Tag Archives: baby

How to Make Toddler Stage Baby Food

I’ve been making my daughter’s  baby food from the time she started on solid foods. It’s a lot of fun but some work also. But I love the extra control homemade baby food gives me over what goes into her diet.

Now that she’s a toddler, she is getting seriously more independent about her eating. She doesn’t want food spooned into her mouth with a few exceptions such as yogurt, and even that she’s getting stubborn about.

This is because she is so good at self feeding and dealing with chunky food. She doesn’t need my help and has made it quite plan that it is mostly no longer welcome. I have a very independent toddler.

When you go to the grocery store, you see all kinds of toddler stage foods available. Most of them frankly look gross to me. Overcooked vegetables, those funky looking meat sticks, and toddler meals with waaaay too much salt.

I’d rather make my own toddler food. It’s not like it’s difficult. Mostly it’s chopping up what the rest of us are having, but smaller.

Not all meals easily chop into something a toddler can easily handle, however. And so I keep some foods in the freezer prepared to make an easy meal.

Foods to cook until soft and freeze in cubes:

Lightly blended green beans
Lightlly blended peas
Diced carrots
Lightly pureed ground beef
Lightly pureed chicken

I don’t keep a huge selection in the freezer anymore because most meals can be eaten with the rest of the family. You may need to cook vegetables just a touch softer and make sure meats are very tender and chopped into small pieces, but toddlers can mostly eat what you eat.

Your crock pot is your friend when it comes to meats. You’ll almost always get meats that are soft enough for your toddler to handle once you dice it up.

To use the frozen goods, I mix them up as I did when she was a baby, except I use the rice so that it’s all a bit chunky. It’s messy, but this means she can pick up the food and cram it in her mouth. You know what messy eaters toddlers can be.

Couscous is a good alternative to rice. My daughter loves it. You could also use small pasta shapes and anything else that is small enough for a toddler to handle. You can freeze any vegetables your toddler likes; I just listed some of my daughter’s favorites.

It helps to peel some kinds of vegetables. My daughter loves zucchini, but the skins still give her trouble. Rather than peel them, I cut off the skins of the pieces I give to her, as the rest of the family enjoys it as well.

Remember that toddlers will put pretty much anything in their mouths, but can’t chew every food they try. Raisins are more of a choking hazard than a treat for them. Same for nuts. You’re best off chopping foods small enough that your toddler is not too likely to choke on them and keep foods soft enough that the toddler can break them down with just a little chewing.

BumGenius 3.0 Review – One Year Later

We’ve been cloth diapering my little girl for right about a year now. It’s been interesting, and I figured now is a good time to share how the diapers have held up.

Overall, I’m pleased with how the bumGenius 3.0 diapers have held up. They’re in generally good shape.

The Good Parts

The cloth diapers have held up really well. I can see that the elastic is a little looser on some of the covers, but most are still in very good shape. The elastic is not so loose as to cause problems on any of them.

They’re all still nicely waterproof. The colors have all held up quite well. They still fit great.

We’ve run out of snaps to undo on the diapers for sizing, but given how long each section lasted us, that doesn’t worry me. Especially since we’re already encouraging the baby in her potty training. She does use it just a little. We aren’t pushing hard yet, just having her sit on the potty at every diaper change or before a bath. But there’s a bit of interest and she’s very happy when she does something.

We’re still using Country Save detergent to wash the diapers. It’s also working quite well. The occasional use of an oxygen bleach or some original Dawn dish detergent takes care the occasional stain or smell issues.

My One Complaint

The one problem we’ve been dealing with is that the tabs that hold the velcro in place when you wash the diapers isn’t holding them anymore. This means awful chains of diapers when I do the laundry, and makes me feel that they aren’t rinsing out as well.

Having to pull apart convoluted chains of cloth diapers that have firmly velcroed together is inconvenient. It’s causing some extra wear to the fuzzy side of the velcro too.

I really need to spend a little time figuring out the solution to this one. It’s pretty minor, all things considered, but I’d sure like to solve the problem.

How to Start Your Baby on Homemade Baby Foods

Starting your baby on homemade baby food feels like quite a big step. You’re going from feeding your baby either breastmilk or formula only, to preparing foods from scratch and having to worry about quality control.

It’s honestly not that hard. You can make wonderful baby food at home right from the start with just a few supplies and some work.

You will absolutely want a high quality blender. VitaMix blenders are very powerful, which is handy for pureeing the wide variety that baby will eat eventually. These blenders can even handle meats, although it takes a bit more effort. You can buy a more affordable blender if you don’t feel up to paying a lot. Try for BPA free if you can. It may not help, but it’s not likely to hurt.

You will need to be able to store your baby foods. Ice cube trays and Ziploc bags are an easy way to do it, but you can buy special baby food storage trays if you prefer. The advantage is that you can buy BPA free baby food trays, while most ice cube trays really don’t specify.

You can start with cereal, vegetable or fruits for your baby. It doesn’t really matter which, just keep it thin enough for baby to deal with.

Don’t start any younger than 6 months old if you can help it. One of my kids really made it hard to wait that long, so I understand the challenge, but do your best.

If you choose to start with cereals you’ll probably just buy a box of organic baby cereal. Rice cereal is a popular starter. But you can also grind rice into a powder using a coffee mill to make your own rice cereal. You will need to add boiling water and cook for 10 minutes to make this work, while boxed varieties may simply need water, breastmilk or formula added. Make sure the temperature is safe at feeding time.

Preparing Fruits

Some fruits can be served to baby simply after pureeing or mashing, such as bananas. Others do well after cooking, which also changes the flavor a little.

Buy organic when you can, so that you don’t have to think about pesticides. Peel the fruits. Babies often can’t really digest the peels yet.

Pears and peaches I always like to bake first. Peel and cut them up, then bake in a 350 degree F oven until soft. Puree in the blender, adding water if needed to reach the right consistency.

When cool, pour into the baby food trays and freeze. You can keep some in the refrigerator to cool off for a feeding the same day.

You can make applesauce as well, but given how readily available it is, I often just bought the unsweetened jars. I do not recommend bothering with the baby food jars of applesauce or individual serving containers. Get a big jar and freeze the excess. Much less waste.

Bananas just need to be mashed, and I suggest serving those fresh. However, bananas give some babies trouble with constipation. Be aware and don’t overdo them.

Skip citrus and pineapple for the time being. They’re more likely to cause allergenic reactions when a baby is young.

Preparing Vegetables

I suggest either steaming or roasting most vegetables. Steaming uses less water than boiling vegetables, so you lose fewer nutrients to the water. Puree in the blender, adding water as necessary to reach the consistency your baby currently prefers.

Squash, green beans, peas, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes are all good choices for the early days.

Preparing Meats

Most pediatricians say to not introduce meats until about 7-8 months of age. Ask your child’s pediatrician for current guidelines.

Beef, chicken and turkey are good choices for starting your baby on meats. Cook in small chunks until completely done. Babies are really not up for meats that aren’t well done, for safety reasons.

Puree the meat with its cooking juices in your blender. Remember that just because you try to go low fat doesn’t mean your baby should. They need the fat. Add water if you need still more liquid.

Meats go well combined with vegetables as well. I keep them separate when preparing, then combine them when I reheat for each meal.

Keeping Track of Baby Food in the Freezer

It’s important to use up frozen baby food within a reasonable time frame. Put dates on the bags when you pop the cubes out of the trays. Using baby food up within one month is best, but three months is still considered safe.

To really keep those cubes cold, don’t store them in the door of the freezer. Put them in the main compartment so that they are less exposed to temperature changes when people open and close the freezer.

Are Cloth Diapers Too Much Extra Work?

Cloth diapers have become pretty popular in recent years There are tons of styles to choose from and many parents rave about them. But many fear that they’re a lot of work. Are they really worth all the trouble, the extra laundry, rinsing in the toilet? And what about leaks? And stinks?

I’ve been using cloth diapers on my daughter for about a year now and I can tell you that for me these things are really not a problem. It’s just not as bad as you might think.

For starters, the extra laundry really isn’t that much. Yes, you’ll be doing a load every 2-3 days. One load of cloth diapers. They’ll need an extra rinse cycle to be sure the detergent gets out, but they only use 1/4 the amount of detergent a regular load uses. The diapers should smell clean after washing.

You can dry cloth diapers outside in the sun (I strongly recommend this if at all possible) or in the dryer. The sun does some nice natural bleaching as well as saves energy, making it a generally good deal. Hanging the diapers out is certainly some extra effort compared to just throwing them in the dryer, but if you have the time it’s really not so bad. I find they stay freshest this way.

If you put them in the dryer, dry them on hot for most brands. You can check with your particular brand to be sure of care instructions.

But what about solid wastes? Aren’t they a pain?

Strictly speaking, even with disposable diapers you’re supposed to put the solids in the toilet. I think most packages even say that, although I don’t know that many parents obey that part, and that’s why this seems like such a big deal with cloth diapers.

For the most part solids shake out pretty well, especially as baby gets older. For wastes that are on the runny side of solid I like a diaper sprayer, which is a simple attachment to the toilet. No dunking required. Other parents just use some toilet paper to wipe the excess out.

And leaks?

On the whole, I’ve had less trouble with leaks with cloth diapers with this baby than I did with disposable diapers and my two older kids. We use bumGenius 3.0 cloth diapers, and they really don’t have a leak problem if you care for them properly and change the diapers regularly. Any diaper will leak if you leave it on the baby too long.

I would also say we’ve had very few blowout poops, which is something to be dreaded. It can just be an individual baby thing, but she’s had some impressive outputs at times, so I don’t think it’s that.

If leaks start to be a problem it’s time to strip the diaper to be sure that you don’t just have a buildup problem.

So do cloth diapers stink?

They can, sometimes. But that generally means that your washing routine isn’t quite right. Maybe you use too much detergent. Maybe they need to be stripped, which is a special wash of cloth diapers using original Dawn dish detergent and hot water, plus extra rinses because that Dawn can be a bit hard to get completely out. Be careful with this if you have an HE machine, because Dawn most certainly is not low sudsing!

Some parents also use tea tree oil to help with stinks. Bio-Kleen Bac-Out is another popular solution to stink issues. Just spray it on the diapers as you drop them in your bucket. It’s an enzyme cleaner and is very effective.

I know, this is sounding like a lot of effort. It’s really not that bad. Baby care in general is a lot of effort. At least with modern cloth diapers you aren’t fussing with pins and such. Some brands go on the baby in ways that are very similar to how disposables go on. It’s simple.

Just think of all the advantages. Over time cloth diapers tend to be cheaper than disposables. They’re less wasteful. You can even use them for more than one baby. Many babies get less diaper rash with cloth, and you can’t forget to note how many cute styles there are in cloth diapers.

And best of all, many cloth diapered babies potty train younger! The slight inconvenience of laundry is much offset by the potential to be fussing with diapers in general for less time in my opinion.

Probably Unnecessary Gadgets for New Parents

I was reading about the Itzbeen Baby Care Timer over at Free Range Kids and it got me thinking about how many gadgets parents are encouraged to buy for their new babies that they probably don’t need.

I mean, I agree that there are situations where a parent might need a timer like the Itzbeen for a special needs or premature baby, but for your average, healthy baby at home I just can’t see it. I have no doubt that such things are priceless to parents who have genuine medical concerns for their baby or possibly for daycare situations.

But even with my youngest baby I knew when to feed her, and she’s quiet about that. Diaper changing is also easy to figure out… not sure when you last changed the diaper? Take a look! If it’s wet or soiled it’s definitely time for a change.

Similarly there are many other gadgets parents are encouraged to buy or put on their baby shower lists that just make me say “What a waste!”

Video baby monitors

Cute, but do you really need to watch your baby sleep? There may be few things more precious than a sleeping baby, but for most purposes a regular, audio only baby monitor or just listening for baby should be quite enough.

Wipe warmers

In most climates I just can’t see this one. So long as you aren’t keeping the house really cold the wipe temperature is probably just fine.

Another interesting point I saw on the reviews for one wipe warmer is the possibility of infection. Warm, moist environments certainly are great places for germs to breed.

The Zaky

This is a fancy sleep positioner. Nothing more. It’s supposed to feel like the mother holding the baby.

WhyCry Baby Crying Analyzer

I just don’t get it. Pay attention to your baby and you can generally figure out why they’re crying pretty quickly. Hungry, wet diaper, sick, just needs held… especially in the early days there aren’t a lot of needs to go through before you get to the right one if it’s not immediately obvious.

Padded crib bumpers

Yes, they look cute. Then you have to remove them by the time they might do some good, and there are some indications that they aren’t perfectly safe.

Baby helmets and knee pads

Babies are going to bump their heads and scrape their knees as they learn to explore their world. It’s a part of life, and mostly not a bad thing.

I had the necessary kind of helmet for my son (he had craniosynostosis, the helmet was to reshape his head), so I can tell you some of the big problems with using any kind of helmet.

First of all, they’re hot. They make baby’s head sweat, especially in summer. That will quickly make the helmet stink too, even if you clean it out every day.

Second, the day will come when the helmet must come off. Baby outgrows it. Then baby learns what it really means to bump one’s head. Believe me, my son was utterly shocked at how awful it felt the first time he bumped his head without his DOC-Band helmet on. He had no idea.

I suppose helmets might help if baby is always on tile floors or something, but that’s not the case for most babies.

Knee pads I’m almost in sympathy with after watching my youngest learn to crawl, but not quite. Our carpet here is pretty rough, and her knees had a hard time of it. Know how we handled it?

Long pants! No more carpet scraping her knees. Simple and we already owned them.

Now when they’re learning to ride a tricycle, skate, etc., helmets and knee pads are an entirely different story!

Baby Einstein

You know, there’s a reason why they’re offering money back if you are disappointed that they aren’t educational after all. They were talked up as being really good for babies. Yet television watching in general is considered to be bad for vocabulary development in children under two.

Yes, I was given some. My kids have watched them, just a little. But they’re entertainment, nothing more. You don’t need them, and if you want to expose your baby to classical music you can probably buy plenty of high quality classical music off iTunes and play it on your computer. Just don’t expect that to make baby a genius either.

Walking Wings

So your baby can learn to walk with your help.

You know, I kind of figured that most babies will learn to walk eventually anyhow. This is the exact phase my youngest is going through, and yes, she gets frustrated. Frustration within reason is GOOD for children. It helps with emotional development. Life does not throw everything at you easily.

On the other hand, if your child has a definite disability, then yes, this might be good. But not for the average baby who will learn to walk on his or her own in time.