Monday, August 30, 2010

Eli's Eats and Chicken baby food recipe

We waited for most of the signs books will tell you to see before you begin solid food. Eli was sitting up, about 6 months, showing interest, chewing, moving food to the back of his mouth, etc. and I wanted to wait until after he had had at least a couple vaccines so I could provide him with as many antibodies as possible without worrying about him filling up on cereal. We began with a sippy cup of water and man did he think he was big stuff, but he ditched that in a few days when he realized the cups we drank out of flowed much more freely. He now drinks out of a regular cup unless we're traveling and need the amazing technology that is 'spill-proof'.

We tried rice cereal next which I think he liked at first because of the novelty. We tried a little every couple days, adding a little something to it until he finally convinced me he just didn't like any kind of cereal. Moving on - yellow veggies?, bananas. I'm a rule breaker I guess. Eli loved bananas. By the way he eyes them in the kitchen, I think he could more easily recognize a banana than me in a crowd.

Eli has steadily become a 'social eater' wanting just a little while in his highchair at the dinner table to be part of the activity. At first, he didn't eat everyday consistently or the same number of meals everyday. It still varies. I was never too concerned with that because nursing still meets all of his nutritional needs. Now, however, it's much more likely that he cries when he doesn't also get a little bite of food when he sees someone else munching.

(Eli helping picking out food at the grocery-sitting in the grocery cart is Eli's favorite thing. It's a great way to pass the time on a fussy day!)

We noticed from the get go that he loved picking up food and getting it to his mouth. Puffs, rice, banana bits, peaches, avocados are great for this. And anything that was on a spoon, he grabbed the handle and directed it to his mouth. So, we ditched the pureed foods and whatever he can get in his mouth he eats (basically). This has made life uber simple (except for the bigger mess to clean up - Eli and highchair and floor. I love for him to eat what we're eating and we'll take out an Eli helping before the family's food is seasoned. To supplement that, I've got carrots and peas and applesauce on hand. I didn't follow the recommended start with yellow, then this, then that. I read that if you've waited to 6 months and breastfed, it's really unlikely that your baby will react poorly to modified family table foods. That made sense to me and so if it's not on the "Do Not Feed to Baby Allergen List" (i.e. milk, peanuts, citrus), heavily seasoned, or take-out. I'll rip or mush a little bit of our food up for him.After doing some reading, I discovered that this approach is called Baby-led Weaning and people say it helps infants control how much they eat and encourages exploration of foods. I also think it's just simpler.

I got a ton of ideas of easy and nutritious baby friendly foods and how to prepare them from the website below. It also has pdf versions of what your baby may be ready to eat at different ages AND fruit, veggie, and other finger foods for the babyled weaning approach. The website also has a list of spices and menu ideas that are really baby friendly and 'spice' up bland food and recipes to make you own food items like teething biscuits and baby pancakes. It has been a great resource. Eli and I have enjoyed it immensely.

Babyled Weaning
Menu Ideas for Babyled Weaning
Age appropriate food chart - (sample 6-8 months)


Eli ADORES chicken, although he still has a bit of a hard time gumming shreds of it up enough (I've heard babies love to chew on chicken leg bones with morsels of chicken still on the bone- haven't tried this yet).

I decided to try to make my own chicken baby food since Eli loves it and at the grocery it costs about 95 cents a jar. I bought an all natural whole small chicken about 4.5 lbs for around 3 bucks. I cooked it in the crockpot along with a couple carrots and 1 onion for some light seasoning. While I waited for the broth to cool and separate, I pulled the meat from the bone. I filled muffin tins with part meat, part chicken broth (removing the fat that had risen to the top of the chicken broth) and froze them for about 2 hours. Once the were well frozen, I popped them out and into a big ziploc baggie. Voila. I got about 18 muffin cups from one chicken. And each muffin cup (once defrosted at meal time and pureed with my little hand-cranked baby food maker - And now that Eli's older, sometimes I just rip the chicken chunks up for him to grab) makes about a half jar of grocery store chicken.

Grand total - A little over 30 cents per jar! ca-ching, money in the bank.

Monday, August 23, 2010

7th Heaven

I can't believe I have such a big boy! 7 months, wow.

Eli is, as you can see, sitting up now all by himself. For a few weeks now, he's been sitting and playing independently; amusing himself for much longer than I expected possible. He loves to play. It's so fun to see him want a toy, work to get it, reach for it and explore. I told Rob that I thought Eli scooted a little today on his rear end to get closer to me and Rob said, "oh yeah, I've seen him do that a couple times". So, we're on our way to mobility!

He's been able to blow raspberries for awhile now, but we've hit a new level of preoccupation with this ability. Also, he rattles off all kinds of syllable combinations, including dada (though not yet directed at Rob).

We may soon be entering into the "separation anxiety" phase, as well. For the past few days, Eli's protested when I left the room. We'll have to watch to see if this continues. I guess it's just another realization that we are two separate people.

For about a month now, we've been dabbling with solid foods (more in a later post). Basically, he likes the new tastes and novelty of it, and especially the ability to pick up the food himself and get it to his mouth, but we're nowhere near getting more than just a smidgen of our calories from table food yet.

And sleeping. We're down to 2.5 naps a day. He normally naps a couple hours after he wakes in the morning (around 9 or 10) and if it's a good day sleeps for 2 hours. He'll then have another good nap (sometimes 1.5 or 2 hours) around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Undoubtedly, though, he'll catch a short 15 minute snooze mid afternoon. He's not quite ready to give up that 3rd nap of the day! We're by no means a schedule family (husband and baby would have none of the sort) yet. This is the closest we've ever came to having a semblance of a schedule- and any number of things can change our day to day (long car trips, etc) and Eli just rolls with it.

In the evenings, Eli will go down for the night now around 8pm. Hallelujah, it had been 10pm. Rob and I have switched night time roles, can I get another Hallelujah? Rob now gets up with him first and soothes him. If he's hungry, Rob will pass him too me, but if it's his gums, a stuffy nose, or the need for a midnight snuggle, Rob takes care of it. This new schedule began after Elijah slept for an 8 hour stretch for a couple nights. We decided to try switching roles because I began to feel like after the original cause for waking was remedied it was followed by a, "and now that I'm up I'd like a snack, mom". We seem to both be getting more sleep these days, and Eli seems to be fine with this arrangement, which makes me feel like he was ready for this transition.

I'm all for getting up with your babies at night (it encourages lighter sleep for baby reducing SIDS, night nursings provide important calories for tiny growing babies and too-busy-during-the-day infants, and provides comfort) and I know that through toddler hood, our night-time wakings will ebb and flow during teething, growth spurts, sickness, and random things like changes in his environment (can you say moving?). Night times are still an adventure because whenever Rob is away or we're traveling, our new system seems to falter. And 8 hour stretches are still, by far, the exception in our house. But for now, our nighttime fiestas are fine with me - feeding him and drifting back to sleep isn't that big of a deal.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eli's Vaccination Schedule

After much thought, prayer and worry. We finally settled on a vaccine schedule for Eli.

I used to not understand why parents hesitated to vaccinate their children; but after Rob and I were vaccinated for our travels to Africa and had mild reactions ourselves and the whole mercury-autism scare happened, I knew I would want to look into it before we choose what was best for our family. Once we found out we were having a boy, I also wanted to be very cautious as the rate of autism among boys is so much higher than that of girls- and so many people still point fingers at vaccines as a leading cause (more and more people believe that autism is due to heavy metal poisoning). I think it would be really interesting for someone to research if boys' blood-brain-barrier remains more penetrable and for longer than baby girls'.

Well, my lack of decision defaulted into a decision pro procrastination. Everything I read left me more conflicted. I knew I didn't feel right about vaccinating a 3 week early 2 month old and I asked to delay until 2 months after his due date. That day came and went and I still didn't feel his body was ready.

Because Rob was no longer traveling internationally, I was exclusively breastfeeding, and Eli wasn't in day care of any kind, I felt delaying a little longer while we worked out a selective, spaced out schedule was better than jumping right in. Still, the more I read the more conflicted I became.

Even after studies show that the thimersal (mercury) in infant vaccines did not cause autism (i'm still not sure I buy this), and it has been removed from most all infant vaccines (check your brands), there are still a lot of nasty ingredients that can make babies sick and some worry cause damage to young systems that aren't mature enough to handle them.

But after 5 months, the worry scale began to tip the other direction. I heard whooping cough everywhere and even made Rob leave a Hardee's after I heard a baby cough next to us that sounded especially juicy. I could see meningitis germs lurking anywhere, even on the purest of church bulletins. As Eli gained the skill to be able to grab and taste even things outside of his reach, I knew it was getting close to time to vaccinate. And a little shy of 6 months, we were at my old pediatrician's office getting our first shot.

We decided to space them out and pair ones with higher levels of aluminum with lower or no aluminum vaccines and higher reactive ones with milder vaccines. We're going to try our best to catch chicken pox naturally as it is amazingly better at providing lifelong immunity among other benefits over the vaccine. This is what we came up with:

Eli's vaccination schedule

6 m - DTaP, HIB (7-7-10)
7 m - Prevnar (8-4-10)
8 m - DTaP, HIB
9 m - Prevnar
10 m* - DTaP, HIB
11 m* - Prevnar
13 m - Polio**
16 m - Mumps, Polio**

19 m - Prevnar, HIB
22 m - DTaP

2y 4m - Rubella, Polio**
2y 10m - Hep A
3y 4m - Measles**
3y 9m - Hep A
4y 4m - DTaP, Polio**
5y 4m - MMR

* These shots may be unnecessary since we began the series so late, we don't quite know if this is the case yet. If they are unneeded, we'll bump the next shots up by a bit.
** We may still do some playing around with the placement of the polio, and M, M, R shots

We'll decided on flu shots as the season presents and our options available..

This schedule does lead to some visits in-between check-up visits. But, our office is so convenient and supportive. We just schedule an appt. with the nurse, pop in get a shot and in 10 minutes we're out.

So far, Eli has done AMAZING with all 3 shots he's received. He wasn't the first bit cranky, did not run a fever, and only had minor irritation at the injection site. And this with no Tylenol! Will we use the same schedule for any other little Hartleys? Maybe, but probably not. I'm sure each child's needs will be a little different. For instance, we won't start vaccinating at 2 months, but I can't imagine us delaying until 6 months with big brother Eli running around with his rat pack toddler friends, eating mud, etc...

Mothering Magazine and The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears were by far my favorite resources during this process.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Life in Limbo

Lately I feel as though I am just posting monthly updates which doesn't make for very interesting blogging, even if the world is able to witness Eli becoming more adorable by the month.

So what does our life look like in Limbo, GA preparing for Knoxville? Well, it's been great hanging with the fam and catching up with friends. After almost 2 years away (1 in Africa & 1 in PA) it's great to be close and refuel with family before we begin this church planting adventure. It's definitely a challenge though to mother and wife in a home not your own, but if making sure everyone is fed and clothed equals success then we're doing about average. I'm really looking forward to getting settled in Knoxville and exploring our new town. But with the good comes the bad...unpacking.

We've been doing a lot of house hunting. And with the clock ticking down until we must be in Knoxville, the search for a house has morphed into apartment search, teepee or dry barn quest. Anywhere will do. I actually did find the house of my dreams yesterday online and I'm counting on a lapse in judgment on the owners' part of accepting 50k less than their asking price. Positive thinking: It will be mine very shortly.

Our bio is up on the Crossings website. Please peruse the staffs bios to get an idea of all the great people Rob will be working with and our new friends. We get more excited by the day to be part of that community. I still have my moments when I worry that all these transitions, a young family, and the challenging task of beginning a church will get the best of me and leave me completely poured out. I ask Keight's question of "Are you trying to ruin my life?" daily to Rob and Jesus. But in all fairness, I wanted both of them to be part of my life and with that comes challenges and changes that I wouldn't have dared on my own. And at the end of the day (actually in the morning before 2pm exhaustion hits), I can't wait for TN and church CCF-style.

Rob sent out our support letters today, so if you wanna get a jump on donating and making sure this little guy gets to keep eating chicken and carrots visit Rob's website and pledge some big bucks.


I came down with Mastitis just a few days after Rob's family reunion and our big move down south. It lasted a full week and I was the sickest I've been since I was newly married and almost killed myself painting our East Point house in the dead of winter with no open windows (this leads to pneumonia and bronchitis). Come to find out there is a good reason why they say to paint in a well ventilated room.

Since Eli was almost 6 months old when the first case of mastitis- the bane of nursing mothers - hit, I think it was most likely due to fatigue from the move and chronically low iron. (I ran out of iron pills shortly before the move and didn't bother to get anymore thinking I would just wait until we got to GA to replenish my supply--great idea.) I woke up one Monday morning with some serious flu like symptoms and a red, aching, sore chest. I'd learned in La Leche to stay in bed with baby, nurse nurse nurse, and drink plenty of water. By late afternoon, though, I decided I may need to call my midwife because my symptoms were only getting worse with a temperature 103 point something and climbing. I got an antibiotic and spent the better part of the next week in bed and making life easy switching over to disposable diapers and catching up on lots of TV.

About a month later, earlier this week, I found myself with similar symptoms, though not quite as severe. I knew the storm was brewing. I preemptively went to bed and tried the au natural route to healing. I felt awful passing along antibiotics to Eli the first go around and thought I may be able to avoid them this time since my symptoms were much more mild. Though after a day of trying and another really high fever, with the 2nd case of mastitis in a month, I decided I should go to my old ob/gyn nurse in Conyers.

Fearing the worse - (remember I hate drs. offices and hospitals and acknowledging I need them, I tried my best to talk Rob into taking me home from the hospital an hour before Eli was born and only went in the first place because he threatened to pick me up and put me in the truck himself. Can you imagine being picked up mid-contraction? PAIN!) - I imagined I had defective mastitis prone breasts that pooled milk and that they would have to stick me with needles. How could I continue to nurse Eli (painful, yet relieving though it was during the illness) knowing this could happen again, let alone nurse future babies if my lot was to get mastitis again and again?

Turns out it's very unlikely for one to be prone to mastitis. They think that the first antibiotic (Dicloxicillan, a narrow spectrum form of penicillin- which treats the most common form of the infection) was the wrong med for my case and I've actually been sick since late June just suppressing the illness enough to get by. Whew- I thought I was just especially pathetic and whiny the past couple weeks.

The new Rx seems to be working well and I'm thankful to be getting rid of this for good. I still feel guilty giving Eli trace amounts of the antibiotic but everyone's assured me that the amount is so minimal that it's perfectly safe. First time mom that I am though, every time he cries now I'm sure he's suffering from side effects from the drugs :( -- Hopefully this feeling passes in the next few days.

I got a lot of great information and support from a website on all kinds of nursing related issues, our bradley instructor/la leche league leader, and Rob's sweet parents who nursed me back to health during our supposed to be fun visit with them in June.