Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sleep Manifesto - The HUGE Importance of Sleep

"People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have any."
Leo J. Burke

So this isn't really a manifesto, but it sounds more important that way so I'll let it slide.

Last night was great! I got eight hours of uninterrupted sleep and it was glorious {insert holy music here}. After a crazy Easter weekend full of upside down sleep schedules, H seems to be over the 5AM wake up at least for now. Being that it is only Wednesday, I am obviously not going to assume this is a long term pattern yet. While I miss my time with her in the early morning, it is the disappearance of all the other wakeups that I am really relishing. K had been waking frequently due to his 2 year molars cutting through for the last month. He isn't totally over it yet but I haven't had to get up for him all week so far.
Ok I lied, it wasn't completely uninterrupted sleep. I actually woke at 5AM the last two nights in a row but after realizing H was not crying, I promptly resumed my sleep.

Internal clocks are funny things.

Everyone has them to varying degrees. Take me for example; I have an internal clock that is accurate to the second sometimes. I remember the first time noticing this was when I was a little girl. Like most kids, I was very overzealous to check out the presents on Christmas morning. If allowed, I would have stayed up all night or gotten up at midnight for them so my parents implemented a rule that I was not allowed out of bed until seven in the morning. I worried that I would sleep in past seven since normally I was not a morning person in the slightest capacity so I set my alarm. When Christmas morning rolled around I opened my eyes and immediately looked over at my alarm clock. One second later it flipped over to 7:00 and the alarm went off.

Over the years, waking up a couple of seconds in anticipation of my alarm became somewhat of a regular occurrence. It has carried on into adulthood though it has been less common in the last few years because I have stopped sleeping with the time readily visible. I would get frustrated and anxious waking up before my alarm so I came up with a few ways to curtail it. I figured with a digital clock display glowing the time at me all night I fixated on time much more. Eventually I ditched the clock and just used my cell phone's alarm. I have reduced my alarm anxiety considerably this way. I also set my alarm times to odd times such as 7:57am or 8:13am that way my mind has a harder time keeping track. I also try to never set the alarm for the same time more than once in a row.

Hubby tells me I'm weird, I'm sure he's right but my internal clock has its perks too. I rarely sleep in through something important, even if my alarm fails or I set it wrong

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there with this 6th sense about time while they sleep, but it isn't a common topic of conversation so I have yet to discuss it with anyone that does. Last week I found someone else like me. Surprise surprise it is my infant daughter that has no concept of time yet. I started waking up in anticipation of her 5AM wake ups last week. I would wake up wondering what time it was so I looked at my phone. I would push the side button on the phone, the time would come up as 4:59am, it would switch to 5:00am within a couple of seconds, and another couple of seconds later the lights on the baby monitor would light up (the volume is turned down really low). H knew it was time to wake up despite not having any idea of what time actually is. Amazing!

I have always been very interested in sleep cycles and circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the natural physiological fluctuations that our bodies have that drive sleep and a huge percentage of our biological processes. The natural rhythms of our hormones are ubiquitous and influence so much more than most people realize. I love reading sleep studies and wish I better understood the mechanisms behind my own internal clock. For now, my weirdly accurate clock is a cool mystery to me but I love reading all sorts of literature on the subject of sleep.

Especially in children, sleep and hormones influence some very important factors including weight, height, appetite, mood, ability to learn, memory, and energy level. Disrupting these circadian cycles is not a good idea. It is a proven fact that even small amounts of lost sleep in school aged children often will negatively influence their learning abilities. There is a strong correlation in kids between poor sleep, weight issues and depression.

Back in 1996, a local high school (Edina High School) changed their start time from 7:15am to 8:30am. From one year to the next their average SAT score jumped over 100 points (cumulative) out of 1600 possible points. I'm sure there are several factors contributing to this but it is hard to negate the role that a good night's sleep plays in academic performance. Sleep studies across all age groups of children show consistently that sleep is incredibly important when it comes to learning. If you want a good read on this and several other subjects I would highly recommend the book NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. They sprinkle in a few sensationalistic statistics, but overall the research they summarize and base their assumptions on is sound. The messages they bring about raising kids from infancy to adolescence are sometimes surprising and often profound.

In the meantime, my kids are still at the age where I am at the mercy of their sleep schedules. If they don't get enough sleep it is felt throughout the whole house all day long. Right now I had planned to go to a drop-in Baby and Me class for H, but K is feeling a little off still and is therefore sleeping. I know better than to fight it so we will stay home for today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Weekend Project #2 - Veggie Garden

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been rather project happy lately so I decided it wasn't enough to stop at one project for this coming weekend. The second project we have planned is to build a raised veggie garden. Hubby and I had planned to do this last year but he was working and finishing his degree while I was working and pregnant - so - alas it didn't happen. I wasn't sure if it would happen this year either, but the hubs is rather gung ho about it; So we decided just yesterday, that this weekend is the time to do it.

The plan is to build a 12'x8' plot raised about a foot. I am not sure exactly what I want to grow yet, but I know I won't have an issue deciding soon. We priced out the wood and screws already and everything should come to about $75 with tax. We are lucky that our neighbour has a bunch of soil that he doesn't want so we will be taking some of that. It is pretty nice nutrient rich soil too.

I already have some sweet pepper, heirloom tomato and cilantro seedlings started in my kitchen window sill so those are good for starters. I need to do a little research on what else I would like, feel free to make suggestions.

Before deciding to do the full garden I had purchesed a Topsy Turvy tomato tree from Menards. I have a friend who tried it out last year and had amazing results so I figured why not?
I have assembled it so far and purchased a couple of different tomato seedlings for it but have yet to plant them. I will get around to it once the rain stops. I also purchased a Topsy Turvy strawberry hanger and strawberry plant for the kids to have something to pick at. I will report back on how well these work. I have high hopes but am also somewhat skeptical of "As Seen on TV" products. Here they are in my yard all ready for planting :
Also visible in the photo are some Marigold pots for keeping bugs and rabbits away. There is also a planter with chives in it. Last year I had chives and basil in the planter and that worked well but that has been the extent of my green thumb. I was excited to find out this year that chives are perennials. I have some delicious fresh chives and I haven't had to make any effort to grow them so far.

Here is a shot of our backyard, the garden will go in front of the garage.
Now I need to figure out some other plants that I want to grow. I have never been big on gardening so this is all very new to me, hopefully I'm not in over my head.

to be continued. . .

Projects Projects Projects

Switching gears a little here from all things baby and kid related.

Hubby and I bought our home back in 2009, and have done quite a bit of revamping since. We definitely bought a fixer-upper but the hard work has paid off big time so far. The house is small but it is ours and we love it. As I'm sure is the case with most home owners, we have many projects that we would like to get done in the next year or two before we sell the house and move on up to something bigger. I have been inspiring myself with lots of different DIY and design blogs here and there these last few weeks. My absolute favorite has been Young House Love. It comes from such a real world perspective and I love their sense of style. I am a daily follower!

Of course all this inspiration along with the nicer weather has gotten me into project mode. Later this year we will be tackling our biggest project that is the basement. It is completely unfinished currently and we would like to change that. However, this coming weekend will be about a couple of smaller projects.

The first will be tearing down the awnings on our house. Here is the front of our home:
There are several details we are looking to change about the exterior of our home including the ugly bushes to the sides of the steps, and the 1950s storm door. Undoubtedly however, the very first thing we want to take care of are the awnings. They are unwanted for so many reasons.

I remember the first time we came to check the house out when we were house hunting two years ago, my first impression about the place was how terrible the awnings were. I am so glad the time has come to pitch them. They are so ugly! Here is a closer look at one that really shows how beat up they are:
Gross right?
Here is a view of the side of our house:
Little did I know back in 2009 that my dislike for the awnings would be way more than skin deep. Other than the ugly factor, the awnings are starting to fall apart. The awnings in the front of the house have come a little loose in the last year so whenever we get windy stormy weather they bang loudly against the house. It is extremely annoying. They also make a very strange whistling sound at times when the wind hits them just so. He isn't scared of thunderstorms but that whistling noise freaks him out. Who am I kidding, it freaks me out too.

Additionally, and probably my biggest gripe against the awnings is that they come so low on our windows that they obstruct the view and sunlight. Here are a couple of pictures taken from the kitchen windows looking out:
Please excuse the horrible quality of the photos,
I didn't have my regular camera around so I used
 my cell phone's camera for all of these shots.

As you can see, almost half of the view is cut off thanks to the shutters as is the vast majority of sunlight. I'm sure from the hub's vantage point (he is 6'4"), it is a good 3/4s of the view. I don't like staring at the insides of shutters when I look out. Here is what our house faces:
Across the street we have a nice park with 4 baseball fields. Even on this horribly dreary day I love to look outside but really don't have that opportunity from the inside. This is what I get instead:
All I can see are the ugly leaves I haven't bothered to rake since last fall. The blocking of sunlight makes the rooms darker, the house colder in the winter, and makes it hard to grow herbs on the kitchen window sill. For all these reasons and probably more, we need to ditch these awnings.

How about a gratuitous recap of why the awnings should go:
  • They are ugly
  • They are old and are falling apart
  • They make obnoxious noises in windy weather
  • They scare my kid
  • They block sunlight which is depressing and colder in the winter
  • They kill my views
  • Hubby hits his head on some of them as do some of our taller friends
  • They are U.G.L.Y!!!
This project will be relatively simple and very inexpensive for now. Basically the awnings will get torn off and the holes will be filled with sealant. Later this summer we plan to put a new coat of paint on the house since the light creamy yellow color has faded considerably. We also will eventually put in maroon decorative shutters on the front windows to add to the curb appeal.

I can't wait to update this blog come Monday! In the meantime I have my fingers crossed that we are getting all the rain out of the way now so that the weekend is free and clear of the wet stuff.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shoes - A Girl's Best Friend

I saw these little beauties in the newest Vickies catalogue that arrived in the mail today:

Needless to say I heart them dearly but they are also out of the budget for me being that any disposable income we have is going towards home improvements these next few months. Being 5" tall, they are also terribly impractical for a mom toting around a couple of kids. Sigh, where were you when I was young(er) and single Steve by Steve Madden Strappy Platform Sandals? My birthday is coming up. . . maybe this can be my not so subtle hint to the hubby.

I guess I get to find out how closely he reads my blog now.

If I get them I will just have to make sure there are enough date nights and girls-night-outs to make them worth it. Plus I'm loving the skinny jeans with heals look this year so they become more versatile.

No offense but diamonds have nothing over shoes. I'm hoping to impart that wisdom on H as she becomes old enough to care. They might not be her best friends yet, this is the extend of what she appreciates shoes for now. . .
. . . but maybe one day she will get it.

OK, no I don't want my daughter to be super materialistic, but I would love it if she enjoys finding her own style as much as I do. As my hubby has figured out by now, I have a small addiction to baby clothes and shoes. I was organizing H's dresser today and pulled out some of the shoes that currently fit her.
These are most of them:
 Then I decided to nicely organize them because they look prettier that way:
Later when I put the camera away and resumed organizing I found another 5 pairs. Maybe it is time to slow down? I think the only thing keeping me from buying her more at this point is that I know she will outgrow them so quickly. I am a little obsessed to say the least.
Check out these adorable pink sandals:
 and these classic little red leather ballet flats:
 finally these beautiful and ornate white closed toe sandals:
I told you I heart shoes!

I do buy pretty much all of them on sale or clearance at least. I think all of them except for that last pair of white sandals were under $10, and many $2-$3. One thing I will be sure to pass along to my kids is that it is almost never necessary to pay full retail price on anything.

Enough on shoes for now, I'm sure I lost many of you around the 1st paragraph. . . especially anyone with a Y chromosome - but I'm okay with that. Happy Wednesday!

Breaking all the Sleep Training Rules

When your baby wakes up in the wee hours of the morning, you might go check on them. You may feed them, you might pull them into bed with you, and depending on your own philosophies, you might let them cry it out.  Regardless of personal preferences, it is a pretty steadfast rule that you do what you need to do to encourage sleeping and not stimulate the baby lest you be left with a wide awake baby. This is pretty sound and universal advice.
H has always been a fabulous sleeper so we have not had to put forth much effort into sleep training. By 6 weeks of age she slept 6 hours, would wake up to eat and then would sleep another 6 hours. A little past 4 months, she was sleeping twelve hours in a row with an occasional 5AM feeding still sprinkled in once or twice a week.
I admit that I have rebelled considerably against the aforementioned golden rule. During the occasional 5AM feedings, I sit in the glider in H's room basically asleep while she takes her time. Once she is done, I throw out the rulebook and talk and laugh with my baby. I didn't initiate this, it is her own fault for being so happy and charming at five in the morning. She starts it by giving me a sly smile and saying "goo!" Or even worse "mamama".  The first few times she did this I smiled at her and layed her back down in her crib. One night I couldn't help myself so I babbled back at her. She was so excited and proceeded to giggle. She is consistently in a fantastic mood right after her early morning feeding.

A few weeks ago we had to stop swaddling H which increased her 5AM wake ups to most nights (4-5 times/week). I find that one wake up per night like this really doesn't effect my day so I have fully embraced it. 5AM is H's and my time to spend a little mother-daughter time without the hassle of anything else interrupting. We talk back and forth, laugh, sing, and check out the animals on her wall for roughly 15 minutes on these nights. She makes great strides in her babbling thanks to this time because I can actively engage her without any distractions. I really cherish this uninterrupted time I get to bond with my baby girl. She doesn't have the luxury of frequent undivided attention that first born children often get, so rules be damned, I will give it to her when I can.

Lucky for me, my then over-stimulated baby goes right back to sleep when I do put her back down.  Our little arrangement wouldn't work if it threw her sleep off, but it doesn't for now. I can honestly say that I hope she doesn't start sleeping through the night regularly for a while longer. For me it is about embracing those sweet little moments because these babies grow too fast. One day you find yourself looking at their newborn photos for whatever reason and find yourself wondering where your itty bitty baby went. I might even get a little misty eyed thinking about it.
 Two day old H above & 2 day old K below.
Makes me want another right now, sniff.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mommy Wars - Whose Kid is the Smartest?

There is some information I came across a while back that I feel that every parent of a small child needs to hear. Raising a child in today's world, it is difficult not to compare your own child with others. It is also easy to fall into the trap of wondering if your child is falling behind in any given category whether it be language, fine motor skills, gross motor skill, or what-have-you.

I know this all too well, K has had his share of skills he was ahead of the curve in, and some that he was slower than average with. One of the most common parental fixations is intelligence. While I do not have personal experience with kids over age two, I am sure this fixation does not ease up any time soon.

As our babies start becoming kids, it isn't just parents that take note of these differences anymore. Schools and preschools often categorize kids into remedial, normal and gifted groupings. It is not unheard of for some preschools to have entrance exams that require above average aptitude in order to even attend their institution. What is the value behind this? Supposedly, the point is to pick out the naturally gifted children and allow them the opportunity to really nurture that "gift". 
There is an inherent assumption behind this kind of testing. Children that are smarter are naturally gifted and they will continue to be as such. Interestingly, this has not been studied too extensively until the last decade but the newer research suggests that intelligence is rather variable in early childhood. One very gifted child one year may very well be normal or even remedial in three years or less and vice versa. IQ has been found to be rather unstable until well past early childhood. Some of the research even suggests that by early adolescence, many of the brightest kids are the ones that were late intellectual bloomers.

Backtrack to me with my 2 year old that will not be undergoing any formal intelligence testing anytime soon.

What is the take home message?
Don't stress out about where your child is at any given point. Development and intelligence at any given time in these months and years are simply snapshots and not necessarily indicative of future trends. The best a parent can do for their child is nurture their development as best they can and not worry about the standard that other people set for that child.

I am not saying to ignore obvious cues if a child is falling seriously behind. Early intervention programs are wonderful and sometimes necessary. However, if you know that your child is doing fine and is on track, then learn to let go of the constant scrutiny and comparisons.

Realistically I know that I will continue to compare, it is human nature to do so. For my own sanity I am glad my kids seem to stay ahead of the curve for the most part, but in large group settings there will pretty much always be a kid that is ahead. At least I know that I can breathe a sigh of relief when I come across that twenty month old at the playground that can say his ABCs perfectly.

There are several longitudinal studies showing the weak correlation between kindergarten IQ and aptitude versus the IQ and aptitude of those children when they are older. Two of the ones I have looked at thoroughly are:
  • Gifted Today but not Tomorrow? Longitudinal Changes in Ability and Achievement during Elementary School. By David F. Lohman & Katrina A. Korb 2006
  • Assessment Issues in the Testing of Children at School Entry. By Donald A. Rock, & A. Jackson Stenner 2005
Please keep your comments and jeers to yourself regarding my bibliography style, I have been out of college for a few years and frankly don't care about technicalities anymore. If I never look at another MLA, APA, or whatever handbook again, it will be too soon!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2 Year Olds - A Whole Different Monster (Part 2)

I read a fantastic blog post a couple of months ago by a male preschool teacher called Teacher Tom. The post was specifically about scattering; a phase that many 1-2 year olds go though that is characterized by the need to dump out and scatter anything that is organized. Many kids are messy and that goes well beyond age two. Scattering is more specific though. For example: seeing a box of blocks, dumping the box out, and moving on. K was all over this scattering business and it was exhausting. Every day I floated between picking up after him and fighting with him to pick up after himself. I refused to simply keep everything out of his reach, I wasn't going to lose the whole lower three feet of my house to my two year old.
Teacher Tom's post was rather enlightening, it showed me a new way to approach this issue with K that I hadn't thought of before. Basically he said to not make it about the child's action. Instead of saying "don't dump those blocks" or "put them back in the box", he suggested a new viewpoint that is so simple yet one I had never considered. He made it about the blocks themselves. It sounded almost cheesy at first but I figured I would give it a try. Later that day I got my chance when K dumped out his box of markers just for fun. "Oh no!" I said. "The markers go in the box, but they are on the floor, what should we do?" Sure enough he looked at the markers, said "uh oh", and proceeded to put them back in the box. He didn't try to dump them out again even.

Since then I learned that this technique works very well on K and not just for scattering.

Now when K takes a toy from his sister H, I simply inform him of the problem without placing blame on him. I tell him that H doesn't have anything to play with and ask him "what should we do?" Immediately he either gives H the toy back or fetches her a different one for her to play with.
Occasionally he gets into moods where he doesn't want to put his shoes on to go outside. I will tell him "The shoes are on the floor, but they should be on your feet to go outside K." He really responds so well to these statements versus commands. His two year old mind wants to be defiant but by making it not about him at all, he just responds to the issue.

Of course this technique does not work all the time. Some situations where his safety is important he needs to hear NO or STOP. Other times when he is in a really bad mood he just needs to be taken out of the situation. Generally however, it has been a wonderful tool that has considerably decreased the amount of fighting I do with my two year old and I am forever thankful that I came across that blog post.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ode to Nap Time

I cannot stress enough how wonderful and amazing I consider nap time. Without nap time I would get less than half of what I get done around the house done, and I would be a whole lot crazier to boot. I am beyond lucky that my kids are good sleepers. I am no parenting genius or anything, I don't have an amazing secret about how to make a child sleep better. Mine just do it and I am infinitely thankful for that. Both kids typically nap 3.5 hours a day. H usually starts her nap an hour earlier than K which is nice because then I get some one on one time with each kid. When they are both sleeping I unwind, play on the computer, make food, and sometimes even clean my house (shocker I know). It allows me the "me time" that everyone should have. I'm lucky enough to get it almost daily.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2 Year Olds - A Whole Different Monster (Part 1)

K recently turned two and I must admit I am a little blind sighted by this little boy. I keep wondering where my little baby went to. So here I am with a two year old, winging it as best I can. It has been going fairly well so far but the more K acts like an actual two year old the more I feel like I don't have a clue about what I'm doing.
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore this age K is in. It is full of discovery and learning that is mind blowing some days. Unfortunately it is also a time of testing boundaries and perceived independence. It is especially obvious to me how different K is now because I have H to compare him to. By comparison, infants are EASY. Like all babies she requires time and attention too but the stress level with her is so much less. Maybe I'm just blessed with easy babies but it isn't hard to figure out how to handle H. She needs to sleep, be played with, be fed, and have a clean diaper. If I keep those aspects in check, she is a happy thriving little girl the vast majority of the time. It will get a little more difficult as she becomes increasingly mobile but my house is pretty child friendly by now.

K on the other hand is two now.
  • Two year olds aren't just happy playing, sleeping and eating. 
  • Two year olds don't sit nicely in the shopping cart while you pick up the weekly essentials.
  • Two year olds don't sit there and play with the toys you expect them to play with. 
  • Two year olds need to jump from activity to activity at a mind numbing rate.
  • Two year olds wants to run all over the store and play hide and seek while you try your damnedest to get some shopping done.
  • Two year olds throw said toys at the cat and then proceed to find a nice DVD to scratch and a junk drawer to dump out.
It is all the sudden up to me and my parenting skills (or lack thereof) to help mold my child so that he isn't that crazy two year old monster. The way I structure his day, the activities I give him to do, and my reaction to his actions have everything to do with his behavior and that is a heavy load to bare sometimes all the time. Okay, so maybe this didn't happen overnight, but the last nine plus months have been all about preparing for and adjusting to having two babies. I feel like I finally did that, but now come to realize that I don't have two babies anymore.

I think most first time moms go through this to some extent. It is hard to really grasp how much your child is truly learning until it smacks you in the face. This has caused me to really dig deep and think of what kind of parent I want to be and how I will go about teaching my child.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fun & Tasty Toddler Concoctions - Lunch Meat Rollups

Most moms I know struggle to find a balance between healthy, easy to make, and well accepted food for their kids. Here is a quick and easy snack that my son K loves. Funnily enough it was my husband that showed me how to make these one day when we had a bunch of leftovers laying around.

Meat and Veggie Rollups

Ingredients (per roll)
  • 1 slice of deli meat - I used Turkey pastrami for this one but any will work
  • 1 oz of cream cheese
  • 1 oz of veggies - I like to use 1/2 fresh and 1/2 pickled veggies for flavor. Basically I just graze through the fridge and find whatever is around that is good raw and add it with some chopped Mezzetta's veggies.

Lay out the slice of meat on a plate and spread the cream cheese in a wide strip down the middle. Then chop the veggies into smallish pieces no bigger than your pinky and sprinkle along the cream cheese. Finally roll the meat up perpendicular to the cheese strip. I also cut the roll into pieces for K because it is less messy. If you have an older kid or just a neater one than mine then this may not be necessary.

K gives it a thumbs up and cleaned off 3 of these as a snack.

Someone is in the middle of a growth spurt!

Review - Vulli Sophie Giraffe

Another French made baby product. Sophie is the best teething toy I have ever found, hands down.

Both my kids have heavily used our Sophie and H doesn't even have any teeth yet. Even when your baby isn't teething Sophie is a really fun toy. Sophie starts being fun I would say from around 3 months of age when a baby is starting to find more interest in toys and picking things up. Sophie is soft and easy to squeak unlike most other baby toys and her long neck and legs make her easy to grab. She is great for teething and my two year old still loves playing with her because he is learning his animals. I don't think Sophie will be retired any time soon.
Sophie is rather expensive. That is the biggest (only?) downside that I can think of to this toy.

Currently Sophie Giraffes are running a little under $20 from Amazon with free 2 day shipping if you join Amazon Mom. I have heard people call it a glorified dog toy, with all due respect I disagree. I worked in a pet store for years and have handled hundreds of different squeaky dog toys and none were like Sophie. Sophie is made from natural rubber which makes her really nice to chew on. Dog toys are almost always made of Latex or some other cheap synthetic made in China. In a day where all bottles are BPA free, phthalate free, lead free etc, why would you give your baby some crap dog toy that in all likelihood has more chemicals in it than I can ever hope to name?

Sophie gets a 10/10 in my book

Disclaimer - I do not have any affiliation with Vulli. I was not payed or given anything free in exchange for this review.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Crazy Concoctions for Your Baby

Ever since K was born I was excited to make my own baby food. It is cheaper than doing the store bought jars, is often better quality, and most of all it is so much fun. I started with some relatively simple purees such as peas, carrots and applesauce and quickly transitioned to more elaborate mixes. H recently turned six months so we started her on purees. I'm excited to get creative again. There are many good sources for information on making your own baby food both online and in book form. One of the best websites for this that I have found is
Since there are no known food allergies in our family, I was pretty confident in giving K many different ingredients without necessarily waiting a few days in between them to test for reactions. I did start slow in the first month, but then was much less cautious beyond that. I did however, skip non-yogurt dairy, honey, and nuts until he was 10 or 11 months old.

I love to cook and rarely follow recipe books so I took a very similar attitude towards making baby food. My two biggest rules were:
  1.     Don't be afraid of using spices. Short of very spicy or salt I tried to really branch out of the traditional baby food box. Think mild curry, paprika, cumin, garlic, nutmeg. . . the possibilities are endless.
  2.     Don't allow preconceived notions of what is a good combination get in the way of trying new things. I mixed all sorts of weird ingredients together, most of it was a hit and some of it wasn't. I don't know if his early meals had anything to do with it, but to this day, K loves a huge variety of food and is very non-picky.
As H starts trying new things I will share some of my less traditional recipes here. For now there isn't much to tell because she has just this week started some two ingredient purees. I don't remember much of what I made for K, it may have been only a year and a half ago but I have a major case of mommy amnesia. There is one that sticks out in my mind so I'll share that for starters.

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 1/2 cups of baby carrots
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
Steam the carrots on the stove until they are very soft and mush them with a fork in a bowl. Allow them to cool for a few minutes. To the mix add a whole avocado. I cut it into smaller pieces with a knife and then use the fork to mush it into the carrots. Finally mix in the cinnamon and mix well. Freeze what won't be used within 48 hours. The avocado gives this mix a really nice creamy texture while the carrots and cinnamon give it a nice natural sweetness. This was one of K's favorite mixes. As he got a little older I would steam the carrots less so they remained lumpier.

With K's food I would pour his purees into ice cube trays for freezing and then would put the cubes in Ziploc bags in the freezer. It was super convenient to just take a cube and warm it up a little before feeding him. This time around I purchased some BPA free silicone freezer cups specifically made for baby food from Target. The safer plastic makes it worth the expense in my opinion, plus there is the added bonus that they are microwave safe for when I am in a hurry to defrost a batch. I like the Munchkin brand ones but if you google "baby food freezer cups" you will see there are many products out there for this purpose.
Bon Appetit!