Milestones Guide: Are You Parenting Well?

Baby Milestones Guide for Mindful Parents

baby hand skills develop alot in the first year of life.

Baby will develop skills over time. Be patient.

So you come home with your new beautiful baby with no instruction manual. You have to be kidding right? It seems there is a new challenge everyday, and you just don’t have any idea how you are doing as a new parent, or seasoned parent for that matter. Doesn’t seem fair does it?

But there is hope? The closest thing we have to seeing how well we are fairing, from a developmental perspective, are baby developmental milestones. A sort of “Developmental Report Card” for the parents. The reason I say “for the parents”, is because if parents make good choices for their babies, then babies flourish. If they don’t make good choices for their babies, then there are what we as therapists call “developmental gaps”.

By checking in with developmental milestones from the beginning of your child’s life, you can see if your baby how well your baby is progressing . Milestones are not an exact science and every child is different, but you will start to see patterns in your child’s development, and if you pay attention and have genuine concern for you child’s development, you will find ways to adjust or support you babies environment so they flourish.

Working in developmental for 17 years, I have seen more than my share of parents who have differing levels of concern for their child’s development, with some too busy, too inattentive, or to self absorbed to check in on their own parenting skills. But by an large, most parents do care, but can’t see their own maladaptive patterns and how they are affecting their babies. To be blunt, they are clueless. And just to be fair, I was one of them.

Even as a developmental therapist, somehow I had inherited “Parental Cluelessness”. Almost all parents have this, as we can’t see our own behavior. To add to this symtomatology, our brain has coping strategies to assure us that we are “awesome” just so we can make it through each day without breaking down. Interestingly cognitive science has the research to support that the parents that have the best “self” judgement, actually end up more successful in execution tasks. All this results in the very annoying symptom of “I’m raising my kid better than that other parent over there.”  Oh…the not so pretty side of parenting!

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So what’s the cure? Well…the science isn’t all in yet, and it probably won’t ever be. But we have some data that suggest there are a few promising leads. The first promising lead is Mindfulness; being attentive to the present moment. A close second is Non-Judgement; looking at things in a neutral manner. And third of course is Developmental Milestones; the skills growing babies have at certain times of development. I say all of this of course with a chuckle, but honestly, it worked for me.

Mindfulness is of course important because it allows you to focus and be the observer of your world. Since you baby is in it, you are in luck. You stop being distracted and actually attend to what is happening around you. You see and hear and smell and breathe. I add “breathe” because you may be a little shocked at what you see. Dirty diaper, diaper rash, crying baby who needs a nap, and on and on and on. It is sometimes easier to stay distracted quite honestly. But, I promise, staying clueless is never the best in the long run.

Every time I check Pinterest for a new recipe, or check my e-mail to get a time for an event we need to get to that day, there is undoubtedly, a long list of immediate needs to meet upon re-entry into the real world. However, with a little practice I come to expect it! And I am prepared…at least mentally. And always, as a family we get back in the flow of life with at least our heads above water.

The second ointment for a case of Parental Cluelessness, is Non-Judgement. This is simple once you get the hang of it. It is the same as being the objective observer in a science experiment. You look, watch, take data, and report. No judgement, no “I am so wrong”, or “I totally messed this one up”. You look, see, and take data.

Finally, by comparing your data to Developmental Milestones, you get a score. Did your data match the developmental milestones? Is your baby meeting the benchmarks, to a greater or lesser degree? OR are they not even near the developmental milestone benchmarks. Developmental milestones are taken from objective observation of literally 100’s to 1000 of babies, so in general they are an “average” guide to developmental skills. It is very possible that your baby may be ahead of average in some areas, right at about average for others, and a bit behind in a few as well. It’s when you start to see a pattern not related to your kids individuality that change needs to happen.

And yes, I have used this approach with success. For example, I noticed that my own children were both on the lower end of size developmental milestones, being little “peanuts” as I so lovingly call them. We didn’t worry because growth was consistent and within norms per our physician. But when I noticed that my baby was not sleeping through the night when the average baby would have been for several months already, we changed what we were doing. We set more structure, kept her up a bit more during the day, building in more social time, and got a noise machine for her to sleep with. With those changes, our little baby became a serious snoozer!

So, let’s all stop using developmental milestones to judge our babies. Let’s start using developmental milestones to check in on our own parenting. If we do this from the start, there will be little chance our end up in a doctor’s office or therapy center because there is “a developmental problem with the baby!” Instead, we will help our little kiddos along the wild road, allowing them to flourish and grow quite beautifully!

Basic Developmental Milestone Categories Include:

Language Development

Social Development

Fine Motor Development

Gross Motor Development

Eye-Hand Development

Emotion Development/ Emotional Regulation

Safe/Secure Attachment

note ** I should note that some children do have specific conditions that warrant therapy, and it is always good to check with a therapist if you feel as a parent your child may have a specific problem. However, this article is targeted at developing kids without congenital difficulties or a developmental diagnosis.

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“No, You Won’t Break Your Baby!” : Caring For Your 1 Month Old Beautiful Baby

10 Good Habits For Caring For Your 1 Month Old Beautiful Baby

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We have many options for prenatal care. There are many classes we can take as moms and dad expecting a baby, and there are many different hospital options.

Of course, we now have to deal with insurance restrictions on where we birth, based on our insurance carrier, and we often have somewhat limited natural birthing options, however if there is a will there is a way to get the birthing experience you desire. Keep looking for what feels right to you.

Postpartum Care  is another thing altogether. After experiencing my blissful birth in the hospital, I was left without much care. I was very fatigued despite having my amazing husband on homemaker duty for 4 weeks while he was on paternity leave. Breastfeeding was tiring through the night, I was of course hormonal, and just getting used to my regular body again. It was rough.

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Once my baby was here, I decided I would use Pinterest and Social Media to see what I could do to welcome my beautiful baby in a blissful way. Thanks to social media, I felt that I was not alone in wanting to make postpartum a good experience. There were many posts on Pinterest and many blogs focusing on this issue.

Thanks to social media, as well as my daily meditation, I felt a part of the sisterhood of new moms connected in the daily challenges and successes of being a new mom!

Blissful Baby!

Here is a list of things you can do to welcome your beautiful baby in a blissful way so positive memories and radiant health can be a part of your postpartum story too!

1. Rest: You deserve it. You just gave birth! That is amazing! Congratulations.

2. Breastfeed (if you can): St. Clair Lactation was amazing. If you are birthing I suggest this hospital simply based on the lactation department alone. My first baby did not get to breastfeed. I tried. My second, thanks to St. Clair Lactation has taken to the breast wonderfully, mostly because they were so direct in how they taught me what I needed to know. Having said that, it is not easy. It takes extreme will, especially in the first 3 months. It gets somewhat easier after that, and you have experienced a bond with your baby that is very unique. Check out http://kellymom.com/ for great breastfeeding resources.

3. Baby Message and Bath: Use coconut or jojoba oil (find at Whole Foods) for a little message before a bath. Message only to your babies enjoyment, and stop if it is too much. Make sure to towel off excess oil so they are not slippery and use extra care when bathing them and taking them out of the bath. I find that my baby is slippery when coming out of a bath even when I don’t do the message before hand.

4. Jojoba Oil: This oil is balancing and helps heal and support skin. I used it where ever my baby was dry, and on her cradle cap. Within an hour her skin was rebalanced.

5. Calm Sensory Environment: Newborn babies have fully active hearing, so limit loud music and T.V., especially media that has violent content. Calming music is great. Sitting in nature is also soothing. Going to the mall and then a noisy restaurant is too much too soon. The longer they can grow their brain in a calm soothing environment, the better. Your calm baby will thank you.  Even if you have a difficult to sooth baby, it will help in the long run.

6. Have a Night Routine for Baby: It helps them get used to the idea that extended sleep is nearing. Give a bath, sing a song, read a familiar book, say a prayer, breastfeed, or whatever you feel is special to you and your baby. Do what feels good to you, just do it regularly.

7. Practice the “Magic 2 Questions”: Is my baby crying because 1. She is hungry? or 2. She is sleepy? If you find that you are eventually good at answering these questions for your baby, your baby will most likely not cry as much.

8. Speak Loving Words: Create loving habits now. Promise to treat your baby with love when you talk to them. They have a fully operating hearing system and they are learning with every word you say. Let them know you love them and respect them. Even if you didn’t feel loved as a child, make the change now and commit to positive change in your family line. Use Loving Words.

9. Relax: Enjoy your baby. Your baby deserves to get to know you. What we give our kids today, comes back to us later. Don’t let this opportunity slip by. Your heart will thank you for it.

10. Don’t Yell at Your Baby: Yelling is as destructive as hitting. Don’t hit your baby either. I know this may seem basic, but it happens a lot. I have seen it when working with some of my patients with developmental delay. The bottom line: When you baby feels safe, they develop normally. If they feel stressed or unsafe, they don’t. So don’t yell or hit your baby, and don’t let anyone else do it either. Protect your baby.

One extra habit that is super important!   #11. Play With Your Baby: Newborns can hear, can become familiar with songs, and can understand basic words like eat, sleep, and “I Love You”. Once they are 3 months, their smiles will prove it. Let them explore baby safe toys, touch different textures and tickle their feet. As a mom, you will enjoy this “baby play” maybe even more than they do.

Postpartum Depression: Are You Needing Help?

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression, the Baby Blues, hormones, no sleep, healing body. Yes, there is so much going on after birthing, and what used to be a 5-7 day stay in the hospital for birthing aftercare, has become 1-2 days. Some women like short stays, but some of us need more. I was one of them.

And because I am not in the minority, by any means, I thought I would share what I learned to help me feel better during my postpartum period. Actually, most of what I learned about caring for myself, by new baby and the rest of my family I learned as a therapist and from doing my own research online and in books. With 80% of women in the United States experiencing some form of postpartum blues, I think we all need to share our knowledge on this topic.

I should also recommend that if you are a mom reading this who is experiencing postpartum depression, seek professional help. Your family doctor or OBGYN will have the skill to determine how best to help you. There is no shame here. Get help. It will help you, your baby and your whole family.

Comforting Postpartum for Mom

Ideas shared here helped me. I did not have postpartum depression or the blues, but I sure was tired, new to breastfeeding, at times unsure, at other times emotional and hungry! The ideas I’ll share helped and if you are feeling similar, they might just help you too.

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Experiencing such an awesome delivery, I wanted a postpartum time that was equally as blissful. Pittsburgh had little to offer me so I turned to social media. I got my answers and turned extreme fatigue into balanced energy.

Also while digging through my basement on afternoon, I found a Yoga Journal Magazine from several years back. The magazine contained an article about Ayurvedic postpartum care for women who had just gone through birth. I really liked the different activities that the magazine author discussed so I began to research more information on the topic of Ayurveda and postpartum care. I was confident, having used Ayurveda practices in the past, both in my professional and family life, that I was on the right track.

Here is a list of  5 super easy and comforting postpartum activities you might try to feel your best after birthing.

#1. Warm and Soft blankets: Using uber soft blankets to sleep in instead of sheets made me feel cozy. These blankets I got special, and although they cost a little, the days following birthing were deeply restful as a result.

#2.Warm milk an hour before bed with cinnamon, cardamon, and maple syrup: I risk sounding like a kid, but the warm milk before bed is not jus for kids. It’s for mom’s too. Total comfort. I used rice milk, and substituting different types of milk is ok if allergic to cow’s milk.

#3. Whole body warm oil message daily: I started with coconut oil, and then eventually got a bottle of balancing jujoba oil. Many sources recommended cured sesame oil.

#4.Wrapping my belly: It isn’t certain if and why belly wrapping is beneficial for everyone, and it wasn’t necessarily an Ayurvedic suggestions, but I decided to try it anyway. I realize I’ll need to do some core body work to obtain a more conditioned abdominal muscles going forward, but the belly wrapping itself was very comforting. It just felt like a big hug for a job well done. It was supporting to my abdominal tissues and organs, as well as lower back. I felt great in my clothes, and messaged my tired abdominal muscles during the morning and afternoon when I wore it. I tried using a muslin cloth and ace bandages, as well as the combination, but had no luck, as the material kept shifting. I eventually went to Target and bought a tight elastic abdominal wrap in my size. Apparently called “shape wear”, some women wear them all the time, even when they did not recently give birth. Think modern comfortable girdle.

# 5. Deep sleep: After reading “Birthing from Within” with Pam England,
http://www.birthingfromwithin.com/ as well as several Ayurvedic sources, I felt good about my choices before giving birth.  Knowing that sleep was the fuel of my daily life, I took special note when England suggesting not being averse to bottle feeding or supplemental formula for a better postpartum, especially related to mood. Additionally, Ayurveda sources noted how deep sleep is necessary to allow deep healing after the huge task of giving birth.

After my husband went back to work, I needed deep sleep to feel better so we began at week 5, 1 formula feeding at bedtime. I pumped and stored away the milk for the future, an added bonus. We continued to breastfeed the rest of the time. The formula, as well as keeping baby up a bit more during the day helped get me the rest I needed.

#6 One to Grow On: One to grow is “to bed before 10pm”. I’m still working on this one, but the closer to 10 or earlier to bed, the better I feel. As I move through week 5 and 6 of postpartum, I hope I can give myself this added gift.

So all the best for your postpartum, for your baby and your entire family. Remember, because it feels great, you can be your own postpartum Swami Mommi too!

A Tribute: To Enjoy Your Pregnancy And Honor Yourself As You Become A Mom.

Joyful Pregnancy

Pregnancy can seem like forever. But looking back after birthing it can often feel like the blink of an eye. Whatever your experience, it is a time to prepare yourself and family for the new baby, cherish your own creative power, and take care of yourself so you can stop to notice the joy during this amazing time in your life.

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PREPARE

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Your body

Your Family

For birth

Make Sure You Take the Time to ENJOY. (Embody Joy)

Trust your own Wisdom, or develop it further.

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Sacred life is born through you. This life is Eternal.

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Enjoy the sensations and relax. You deserve it.

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Breatfeeding Styles: Do You Know What Kind Of Breastfeeder Your Feeding?

Breastfeeding Styles: What Type is Your Little Feeder?

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I know we all talk about what type of personalities mom’s have before and after birthing, and how that might effect their success at breastfeeding. I for one thought that my organized style could get in the way of my “free-feeder”. I have learned to work with my little bundle and help her, just like she helps me. I  have realized it’s not just about my personality, but hers too!

After reading the Sears book, “The Breastfeeding Book”, I was able to figure out what type of feeder she was. The Sears describe several different personalities of breastfeeding babies, so for fun, I will list them here taken directly from their book. I should note this is a great book that takes mom’s from newborn through toddler breastfeeding!

Breastfeeding Personality Styles:

The Gourmet: Baby relishes everything about breastfeeding- the taste of the milk, the feel of mother’s skin, the suck, the swallow. He licks, fondles, nestles, and goes to great length to prolong the experience.

The Efficiency Expert: She gets right down to business. She can drain a breast in five minutes and finish the other side just as quickly. She has places to go and people to see. She doesn’t miss much

The Nip’n’ Napper: He alternates between eating and sleeping. Newborns often exhibit this sort of personality.

Mr. Suck a little, Look a little. He is easily distracted. This on and off the breast behavior is typical of 2 to 4 year olds, who can now see across the room.

The Luxuriator : She loves to breastfeed so much that she often settles into a comfortable nursing position, like you would in an easy chair. She plays with your nipple, your hair, and what ever else is within patting distance. While luxuriating, she may pause and gaze adoringly at your face and reward you with an appreciative smile, as if to say. “Thanks Mom, I like being here.”

I think my baby has gone through several of these personality types, and I have loved them all. It is actually good to know them, so when new personality phases show up, we realize it’s just a phase. It seems to me that as babies develop and grow they change how they feed, making this whole breastfeeding time so exciting and interesting. From the newborn who wouldn’t eat without a cool towel on her forehead to keep her awake, to the loving gazes my baby gives me of late, I can’t think of a more fun way to explain to friends and family how my little baby eats. I hope you enjoy the list too!

For more breastfeeding know how, visit Breastfeeding Secrets.

Recipe for 6 Month To 1 Year+ That Is Nutritious and Necessary For First Feedings: Don’t Let Your Baby Be Malnourished

We want our babies to be well fed.

A recipe from African babies that will be nutrient rich for every baby that eats it!

Hungry Babies Need Food

In our suburban area of Pennsylvania, there were more than 250 babies in need of food last year. That’s not even including the kids and other family members who were in need of food. This is staggering, given the Whole Foods and Giant super food stores not far away. Why are there so many babies that are hungry in an area that has so much food?

It seems hunger is a world wide problem, and yes, right here at home too. Lack of food, lack of money, or lack of knowledge on what to feed our precious babies all contribute to malnutrition.

Helping Baby’s Worldwide with First Foods

Travel to Africa taught me a thing or two about how to help kids in a different culture. My take home message was, “Let them lead the way.” I might know health care in the United States, but had little cultural reference for life in Africa, specifically Kenya. Ethnocentrism, a way of thinking that my own way is best,  can cripple a “do-gooder” like me in a different culture, and I was blessed to have the leaders in our group warn us of it’s misleading ways.

On the flip side, other cultures can inform us and provide us with an alternative way of thinking, which we can then apply to our own life. For example, I came home wanting a more loving and caring health system, and a less mechanical and technological focus. I saw real people getting better with care and love, and little medication in Africa. I saw communities bring strength to those who were suffering with very little technology. Healing through hands on care, time spent, and commitment to a good outcome.

Baby's first feeding should be full of nutrients.

Baby Puree from Africa that has all the necessary nutrients. Protein, fate and carbohydrates.

A Guide for Baby’s First Foods

Having shared such an amazing visit with many Kenyan’s, and to still have friends in Uganda and Kenya, I know that there is a need for more information and solutions for good infant nutrition. Guidance for babies first feedings are relevant to us here in the United States, as we are currently looking at infant malnutrition and mortality as well. In my state of Pennsylvania, we in fact have a very high infant mortality rate.

It’s time for everyone to contribute to a solution.

To contribute, I’m sharing an amazing recipe from the blog “Nutrition Normalised” as a simple feeding solution provided from Mulago Hospital in Uganda, Africa.  At “Nutrition Normalised” the tag line refers to ending malnutrition with everyone contributing to the solution. It’s time we all had the welfare of children on our radar, weather at home or abroad.

Check out the recipe and full article with the link at Nutrition Normalized: ‘Kitoobero’ – A Six months old Infant’s Recipe

Weather you are a mum in Africa, a mom in a food desert in the United States, or a mom who is so busy she can’t eat enough to support breast feeding (yes, a sad but often result of stress), or a cook at a homeless shelter in the United States, this recipe is worth sharing. It’s well balanced and supportive to a growing baby.

Given 20 years of feeding experience, not only am I concerned with the ability of a child to enjoy the texture of the food they eat so they can build sold foundations and happy food experiences early in life, I am also wanting highly nutritious food for each baby. This is a great recipe, first because it can be mashed into a very thin texture. Remember to check with you pediatrician to make sure the texture is a safe texture for your first feedings. Some babies need a runnier texture, others need it thicker.

Nutritionally, it looks good too. I see protein, fat, and oil in a balanced proportion. All this can be purchased at a local grocery and frozen to last several days for multiple meals at a low cost. When buying ingredients try to get them as fresh and pesticide free as possible. For a complete Baby First Foods guide check out the Swami Mommi First Foods Guide.

A simple recipe to make baby food nutritious

Processed (cupcake above) and store bought baby food is not packed with the necessary nutrients baby needs.

In the United States, we use a lot of pesticides so fresh organic beans and frozen casava may be the best choices. Also, when feeding fish make sure to see if they are third party verified for low metal toxicity, as mercury is a high contaminant. The fish provides a strong fat good for brain development, but fish oil tested by a third party to control for heavy metal toxicity is recommended. I have personally done research and find Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA Oil to be good as of October 2018.

In the US, I would suggest making the Kitoobero, but only use fresh fish once every two weeks, and the Nordic Naturals 3-4 times per week as a supplement. We really do have polluted waters and there are warning now on how often to eat certain fish since they carry the pollution. However, only do this once you check with your pediatrician to make sure there are no reasons that would make it unsafe.

Fish oil is a supplement, not a food per say, so checking with your pediatrician is 100% recommended. I also suggest you do some research of your own to fully understand the benefits of Fish oil in developing children. In the recipe, I would suggest trying a little fish oil added at a time, to see if you baby likes it. Cooked fish is yummy, but a whole spoonful of fish oil can be overwhelming.

Wherever you live, make sure little babies don’t have unnecessary chemicals in their food, as growing is enough work for the babies body already. It doesn’t need to concentrate on detoxifying the body too. “Nutrition not Pollution” is a slogan I tell all the families I work with in my feeding practice.

Please share this with as many families and places online as you can. Let’s get the word out so our littlest babies have a strong start. It’s you and me who can make the difference, so let’s do it! Across oceans, or across social platforms, let’s make the world a little kinder for our babies.

African baby food recipe is good to share with everyone with a little baby!

Let’s work together to share good ideas and recipes so our kids can get what they need to grow strong and healthy!

For more ideas for food for your baby, that is as close to nature as possible, and also thoughtful about social considerations visit Baby Food Recipes and Ideas.

A Big Thank You to “Nutrition Normalized” for posting this great recipe!

 

Swami Mommi Baby Food Chart: An Easy Grocery List and Baby Feeding Plan.

The Swami Mommi Baby Food Chart: Making Mindful Meal Planning Quick and Easy!

Mindful eating is about letting our kids learn the way they need to.

Mindful parenting sometimes requires getting messy. But the Swami Mommi Baby Food Chart takes the mess out of meal planning! It’s easy!

When I am busy, and I still want to be mindful of what my baby is eating, I get grab the Swami Mommi Baby Food Chart. Because it is a food chart of food ideas, as well as a grocery checklist I can grab it and go.

If you start with these basic recipes, and forget the processed foods, your baby will be a great eater. My kids actually eat artichokes and mussels among just about any other vegetable, fruit or meat, If that is any indication of how well this list works, I’d say it does just fine as a springboard into good nutrition for good little eaters.

The chart took me a several months to make initially, but I share it with parents when I work with their babies on feeding, as well as use it regularly myself. It was well worth the effort as well because it consistently saves me time.

This list is a baby food chart and grocery list primarily for a baby in the first stages of feeding. It goes through stage 1 and 2 of baby feeding texture and tolerance. Another way to look at it is by age, with this list being for babies 6 months to 1/5 years, depending on your child’s style of eating and personal skills and preferences. It’s a guide and will be applied differently to each unique child.

Baby Food Chart for easy meal planning.

Kids eat what their parents eat. Make it both nutritious and delicious for both with the           Swami Mommi Food Chart! This is baby eating Pasta Sauce from the chart and loving it!

Remember that you know what your baby can tolerate, so you should NEVER give you baby a food they do not know how to handle or that may cause a choking hazard. Puree, mash, or smash the food on the checklist relative to what your baby can manage. Safety first.

At first, your baby might not be eating any of the foods or recipes on the list, but it can help to grow their list of accepted foods, and the Swami Mommi Food Chart can help guide you and your little one. Start with familiar food, and slowly add in new ones.

Make sure that meal time is in a calm and quite place, and that it is fun. I know it’s all about the food acceptance for us moms, but for the kids it’s all about fun, and songs, and smiles, and good memories. I always say that feeding is somewhat about food, but it is mostly about good memories and strong baby-parent trust patterns.

You can view the recipes for each item below by searching online, and add ingredients to the list if you prefer. I keep it simple, organic and Non-GMO.  So for example, if you know how to make broth, just use the ingredients on the list. If you have a specific recipe you or your grandma loves, then add it in place of the one I used. The idea is that the foods below are easily accepted and nutritious for you baby.

So grab the list, get to the grocery store, and pick what you want to try. Remember, after you cook the recipes,  you can also share them with the whole family. You may need to puree a bit for baby, but as they grow the flavors will be well accepted. Once you have the whole family enjoying them, you will save time and money. Time because you only need to cook one meal for everyone, instead of several for different preferences. Money because fresh vegetables and natural foods are often less than processed foods.

Finally, make sure you eat these foods too as an example to your kids. They will do everything you do, so make a good impression. When families that I work with do not eat well, 90% of the time time their kids don’t either. When the parents model healthy eating, the kids do just fine.

Wishing you all the fun and yum possible at your next family meal!

This is a baby food chart and grocery list for babies 6 months to 1.5 years.

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Feeding Baby: Happy Eating Essentials

how do I feed my baby that is picky?

Messy babies have fun when they eat real food.

This is a guide that every mom should have when they think about how they are going to be feeding baby and their family.

If you are a mom who is curious how to ensure a HAPPY eater, the tips below will help get you started on the right path. These are the essentials for feeding baby first foods. Enjoy.

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Baby feeding should be fun! We hope this guide helps you and your little one!

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Dont’ Miss Blueberry Season! Create A “Blueberry Party” This Summer That the Whole Family Will Enjoy With This Easy Blueberry Guide. Plus Free Music!

Blueberry season fun and free music for kids

Weather you are trying to teach your baby good eating habits from the start, thinking mindfully about your summer, or just want to have some summer sensory fun with your family, blueberries are the way to go. They are jammed with nutrients and anti-oxidants and are easy to work with in the kitchen. Plus, a trip out to the farm for U-pick blueberries is a great way to show our kids exactly where our food comes from everyday!blueberries muffins

Ideas for Family Activities that Center Around Blueberries

This past fall we went as a family to pick apples on a nearby farm, and having had such a great time with the experience, we decided mid-July blueberry picking was worth a try. Two trips to the farm, 13 pounds of blueberries and two cans of sweet cream later, we find that we are quite a natural picking bunch!

Our first trip was in 90 degree heat, and we literally all almost melted. My husband with the spray bottle, my daughter with her sun hat, and myself with the bottled water in the middle of the blueberry fields to pick the plumpest of blueberries. But all of our “cooling provisions” could not sustain us in the heat, and we left with a mere 5 lbs of berries. Actually, we ate so many directly off the bushes, it was probably more like 5 1/2 lbs.

Several days passed, and my husband’s idea of berries and cream had hit full stride.  We were soon to run out of berries and I knew we would be back in the fields soon.

Friday came with wild storms, and a cooler weather forecast for the weekend. When I suggested that we go pick berries, there were smiles all around. This time, the weather was breezy and sunny. We spent a good hour in the fields and left with 8 pounds of blueberries. On the way home we stopped for another container of ice cream ! Yum!

One other great benefit of picking our own blueberries, is that it gave our family time to slow down and do something quiet and mindful. Slowing down and going into a field of trees with a real clear purpose of collecting food, facilitates mindfulness and calm. Focus is just easy. Stress seems to drip away, and clarity of mind come quick. Blueberry picking for us was a pure delight. It might be for you and your family too.

So here’s a few ideas to make blueberries an “event” in your home too. I start with berries and cream, progress through berry muffins, and end with a song we sang while in the fields. I posted the song so you can learn and sing as a family too!

Berries and Cream

This is super simple. Here’s all you need to dig in!

Fresh blueberries
Vanilla Ice Cream or whipped cream ( I like coconut cream!)
Cute dessert bowls for fun eating!

blueberry muffins for kids, toddler recipes, blueberry toddler recipes, baby food

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

(or try a regular recipe if you are not gluten intolerant)

1/2 cup organic canola or safflower oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
11/4 cups soymilk (or rice milk)
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Sucanat, date sugar, maple sugar, or org. unrefined sugar
4 cups brown rice flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole fresh-picked (or frozen) blueberries

Preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Oil a 12-cup muffin pan or line it with paper liners and set aside. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons maple syrup or sugar and 1 teaspoon brown rice flour as a topping to drizzle over the muffins just before putting the muffins in the oven.

Mix the oil, syrup, soymilk, vinegar, and vanilla in another small bowl. In a separate, larger bowl place the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Sift the flour to ensure there won’t be clumps. If you are good with the mixing, and feel it is consistent throughout, you really don’t need to sift. It’s up to you!

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not overwork the batter. If the batter is stiff, add 1 teaspoon of milk at a time. Fold in 2 cups of blueberries and do not overwork the batter or it will turn blue. (This actually could look interesting if you dare try it!)

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle with the topping mixture prepared ahead of time. You may place a few berries on top of each muffin to make them extra juicy on top.

Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pan a half turn to ensure even baking. Bake 5-6 minutes more or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, remove from the pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

(This muffin mixture was adapted from “Simple Treats: Wheat-Free and Dairy Free Guide to Scrumptious Baked Goods by Ellen Abraham)

A Blueberry Song That Makes for A Recipe Of Fun!

Once we were out in the fields, we had a blast with this song! With each verse I would pick a blueberry and put it on baby’s  belly button. We would cover it up with her shirt and after each round of the song, we would look to her bellybutton to see if she was the blue belly button girl! She loved it and asked for more over and over again!)

The next day, and for weeks to follow, we were singing this song and having fun with these berries in baby’s highchair. I cut them so they were not a chocking hazard, and baby got a great snack with tons of great nutrients and anti-oxidants.

Check out the audio of the song Blue Belly Button Boy here.

Chorus:
There once was a blue belly button Boy (girl)
Boy oh boy was his belly button blue
If you could see blue belly button Boy (girl)
You would say it’s the bluest too!

Mindful Summer Activities for Blueberry Season

This song is great for preschoolers and elementary kids as well. They sing it each and every year once they learn it. It’s like a good Christmas song that is learned and then used over and over, year after year. You’ll be sure to get this song stuck in your head, and sing it every summer or whenever you eat blueberries!

feeding baby, baby food, baby puree, developmental milestones for feeding

Feeding Milestones: What You Need to Know to Feed Your Baby and Toddler Blueberries?

Feeding a baby who is just starting solids should try blueberries in a very liquid type puree. Some recommend steaming fruits and veggies before making puree, but I never did. Baby didn’t have any difficulty so I never bothered, but if your baby seems to have digestive difficulty with them, I would suggest giving them a little steam.

Once baby turned toddler, I could cut the berries into tiny bites and put them on her tray. I would usually cut them in half and then cut them again to be extra sure they were not a choking hazard. Remember to do whatever you need to insure your baby or toddler is working with a safe texture or size during feeding. If you aren’t sure what is safe, ask you pediatrician.

I also use puree blueberries and small blueberry bites to practice with the spoon too. Babies and toddlers love the challenge of getting the berries into their mouth and they love to taste the reward too!

So have fun this summer, with baby and the whole family. Make blueberries an annual “Event” in your home for some real down home fun and for a family of happy eaters!

 

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Mom Mega Hack So Your Baby Is a Happy Eater (even if you are picky yourself!)

feeding baby solids .jpg

If you take the time to eat well when you are pregnant, you win and your baby wins.  Sure, you get a healthy start to postpartum, but you also have a healthy food habit you can pass on to your baby when they start eating solids! Double win.

If you are pregnant, a new mom, or a mom with kids already, eating well sets a good example, right? If your whole family is already eating well, then you have surely experienced the benefits.

But what if you are a picky eater yourself? What if you are struggling with an eating difficulty or with unhealthy habits you learned when you were younger?  Hey, it happens.  But it’s never too late to make a fresh start.

picky eater toddler recipes

Research indicates that kids who get the “picky eater” label statistically often have parents who are “picky eaters” too. Now, this is not in all cases of course, but it is an indicator.

Isabella, my friend and therapy colleague, found in her own work with children with feeding difficulties that moms often don’t model healthy eating habits, but expect their kids to eat well. Jacki, when asking one of the moms she works with if she herself would eat a piece of steak she was trying to get her baby to eat, her response was “Heavens No!”

If you’re in fact a healthy eater, you undoubtedly have the advantage here. But if you are picky, or struggling with what to eat, then let’s talk Whole Family Feeding.

Feeding My Family

Whole Family Feeding uses foods that are already in the meal, and uses them to feed baby too.  This is a MEGA time saver and hack because you have so little time as a mom.  Who can really make special dishes for baby everyday, in addition to a family meal?

The main benefit of Whole Family Feeding is baby food of course, but the example that the family sets while eating instills, on a very basic level, what happy eating looks like. It’s a social thing.

So, what if you are having a hard time gobbling down carrots, corn and chicken? The first and most obvious solution is to try to make small changes that work for you. If it is more serious than that, work with a professional that you trust to make gains in happy healthy eating for yourself.

A second solution, which is not quite as obvious, is to make a family food plan. Talk with your spouse and come up with a meal plan that adds new and nutrient-rich food to your weekly meals. Adding new foods slowly, over time, will change things for your family. Do your best personally, work with your family, and place importance on Whole Family Eating. Every family member can make a difference in setting a good example.

It might take awhile to see the changes, but eventually you will see them.

baby puree messy eating is ok

When it comes to making food for baby, it’s really simple. Just makes sure to plan one or two items per meal that baby can try. The food would be in their regular form for the family, and then made baby safe, via puree, grinding or chopping.

So let’s break it down.

Whole Family Meal Planning:1-2-3

#1: It’s a Mindset: Old Fashioned Food

You know what the old times are, right? When people sat down and ate? I’m talking my grandma and great-grandma here. Think about how people during the early 1900’s ate. If you have some family history you can remember on this topic, great! If not,  I’ll share my grandma’s daily meal ritual. It rocks, and she wasn’t even a super great cook. But she got the job done. (She was a Rosie the Riveter.  No kidding!)

Rosie tries baby food recipes and does it!-316691_1280

Rosie the Riveter symbolized the  American World War II effort that women put forth, working in mills and factories at jobs that were earlier only for men.     Tough work!

Every day she would have a small breakfast and lunch. Dinner, however, was another story. There was always a salad on the table, a broth-based soup for a starter and a piece of fresh fruit and occasional sweet for dessert. The meal itself was a meat, a starch and a vegetable. The meat was usually a roast or chicken that lasted a couple of days and veggies were sometimes frozen or canned, but there were always veggies.

Do I do this every day?  No. BUT, I do try.

I usually aim for something close to this during the week. Sometimes a salad starts the meal and if we’re on the go, I cut out the dessert till we return home. I usually don’t work with canned veggies, which adds time, but frozen and fresh veggies of some sort usually make it to the table.

#2. Plan and Buy Food Ahead of Time

Plan a few meats, a few veggies, make some broth, and buy salad greens and a dressing you like. Pick your favorite fruits and a dessert or two.

If you want, assign them to each day of the week.

DONE.

You can do it!

#3: Cook 

Make ahead. Make the same day. Whatever works in your schedule.

I personally “want” to make ahead but have not mastered this yet. The point is that once you make it, leave time to pull one or two items from the meal to serve baby. A good mashed potato or a smashed banana can really work well. Just make sure you add slowly to baby’s diet, so he accepts a food and tolerates it before adding more foods

baby food recipes

What about days that are just too hectic to cook? Going to a restaurant can be easy if you think about planning for the whole family. Pick a place with many home-style selections that everyone can benefit from.  Planning for the whole family becomes a habit. It just takes a little practice.

So should you start planning when you’re pregnant? YES!

how to stay fit and healthy when pregnant

Here is why eating well and feeding the whole family is a good idea when pregnant:

  • Eating habits support health in mom so she can have energy during pregnancy and postpartum.
  • Once baby is born, good food choices are in place. The amazing but also busy time when baby arrives is change enough. Have meals made ahead and frozen, or have someone else cook! Pregnancy is the time to plan.
  • Babies eat what they see the rest of the family is eating.  Mom, you are the example. You go mom!!!
  • When you are pregnant, you have more time to learn about foods. Organic, non-GMO, grass-fed, non-RBH milk, food color/dyes, preservatives, etc. should be in your grocery buying language. It’s important to know your food source if you can, and over time, you will know how to save money doing this too.

And it may seem obvious, but no matter where you are in your parenting journey, you can start planning family meals, and making food for your whole family that makes a difference. You CAN have HAPPY EATERS in your family. We’ve seen it done.

To support all of you who want to give this a try, here are two resources I personally can’t live without!

#1: Feeding the Whole Family: Whole Foods Recipes for Babies, Young Children and Their Parents

  • I found this lovely cookbook by Cynthia Lair, and it was a major help to me. So many recipes for the whole family, and specific instructions on what to set aside and prepare for baby.

#2: Environmental Working Group: This group helped me be a smarter consumer.
They explain what you are buying, from a perspective of best and safest products for the consumer. Find them at ewg.org

Please let us know here at Swami Mommi if you try this out with your family! We wish you all the best of Happy Eating!