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Friday, October 3, 2008

Chow Time

M and I just finished the 6-14 month phase. I know I should be celebrating, but I’m actually a little sad that this phase has come to an end so quickly. Not only is my little guy now a toddler, but I was also just finally getting the hang of things. Again, it’s time to learn and adjust.

I thought I would share some of my thoughts about what has made life easier for me during our latest transition. I’ll break my recommendations down into several categories. The first category will cover eating, a favorite activity after sleeping, I’m pretty sure.

Aside from rice and oatmeal cereal, you may be introducing babies to all sorts of new flavors. M and I really enjoyed doing this because I couldn’t wait to see how he'd react to certain foods...Will he love peas like Dad or spinach like Mom? We started out slow with sweet potato and acorn squash and quickly advanced to flavor combinations from zuchinni mashed potatos to lentil soups.

I never thought of myself as the baby food making type of Mom. I like convenience, but the moment I opened and smelled a container of baby food, I just couldn’t stomach tasting it, let alone feeding it to my baby. I’m a foodie - I can't give him this!

Here are some essentials that helped with the transition to solid foods:

1. Immersion blender: I hate to do dishes. The immersion blender saved me from having to lug out the food processor and wash all of its parts. I could just stick this wand in the pot or bowl of cooked peas and blend everything to the consistency I needed. When I was finished, I had less mess to clean up as I could quickly rinse and move on.

This method worked best for me, but I know that Kacey had great luck with the very cool Beaba machine, which steams and blends food all in one. It is from France and so adorable!! The Beaba is super convenient, but may not be versatile when you start making more complex meals.

I initially made the mistake of buying the KidCo Food Mill. It was difficult to use, more parts to clean up, and didn't quite get the food to the consistency I needed in the beginning. Was not useful at all.

2. Freezer Tray: It was helpful to make big batches of food and freeze them so that M could have a variety of food at any given time. The frozen cubes of food are great for travel too.

3. Cookbooks:
I have several cookbooks, but really enjoyed searching various websites for ideas. Initially, one great find was Wholesome Baby Food. However, when M started getting bored with his food and needed more and more excitement, I referenced The Health Baby Meal Planner for healthy and nutritious recipes. I admit that some of the recipes are a bit time-intensive. However, most are worth the effort because the whole family is able to eat the same thing.

4. Freezer bags and masking tape: After I froze the food cubes, I would put them in freezer bags and label each of the bags with masking tape detailing the food item and the date I made the batch. This way, I could pull off the used masking tape and relabel the bag once I made a new batch. Plus if I make a mistake labeling a bag, I could easily make a new label. Weird, I know.

5. Food Storage Containers : I have many Glad disposable food storage containers, but with all the talk about BPA, I decided to play it safe and transition to glass storage containers. I love the Frigoverre or Pyrex brands: easy to go from the fridge to the microwave. I bought the smaller Frigoverre containers when I needed to prepare individual servings per container, especially when we were traveling with M. They have Frigoverre containers at Whole Foods, The Container Store, and Amazon.

Glass is safe, but very heavy. I've broken quite a few containers lately because I'm so darn clumsy. Recently, I found these plastic storage containers, Oso* Fresh. They're plastic and BPA-free. From what I understand, the containers are sold as a set at Costco.

6. Sippy Cups: I have tried many brands from Sigg, Born Free, Foogo, iPlay, Kleen Kanteen, Nuby, Munchkin, to Camelbak. Most are BPA free. We could have a whole blog dedicated to all the different kinds of bottles out there, but it's trial and error for every child.

Truth is, I went overboard, choosing sippy cups based on my preference, rather than M's. I was swayed by the marketing gimmacs, cool designs, and hype, but really, M didn't seem to have strong preference. His only preference was to drink from a straw rather than a sippy. When he sees a sippy cup, he bends down to it and tries sucking instead of holding it up to drink. It's pretty funny to watch.

One day, M decided to drink from my workout Camelbak bottle, also known as my adult sippy :). He now gravitates to it over anything else. I realize that as he teeths, he likes to chew on the mouthpiece. Although a bit bigger than other sippy cups, it's a good teething cup for him. Plus, I think M enjoys drinking from the same cup as me.

The Camelbak is a good bottle for water, but not so good for milk. For that, we use the Munckin disposable cups because they are the easiest to clean. I also don't throw any of the plastic cups into the dishwasher so that I can feel a bit better about using the disposable stuff.

8. SippiGrip Strap: At every meal, you're supposed to introduce the sippy cup along with the baby's food. Easy enough, until M started throwing his sippy down and waiting for me to pick it up. He'd be a little dictator and keep pointing to the sippy until I would pick it up from the floor. This would happen at least 20 times in one meal sitting. To end this pattern, I purchased one of these straps. Small price to pay for my sanity.

9. Disposable Placemats:
Placemats are great for when you go out to restaurants because the eating surface might not be very sanitary.

10. Snack Trap:
M loves his snack trap because it gives him some control over his food. Not only can he control when he feels like eating a snack, but getting the crackers out also keeps him occupied, especially when we're grocery shopping. It's a beautiful thing.

At this early hour, I'm sure I'm forgetting many other useful tools, but this a good list to start you on your way.

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3 Bay B Chicks said...

Thanks for such a great list, Thuy. You didn't miss a thing.

Susannah said...

this is a great list! thanks, as we've just entered this world... ;) i tried food milling, and it took WAY too long. thanks for the tag, should get to tagging sometime this week :)

wendy said...

a million thank yous for this.
do you need the trays with the covers? or can you just use regualar ice cube trays and then put them in another container?

Anonymous said...

Camelback? Were you in the service? My husband bought everyone in the family one the first summer we were in the Army. Every time we take them out in public people want to know where to get them. Darn handy.

I still have a love affair with snack traps, and one of my children is 4. You just can't beat them in the car! And disposable placemats? I'm a huge fan. Great list!

Blessings, Whitney

3 Bay B Chicks said...

Wendy, I like the ice trays with the lid because they minimize freezer burns as well as smells from other foods in your freezer. I hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where to post this but I wanted to ask if anyone has heard of National Clicks?

Can someone help me find it?

Overheard some co-workers talking about it all week but didn't have time to ask so I thought I would post it here to see if someone could help me out.

Seems to be getting alot of buzz right now.