- At work we are gearing up for the beginning of the school year, and it’s been a busy time. I feel quite a bit of pressure because I’m working on new projects with new “clients” (they’re all internal), and I want and need to do good work for them. It’s been trying the last couple of weeks, because work has demanded a lot of time and focused attention – two things that are difficult to come by right now.
- We started a Whole 30 on Monday. It took a lot of prep work last weekend, and continues to require more cooking than I’ve been doing, because we really can’t eat out. We did get Wendy’s salads last night, but we definitely bent the “rules” to do so. Andy and I are both committed to a full 30 days of eating cleanly (no dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, additives). The first day I had a headache and no energy. I’ve done better the rest of the week. Andy’s had a rough day or two, as well. The first three days in a row I was in situations where I had to ignore scrumptious desserts. It’s no wonder we have an obesity epidemic in the U.S. We’ve been doing this five days, and I’ve had to turn down desserts three of them! And I don’t go to an office everyday, where temptations are more extreme.
- Aria is a little chatterbox. She talks up a storm when she’s in a chatty mood (which is most of the time), asking questions or filling me in on her understanding of what’s going on in her world. She has a tendency to invert phrases or words, which is adorable. For example, she calls toilet paper “paper toilet” with her little toddler lisp.
- Noah has decided he only needs to nap 90 minutes each day. Exasperating. I can’t be annoyed with him, though, because he has started giving me kisses if I ask, and this week he started saying “Mom” and “I love you”. As I type this he is at his sister’s bedroom door trying to wake her from her nap. Exasperating, again, but again I can’t stay annoyed because, I mean, he wants his sister’s company. How can I be annoyed at that? (I just reread this paragraph, and it occurs to me that I may be in big trouble with this kid.)
- We got our new couch! It fits a bit awkwardly in our current space. We bought it with the addition in mind, and in that space it should be perfect. Regardless of how it looks in the room, it’s a huge hit with everyone in our family. The cats took naps on it promptly.
Aria immediately learned the joy of jumping on it, and has now sat and laid on it in every possible way.
This thing is magical. It makes Noah look small! The pillows are Noah’s favorite part. He likes to hurl them off the couch, and even enjoys an occasional quick rest between climbing on large pieces of furniture (chairs, couches, tables – nothing’s off limits anymore).
We try to plan our menu two weeks at a time, because that’s how we do our major grocery shopping. Typically I don’t plan weekend meals ahead, and we don’t eat every meal I plan. We often get (or make) a pizza one night a week, and on the weekends our schedules are often up in the air, so planning is pointless. One of these days I’ll write a post specific to convenience foods for those times. We typically eat leftovers for lunch, and snacks are fruits and nuts. These are the recipes we’re trying the next couple weeks. (Click the images to find the individual recipes on Pinterest.)
When we had our first child I read everything I could about everything baby-related, and one topic that kept coming up was this thing called “baby led weaning”. Simply put, baby led weaning is a feeding philosophy that allows babies to be in control of their eating from their very first foods. I delved deeper, and was quickly converted to a believer. We fed Aria this way, and nothing could have been easier. We don’t have food power struggles, I never have to cook or puree anything different from what we’re eating, I don’t have to pack extra food when we go out to eat, I don’t have to spoon feed while my meal gets cold, and Aria has learned to enjoy the flavors Andy and I enjoy – there are no separate meals in our future. Sound too good to be true? I assure you, it’s not!
Previous medical knowledge dictated babies might begin to be spoon fed from three or four months old. We now know that, not only is this almost never necessary (regardless of the size of your baby – mine were both born over 10 lbs), it can actually be harmful because their little digestive systems are not yet equipped to handle more than milk. There is no reason to feed a baby earlier than six months (that’s at the earliest – you can wait longer). If you wait until six months, your baby is likely to be sitting up and able to move food to his mouth on his own – the only skills he needs to begin eating finger foods. So, simple as that – wait until at least six months – and spoon feeding becomes unnecessary (and you’ve already simplified your life just by waiting a bit longer to get started!).
With baby led weaning:
- Your baby eats along with the family. He’ll observe you eating, and be part of the social aspect of the meal. As with every other developmental milestone your baby hits, when he gets to the appropriate point in his development, he will eat on his own as long as he’s given the opportunity. Think of it this way – if you give your baby the opportunity, he will simply start crawling on his own when he is ready. We all know this, but when it comes to feeding it’s become the cultural norm for us to interrupt their development by spoon feeding. Life is so much simpler and happier for everyone if you let your baby follow his instincts!
- You give your baby the same food you are eating, and he chooses what to eat. This approach gives him control over his eating, removing the need for the spoon-feeding power struggle (and your confusion regarding when the baby is full). There’s no more coercing the baby to eat the food you are offering. Just offer a variety of foods, and your baby will eat what tastes good to him. You’ll be amazed at the variety he gets in a week.
- Because you are waiting until your baby’s digestive system is prepared to digest solid foods, there’s no need to offer only bland foods. Offering the flavors you prefer from the outset teaches your child that those are the normal flavors to expect. You are less likely to have a picky eater, and you will not have to stick to the bland (and often unhealthy) kids menu options at restaurants.
- You want to nurse or offer formula to your baby before he eats a meal. You can simply have him eat at his regular times, but make sure he’s not hungry when you offer table food. Since he doesn’t realize it’s intended to stop his hunger, he’s likely to just get frustrated.
- Begin with foods that are larger, that your baby can easily guide to his mouth. It may take him a little while to move from experimenting to eating, since at first he really doesn’t associate food with hunger. At first it’s best to offer food in larger strips that will stick out beyond your baby’s fist. As long as you are eating a healthy diet, the size of the food is more important than what the food is. (In the photo above, Noah is eating half a banana. That photo is literally from his first meal – notice how good he is at it already. He doesn’t need our help.)
- There are a handful of unsafe foods, such as honey, nuts and excessive salt. And, of course, if you have allergies in your family you should keep that in mind when deciding when to introduce those foods. Our family philosophy is that if one of us can’t eat it, none of us eat it. It’s simpler to just not cook with those foods.
- Teeth, or lack there of, are not relevant. Your baby will be able to gum far more than you would think possible.
- As long as you eat healthily, they’ll eat healthily. A side benefit of this approach to feeding your baby is that your entire family will likely eat more healthily! Back when we were starting babies on food before they were truly ready, we had to offer them things like rice cereal, which we now know is really not a healthy first food. Aria has never eaten rice cereal, and we don’t buy any sort of teething or dissolvable food. I don’t buy any baby food, period, and we’ve never missed it.
- Nope, your baby isn’t going to choke! This was my main concern when I started researching, and what I learned really surprised me: when we are under a year old, our gag reflex is far forward in our mouths. So, if your baby starts eating solid foods immediately, he may gag, but he is extremely unlikely to choke. Instead, he’ll gag the food out (my kids have both done this, and it doesn’t phase them), and keep right on eating. It’s part of the learning process, and it’s as safe as anyone can be when they’re first starting to eat. On the other hand, if we teach our babies to swallow pureed food first, then later they have to relearn how to eat – oh, hey, suddenly you’re supposed to chew before you swallow! Not only are we working against ourselves, but we’ve waited until our kids gag reflex has started to move back, making them actually more likely to choke. Is it just me, or is that shocking?
I am particularly excited about this week’s ebook bundle, valued at over $100, because it goes perfectly with what we’ve been discussing around here recently! With dozens of tips, hundreds of recipes and a complete 7-day meal plan, plus a shopping guide and activities for children, this collection is the perfect how-to for anyone on a real food journey.
And now you can choose between the PDF, Kindle or ePUB versions of the ebooks in each bundle.
7-Day Real Food Challenge by Roxanne King
Planning and practice is the key to providing a healthy real food diet for your family that doesn’t take up too much time or too much money, and you can jump start the process with the 7-Day Real Food Challenge! With this ebook, you’ll get a full meal plan for 7 days (for all three meals, plus snacks!), recipes for every dish in the meal plan, and a shopping list to help you prepare for the challenge. In addition, Roxanne offers tips on how to prepare your kitchen for the challenge plus membership in an active private Facebook group for help and support!
Real Food Nutrition for Kids by Kristen Michaelis
Teach younger children about real food with child-friendly lessons inspired by the same love of wholesome, traditional foods that you find in Nourishing Traditions, the work of Weston A. Price, the Slow Food movement, and farmer’s markets everywhere. Real Food Nutrition for Kids is a beautiful book full of fun illustrations, coloring pages, and activities to help young children learn the basic concepts of digestion, nutrients, healthy food, and where their food comes from.
Real Food for the Real Homemaker from Real Food Cookbooks
Real Food for the Real Homemaker offers budget-friendly recipes and resources for any cook on a whole foods journey! Dive into real food homemaking with topics such as real food basics, frugal grocery shopping, must-have kitchen tools, make it yourself tips and recipes, and more. You’ll also get 75+ delicious and familiar recipes that use normal, everyday ingredients that can and do fit into your monthly budget!
Real Food Hits the Road by Millie Copper
In Real Food Hits the Road, Millie offers tips to help you save the budget, keep your digestion working well, and enjoy real food away from home while letting you enjoy the trip and not “cook” all of the time. It’s not just a cookbook, but a tutorial in making real food simple and enjoyable while away from home. Travel and good eating do not have to be an all or nothing deal, and this ebook includes suggestions to help you eat well with minimal time and effort.
Eating Additive-Free Cookbook & Shopping Guide by Christy Pooschke
If you want to reduce the amount of processed food and chemicals in your diet, the Eating Additive-Free Cookbook and Shopping Guide gives you all of the recipes and information you need to enjoy tasty, additive-free meals! Get 160 delicious natural recipes that even the kids will enjoy as well as hundreds of product selection tips, ingredient warnings and suggestions for specific brand names and retailers. This guide is packed full of information to help you make the best decisions at the grocery store.