How I Started Unintentional Baby Led Weaning

Standard

The introduction of solid foods is one of the most important–and potentially fun–milestones in baby’s development. I say “potentially fun” because it’s amazing to watch baby discover new flavors and textures in food…except when it’s not.

Let me explain. When we first started Xaviana on solids, she ate everything we offered, and seemed to love every bite. I used the Baby Bullet to concoct a variety of fresh and delicious purees, and she happily ate them right off the spoon. It was an immensely pleasant experience for all involved, and people often marveled at Xaviana’s adventurous eating.

Then, around month 10, she began to refuse spoon-feeding. If I let her hold the spoon and feed herself, she was fine (although covered in food). But if I tried to help her eat, she usually cried and grabbed for the utensil.

At first I thought she just needed something to occupy her busy hands during feedings. After all, she enjoys rubbing and pinching my skin while nursing. (It feels awesome, almost like a myofascial release massage, but that’s a subject for another blog post.) So I tried giving her toys or a spoon while using another spoon to feed her. This worked for a while, but unfortunately, my little monkey is too smart to accept that trickery for long. I decided that I would simply let her feed herself, and we thus began our unintentional journey into the world of baby led weaning.

20150629_132752

Baby led weaning (BLW), sometimes called baby led feeding, is the technique of introducing solids into baby’s diet as soft finger foods, without using a spoon or making any purees. Non-finger foods may be offered with a spoon so that baby can learn to use one. I was skeptical of this approach when I initially introduced solids, mostly because Xaviana was eating so well from the spoon, but since her mini-rebellion, BLW has been a lifesaver.

Technically, we’re doing a variation of BLW, since I still serve Xaviana some of her favorite purees, like sweet potatoes and avocado, but I let her go to town with them instead of spoon-feeding her. She eats these, as well as her Greek yogurt and oatmeal, with a combination of her fingers and a spoon. I also began serving her small portions of the family meals, such as salmon, chili, and chicken, either cut into small, manageable chunks or shredded in the Baby Bullet. Finally, I introduced her to veggie spears, baby carrots, fruit chunks, toast strips, pita bread, and other easy-to-munch finger foods.

Our mealtime flexibility paid off–Xaviana seems to love self-feeding, and she’s getting better at it every day. Sure, some food gets dropped, but I’ve noticed that more and more has been making it to her mouth lately. Yesterday, she fed herself a heaping spoonful of sweet potatoes–yay for hand-eye coordination! Mealtimes are more pleasant, and best of all, Xaviana is eating well at the table and at the breast!

Moms out there, what are your experiences with introducing solids? Are you a fan of BLW, traditional spoon-feeding, or a fusion of the two? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Advertisements

Awesome Educational Activities for Your 10- to 11-Month-Old

Standard

I adore all of Xaviana’s phases, but her 10th month has been a particularly momentous one for us. It seems as though every day brings not one but several new developments. She’s preparing to walk, vocalizing in innovative ways, and learning new concepts like opposites, animal sounds, shapes, pointing, and clapping her hands. I can only wonder what marvels her impending 11th month will bring!

With that in mind, here are some of my favorite educational activities to stimulate young brainiacs.

  • Music Time – Every day, I sing Xaviana her favorite songs, which range from “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to “We Will Rock You.” To keep her interested, I accompany my voice with the maracas, tone blocks, and clapper from her Melissa & Doug Band in a Box set. She loves to play along, often grabbing the instruments and adding her own spin to each song. She also enjoys tunes like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “If You’re Happy,” which incorporate hand movements. Finally, I play piano for her and let her experiment with various sounds and tempo settings on our MIDI.
  •  Animal Sound Activities – Xaviana and I go through her soft Fisher Price farm book every day. I sing her “Old Macdonald Had a Farm” while turning the pages, pointing to each animal as I make the animal sounds. Now she’s pointing, and also making some of the sounds! I also make animal sounds while reading some of her favorite books, like “Thank You Bear,” “If Animals Kissed Good Night,” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”
  • Shape Matching – I’m a huge fan of the Bright Baby Big Board Book, and we go through it every day. It contains vibrant pictures of first words, colors, numbers, and ABCs. One of Xaviana’s favorite activities from the book is the shape page. I dump all the shapes out of her Playskool Form Fitter and place each shape on top of its image in the book, naming each one. Somehow, seeing each shape come to life in 3-D makes Xaviana more excited, and it has helped her to master placing the shapes in the correct holes of the form fitter.

    The Playskool Form Fitter helps the shapes in the Bright Baby Big Board Book come to life!

    The Playskool Form Fitter helps the shapes in the Bright Baby Big Board Book come to life!

  • Fun With Opposites – Another of our favorite activities in the Bright Baby board book is the opposites page. I point out the pictures, and I also demonstrate the concepts with her own toys or with hand movements. As a result, she can now differentiate between her “big” and “small” O-balls, and she can show me “up” and “down” with her arms.
  • Baby Rhyme Time – We recently started attending Baby Rhyme Time sessions at the public library. During the 20-minute session, the librarian sings various kids’ songs and reads stories. The activities are similar to the ones that Xaviana and I do at home, but the environment is fun for her, with new friends and fresh stories.
  • Exercise Classes – As I’ve mentioned before, I take Xaviana to Mommy and Me barre classes every week, and she loves them for the music, energy, and opportunity to play with her buddies. However, she’s actually picking up on some of the movements. Just the other day, she grabbed onto the railing upstairs, hoisted herself into standing position, and went up on her toes, extending one arm gracefully in an exact copy of one of the moves we do in barre! I think she absorbed this from seeing the repetition week after week. I’m expecting plies in second position next. 😉

Mamas out there, what educational activities do you perform with your little smartypants? Which of the ones I listed is your favorite? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

5 Tips for Bringing Baby to Special Events

Standard

This August, Antonio and I brought Xaviana to three weddings, an engagement party, a fancy French dinner, and countless smaller parties. As a result, I feel like I’ve become an expert on the topic of bringing baby to special events. 😉

Xaviana is bright-eyed at a recent wedding.

Xaviana is bright-eyed at a recent wedding.

Often, Xaviana is the only baby at these gatherings, and other parents giggle with her and tell me how much they miss their little ones, who are inevitably at home with their babysitters, nannies, or grandparents. While I totally understand the need for couples’ time–and an uninterrupted party once in awhile–I always bring Xaviana to special events. Not only does she benefit from the stimulation and excitement, she is included in all of our important family milestones!

20150822_152855

With that in mind, here are 5 tips for bringing your baby to special events:

  1. Pinpoint a nursing/changing station – As soon as I arrive, I identify a private area where I can breastfeed and/or change Xaviana when the need arises. This gives me peace of mind, since it saves me from wandering around later on with a screaming, hungry and/or soiled baby on my hands. When I can’t find a nursing/changing station, I ask an employee. I’ve never encountered anyone who was not eager to help, and even come up with a creative solution if need be. For example, at a resort in New Mexico, an employee guided me to a quiet unused banquet hall across from the wedding reception. There, I was able to take care of all of Xaviana’s needs–and retreat there for quiet mommy-daughter time when she needed a brief break from the excitement.
  2. Bring reinforcements – Loving grandparents, aunts, and uncles can take over baby duty for short stretches, allowing you and your significant other to enjoy some time celebrating sans baby. Antonio and I were able to dance and party almost to the end of his cousins’s wedding last week because Antonio’s mother sat at the table with Xaviana. The baby slept while grandma admired her and mommy and daddy got crazy. Win-win-win.
  3. Condition baby ahead of time – The secret to a well-behaved child at special events is to avoid springing anything on him/her. We were able to take Xaviana to a nine-course French dinner because she is accustomed to going out to nice dinners with us. We felt comfortable taking her to a peaceful wedding ceremony in a church because she attends church with us every week and is used to mellowing out in the Baby K’Tan during services. And we were able to take her to wedding receptions with pumping music because we throw house parties and have taken her to similar parties and galas. Condition your baby for these kinds of events by doing several similar but smaller scale activities in the months before.
  4. Stay flexible – Sometimes, all of the festivities will be too much for the little one, so watch for his/her cues and give baby a break from the action if needed. For example, Antonio’s good friend’s wedding day was a marathon: a huge luncheon that resembled a Lebanese festival, followed by a ceremony in the mountains, then more festivities at the groom’s house before the reception itself, which lasted until the wee hours of the morning. We took Xaviana to the lunch, but when we followed the party to the mountains, Xaviana fell asleep in the car. I elected to stay in the car with Xaviana while she caught a much-needed nap, and we skipped the trip to the groom’s house, resting at the hotel until the reception instead. As a result, Xaviana was bright-eyed, alert, and happy at the lunch and reception, and we had a great time even though we couldn’t make all the scheduled events.
  5. Expect the unexpected – Kids will be kids, and even the best-behaved ones will do crazy things sometimes. In this case, the two most important things are to be prepared and to keep your cool no matter what. For example, Xaviana was perfectly behaved all through the outdoor ceremony of our friends’ gorgeous wedding in New Mexico, but when everyone applauded after they took their vows, she burst into tears! I felt horrible, but I was able to quickly calm her down with a soft voice and her beloved pacifier, and the show went on.

There you have it: 5 tips for bringing your little one to special events! Which do you find most helpful? Do you have any to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts!