Author: Andrea Herrera

10 Lessons Learned about Starting Babies on Solids

For today’s edition of Babyology, I thought I’d offer ten lessons/tips that I have learned about starting infants on solids.

1. In the beginning, it takes 15 or so tries of giving a baby a new food before you can definitively know their opinion on it. After three “unsuccessful” tries and pureed sweet potatoes down the drain, I concluded “Oh, she must hate sweet potatoes.” This “truth,” of course, set in my motherhood paranoia and led me down a mental trip of guilt of her one day becoming that “chubby kid” who only ate McDonalds and couldn’t make it up the hill at camp. (sigh). Over time, I realized in giving her the same foods other and other again that it wasn’t that she didn’t like, for instance sweet potatoes. It was just that sweet potatoes and all the other weird veggies that I was giving her were so different from breastmilk. Once she became used to the texture, taste, smell of these veggies, she loved them. Now that she is older, it is much easier to introduce her to new solids.

2. Solids are ok.  I was (and still am) in denial about my daughter’s interest in solids. I have to tell myself often that in her starting solids, it does not mean that she is rejecting me as her “other food source.”

3. Spoons are weird objects to a baby. Can you imagine someone attempting to shove an unfamiliar object into your mouth? (I hope you answered “no” to this one.) Whenever I would give Nya solids in the beginning, she would attempt to wrestle the spoon out of my hand. I would like to say that she was always unsuccessful in her attempts, but, hey, even for a six month old, she is a strong girl with a very good grip. Once I figured out how weird having a spoon in your mouth for the first time could be, I made an effort to first get her used to the idea. When giving solids, I would take out two spoons, one for her to play around with in her mouth and another for me to use to feed. I also randomly gave her spoons throughout the day for her to play with. She now is less interested in grabbing the spoon and understands that spoons are ok to go in the mouth.

4. Do not give solids on carpeted surfaces. I learned this one the hard way. In the beginning, I thought it would be a good idea to just put Nya in her Bumbo seat in our carpeted living room for each meal. By the end of each meal, needless to say, there would be stains, crumbs, spit up in the surrounding area. If you do feed your baby on carpeted surfaces, use a tarp or towel beneath where the baby is sitting.

5. Babies like peas. Peas were the first (and I think only) food that Nya liked on the first try. If you are not having much success with the standard sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, or applesauce, give peas a try.

6. Be prepared for stinkier, thicker poop. I miss the days of Nya’s exclusively breastfed poop. In one of my fondest memories in the beginning of her life were changing her very mustard colored, vanilla cake mix smelling poop. (sigh) I can’t say that her poop rivals that released by my uncle after thanksgiving dinner, but it is definitely more smelly than before. The consistency of her poop has also changed from runny yogurt to thick toothpaste/peanut butter.

7. Your baby will always seem more interested in what you are eating than what they have in their colorful bowls. Even if it is the same thing (albeit pureed beyond recognition from its original form).

8. Water proof plastic bibs are the way to go! I used to used the cloth bibs that you can buy in bulk from Babies R’ Us. That is until I realized, as a result of a “necessary” trip to Target, that some genius had invented an alternative. The plastic bibs are easier to clean and seem to “catch” more food.

9. When using solids to complement nursing, it is easiest to create a flexible schedule for yourself. Before creating a schedule, I could never figure out when to offer solids. I always worried that I was feeding her too much or not enough. I used this schedule by mother-2-mother as my guide and revised it to my liking.

10. Make your own rules! Go with what works for your baby. Don’t worry as much about how things should be.

As Nya matures, I continue to learn more and more solids. She is now eating veggie and fruit-based purees, oatmeal, and cereal but I plan to incorporate more textures and protein.

What lessons have you learned about giving solids? What foods did your children enjoy? 

I should be happy; My daughter’s ready to wean from breastfeeding

I never thought I’d be sitting here at seven in the morning writing a post about my surprisingly intense feelings about weaning my daughter from breastfeeding, but I am.

I never thought I would (or could) feel these feelings or that I would be so sad that in becoming pregnant again my milk supply has nearly diminished, but I do.

Of course, I thought I would be celebrating this time, this time of, what was supposed to be, my renewed “breast and body independence.”

I thought I’d be celebrating that my daughter is ready to step fully into the next chapter of her childhood.

Eating a bowl of cereal

But, I’m not.

I thought this day would be the answer to all of my motherhood problems, or the sleeplessness, the saggy breasts, the constant feeling of being needed.

But, now that I sit here, awoken from a night’s sleep uninterrupted by my daughter’s need for my milk and after a day, a full day, of no nursing, I feel sentimental about the whole thing.

Perhaps she tired, I thought to myself when drinking this morning’s cup of tea, of my little milk and of crying because of that little milk. Or perhaps, and more likely, she was ready to end things.

And, I thought I’d be ready to end things, too. After all, breastfeeding as a pregnant mom was (is) painful (very painful). I only kept own, biting my upper lip and pinching my thumbs to get through the “latch” because I wanted to believe that she wasn’t ready.

I know now that in truth, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to move on because I was afraid of what moving on would really mean. I was afraid of losing the one tool in my motherhood arsenal that helped my daughter through illnesses, boo-boos, sleeplessness, and tears.

I was afraid of my daughter growing up so quickly and wanted, in continuing breastfeeding, to slow something down, to keep something still.

In spite of my fears, I know that where we are today was inevitable. And, that’s motherhood. The moment you think you can’t take something anymore, you realize that you can and when your child has moved on from that thing you then find yourself trying to “pick up” the pieces to reclaim what once was, but never will be again.

Oh, motherhood, you do mystify me.

Moms: Any words of advice for this sentimental mom? I know that I should be happy about this day, that I couldn’t breastfeed (nor did I want to) my daughter into elementary school, but I just feel very sad about it all. How do you get over feelings of sadness that come with the ending of phases in your child’s development?

Breastfeeding for Weight loss?: What really works

You want to know what I “love”? I “love” it when celebrity moms show up on red carpet events two to three weeks postpartum looking skinny and toned and when asked about how they lost the weight, they pull the “just breastfeeding card.”Really? Let me get this straight, you dropped 50 pounds, managed to get super defined legs and abs in three weeks just by breastfeeding?In pulling the “just breastfeeding card,” these celebrities also make it a big point to say they didn’t do it through their assumed usual ways of, oh, I don’t know eating nothing but fennel soup, detoxing,  and exercising for hours on end.

And, while the breastfeeding advocate in me salivates at their promotion of breastfeeding to mainstream audiences, the formerly breastfeeding mom in me knows that their promotion of breastfeeding as a diet is, at best, well, misleading.

Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories and can lead to weight loss, but, and as the millions of mothers out there who breastfed their children until preschool and are still carrying around their baby weight will very quickly tell you, it doesn’t always work that way. Breastfeeding is not a magic pill (sorry, if I just broke your heart).

I lost all 40+ pounds of my baby weight from my first pregnancy within six months, not three weeks. Breastfeeding was a big part of my weight loss, but it wasn’t the only part. The other parts, or how I used breastfeeding to increase my weight loss postpartum are included below by way of some tips.

Breastfeed your baby on-demand. Breastfeeding can burn between 600- 700 calories a day. In order to best take advantage of it’s natural calorie burning properties, and to keep your baby happy and gaining weight (which are very important) you should always, always feed your baby on cue, or own demand. Scheduled feedings not only limit your natural calorie burning potential but they negatively impact your milk supply, and, thus, your baby’s happiness. hehehehe.

Breastfeed exclusively for at least the first six months of your child’s life. When you begin to supplement your baby’s feedings with other things (formula, cereal, etc.), your weight loss potential decreases, mainly because you aren’t burning as many calories as before. Exclusive breastfeeding has other great benefits to your baby, too, like a decreased risk of infections, food allergies, etc.

Eat lots of proteins and complex carbohydrates. Breastfeeding hunger is an ugly, ugly monster with two heads and bad breath. It’s a monster that will roar all day long unless tamed with good foods like lean meats, legumes, leafy greens, whole grains, fruits, and veggies.  While pizza buffets and Doritos are OK sometime, you’ll find that in eating these things, you’ll be hungrier sooner and have only more love handles to show for it. Really.

Eat when you are hungry. When you are breastfeeding, it is not the time to skip meals or diet. Doing so only increases the toxicity levels in your milk and will cause your body to hold on to the fat that it thinks it needs in order to make breastfeeding possible. The key is to eat when you are hungry, not bored or tired or stressed (emotions which happen often in motherhood), but when you are genuinely hungry.

Eat more at the front end of your day, rather than the back end. A reader and dear friend, Lucy of the blog Lucille in the Sky, suggested this to me in a comment on this blog. And, boy am I thankful that she did. By eating more for breakfast and lunch and making wise snacking choices during the day, I was less hungry by night when my body naturally began burning less calories.

Do moderate exercise (cardio and strength training). I know what you’re thinking, “What the— But, I don’t have the time!” But, oh, you do. You just have to decide to make the time. I thought I didn’t have time either, until I figured out how to exercise with my baby. I would walk in the morning, or if the weather was bad, I would turn on Exercise TV, strap my daughter in a Moby Wrap, and do an at-home walking workout that I would highly recommend by Leslie Samsone. Walking alone helped me in the first four months to lose 90% of my baby weight. The final 10% or 10 pounds, well, they were stubborn. To get rid of them, I had to add a strength training regimen into the mix. I was (and still am) too cheap to buy a gym membership, so again I did a workout (every other day) on Exercise TV called 10 pound slim down by Chris Freytag. It’s a 30-day program that works.

Drink lots and lots of water. Hydrating yourself while breastfeeding is important, not just for weight loss but for a lot more. When I was breastfeeding, I aimed to drink at least 8 glasses of water.

Get lots of sleep (when you can). As hard as it was, I eventually had to give into the idea of sleeping while my baby slept. It was really the only way. Co-sleeping with my baby also saved me from having to deal with all the night wakings.

Don’t stress. Most people eat more when stressed because stress produces “protective” hormones in your body (Cortisol and Adrenaline) that cause you to feel, over time, very hungry.  As a mom (breastfeeding or not), you should make it a priority to de-stress in the best way you know how (of course, other than eating).

Don’t focus on the scale. The scale is not always your friend when you are breastfeeding. It may, even with all these changes, show the same number over and over and over again, even though you know by looking in the mirror that you’ve lost weight. It is for this reason that rather than focusing on numbers, focus on how your clothes are fitting. The numbers will fix themselves, usually, when you wean your baby.

Enjoy breastfeeding. This is the most important tip! I’ve seen the forums of moms pumping x amount of milk a day (beyond what their baby needs) in order to accelerate their weight loss. And, while I respect that approach, in my opinion, there’s more to be gained by taking the more traditional approach of feeding-your-baby-when-he’s-hungry. Rather than focusing on how to use breastfeeding to lose weight, it helps to focus on feeding and nourishing your baby and taking care of yourself. By doing these things, you will lose the weight in time. Really. Just be patient and enjoy breastfeeding your baby.

Moms: Did you lose weight through breastfeeding? Please do share your experiences with other readers. Any tips that you can add? What do you think of celebrity moms’ promotion of breastfeeding for weight loss?

The toddler update-y post

I realized in reading over some older posts that I haven’t done any toddler update-y types of posts in the past months for my sweet little cherub. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What kind of blogger (who identities at times with the online collective of mommy bloggers) are you?” I know.

Rather than writing much about her, I’ve been writing about myself, mainly because it seems more right (more safe?) for me to talk about myself and my perceptions of motherhood and parenting for better and worse and not specifically my sweet, innocent child, who may one day come to resent me for it (but I digress).

Besides all this, my daughter has been so sweet, or rather life has been so sweet these past months with her, so much easier, it seems, than before. And, sweet children who are seen through rose colored lenses by their dear mothers do not make for entertaining mommy blogging, or so I once thought.

She’s been sweet, mostly. And, I say mostly to not give the false impression that we have not, in all of her sixteen months of old age had to deal with tantrums, picky eating, mama face slapping, biting, attempts to throw herself out of her crib, head butts, and, you know,  (ahem) all of the other nonsense that comes along with toddlerhood, because we have.

Trust me.

We have.

It’s just that so often those moments are overshadowed but other, more sweet moments:

Communicating with the world. 

This month, Nya has been communicating more and more. Along with signing more (which has come easier in her older age), she has developed her own language, a language that I call toddler-ese. She speaks when “reading” a book in the privacy of her room while I do laundry in the room over or when attempting to tell me or daddy that she wants something. Ba-gee, ba-gee, ba-gee. For more cow’s milk, she signs for milk and says “na-na,” which I only recently realized is the same word that she uses when pointing to my mama’s “num-nums.”

Running away. 

Nya went, very quickly, from walking to running…away from me. She puts her hands in the air when she runs and takes heavy, flat-footed steps as if in full, unapologetic command of her new world. She still will rarely choose to hold my hand in public, except of course when she approaches uneven pavements. Then, she, knowing that I’m close by will discretely put her hand out for me to hold, and as soon as she’s made it over the adverse pavement, she’ll let go. Just like that.

Sleep is a good thing. 

Sleep. It’s long been a challenge for she and, mostly, I since the beginning, but things are improving. Thankfully. She’s still independent sleeping and will often sleep through the night. But sometimes, she’ll awaken for water or because her tummy hurts, and when the latter happens after 5 am, we’ll co-sleep.  It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, and I still enjoy it, if only on occasion. For independent sleeping, she sleeps in her crib but that may need to change soon as she can now lift one leg over the ledge. Yes. It’s almost time.

Bedtimes have also been easier in the past week. Sticking to a more consistent routine, I know, has helped with this, but sticking with a more consistent routine is tough sometimes. But, we’re doing our best in spite.  She has more consistently been going to sleep at 8 PM and waking at 8 AM.

Food is good for you. 
Nya is eating better this month. Thankfully. She’s been eating more veggies and proteins, and drinking more and more cow’s milk which has been great both for me and for her traditionally slower weight gain. Of course, however, she still has her moments where the only thing she wants to eat is oatmeal, but we get through it.

16 months is filled with easy and tough times.

When it’s an easy time or a tough time that in hindsight proves to be anything but, I just sit back and enjoy it, thinking I hope to remember this one day from now.  Sometimes, when easy times prove picture worthy and a camera is nearby, I will take a picture, but sometimes when the moment is too good, I may not.

I’ve been mostly taking pictures of those moments of her childhood but not writing about them as much, which must change. Writing, after all, is my way to record these things, so record I must, lest I forget something not captured in the impressions on our faces in the pictures taken.

I’ll try to keep up with these update-y posts monthly, I think.

We’ll see.

Moms who blog: How do you keep things balanced in talking about your kids on your blog? How do you try to respect their rights to an offline existence? Anyone have (and maintain) a journal, baby book or something else for that purpose? Am I the only one who feels conflicted about this?