Oh, the exciting time when your baby is old enough to sit up, interact with you, smile, laugh, and eat! I’ll be honest with you. I’m not really a baby person. I like the little babies, sure, but I am always so excited for them to grow up a little and become more interactive and fun. Six months is an amazing age – they are doing such fun things, and becoming more of an active part of the family.
In our family, we love dinnertime. It is a time of day that we all gather and spend time together. I remember long, lingering dinners growing up. We sit at the table every night. We light candles every night. We use cloth place mats, and cloth napkins every night. These are important to me
It is also important to me that my kids eat what we eat. There are many reasons for this. It’s nutritious, it broadens their palates, and most importantly, it’s easy. I don’t need to cook three different dinners, and keep track of minute dietary details. This leads us to Baby Led Weaning.
First of all, I want to clear up a misconception. The term weaning in this sense isn’t how Americans typically understand it (as in the taking away of something, like nursing, or bottles). It means that you will start introducing foods to a baby’s diet, in addition to breast milk, or formula. The baby should still be getting the huge majority of their food and nutrition from breast milk.
If you start your baby on pureed foods, you need a huge number of things: food mill, food processor, jars, spoons, time, planning, processed baby food, money. If you make your own purees, it is time consuming, messy, expensive. If you buy pre-made baby food in jars, it’s also expensive, and you don’t really always know what’s in the jars. You also always need to carry pureed food with you.
If you do Baby Led Weaning you need three things:
Seriously. that’s all you need. For real.
We did this with Alma, and she’s two now. She’s the best eater I know. She eats Thai food, Mexican food, vegetables, soups, and her favorite food is Sushi. So, we are doing it again with Harriet.
I like to start with sweet potatoes, or yams, cut into French-fry shaped sticks, and roasted. The shape is good for beginning eaters because it is easy to grasp and get to the mouth. It’s important to only try one kind of food at a kind, and wait a couple days before trying the next, to make sure your baby doesn’t have a reaction.
We’ve been doing it for about a month with Harriet and she loves it. Her favorite foods are roasted, then frozen cauliflower bites, blueberries, sweet potatoes, peas (so cute to see her pudgy little fingers pick up a pea and get it to her mouth), rice cakes, yogurt, applesauce, green beans, asparagus.
Another plus to BLW is that it really encourages independence and fine motor skills. Harriet can pick up a tiny pea, and get it to her mouth just fine. She’s also getting pretty good at using a spoon to get applesauce from a bowl to her mouth.
It’s pretty amazing to see a little baby feeding herself. She only has the beginnings of her two bottom teeth, but she can chew up all her food, work it around in her mouth, and swallow it, no problem. It is so natural and instinctual (not like purees, if you ask me).
One thing to be aware of is that babies will sometimes gag (this is the case in BLW, and with purees). It is really important to understand that gagging is very different than choking. Gagging is a sign that they are figuring it out, I see it as a sign of success when Harriet gags a little. It teaches her how to keep the food in the right part of her mouth until she’s ready to swallow it.
One of my favorite parts of BLW is that we get to eat dinner as a family. We each sit up at the table and eat. Jesse and I get to enjoy our meals. We’re not constantly focused on Harriet, trying to force feed her. Harriet eats until she doesn’t want to eat anymore.
Here’s our pre-dinner conversation with Alma, March 18th, 2014:
Alma: *trips over toy boat* AAAAAWWWAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!
Dad: Oh no! You’re okay! Do you need a hug?
Alma: NOOOOO!!!! AWWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHH MOMMYYYYYYYY!
Dad: Mom’s cooking dinner right now, but I can give you a hug.
Alma: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO MOMMMMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYYYYY!! AWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! *walks sadly into kitchen*
Mom: Uh oh! Did you fall down? Are you okay? (she is clearly okay)
Alma: NOOOO WWAAAAWWWWWHHHAHHHAAAAHHH!
Mom: I can pick you up in just a second. I need to finish this right now.
Mom: Want to look in the oven? See what’s cooking?
Mom: Can you tell me what you want?
Mom: Do you want me to pick you up?
This continues in roughly the same way for about 10 minutes, with both mom and dad suggesting things to help Alma cheer up.
Mom: Okay, dinner’s ready! (this is usually very motivating for Alma)
Mom: Okay. You can either eat with our family, or sit on the stairs until you calm down enough to join us.
Dad: So, how was your day?
Mom: It was pretty good! I’m really…
Alma: *tries to climb into mom’s lap* WAAAAAA!
Mom: *ignores climbing puddle of a toddler*… tired. How was your day?
Alma: AAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWW-AAAAAAAAAAAHHHH-HHHHHHAAA-AAAWWWWWWWW-WWWAAAAAAAAAH!!!! All done. *climbs into chair and starts eating dinner*
End scene. Who is this creature we lovingly invited into our home, and our dining room?
I am ironing some fabric for my next project.
Alma is eating “appleboss” and blueberry “muffums” that she helped bake.
Harriet is watching Alma and sitting in her high chair.
My daughters are becoming friends.
This recipe is something I’ve eaten my whole life. My strongest memories of it are on winter days, sitting at the tile table my dad built, after my mom came home from teaching skiing. I’m not entirely sure of the accuracy of this memory, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that this is my comfort food. And it’s really easy.
Beer is key. I love the subtle beer flavor that this chili recipe has. It really makes it taste like chili to me. I’ve made it before when we didn’t have beer to add, and it just wasn’t right. This time, we had some Baltika 6 hanging around, so I threw that in. This is a fun beer because it is a throwback to our time in Peace Corps, Azerbaijan. I was even able to find all the ingredients to make this chili while we were in Azerbaijan. I digress… So without further ado…
When I was little, we would eat this chili with wheat crackers, so that’s what tastes right to me. My husband prefers cornbread, so we have that sometimes. Enjoy!
Here’s a really good recipe for you to try! It feeds one toddler and one mommy. Maybe more if your toddler doesn’t eat spoonfuls of the flour mixture. You can double it if you have another parent or toddler who will be eating with you.
Here are the directions (more detailed directions and ingredients can be found at the end of the post):
Mix ingredients. These are pancakes, so it doesn’t really take a lot a skills.
1. Read 5 Books (at least). Here’s what’s at the top of my list:
2. Read Alma all her books. I seem to be in a rut with Alma’s books. She was given so many books when she was born and we haven’t gotten to many of them. I tend to read a couple of my favorites over and over to her, but I’m sure she’d enjoy some variety.
3. Sew 3 dresses + some. I am making three dresses for a secret project, but I also want to try some of the many dresses I’ve pinned on Pinterest.
4. Do push-ups and sit-ups ALL. THE. TIME. Jesse and I tried to do 100 Pushups a couple summer ago, but I don’t think we made it. Time for the second attempt. I also want to do 10 minutes of ab work every other night.
5. Take Alma to the coast. Can it be true we still haven’t done this? Terrible, I know.
6. Write 4 letters. I got this idea from Elizabeth and thought it was a lovely idea. I’ve really been meaning to write more letters anyway.
7. Swim ALL. THE. TIME. Wherever I can, whenever I can. I’m hoping to get to the pool a few times this summer, and to spend some time in a river or a lake. I love swimming more than being on land.
8. Hike a mountain. Luckily I am surrounded.
9. Try 10 new recipes. Another Pinterest challenge. I’m going to try to focus on using whole foods and cutting refined and processed ingredients.
10. Blog whenever I do any of these things. This might be the hardest of all.
I love salmon and Brussels sprouts. Separately, they are good, but together, they are amazing! Here’s my quick, easy, foolproof method for preparing both. I had dinner on the table in under 25 minutes, start to finish. That’s a win in my book.
Last night we had our salmon and Brussels sprouts with coleslaw from our fish market. They make the best coleslaw, it’s hard to pass up when we go buy fresh fish. I suppose this meal would be better with a nice rice pilaf or fingerling potatoes, but it’s good with coleslaw, too.
The salmon couldn’t be easier to cook. I used to be totally intimidated by cooking fish, but then I discovered this method. Rub olive oil on both sides of salmon, put on a baking sheet with parchment paper, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Here’s the key: put in a cold oven then set the oven temperature to 400 degrees. In about 20-25 minutes (depending on the size and thickness of the fish) it’s done! I have never overcooked our salmon using this method. A-maz-ing.
While the salmon is cooking, chop up some Brussels sprouts. I usually quarter them, unless they’re really big, then I cut a little more. It’s not a science.
Heat up some olive oil over medium/ medium-high heat and throw in the sprouts. Stir occasionally while you get your relish ready for the salmon. It usually takes 10-15 minutes total to cook the sprouts. Turn the heat down if it seems like they are browning too quickly. Throw some pepper in, if you feel like it. Or some herbs. I put herbes de Provence in pretty much everything, but you don’t have to. Again, it’s not a science.
I love this relish, because it tastes like a summer day. Seriously. It’s seriously easy, too. Chop up some herbs. Last night I used parsley and chives because that’s what I have growing right now. I’ve also used dill and cilantro. Use whatever you like. Throw in some capers, some olive oil and the juice of a small lemon. Add pepper, but not salt (the capers have enough salt!). Taste a little and see if you like it. If you don’t, add more of whatever you think would make it better. Not a science (do you sense a theme yet?).
When the sprouts are almost done, pour in a little balsamic. Yum. Stir it all together until the vinegar has reduced and everything looks good and done.
Take the salmon out of the oven, put it on plates, add some of the relish on top, throw some sprouts on the plate and whatever else. Done! So quick! So easy! So yummy!
Balsamic Brussels Sprouts