Kids

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?

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?

“In order for you to grow, I must let go”

 My daughter is now at an age where she can enjoy indoor and outdoor playgrounds. She enjoys playing with other children, looking at other children, and showing me (I think) that she can do things on her own.

And, I’m at an age in my motherhood where I’ve, finally, come to really be okay with this stage.

At one time, I feared becoming a helicopter parent. I feared the unknown that existed outside of my parental control over her childhood, her life.

I feared the world. 

But now, now I’ve come to accept that bumps and bruises, tears, unknowns, dirty dresses, and, sometimes, rude children all come with the territory of childhood.

I’ve come to accept my own limitations in parenting and the limitations of the perfect bubble that I so wanted to create for my precious girl within this world. 

I still carry around a hand sanitizer pump in the front of my purse pocket, face and hand wipes in her diaper bag, and hover closely (at least more closely than some of the other parents) to her as she makes her way through crowds of children, sometimes, twice her size at playgrounds, but I’ve learned to mostly let go.

I’ve learned to step back, to be more of an observer to her world, to her social relationships, to her new-found self than an overbearing participant.

I let go because this is what my daughter wants. She needs my hand to hold at some times, but not all the time. She can do some things on her own.  Often, when doing those things on her own and with other children, she’ll look back to me as if to say, “See, mommy. It’s okay. I can do this.” She looks back at me as if she needs to know, to see in my eyes, that I trust that she will be okay.

And, I do. “I trust that you’ll be okay without me,” I say each time.

I let go because this is what she, seems, to need. She’s not a teenager, yet, but a toddler testing the boundaries of her very young world. She’s not, I must remind myself, the baby that I once could cradle within the confines of my lap to soothe.

It (or letting go is) is what I needed, too.

Do you know what it’s like to be so overly concerned with your child’s well being that it’s paralyzing? 
When I use the word “paralyzing,” I mean in the sense that you are mentally unwilling to do most things, things that you’ve heard in the news or experienced yourself, because of the possibility of hurt, pain, despair, and germs.

No? Well, it’s exhausting.

I can’t protect my daughter from everything, the scenes from the indoor and outdoor playground that we frequent are teaching me that very important lesson in parenting.

I can’t catch her every time that she falls, or stand in the way of the three-year old who decides to push her because she’s a “baby.” But, I can always be there to put neon colored Band-Aids on her scraped knees, to be her mom, and I am always there, always watching, amazed most often by her ability to be her own little person. 

I can’t (and don’t want to) live in fear. 

Parenting, it seems is a test, the greatest test in trusting that the universe will not swallow our most precious possessions alive, isn’t it? It’s test in trusting that there’s something greater that’s protecting our children, that everything will be okay.

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What tests in “letting go” are you facing with your children? How do you get through those tests?