Food Before One is Just For Fun . . . Or Is It?

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One of my most loathed internet phrases is “Food before one is just for fun.” I’m not really sure where this phrase got its start and I’m sure initial intentions were good, but it’s sort of taken on a life of its own. I think it’s intentions were to say – don’t stress about food! But instead people use it to mean things like food isn’t important and that it’s okay if you don’t offer it. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I suspect Mayim Bialik’s decision to nurse her kids exclusively for a year may have something to do with it as she has become quite the outspoken attachment parenting spokesperson in Hollywood and so much of celebrity culture trickles down even when you’re not paying attention. So today I want to do some myth busting. I’ll explore why it’s valuable and link to a bunch of resources as well.

Before we start, I just want to put it out there that I started both my boys at six months with baby led weaning. It’s been absolutely a blast for us and I’m so glad we did it. That being said, what I’m about to say applies to any complementary foods – baby led weaning or traditional weaning. Many of my sources promote a traditional weaning approach, so note that if you click on any links. (Some day I will do a post on baby led weaning). I’m also going to say up front that I’m probably going to mention breastfeeding a lot, not that I think this info doesn’t apply to formula fed babies, but because I feel like I have more often heard these things from breastfeeding mothers than from formula feeding mothers and because a lot of the food before one is just for fun argument rests on the assumption that breastmilk is a perfect food.

This is going to be a link heavy post, but if you want the tl;dr version (haha), food is important for babies after six months. There, we can all go home now (Just kidding).

Dominic enjoying some berries (or cherries)

Nutrients

Breastfeeding activists, in particular, like to point out what a perfect food breastmilk is. And it is an excellent food source – certainly I feel so as I breastfed Dominic to 20 months and am still breastfeeding Allen at 9 months. But that does not mean that solid foods aren’t important nutritionally.

Don’t just take my word for it. A lot of highly reputable organizations stress the importance of the introduction of complementary foods. The WHO, which promotes breastfeeding until 2 years minimum, still says, “After six months of age, however, it becomes increasingly difficult for breastfed infants to meet their nutrient needs from human milk alone (WHO/UNICEF, 1998). Furthermore, most infants are developmentally ready for other foods at about six months (Naylor and Morrow, 2001).” (Page 11) UNICEF echoes this “Adequate complementary feeding of children from 6 months onwards is particularly important for growth and development and the prevention of undernutrition.”

Iron is the nutrient most in question, followed by zinc. Insufficient iron, also known as anemia, can have serious consequences on development. From the AAP, “Exclusive breastfeeding for more than 6 months has been associated with increased risk of IDA [iron deficiency anemia] at 9 months of age.” (Page 5) This study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that effects of anemia in infancy can last to adulthood and can include developmental and motor delays. Iron is extremely important for cognitive development, I can not stress that enough.

Now one point that people like the argue with on this is that the iron in breastmilk is more bioavailable. That is most certainly true. But, being more bioavailable doesn’t make up for the fact that it is still a small amount. From the WHO, “Breast milk can make a substantial contribution to the total nutrient intake of children between 6 and 24 months of age, particularly for protein and many of the vitamins. However, breast milk is relatively low in several minerals such as iron and zinc, even after accounting for bioavailability. At 9-11 months of age, for example, the proportion of the Recommended Nutrient Intake that needs to be supplied by complementary foods is 97% for iron, 86% for zinc, 81% for phosphorus, 76% for magnesium, 73% for sodium and 72% for calcium (Dewey, 2001).” (Page 22) That means breastmilk isn’t providing all the iron they need and not even close to it. Science of Mom does a great job covering breastmilk and iron even more in-depth and I’ve linked to it below.

They also need the extra energy. Growing is hard work and babies certainly do a lot of it! If you look at where they go from newborn to a 1-year-old, you can just see the changes and growth that they go through. Better Health Channel, run by the government of Victoria in Australia, emphasizes this as one of their points. “It’s also important that starting solids is not left too late, as this may lead to problems including [p]oor growth due to low energy intake.” If you’ve ever had a day where you didn’t eat enough and you felt sluggish and tired, you know how hard that is to push through, especially at work. Now imagine being a baby, doing some of your most critical growing, and trying to do it when you are low in energy. It would be difficult to say the least. Solids can help provide the extra energy that they need.

Dominic eating

Motor Skills

Learning how to eat takes an entirely new skill set than taking a bottle or breast does. You need to learn to chew, to move the food around in your mouth, to figure out what size you need to make your food in order to swallow it, to learn how to pick the food up and move it to your mouth. Waiting too long may result in these motor skills being delayed. From the WHO again, “There is suggestive evidence of a ‘critical window’ for introducing ‘lumpy’ solid foods: if these are delayed beyond 10 months of age, it may increase the risk of feeding difficulties later on (Northstone et al., 2001).” (Page 20) Colorado State University says similar, “Introducing solid foods after 9 months may result in an infant who is resistant to trying solid foods, and may have difficulty chewing.” This post on speech and introduction of foods says, “A delay in introducing solids with different textures as your baby develops, can lead to a fussy infant unwilling to accept new tastes and textures, as well as a delay in chewing and muscle development, which can affect speech sounds later on.” I encourage you to check out that whole post as it covers which speech sounds are related to what mouth movements – that will help you really get an idea of why the introduction of solid foods strongly aids in the development of motor skills.

Allen enjoying scrambled eggs

Allergies

There is a growing body of evidence that strongly suggests that waiting too long to introduce potentially allergenic foods is more likely to cause allergies. There are a ton of studies out there to back this up – so I’m not going to link to all of them today. This is, in part, a separate topic, as the recommendations for many years were to wait on the top allergy causing foods and so there are still people who introduce foods at the appropriate time and yet still wait on the allergy foods, but I did want to bring up one study in particular that I thought was especially relevant. In this small study published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy the researchers found that exclusively breastfeeding past 9 months of age was associated with more atopic dermatitis and symptoms of food hypersensitivity in children whose family had a history of allergies. Now, granted, this is just one small study. But, I think it is helpful when you look at the broader context of the many studies that are finding withholding allergens causes food allergies, it makes this one study much more plausible. Food allergies are scary, scary things. They can have deadly consequences. Introducing these foods at 6 months + can be a step towards preventing them. It is a small, not crazy, totally doable thing.

Allen eating kiwi

Picky Eaters

I think we all want to avoid a picky eater. The internet is just full of moms on message boards worrying about their picky toddlers. Waiting too long can contribute to this problem. A pamphlet from the government of Western Australia says when you wait too long to introduce solid foods, “It becomes harder for your baby to accept new tastes and textures.” This somewhat ties back into motor skills, as there does seem to be a crucial period for developing lumpier foods. I think there is a window of opportunity where they are very open to new solid food experiences and that missing it can make introducing them to new things a lot harder. This is, of course, no guarantee, but there’s very little downside to introducing them to new foods, but the potential for a rejection of those new foods in waiting to introduce them.

Dominic enjoying some cantaloupe

This is what I know. At the end of the day, most mothers are trying to do what’s best for their child. They want solids to be fun and not stressful – and I don’t blame them! The internet is full of moms worrying about whether or not their kid can eat this or that, what order foods should be introduced in, whether or not there’s an ideal time of day to introduce foods, and a whole plethora of other questions. There are even well-meaning websites that promote charts of what order to introduce foods that are not based in any science but that have the power to 100 percent stress parents out. So what I’m saying in this post is not stress about food – that kind of attitude helps no one. What I am saying, however, is that food before one is very important, nutritionally, for the development of their motor skills, and for the potential prevention of allergies and picky eating habits. Knowing its importance, however, does not have to make it stressful. What is does do is enable you to make decisions taking into account that it is important. So here’s to doing away with the phrase “Food before one is just for fun.”

Allen eating green beans

Further Reading

101 in 1001: No Chocolate for 1 Week – Completed!

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I am happy to say that with a lot of will power and some stubbornness as well, I can cross eating no chocolate for one week off my list! Check out my day by day updates to the no chocolate challenge and then at the bottom I’ll wrap up my final thoughts.

Then on Day seven, I was sick. So that day of course it was very easy to eat no chocolate. Overall, this challenge was both harder and easier in some ways than others. I know it was just seven days, but I feel like I don’t crave chocolate quite as strong as I did before. It felt good though to have a goal to work towards – so I definitely think that can be a take away from this is to create goals for myself. I do that a lot with my blog I think – all my various challenges – but what you don’t realize is that when you are in school, all the goals are built in for you. Finish this paper, finish this class, finish this year. And I mean, I have long-term goals with my parenting and such – like to raise Jesus-loving capable awesome human beings, but those kinds of goals are hard to measure and quantify and they are very, very long-term and even somewhat out of my control. I think it is one of the struggles for me of being a SAHM is not necessarily having specific goals to keep working towards. I do think what this challenge tells me is that I am capable of making healthier choices when I want to, so that’s something I should keep in mind. Healthier and better for me is a choice and I am capable of making it.

No chocolate

Photo Credit: Kirti Poddar via Compfight cc Photo has been cropped and the no symbol imposed over the top by myself.

Enjoy New – Lindsay Park – ETHANProject

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ETHANProject Enjoy New Description

You ever have something that you do all the time that even though you like the thing you can still get stuck in a rut? For us that’s going to the park. We love to go to the park, but we always pretty much go to the same 2 or 3 parks.

But the city of Milwaukee has so many great parks to offer, they’re worth at least checking out right? So for our enjoy something new, we checked out Lindsay Park.

When I arrived there I noticed a very funny thing indeed. The playground equipment at Lindsay Park is almost identical to the equipment at our local park. There are a few very minor changes – including color – but other than that, basically the same. It’s like I tried to do something new and still ended up basically at the same place. However, that playground has sand underneath it, whereas ours has wood chips, and Dominic especially enjoyed the sand and discovering the joy of burying one’s body parts (in this case, his feet).

Lindsay Park also has a wading pool, though I’m not sure when it is open – it wasn’t when we were there – and, to my surprise, a cricket pitch. To my greater surprise, there were actually people there playing cricket when we went. I did not know there was anyone around here that played cricket – I’m certainly not aware of a huge cricket following in the US. They were too far away from where we were to get any good pictures though unfortunately.

The kids did have a blast though! And sometimes the best part of trying something new is learning about yourself that you were willing to try something new. I definitely hope that at some point we can try even more new parks within our city. We really are blessed here in Milwaukee with such a beautiful parks system that it is totally worth taking advantage of.

Allen and Dominic playing at Lindsay Park

ETHANProject Enjoy New

Enjoy the SOUND – Sunset Zoofari – ETHANProject

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Enjoy the Sound Challenge ETHANProjectI enjoy this project more and more every week! This week is enjoy the sound!

We bought a zoo pass with our tax return this year and it has been seriously the best investment. We go to the zoo all the time and it has more than paid for itself. It’s also nice not feeling the pressure to see the whole zoo at once just because you paid for the day and it’s expensive to pay for the day.

Anyways, our zoo has a summer concert series called Sunset Zoofari! And so I decided this would be a perfect fit for enjoy the sound. Not to mention, there are so many other sounds at the zoo as well – the sounds of all the animals! I loved listening to the music in the background as we enjoyed looking at the animals. And we spent a lot of time in the aviary (bird building) this time, so we got to hear a lot of really wonderful bird calls. It was really fun because the cards identifying the birds are right at Dominic’s level, so he would see the birds in the cages (for lack of a better word – though they use special tension wire so that you can not only see the birds but hear them as well) and look for the matching bird on the card.

All in all, a fun evening! I really enjoyed the music, they played a lot of things that I knew, and Dominic really enjoyed the zoo, as always. And Allen took it all in riding safe on mom.

By the way, if you are thinking of going to the Sunset Zoofari, it’s most Wednesday nights throughout the summer at the Milwaukee County Zoo. The last one for the summer is next week and it’s Blue Light Scene providing the music (or sound 😉  ) with hits of yesterday and today.

Enjoy the Sound - Milwaukee County Zoo Sunset Zoofari

Week 7 Graphic SOUND

101 in 1001: Eat No Chocolate – For a Week?!

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I think I might have been a bit crazy when I added this to my 101 in 1001 list. Like seriously, what was I thinking?! I love chocolate! But eating no chocolate is all about self-control, an exercise in willpower. And I’m hoping that it will help me to make healthier choices in the snack department. Sometimes I think things like this are a struggle for me because I’ve been blessed to have the kind of body type where at least now, I can pretty much eat whatever I want and it doesn’t affect my weight (don’t hate me). But that doesn’t mean it is good for me and it doesn’t mean that I can’t make healthier choices.  It’s going to be hard as I have a couple of social events coming up and because we have hot fudge sundae poptarts and cookies and cream ice cream sandwiches in the house. But, I also have string cheese and guacamole and popcorn and peanuts – some better, non-chocolatey choices. So start tomorrow (I can’t today because I already had the delicious Chick-fil-A cookies – mmm), I’m doing no chocolate for a week. Anyone else in on this challenge with me? I’ll be posting a nightly update on my Facebook page and you can feel free to check in there if you choose to do this too!

No chocolate

Photo Credit: Kirti Poddar via Compfight cc Photo has been cropped and the no symbol imposed over the top by myself.

Enjoy the Dirt (Cake!) – #ETHANProject

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I’m a little late on this post, but here it comes, nevertheless! Just because I fell a bit behind this week doesn’t mean I can’t catch up! This week’s ETHANProject Challenge is to enjoy the dirt! Just in case you haven’t heard of the ETHANProject before, you can read about it hereEnjoy the Dirt ETHANProjectI was trying to think what we could do with dirt and then it hit me – dirt cake! I have a lot of fond memories of dirt cake from my childhood – like my friends’ who had dirt cake and sand cake at their birthday parties and then their mom would let us eat some for breakfast too. I realized I had never introduced Dominic to this concept, so that was what I decided to do! We used this recipe only with half the whipped cream, because I thought I had more in my freezer than I actually did (oops – does this ever happen to you?) It could definitely use more Oreos though! Maybe they’ve made the packages smaller. Or maybe the spring Oreos that I picked did have less, even though I didn’t think they did. I tried my hand at creativity and spelled dirt with the Oreos, haha! Can you see it? I wanted to add gummy worms, but forgot to pick some up and somehow, I felt gummy fish just would not be the right fit for a dirt cake.

Dirt Cake What ways can you think of to enjoy the dirt? I’m really glad to have been able to introduce Dominic to something that I have such fond memories of in childhood. He really enjoyed it, as evidence by the many times he has since asked me for it! What’s not to love about dirt cake though? Do you have any desserts from childhood that really stick out to you as your favorites? I’ll see you back next week for the next ETHANProject challenge!

ETHANProject Enjoy the Dirt

 

What We’re Reading – July 8th, 2015

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I’ve decided to switch up the format of this a bit. Mainly because with two kiddos it is much too hard (read: impossible) to keep up with everything that we are reading and to write it down. But we have however switched to a book rotation. So instead of the hundred plus kids’ books that we own being on the shelf at a time, which was too overwhelming both for me and for Dominic, I generally keep about 40 on the shelf at a time. I usually pick some (or all of the, depending on the amount I find) to coincide with what we are learning about. Some are ours and some come from the library.

So, without further ado, here are the books currently on our shelf. Please note that these are Amazon affiliate links and so if you buy the book from that link, I’ll get a tiny amount of the funds. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have about the books!

Books About Water and Boats

Books about Water and Boats

Books about the birth of Jesus

Books about the birth of Jesus

As far as what I’m currently reading, I haven’t cracked into it yet, but I just picked up Alice’s Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer by Melissa Muller at the library. What are you currently reading and/or what are you currently reading to your kids?

Choosing to Surround Myself With Goodness

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Be Still and Know that I Am God - Choosing to Surround Yourself with Goodness

I don’t know about you, but I have a really, really big struggle with negative self-talk. If you could hear the inner voice in my head, you know that I am almost constantly undercutting myself. Telling myself that I’m no good at anything, that I’m a failure, that I don’t deserve anything, so on and so forth. I don’t know when this started because it’s been there in my head as long as I can remember. And I suspect that I’m not the only one who struggles with these things.

When I went to the Birth Without Fear Meetup, one of the things we were given were some awesome birth affirmation cards. They are SO pretty. Well, not knowing when we will have another kid (or if we will have another kid) I wished there was a way that I could use them now. Most of them were pretty birth specific, however. Except for one. One little one with a sunshine on it that said “Let go.” Well, now let go, that I can certainly apply to lots of situations. I can let go of the guilt, the shame, the frustration, all the negative feelings that I hold onto that keep me from living my life with joy and content. So I decided to tape it above the changing table, a place that I would see it often. After a few days of seeing it I was like, you know what? This is making a difference. It reminds me to breathe, it reminds me to give it to God, it reminds me that these things are not worth holding on to.

So I wanted to make some more. But I was seriously blanking on what to choose. There was so many and I was feeling overwhelmed. How would I ever narrow it down? So I decided to see if my friends on Facebook had any suggestions. And with their help, I was able to pick some. You can see some of them pictured below. The one over the window is a condensed version of 1 Corinthians 13 – the love chapter. It says “Love is . . .” and then around it there are all of the things that it says love it. From not envious to kind and everything in between.

Surrounding Yourself with Goodness

I didn’t make them particularly fancy. I just made them functional. I used markers and paper and put them up with painter’s tape in places that I end up a lot (in front of the sink, behind the stove, above our table, etc). I didn’t want anything permanent because I wanted to be able to change them out if the need arises.

I have to say, they are making a difference. I can turn to them and read them when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I can try to focus on them instead of focusing on all the negative things. And it helps fill my heart with joy and contentment and to remind me that I am a beloved daughter of the King. When I can think of myself in this way, instead of negatively, I’m kinder to my kids, I have more energy to work on the housework and to play with them, and I’m kinder to myself. It’s not magic and it doesn’t always work – I have to be willing to embrace it and not fight it – but it is making a difference.

So, tell me, what words would you choose to include if you do this? Is negative self-talk a struggle for you as well? I do encourage you to do this with your own favorite quotes or Bible verses. The ones I have pictured are only some of mine, but yours could be anything you want.

Choosing to Surround Yourself with Goodness

Parenting Book Challenge Update – Parenting On Your Knees: Prayers and Practical Guidance for the Preschool Years

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Well, the website that I was doing this challenge on has since disappeared, but I’m still going to try to read 6 to 8 parenting books anyways. Because while I like reading, these challenges really push me to make time for it and get me reading perhaps some new and different books that I may not have read before.

So I just finished up my third book, Parenting on Your Knees: Prayers and Practical Advice for the Preschool Years by Vicki Tiede. This was another free Kindle download because when I see a book to download for free, it’s hard to resist downloading anything that even sounds remotely good. You find some good ones and you find some not so good ones. Just part of the process. It’s currently $4.99 Kindle, $13.49 paperback, or free on Kindle Unlimited.

I will have to be honest here. I only found this book to be so so. There were some parts of it I really liked. I thought the prayers Parenting On Your Knees: Prayers and Practical Guidance for the Preschool Yearswere well written and for the most part, found the chapters on character encouraging and helpful. However, once I got into the chapters on development, social skills, and behavior, I was less impressed. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with some of the advice. But what I don’t like is when people take advice that’s neither here nor there and attach it to the Bible as the right thing to do. Example: how to potty train. The Bible really doesn’t give a lowdown on the way to potty train as long as you’re not sinning in the process. I also didn’t like the end about salvation. It was definitely decision theology and it totally neglected the power of infant baptism. So overall, I’d probably not recommend it.

3 more to go! Oh and Happy Independence Day if you live in the States! We enjoyed a low-key day at home here, with blue Jell-O in red Solo cups. It was all good though, it allowed me to get caught up some on my housework and to finish reading this book!

Slowing Down – ETHANProject Enjoy the Sky

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Wow, this summer is just flying by! I can’t believe it is July already and that we’re already halfway through the ETHANProject.

ETHANProject Enjoy the Sky Challenge

I have to admit that I didn’t come up with anything terribly original for this week. I just took a towel outside and laid on the grass looking up at the sky. I tried to get Dominic to lay with me, but that only lasted about 15 seconds before he just played in the yard. It was nice though, just to slow down. I don’t always take Dominic outside without specific plans because that’s just my comfort level. But he really enjoys this. I need to remember that more and do that more in the future. Unstructured, outside play time. It’s good for them. Allen really enjoyed the day too, even though I have to take things out of his mouth every second.

Allen Enjoy the SkyI really enjoyed these posts from last week about enjoying the water.

Enjoy the Sky ETHANProject

See you soon!

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