How I Started Unintentional Baby Led Weaning

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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.

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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!

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5 Awesome Baby Hangouts Around San Diego

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Like all inquisitive 9 month-olds, Xaviana adores being out and about. I’m a lucky mom, because there are so many family-friendly places to take her, right here in the San Diego area. Here are 5 of my favorites. If you’re a SD (especially North County) mom, take note…or check out these places next time you’re in town!

  1. UTC Mall – Babies and malls don’t usually mix, but the Westfield UTC in La Jolla boasts a clean, futuristic-looking family lounge. The curtained feeding cubicles, huge family bathroom, stroller “parking lot,” and cute play areas all ensure that baby will be fed, changed, and rested for a day of shopping heaven.
    The stroller parking at the mall

    The stroller parking at the mall

    The huge family restroom

    The huge family restroom

    The feeding rooms

    The feeding rooms

    The play area

    The play area

  2. Alga Norte Pool – This pool is heated to such a comfy temp that moms and babies alike won’t want to get out! We took Xaviana to swim classes (only around $45 for 8 lessons), and enjoy open swim from time to time. Just don’t go before noon in the summer. Mondays through Thursdays, the pool is swamped–literally–with the summer camp crowd.
  3. Dove Library – Like her mommy, Xaviana loves to read, so this is the perfect hangout for us. Not only does it host educational kids’ activities like Baby Rhyme Time and Toddler Time, there is a secret garden outside the children’s section, perfect for little ones to enjoy an afternoon frolic while moms sip delicious coffee drinks from Cafe Muse.
  4. Xtend Barre Encinitas – Xaviana and I rarely miss a Baby on Board barre class here–they’re just that awesome. The instructors make classes challenging and fun for moms, and most of the workout is performed while wearing the little ones in their carriers. It’s the perfect way to meet other moms and babies while working up a sweat.
  5. Poinsettia Park – This park has a cute playground and scenic walking trails, perfect for a stroller jog. There are also tons of benches and wide grassy areas, which are ideal for picnics and playdates. If you have older kids, they can play various sports here, such as tennis, basketball, soccer, and baseball. There are also free concerts on long summer evenings. We just attended a reggae one, and had a great time sprawled out on blankets with friends, babies, food, and wine. What could be better?

Moms out there, what are your favorite family-friendly hangouts in your area? Have you been to any of these in SD? I’d love to hear what you and you little ones do for fun. 🙂

Our Babies, Our Moods: How Our Little Ones Pick Up on Our Moods

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My seven-month-old daughter Xaviana is a happy little person. She smiles and giggles her way through each day, and rarely fusses. Even as her first two bottom teeth began to poke through, she remained pretty much unperturbed.

One day last week, however, she was super-whiny. She didn’t want to play, or nap, or do much of anything, for that matter. I’d started my morning in a grumpy mood as well, and as the day progressed, I became more tired and grouchy by the minute. I don’t know whether the root cause of my bad mood had been hormones, lack of sleep, or the “May-gray” that had hit San Diego with a vengeance, but I was definitely not feeling like myself.

Happy mom = happy baby!

Happy mom = happy baby!

I discussed my random irritations with Antonio, and he was able to lift me out of my doldrums. He said something that made me laugh, and Xaviana, who had been watching the whole exchange, looked at me and giggled, too. At that moment, it hit me: my bad mood had rubbed off on her. She’s used to seeing her dad and me relaxed and upbeat, and my annoyance with nothing in particular had caused her to be just that.

It turns out that there’s a scientific basis to this phenomenon of mood mirroring. A recent study measured the heart rates and emotions of 12 to 14-month-old babies whose moms were given stressful tasks, and found that the little ones seemed to “track” their moms’ stress responses. Moms’ and babies’ stress responses (increased heart rates) mirrored each other. Researchers theorized that moms’ cues, such as vocal tension and facial expression, had influenced their babies’ moods.

Moms out there, do your good and bad days seem to coincide with those of your little ones? Have you heard of any other interesting studies on mood tracking in moms and babies? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

5 Ways to Take Care of Baby…While Taking Care of Yourself

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I’ve decided to return to this blog, not because I’m prego again, but because I realized that many of you who follow the blog have probably had your babies as well, and are now in the post-prego stage. Therefore, I’ve created a new “Post-Prego” section, which will be filled with all things mommy!

Today, I’m super excited to share my reflections about how to take care of your baby while still taking care of yourself. One of the top complaints I hear from many new (and not-so-new) moms is that it’s nearly impossible to find the time to raise your child, work, perform all your normal household chores, and do the little niceties that make life more bearable, such as exercising, fixing your hair, and putting on makeup.

As mothers, we know that in order to take the best possible care of our children, we must take care of ourselves first, but it’s not easy. It’s a give-and-take sort of equilibrium and every day is different, but after six months, I’ve found some balance, which I’m eager to share with you.

So, without further adieu, here are five ways to take care of your baby while taking care of yourself.

  1. Exercise with baby – There are tons of amazing toning and cardio exercises that I can do right in my living room with my baby girl. Find some excellent at-home workouts at flaviliciousfitness.com. I put Xaviana on her mat, and she rolls, kicks, creeps, and giggles as she watches me do circuit training and toning exercises. Plus, she’s the perfect weight to carry while I do squats, lunges, and calf-raises–and she loves it! Even if she’s fussy, the close body contact and repetitive movements calm her down every time. I also take her out for brisk walks/runs in the jogging stroller, and frolic with her on the beach, lifting her up and spinning her in circles. My exercise-with-baby regimen works for me because I like working out alone, but if you do better in a group, check out mommy-and-me yoga, barre, and stroller jam classes in your area.

    Lifting your baby high overhead and spinning her around totally counts as exercise!

    Lifting your baby high overhead and spinning her around totally counts as exercise!

  2. Do your makeup with baby – Weird as it may sound, Xaviana really enjoys watching me do my makeup, probably because I’ve been giving her “makeup tutorials” since she was a newborn. When she was younger, I would place her on the bed and sit next to her, pulling out the items and explaining what I was doing. Now that she’s more mobile, I do the same thing–but bring her and the makeup case to her play mat. She loves the pretty shapes and colors of the eyeshadows, lip glosses, and my Too-Faced Sweethearts Perfect Flush Blush, which comes in a cute little heart-shaped container. It’s the perfect bonding experience for a girly mom and girly-girl, but I think boys might be interested as well, since makeup can be like a really fun art project for your face!

    After a makeup session, beauty mag and all. ;)

    After a makeup session, beauty mag and all. 😉

  3. Cook with baby – Most of the time, I sit Xaviana in her high chair or her Rockaroo when I cook. I sing to her, listen to music or an audiobook, or just talk to her. Often, I explain what I’m cooking step-by-step, as if she’s in the audience of my very own cooking show. She’s interested in the colors and textures of the food, and I hope that our cooking time will inspire her to be involved in mealtime prep as she gets older, and to have a lifetime of healthy eating! If she’s fussy, I wear her in the Baby K’Tan, and sing and dance a little as I cook. The combination of movement and singing always does the trick!
  4. Read with baby – Xaviana and I are total fans of baby books, especially her favorite, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. But that doesn’t mean I want to get behind on my adult reading. To keep my brain stimulated, I read adult books aloud to Xaviana. She enjoys listening, and it’s the perfect way to boost her early language skills. When I’m editing my own books, I often read her excerpts, combining work and play.

    My favorite little officemate... While editing my eBooks, I often read them aloud to Xaviana.

    My favorite little officemate at 3 months… While editing my eBooks, I often read them aloud to Xaviana.

  5.  Involve baby in your hobbies – Ive played the piano for Xaviana ever since she was in utero. Not only is it a soothing and pleasurable hobby for me, but she really enjoys it, and we all know that classical music is an amazing way to boost higher order thinking skills in mom and baby! When I practice, I either place her in her swing or on her play mat. Antonio and I also do “Artist Colony” sessions outside on our patio. He is learning guitar, so Xaviana listens as he strums and I sketch or paint. It’s the perfect way to stimulate Xaviana’s mind as well as our own, involving every member of the family in the fun!

    An "Artist Colony" session on the patio

    An “Artist Colony” session on the patio

New moms out there, what creative methods have you devised to take care of your babies while taking care of yourselves? I’d love to hear what you have to say!