Egg allergy? Muffins it is then.

Watching the Little Mister eat anything I’ve made for him gives me an undeniable sense of satisfaction. Watching him eat anything at all is pretty uplifting, granted, but nothing beats watching him take to his mouth a morsel made by his mama.

It only 11 months, yes, but now that gag reflex is gone, the Little Mister is able to eat lumpy food, and even chew on bits of bread and crackers. He’s still being fussy, and I’ve not yet mastered getting him to feed himself anything other than bread and crackers, but we finally have progress. For the last two mornings he’s finished his banana mashed with weetabix. And he’s had about half of the lunch and dinner I’ve served up. Meat mixed with pear, apple or mango? Check.

I gave up slaving over my fancy baby food cooker months ago when the only thing he would eat out of it was pureed fruit. But this morning, buoyed by the success of an empty breakfast bowl, I cooked for Little Mister.

A couple of weeks ago, we tried to give him scrambled eggs. After he refused to eat them, he came up in a scary rash and hives around his mouth. I panicked and Skyped mum. I had an egg allergy too as a baby, but grew out of it.

So, after a little help from google, I made some egg-free, sugar-free banana muffins, adapted from a recipe I found online here. We had lunch out, at Te Papa today. The Little Mister ate almost half a muffin before throwing the rest on the floor. (Yes, I was so happy I wanted to tell everyone around me what had just happened, but I restrained myself and just gave my baby the biggest slobbery kiss ever.) Try them for your little ones, they are yum and oh-so-easy:

Sugar and egg free banana muffins:

In a bowl mix the following ingredients. Then, place a big spoon of batter into a 12-hole greased cupcake tin. Bake for about 20 mins on 170C. Makes 24.

1 cup rolled  oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 cup prune and apple puree (which I’d prepared earlier in the fancy baby cooker – just call me Nigella.)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch nutmeg
pinch cinnamon
tiny drop of vanilla paste
2 large ripe bananas, mashed well
1 1/4 cups water

banana muffins

And here they are

Dear Mama: Food Rules

Dear Mama, thanks for figuring out that I’m ready to eat now. I knew it wouldn’t take you long to notice, given you’ve been trying to feed me for half my life. But now that I’m ready, I think we need to lay down some ground rules – and of course – take it slow.

1. Crackers. I like these. Cruskits are good, and preferably the ones with only two ingredients: maize and salt. Rice cakes are good too, but only the little ones with apple juice added for flavour.

2. Bread. Let’s stick with white for now. Pita breads are good, but please make sure they don’t get too hard in the toaster. Ideally, they will be from a just-opened packet so they are fresh and soft.

3. Butter. This is fine in small quantities, and it must be INSIDE two slices of bread or crackers, so I can’t feel it on my hands. It feels yuk. Ditto vegemite.

4. Fruit. Possibly the one food I prefer pureed. Steamed fruit is just too slippery and slimy. Maybe I’ll change my mind next week, but for now, put the fancy steamer away. The same goes for carrots.

5. Meat and vegetables. Still not interested, sorry. Bread and crackers will do me just fine.

6. Mealtimes. I still think we have too many of these during the day when I could be crawling, cruising along furniture, and looking for drawers and cupboards to open.

7. Feeding me. I’ll do this myself, thanks. I’d rather you didn’t try and put food in my mouth. There will, however, be some occasions when I will eat pureed fruit. You’ll have to watch me  to judge when these are. Once I’ve had enough though, please put the spoon away promptly. Mostly, though, I’m figuring out how to handle food on my own – and I’ll stick to crackers and bread (see rules 1 and 2).

8. Handfuls. You’ve got the right idea with the perfectly-sized baby rice cakes. Excellent. And I think you’ve worked out that Cruskits need to be broken into longish strips so I can hold the bottom and eat the top. Watch they’re not too wide. Soldiers of bread are just fine.

9. Enough. Once I’ve sucked on my food for long enough, it gets soggy and it sticks to my hands. Please take it away. If you don’t I’ll throw it on the floor. That doesn’t mean I want you to pick it up, tell me about the three second rule, and offer it to me again. Throwing it away means I’m done.

Thanks Mama, I think we’re on the same page with this one.

Love and big open mouthed kisses, Milin Charlie xo

This time it really is progress

TONIGHT our little family ate dinner together for the first time. Let me explain.

We’ve tried it before. But the Little Mister is generally uninterested in food. By dinner time in particular. And it usually involves one of us distracting him while the other tries to trick him and get the spoon into his mouth. Sometimes we get two mouthfuls in, sometimes it’s five. Our food gets forgotten. He throws his toys on the floor. You see, we never eat together.

But tonight, the Little Mister held a piece of a corn wafer in his hand, and sucked and sucked and chewed and swallowed. He finished it. We ate our dill and lemon baked fish with vegetables and watched him. We finished ours too. He wasn’t sick.

I’ve been to the doctor twice about the projectile vomiting. Until now, anything not pureed into liquid form has come straight back up after a few scary moments of near-choking. At nearly 11 months, the Little Mister still has a very sensitive gag reflex. Apparently. Apparently it’s nothing to worry about. The doctor, who perhaps viewed me as a neurotic housewife with too much time on her hands, suggested we see a private specialist if we were really concerned.

I know that for under ones the most important food is milk – but that birthday has been rapidly approaching. And until now, there’s been no discernible progress. So, as much as I’ve tried not to be, of course I’ve been concerned. Recently though, it’s more that I’ve been sad for the Little Mister. He wants to eat. Sand, soil, bits of brick – he gives it a go (and then vomits over the kitchen floor again). I watch his friends with their lunchboxes. I’m jealous.

I have no idea why in the last few days things have changed but they have. Lumpy banana – he ate it. Buttered bread – he only gagged a bit. FORK MASHED CHICKEN AND PASTA – HE ATE IT (mixed in with creamy rice pudding, but that had lumps in it too.)

I’ve been optimistic before, but this really is progress. Maybe the Little Mister will be eating his first birthday cake with us after all.

Dear Mama: Some advice

Dear Mama, I’d like to help you. I think you’ve been struggling a bit with meal times, so here goes.

I’m nearly ten months old now, and, sorry to say it, but you’ve been a bit slow at figuring out this whole solids thing. You might remember (I do) that you first tried to give me some baby rice cereal when I was five months. Luckily for both of us, you figured out pretty quick there was no way I was going to eat any of that grown-up-like-food-stuff and you stopped trying for a while. (Lucky too that you realised baby rice cereal is awful and should only ever be offered in miniscule quantities mixed with lots of pear.)

After a bit of a break, you tried again. I’m not sure why you did this. I like bottles of milk just fine. Sometimes you could warm them up a bit more, but generally, they’re just fine.

You might remember (I do) that when I was eight months old I stopped fighting you so hard. I had to give it to you mama, your persistence was impressive. You’d sit me down every day and try and feed me with a soft blue spoon. Meanwhile, you’d tease me by using a metal spoon yourself. Didn’t you realise how good that would feel on my gums?

I tried really hard to show you how much I wasn’t ready to eat. I clamped my lips shut, turned as far away as I could from the spoon, and squirmed in my high chair. Sometimes I’d shout. Most times you didn’t get it.

But, as I said, after eight months, I gave in a little to your persistence.

Since then, we’ve made quite a lot of progress. For example, you’ve learnt that velcro-fastening bibs are a waste of time because I can get pull them off easily. You’ve also clicked that there’s no point starving me of milk, it doesn’t mean I’ll eat more grown-up-like-food-stuff. I think too that you’ve relaxed a bit about it all and now you give up sooner when I’m not going to eat. (Even though you took me to the doctor because you were so worried about me puking up all the time. I think you got the message from him though, that there’s no need to be neurotic and I’m just doing this on my time.)

But there’s still a whole lot of stuff you’re still not getting. Like finger food or anything actually solid: I will gag on it and throw it up. Why don’t you just stop giving it to me? And cleaning the high chair. Why do you spend so long doing it? I don’t care, you know, if the remainder of my last seventeen meals are caked onto its edges. I’m still not going to eat them. Instead of cleaning, you could be playing toys, or crawling, with me.

Then there’s the vegetables. This is where you really need help. I know you steam them up with apricots. I hear the scary blender sometimes when I’m trying to sleep. Just so you know, I can still taste the vegetables through the apricots.

Recently, you’ve started giving me banana and weetabix in the morning for breakfast. That’s ok, I can handle that. But please remember, as soon as I turn my head away from the spoon and drop my toys off the side of my high chair, mealtime is over. And please don’t forget to pick up my toys for me. Somedays mealtime will be over after one mouthful. Somedays I’ll eat a third of a banana. Just watch me closely for clues about which day it’s going to be.

But here’s the most important bit mama, and this is the bit that’s going to help you. When I’m ready, I’ll eat. Just like all those other babies we see at playdates, who eat toast and carrots and pasta, I’ll eat. For now though, no more doctors, no more sighs at the breakfast bar and hanging your head with sad eyes, and no more kumara and apricot flavoured meat and vegetables. Let’s just wait til I’m ready.

Lots of love and opened-mouthed kisses mixed with raspberries,

Milin Charlie xxx

 

 

Balanced Diets are Over-rated

THEY are sweet, puree up nice and smooth, and gain a little something when steamed with a stick of cinnamon. Pears. The only food the Little Mister will eat.

It’s only since he was eight months that he has accepted any solids at all, so I’m not expecting him to be eating three balanced meals a day. But, I do wish he’d eat at least some savoury foods. Some days are better than others. Often in the morning I get him to eat some yoghurt and rice cereal with his pear. Other sweet fruits also go down quite well as long as they are totally liquidised and the main ingredient in that two tablespoon meal is still pear.

But should I try and mix in some meat or vegetables, he looks at me like I’m trying to poison him. Like I’ve betrayed him. Oh Little Mister, I just want you to eat.

I’ve tried finger food. Grated cheese, a bit of egg, a bit of bread, a bit of corn cracker, a bit of banana. Same result everytime. Gag, choke, vomit. The Little Mister isn’t ready.

So I wait. While his friends eat their lunch around him, we wait. I know all babies end up eating. I know the Little Mister is not starving – in fact, he’s drinking so much formula it’s quite the opposite. But on some days, like today, his total rejection of even a tablespoon of food makes me wish he could just tell me what I am doing wrong.

Then I’d make it better, he’d eat a balanced meal, and then we’d go back to playing toys. And crawling, and clapping, and waving, and trying to climb. Because all that stuff is way more fun than eating, after all.

 

 

Happy Nine Months

THREE quarters of a year. It’s been that long since you came into our lives and changed everything. For the last nine months, you have made every day better and everybody close to you happier. In such a short time, you have spread so much joy.

Today, to celebrate, we took you to the zoo. Dada bought you a zoo pass, because even though we won’t be here a year, you love that place at the end of the road. It does me good too, to push you around its hills and see the animals on our walks.

You love the roosters, they’re easy to see from the buggy. The one we met today was particularly striking as its feathers were so bright. We got up close to the giraffes, or the big Sophies, and the kangaroos, a goat, and an emu caught your attention too. The big hit today though was a rather angry ostrich, who squaked away right up close to the wire between you two. He tried to get his beak through the fence. You were transfixed by this big, noisy, grumpy creature.

It tired you out, the fresh air, the adventure, the new creatures to look at with your big wide open eyes. Those eyes are taking everything in, as they always have done, but now at nine months you have a wise look about you.

You have worked out how to put your stacking rings back on their stand. You have worked out how to make the wheels turn on your toys that go places. You can get onto your hands and knees from sitting, and then rock backwards and forwards. Sometimes you leapfrog forwards. You push yourself backwards, you swivel round and round on your tummy. Just today though, the elusive forward crawling motion was suddenly a step closer. You worked out you must move one leg at a time. And then you started moving your hands too. You must only be days away.

Our days, yours and mine, are filled with smiles, tickles, laughs, toys, songs, stories and games. Your newest game is clapping your hands. At first I thought you were dancing with your arms. You thought it was hillarious and laughed and laughed and laughed. Then I realised, you were trying to clap. Except your arms moved up and down and your hands did’t always meet in the middle. You still think it’s funny, but you’ve nearly cracked it.

You’ve also figured out how to wave. If you hear the words “say bye”, you lift your hand and give a wave just like the Queen’s. Sometimes, if you want someone to leave, you’ll wave at them out of the blue. It can be a little embarrassing.

You still eat very, very little. But we still sit down at least three times a day and try. The spoon aversion has gone, and you no longer only take a metal tea spoon. You will eat pear, which I steam with cinammon, and purée. Mixed with apple or mango it’s o k. But should I try to feed you anything else you look convinced I’ve betrayed you. Anything with bits in it makes you sick. So, we’re still on purees.

I’m enjoying your new-found affection for me. In the morning when you see me after waking up, you want the biggest cuddles. When you’re trying to crawl and it gets too tiring, you want to rest your head on me for a while. When something or someone frightens or saddens you, you want to throw your arms around my neck. I feel like the luckiest person in the world when you do.

Excuse me while the anger subsides

HE JUST wasn’t ready. At five months, six months, or even seven months. But now he is eight months, the time has come for the Little Mister to eat. At last. Our progress over the last week and a half has been spectacular. I am almost at the point of boasting that he is eating three meals a day. Almost. And they are small ones.

I’m not going to complain about the fact that he only seems to want to eat very sweet and well-pureed fruit. I’m not going to complain about the fact that he will only be fed from a metal teaspoon, at the same time as holding another metal teaspoon himself. He’s gone from not eating any solids at all, to eating about a quarter of a cup three times a day. Success.

For months now my attitude has been that when the Little Mister is ready, he will eat. I’ve been confident that he has been putting on weight and drinking plenty of milk, so I’ve not been worried. But a conversation I had with a nurse about Milin’s eating habits last week did make me really angry.

We were at the doctor’s just over a week ago, when the doctor we don’t usually see suggested I speak to the health nurse while I was there – she was kind of the equivalent of a Plunket nurse. She weighed the Little Mister straight off and I rejoiced. She didn’t. I had an inkling he was packing on the pounds with formula and the scales showed I was right. At 7.1kg the Little Mister is no longer in the 0.4th percentile. He’s made it up to the second.

But of course, a lengthy discussion about solids ensued. How much does he eat, she asked? About two teaspoons of solids a day if I’m lucky, and up to eight bottles, I answered. I was actually quite pleased that he was eating that much – it was far more than he had been taking previously.

“He should have no more than five bottles a day and he’s not eating solids because he’s full. You must stop feeding him at night so he eats more solids in the day.” She said, or something to that effect anyway. It was a lecture.

I know one size doesn’t fit all, and I’ve stopped caring about all the advice that gets thrown at first-time mums, but this woman made me angry. It took a few days before I could again believe that I was doing the right thing with the Little Mister and following my instinct by letting him guide our pace.

As for giving up night feeds, I don’t mind getting up. He’s a little baby, and I think he’s young enough that if he wants his mum at night and the comfort of a feed, I’m going to give it to him. If I’m tired the next day, it’s not as if I can’t take a nap when he does.

Yes he drinks a lot of bottles instead of eating the prescribed amount of solids, but he is thriving. Plus, after the dramas we had trying to get him to take formula, I don’t mind if he doesn’t give it up in a rush.

I left with another copy of a colourful poster showing what foods to introduce at what age. The colours correspond to the colour of the jars at the supermarket. I also left with a leaflet questioning whether my baby was getting enough iron. It contained a whole load of recipes for beef and lamb dishes for babies – most of which took two hours to cook. Because yes, that’s what I feel like doing in my spare two hours to myself every night. Cooking shepherds pie and blending it into mush. Not surprisingly, the leaflet was from a particular lobby group with an interest in encouraging me to buy copious amounts of beef and lamb.

On another day, I wouldn’t have been angry, I would have beaten myself up about failing to feed my son well enough. I would have gone and stocked up on beef, lamb and colour-coded baby food jars. I would have tried to force feed my proudly independent Little Mister. I would have forgotten that his nutritional needs are being met, despite what meat lobby groups tell me. Nobody would have won.

For first-time mums, the industry that has grown around marketing baby products can be overwhelming. It can make you question whether what you are doing is right, and it can make you doubt yourself. Surely though, no-one knows what a baby needs better than his mother does? And surely, if a mother is trying her very best, that’s what her baby needs?
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