Friday, March 25, 2011

Baby-led weaning

This is a post I've been wanting to do for a while. I've been collecting pictures specifically for this. Landon is between 6 and 7 months old in all these pictures.
Since I'm on a roll, I figured I get it done now. So, why is it that we have to come up with names for things that used to just be the natural course of life? Baby-led weaning? C'mon. You need a name for it? Apparently, since in this culture we rely on pureed baby food. What are we, birds? Okay, anyway. I'm not here to harp in the existing norms (okay maybe a little) but more to share what I've done, why I've done it, and how much I love it! SO much better than spoon feeding which I hate.

Basic premise:
1. Babies know how to get food from it's source from the first hour of their life. Why do we interrupt that with 6 months to a year of spoon feeding them?
2. I can't think of anything in nature that comes in a semi-liquid state; there are solids and there are liquids. It follows that pureed foods would seem unnatural to a baby. Landon doesn't even like applesauce even though he loves apples.
3. Babies know what and how much food their bodies need. They are drawn to the colors and smells of things that contain the nutrients they are in need of. When the parent chooses the jar of food to feed, the baby loses the opportunity to get the exact right things for his/her body. Also, most of us have a tendency to want to finish off the jar of baby food even if the baby is full. The baby will often lose the sense for being done eating when the body says it's full.
4. During the first year, baby can get everything he/she needs from breastmilk and solid foods are more for exploring and experimenting with taste, texture, smell, and color. No need to try to coerce baby to finish a meal.

1. Babies will choke if food is too hard, thick, big, etc. Pureed food fed babies learn to swallow and later to chew. Baby-led weaning fed babies learn to chew and then to swallow. My own personal hypothesis is that this will actually reduce choking instances because a baby who learns to chew first will never forget to chew first.
2. Gagging=choking=danger. Gagging is how babies move things around in their mouths. Their gag reflex is much further forward in their mouths than that of an adult so the food is not as close to their airway when they gag as it would be if we gagged on a piece of food.
3. Babies don't like food with lots of flavor so start with rice cereal and then add flavors a little at a time. WHAT?! Thankfully, this ridiculous notion is being renounced by the same magazines that used to publish such rubbish. I'm pretty sure that a good portion of the finicky eaters we see today stem from being fed pureed, bland food. Bring on the peppers and the onions!

Personal experience:
With Alaina, I was lazy and I hated making and spoon feeding pureed food. I waited until she was about 9 months old before I really fed her many solids. By then, according to Western school of thought, babies are old enough to safely chew and swallow food. I diced up fruits and veggies real small and steamed them for her until I saw that I didn't need to dice them quite so small.

With Landon, I'd read up on the baby-led weaning philosophy and it just made so much sense to me. It was the right thing for us--why would I do it any other way? I tried pureed baby food a couple of times only because I had some in the house leftover from Alaina and I didn't have any fresh fruits or veggies that day. He hated it. He didn't want me to feed him and he would only take one bite before he zipped those lips and turned his head away. So when Landon was 6 months old, aside from two or three attempts at pureed food, I started giving him fresh fruits and veggies--big chunks of them. Usually about the size of his fist or bigger. And I didn't even steam anything. He LOVED it!

I could see that he wasn't really swallowing anything and that he was just mouthing things, experimenting with taste, texture and color. That quickly transitioned to chewing but still not swallowing. There was a little gagging but NO choking. Not even when he put this huge fist-sized chunk of chicken in his mouth:
I've never had to intervene to help him with his food. I gave him anything we were eating that didn't have chemicals, salt, or processed sugar. My favorite is a butternut squash and chicken dish that's seasoned with sage, olive oil, and a very small amount of salt. The whole family can eat it and we all love it! I tested whether or not Landon was showing a preference for things or just randomly grabbing whatever was there by putting 4 pieces of squash and one piece of chicken on his tray with the chicken in the middle (he'd been seeming to like the chicken better). He dove straight for the chicken, validating the idea that babies have a preference and their bodies tell them what they need.
Another thing I love is that when I make stir fry, I can give him a pile of everything we're eating (before I put the sauce on) and let him try all sorts of veggies and meat.
I'd like to say it's less messy, but that's just not true. It's a different kind of mess and one that I personally prefer. The pureed food drool and slime covering baby is not my favorite. This oatmeal and raisin meal wasn't the easiest to clean either, but I tried giving it to him in a bowl with a spoon but he threw the spoon on the floor and dumped the bowl upside-down first thing. Usually, though, I can just dust him off from chunks of peas, carrots, apple slices, or broccoli and he's good to go. I make Brice clean him up if it's bananas though. Ew.
Not only is this way SO much easier to me (I eat my food, he eats his, easier prep, lower cost), but it also seems like the natural order of things and I like that. I think it's a LOT more fun too! I love watching him try to coordinate his movements (good for motor development!) and I love watching him try new things. He seems to enjoy it as well! Oh, another cool thing: when he was just over 7 months old we went out to dinner to Red Lobster. I ordered him a side of asparagus without any seasonings and he was content and happy the whole time we were there. Yes, my baby likes asparagus! How cool is that!? I highly encourage all of you with babies to give it a shot. Still not sure? Feel free to ask questions!


Last but not least, Landon. How this boy has grown!!
His hair is ridiculously long but I'm not sure what kind of cut to give him. A Ryker-cut just doesn't seem fitting. He's also extremely wiggly so thinking about bringing a pair of scissors anywhere near his little head is a bit intimidating. And there's no way I'm buzzing it. I love my boys' hair.
Landon started sitting up reasonably well around 7 months old (he's 9 months old today).
He started crawling at about 8 1/2 months old.
He's been so interesting to watch; so different from the other kids as far as development. The other three were all on the early end of the spectrum with milestones whereas Landon is on the late end. He's clearly healthy and happy so it's not a cause for concern or anything. It's kind of endearing actually. It makes him more needy too which is sometimes endearing and sometimes irritating (like when he needs more help falling asleep and his learning curve in that department is slower). Alaina particularly just flew from one stage to the next, giving us very little time to appreciate each stage. Landon spends quite a while at each level. It's interesting to watch how he just plugs along at his own pace. He seems oblivious to all the things going on around him that you'd think would motivate him to sit or crawl or babble. He's just happy being himself, which I love.

He's been our hardest sleeper
and our worst teether, but he's mostly a happy little guy...
until around 4:30 or so when he is only happy riding on my back in a carrier while I make dinner or do chores.

Alaina adores him and loves to hold him, but he's getting mobile enough that he's not liking that so much anymore. He's also mobile enough that he fell down the stairs the other morning. I wasn't out of bed yet and Brice had just left for school. When everyone left my room after family prayer, they left the door open. Landon was in my bathroom playing and I thought I was waking up enough to be aware of him so I didn't call after them to close the door (no one but me is really in the habit yet of keeping the stairs unaccessible to him). I guess I fell back asleep because the next thing I knew, I heard the terrible and distinct "thump thump thump thump" of a child falling down the stairs. I was out of bed and running before he hit the bottom, but the poor guy fell down the whole flight! Fortunately he wasn't hurt--he stopped crying in well under a minute after I picked him up. He had a small bump on the head but that had all but disappeared by the end of the day.

He has the most gorgeous eye color. They are so sparkly and bright! The ever-present drool, however, is not so attractive. At least he's not as bad as Alaina was. Also gotta love the spikey hair do.


Of course there's lots to tell about Alaina, cute little punkin. This girl always keeps me smiling! Like right now she just picked up a battery before Landon could get it in his mouth and she said, "ha ha ha!" This is a new thing she's been doing that cracks me up. It's hard for her to control the stops between ha's so it's really jerky and ever so funny. Something I should try to catch on video because describing it doesn't do it justice. Anyway, she had a birthday on January 17th and it was hilarious. She got these little battle bugs that vibrate and Brice got them because he knew she'd both love them and hate them at the same time. She's love them because she loves bugs but she's hate them because she has a little bit of sensory processing stuff and vibrating is totally outside her spectrum. After touching them once and freaking out, she would only watch them, utterly excited but she refused to touch them again for a good couple of weeks.
She also went to open her last present but we had used double stick tape and when she opened the first part, the tape stuck to her and it freaked her out and she wouldn't touch it again. This picture is her trying to hide from it because it "attacked" her. Funny little thing.
And here's her showing off her cute new jammies from Auntie Angel
Alaina was at the store with me and she pointed at a cake mix with hearts and stuff on it for Valentine's day and she pointed to it and said "Birt-day!" I don't think I'd said anything to her about her birthday coming up, but apparently she just knew. So I went with that and did a heart themed birthday for her.

I've been asking family to get my kids gifts that don't have a ton of pieces, are an activity or outing, or are consumable. My mom got Alaina a paint by numbers picture (consumable) and Alaina had a great time painting her horsies.
I'm an advocate for babywearing. It's good for attachment between wearer and baby, good for baby's development in many ways, and helps keep mom from getting flabby. I make and use all kinds of carriers. I love them. Alaina, it seems loves them too. She will frequently bring me a doll or stuffed animal and a carrier of some kind and say, "carryr" or "dolly ride" to ask me to help her put it on. Here she is with a blanket used as an African kanga carrier.
As soon as I put a carrier on her, she goes and checks it in the mirror (even though she can't see the mirror) just like mommy does, making sure that dolly is nice and secure. This is her looking over her shoulder trying to see how it looks in the mirror. Funny girl!
Here's a picture of me carrying Landon in an African kanga. It's a great carry because there's zero weight on your shoulders.
And here's a couple of Alaina with her mousie in a carrier that I made for her.

Alaina thinks time out is funny. She goes gladly every time I threaten her with it. Asking "Do you need a time out?" gets a smile and a happy child running for the nearest corner. Ugh. What do I do with THAT!? See? Happy as a clam as I call her out of time out.
Alaina's at the stage where she loves to be a helper . I love this stage. Most of the time...
I came downstairs one cold morning to find Alaina all snuggled up in a cozy blanket with a huge bag of animal crackers. Despite the fact that I can tell she understands the no-food-out-of-the-kitchen rule very well, she is constantly taking food wherever she wants if I'm not sitting right there babysitting. But she was so cute all curled up in this huge blanket so I had to take her picture instead of scolding her.


Ryker has been... difficult lately. But just now as I was flipping through pictures and thinking about what's been going on for him the last few months that I could post about, I'm realizing that there really hasn't been anything special going on for him and maybe that's the problem. Raelin got her puppy, Alaina had a birthday, Landon, being a baby, gets lots of time and attention. Ryker's kinda the odd man out. Hmm. Perhaps that's been the root of our trouble. He's just been SO destructive lately! Part of it is outgrowing his nap and being tired a lot too. But he's just had a compulsion towards pocket knives and Brice's bow and arrows and hammers and screw drivers and scissors and you name it! He also hacked up his second set of blinds so if you drive by our house and think how trashy it looks to have big holes in our blinds, now you know why. But I think my favorite destructive activity he's engaged in these past few months is unscrewing the drywall in his room after having kicked the walls so hard swinging in his swing that he knocked the putty out of the screw heads. And my least favorite was when he smuggled a pocketknife into my car and put gashes, scratches, and holes in a headrest and seat back. Yeah, he's lucky to be alive today.

Speaking of being alive, we went for a walk the other day and we went down this really steep hill. Ryker went FLYING down it on his scooter until he got the speed-wobbles and crashed and burned. Oh, it was a bad one! I watched him as I ran to him to see if he had any broken bones. But he put weight on both hands to get up and do his owie dance. Fortunately, no breaks. Just a big scab that covers his elbow halfway to his wrist, a torn pair of jeans (darn, they were one of the few he had without holes in the knees, but I guess that saved him from a worse knee injury, so it's worth it), and a scabby knee. Poor guy. Despite his extra destructive MO of late, he still has an angelic side to him; that big happy smile and excitement for life will brighten anyone's day!


Raelin is my hero!!! A little while ago, I had talked to Raelin about how important it was that she stop sucking her thumb because her permanent teeth are coming in (seemed like the argument that would work best on her at the moment). We looked at pictures of kids who had tooth damage because of thumb sucking and we looked at apparatuses kids had in their mouths to make them stop sucking. A week or so after that, she asked me to make her a new thumb guard to help her not suck her thumb. It actually worked this time!!!! She dedicated herself and finally made up her mind to stop sucking that thumb! She wore the thumb guard for about half of January and then she forgot it one day and did fine without it. She said she didn't need it anymore. I talked to her a little about maybe wearing it at night because she sucked her thumb in her sleep and had no idea she was doing it and that it would make it harder to break the habit. I didn't tell her she had to; I just said she should think about it. She was very diligent in making sure she went to bed with her thumb guard on--almost like she was afraid to do something that would bring back the habit and ruin all her hard work--but she didn't need it in the day at all after only about 2 weeks! I was so so so impressed with how diligent she was and how tough she was about it. She took the lead on it and made sure she was wearing it when she needed it. It was great to watch her be so strong! I've talked to Raelin over the years about all kinds of reasons for not sucking her thumb but the one that was most important to me was that I knew that when she sucked her thumb, she kind of turned in on herself and didn't engage in life as much. She was kinda mopey with that thing in her face. I was just certain that she would be so much more happy and engaged in life if she would quit. It has been wonderful to see her be bouncy and happy and SMILEY since she has stopped sucking her thumb! She talks more, she smiles more, she laughs more, she embraces life more. I love it! And the best part to her, I'm sure, is that she got a new puppy out of the deal! We'd told her over 2 years ago that she could have a puppy if she quit sucking her thumb. Well, she finally did it!! She earned her puppy. Here's her little Welsh corgi she named Codie:

She got him on February 18th and he was 8 weeks old. He's been a great little puppy! So cuddly and cute! The breed is not the greatest looking breed--a long stocky body with short stumpy legs and big ol' bat ears. Kinda funny looking. But Codie is a very cute kind of goofy-looking and his temperament and personality are great.
Raelin does most of the taking-care of for Codie and she's been great at teaching him to go potty outside (most of the time) and playing with him. He's small enough that he gets to go lots of places with us and she takes care of all of that too. They are a perfect little pair! Codie even plays soccer with Raelin!

He loves to hide under the couch but he's growing so fast that it won't be long before he can't fit anymore.

Baby corgis have floppy ears and between about 8 and 12 weeks, the cartilage hardens enough to make them stick up. Here's Codie when one ear had hardened and the other hadn't yet:
And here he is with them both up:

Congratulations Raelin!!! You did it!!


Okay, so this blog thing... Yeah. It's really falling through the cracks. Sorry.

Here's a brief overview of the last 3 months and then I'll do a post for each kid.

I've been making lots of diapers for my business. It's moving slowly but it is moving. I really do love my cloth diapers. Weird how much I've come to hate disposables. And the ones I make are just so darn cute!
For "fun" people around here do math on the white board. I don't really get it, but hey, whatever makes them happy. Raelin even does math as a coping strategy when she's upset. Again, I have no understanding of how this could possibly make anyone feel BETTER and not worse, but whatever floats her boat! In this picture, Brice is teaching Raelin about fractions and graphing--rise over run and whatnot. It's a good thing Brice sticks to math and I stick to spelling when teaching our children. Brice would teach rabits and lizzards (click on the pic to enlarge and see what I mean) and I would teach 2+2=7. We balance each other well that way.
So, Alaina has a thing about dropping eggs on the floor. It must just be the greatest thing to her to see them crack and splatter all over the floor because anytime she gets alone in the kitchen, she gets out the carton of eggs and drops them ALL on the floor. (Right now she's standing next to me pointing to the picture and saying, "Essa egg messy." Love that girl!). The day before her birthday, we had just enough eggs for her birthday cake. She broke them all the morning of her b-day and since it was on Sunday and we don't go shopping on Sunday, we had to borrow eggs. A few days later I bought a full 18 carton of eggs and the very next morning they were ALL splattered on the floor:

She was not happy about the scolding she received. But I was certainly glad we had a dog at that moment. Dog tongue is by far the most efficient medium for cleaning up egg.

Most of what's kept me so busy lately is trying to figure out how to change the cleanliness habits of my entire family. First I tried cleaning the whole thing by myself to give us a good starting place. An impossible task. I've been learning that we need a schedule that includes free time and chore time and homework time and that we need to stick to it. It helps the kids not balk at doing chores when they're asked:
I've also learned that I need to restrict my kids' play area until they become better cleaners. I discovered one day why it was that I could never get the house picked up and why I was always so frustrated that the minute I turned my back on a clean room, a magic tornado swept through and destroyed all my hard work. My kids concoct these great imaginative games that require the use of every room in the house and all sorts of props from all over the house as well. The day I discovered this, they had forts in the living room (I hate forts), a firepit in the piano room, and a park in Ryker's room. To make forts, they get blankets and pillows from their bedrooms and bring them to the living room. To make a firepit, they took their moon chairs and blocks from the living room and set it up in the piano room. They also need sleeping bags and camping food. So you see how the WHOLE house gets turned upside down in three minutes. I hate to stifle their creativity, but until they are good at cleaning a mess that size, I've had to say no to making a mess that size. But we're making progress, so at least there's that. This has been a huge area of contention in our family, so wish us luck in getting the housekeeping under control around here!