Thankful… for #5’s cooking and caring

#5 came to me and said, “Mum, daddy said we’re going to the supermarket. Can I buy some ingredients and cook for baby?” I was really surprised as #5 hasn’t cooked in a pretty long time. He used to love to follow the recipes in the kids cookbooks and cook with me when he was in kindergarten, but ever since he entered P1, he spent his free time either playing with Kate, fixing his Lego, or reading. I asked him what he wanted to cook for her, and he showed me the recipes in the Geronimo Stilton cookbook. He decided on the Carrot and Leek soup as “It looks yummy and is healthy for baby too.”

Carrot and leek soup

I think he was more attracted to the picture of the sail boat than the soup. But in the end, he modified it somewhat, and proclaimed that since the fish biscuits were too salty for baby, we’ll leave them out. (That’s because every time Kate goes to him and asks for his snacks, I’ll tell him not to give her any because they’re too salty for her).

Carved out zucchini boat

Ingredients: (makes 2 servings)

  • 3 medium sized carrots
  • 1 leek
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, to taste (which he omitted)
  • 1 small zucchini (for the boat)
  • 2 wooden toothpicks
Ingredients

1. Wash and peel the carrots. 
2. Cut 2 long, thin strips from 1 carrot for the sails of the boats. Set aside.
3. Wash the leek in cold running water.
4. Cut the carrots and leek into slices.

Concentrating hard on chopping

5. Place in a medium saucepan. 
6. Add milk, water, olive oil, and a pinch of salt to the vegetables.
7. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.

We added a sprig of fresh thyme just because we had some

8. While the vegetables are cooking, make the boats. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides of both halves. Cut one end of each zucchini into a sharp point to make the prow of the boats. 
9. Push toothpicks through the carrot sails and stick them into each boat.
10. If you wish, make a flag from some construction paper and glue it on top of the toothpick.

He tried to see if his boat could float

11. Cool the pot of vegetables.
12. Pour the mixture into a blender.

Too heavy to pour, so he scooped it in
13. Blend until creamy
14. Return blended soup to the pot to reheat.
15. Pour into 2 bowls.
16. Top the soup with a ‘boat’ and add fish-shaped crackers if desired.
17. Enjoy!
Blend it well

#5 was extremely pleased with his soup. He plonked Kate into her highchair and proceeded to feed her. She loved it!

“The coolest soup ever”

I divided the rest into small portions and froze them to use as pasta sauce for Kate’s meals.

“Mmmm”

The Geronimo Stilton cookbook can be purchased from The Groovy Giraffe at a great price of $8.90. #2 also made an interesting ‘Wishing Well‘ recipe from this cookbook.

Lots of fun recipes

Sane tip: I’m really thankful that #5 is so caring towards his baby sister, not only in cooking for her but in taking care of her every single day. Besides, it keeps him occupied so he doesn’t bully her or annoy the older girls. Initially, when we had 4 girls, it was the hubs and my dad-in-law who really wanted a boy. For me, it didn’t make a difference. However now I realise why there’s this term  “mummy’s boy”. #5 is indeed very endearing and sweet (when he’s not rough and tumbling!).

Save tip: Great that more of them are starting to have an interest in cooking. Soon we can start our own gourmet kitchen and don’t have to eat out anymore.

Thankful Tuesdays:

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus


Thankful… for the hub’s cooking
Thankful… for #5’s cooking and caring of Kate
Thankful… for #3 in so many ways
Thankful… for sister-in-law #1

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law
Linking up with:



~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Feeding Baby: 8-10 months

With the 5 older kids, when they were around 8 months old, we used to feed them porridge every day, with some meat and vegetables thrown in (the grandmothers said that was what all babies ate). It was always difficult to feed them and I thought they were fussy eaters. Looking back, I can imagine how boring their meal times were! With Kate, I try to make her meals as varied as possible.

We can now add more food to the list in Feeding Baby 6-8 months. After introducing these new foods one at a time, rotate them with the previous list so that baby is eating something different at every meal. A common mistake is that when parents find that their child loves eating a particular food, be it banana or yoghurt, they will keep feeding baby that every single day. Soon, they will notice that baby doesn’t want to eat it anymore. They are probably so sick of that same food day in day out! Wouldn’t we react the same way? It happened with my kids too. One of them loved eating mushrooms when she was young. At every opportunity, we would give her mushrooms. Even till now, she hates eating mushrooms!

Vegetables:

  • Peas, Green beans, Leek, Beetroot, Spinach, Cabbage, Parsnip, Celery
Fruits:
  • Peach, Honeydew, Grapes
Protein:
  • Fish, Chicken, Beef, Tofu
Grains: (in cereal or small pasta form)
  • Millet, Quinoa, Maize, Spelt, Amaranth, Wholegrain bread
Others:
  • Yoghurt (plain)

Some other pointers:

  • Most fruits can start to be eaten without steaming. Just use a spoon to scrape directly off the fruit. Examples are apple, pear, banana, peach, watermelon.
  • Purees should start to gradually be made lumpier, so that baby can get used to coarser textures.
  • When baby turns her head away or shakes her head to mean ‘no’ or refuses to open her mouth, stop feeding baby. We have to let them learn how to listen to their bodies and to know when to stop eating when they feel full. Nowadays, there are many overweight children and one reason for that is that parents tell them to finish everything on their plate. One way not to waste food is by putting a smaller portion onto their plate and offer them a second helping.
  • Some babies start to be fussy around the age of 9 months. It could be the texture they don’t like. Try to offer the same foods, but in different forms. Kate used to love broccoli or carrot puree. However, now she will only eat them steamed and cut up into small pieces. They will also start to be interested in finger food after 9 months. You can chop their vegetables into small cubes, steam it, and serve it as finger food.
Concentrating hard on picking up the pasta
Sane tip: If baby refuses to eat on some days, don’t worry, it’s quite normal, so long as she is still drinking her milk. Just make sure you keep offering different varieties of food. It’s a bit like playing detective. Through trial and error, you will gradually figure out your baby’s food preferences.

Save tip: Now that Kate can eat more or less what we eat, I just pinch a little of what we’re going to cook that day and cook it separately for her – steamed and sans salt and pepper.

~  mummywee – parenting 6 kids in Singapore without going mad or broke  ~


Feeding baby 10-12 months

Around the age of 10 months, many parents notice that their baby starts to be fussy about food. It could be because they are now able to show their likes and dislikes clearly. It is also a time when textures and  appearances seem to matter to them. I give Kate lots of foods with bright colours which appeal to her.

Carrot and millet porridge

I also try and vary her food in taste and texture so that she doesn’t get bored and it also helps us to figure out her preferences.

Macaroni with minced beef in light carrot sauce

Foods to add to their repertoire:

Vegetables:

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Lentils
  • Onion
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Turnip (steamed)
  • Cucumber
Fruits:
  • Apricot
  • Raspberry
  • Melon

I draw up a 2-week menu for Kate so it is easier for my helper to decide what to feed her at every meal. She doesn’t need to stick to the exact days, but it’s just to give her more options. Without it, my helper was literally feeding her macaroni soup at every lunch.

10-12 months: Menu 1
10-12 months: Menu 2

She is also very big on finger foods these days. I usually start feeding her from a spoon but she will shake her head halfway through her meal. I will then put a few pieces on her tray table and she will feed herself that same food! Maybe it makes her feel more independent.

Orange sweet potato

Sweet potatoes have one of the highest sources of beta-carotene, which is an anti-oxidant. It helps to improve our immunity and is also good for the eyes. Drizzle a little bit of extra virgin olive oil over it to improve the beta-carotene absorption. And remember I mentioned in “6 easy peasy ways to make baby smarter” that olive oil can help your child to learn faster and focus better.

Yum, yum. All done.

It’s good for baby to have finger food as it allows them ample opportunity to practise their fine-motor skills.

More finger food for baby to try:

  • Fruit cut into small pieces
  • Vegetables cut into small pieces
  • Dried fruit soaked for an hour to soften, then cut into small pieces
  • Pieces of bread
  • Small pieces of pasta

Sane tip: I find that it’s much easier feeding her when she eats with all of us. She will usually not mind whatever I’m feeing her and she can sit in her highchair for a good 30-45 minutes. When she eats alone during lunch (the kids are not back from school till 2pm) she will usually tolerate sitting for about 15 minutes and she will shake her head and ask to be let down from her highchair. 

Save tip: I try to align her menu with the rest of the kids so we can save time and money in preparing her food. For example, when the other kids are having spaghetti bolognese, she will have the same, except that we remove her portion before we add the salt and we stir in some carrot puree to neutralise the sourness of the tomato sauce.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

Feeding Baby: 6 – 8 months (The Why behind weaning)

Weaning your baby is both an exciting, yet sometimes perplexing time especially for new parents. After going through this with the 5 of them, I realise that every baby is different. Some take to food instantly and love eating. Some take a little more time to get used to new flavours. Be patient. If we are relaxed about it, baby will pick up on it and everything will go more smoothly. There is no point in trying to keep up with what your other friends’ babies are doing and rushing your baby into anything earlier than what she is ready for. 

I started feeding Kate at 6 months using this chair

For the 5 of them, I started weaning them at different times, between 4-6 months old, depending on the advice of the paediatrician they were seeing at the moment for their immunisation. Some paediatricians feel that starting at 4 months is fine. Others advice starting closer to 6 months. After reading up on current guidelines, I decided to wait until 6 months before starting Kate on solids. Research shows that it is actually more harmful for babies if you wean them too early when their gastrointestinal system is not developed enough to cope with solid foods. 

I think it was #3 whom I weaned at 4 months, and she regressed a few months later and refused to take solids. I subsequently learnt that this is one of the common problems with early weaning. For those moms who are still breastfeeding, there really is no point feeding your baby solids before 6 months of age. Breastmilk is the best and most complete form of food for your baby, so why give them something less nutritious? Unless you feel that your baby is very hungry even after a full feed, or wakes up at night when she was previously sleeping through, or if she is extremely active (crawling everywhere the whole time and burning up a lot of calories) only then should you consider introducing solids earlier than 6 months if you are on total breastmilk.

Common first food

WHY do we wean babies?

1) To get them used to eating solids. For them to learn how to suck food off the spoon and to learn how to swallow.

2) To replace their iron stores. Babies are born with enough iron to last the first 6 months. After that, it has to be obtained through fruits and vegetables and fortified cereal (and later through meat).

3) Their taste buds are developing so we have to use this time well to introduce them to as wide a variety of flavours as possible, so that they will not end up being picky eaters.

4) For the first few months of weaning, food is not meant to replace their milk. Offer baby the same amount of milk as always. As you gradually build up the amount of food baby is eating, you can then slowly reduce their milk intake. You should feed baby the solids first before their milk. This is because if you feed them their milk first, they are already full and are not likely to accept the food. They should still be getting most of the needed nutrients from their milk for their first year.

WHAT should we feed baby? 

Traditionally, the first weaning food is baby rice cereal. Why is that recommended? Mainly because it is unlikely to cause an allergy. It can also be mixed with either breastmilk or the formula which baby has been drinking, to ease the transition to solids. Furthermore, it is enriched with iron, which baby needs.

However, there are other factors which we should consider, such as nutrition and variety. Are there other foods which are more nutritious, and also not likely to cause an allergy? Remember the window of opportunity I mentioned in 6 Food Rules for babies? What I did for Kate was that I wanted to maximise the variety of foods I could introduce to her in this precious 9 month period, so along with the rice cereal, I started to expose her to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables from the get go. (By the way, I didn’t make all these up. I read some recently published books on the subject just in case things have changed since #5‘s time).

Week 1: 
I started her on rice cereal for her first week. I mixed it with a little milk to get the right watery consistency. This was to ease her into solids. For the first week, they only eat about 1 tablespoon each meal, and only once a day. So it was more convenient to just feed her cereal.

Week 2: 
I jumped right in to feed her all sorts of fruits and vegetables, which she readily accepted. See the list below “Foods unlikely to cause allergic reactions”. I only used her baby rice cereal to mix with the fruits if it was too runny to get a better consistency, or when I ran out of my homemade puree. I moved on to feeding solids during breakfast and lunch. 

Week 3:
Continue to introduce all the foods in the list. Combine them in different ways to expose baby to all sorts of different tastes. Eg. Apple and banana or broccoli and pumpkin. 

Week 4:
She started having 3 meals a day (but still very small portions of about 2-4 tablespoons).


Foods unlikely to cause allergic reactions:

Vegetables:

  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet Potato
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Potato
  • Spinach
  • Turnip
  • Squash
  • Cauliflower

Fruits:

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Avocado
  • Papaya
  • Plum
  • Pear
  • Watermelon
  • Cherry

Cereal:

  • Rice
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat

What NOT to feed baby in the first year:

  • Honey (may cause infant botulism)
  • Salt and sugar (additives)
  • Whole nuts (may cause choking)
  • Cow’s milk (may cause eczema or stomach upset)
  • Seafood (likely to cause allergic reaction)
  • Peanuts (likely to cause allergic reaction)
  • Egg white (likely to cause allergic reaction
Highly allergic foods
As for egg, there are still different standpoints on whether we should feed it to baby in the first year. Some doctors believe that it is fine to feed baby egg yolk from 6 months old, while others believe it is fine to feed both the egg yolk and egg white from 6 months old. Yet others believe it is better to wait till after the first year to introduce the egg white. However, if you have any family history of food allergies, it is prudent to wait till after the first year to feed it to your baby.

For Kate, I will not feed her egg in her first year as #1 had a serious allergy to eggs. Every time we fed her eggs, she would vomit. However, we didn’t link it to the eggs and we thought it is quite normal for babies to vomit. Finally one day, we were at the supermarket, and she accidentally crushed a raw egg and it splattered onto her face. Her whole face became swollen and we had to rush her to hospital as some got into her throat it almost closed up her airways. Subsequently, she was referred to do a skin prick test and we found out that she was also allergic to shellfish and peanuts. The doctors said that she would outgrow her egg allergy after she reached 7 or 8 years of age. She’s already 15 but hasn’t totally outgrown it. Now, she will not have a serious reaction like vomiting or swelling, but she will break out in rash or eczema when she eats eggs or foods which contain eggs.
Her left eye was completely swollen, yet she posed for daddy

HOW to go about it?

1) Put a tiny amount on the tip of the spoon and gently rest the tip of the spoon into their mouths. Do not push the food too deep into baby’s mouth. 

2) When you start introducing a new food, do it at breakfast. You don’t want baby with an upset stomach or a rash in the middle of the night. 

3) Apply the 2 day rule. Introduce a new food every 2 days so that if there is an allergic reaction, you can easily pin-point which food it was. Keep a diary of the foods your baby is eating, so that in the event of a serious allergy or an intolerance, it will be easier to track. (For the foods in the “Unlikely to cause allergy” list, 2 days is enough as you also want to maximise this window of opportunity to get your baby to accept a wide variety of food).

4) Start with single-ingredient foods, and if there are no allergic reactions, you can move on to combining them for a variation in taste.

5) For the first month, fruits and vegetables should be very well pureed into a thin consistency so that it is more easily swallowed and digested by baby.

6) The best way to cook baby’s fruits and vegetables is to steam it as this retains most of its nutrients and flavour. I would steam her fruits and vegetables over the weekend using the Babycook and freeze them into individual portions. 

7) If baby does not like eating solid food, don’t let it turn into a struggle. Stop feeding solids for a week or so before you try again.

Some rules to follow 

  • Remember, baby cereal has to be discarded 30 days once opened.
  • Discard any leftovers from baby’s bowl after a meal.
  • Never re-freeze food that has already been frozen
  • The safest way to thaw food is to do it overnight in the fridge, not at room temperature. I then pop it into the food warmer to warm it up.
  • After re-heating, use within 1 hour.
It can warm up both milk and baby food

To go organic or not?
If we could well afford it, why not go organic as it is better for the health of our young babies. But for us, our food bills are high enough as it is, so I only buy organic for foods which have a high pesticide content. (A friend who is a vegetable wholesaler told me that if we were to have a whiff of the chemicals when a box of broccoli imported from China was opened, we wouldn’t dare to feed that to our babies!) I try to buy local produce as much as possible, and it is also not necessary to buy organic for foods which have a thick skin such as bananas, avocado or sweet potato. The United States Department of Agriculture has ranked produce by its pesticide content, so it is best to buy organic varieties of the following if it is within your budget:

  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Spinach
  • Grapes

Sane tip: We try our best to feed our babies as healthy a diet as possible, but sometimes it’s not easy. There were days when I fed her 3 meals of cereal because I didn’t have time to make her purees. Just do your best, and be kind to yourself when you are tired or stressed out. It’s not the end of the world. 

Save tip: It’s much cheaper and healthier to make homemade baby food instead of buying jars of commercial baby food.


To read about an allergy that almost killed #1, click here.

Feeding baby: 8 – 10 months, click here.

Feeding baby: 10 – 12 months, click here.


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

6 Food Rules for babies (and children)

Food is always a topic of discussion amongst new moms. What to feed baby, when to feed baby, how to feed baby. When it comes to eating, the most difficult child is #5. This is partly due to his allergies when he was younger. As a result, we limited his diet to rice and noodles and a little bit of fish and meat because we didn’t know what would trigger it. Now that he is 7, he still has a very limited repertoire of foods which he likes. He only eats noodles that are yellow or green (with no foreign stuff in there i.e. spring onions or bean sprouts) and only certain types of meat. Here are some food rules I try to establish when it comes to Kate’s diet so that she will have a more pleasurable food journey as she grows up.

1) Variety, variety, variety

Introduce as much variety as possible into their diet. Between the ages of 6 months and 15 months, they are most receptive to try new foods. This is a window of opportunity to get them used to the different tastes. If they do not like a particular type of food, don’t give up. It has been found that it takes about 10 times for a child to accept a new food.

Why is it so important to get them to eat a variety of food?

  • Balanced diet: They will be more likely to get most of the needed vitamins from different foods.
  • To avoid mealtime battles: If your child is used to eating a wide variety of food, it will avoid mealtime battles as they grow into toddlers. And if you have more than 1 child, it will be easier for you to prepare the meals. Imagine if each child will only eat a particular type of food, you will have a headache preparing every meal.
  • Outings / Parties: It will be much easier when you take them out for meals as there will be something on the menu which they like. When they go for parties, you won’t have to worry if there will be food that will suit their taste. 

2) Eat everything in moderation

Research comes up with new information all the time. One moment, they say that fish is good. The next moment, they say not to eat too much fish as there are high levels of mercury in fish (the bigger the fish, the higher the mercury level). Other research say that certain vegetables like beetroot and carrots are high in nitrate. So the best thing to do is to eat everything in moderation. In this way, the child’s body will not be overly exposed in any case.

Ok, this is definitely not a good example of eating in moderation! This photo must have been taken about 13 years ago. Well, I have come a long way in improving their diets over the years. You can guess who gave her this bag of chips. I think #1 must have been around 18 months.  But actually, I think the hubs had almost finished eating it and left her just a little bit.

Oh boy, this IS good!

3) Drinks should be drank between meals

Imagine our stomach is like a cement mixer. There is acid in there to help to digest our food. If you pour a lot of water in, it will not only dilute the stomach acid, but it will make it much harder to churn and digest your food. Give baby sips of water if the food is dry. Otherwise, let her drink water throughout the day instead of during meals.

4) Eat together as a family

Eating should be a pleasurable social activity. Many studies have shown a host of benefits for children and teenagers who eat together with the family on most days of the week. These include family cohesion, increased language acquisition, and even success in school. I try to let Kate eat with us as much as possible. Our dinners are at 6pm everyday which suits her. She has her breakfast at 8am, her lunch at 12noon, some fruits for tea at 3, and dinner at 6pm. Her milk feeds will be interspersed between her mealtimes. Also, once they pass 18 months, they will start to be more picky, especially with foods they have never tasted before. By eating together, when they see mom and dad (and many other siblings) eating the same foods, they may be more willing to try it.

When #1 was a toddler, we were busy studying and we left her to eat by herself while I kept an eye on her. I also read that they should be taught to feed themselves, and not to mind the mess. This is what happened!

Maybe some rice should go here, here and here…

5) Proteins earlier in the day

Protein-rich foods take longer to digest, therefore they should be eaten at breakfast and lunch, not at dinner. You don’t want it to sit heavily in your stomach while you sleep.

6) Have the right attitude

Don’t let your child see that you are trying to convince her to eat her vegetables. On the other hand, don’t go overboard praising or cheering her on when she eats her vegetables either. Aim for cheerful nonchalance. If she refuses to eat a particular food, you can put it on your own plate and pretend to give it to her reluctantly. Let her try at least 1 bite, and after a few times, she may come to accept the food. 

Sane tip: Of course, these are the ideals which I try to stick to as much as possible. But there will be times when it’s not possible and things are not going well, but I don’t fret about it. Just keep in mind the bigger picture.

Save tip: It is important to establish good eating habits from young. If not, your child may grow up to be a fussy eater and believe me, it will drive you nuts. Not only will you be wasting a lot of time and energy trying to get her to eat what you want her to eat, you will waste a lot of food which you have prepared.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~