Posts Tagged ‘food’

Baby-led Feeding

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Baby-led feedingPerhaps your baby shows signs of being ready for table food. Maybe he or she hit that magic age where solids are to be introduced. Perhaps you find yourself strolling down the baby aisle at the store and considering all those pouches of puree that seem to be all the craze these days.

Baby-led feeding is generally referred to as baby-led weaning because the introduction of table food is the beginning of a longer process of transitioning baby to table foods full-time. Of course this process takes many months (or even years). Weaning, then, is not a loss so much as a transition in the relationship that occurs overtime.

Numerous resources already exist if you’re looking for more information about the process, if you and your child are ready to begin baby-led weaning, and ideas for recipes and general tips to make the messy transition as simple as possible.

KellyMom is a well-known resource on breastfeeding but they don’t leave you cold when it comes time to shift. KellyMom.com offers numerous articles written by those knowledgeable in the field about weaning. Specific situations for mothers who primarily pump are also included. The website continues beyond recognizing if your child is ready to also include information about timing the weaning process, ensuring you do not move too quickly or cut out other needs your child might not have as often with decreased breastfeeding (like cuddle time or other one-on-one attention).

If you are working through your own feelings on the subject know you aren’t alone! Le Leche offers insight into a variety of feelings and thoughts that moms might need to process as the consider or are in the midst of baby-led feeding. They also offer specialty articles such as weaning twins or anxiety associated with this transition.

When it comes to the food Wholesome Baby Food at Momtastic offers a number of recipes and weekly menu ideas to help get you started or out of the “bananas and avocado again” slump. The site also includes age-specific information for weaning. Of course if you prefer holding a book to read up on the subject, several primers exist on the subject.

Simple Bites is a mommy-driven website that incorporates baby-led weaning to the table with their general interest in including the whole family around unprocessed meals. Mama Natural also speaks with similar interest and authority found mostly in personal experience and research. Both sites offer numerous ideas and recipes to help introduce anyone to the concept of BLW.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 8 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Meal Planning 101

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

meal planning 101We all plan meals, whether monthly or mere minutes before they hit the table. Purposeful meal planning is all the rage in circles of moms trying to find the time to get it all done while on a budget.

At first, planning meals may feel burdensome, like one more thing to do in your already busy day. The fact is you are already planning meals, but doing so in advance can save you money and time, as well as help you to be more thoughtful about what you want your family to consume overall.

First, take note of what you are already eating. It’s happening whether the meals are planned or not. Try to recall the meals of the last week (or write down your meals for several weeks to get an idea). Assess what you like about your dinners and what changes you’d like to see over time. Perhaps you’d like to add more veggies, eat less take-out, eat fewer fried foods, or just add more variety.

Next, consider what you already have on hand. Planning meals requires buying ahead of time the particular ingredients of each meal, but you also need the basics always in stock at home. This can vary for each family but sugar, flour, basic spices, olive oil, vinegar, beans, tomatoes, pasta, rice, and so on based on your inclinations. You can also prepare your kitchen by having a no-buy week, weeks, or month. This is great incentive to save a few bucks to stock your kitchen with basics for the future.

With all of these things in mind grab a pen. On a calendar (whether fancy or just a sheet of paper with days jotted down) write out a meal plan for one or two weeks. You can also plan breakfasts and lunches. I don’t write these down in advance but rather have about 10 go-to meals that I keep fairly in stock, based on sales.

When I don’t plan meals I can feel frazzled by 5 PM. In reality the dinner hurdle is not as bad as I think. I plan about five meals knowing that we will have one or two leftover nights and possibly a pizza take-out night (or something similar). We also have a night where we eat dinner at the church. Suddenly my week only needs 4 meals to make it through. I also now include a night or two per month where I take random things in my pantry and make magic happen. This helps to keep my pantry and fridge tidy.

Running short on ideas? Pinterest and Google are your best friends. If there is a brand you like (of a condiment or other staple, like Annie’s Organic), roam their boards. Gather ideas and brainstorm. You can also search recipes by main ingredients (vegetable casserole) or ethnic variety (Italian). If you use a crockpot or pressure cooker you can find a treasure trove of appliance-specific meals. Some moms do freezer meals and fix everything at once so they only have to cook one weekend a month!

Ask friends for their favorite recipes and, most important, ask your family for some of their favorites or requests! To keep track create your own Pinterest board with links to recipes, bookmark recipes, write them down, or print them out into a binder. No matter how keep your recipes, if you use Pinterest for specific types of meals regularly, it will start finding them for you—even easier!

If budget matters to you plan your meals by what’s on sale. You may be able to look online at your local grocer’s website or by circulars/mailers that arrive to your home or that can be picked up at the front of the store. Incorporate coupons as you see fit. When you have space, buy sale products for more than just the one meal (in other words in bulk, based on how much space you have at home). Also plan meals that use similar ingredients. Perhaps you only need one cup of mushrooms for Monday night but you can save money by buying the large pack, so plan a meal that uses them again by Wednesday.

Plan for the week and make a list of the ingredients you’ll need to make that happen. By going to the store only one or two times a week I don’t fight traffic or dwell the aisles of the store as often, saving significant time and money (because all time and money is significant these days!). In the beginning you may find planning rather intensive. Take small steps. Don’t try to overhaul everything from the beginning. Start with what is comfortable and incorporate any changes slowly.

At the end of each week, assess what worked well and what didn’t. Keep a list of favorites so you can incorporate them into your rotation. Make a list of any pantry staples you need to replenish so you can purchase them during the next week’s shopping trip.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Food Allergies and Halloween

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Navigating food allergies on halloweenAs many as 1 in 13 children in the United States are affected by allergies so the Halloween night of fun for most can turn into something quite serious for others. Even if you do not have people with allergies in your home there are things you can do to make the Halloween experience more accommodating for everyone who might come to your door. It takes little effort on your part but helps all kids enjoy the holiday to its fullest.

Consider joining the Teal Pumpkin Project. You can print a sticker from their website or paint a pumpkin teal to let families with allergies know your home has a treat for them too that won’t lead to any tricky allergies. Think bubbles, stickers, glow sticks, crafts, pencils, kazoos, coins, and more! If you’re unsure what non-food items include wheat, check out these ideas for teal-friendly ideas for treats.

Add your address to the crowd-sourced map of allergy-friendly places so local families know you are available. Of course you can still have your bucket of candy to give out if you’d like. Make sure you keep them separate. You can take a step further by using a scoop, gloved hand, and wash your hands frequently.

If you’re really motivated, carefully choose candy that is less likely to have common irritants like nuts. Candy that contains fewer common irritants include basic Tootsie Rolls, Smarties, Skittles, Starbursts, Dum-Dums and others. Stick with the name-brand products and even keep the bags in case someone needs to verify their safety. Some children may still be allergic to these, but by providing them instead of products that may contain nuts, more kids may be able to participate in the candy part of the holiday.

Here’s to a festive Happy Halloween to us all!

Lynette is a mom of three children from 6 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living

When Your Baby Won’t Eat

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

When Your Baby Won't EatAt some point in baby’s young eating life (between 8 months and 2 years generally), a regression, “pickiness,” or outright refusal of food may temporarily take place.

One innocent reason behind the recent strike your kiddo has placed on food may involve his or her growing independence. Why sit still to eat when you can crawl, toddle, or walk about and discover the world around you?! As baby becomes more independent in these ways, he or she may find security in the old days of just the breast or bottle. Food becomes yet another new thing in a quickly expanding world and the safe nuzzle in your arms to eat may be what your child seeks.

First, rule out underlying issues that might be causing food aversion symptoms. Visit your pediatrician if you have concerns.  Your doctor may want to know information like how often does child eat, how much, and what? Are there particular things your child does or does not like or is it all food? What have you noticed about your child’s digestive system? Are there also instances of spitting up, vomiting, gas, or constipation? Is this new or consistent with baby’s food and digestive history? These sorts of observations can help a doctor determine a young one is just “going through a phase” or has an underlying issue that needs further evaluation.

Also ensure your baby is ready for food. Baby-led weaning encourages letting baby set the pace on the introduction of solid foods. If baby is younger than or close to six months, it may not be food refusal—he or she simply may not be ready yet. If you’re kiddo struggles with food refusal, consider a few options you may have:

  • When you do offer food, make it the most bang for baby’s buck. Filler foods have their place sometimes, but nutrient-dense fruits, veggies, and eggs/dairy (if age-appropriate) offer big bites of nutrition, even in small portions. Continue to offer milk or formula if baby is willing. Breast milk, formula, and milk in and of themselves offer a variety of nutrients to sustain baby.
  • Try new foods or old foods in a new way. Depending on your babe’s age and feeding abilities, maybe that smooshed banana or avocado can now be offered in small solid slivers. Add new flavors as you are able to give a variety of options. Perhaps baby wants to eat, but the same old peas and carrots just aren’t jiving with him or her anymore.
  • On the other hand, try going back to basics. Again, with all those changes in the world around him or her, a new texture or taste of food may be too much. Go back to old favorites or add a side of something new along with the tried and true. Refrain from using favorite foods as a reward for eating things they don’t like. This quickly adds stress to the eating experience for you both, among other things. Respecting baby’s food preferences, fears, and aversions during this age of food discovery will help build a bridge of trust between baby and both you and food.
  • Give it time, meal time that is. This phase may be quickly or slowly outgrown, but even in the midst of it time is important. Offer plenty of time for your child to eat. Rushing a baby to eat can create pressure to preform, even increased risk of choking. Perhaps your young one needs to touch and even play with food to feel comfortable with eating it at first. This also offers babe a sense of agency, whether he or she decides to eat or not.
  • Eat together. This may mean separate plates but with your babe on your lap; you may prefer to just share a plate and fork. Sometimes baby doesn’t want something until he or she sees you want it too. You are your child’s guide and inspiration often times, so take it as a compliment and share in your meal together. This doesn’t have to become a habit of every meal or every day—I know sometimes my meal is the only thing that feels like mine during my day with young ones around! This practice can help create a secure environment for baby to explore new tastes though.
  • Consider other behavior modifications. Evaluate how the whole eating process happens in your home. Is the TV on? Are you tense, with raised voice and high demands? Is everyone else sitting or moving around while your child is attempting to eat? Perhaps sitting together or going into a quiet room, just you and babe, can offer a more soothing and inviting atmosphere for your child to eat.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Expiration Dates Explained

Monday, July 6th, 2015

expiration dates explainedWe all want to keep our babies safe and full of nutritional vitality; we also want to get the most bang for our buck. When it came to expiration dates though, I found myself befuddled by the vague wording on products we purchased. A little investigating brought me to the following conclusion: use the dates as a guide; use my senses for final approval. This works for food in general. Let me tell you what I mean.

Take note if you’re looking at a “sell by,” “best by,” or “use by” date. Stores use the sell-by date as a guide for stocking and clearing out their shelves. A product is not at its peak if you use after the best-by date. The use-by date is set by the manufacturer as the last date you can eat the product with assurance of quality. You may even see a date that refers to when the product was packaged, which can offer you information on if the product is still good as well as insight if the product is ever recalled. None of these dates speak specifically to the safety of food—food dating is not about public health so much as peak quality. So your food may be less crunchy, less vibrant, or a little harder, but often it is still safe to eat.

Next, take heart in knowing that you aren’t the only one wondering why so many dates exist. Most states require one or more of these dates while other states have no restrictions. Being so removed from the production of food while also heavily concerned about safety, Americans very often don’t realize how robust most food actually is and too often throw it out early. There is no uniform system in the United States pertaining to expiration dates aside from infant formula, which the government requires dating to ensure babies consume it at full nutritional value.

Last, as a general guide, consider the USDA time table. For example, eggs may last 3-5 weeks after purchasing but the expiration date may occur before this time. Milk is generally best within a week of the sell-by date on the product. It is critical to store food at the appropriate temperature (40 degrees Fahrenheit and below) and freeze within the parameters set by the USDA if you are not going to use the product before then. Use your senses as well. Look for mold on bread or growth on your berries and smell out sour milk or meat.

Considering child-specific items, infant formula is considered to be at full nutritional value until the expiration date. If you are concerned about safety, it is also vital to heat the product evenly (not in the microwave) and not freeze formula (to prevent separation of ingredients). Other infant foods in a jar or pouch should be used by the suggested time on the product once opened, usually 1-3 days. Any jar or pouch that you double-dip into should be thrown out after that sitting as pathogens could more easily make their way into the product when you dip the spoon back into the product.

As for medication, again the expiration date may not mean what you think. For several decades the FDA has required expiration dates on medicine to note when the medication is reliably at full potency and safety. Studies have shown most medicines are still good long after—in some cases more than a decade after—the expiration date. Again, storing the medication at the suggested temperature and lighting is essential. Remember how often you put medication in your purse or diaper bag when you consider the efficacy of your product. There are some drugs that can be harmful after the expiration date, so check with your pharmacist if you have any doubts.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.