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the newbie: Meals for Tots


By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

I always wondered why parents seem to carry around Goldfish and string cheese for snacking. I thought I’d be the one with healthy carrot sticks and avocados, which do make it into my bag sometimes but are usually eschewed for the above-mentioned crackers and cheese.

Snacking issues aside, at 18 months, I can’t complain too much about June’s eating habits. She generally will at least taste what we put in front of her, and she even likes things like whitefish and Indian food.

But truly, on most days it’s a struggle to get a vegetable onto her plate (they usually end up on the floor after a bit of head shaking and a dramatic hand thrust of “No!”). I’ve been trying the puree route and sneaking, for example, pureed cauliflower into her pasta sauce—she loves tomato sauce. And I’ve also had some luck with broccoli in her mac and cheese.

But then I’ll see an instagram photo of a friend’s baby chewing on a whole beet, and I’m like, “How does that happen?”

I’d love to hear about any favorite recipes—with puree tricks or without—that other parents use to get that balance of veggies into the day.

Anybody willing to share?


the newbie: Ditching the Bottle

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

At the 12-month visit our doctor advised us to move to full-time sippy cup usage and get rid of bottles. I was excited to stop washing out bottles and dealing with all the various parts involved—big step! As for the transition, I thought, “No problem!” June’s been drinking water from a sippy for months now, so I figured she’d be comfortable with it.

Boy, was I wrong.

When it comes to milk, this girl wants bottle, bottle, bottle. She throws the sippy cup with milk in it, refusing to drink. I’ve started giving her a big smoothie so she gets enough milk, but having her drink milk on its own is a real struggle without the “baba.”

I think she got dependant on the bottle as a comfort object, and I know we should break her of that, but it’s proving hard. I wonder if it’s just a matter of making bottles disappear altogether, or a gradual process…

Has anyone else handled this transition in a way that worked well?

the newbie: First Weekend Away!

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

My husband and I are attending a wedding later this month, and it’ll be the first time both of us are away from baby June for the weekend. She’s almost 13 months old now, and I know she’ll be fine… but there’s some nervous energy around this decision. That’s normal, right?

June’s nana, my own mom, is coming up to stay with her in our apartment, so she’ll not only be well cared for but she’ll also be in a familiar environment, her own bed, with her own chair and toys and sounds.

There’s a part of me that is so, so excited to get in the car, set out for a road trip, put my feet on the dash, turn on the tunes and fly free, baby-less for 48 hours! Imagine: going out for drinks and a fancy party without a care about when we’ll return, sleeping late in a hotel room, paying no mind to naptimes or rogue cheerios on the floor or whether all the outlets are babyproofed.

And then there’s another part of me that worries: Will she feel afraid without me or her dad there? Will she sleep well? Will she wake up and wonder where we are and if we’re coming back? Will she be hard for my mom to handle (she’s squirmy and heavier than when nana saw her last)?

I’m trying to picture bonding time, big smiles and laughs, grandparent love and rejuvenating moments between me and my husband. It’s all good… right?

If anyone has pointers to share about their first weekends away, let me know. I’m sure I’ll be checking in regularly… but hopefully I’ll enjoy the free time too!

the newbie: Feeding Time

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

Now that June is weaning herself a bit, we have fun trying out different types of meals and snacks. Scrambled eggs, strawberries and yogurt, sweet potatoes with spinach and carrots… these are all popular with the little one. We’ve even given her cod roe (a favorite of my husband) and puttanesca sauce—she slurps those down like a champ.

So while I’m happy with what she’s eating, I’m never really sure when to feed her. Usually, she gets a little bit cranky when she’s hungry, so it’s a good bet that a snack or a meal will pacify her. But I wonder if I should be keeping to more of a schedule with three bigger meals and a couple of snacks mixed in.

I haven’t read any of those newly popular French parenting books, but I’ve heard they have a lot to say about snacking and how American moms hand food over any time of day. I guess French parents do not. They sit down and dine consciously, and their children wait for mealtimes without fuss, at least on an ideal day.

I don’t want to get in the habit of shushing June with food, but I’m also not sure she’s ready for a rigorous meal schedule.

I wonder if any other moms have a routine that works? Let me know.

the newbie: I Need to Sleep Train Myself

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

I’m a night owl, always have been. Even in elementary school, I begged to stay up for late night talk shows. I liked to remain tucked in bed until after most of the Saturday morning cartoons were over, much to the chagrin of my sleepover friends. I was late to bed, late to rise! I would make a terrible farmer.

And now that I have a baby, this must change. I’ve made it through nearly 10 months of June’s life feeling sleep-deprived daily. Why? I still stay up until midnight, but now—instead of an 8am wakeup—we’re up at 6.

I know that some go-getters and CEOs and athletes and other super-driven types say that they don’t need much sleep, but let me make this clear: That is not the case for me. I need eight hours, preferably nine. Six is not in the realm of acceptable.

I thought that when I had a baby, my schedule would adjust. I’d fall asleep earlier and become one of those chipper, up-with-the-sun types. And yet… I can’t seem to put myself to bed at night. June doesn’t need sleep training—I do!

I’d love to hear any advice about how to shift my internal clock a bit. Are there any night-owls-turned-morning-birds out there?

the newbie: First Foods

By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

I’ll be honest: I had visions of feeding June the most natural, organic, good-for-you foods on the planet. I’d set myself up with tiny glass jars and blend healthy and delicious meals for her every craving. She would laugh and coo as she tried in-season fruits, brightly colored veggies and perfectly seasoned protein dishes!

The reality is that blending is boring, June doesn’t seem to like the foods I make very much, and those little packs of pureed organic foods? They’re incredibly convenient. June can feed herself with those! She’ll sit for an hour in a restaurant high chair as long as she has a packet to happily guzzle. It’s very freeing.

But… I feel bad. Shouldn’t I be making her food? Giving her a taste of what Mom and Dad are eating for dinner? Introducing something besides the puree texture, now that she’s 8 months old?

I’m not sure exactly what to give her, and she’s so happy with these packets. I’ll admit to being lazy: If it ain’t broke…

Still, I’m ready to move forward. Any suggestions for first non-pureed foods?

the newbie: Should I be teaching this baby something?
By Melissa Walker, who can also be found blogging at melissacwalker.com

I posted a while ago wondering what I should be doing with the long days that stretched out in front of me and June, and I got some great suggestions! Now that she’s 8 months old, the days are a lot more interactive and fun (park walks, singing, dozens of rounds of peekaboo…), but I’m wondering if I’m supposed to be doing educational activities with her. Like, should I be going over colors, shapes, sounds? Or… something?

Trust me, I’m not an intense “my baby must be super advanced” parent, I just don’t want to short-change her by always taking her on my errands and having her life fit into mine. A few things, I’d like to do for June.

I’d love to hear if there’s anything you guys did with your babies in that first year that you really loved. We have a music class once a week that makes her clap and coo, but that’s over soon and I’m looking for more options.