which in my opinion, if it keeps her quiet so I can finish what I'm doing or just to enjoy my own dinner then let her do what she wants. She's the one who has to deal with a doggie audience everytime she eats, not me. When it comes to washing it all down, I only give her water (we live in the desert so the water drinking habit is essential to those who don't want to shrivel up and dry out in 110 degree heat). She will not look at a bottle so it's been all about the sippies since she was around 6 months old. After trying all kinds of sippies (buying and testing out these cups is an adventure all in itself), we decided that we like the ones with a straw the best. My hopes are to have a child who isn't addicted to chicken nuggets, french fries and pizza. My plans are to withhold these delicious items until her love of healthier fare is well established. She might turn two and decide that she doesn't like the wonderful and nutritious items I prepare for her. It's a very real possibility and I have to be prepared just in case. Until then, bon app├ętit!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tiny Pearly Whites of Misery

I have to admit, thinking about the time when I would have to say goodbye to that gummy grin would really make me sad. The arrival of teeth is yet another milestone that signifies the passing of the baby stage. It is also a period of time where the family (yes all of us) has to endure the misery of teething. A stage I will not be reluctant to throw out the window. They say the two top, two bottom and molars are the worst ones to deal with and in my opinion thats way too many. Desperate, I tried anything I could get my hands on: expensive herbs, amber necklaces, those teething tablets everyone loves, teething gel and Tylenol. Whether any of it actually works is beyond me (except the Tylenol of course) but I use them religiously every day just in case with exception to the Tylenol which I wish I could use every day. When the first tooth on the bottom showed itself I was ecstatic. She looked a little like a crazy homeless man with one tooth, but that was ok. Now she has two, side by side on the bottom. They're totally cute and give her character. My mother has even expressed an interest in kissing those teeth although I don't think that Devyn would allow that. They're great when she smiles and laughs and talks. The only drawback of these cute little white squares is the biting. She's bit me before on the hand, or on my arm and I marveled at the perfect bitemark consisting of 2 little indentations. So charming! However she has recently taken an interest in biting while nursing.. On purpose. I tried scolding her sharply, loudly, tapping her on the mouth and always ended the "punishment" with terminating the nursing session. It worked in the beginning. Now she has used this against me. During our bedtime routine when I am trying to put her to sleep and she doesn't feel like retiring, she will bite and look straight at me. I scold her and end the nursing session, which I believe is her ultimate goal. She rolls off the boppy and crawls away. Great! When she is really tired she will cry and become clingy but she achieves her goal of delaying the bedtime ritual. Having her rely on nursing to go to sleep is a choice that I made and I understand that. Do I envy those moms who can just place their little bundle in the crib, give a goodnight and go along on their merry way? Yes! But I chose this path and I enjoy our last little cuddle before she goes to sleep in her crib, especially since we don't do it much in general anymore. Nursing her to sleep is rather pleasurable for me. Walking around the room and trying to rock a fussy, sleep fighting Devyn to sleep is not. I decided that if she needed me to go to sleep, it would be on my terms. The next time she pulled her rebellious biting routine I expressed my distress about the situation and put her in her crib. I let her cry for 5 minutes before I got her to give her another go. I was preparing myself for a 10 minute stint next time if I had to but she did her part and went to sleep. The next night she just went to sleep like a good girl. As a behaviorist I am leery about using her crib as a place of punishment but I feel that it's my only option since weaning is not possible yet and even if it were, neither of us are ready. Hopefully the rest of the teeth won't prove to be bigger adversaries than the ones she has now. Only time will tell!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our Quest for Companionship

I have never felt the need to make friends like I have since Devyn has come into my life. Most of my friends do not have kids and have therefore decided that I'm either too busy or they don't think that hanging around the two of us is that much fun. It would also be nice to make some friends with babies around Devyn's age so that she could have someone to hang out with too. In an effort to expand our social life, we have been attending a "New Mommy Mixer" since Devyn was 6 weeks old. In the five and a half months we have been attending we have managed to make zero friends. Making friends is like finding a date and probably just as stressful. You want someone who you have things in common with, who is trustworthy, compatible, like-minded and of course you're afraid of rejection. We seem to attract people like the opposite sides of a magnet. I have been trying to figure out why nobody wants to be our friend. Maybe its me. I'm a pretty honest person which means I'm straightforward (I have been called other words that aren't as nice but still mean the same thing). I'm very chatty so if I'm thinking it, you're probably going to hear about it. I also have a bit of a silly streak. I love to have fun and I never fully grew up. Maybe its Devyn. Maybe she talks too much. Her chatter probably sounds like screeching and screaming to everyone else. She especially likes to do this during an important discussion that everyone is trying to listen to. Don't get me wrong, if not for this group I would have given up on breastfeeding long ago. Watching all the moms whipping them out and doing it with ease, not to mention the on-site lactation consultants there provided us with plenty of support to keep trying. I am forever grateful and owe my success to this group. Actually you're kind of an outcast there if you don't nurse. I tried to give away some formula a few weeks ago. I announced this by asking if anyone there uses formula. I think I heard the crickets chirping. Only about two women out of the 25 there used it and the rest of them were looking at me as if I asked "So, who here likes beating their babies?" I'm sure that didn't help my cause too much. I have decided to give up on this group of women. I'd rather deal with Devyn being my only friend in the world than with the frustration week after week. On a positive note, the other day I met a lady in the Walmart parking lot who said she would go to another group with me which I was already considering going to. She even gave me her phone number! Maybe there's some hope for Devyn and I after all!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Milky Mamma

Being a parent is a wild adventure, filled with twists, turns, happiness, worries and all sorts of other surprises that will either make your day or scare the crap out of you. While becoming adjusted to my newfound role of "mommy", I also opted to take a stroll down the path of breastfeeding. I have to admit, despite being forewarned about the difficulty of nursing, it looked pretty simple to me. Put baby to your boob and the baby will just latch on and go for it. Nurse alot and make plenty of milk. Sounds easy right? Our bodies and our babies were made to do this right? Wrong! Successful breastfeeding was one of the most difficult aspects of this entire experience. For the first two months I hated it. I was quite embarassed to admit this. The pain was excrutiating. My nipples always felt like the dog had been chewing on them relentlessly. When I got cold, I swear I was able to shoot needles out of them. I spent hours and hours of my day doing it (every hour and a half, day and night, probably 8-10 hours), and I was a slave to my milk. There is no break from breastfeeding. The emptying of the breast, by baby or by pump, must be done every few hours because they just keep filling up. Because of this you have to wear a bra with nursing pads 24/7 or you will announce to everyone that you're your own personal dairy or risk soaking your bed at night. Since breastfeeding is a supply and demand process, ignore your milk, and you will make less and have to endure the awful feeling of your breasts being about to explode. The fact of the matter was that mommy and baby just could not get it right. Also the issue of my boob being twice as big as her head didn't help either. My goal was two weeks. Maybe if I could just last six weeks. Two months would be great! Finally, three months into this extremely painful disaster and two different lactation specialists later with the help of a third, Devyn and I got it. First step was no more nipple shield. This is a fake plastic nipple that you're supposed to get rid of after a few weeks that we were both addicted to. It causes a decreased supply, clogged ducts which are like pebbles of fire, and less nourishment to baby. With practice we established a good latch that didnt bring tears to my eyes, and after about three days of nonstop nursing a much better milk supply. By four months we were pros and Devyn was latching on all by herself. Now at six and a half months, she can find my nipple from across a dark room and try to suck on it, whether or not I'm wearing a shirt. I am afraid that I will be the crazy, creepy woman breastfeeding her five year old. I plan on stopping before that of course. I have never been one to really stick with something, especially after an experience like that, but I was determined. Everything in my heart told me it was the right thing to do, especially when I was finding excuses to quit. Keeping at it has been the most rewarding part of being a mom. Being the only one who can nurse your baby can be tiring, but it is a bond that only you can have with your child. Cuddling up and nursing is wonderful and when your baby only wants to do this with you its amazing, not to mention the health benefits for both. It's the perfect food for your little one and it's free. I never have to make, pack, wash, or heat a bottle. While I never thought I would say this, I will definitely take a stroll down the milky way again if we decide on another child and I will be utterly sad and disappointed when it comes time to wean Devyn. Maybe when her little teeth decide to make their grand entrance, I might be singing a different tune.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nap Time? No Thanks!

When I would fantasize about being a mom I always pictured wonderful afternoons when baby napped in her crib for hours and I could catch up on the housework or even have a few minutes of "me" time. Not quite. Devyn is the master of the "power nap", the champion of sleep fighting. This is how she survived the first five months of her existence. Just give her 20-30 minutes (if she sleeps any longer, she might miss something really important!) and she's good to go for another few hours. She's bright eyed, coherent and alert which is good enough for her, but her crankiness is enough to scare everyone else away. She will nap ON someone for hours. That is never a problem. Getting her to nap alone is the issue. There is a trick, although not always foolproof: 1. swaddle tight 2. put in swing  3. turn swing on high. The success of this method is due to the high motion of the swing. It kicks her butt in her fight against sleep. After days of power napping she will usually crash and nap for hours from the utter exhaustion of being Devyn but then wake up in the middle of the night, wide eyed and ready to start her day. That's my baby!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Put her down already!

I would put her down, but I can't! Soon after the super sleepy newborn stage passed, she would not allow anybody to put her down. I was fortunate to have someone to tend to her so that I could take care of my basic needs. As she has grown and is able to entertain herself I rotate her between various contraptions (doorway jumpers, bouncy seats - she has two different ones, play gyms, and a variety of other baby entertainment apparatuses) so that I can take a shower or maybe do a little bit of cleaning. There is a catch: there is a 10 minute time limit. Once in a while she will be generous with maybe 15-20 minutes. Once she even sat for 30! However, after about 10 minutes she begins to let me know that she is finished entertaining herself for the moment and requires some human interaction. This means being carried around so she can see what else is going on. Being nosy is her ultimate form of entertainment. I tried baby wearing which is the ultimate solution for dealing with a Devyn but I could not get things done with her strapped to me. A mom at the mommy group I attend (who I watch week after week enviously as she lays her baby down on a little blanket and there she stays for the entire hour, maybe dozes off a little, happily until its over) gave me a few pointers for getting my laundry folded: "I make it interesting for her..I explain 'Now we're folding the shirt' and I show her and blah blah blah." I'm sure that works for your little angel but Devyn doesn't care if I narrate the folding of the laundry or not. She simply does not want to LAY there. Period. Even is she was strapped to me I would have to fold the laundry and walk around the house at the same time for her to be satisfied. I know that once she is fully mobile she will probably not want me to hold her anymore and one day she will be too big to carry around anyway. These baby stages are so fleeting so I cherish each day holding my little girl because I do thoroughly enjoy carrying her around and if I'm spoiling her then I'm OK with that!

Let Me Introduce You to My Active Baby

There are many names for it: alert, active, high need, demanding. Whatever you want to call it, these babies sure are one thing: exhausting. Nowadays babies are deemed "unspoilable" until about 6 months of age. Devyn was deemed "spoiled" at the ripe old age of a week and a half. Sure she was held ALOT right from the moment she was born. I was told to put her in her crib already but did I listen? Nope. Did I spoil my newborn baby? No, she was born that way. Dr. Sears is my hero because he really put things into perspective for me. On his website he thoroughly defines what he likes to call the "high need" baby. This is my Devyn. She needs massive amounts of attention, stimulation, motion, carrying, and probably a hundred other things. The pediatrician, who also has a Devyn, completely understands. She told me that some babies are just that way and they are very active toddlers. I can already tell that she is going to tear the house apart once she is able to transport herself without adult assistance. Even with all the activities that she participates in all day, the one thing she does not need massive amounts of? Sleep.  Welcome to the world of Devyn, my active baby.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


For a variety of reasons blogging is something that has always interested me, particularly because I love to talk, I love to write, and I love to help. Blogging may provide an outlet for all of these things and be somewhat therapeutic for me. I am an information junkie. I would be lost without the comfort of the internet, helpless without my IPhone. I look to the internet to learn, for support, for reassurance and for just about everything else under the sun. If I could share my thoughts over the internet, perhaps I could possibly alleviate my overactive brain and maybe even provide information and/or comfort to others like myself. I am not an expert in babies by any means but I do have thoughts and ideas that I am eager to share. If in the process of this "therapy" I can ease even one insecure mom's day, then this experience will be nothing but gratifying.