Thursday, July 10, 2014

In Praise of Baby-Led Weaning

Since Aias has had major issues with selective eating, we were fairly nervous about introducing solids to Azi.  Fortunately, at around 5.5 months, Azi showed serious interest in eating solid food.  After all we had been through with Aias, we were not going to say no. We decided that as long as Azi could sit up straight and did not have the tongue-thrust reflex anymore, he could feed himself whatever food he wanted.

If you research how to feed babies, you can get quickly overwhelmed. First, there are a million "rules" to follow:

- Don't introduce this or your baby will be allergic
- Introduce this immediately or your baby will be allergic
- Never feed the baby this
- Always feed the baby this
- Purée the food
- Offer cereal

Next, there are also a million things you can buy for feeding your baby:

- Spoons that look like dump trucks and airplanes
- Special blenders just for baby food
- Little ice cube trays for home made baby food

It can be so complicated, so involved, and so much work.  But it can also be so, so simple, as you will see below.

Everyone I talked to who claimed to have a child that wasn't picky at all claimed to have ascribed 100% to the concept of Baby-Led Weaning, so I bought a copy of Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods-and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater, and read it cover to cover when Azi was about 3 months old.  We had explored this concept a bit with Aias, but never got into it in depth.

This time, I did not skip a single page.  I was determined to have a child who was willing to eat more than beige things and breast milk.  My one hesitation was nerves about the gagging and choking thing, but I repeatedly told myself:

- Gagging and choking are different
- Gagging is a sign that his body is working
- Gagging is designed to protect babies from choking

(You can read more about that here)

And made sure to renew my infant CPR and First Aid Certificate, which is always a great idea anyway.

When the time came to share solids with Azi, I was mentally prepared.  We did not need to buy a thing, we did not need to prepare a thing, we just needed to cook as we always did, and share with our baby.

As you can see, Azi was prepared as well:

Able to sit up nice and tall, all by himself. 
Babies are totally capable of putting things in their own mouths at this age, all by themselves, as you will know if you have ever had a baby crawl around on the floor around you:

See, babies can totally lift things to their own mouths for the purposes of chewing and eating...
... whether you want them to eat it or not ;)
This has been an amazing experience, and he is only 6.5 months.  In the last several weeks, we have followed these very basic rules:

1.  Offer everything we eat to the baby.  If we eat it, the baby is offered some too.
2.  Let the baby feed himself.
3.  Food is a time for happiness and sharing, and being together.

WE choose the foods. THE BABY chooses how much to eat. There is no pureeing, there is no separate meal.  There are no rule lists, and there are no special things we had to buy. The baby eats OUR food and he feeds himself. There is no pressure on us, no pressure on him.  It's really as simple as that.

This has been great because it has kept us in check.  I don't want the baby eating cake, so I don't eat cake.  We don't want the baby eating choke-y things like popcorn, marshmallows, un-cut grapes, or hot dogs, so we don't eat those things either.

The playing field is level.

So far, it has been an absolutely joyful experience. I want to share some pictures with you not only because they are cute, but because they will show you what babies are really capable of if you allow them to learn.

Teething on celery.  He's "gumming" it, has he has not cut any teeth yet. 
Freshly picked field strawberries, whole and straight from the field.
Cut strawberries on his little tray, watching me make cobbler. 
A whole banana
Chomping on a piece of very tough steak
Considering sharing with our living vacuum cleaner.  The dog  knows that the spot below the high chair is a good spot to be during meals.
Sometimes it can get quite messy.  Ok, a lot of the time it can get quite messy.  But that's ok.  I do NOT like messy, but I have had to grin and bear it.  Offering the baby foods in bowls and cups is a good thing to do, because they have to learn somewhere. There is a plastic sheet underneath the high chair, and we own lots of bibs. 

This applesauce left the cup fairly quickly!
Sharing foods with the baby will make you healthier.  You will find yourself eating more nutritously because you want your baby to be eating healthy foods.  Of course, sometimes a treat is ok.

Baby's First Bacon
Sometimes they just like to suck the juices out of the foods, or gum them to relieve teething pain.  You can help them out by taking a bite first like in the case of an apple.

Some of the foods they will eat will really surprise you.

Curried vegan chicken, tomato, swiss chard, etc .
Another kind of curry
Even things like yogurt can be given to a baby, although they will possibly make an epic mess of it. Take a deep breathe, and just ENJOY it.  Before you know it, they will be eating with a spoon.

I started him off with some yoghurt in a small pile...
... and he showed that pile who was boss!
 You will find yourself giving plenty of baths!

He didn't like his first bath, but he has grown to love them since he now has 1 or 2 a day!
As long as you are careful of buying and serving fresh food, you don't really have to worry about "rules."  The only rule we follow is not giving him unpasteurized honey until he is a year old.  Other than that, anything is fair game! Azi is eating cold cooked shrimp below.  

Shrimp, Avocado, Lentils.
Eating out can still happen too, believe it or not.
Sharing a Pirate Pack with big brother on the ferry.  Although we didn't want him to eat the deep fried part of the chicken, we broke it into little tiny pieces for him this time. 
He even loves sushi!  He eats tamago (egg), Ikura (raw fish eggs with rice and seaweed), and wakame (seaweed salad). 

He even likes the carrot ginger salad dressing and greens
Salmon and Avocado Roll, and a huge piece of Tamago. 
I was really excited to give him spaghetti and meatballs, because it seemed like a baby feeding rite of passage to me:

And this afternoon he had his first perogies.  He ate almost 3 entire perogies!

A big part of this for us, is watching him truly enjoy and learn to love foods. Right from this super young age, he is associating mealtime with family time.  There is no differentiation between foods. There is no OUR FOOD Vs. BABY FOOD.  We won't ever have to transition him from unrecognisable purées to whole foods.  Right from the get go he sees that food is yummy and it is for everyone in our family.
Edamame, Swiss Chard, and Pineapple Glazed Tofu
What if your baby DOES gag? What if they don't seem to be getting enough in their mouths?  Both those things are normal, and ok, and you can read more about them in the book.

One thing is for sure... Azi is special to us because he's our kid, but there's nothing magical or advanced about him in terms of eating.  He's not extra skilled or talented in eating, he's just doing what ALL babies are capable of doing.  This means your baby, too!

It has been bittersweet watching one child loving food so much while the other struggles with it, and we wish it had been this easy with Aias, but even through watching Azi enjoy these foods, Aias is finally showing a curiosity.

If you want to learn more about Baby-Led Weaning, I strongly recommend the book. If you are looking for a more personal touch, Crystal Di Domizio RHN, HCHI teaches an online course on Baby-Led Weaning that can get you started.

Good luck and happy eating!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We Gave This Hungry Baby an Unpeeled Banana... Here's What Happened Next...

We gave this hungry baby an unpeeled banana. 

 Here's what happened next...

He threw the useless thing on the floor. 6 month olds can't peel bananas.  This is baby-led weaning, not baby-led peeling.

But don't worry, I peeled it.  I'd never let him starve.

He's cute, right?
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Newest Obsession: Healing Hollow Essential Oils

I'm a moderately crunchy parent, but I am also a skeptic through and through (1, 2, 3, 4).  I would never suggest anything to anyone unless I was 100% satisfied with it, and unless I was certain it wasn't some sort of scam.  I am also incredibly frugal, and I do not buy things unless they are an amazing value for the money.  So some people have told me they are surprised I recently bought some essential oils.  I want to share why I bought these oils, and how incredibly happy I am with them.  I also want to make it very clear that this is NOT a sponsored post, I am writing this post because I want to share these oils with friends and family. 

I've purchased a few roll-on essential oil blends in my life, and they live in the bathroom on a shelf just in case I want to use them, but in the past 5 years I have rarely touched them (I'm not even sure I'm supposed to have kept them this long, to he honest).  The one that has seen the most action is a Peppermint Halo blend from Saje.  It was the first essential oil blend I ever used that truly "wowed" me.  And wow me it did; I have never had a headache that wasn't almost entirely cured by that oil.  So prior to buying my newest oils, I did have some essential oil buy-in for sure.

Aias calls these my magic potions
What really reminded me of how powerful these oils can be was when I was 38 weeks pregnant with Azi and suffering from a horrible cold.  I could not sleep as my head hurt so badly and my sinuses were so dry.  I went to my bathroom cupboard and pulled out two oils; an Immunity Oil and my Peppermint Halo oil.  I used them both, and went back to bed.  About 10 minutes later I started getting really strong contractions.  I figured it must be related to the oils, so I got out of bed and messaged a friend who has some knowledge of these things, and sent her the ingredients.  She immediately told me to wash the oils off asap, as they contained an emmenagogue.  I did as I was told and within the hour the contractions stopped. It was a clear reminder of how powerful essential oils can be.

This experience intrigued me, and I started taking an interest in seeing which oils may be able to work for me in other areas of my life.  We don't suffer from many ailments, but I wanted to check out some alternative solutions that could help us in our day-to-day lives, both for us adults and for the kids. 

A friend of mine sells Healing Hollow oils and many of the local moms rave about them.  I had heard quite a bit about them over the last year, but I had never taken the plunge.  So when there was a deal being offered several weeks ago, I decided it was time. I decided to purchase:

- Magic Potion: Calms children, helps with change, full moon, anxiety. Aids in sleep.

- Rest Assured: For insomnia and sleep issues.  Promotes good sleep patterns.

Immune 5:  Prevents and treats colds, flu, coughs, congestion and sinus issues.

Toothfairy Tea: Making babies happy by relieving the pain and irritability from teething. Used for hundreds of years, this blend combines Roman and German chamomile with other calming oils to give baby complete relief.

These are the best oils around!
I did not know what to expect but I went in with an open mind and with high hopes, but also with my typical skepticism.  When they were delivered,  I put them with the others and went on with my day.

That night, I had a horrible time trying to fall asleep.  I was really quite tired, but the clock was ticking and I was just laying in bed worrying about my to-do list, Aias starting kindergarten in the fall, all the appointments and errands that were happening later in the week, etc.  I watched the clock go from 11 to 12, 12 to 1, 1 to 2, and then 2 to 3.  Suddenly I remembered I had the oils, and I figured, what the heck!

I got out of bed and opened the medicine cabinet.  I rubbed a tiny amount of Magic Potion and Rest Assured on the soles of my feet and went back to bed. Within 5 minutes, my mind was at ease.  I'm certain within 10 minutes I was asleep.

It was actually sort of dramatic.  Instead of worrying, my worries went away and I got this mental image of myself laying down on a giant, pillowy soft marshmallow, with a blanket of warm chocolate syrup.  I wasn't hallucinating or anything, I was just very peaceful.  I also felt quite warm.  It was lovely.

The next day I told Morgan, and he told me it was kind of scary that the oils made that happen, but it actually wasn't scary at all, it was really awesome.

That night I tried just Rest Assured to see if it would help me fall asleep by itself. It did, but not in the same way as when I combined it with Magic Potion.

The next night I used Magic Potion alone, and it calmed me down, and then I fell asleep on my own.

The two combined has helped immensely AND consistently on very difficult nights.

I have also been putting the Toothfairy Tea on Azi's ears, and it seems to calm him when he is very drooly and fussy about cutting his little teeth.  It is also the best smelling oil I have ever had the joy of experiencing.  I put it on his ears and Morgan picked him up and said "Wow, the baby smells amazing today!"  Pretty funny.

When I put these oils on, I can really feel them working.  The scents are strong and they stay strong.   Since I loved  them so much, I picked up another brand of essential oil roll-on at Whole Foods on impulse, hoping it would help me have more energy, and it didn't work nearly as well.  I will be sticking to Healing Hollow oils from now on.

For those of you from BC, it's another perk that Healing Hollow oils are actually made locally in Fernie, BC.  If you join their fan page, you can actually see them being mixed, and there are lots of opportunities to win oils so you can try them for yourself.  I actually won two additional oils, Retrograde and Good Life, which I look forward to trying soon!

The next oils I hope to buy will probably be Nature's Coffee, Aller Ease, and Mend Blend.  I am also dying to try the Bug Me Not. When I get around to purchasing and trying them, I will let you know if they work.  From what I have seen so far, I have no doubt that they will live up to their claims.
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