What’s up with weaning?

With my second baby coming up to six months old, I had a look around published info to remind myself how to do it and see if anything had changed.

The first time, I found some interesting information that led me to avoid giving baby rice. At 6 months a baby’s iron requirements increase as well as having a bigger appetite.

Baby rice and other cereals don’t naturally contain iron in high enough levels. The accepted response has been to give baby rice fortified with Iron. However, there is an article by Renegade Mom that makes baby rice seem really bad, a central argument is that the starch in it can’t be digested by the gut (this isn’t completely correct because the amylase in the babies saliva helps), also rice contains arsenic, which in little quantities is OK but watch for build up (rice cakes, cereal, hungry milk etc). Perhaps a more balanced view is in this nutrition blog. In short, I think baby rice is OK in moderation but for me there is a better way by considering foods that naturally contain iron. These articles raise an important point about not following the herd and understanding what is best. Time for some more research!

Well, I don’t know if I just missed it last time but this time the articles I found that talked through the misinformation around baby rice also had some interesting alternative first foods – bone broth (aka home made stock), liver (good quality, grass fed) and egg yolk. Holistic squid has a great article on these first foods.

In fact, I made some bone broth just the other day after we had roast chicken for Sunday lunch. I had read about it in Hemsley Hemsley a great book about eating better (as adults). Bone broth is very healing for adults’ digestive tract. For babies it helps ‘seal’ the digestive tract, which is permeable in the first months and needs to ‘seal’ this route to protect from some nasties in our diet crossing into the blood stream. It also is an easy way for the body to absorb some useful nutrients – zinc, magnesium, and many amino acids.

Bone broth is very easy to make, no skills required, just time, ingredients and a pot to store it in. The difference between stock and bone broth is really that you leave broth on the heat for longer. Once finished, if you put it in the fridge, the fat rises to the top and forms a seal so it stores well. You can freeze it too.

For me, spooning bone broth into a babies mouth is a bit like one of those challenges on the crystal maze, there is going to be a lot of spillage and if I get any in it will be a miracle. What I’m going to try is mixing bone broth with vegetable puree. Egg yolks will be easy, I love a boiled egg in the morning and the yolk will easily stick to my finer perfect for sucking (edit: My sister pointed out it would have to be a hard boiled egg as the yolk needs to be cooked). Liver though… Yuk! Am I brave enough to grate some liver?

Shaping up for Summer

Ah! I’ve suddenly realised how close it is to our summer holiday in June. An early summer holiday is good for cooler weather for the kids and for getting some sun (hopefully!) to kick start what will be a splendid English summer (ahem!) but it is not great for having your body back in shape for summer clothes and swimming cozzies!

To be honest I’m pretty lucky at being able to let the weight drop off, it doesn’t take too much effort to get so far. However, toning up is another thing altogether. It requires a bit of time and effort. I used to do yoga and running but even these I struggle with now I have a four month old baby and a four year old. By the end of the day I’m exhausted and often a glass of wine and hearty dinner and pudding is what I crave most. Since I’m so exhausted I feel I damn well deserve it too!

So back to getting that toned up body. Hmmm.

If I can’t summon up the energy in the evening when the kids are in bed, I have two options. Have a word and force myself out (tried that, not happening, I seem to be a bit too disobedient); or break it into manageable ‘bite-sized’ chunks. This I think I can do. And a positive attitude and belief in yourself at the beginning is an important part of making a start on a new habit and keeping it going.

My new habit

I can fit in yoga in 10, 20 or sometimes even 30 minute slots in the day. I grab my mat and start with sun salutations to warm up. If I then have time, I add on some further mat work. I also find times to weave exercise into my day.

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Source: Yoga at home

Before my shower, I stretch my arms up, then link the hands together and bend to one side, sticking out the opposing hip, and then the other side. Putting my socks on means a count of four (or more if I can manage it) of holding my newly socked foot out with a straight leg in front of me to tone my gluts/thighs.

I’ve only been doing it for a week, so let me know if you have a routine you fit into your busy day, and I’ll report on how this goes. Fingers crossed!

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

I wasn’t totally sure if I was completely mad or very valiant climbing on a plane to go to a friend’s wedding with 4 month old Eve. What I didn’t expect is the boost to my self esteem. I think it is really easy to lose some of your self esteem and belief in yourself when you are on maternity leave.

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Source: 10steps.sg

I don’t know about you but when I see my mega mothering achievements – She slept! She fed! She pooed! – through others’ eyes, I don’t rank them as significant as my work achievements. Everyone has children, not everyone excels in their work place. Now it is important to pause here, and state for the record that this is all in my head. When I look objectively, I can see that bringing up a child is an amazing role and huge achievement. Emotionally though it doesn’t always feel like that – it is relentless, a long haul and as full of highs and lows as a roller coaster. My world becomes smaller. Getting into town or making it to a toddler group become major achievements and your sense of self and of courage can slip away stealth-like.

I wasn’t alone completely. And I was only going for a long weekend. (Did  you see that mother who went travelling round the world on her maternity leave?!!) But I did it. All. By. Myself. (Wow, I sound like my four year old!) I flew to the south of France with a baby and took her to my friend’s wedding, and even a lunch party the next day.

I’m usually pretty protective of naps and feeding i.e. making sure there is time for these things when my little one needs them. Doing this trip meant I was always trying to work around others’ schedules – flight times, invitation times etc. Babies also are a law unto themselves, they might wake early or sleep late, or really often I found it would take an age to feed because she was distracted by everything going on around her. I started feeling  bit like a maths genius in the end, constantly calculating times to work out the best way of doing everything.

The trip itself showed me what a patient, resilient, happy baby I had. It also showed me that she will let me know with a loud wail if things have gone too far and she is too tired, hungry etc. It showed me what a rapport I had already built up with her in just 4 months. It reminded me what great friends I have and how supportive they are. It also tested my problem solving skills, not just working out baby stuff but how to get the rear seats down in a Renault Scenic, driving in France, working out how to fit all our kit into the car and how to find a good restaurant to eat at.

It’s not that I’m recommending this specific thing, but I do recommend getting out of your comfort zone, whatever that may be. Because going to this wedding in France showed me what had been there all the time. You don’t notice how ‘good’ you are until you push yourself a bit. It’s hard when you’re feeling small or inadequete and it may feel quite selfish or guilty putting your baby out of her comfort zone. But challenging yourself and your baby is extremely rewarding. I think both my little one and I have both grown as a result.

At the end of the day modelling confidence and self esteem to your children is a good thing but it can only be done if you genuinely feel these things. Seeing my four year old at the arrivals gate and telling her all about our trip was great because I really felt the confidence shine out of me. My hope for both my daughters is that they will also challenge themselves and surprise themselves with the things they are capable of.

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Footnote:

If you are flying with a baby and want some tips there are some great pieces of advice online e.g. Hither and thither

My top three tips are:

  1. Book the flight at a good time for your baby. We travelled out and back over her lunchtime nap. It wasn’t seemless though, she fell asleep with 20 mins left on the flight because she was so interested. However, it gave me a little break and the lack of nap on the plane meant she napped in the hire car later too.
  2. It helps to feed babies on take off and landing to equalise their ears. So I delayed her feed until take off, which made her a bit grisly; but we were 15 mins delayed and it takes an age for the plane to get to the runway and take it’s slot. By the time we took off and were making the changes in altitude that set your ears off, I had been feeding for half and hour and had nearly finished!
  3. Work out the best way to transport your baby. I had my baby sling to hand all the time but kept the car seat was better at some points in the journey like going through security, and we needed that for the hire car. Her buggy would have been too bulky to take with us.