The mess, oh the mess!

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Categories Feeding, Foodie Fridays, Infants, Solid Foods10 Comments

My kids are now almost 12 months old. I waited to start solid foods until my babies were six months old. Partially, because that’s what the lactation consultant recommended. And, partially, because when they were four months old, I simply couldn’t face adding more work into my life. Between staying home with the babies full-time, a half-finished dissertation proposal and a class full of second year masters students to teach, I felt like my plate was full. I couldn’t really face it at six months either, but, by that point, I’d waited long enough.  The kids were thrilled—Abigail seemed to look at me and try to say, “Ah, Mom! This is what I’ve been wanting! This is fantastic!”. Danny was less thrilled, but quickly got into it.

 While physically feeding them was okay, the mess that was created was fantastic! Another HDYDI mom asked recently, “How do you deal with the mess?”. Ah, a question I wish I had the answer for. Sweet potato in the hair. Yogurt smeared all over the tray. I double bib (small cloth bib underneath, with a big plastic bib with a pocket on top) but still some food gets through. I push up the sleeves. I try making the food thicker to try to keep it on the spoon. This is only successful when the babies don’t decide to feed themselves (they’re 11 months now, and independence is a big thing for them)….ah, an excited baby with a spoonful of oatmeal. Shake spoon excitedly! Yell loudly! Food goes flying….seriously, it’s airborn. It’ll hit the table behind them, or the floor two feet away, or, if she’s unlucky, the cat as she walks by. (Poor cat has seriously had a decrease in her quality of life since the kiddos arrived. Cat fur is so soft and fun to pull….). And now, the new developmental step is throw something over the side (of the high chair, the crib, the stroller) and then lean way over to watch it. Where did it go? On the floor? How fascinating to see it there! Let’s see what happens if I do it again!

We’ve been working on sign language for months now (with no signs in return…sigh) but Abigail’s new sign for “all done” appears to be sweeping her hands back and forth across the tray, sweeping all leftover food onto the floor. The cat is thrilled if it’s chicken…..useless if it’s bits of orange or apple. (She’ll deign to snack on cheese or tofu only if I’ve forgotten to feed her a snack recently). My floor is covered with small bits of snacks and splotches of purees. I never clean it enough. (The cleaning people have taking to spraying it with cleaner and letting it soak for 20 minutes before even trying to mop. Ew.)

There isn’t really advice in this column. I can’t say I’ve ever dealt particularly well with the mess. I have resorted to dinner in a diaper and socks only (their feet might get cold), which vaguely horrifies my husband (where did their clothes go?) but that I think makes perfect sense. Why get clothing covered with food when you don’t have to? But this isn’t really a practical solution for all meals. What do others do? Should I just bite the bullet and replace my cat (sorry kitty!) with a nice (small) dog who will happily clean my floor for me? Because that’s just what I need, something else to take care of and clean up after.

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Foodie Friday: Getting toddlers to eat

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Categories Ask the Moms, Feeding, Feeding Older Children, Foodie Fridays, Solid Foods, Toddlers4 Comments

Right as my boys were about to transition to table food, Amalah wrote a post referring to the fact her toddler would not eat anything. This post scared me because I was about to experience this times two. In the comments, the readers suggested the book “How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much” by Ellyn Satter. I bought it in hopes of preparing for toddlerhood and loved it.

To summarize, the parent is responsible for offering a variety of nutritious foods. The child is responsible for deciding what and how much to eat. That’s it. It sounds simple, but anyone who’s had a toddler knows how unsimple this theory is in reality.

For toddler age, the book recommends offering a selection of 3-5 foods at each meal. This may sound like a lot, but you want to offer a balanced diet at each meal. In the beginning of our transition, we had a few foods we knew the boys would always eat – cheese, carbs, fruit, and turkey meatballs. We offered a few of these foods at every meal then used the two additional spots to offer new foods. We continued to rotate in new foods and change the “standard” foods as they grew to like different foods.

Here’s where the emotional part comes in. You have to accept your kids may not want to even try the food the first 10-15 times you put it in front of them. It is tempting to bribe them or force them to eat, but we have always stuck with our golden rule – no battles at mealtimes. The child is responsible for deciding how much and what to eat.

Over time, we’ve noticed a trend. Some meals, the boys eat only pasta. Some meals, they scarf down peas. Some meals, they eat a little bit of everything. But over the course of a week, they eat a balanced diet. Different days they have different needs and wants, just like adults crave soup one day and meat another. And even though they may not eat a new food, they are still seeing it, smelling it, and getting to know that new food.

This strategy has worked well for our family. If my boys eat an all-fruit dinner, I don’t worry because I know I have done my job by offering them nutritious foods. I also don’t feel like a short-order cook, hoping they will eat something. With the exception of throwing food and smearing food in hair, we’ve had very little stress at mealtimes with one picky eater and one not-picky eater. 

Now that they are older and enjoy a wide variety of foods, we don’t always offer 4-5 options at each meal. We go back to this strategy when we’re having something new. The only downside of having two little boys chowing down is our very large grocery bill.

PS. Amalah also reported success with this method but after a bazillion Google searches and paging through every post after the eating post I can not find it. The Backyardigans is almost over so I’ve only got a few minutes left to enjoy my hot coffee. I love you guys but enjoying hot coffee while two toddlers are awake… very rare. Must now go stare out window while savoring every sip.

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Finger foods follow-up

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Categories Feeding, Foodie Fridays, Solid Foods1 Comment

Ooh, how alliterative I am today!

 A few weeks ago I posted about finger foods—and got back some great ideas from other moms out there. In case people missed some of them in the comments section, I thought I’d post a Finger Foods part 2 post today. Some of these ideas are too good not to share! As always, check in with your pediatrician for the final word on what your baby can and can’t have. I find that foods are one area where pediatricians can be all over the map, especially on foods like yogurt, cheese or wheat!

Slippery fruit?

Try cutting up slippery fruit, such as peaches, bananas or pears, and then shaking them in a bag full of wheat germ or Cheerio crumbs. Volia! Much easier for little fingers to pick up. Or, Lena suggests you can put the crumbs in an old spice jar and shake on.

New suggestions for finger foods

Turkey or beef meatballs, frozen peas (rinse in warm water to cook, or heat in microwave for 45 seconds), lentils (Trader Joe’s sells a pre-cooked variety), tofu chunks (huge hit in our house), mushrooms, chopped olives (careful on the salt), roasted root veggies (squash, turnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes), mashed potatoes, bananas (so my kids are weird, and it took them months to eat bananas—but now will eat a full banana each at a sitting. Shocking, really.).  Krissy suggests bites of pancakes. Yum. I try to branch out on toppings for waffles and pancakes–my kids really enjoy a nice scoop of hummus on top of their waffle. Or cream cheese. Anything cheese is good. Blueberries from a bag of frozen blueberries are good. Just let thaw in fridge and serve. A small pile of cottage cheese? Always a hit!

Other fun food ideas

LauraC suggests soups. Drain the liquid off the soup and just give them the veggie mix. There’s a great organic vegetable soup at Trader Joe’s.

Yogurt: Huge hit in our house! We get ours from Whole Foods–no hormones/antibiotics etc…The Whole Foods brand is thicker than Stoneyfield Farms and thus  stays on the spoon better. Anything that leads to less mess is good in our house! And now that the kids want to feed themselves, viscosity is even more important. Oh, if I had a dollar for every spoonful of food that’s gone flying this week…..babies-ten-months-551.jpgLauraC mentions that there is soy yogurt available too for those babies who can’t do dairy. Same goes with the cheese. Again, your friendly neighborhood Whole Foods will have options galore! 

Check out www.wholesomebabyfood.com for some good finger food recipes too. Love this site! There are some broccoli/cheese nuggets that are great. (Use baby cereal in place of bread crumbs if you haven’t introduced wheat yet.)

Food prep hint of the week, courtesy of Lena (thanks, Lena!): Cut bananas into slices, then into tiny cubes using an egg slicer. (Slice one way, then scoop out with your hand, open egg slicer, insert strips of banana the other way). She says this works with pears or avocados too. Will have to pull out my egg slicer and try it out!

Have more ideas? Post them and share with the rest of us mommies!

babies-ten-months-128.jpg

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2 babies + 1 spoon + 1 bowl = 1 meal

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Categories Feeding, Foodie Fridays, Infants, Solid Foods4 Comments

Feeding two babies at a time 

Jeanne posted a question about how to feed two 8 month old babies at the same time, especially when one is a difficult eater or when one baby keeps blocking the food with a thumb in mouth. The general consensus, with several variations, was that the easiest way to feed one baby is to use one bowl of food and one spoon, alterating bites. (Some of us, and I hate to admit that I am one of them, use this method even if one baby is sick. If they are going to take each others’ pacifiers and use them, does the same spoon really make a difference? Yep, this is how I rationalize exposing the well baby to the sick baby germs.) Several people use two bowls, so that they can see how much food each baby is getting. In my house, where both babies are chunky monkeys and usually quite happy to eat, I just shovel food into whichever baby seems interested.

How to deal with a thumb in the mouth?

I learn something new every day! Cheryl says that her doctor told her that the baby putting her thumb in her mouth after every bite is triggering her swallow reflex. Huh. So what looks like a difficult behavior to us is really adaptive? What smart babies…

I usually feed the other baby a couple of bites while waiting for baby #1 to become interested again. These days, there are lots of yummy finger foods on their trays, so fairly quickly those fingers leave the mouth in search of tasty finger food treats. And in goes another bite!

 What if the baby won’t open her mouth?

LauraC had a great suggestion for distracting the baby enough to get food in. Put a toy in the baby’s hand. For example, a mooing cow–squeeze it to distract baby and then sneak food in. Check out this link for photos and a more detailed description of this method.   http://jonandlaura.blogspot.com/2007/01/which-one-is-correct.html

As they get older, what I’ve done is offer more and more finger foods, so that the babies can munch on the finger foods and I can slip some pureed stuff in when they open their mouths to shove in cheese/pears/bananas or whatever else is on the menu that day. We started this around 9-10 months, but I think all babies are different when it comes to readiness for finger foods.

Sign language

Another great suggestion for dealing with fussy babies at mealtime is to introduce signs. You can even just focus on a couple of key mealtime signs, such as “more” and “all done” if you’re not interested in using signs all the time. I’ve heard that starting this around 6-8 months can get you signs back by 8-10 months. We’re still waiting for baby signing in our house (at 10 months) but we keep on trying! One day…

For an online ASL dictionary that will give you more signs than you or your baby will ever need, try this website: http://commtechlab.msu.edu/Sites/aslweb/browser.htm

Do you have other great suggestions for how to make mealtimes work? Add them in the comments section for others to see and try!

Do you have topics you’d like to see covered in our Foodie Fridays postings? If so, just post the suggestion in the comments section and we will do our best to respond. Ask away!

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We've fed the kids….now what do we eat?

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Categories Feeding, Foodie Fridays, Infants, Solid Foods4 Comments

Ah, the first three months (three years?) with twins…..You’ve spent hours a day feeding the babies solids, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, offering snacks. Then, they finally go to bed and you look at each other and realize that the fridge holds two onions, a carton of half and half and three week old Chinese take-out. Yeah, we have this issue many nights. So, how do you ever find time in your day to have food to eat yourselves (and no, having Domino’s on speed dial isn’t what I had in mind, athough I’m not going to judge you on that).

Have friends bring food

In the first three to four months, have your friends bring food over. And more food. And food you can freeze. This is key. You must eat, and there is so little time. Easy to eat things are good—the best food gift we got was a huge fruit salad. Yummy. Didn’t have to be heated. Healthy. And easy. Fantastic! We also got vats of mac ‘n cheese, lasagna, chili, stew, pasta with pesto, all sorts of yummy stuff.

The slow cooker

So, once your babies have hit the four month mark (a magical age for twins!), you eventually have to learn to fend for yourselves. Sadly, the take-out menus will only get you so far. (And certainly not get those final 20 pounds of baby weight off of you). Thus, the slow cooker. Fantastic! There are tons of cookbooks for the slow cooker out there. We have the Cooking Light cookbook and It’s Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker. There are websites galore. You can put the food in in the morning, while babies are calm and happy and have your house smell yummy all afternoon, as babies get closer to the witching hours and begin to fall apart. There are websites with tons of slow cooker ideas. Check out www.cookinglight.com if you are working on loosing the last 1o lbs of babyweight. Or, just google “slow cooker”. (I have to say, I was shocked by how many recipes required a cream of something soup. Who knew?)

Premade dinner places

So, I made fun of these kinds of places before I had kids. These places are popping up everywhere, under brand names like Let’s Dish, Dinner Concepts, or  Dream Dinners. You sign up for an evening and then go and put together the six, eight or twelve meals. The meals are frozen, in easy to store containers (usually plastic ziplock bags) for future empty fridge nights. These meals have gotten us through many a tough night. We are making Carribean Chicken tonight. Yum. Last week it was burritos in the slow cooker.

Fast dinners

So, we have a whole bedtime routine. My husband bathes baby #1 (whichever is louder), I breastfeed baby #1 upstairs while he bathes baby #2, then I take baby #2 upstairs to feed. That feeding time is often dinner prep time. So, you ask, what can you make in 15 minutes? Scrambled eggs. Bertolli pasta in a bag (not proud of it, but we do eat it a lot. So fast!). Pancakes (yep, there’s a breakfast theme here). Leftovers (meatloaf/chili/stew/enchiladas/pasta–all heat up so well). Quesadillas. Salad with chicken.

Cooking ahead on the weekends

The other option we’ve found helpful is to cook ahead on weekends. This is made easier by the fact that my husband gets bored just playing with babies (perhaps he needs a blog of his own?). Anyway, he loves to cook and on a happy baby morning, can actually finish a project. Homemade pesto is fantastic for the summer, and really juices up pasta all winter. Enchiladas (see previously posted leftovers). Chili. Pasta. We’ve become THOSE people—make twice as much and freeze half for later. Seriously, the bag of tortellini we went through the other day was frightening. Imagine how much tortellini is in a $7.99 bag at B.J.’s. Mixed with homemade pesto (see above), chunks of mozz cheese and marinated chicken, it makes a great dish to both eat immediately or freeze for another night.

 All that said, I was still at the point last night where I looked in the fridge, got scared by all the empty shelves (and no, I CAN’T make a dinner out of three bottles of salad dressing, catsup & two eggs) and called out local sandwich shop for a salad with grilled chicken and feta. Sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

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Finger foods for little ones

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Categories Feeding, Foodie Fridays, Infants, Solid Foods13 Comments

Foodie Friday

So, for the first Foodie Friday post, I thought I’d talk about finger foods—a topic that is near and dear to my heart now that my kids are ten months old. (Seriously, when did that happen???). If you have a topic you’d like to see covered, just post it in the comments. 

We started solid foods at six months, waiting until then because the pediatrician said that breastmilk was all they needed until that point. And, honestly, I had no desire to add one more task into my day if I didn’t need to. We did the usual purees…..rice cereal, pears, applesauce, sweet potatoes. The usual favorites. We introduced more first foods in the next few months, and then…..I realized they were old enough to start finger foods. Yikes! Choking hazards, chewing issues (Can they chew without any teeth? Well, yes, those gums are hard, but still….more things to worry about), another new thing to start. So, I asked around. I talked to people. I talked some more. And then I got the best advice…..try rice krispies. A handful on their tray for them to play with. They are small (no choking!), dissolve quickly (again, no choking), have no wheat (our pedi recommended no wheat until a year, due to a family history of Celiac’s disease), cheap and easy. Huh. So, one night, when they were about eight months old, we tried them. A handful on each tray….the kids were entranced. This was different! They actually spent 20 minutes trying to pick them up. Wow…not only did I get to try something they were ready for, I got 20 minutes to empty the dishwasher, prepare their meals for the next day and get ready for bathtime. Abigail was able to get a few krispies up, Danny, not so much. But, this became our nightly routine. Krispies for kiddos, chores for Mommy. We were all happy. And, within a week or so, Danny could pick up those krispies too. We moved on to chunks of avocado (yummy, but slippery), shredded cheese at nine months (such a hit!), smooshed beans (really, really a hit….any kind will do), pieces of ripe pear (also slippery), shreds of ripe apple, and little pieces of peaches. Now, at ten months, they would prefer to eat with their own fingers than with the spoon. And, while this streak of independence is great (so people tell me) it comes down to this….what do I feed them every night? Really, they have only two half-teeth between them. Both Danny’s. They aren’t allowed to have wheat, honey, egg whites, strawberries, nuts, peanuts……so what do I feed them???!!! I’ll list my ideas down below, and those of you with other great brainstorms, share them with us!

Pieces of fruit (pears, apples, peaches).

Avocado

Strips of egg yolk

Rice krispies/ Bunny Love (funny named gluten-free cereal)

Beans (black/red/kidney/baked)

Cooked pasta

Cooked sweet potato

Shredded cheese/cubed cheese/slices of cheese (my kiddos love cheese in any form—wonder who they got that from?)

Frozen waffles (yep, you can get gluten-free anything at Whole Foods!)

 Next week…..you’ve fed the kids, now what do you eat?

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