Purees vs Baby Led Weaning

There are seemingly endless choices to make as a parent. Breast or bottle? co sleep? Baby wear? Then when it comes to weaning,  traditional purée or baby-led weaning? As I wrote recently I think there is far too much judgement which ever way you choose so I am not here to say one way is better than another. Different things work for different babies, and indeed parents.

WP_001227With Monkey I didn’t know much about BLW other than that you had to start at 6 mths. Monkey was a big baby and I will be honest, by 4 ½ mths milk just wasn’t cutting it anymore so we started down the road of purées. I spent ages making purées during his naps and he scoffed almost everything we gave him (though he never did like banana!). We then extended out to finger foods and he ate everything we gave him until around 13 mths when the fussy eating began.

It is something we still struggle with at times now. He will eat most things but he says he doesn’t like things we know he does like and often refuses to eat his dinner. We have tried various tactics with this and most of the time once we have convinced him or he has decided to take a bite then he will eat quite happily. Other times he sits with the food in his mouth and refuses to swallow it. It’s like a psychological barrier and seems to be the most random of foods that he decides he doesn’t like.

I have heard it said that baby-led weaned babies are less likely to be fussy than their purée fed counterparts. Something to do with the fact they learn to chew early on (as opposed to a purée which just requires swallowing) and that they get to experience different textures early on as well as different tastes. Texture has been one of Monkey’ sticking points so the idea that you can prevent fussiness does intrigue me.

I will admit that I have been put off baby-led weaning in the past by some of the attitudes I have encountered from its advocates. Not all of course and I guess I understand that if you feel passionate about something that you will want everyone to try it, but a few such parents have gone a bit OTT and made other parents feel bad for their choice not to do it. That is not the fault of the technique but it is easily tarred with the same brush as the over preachers so I have judged baby-led weaning harshly in the past, which was wrong of me.

WP_20150425_10_15_26_ProNow, enter LM. At 5 ½ mths she too seemed to just not be as satisfied with milk anymore, so we headed down the same purée route as with Monkey. Though there are some differences this time. One being our experience with Monkey and knowing that we tried so hard to introduce tastes and textures to him but he still is a fussy eater. Two is that actually LM is already much fussier about which purées she will and won’t eat than Monkey was. The combination of these led me to fret a bit as I want to do as much as I can to try and prevent having two fussy children in the family!

But where to start? How to approach it when she is already eating purée? How do I even do it? Regular readers will know I got a bit het up about it and was over-thinking it a lot. But that’s what I do I’m afraid!

As mentioned, I believe that the same approach isn’t necessarily right for all babies, or all parents, and I think that is my biggest sticking point with BLW. I’m not sure that I am that well suited to the approach. The mess is part of it, though I can cope with that. But I am not the most patient person and I can definitely be a bit of a control freak, yep I know my flaws! So the idea of basically leaving baby to it to eat or not eat is really hard for me. As mentioned, LM isn’t satisfied by milk alone anymore, and the thought that milk should be her main nutrition for many months to come is confusing for me. Isn’t that why we start weaning? Because they need more nutrition than they can get from their milk at this point?

LM also gets massively annoyed when she is hungry if she doesn’t get food inside her pretty quickly. This leads to her getting frantic and screaming her head off. I have read that as part of BLW you should let them get annoyed as they are frustrated at their lack of skills rather than with hunger. But what if they are frustrated because they are hungry and can’t get the food in quick enough? I have quite a low tolerance for the sound of baby cries, especially when Monkey is chattering away at me too, so if I can help keep her calm by feeding her then I am going to. For my sanity as much as anything else!

With her reflux I do think it is important for her to have solids in her tummy too so that is another reason I won’t let her get frantic, or rely largely on milk, because I do believe she needs solids to help keep the reflux at bay.

WP_20150524_17_39_26_ProSo I have accepted that we won’t be doing the full baby led approach. We are using a combination of purée and finger foods with a variety of tastes and textures. I have read staunch baby-led supporters who say that BLW is all or nothing and that saying you are combining the two approaches is like saying you are a vegetarian who also eats meat. You either BLW or you don’t. And that’s fine, I understand why they say that.

So I am not sure what to call it but we are using a combination approach. For example earlier today she had some beef, sweet potato and carrot puree alongside some steamed vegetables. The puree filled her tummy a little while she explored, picked up and munched on the veg. She also had a go with the spoon and fed herself some of the puree on mummy-loaded spoons.

WP_20150428_11_10_00_ProThe ideal will be that this will only be temporary and that as she learns the skills needed to solely self feed I will feed her less and less. but in the meantime, to prevent her getting frantic and to keep me sane, we will do it our way. I have to admit that I love seeing her munch on a whole chunk of pasta or bit of cooked chicken. I love seeing her work out how to pick things up and get them to her mouth. I really really hope that by introducing all of these textures we may prevent some of the fussy eating issues that we have with Monkey… but only time will tell I suppose!

How did you wean? Purees? BLW? Or a combination like us? Do you have a fussy eater?

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Blurring Behavioural Boundaries

I may have mentioned (once or twice ;)) that Monkey has been poorly over the last few weeks. When your little one is poorly and just not themself it is impossible to be as firm about some issues as you would normally be. When they are irrationally upset about everything because they don’t feel well, there are some things that just aren’t worth pushing.

WP_20150224_11_23_51_ProYou see their forlorn little face and you would do anything to make them happy and you certainly don’t want them to be more upset, so you relax some of the boundaries a little. You want to eat on the sofa? Ok darling. You want to wear your PJs all day? Ok sweet pea. You want to drink more milk (the 10th cup that day)? Of course my darling. You got loads of toys out but now want to cuddle back on the sofa as you don’t feel well? Don’t worry. You don’t want to have a bath tonight? Ok my love.

It makes sense, obviously there are some things that are never ok, but then there are things that aren’t that important. That aren’t worth causing any more upset. There are some things they are only doing because they are poorly and so little and don’t understand what is wrong with them. Your nurturing instincts kick in and you snuggle and coddle and reassure our little darlings until they feel better…

The problem is though, strengthening those boundaries again when they are well. Or rather when to start again. Where do you draw the line? How do you know they are 100% better? Or, more to the point, how do you know whether they are still poorly, or whether they are trying to pull a fast one? Toddlers are clever little mites and if you give them an inch they will take a mile and once they recognise they can get away with a little more because they are poorly they are bound to take advantage.

We have the same struggle with discipline whenever Monkey has been poorly and we have been a bit softer with him. Because he is a fussy eater and we struggle with food with him at times, food is one area where we do soften the rules when he is poorly. We still try to keep him eating healthily and keep up with his faves such as veggie burgers, but with a reduced appetite you can’t help being pleased that they are eating anything. So there has been many more occasions where he has eaten cheese on toast, or peanut butter on crackerbread (he loves the stuff) instead of something more substantial. Because he needs to keep his strength up and is just not in the right frame of mind to be persuaded to eat things he is less sure of.

But we are all too aware that we can’t let this go on for long, otherwise it undoes all of our hard work to keep mealtimes happy and we end with battlegrounds over food again. Like I say though, the trouble is knowing when to start enforcing the normal rules again. While he has been poorly we haven’t always enforced the rule aboout eating at the table, or the rule about not drinking milk right before dinner time (as he will happily survive on milk in the evening and won’t touch dinner if he has milk) as we know he needs something inside him to avoid meltdowns and keep his strength up. But there comes a time when we have to enforce these rules again.

No use crying over a cup of milk...

No use crying over a cup of milk…

We decided to enforce them one day last week, and in hindsight it was a day too early. I won’t go into details but it descended into carnage with our boy wailing and crying so much and both hubs and I eating cold dinners by the time we had calmed him down and done what we never do – we backed down and gave up on the naughty spot (for the first time ever it just didn’t work and was chaos) and gave him what he wanted. A cup of milk. He didn’t eat his dinner and we felt thoroughly dejected and miserable  that
a) we had enforced the rules too early and he had overreacted massively which meant that
b) we had to go back on what we said and give in, which feels totally wrong. We felt like terrible parents just getting it so wrong.

I remember watching supernanny before I had kids and scoffing, thinking the mistakes of the parents were so obvious and avoidable. Little did I know how hard the reality actually was! But sometimes I think to myself “what would supernanny say?” because I can see in us the parents I had happily scoffed at back in the day. Sometimes though I don’t know what she would say. Would she say  “Well of course it didn’t work, he’s not very well” or would she say “You should have persisted, you can’t give up!”

The less we enforce discipline in general, the worse Monkey’s behaviour gets. We aren’t massively strict or anything but he actually reacts really well to boundaries in general and is for the most part a good boy, but a bit of laxity from us and his behaviour can descend quite rapidly.

The day after the cup of milk incident we saw the evidence of our mistake. Monkey hit me. Not hard, but in our house, hitting is not acceptable, under any circumstances. Not by accident, not in jest, just not acceptable. I told him off, explained that hitting is wrong and threatened the naughty spot if he did it again. We are very much in the “Why” zone with him at the moment and he said “Why not?” and hit me again. I had to be firm on this so put him on the naughty spot and after only a couple of tries he did stay put and it did work. The difference a day makes as he was definitely feeling more himself again and it showed. He cried and kicked off but accepted the naughty spot and apologised afterwards.

It was a turning point and he has been a lot better behaved since. Not all the time, obviously, and we have our moments but although we have threatened the naughty spot a few times we haven’t had to use it again. So I guess our relaxing of the rules, and our mistake and failed naughty spot attempt haven’t caused any problems long term. He is back to himself and the boundaries have been restored. Will he test them again? Of course. Will we go through all of this again next time he is poorly? Without a doubt. We will keep learning at this parenting lark and maybe one day we will know what we are doing without everything being a bit trial and error!

Do you relax the boundaries when your little one is ill? Do they ever try and take advantage?

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Making Pizzas with Hidden Vegetables

Monkey is a fussy eater. He wasn’t until he was about  13 months old then almost overnight everything changed. I’ve talked at length about it before and we have ups and downs with how fussy he is. We have been going through a very fussy patch lately. As he has been so poorly over the recent weeks he really hasn’t had as much of an appetite so we have been happy when he has eaten anything really. I am planning a seperate post about this but it is so difficult to be strict with them when they are poorly, especially with food as he needed to keep his strength up and things can taste really funny when you are poorly.

I’ve been watching “Junk Food Children who’s to blame?” on TV too recently, and well I think it is pretty obvious the documentary makers are laying the blame squarely on the parents. I think they are probably right, as they are the ones who buy the food for their children, but I can also see how it is a slippery slope and none of these parents do it with intentions of harming their children. Far from it, they are probably too soft on them and that isn’t always good for them.

Anyway it has made me think a lot about Monkey. He has a pretty good diet anyway, hardly ever has crisps, chocolate etc, BUT we could do better. He doesn’t really eat any fresh fruits (we get him eating dried, cooked, frozen pureed but no joy with fresh really) and we struggle with lots of vegetables too, and most things actually. Pasta, sausages, chicken, pretty much everything depends on his mood. Most dinner times are spent with Mummy and Daddy pretending to be the voice of a toy (postman pat, a bus, an owl, any toy really) as he is much more likely to eat something when a toy suggests it! Not ideal but we go with what works.

One great way to get kids interested in food is to get them to help with preparing and cooking food. Monkey does love cooking but after catching himself with the peeler a few months ago he has been more reluctant to get in the kitchen. He has expressed more of an interest though lately, and with poorliness and chicken pox meaning we have spent a lot of time at home, rather than out and about, I have grabbed the opportunity to get him back in the kitchen. We do a lot of baking, which is great, but there is no reason cooking can’t be fun too.

We love Annabel Karmel’s recipes, her veggie burgers are a firm fave and we make them regularly in big batches so there is always some in the freezer. Another regular is her hidden veggie pizza sauce, which again we make in big batches and freeze. I know not everyone is into hidden veggies and I would prefer Monkey ate vegetables without having to hide them, but while we work on that I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting them into him any way that we can.

Hidden Veggie Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

WP_20150304_09_28_57_Pro1/2 onion – finely chopped
1/2 leek – thinly sliced

1 small carrot, peeled and grated

1/4 courgette, grated

1 clove crushed garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1 400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp tomato pesto (we use sacla sundried tomato pesto)

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 1/2 tsp sugar

We tend to double this and make a big batch (because so many of the ingredients are halved etc.) which gives enough sauce for 20 pizzas, so this would do about 10 pizzas.

Monkey helped me prepare the veggies, washing them and grating which is good as at least he knows there are veggies. He even announces that he loves leeks and courgettes – without tasting them. I love his enthusiasm though even if I don’t believe him for a second!

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, leek, carrot and courgette and saute for 8-10 mins until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic for one minute than remove from the heat. We have hard anodised pans and a hand blender so I add the remaining ingredients in the pan and blend in there, but if you have non stick pans, or if you prefer, you should move the veg to a blender or bowl at this point.

Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.  Return to the pan and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool and then it can be frozen in batches. I usually spoon off a couple of ladles full into a tupperware which can then be got out to use with 2 pizza bases as and when. I would love to make our own pizza bases, but don’t have the time or energy at the mo – hopefully we will one day though!

Pizza toppings

The pizza sauce is great, but with the small amount of veg in there I doubt it would count as one of your 5 a day, and we really want to work on getting other veg into Monkey. Homemade pizzas are a great way of doing that, as cheese can help mask the veg, and you obviously get control of the ingredients. We use a half fat cheese, because it happens to be our fave and does help with our diets.

This is the fun bit that kids can really get involved with. We bought Monkey a child safe knife – which has a rounded tip and a fairly blunt serrated edge. It still cuts veg so you still have to be very careful around it, but the thought of Monkey cutting with it terrifies me a heck of a lot less than helping him use our big scary kitchen knives would! It means he can join in with the chopping safely and without giving me heart failure. (Yes he is wearing his PJs in these pics, I indulged him with a PJ day when he was poorly :))

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So he helped me chop up the mushrooms and yellow pepper and had great fun doing it. The amounts and size of the bits I guess depends on your kid and their fussiness level. We are going for not too much, and fairly small at the moment as if they are big he will either eat round them or refuse to eat them at all. Even some of these size bits have been a challenge to get him to eat! Monkey is seriously stubborn and often goes to bed without eating any tea when he doesn’t like what is on offer (or at least he has decided he doesn’t like it even when we know it is something he does actually like!).

So anyway, yes our chunks are quite small. We also use some flavoured turkey meat for the most part, though do use other meats too sometimes to shake things up a little :). Monkey helped spread the sauce onto the pizza bases and then sprinkle the meat, veg and of course cheese on top. Yummy pizzas made :). WP_20150304_11_35_57_Pro WP_20150304_11_37_51_Pro Now I won’t say it was plain sailing. We make variations of this quite often and it depends on his mood and like I say at the moment he really is quite fussy. He did eat some though and moaned more about the chunks of meat than the veg and with him it really is all about seeing something he doesn’t like. If a mushroom or pepper is hidden under cheese he eats it no problem. If he can see them he doesn’t want it. So it is a work in progress but for my part, I thought they were blimming lovely and it is a good way to get him involved with cooking and vegetables so got to look at the positives! Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

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Troublesome

The best word to describe this week is troublesome. It hasn’t been a bad week and some parts of it have been really quite good, and lovely, but the children at least have definitely been a bit troublesome at times.

Monkey’s behaviour has certainly kept us on our toes this week. I’m not sure exactly why but since starting playgroup (which is going really well, more on that next week as I don’t want to tempt fate at the moment!) his behaviour had home has gone a little downhill. Whether it is because he is more tired as now twice a week he has busy afternoons, whereas before he nearly always had quiet, restful afternoons, whether it is because he is seeing other children’s behaviour at playgroup, or whether he is just acting up because we have started taking him to playgrup and because his baby sister is taking up a lot of my attention, I am really not sure.

Or it could just he growing into the terrible twos which we have been lucky with up until this point. Either way, the tantrums have stepped up a notch as has the yelling of no and don’t want to at every opportunity. It is taking threats to get him to eat even his favourite foods. That sounds worse than it is, I basically just threaten to throw it away (and he knows we are serious as we have done it in the past) which makes him suddenly realise he does want to eat it after all when he likes the food anyway, if he doesn’t want to eat it at all he just says ok, so I have to follow through!). He has been on the naughty spot after daddy lost it with him on a car journey when he was trying to get out of his car seat. He is threatened with going straight to bed with no stories every night  in order to get him to have a bath, which is getting old. We then have another tantrum when it is time to get out of the bath,. He doesn’t want to get in but then loves it so much he doesn’t want to get out.

Sometimes in addition to the threats his toys “talk” to him and they are often much more successful at persuading him to eat something or do something than Mummy and Daddy are! His postman pat toy (and this morning LM’s squeaky crocodile) helps at mealtimes and Herbie the hedgehog (a hand puppet) helps persuade him to do things in the evenings. In some ways I really don’t like doing this, but also I just can’t handle the stress of having stand-offs when trying to get him to do the simplest things. As at the moment there is about a hundred stand-offs a day and I don’t have the energy!

I do feel for him though as I know a lot of it is just attention seeking. His baby sister is also being troublesome this week which is taking a lot of my attention. I am trying really hard to focus on him too but it’s not easy when she won’t stay asleep for more than half an hour at a time and is also fussy when she is awake. Not entirely sure why this is,but she is starting to teethe and is dribbling loads and chewing her teeth constantly. Monkey got his 1st tooth at 4 mths so I guess it is not a complete surprise but she is definitely more restless too.

It’s difficult to know if this is because of the teething or something else but I do feel like it is potentially giving her tummy aches, (apparently this is due to the properties in their drool, which when swallowed creates gas in their intestines(?)) so am on the hunt for teething remedies. We used ashton and parsons powders with Monkey but they contain lactose and while she is fussy anyway it doesn’t seem the right time to re-introduce lactose to her diet. Thanks to all the twitter peeps for their help with suggestions, fingers crossed we find something that works. I am intrigued by amber necklaces and anklets but not convinced yet, we have some teethers from Dr Brown’s on the way and have just started using Chamomilla by Weleda, so I am sure I will keep you posted!

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Plum & Blackberry Crumble & a Plum-Picking Adventure!

We have a lovely little ‘pick your own’ farm a really short distance from where we live. I vaguely remember going as a child to pick strawberries and had planned on taking Monkey to pick strawberries, but alas we missed the season this year. My neighbour went though and also went recently and said they had the most delicious plums! Plums aren’t a fruit regularly eaten in our house but my neighbour really wanted Monkey and I to join her and her kiddies on a pick your own expedition, and I thought Monkey would enjoy it so off we went.

Monkey absolutely loved it at the farm, so many open spaces to run about bless him and he just kept running around shouting “Berry, berry, berry!” lol. He was quite helpful with picking the plums, although he also tried picking some very underripe ones, and some less than lovely looking ones off the floor! He did try though!

plums

I didn’t realise they also had blackberry bushes and we love a blackberry crumble in our house so we picked some of those too. I was worried he would hurt himself on the thorns but he managed really well and actually tried to eat some of the blackberries and plums, though he isn’t very good with fresh fruit and pretty much spat it all out.

blackberries

We then had a play on their fabulous play park before we headed home. It was a lovely place and we will definitely go fruit picking there again!

playground

I wasn’t sure what to do with the fruit to start with as neither hubby or Monkey are big fans of fresh fruit, and I don’t really have the energy to make anything complicated. So it didn’t take long for me to decide to make a Plum & Blackberry crumble. I love making crumbles mainly because they are so easy to make, are absolutely yummy and get some fruit inside us (albeit with a lot of sugar involved!)

Here is our recipe for a lovely crumble. My fruit measurements are very vague and can be interchangeable with a lot of fruits. I originally used this recipe to make a rhubarb crumble, though with rhubarb you also need 50ml of water, which I left out in this case as the plums were so juicy in themselves!

Plum & Blackberry Crumble Ingredients

WP_20140816_19_15_38_Pro500g Fruit – in this case Plums & Blackberries – chopped/sliced thinly
100g Caster Sugar
100g Wholemeal Flour (can use plain)
100g Rolled Oats (Porridge oats)
100g Butter (we use unsalted)
125g Demerara Sugar

Plum & Blackberry Crumble Method

Preheat the oven to 180°

Place the chopped into fruit in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with the Caster Sugar (and water if necessary i.e with rhubarb)

Put the Flour, Oats and Demerara Sugar in a separate bowl. Add the butter and mix in with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. It is ok if there are a few lumpy bits.

Sprinkle crumble mixture over the fruit as evenly as possible, and don’t pat down too much.

Bake for 35- 40 mins or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.

Plum & Blackberry Crumble

Serve with custard, or a good dollop of ice cream!

Plum & Blackberry Crumble

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Monkey is 2!! A Mini Milestones Special :)

Yep, today my cutie pie little boy turns 2! Happy Birthday Monkey!

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This is a little bit of a celebration of him at this point in his development – a bit of a special edition of his Mini Milestones, and mainly a way for us to look back in years to come I think!

Physical Development

Monkey is standing tall at 3’2″ which according to the percentile chart thingy (first time in ages I’ve even looked at it) he is above the 99.6th percentile line for height and means he could be a whopping 6’4″ as an adult! With a Daddy at 6’2″ we are not surprised he is tall, but he does feel crazily tall! We will see whether his growth slows down but he is nearly as tall as some of his 3 year old friends at the moment!

He may be advanced in height, but he still can’t jump. I think this is still quite normal (?) at this age and he just doesn’t seem to get it, bless him, it is funny seeing him try though!

He is getting more coordinated now and can walk up the stairs with one hand on the hand rail and one hand holding mummy or daddy on the other side. He will be going up a class at tumbletots after half term, which is very exciting, and a bit nerve wracking for mummy as it is a bit more structured I think!

His dance moves are coming on too, and now he does the dance moves to lots of songs (not just wind the bobbin) and actually joins in with other people doing the moves, rather than just staring at them then later doing the moves on his own to the music in his head!

He is learning to climb in and out of the bath himself (using his stepstool) and is gradually learning how to get clothes on and off. He is trying to master pulling his trousers up at the mo, though he struggles to get them over his bum! We need to encourage this more really rather than just doing it for him, which is less time consuming and easier for us, but doesn’t help him learn the life skill!

It’s also worth saying that Monkey loves running – particularly on the grass, and he looks like Phoebe in Friends – where her arms and legs are flying everywhere? It’s so cute and he loves it so much, so we do too :).

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Oh and he finally likes ride-ons and is figuring out how to make them move. He hated them, anything cars, trucks, bikes, anything for such a long time, then when he did like them, he could only work out how to go backward! He can now go forward and is getting better all the time, so yay! Definitely a sign his coordination is improving!

Speech & Cognitive Development

We are getting there with his speech, slowly but surely. “I don’t know” is still his favourite phrase, along with the word ‘no’ of course! Oh Wow and Oh dear are other favourites. He tries to say lots of other words but doesn’t really manage yet. But he can now roar like a lion and make monkey noises, which are very fitting ;). He also chatters away to himself, and sings nonsensical songs and counts with lovely noises instead of words. So we are getting there and I know he’ll be a right little chatterbox eventually! He understands so much and can point out lots of things in his books (he very much enjoys doing this!)

His imaginative play is really coming along, which I have to admit, I love! For ages he has loved playing on the telephone..

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and feeding his toys

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and playing with his cars. But it has taken a bit of a leap in that he now ‘walks’ his toys around. Postman Pat and Teddy are now often to be seen walking up and down chairs and the sofa. His favourite thing at the moment is giving mummy teddy to cuddle, then rushing in to get in on the cuddle action too :) It’s dead cute!

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There’s a lot more understanding too. Not just with language but with reasoning. he now loves wearing his sunglasses outside as he seems to finally understand that they help stop the sun getting in his eyes.

He also is suddenly ok with Daddy washing his hair! After, well, basically his whole life so far, of hating having his hair washed, he now finally understands that if he looks up and tips his head back, the water doesn’t go in his eyes! That is literally a recent development this week, but a very, very, welcome one!!

Social Skills

After being knocked over by a big kid at the park weeks ago, Monkey has been quite wary of other kids, especially at play parks. It’s amazing how such a little thing can have such a big effect. He is getting a bit better now but he’s still wary, particularly of kids he doesn’t know, but even if his friends climb up behind him on a climbing frame, he panics and pretty much throws himself off it into my arms, not good. In contrast though, aside from being scared of kids coming up behind him, he has been playing really nicely with his friends. He is a lot happier playing side by side, and he LOVES holding hands with his friends and even gives kisses and cuddles when it’s time to go home.

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Sleep

Always a good sleeper (as long as it is in a bed) Monkey still sleeps for a good 12 hours at night and 2-3 hours for his nap during the day, even know he’s in his bog boy bed! He doesn’t have a duvet and doesn’t like anything covering him while he sleeps. He has grown out of all his sleepy bags which he would tolerate and while he’s happy with the duvet being on the bed, so far he doesn’t like it covering him while he sleeps. We will see how we get on with that in colder weather! Still no pillows yet, but he likes sleeping on his blankie and to be well surrounded by his favourite things!

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Food

We have been doing a bit better again with food lately after a bit of a fussy stage and mummy and daddy needing to reestablish the rules. He is staying at the table more and actually ate meatballs and pasta in a tomato sauce for the first time that I can remember! So that was pretty amazing! He’s not perfect though, there are still some meals he won’t eat and we have to be careful how much, if any, snack he has in the afternoons or there’s no chance he’ll eat his dinner.

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Discipline

On the whole Monkey is pretty good. He’s a toddler so he has his moments but as long as we are firm with him he will usually do as we ask. The occasional temper tantrum is him running off to hit a door or something, then he starts giggling. I’m not sure if he’s laughing at himself or pulling an ‘aren’t I cute?’ act because he knows we love his giggles. Either way it defuses his temper, though not mine! Most of the temper tantrums are still food/tiredness/poorliness related and so end in tears. Anything else – over wanting something he is not allowed, is usually very short lived so far. We’ll see whether the terrible twos hit us soon!!

We are trying to teach Monkey about tidying up one set of toys before getting out another. I.e. putting away all the duplo before getting all of the brio out too. Sometimes he is very good with this, other times he does not want to help at all and stubbornly refuses. If I persist though we do usually get there in the end, after a few mini tantrums about it!!

Current Loves

Monkey currently LOVES:

Playing in the sand (and anything that is a bit messy, really!!)

Playing with Play-doh

Anything Red & Yellow

Dancing

Watching Peppa Pig – she may even be replacing Postman Pat in his affections!!

His current fave books are “Each Peach pear Plum” and “The Rhyming Rabbit” but there are lots and lots of books that mummy and daddy now know off by heart!

I’m going to stop there, though I feel I could go on for ages in these posts with all the little things he does. It’s amazing when you stop and think about how much they can do, that they couldn’t quite do before!

I can’t believe that our little Monkey is 2 already! He is growing up so quickly all of a sudden! He got a birthday card at Tumbletots yesterday and I must admit I almost cried! Soppy Mumma! I blame the pregnancy hormones! We had a mini party with his friends on friday (pics will be up in a couple of days) and the family are all round at the weekend, which will be lovely :)

 

Ethans Escapades
3 Children and It

Monkey’s Mini Milestones at 22 months

I feel that Monkey is learning so much all of the time lately, that I need somewhere to record these little milestones (the lovely ones … and the less lovely ones). So I have created Monkey’s Mini Milestones – so every now and again there will be posts like this! Mainly a way of charting Monkey’s development, and his likes and dislikes!

Words

Monkey is being very chatty lately, most of it is still undecipherable but he is really trying to talk to us!  Some of the words we do understand are:

Yum yum
Go
Two
Shoes
Oh dear – after yum yum this is his favourite phrase, very cute as sometimes it sounds more like oh doo or oh doh but when it is accompanied by his hands to his mouth it is very lovely!

Skills

Last week, while enjoying the sun with my neighbour he managed to make his first bubbles! He doesn’t really understand blowing yet but he after a little experimentation he learnt to dip a ring in a bowl and wave it around to create bubbles! Simple thing I know but I was a proud mama watching him figure out how to do it!

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He loves giving high fives and now sticks his thumbs up (previously he held up 1 finger instead). He tries to count on his fingers, at a birthday party during the games, daddy was telling him so and so had ‘won’ and Monkey kept holding his finger up, as if to say ‘one?’  He loves numbers and likes pretending to count. He basically points at things in a row making lovely noises like ah, noo, mah, buh etc, so cute! He loves clocks and things too and is just fascinated by clocks and numbers.

Whenever we are out and about and he hears an aeroplane, his hand goes over his hear to indicate he has heard it, and then he HAS to find where it is in the sky. He very often spots them way before I do, even when they are tiny and far away! Clever monkey!

He is such a good climber, and has been for a while but we are proud that he now finally understanding how to climb backwards down something, rather than essentially leaping off hoping to be caught!

Music

He still loves Wind the Bobbin, of course, but he has a couple of other new favourites too:

Row Row the boat – he can be seen standing by himself rocking backwards and forwards, which is v cute, and at every opportunity he commandeers Mummy to do it together! He’s getting very good at the Lion roar too hehe

The Wheels on the Bus is another favourite – he has always loved buses and now whenever we see one his arms go round and round until I sing it to him hehe

Books

Monkey loves books, always has done and we have loads, and it is funny seeing some go in and out of favour! His favourites at the moment are:

Zaza’s Baby Brother – we’ve had this for ages and he was never interested before, but at the moment he is obsessed with it – I wonder how much he understands about me being pregnant, it does seem like quite a coincidence though!

Pig in the Air – This was one of daddy’s books as a child and Monkey adores it! He giggles his head off at the clumsy piggy falling over while trying to fly, says ‘go’ when he takes off, and ‘Oh dooo’ when he crashes into a tree he he. It is funny, I confess to being a bad mummy though and trying to hide it after reading it about 5 times in a row – I love how much he loves books, I do, but it’s exhausting re-reading them over and over!

Food

He’s been increasingly fussy again lately so we have been reevaluating snacks etc to see if we can get back on track a bit. He’s so stubborn though and knows where all the snacks are in the cupboards and of course wants them all the time instead of his meals. Joy! We need to look at what we are doing too and try and get back to following the rules that helped us before!

Playtime

Cars, train, helicopters, BUSES, basically  anything transport related is a big fave at the moment, particularly his Postman Pat cars!

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He loves dens at the moment, particularly with my Granny Square Blanket as the roof (which I love!). He is so good at building with Duplo now and he also made a fantastic tower with his blocks the other day, clever little builder!

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Colours

Monkey has two very definite favourite colours at the moment – red and yellow! He is getting good at matching colours in general but red and yellow are definitley the faves. When we are playing with multicoloured things he always finds the red and yellow ones and holds them up for us to label. Even in a craft shop last week he suddenly produced a red pen and a yellow pen from a display behind us! Seriously obsessed – not sure but maybe it comes from his love of Postman Pat?

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Less nice things

He has taken to picking things at the moment – picking his nose, picking the wax out of his ears, picking at his bathy crayons, picking, picking picking! Yuck!

He is extremely stubborn. This isn’t a particularly new thing but he is insanely stubborn at times and gets himself so worked up when we say no to things but he does not give in. For example if we say he will get pudding if he eats one more bite, there is no way he will take that bite. None. Absolutely zero. So he doesn’t get pudding but it makes for some miserable stand-offs!

So that is some of the things I can think of that sum up Monkey’s development right now! I love seeing him grow into his own person with his own mind – even though he drives me crazy sometimes! How do you keep track of your mini milestones?

Ethans Escapades

SuperBusyMum

Monkey Ate Pasta!!!! (and how we made mealtimes happier)

I’m sure the title of this blog left a few puzzled looks in it’s wake. It sounds daft right? Why on earth is this loony excited that her son ate pasta? If you have read about any of our, erm, challenges with Monkey’s Fussy Eating over the past 7 months then you may have an idea why this statement makes me so ridiculously happy that I ran around upstairs waving my arms in the air with glee after dinner. If not then I will explain.

At 13 months old Monkey went from a Pasta-lover to a Pasta-phobe. It wasn’t just pasta – almost overnight loads of his favourite meals slipped out of favour. When you served them up, the look on his face was like you had scraped s**t of your shoe and put it in front of him. I actually think he would have been more interested in that than some of his previously favourite meals. It made me so miserable when I would try and make something he would like and he would just pick at it or put it in his mouth then spit it out, or just sit there screaming and wailing and refusing to eat.

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Cue months of googling and desperation. Months of mealtime battles verging on force feeding. Months of misery. How did my baby who ate a more varied diet than me, who ate nearly everything put in front of him, suddenly stop liking so much food? We’ve had ups and downs, it hasn’t all been quite that hideous but you get the idea. I know that I am not the only parent faced with this nightmare at mealtimes and thankfully I found lots of support on-line and with friends and family.

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Before the days of fussy eating – eating everything!!  

We tried lots of things but we weren’t always 100% committed to it if I’m honest. We were subconsciously pandering to him by giving him food that he likes rather than face a battle, but that backfired as he soon stopped eating some of the meals that we were previously so sure he would. I was giving him too much at snack time because I didn’t think he would eat dinner anyway – can we say self-fulfilling prophecy? So hubby and I had a serious chat about it and decided enough was enough and have gone down a hard line and followed the following advice.

How we made mealtimes happier with our fussy eater:

Cook one meal for all the family. It feels cruel (and depressing) making a meal that you’re pretty sure they won’t eat – but you have to give them a chance and as I said giving him foods I thought he would eat didn’t always work either. Do not offer an alternative if they won’t eat it and do not give any pudding. This terrified me at first but honestly he has gone to bed without any tea a number of times and  slept through the night absolutely fine.

No food until the next meal/snack time. I guess older kids it may be mealtime but because of his age we felt too cruel saying nothing til 6pm if he doesn’t eat lunch at 12 (cruel for me having to cope with the misery that would entail anyway). A couple of times we have re-offered the missed meal again within say 1/2 hour of the meal but that’s it, and snack time is a good few hours after lunch anyway as it’s after his nap.

We have cut down his snack sizes, we made sure that there was always a big enough gap between a snack and a meal – to make sure he is hungry enough at mealtimes. He never drinks sugary drinks anyway and we have cut down the milk he was drinking before mealtimes, and increased dairy at other times.

No reaction whatsoever whether he eats or not. We initially were praising him when he ate well but then I read that that can put pressure on them so we stopped and it has made a HUGE difference. We praise him for using his fork and spoon well and we just keep saying how yummy our food is, and we talk about a lot of other things, but NOT about whether he is eating his food or not. If he doesn’t want to eat it he gets down but we stay to eat and he gets nothing else and no reaction. 

When he is finished he is finished. He doesn’t have to clear his plate. All part of ‘no pressure’. If he has tried everything and eaten pretty well then we offer him pudding – some fruit or something usually but occasionally a treat if we have one.

Get him involved with food preparation. You can read a bit more about this here - initially it terrified me, and still does in some ways – but all the time spent in the kitchen definitely makes him more interested in food and more likely to try it. In fact he would like to be in the kitchen all the time now because he associates it with yummy food!

The main rule -DON’T GET STRESSED! Nope, don’t.  Just don’t! Even when he is crying, or playing with his food or picking at it and pulling a disgusted face. No stress. Deep breaths. Actually we found playing with food is a good sign – touching it at all is a step in the right direction and one step closer to the food going in his mouth. Some things even go in and out of his mouth a few times before he finally goes mmmm, yum, yum and scoffs the rest. Sometimes he gets down and then comes back again. We just leave him to it and I figure we will worry more about manners once the good eating has solidified!

It hasn’t been plain sailing by any means – there have been very difficult days and even whole difficult weeks where he has been surviving on 2 meals a day (breakfast + either lunch or dinner) every day, resulting in a grumpy little monkey. BUT – the light at the end of the tunnel is that his eating has improved SO MUCH!

He eats baked beans again – which he had started to refuse. He eats tomato sauces again which he had refused for months. He eats sweet potato which he had gone off recently. He LOVES soups – all flavours and colours. He loves his Veggie Burgers again. He loves having a fruit pot for pudding. And the biggy – he ate a whole meal of pasta and he LOVED it!

I’ve been thinking about a post like this for a while but there was one thing holding me back. Pasta. We have played with it, cooked and dried. We have served up a variety of shapes and colours of pasta, different flavour sauces, plain, cheesy, nothing. No can do. I was trying to reconcile myself to the fact that maybe he just doesn’t like pasta? It’s possible right? But urgh, all of the meals that we have with pasta, will he not eat any of them?

Then, tonight, we tried this amazing recipe for Roasted Garlic One Pan Mac and Cheese from Taming Twins. He was in the kitchen while I prepared and actually enjoyed eating a lump of cheese for the first time I think ever while I was grating some. He then tried some out of the pan and loved it. We sat at the table and he LOVED it. Scoffed the lot. Couldn’t get it in his mouth quick enough.

My tummy was doing somersaults and I was grinning from ear to ear. Daddy and I were shooting happy, mushy looks at each other, holding hands across the table and feeling so darn proud of our little boy who was eating pasta. Trying so hard not to break the rules and gush our happiness to Monkey, no pressure, no pressure, no pressure. It’s making me well up as I type this, how ridiculous right?

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Mealtimes now are the complete opposite of what they were, they are a happy place and one of my favourite times of day. When up until recently they have been the time of day I have dreaded more than any other. Previously the site of tantrums and tears – mainly from me – now they are a place of smiles and giggles and cleared plates and puddings.

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I’m not saying that now he will eat absolutely anything that we put in front of him – but it is a HUGE step in the right direction. He may still go hungry some nights but that’s ok because he is getting such a good varied diet all the rest of the time. Yay!! :)

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And then the fun began...

Annabel Karmel’s Amazing Veggie Burgers

I am a huge fan of Annabel Karmel’s recipes. I had no idea whatsoever what to do when it came to weaning Monkey so we got her book and it made it all seem so much easier. There are many of her recipes that we have now converted into family meals because she is really good at getting those veggies in and still having the food taste amazing.

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I actually saw these burgers on her website when Monkey was at one of his fussiest times and decided to give them a go. They have become a regular in our house since then as they are seriously delicious and they get all of us to eat a lot of lovely vegetables. Initially Monkey loved to eat them in a Pitta Bread, then during the worst fussy stage he refused to eat them, but now he loves them and tends to open the Pitta bread and just pick out the burger – with all the vegetables and goodness in there that is fine by me! :)

The original recipe was for a smaller batch (halve all of the ingredients below if you’d prefer to make less) but we make a whole load of burgers, which we then freeze and reheat as and when as they are a bit of a faff to make – but so worth it!! It doesn’t feel as much of a faff now as I’ve got a bit more efficient at it!

We also made these for one of my best friends who is a notoriously fussy vegetarian (she doesn’t like many vegetables!?!) and both her and her veggie boyfriend loved them too so that is definitely a good endorsement for you.

Ingredients
100g Roasted Unsalted Cashew Nuts finely chopped  
(we whizz them in the food processor)
WP_20140208_13_34_03_Pro100g White Breadcrumbs ( or toast a few slices of white bread then whizz in the food processor)
4tsp Thyme (Fresh or Dried – I use dried)
100g Grated Cheddar Cheese
300g Sweet Potato (approx. 2 medium sweet potatoes) peeled and cubed.
2 Red Onions, finely chopped
2 Carrots, Peeled and Grated
2 Small Leeks, finely chopped (see below *)
200g Chestnut Mushrooms, finely chopped (we aren’t fans of mushrooms so we whizz them in the food processor, they go a bit mushy but it works well in the burgers!)
2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
2 tsp Runny Honey
Flour
Oil for frying

The cashew nuts, whizzed

The cashew nuts, whizzed

The mushrooms, whizzed

The mushrooms, whizzed

*This may not be helpful at all, but we don’t like big bits of leek, so I have found that if you slice  along the length of 3/4 of the leek so it is in halves, then turn and slice again so it is in quarters (and again so it’s smaller if you can) while still attached at one end, it makes it easy to chop it into very small bits. (If that makes sense at all??? If not just ignore and chop how you like!)

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Method

Put  the breadcrumbs, cheese, thyme and nuts into a bowl

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Boil some water in a pan, add the Sweet Potato and cook until soft. Drain and put to one side.

Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Fry the Leek, Onion, Carrot and Mushrooms for 10 minutes or until soft.

Add the garlic and fry for 1 more minute

Tip the vegetables into a large bowl. Add the breadcrumb mixture, the Sweet Potato and the honey.

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Mash together and season to taste, I don’t find it needs much seasoning, if any.

Put some flour into a small bowl, shape the mixture into approximately 16 burgers and coat each burger in flour.

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(No my arms haven’t suddenly got hairy, hubby helped with this bit :))

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It can help to rest the burgers on a pre-floured surface before cooking so they don’t stick!

 

 

Heat some more oil in the frying pan (we tend to use Rapeseed Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil but it’s up to you which you use) and fry on a medium-high heat for 2-3 mins on one side, until browned, then flip (they are still quite soft so it helps to use a spoon in one hand and spatula in the other, you have to be a bit gentle though!) and cook for a further 2-3 mins on the other side. Hubby likes them quite well cooked so ours end up quite a dark brown!

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Leave to cool on some kitchen towel to remove excess oil.

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Serve! We often serve in toasted Wholemeal Pitta Bread, and I love them with a dash of chilli and tomato chutney, but Hubby and Monkey love them just as they are.

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You can serve in bread rolls of course but because they are quite a soft texture we find the pitta breads work really well, and they help hold it together, we made bigger burgers for my friends and they were delicious but they all squished out of the sides of the roll when you bit into them!

To Freeze, I layer in parchment paper (to prevent them sticking together) and freeze in freezer bags. Then I just reheat them in the microwave. I’m not sure what the recommendations are but I just take them straight from the freezer and microwave for a minute or 2 (to make sure they are piping hot) leave them to cool a little bit for Monkey then serve.
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Spicy Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup

I made this for the first time last week and was amazed how well it turned out – I have never made soup before so if I can do it anyone can! Monkey has been a fussy eater for months now but after a few tries he loves soup! Wahoo! So I need to learn to make some, great way of getting some more veg into him!

Hubby is 1/4 Malaysian (I know, he doesn’t look it) so we like quite a lot of spice in our house. I added a bit more spice than was in the original recipe I found and Hubby, Monkey and I all love it, which is great.

If you are unsure about how spicy you would like it, I recommend adding half the spices mentioned below, then have a quick taste after it’s blended and add the remaining if you feel you need to. It’s easier to add the spice than take it away!

I found it took about 40 -45 minutes including prep time.

The ingredients below is enough to make about 6 servings, though it is worth mentioning that I was making a double batch when I was taking the photos so they are to give you an idea but there is a lot more of everything than you will need to make the amount described!

Ingredients
WP_20140203_11_03_55_Pro25g Butter
1 Onion – Finely chopped
1 clove of Garlic, crushed
1 Butternut Squash, cubed to 2-3cm
1 Sweet Potato, cubed 2-3cm
1 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Mild Chilli Powder
2 tsp Ground Coriander
2 tsp Ground Cumin
Salt & Pepper
100ml Double Cream (I used Elmlea Double Light)
1 Litre Vegetable stock. (The first time I did it I used a couple of knorr stock pots and it tasted amazing, but I forgot to buy them the second time and only had a low salt vegetable stock – it tasted ok but nowhere near as much flavour being low salt.)

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Method

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In a large saucepan melt the butter on a low heat

Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally. Add the crushed garlic to the pan.

 

Once the onion is soft, add all of the spices and a shake of salt and pepper and fry for a few minutes.

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Add the Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato and stir to coat in the spice mix.

Pour in the stock and make sure everything is covered. Give it a good stir, making sure you get to the bottom of the pan.

 

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Bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are soft.

WP_20140203_11_58_01_ProBlend to the desired texture (I use a hand blender in the pan because I either use a big Le Crueset pan or our saucepans which are hard anodised – I wouldn’t recommend doing this if your pans are non-stick, you could pour into a food processor instead).

Stir in the cream and serve.

Easy Peasy and so yummy – is delicious with some crusty bread.

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Enjoy!
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