Breastfeeding for a year, and our weaning plan

Let me preface this by acknowledging that my parenting methods and experiences are mine alone, and I recognize that decisions surrounding breastfeeding are deeply personal. No matter what science or an outspoken friend/family member says, only you can choose whether or not to breastfeed, for how long, etc., based on what works for your health and lifestyle.

Some of you might think I’m crazy for nursing for a year, while others will think I’ve stopped too early. I’m sure you’re all lovely people, but your opinions on my choices really don’t matter. All that matters is that my family is happy and healthy as a direct result of the choices we’ve made, and I’m really proud of us.

My breastfeeding journey in a very large nutshell:

Week 1-6: I know why people choose not to do this.

Through month 3: Breastfeeding feels like a leash tying me to my child. I can’t take most medicine or have a glass of wine without considering if it’s sharable with a tiny baby.

3-6 months: Breastfeeding is easy and convenient – no dealing with bottles, etc., but I’m glad to say I’m almost halfway though my goal of nursing for a year.

Months 6-11: I love this! I know I said I was only going to do it for a year, but we’re both really enjoying it, and it’s so much easier now. We’re just not ready to stop. Besides, it’s only 4-5x a day, and I can always choose to give him food instead if need be.

What a difference a week makes…

Month 11 I took a 1-week trip to Colorado sans hubby. My son was on my boob like crazy, and his teeth tended to linger as he got lazy. By the time I returned, I was ready to reclaim my tatas.

I needed to make a plan and stick with it because we have another trip coming up at the end of this month. I don’t think it’s wise to ask a baby to tackle multiple adjustments at once.

Weaning:

At the time I started weaning my son was nursing 5x a day; roughly – 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm, and once during the night. During weaning, we’ve alternated bottles between whole milk and formula in order to gradually introduce cow’s milk to his digestive system. He’s done great, showing no preference, and with no negative reactions. We weaned gradually over 3 weeks.

The first nursing session that became a bottle was 3pm. We started with my husband giving him a bottle on day one. He fought it, but was happy to drink it once he took it. The same thing happened when I gave it to him the next day. Day 3, he took the bottle with ease.

After taking the bottle so easily on day 3, we decided to drop the 11am the next day. He took it, no issue, opening his mouth as soon as he saw it.

After 2 days with an 11am and 3pm bottle, middle of the night feedings became bottles, too. I left a diluted bottle in the fridge for my husband so I wouldn’t give in while in a sleepy state, and my son went along with it. Not having mommy or getting to nurse in the middle of the night made waking up in the middle of the night less enticing, which was also good, and a long time coming.

After a week (we were now a total of 2 weeks into weaning), I dropped the 7pm session. Honestly, I thought I might cry. This was always my favorite session; however, in case my milk started to dry up once going to only one nursing session in a 24-hr period, I didn’t want to worry he wasn’t getting enough right before bed. If he had fought the bottle, I probably would have given in, but he didn’t, so I felt good about the decision. That was three nights ago.

The first night he didn’t nurse, he also didn’t sleep well, which has been pretty typical. Although, since we’d been diluting bottles more and more each night, we were able to see that he didn’t need the calories, so we stuck to our guns and didn’t feed him.

The second night, he slept 12 hours straight, which had never happened.

The third night, he woke up after 9 hours, but was fine to go back to sleep with only a little water.

I’m currently still nursing in the morning, and I’m not sure when I’ll stop. I could go on for a while, for a couple more days, or it could be determined by when my ducts decide to stop making milk. Time will tell, and I know my son will do great when that day comes.

Because I weaned my son gradually, and I wasn’t an over-producer (which bothered me at times when I wanted to pump), I never needed to pump/express when I transitioned him to a bottle. Not pumping ended up keeping me honest to my plan so I couldn’t easily fall back into it. For once I was happy to make “just enough.”

I’m happy I chose to do this when I felt it worked for us, not when someone else told me I should. I’m proud I did it this long, but I also feel surprisingly good about the transition. All around, it has been a really positive experience for me, one I look forward to sharing with our next child. Even weaning has gone better than I anticipated.

If there’s anything I hope other’s gain from this, it’s to keep going during those first few months when it feels like a chore. If I stopped when it wasn’t any fun, I would’ve missed out.

Tomorrow is my son’s 1st birthday. I’ll raise a glass, without worrying about what’s in my bloodstream – thus in my milk, and toast to all the learning, growth and joy we’ve experienced. What a year it has been!

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Low sugar 1st birthday cake/cupcake recipe

I want to share the recipe I created (with suggestions from others, of course) for my son’s 1st birthday cake.

I fall in between the people who don’t want their children to have any sugar, and those who are fine with a little sugar shock. We wanted him to have a yummy cake with some sugar, but not the normal, full amount.

This recipe is mostly sweetened by fruit, with only 1 tbsp of brown sugar in the cake, and powdered sugar to taste in the icing. The batter doesn’t taste as sweet as the finished product because the sweetness of the bananas and carrots comes out during cooking.

We went the route of cupcakes, but the recipe can be used for either.

I can’t believe my baby is turning ONE!!!

Let Him Eat Cupcakes

  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1 tbsp wheat germ
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 ripe bananas (depending on size) – mashed
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350. Mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine. I made my applesauce with no added sweetener and skin left on. I also put my bananas and carrots (raw) in the food processor for easy shredding and mashing.

Bake for 18-20 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

We iced our cupcakes with cinnamon-cream cheese frosting, but only added powdered sugar to taste.  It was roughly 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 stick of butter, 1.5 containers of cream cheese, and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar.

Cupcakes


Inherent inheritance: blame the parents

Some of the best advice I’ve heard recently:

Everyone has mommy/daddy issues, including your mom/dad. Everyone just does the best they can.

If you think about it, Adam and Eve were probably the first to have parental issues. When your dad is God, there’s a lot of pressure to be awesome.

All of us have things we praise our parents for, and things we blame our parents for. We forget that our parents have/had parents, too…until we become parents, ourselves. Suddenly, each time you tell yourself, “I’m doing the best I can,” you realize your own parents were also doing the best they could with you.

One reason it’s hard to visualize our parents having a tough time is because grandparents tend to be pretty awesome. By the time someone is a grandparent, they’re usually mature and squared away, and they get to be “fun” rather than responsible for grandchildren. Hence, our view of our parents’ parents is a bit skewed.

If only we could combine the energy of young parents with the wisdom of grandparents, we would be onto something!

It’s crazy for me to think that my parents were younger than me when they became parents. I have to stop myself, on the regular, from calling everyone I encountered in my twenties to apologize for my behavior, and I was only responsible for caring for myself and a dog.

I’m still working on me, and now I’m also raising a baby. I’m lucky my dog made it through my crazy, immature years!

The next time you get ready to criticize your parents, remember, what you don’t move past, you’ll pass right along to your own kids. We can’t help but screw each other up at least a little bit. It’s part of the beauty of parenthood.

The more you dish out about your own parents, the more crow you’ll eat later on.

 


In the land of milk and honey, what can I eat?

The other day, a friend and I were discussing how hard it is to decide between all the kinds of milk available. Shockingly, although there are at least 10 varieties to choose from in stores, new opinions are suggesting going for what is not available at your local grocery chain; raw milk.

Without getting deep into the discussion, suffice that we concluded there are well-researched opinions to support both sides of every food story, and not only when it comes to milk.

Every time you get ready to make a food purchase, you have to decide between organic vs. non-organic, GMO vs. non-GMO, gluten-free, fat percentages, real or artificial sweeteners, etc., etc.. It’s easy to worry that you are making the wrong decision when there are so many options, and it’s even more stressful when deciding what to give your baby.

The good news is, you don’t need to think so much. Let me do my best to simplify it for you, and you can determine from there how much more or less you want to put into it.

  • Less is more: Choose whatever is closest to its natural state. Avoid added sweeteners (even the artificial kind), salt, etc.
  • Fat is okay, in fact, lactose goes down better with a side of fat, so skip the fat-free dairy.
  • When to go organic: When you are going to eat the peel, and with animal products, to avoid pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.
  • What can’t be regulated should be questioned. Food that isn’t FDA approved may not be for a very good reason. It’s not because the government doesn’t want us to have what’s good for us. Be discerning.
  • Don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune. There are billions of families without the time or money to get picky about nutrition, and their kids turn out just fine.
  • A little salt and/or sugar won’t kill you or your baby. Just remember that sweet and savory cravings are learned, addictive behaviors. Learning to eat a little and be done is actually healthier than going without and then bingeing because it’s the forbidden fruit.

If you are obsessing about reading every nutrition label, although you are well-meaning, you have too much time on your hands. There are so many ways you are shaping your family, food only being one of them, and no one expects you to be perfect. Shoot to make healthy decisions 80% of the time, and don’t beat yourself up about the other 20%. Some families have no choice but to eat what they can get, so be grateful you lead a lifestyle that allows you to be picky.

My dad is forever telling me he learns new things everyday he doesn’t know how he got by without knowing for all these years. The same rule applies here. When we were kids, no one looked around for any of the labels that stand out to us now, and, for the most part, we turned out okay.

For more nutrition tips, click here.

 


The suggested method for raising a baby

You know what none of the books I read before having a baby told me? A lot of baby advice, even from pediatricians, is simply suggestions.

I started out thinking the only way to do things was exactly how I was told to do it or a method I had read about. Maybe I’m slow, but it took me quite a while to realize that a lot of what I was being told was just opinion, or one person’s suggested method. I thought I might do something “wrong,” and my baby would suffer.

I once had a doctor tell me my son was the perfect size, then tell me to change our feeding schedule because it wasn’t the norm for his age. Contradictory?

Looking back, I could have relaxed a lot more from the get go and let common sense, and my gut, play a larger role.

 

I know why I didn’t relax initially. It has never been harder to be a beginner at something. Think about it; how many times have you started something new where they gave you a living being to keep alive on day one? It’s terrifying. All I wanted was an expert to tell me exactly what to do so I wouldn’t screw my baby up (at least not for a few years).

I really wish someone had said, “As long as you love him, do your best to meet his needs, and pay attention, you’ll be a great mom.”

Unfortunately, all the recalls and warning labels terrified me into forgetting that even uneducated junkies manage to keep babies alive. The pursuit of perfection gets in the way of realizing that simply giving a damn makes you a pretty good parent.

Whether you stay at home, go back to work, use a nanny, put your baby in daycare, use cloth diapers, use disposables, make your baby food, buy organic, use the cry-out method, nurse/rock your baby to sleep, co-sleep, breastfeed, use formula, make a million crafts together, use the TV as an occasional babysitter, teach your baby five languages, home school, etc., etc., you’ll figure out what works for your family, and you’ll be great.

My baby is very much alive and thriving, but I’m not going to write a how-to book. There are a gazillion other right ways to raise a child.

 

 


Adventures in baby food

I’ve had people tell me they gained weight because they ate what they were feeding their children. What exactly are these people feeding their children?

The answer lurks in the children’s menu options at most restaurants. Typical fare includes a burger, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, or a hot dog. Does anyone else find this mix of brown, beige, orange and yellow food a bit boring and processed? Sure, they can each have a (small) place in a child’s food repertoire, but they hardly represent a balanced diet.

I’ve never dealt with a picky eater, food allergies, or a two-year-old going through a phase where she won’t eat anything but bananas. I’m not judging; I’m just putting it out there that parents play a large role in shaping a child’s food habits. It’s important not to project our own likes/dislikes on to them when making selections, or to assume they won’t enjoy vegetables like they will fruit.

Somehow, we’ve been programmed to think babies can only be served bland food, and they will only want sweet options. In reality, they often want whatever we’re having, so be a good role model, or fake it to make it.

When you go to the store, select a variety of options recognizing that babies are developing their palates from a blank slate. When you go out, ask for a side of something healthy, rather than ordering your little one something from the limited children’s menu. If you need something steamed longer so it’s softer or prepared without seasoning, just ask. Most restaurants are very accommodating.

I know I can order an adult entrée that includes salmon and potatoes, request a side of avocado, and share that with my son. It’s exciting for him because he gets to share with mommy, and I know he’s getting lots of good nutrition from it. Nutrition is a fun way to learn colors, too, seeing as how we should all eat a rainbow.

My 9-month-old has already enjoyed all of the following foods, and I’m sure I’m leaving some out:

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Oatmeal
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Sweet potato
  • Butternut squash
  • Lentils
  • Beans of many kinds
  • Raisins
  • Millet
  • Barley
  • Apricot
  • Potato
  • Salmon
  • Bison
  • Quinoa
  • Cauliflower
  • Mango
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Edamame
  • Hummus
  • Broccoli
  • Rice
  • Coconut Milk
  • Kale
  • Carrot
  • Green Beans
  • Peas
  • Zucchini
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Prunes
  • Tilapia
  • Chicken
  • Kiwi
  • Beef
  • Cherries
  • Apple
  • Chia seeds
  • Almond butter
  • Egg
  • Cheese
  • Strawberry
  • Spinach
  • Beets

I hope you read this as me suggesting fun options and ways to make food fun for your child. As I’ve said before, I consider myself very knowledgeable and able to advise on nutritional habits, but I’ve only got nine months in the saddle as a parent.

My son isn’t going to eat only perfect, healthy options all the time, but I want to teach him healthy food is just as fun as less healthy options, and there’s a necessary balance.

I’m always looking for new recipes to offer him, so please share your own fun family food options!


Tips for traveling with a baby

There’s a reason no one talks about how fun it is to fly with children. It isn’t fun.

Before my first flight with my son, I remember thinking about all the times I cringed upon realizing I would be sitting near a baby on a flight. The time has come that I’m the cringe-worthy one.

Pre-baby, I would pop into the airport with little extra time before my flight. Should my flight be delayed, I’d grab a drink at one of the many bars. Once in the air, I’d have a glass of wine and take in a movie. Ahhh, I loved flying. In fact, I was good at it. I packed just the right amount, and was extremely efficient in the security line. Those were the days…

Although flying with a baby isn’t altogether enjoyable, traveling as a whole still is, and I’m not one to park my plane (no, I don’t really have a plane) because things got more complicated. My 8-month old and I already have 4 round-trip flights under our belt(s), and I want to share some tips to help make your flights easier. Goodness knows I googled “flying with a baby” before we lifted off, and I learned some lessons the hard way. Hopefully, I took one (or twelve) for the team, and this information will help you out when flying the friendly skies.

  • Pack light. All you really need on the flight for baby are diapers, a changing pad and wipes. Books and toys only take up space since they’ll likely want to watch your tablet or another monitor, or just people watch when they’re awake.
  • Plan to buy anything bulky, such as diapers, at your destination, since your little one’s stuff will likely take up more space in the suitcase than your’s will.
  • Check your destination accommodations for baby resources. Many places offer equipment and sitter services. Hotels often provide cribs, linens, baby tubs, etc. at no extra charge.
  • If you are flying solo with your little one, look for an aisle seat with an empty seat next to you. You’ll be up and down a lot. If you are traveling with someone else plus baby, look for a 3-seat row, and take both aisles. Middle seats are the last ones to fill up. When you get to the gate, mention to the attendant that you are traveling with a baby, and they may help keep the seat next to/between you open.
  • Be sure your ticket is marked “infant in arms,” and be sure to have a passport for your little one if you are traveling internationally. A birth certificate won’t work.
  • If you find yourself sitting next to a stranger, mention that you will be nursing during the flight. If he/she is uncomfortable, this is the easiest opportunity for them to ask to move.
  • Be prepared for security. You’ll need to put the car seat and the stroller on the scanner belt, so be ready to pick up baby and collapse everything down. This is the time to wear slip-ons and have your liquids, laptop, etc. all ready to go since you’ll already have more to sort through (and carry) than the average traveler. Right before you board, put your baby in his carrier, and gate check the car seat and stroller.
  • On the flight, shuck the rules and any kind of routine.
  • Whatever is a no-fail way to appease the kids, the stuff you normally reserve for special occasions, break it out for the flight. Let them have it their way, and everyone on the flight will love you for it.You may restrict screen time at home, but if it keeps your little one quiet and occupied, this is the time to make an exception.
  • Nurse your baby anytime he fusses. He’ll be thirstier than normal. Babies, just like adults, get a little dehydrated when flying.
  • Use your carrier. My Ergo was great for nursing (the hood is so much easier than pulling out a cover), and he could fall asleep in it, leaving my hands free.
  • Mentally, prepare yourself to be awake the whole flight, and pack snacks since it’s unlikely the timing of the service and you having free hands to eat will coincide.
  • Don’t feel awkward about being “that guy” standing up and walking the aisles the entire flight. It might feel like all eyes are on you, but your fellow passengers would rather see you then hear your baby.