Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mealtime Frustrations!

If you have survived raising a child over the age of 3 you have definitely survived many meal time frustrations most parents learn to deal with.  Introducing first foods, picky eaters, refusing to eat, messy floors, etc.  Have you ever taken out your recipe book and prepared a wholesome meal from scratch for your baby just to have it thrown back at you?  If not, then I definitely envy you! 

The reality is that introducing solid foods to your baby can be a lot of fun but it can also be very frustrating! 

Lately I have been hearing new trends such as introducing meats first instead of cereal.  This way the baby still gets the required iron and gets used to more solid and tastier food compared to baby cereal.   And there is also the trend towards what is called the "No Purees" movement or "Baby-Led Weaning" where you skip the whole puree stage and go straight to solid finger foods. 

You can read hundreds of books that all promise to have the right answer on how to make your child a happy eater.  If it were only that easy :)!  Ultimately you want your child to eat a variety of healthy foods every day, allowing him/her to grow.

Here are a few tricks that I have learnt over that last 3 years from my own experience with my boys as well as watching other friends, and from reading a variety of resources.

1) It's not about quantity.  In our society, we tend to eat bigger portions than what we need, hence the percentage of obesity rising in children and adults.  I remember getting very frustrated with my first son around 1 year of age when he was refusing to eat.  One day, I almost force fed him his meal I was so upset.  Needless to say it did not work.  That is when I realized this made no sense.  I called the Dieticians of Canada to get some advice and from then on, changed my tune to the following ... I never force our kids to eat.  I offer them healthy foods and they choose what they eat.  If they refuse a meal, I will not make a different meal for them but I will still offer other foods such as fruits and yogurt.  I try to offer foods they like combined with new foods and they can choose from what is offered.  Some meals go very well and some not that great.  I try to not let it get to me.

2) Don't underestimate your baby.  The puree stage should not last very long.  Babies over 6 months of age are most often able to eat small soft pieces of food (right away if you follow the Baby-Led Weaning method and skip the puress altogether).  The sooner they are able to eat pieces, the sooner they can feed themselves and be more independant.  It will also help them develop their hand-eye coordination.  So let them experiment and try to eat themselves.  Don't be afraid of messes! 

3) Snacks.  These are the greatest thing to keep your child occupied as you try to do a few things like the dishes, folding laundry, during outings, etc.  Always have many healthy snacks at hand.  The no spill snack cups are great for little ones to feed themselves wihtout spilling everything on the floor.  Always keep a close eye on your child when they are eating of course.

4) When you first introduce solids you usually do it on a full stomach following  breast or bottle.  Once you have passed that stage, be careful not to let your  child overfill themsleves with milk of juice prior to meals as they will not feel hungry.

5) Juice.  Personally I did not introduce juice until after 18 months of age and I always dilute it 1/4 juice, 3/4 water.  In fact I rarely give my kids juice.  They will drink milk or water instead.  Only give them 100% juice and stay away from cocktails or sugar filled beverages.

6) Homemade purees.  Ok so every Mom wants to give their children the best.  And of course I made all of my first son's purees from scratch.  It is very easy.  However don't be too hard on yourself as there are lots of great ready made purees out there nowadays that are made from organic foods and with no additives.  Just make sure you read the labels properly.  My favorite: La mère poule.  With my second son,  I did both.  Homemade and store bought.  My son still turned out ok :)

7) Smoothies.  My kids love smoothies.  It is the perfect way to add things like veggies, grains, fibre, protein, etc. without them really noticing it.  Add frozen fruits, yogurt, milk, wheatgerm  and so much more.

8) Instead of a big meal, we sometimes have a "snack" meal where my kids will eat pieces of cheese, bread or crackers, carrots, fruits, raisins, etc. with a glass of milk.  They enjoy the variety of little things on their plate and it is as nutritious and healthy as any other meals we make them.

9) Treats.  We also are not as strict as what we started out to be with treats.  We sometimes will let them have treats such as cookies, a piece of chocolate, pudding, etc.  We even feed them kraft dinner, and zoodles at times.  My theory is as long as they eat of a variety of foods, I am happy.  Eating Kraft dinner now and then is not an issue for me but having it everyday is.

10) Let your kids help you prepare meals.  They will most likely be more inclined at tasting it.

11) As they get older, let them choose what's for dinner now and then.  Even if it is a Kraft Dinner or a grilled cheese :)

12)  Last but not least, eat together as a family as much as you can and try to make mealtimes fun even if some days mealtimes are still a strugggle.  Don't let it get to you.  As long as your child is growing and is healthy, he/she is most likely eating enough.

I have also recently introduced a daily multivitamin for my 3 year old to ensure that he gets the necessary iron, vitamins and minerals when he doesn't eat as well some days.  He loves taking it and if I forget, he reminds me every morning that he did not get his vitamin :)

I'd love to hear any of your little tricks for happy mealtimes.  Please feel free to add your comments below.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Snow is finally here to stay and my boys are very happy about it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Guest Blogger: Organizing the mountain of "stuff" that comes with a baby

As part of our guest blogging contest, here is a post that Ami was nive enough to share with us about organizing all the stuff that comes with having a baby.  This is a post that also appeared on her own Blog: Beyond Peas and Carrots in October 2010.  

Ami also will receive a $20 gift certificate as part of the guest blogging contest that can be used in our online store: Ottawa Cloth Diapers. Thank you Ami for sharing with us.  Here is her post:

Organizing the mountain of "stuff" that comes with a baby

When I first got pregnant everyone warned me about the mountain of "stuff" that you needed and receive when you have a baby. First, let me start by saying I think a lot of the stuff people tell you you "need" is really not needed at all. Holden is more interested in me dancing around like a crazy person and making funny faces than he is in half of the toys I have. He also is growing through clothes so quickly that half of the clothing I had for him in the early months he didn't even get a chance to wear! Having said all that, there is no denying that even if you live by the rule less is more your home is still going to explode a bit with the addition of a child. Being a type A personality I am, I prepared for this before Holden even arrived. I wanted to make sure that as the new stuff started coming in I had a spot for it, so my home didn't look like a Babies R Us exploded in it.

I wanted to share with you some of the systems that help us keep our home organized.

In the Nursery

I knew immediately when decorating Holden's room that I wanted an expedit bookshelf from Ikea. It makes it so easy to get baskets or colorful bins and store toys hidden away. It also has a lot of storage space for books (which is always an important perk in my house). I decided to go for some colorful bins (which I also found at Ikea) in alternating colors, since I had decorated the rest of Holden's room in more modern bright colors (mainly red, orange, blue and lime green).

When deciding on a change table I knew I wanted something with lots of storage space. I didn't want to be running all over the room to grab diapers, wipes, lotion, a clean outfit etc. I opted for this change table from Ikea because I liked the modern pattern and all the pockets on it. I also liked that all the parts can be removed for easy cleaning. I use the pockets to store cloth wipes and a spray bottle, diaper creams, lotion and baby oil for after bath time, extra outfits for easy changing and a couple toys to easily distract Holden during change time. As you can see I put some baskets on the bottom shelf of the change table and this is where I store some diapers and inserts (since we are using cloth). Alternatively you could get a more standard change table and use baskets on some of the shelves to keep things handy and a little more organized.
We are still in a rental townhouse right now and closet space is VERY limited. I needed a way to store all of the odds and ends that come with a baby (bibs, burp clothes, blankets, sheets etc) while still being able to use the closet and his dresser for clothes. I decided to get a couple hanging organizers for in the closet and that is where I store all those little items. The blankets I just fold in half and roll up and then I can fit a couple side by side in each slot. It is nice to have his sheets and blankets handy in his room instead of down the hall in the linen closet (plus this leaves me more room in the linen closet for our stuff).

I also put some blue bins on the top of his closet to store any items I want to keep out of his reach (like crayons and craft supplies). I also use one to store any items he has outgrown, until I have a chance to donate it. It is VERY handy to have that bin in his room since practically every day I am finding a new item he has outgrown. You will also see an extra laundry basket up on that shelf. A friend of mine actually advised I get an extra laundry basket for when Holden was born, with all the extra laundry I would be doing. It has been a LIFE SAVER. Most days I do at least a couple loads of laundry and having the extra basket means I don't have to rush and put it all away right that second if I am trying to watch my son. I also keep a separate hamper in the bottom of his closet so I can easily put any of his dirty clothes, sheets etc in there as needed (instead of throwing them on the floor or having to go to another room to get rid of them).

In the Living Room

Our living room is on a different level than Holden's room so it is handy to have some of his toys and other baby items where we spend the majority of our time during the day. I didn't want my living room to look like a toy box exploded in there though. I decided to get some baskets and put them on the bottom of two of the bookshelves in that room. Then I can just throw some toys, rattles, and soothers in there.

I also replaced our old death trap coffee table with all the pointy corners with this ottoman. Aside from being more kid safe, it also has a removable lid so you can store any additional toys, blankets, and bumbo chairs in there.

In the Kitchen

Our little rental townhouse also has a VERY tiny kitchen. Since I love to cook our cupboards were already exploding, so when I knew I would have to add bottles, sippy

I hope some of my tips help you out in getting ready for baby or organizing some of the exploding kids items you already have! If you have any great tips I would love to hear them!

Thank you Ami! I am an organized freak or at least I was before I had kids so I love reading any tips on how to keep things tidy.  I'd love to hear any of your tricks or see pictures if you want to share with us.