My Baby Isn’t Interested in Solids

My baby isn't interested in solidsThere are as many methods to transition a baby to solid foods as there are baby gurus out there. Cereal first, meat first, nuts, no nuts, baby-led weaning …

No matter the method though, a child cannot live forever on breastmilk or formula alone, and there will come a day when she has her first taste of food.

What if baby isn’t interested in solids? Many people say to have your baby sit with the family during mealtimes, and he will naturally become interested in solids seeing his family eating them, too. This is exactly how things went down with my two younger boys. My oldest, however, Mr. Stubborn, was a different story.

Come six months of age, my mom group friends’ babies were all starting to chow down. There didn’t seem to be a picky eater among them (though the Internet does have a way of glossing over things, doesn’t it?). Mr. Stubborn though, was not interested. In any of it. I packed up the baby spoons and tried again in a few weeks. Nope. By eight months old, he was still growing like a weed, but was still refusing everything but breastmilk. I was exhausted providing all of the calories for a 97 percenter in weight category.

Every reluctant eater will have a different food that will finally start to turn things around. For mine, it was rice husk crackers. I know, there’s not a ton going on there, nutrient-wise, but it was an enjoyable sensory experience for him, which started him finally getting more adventurous on other foods. So don’t give up. Take a break, and keep trying a variety of foods.

Finally, if you have any concerns, make sure to bring it up with your pediatrician. It’s possible that your child may need to see a feeding therapist, particularly if she isn’t growing at a rate your pediatrician and you are happy with.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three boys (and desperately hoping that they don’t burn the house down someday). She and her family are enjoying living an ex-pat life overseas.

 

 

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Simple Crockpot Meals

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 7.38.23 AMThere are few kitchen appliances that I love more than my very trusty crockpot. It’s great in the winter for creating slow-cooked, hearty dishes like beef stew. It also happens to be wonderful in the summertime when you’d rather be spending time playing outdoors than at the stove. Here are some of my favorite, and easiest, crockpot meals.

Meatballs.
There’s nothing magical about my meatball recipe except maybe the fact that I use shredded (in the food processor) veggies like carrots and kale instead of breadcrumbs. Sometimes I go crazy and make “meatball surprise” which is just a turkey meatball with a little piece of mozzarella string cheese stuffed into the middle and my daughter thinks it’s the best thing ever. All you do to make them in the crockpot is line the bottom of it with your favorite tomato sauce, place the meatballs on top, spoon some sauce over the meatballs and cook on low for about 6 hours. Serve with pasta, rice or even over potatoes.

Salsa Chicken.
It doesn’t get any easier than this. All you need is four chicken breasts (you can double the recipe for lots of leftovers) and a jar (or two) of your favorite Mexican salsa. Put the chicken in the crockpot and dumb the salsa on top. I like to cook low and slow, 8 hours, so it gets really nice and shredded. The shredded chicken makes great tacos and is delicious served over rice or sautéed or veggies. You can make so many variations on this depending on the kind of salsa you get. Try a peach salsa, green sauce, or even enchilada sauce whatever you can find!

Soba noodles with pork.
This happens to be my husband’s favorite. You need one pork tenderloin cut into about 1-inch cubes. Season them with ginger, curry, and some tamari or soy sauce and then toss them into the slow cooker with some chicken broth–enough to cover the bottom with about an inch of broth. Cook on low for 8 hours and it will be so easy to shred. When it’s done cook some soba noodles and toss the shredded pork with the noodles and add some thinly sliced Napa cabbage. Now you’ve got an easy one-bowl dinner. Give it a try while you’re stirring it all up and add any more seasonings or tamari depending on your taste.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their groove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby. 

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Newborn Coping Strategies

IMG_1141The newborn days pass by in a blur. Often, parents of a newborn are so tired they could cry, frazzled from learning their new baby’s cues and trying to get into a routine, possibly stressed or sore from breastfeeding, plus working through the postpartum hormonal roller coaster. It’s hard to stop and smell the roses (or in this case, smell that new baby scent).

One thing that helped our family get through the early days was having made up meals and packing them in the freezer before hand. If you’re lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a meal train, even better! You’ll need nutritious and hearty food to keep up and help your body heal from birth, and sometimes (most of the time), you’ll be too tired to want to mess with much.

If you can, getting help with older children from other adults is a real blessing. Just picking up your older kids and taking them to the park or a movie can give you a chance to catch a nap or even possibly have a couple moments of silence. Likewise, don’t be afraid to accept offers of help cleaning up or with the laundry. If you don’t have help, letting the laundry sit a couple days won’t hurt (though if you’re cloth diapering, this probably isn’t an option).

Try and get out and get some fresh air and stretch your legs. When my first son was born deep into the Alaskan winter, it was difficult because of snow and ice to walk outdoors, so I would walk on the track at the gym. This isn’t a fitness or weight loss activity, but a mental health activity. My younger son was born in the summer, so I could walk outdoors with him right away.

Lean on your partner (and your partner likewise) to get a little self-care time in. Shoot for every day. Before you have a newborn, you will never fully appreciate having ten minutes to shower, brush your teeth, and put on some lotion. This may not happen everyday, but it makes a huge difference in your outlook when you are able to get those few moments to yourself.

Finally, keep close watch on yourself. Baby blues are normal. If you continue to feel depressed or anxious, please reach out to your partner, family or friends, and to your doctor. It’s important to you and your baby to watch out for your mental health.

And remember to take time to enjoy that new-baby smell, it will be gone before you know it.

Meaghan Howard is a busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys and a houseful of animals. She and her family are enjoying living overseas for the time being.

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Foods that Cause Colic

maisie cry 1When my oldest son was born, we could use him to tell time. At pretty much exactly 7pm each evening until 11pm, he would cry. And cry. And cry. I wore a path in the carpet walking back and forth with him in the carrier, as this was the only thing that seemed to soothe him. Diagnosis? Colic.

If you’re breastfeeding and your baby has colic, it’s worth investigating whether it’s something that you are eating that’s causing tummy issues (and therefore irritability) in your infant. Common food triggers are dairy, caffeine, spicy foods, nuts, some grains, chocolate and sometimes cruciferous veggies, as they can cause gas. Your infant may be sensitive to more than one thing as well.

Sidenote: both breastfed and formula fed babies experience colic. If your child is formula fed and experiencing colic symptoms, you can talk with your pediatrician about changing to another formula.

If you suspect this may be the case, you will need to do an elimination diet. Eliminate one or more of these items for a couple weeks, and see how your baby is doing. If she seems less fussy after two weeks, you then challenge the diet, one food at a time. After a couple days, if your child stays less fussy, add in another, and repeat.

If you’re eliminating foods, you will naturally become an ingredient label super sleuth. Dairy in particular is in a huge number of foods, things you never would think to find it in. If you aren’t cooking from scratch, read every label. Restaurants can be trickier; you often will need to ask your server about the ingredients (chain restaurants generally have nutritional information available online, so you can peruse before you go).

Some good news though; if your child seems sensitive to something you are eating, it doesn’t mean your child will be allergic to that ingredient. More often than not, the child grows out of the sensitivity.

If you think your baby is suffering from colic (with colic, often the entire family suffers together), definitely bring it up with your doctor. She will help you rule out other causes of irritability. And there’s a bit of hope out there as well. Your baby WILL grow out of it. Like everything else newborn, the days are long but the months are short. By four months of age, most babies have grown out of it.

Meaghan Howard is a busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys and a houseful of animals. She and her family are enjoying living overseas for the time being.

Thursday, August 25, 2016
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Babies and Big Groups

Babies and Big GroupsWe visit family often. By family, I mean a moderately-sized group of twenty or so people. The trick is we often stay in my parent’s or my in-law’s home where all of these twenty people are also around for prolonged periods of time. Sometimes they are also staying at my parents, or in the case of my in-laws grandma babysits many of the kids and we spend the weekends doing things together. Our visits are from a few days to as much as six weeks sometimes during summer and winter school breaks.

With our first child, our first long visit at five and again at twelve months, I really tried to stay rigid. We napped when we were “supposed” to nap; when a little taste of icing was offered I refused it on his behalf though; I apologized for his grumpiness at times. By now with the three kiddos in tow I’ve settled into a little confidence and competence on managing my babies in these big group situations.

Most important for us was to know our children’s individual needs. One child gets overwhelmed more quickly with sensory overload and crying fits occur more often. He needs a quiet room. For another we look for cues of needing more cuddles or neediness though he is not as acutely aware of noise. He needs more hugs. Knowing your child’s needs allows you to best advocate for them. Advocacy does not require shouting out defensively so much as just providing, as the adult, for your child’s needs and giving space for their voice in the context of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. We visit for weeks at a time, and I recognize that being far from home—away from bed, toys, the grocery store and church, even the streets and all the other familiar things—can be taxing.

Be ok with standing up for what your children need. We love our families very much and enjoy their company. I recall one day when additional family arrived unexpectedly to visit just as my children were waking from their naps (possibly having woken one of them from his nap). As we see them regularly during our long visits, I didn’t feel any pressure to “make every moment count.” In fact, ensuring my children’s emotional stability for the day allowed for the remaining moments to be most enjoyed. I politely and quietly ushered my kids into our bedroom and closed the door. There was no big explanation or curiosity about it. I could tell my children needed a few minutes to transition from nap to unexpected socialization. Those twenty minutes secured my children’s ability to cope and enjoy the remainder of the day with family.

Advocating also means finding trust within you. I make mistakes but generally believe I take the time to balance what everyone needs with what my children need. Just because we are far from home doesn’t mean they always get their way or even always get their needs met. Sometimes we don’t get our needs met. But I try to find a little grace for them and me when I don’t read a situation most accurately or my expectations (of myself or others) aren’t met. Though rare, any comment someone makes about their behavior I try not to engage it as a criticism. That comment doesn’t matter as a judgment on my parenting, but it is insightful in how I might be a better house guest or how someone else is experiencing their time with us. Again, it’s a constant negotiation of being present for everyone I can and not just my children.

I try to balance time with the larger family and friends with just my little family of five. For some of that time we are a family of four while hubby works. I build in days of just down time or little adventures (to the donut shop or park) where it is only us even though they have many cousins who would love to join us. We spend much time with the cousins and I find it grounding and rejuvenating for my kids (and me) to just be together alone. This means extra cuddle time and quiet time together, which I usually build in early in the morning before others wake up or arrive.

Last, I let things slide. I find it important to keep structure but my kids usually eat a little less healthy on any of our vacations. They take in a little more technology, sometimes stay up a little later, and their nap schedule becomes a little less concrete. After trekking 1,600 miles each way in a mini-van with three little ones you learn to bend a little to adapt and make the time as enjoyable as possible.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 3 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
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