Baby in the Kitchen

Elias spends a lot of time with me in the kitchen.  Even as a baby he loves peering into the skillet and watching me stir an array of colorful veggies.  I’m hoping his early exposure to the preparation of fresh whole foods will instill in him some lifelong healthy habits.  Exposing kids to where their food comes from and how it’s prepared helps them to build a positive relationship with food.  I already know that as he gets older I’ll be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to helping him choose healthy whole foods over sweet and salty processed crap.  It’s because of this that I’m very deliberately trying to make cooking and meal time fun and enticing from the get go. 

Of course, cooking takes a lot longer this way!  I do a lot of carting him around while I cook one-handed and I also spend a lot of time on the floor at his level, chopping veggies while I talk to him about the colors and shapes and nutritive value of a particular food on the cutting board. 

Last night I threw together a stir fry and listed out to him each thing as it went into the pan.  “This is sesame seed oil.  This is garlic.  Here’s a little onion, and now some carrots, celery, and bok choy.”  Of course he’s too young now, but it won’t be long before he can take a more active role at meal time.  Listed below are some of the ways your kids can get involved in meal time too: 

Infants- 2 year olds will mostly be observing or grabbing for anything and everything you’re trying to prepare!  Talk to them about the things you’re doing and let them learn about textures by allowing them to grab and hold onto things that are safe.  Elias loves cucumbers and leaf lettuce this week.

2-3 year olds can rinse vegetables with your help and tear lettuce leaves for salads.  At this age continue to talk to them about the colors and shapes of the foods you’re preparing to make meal time more interesting for everyone. 

3-4 year olds will love mixing dry ingredients that you’ve measured out.  Try using cookbooks with lots of vibrant pictures and talk about the photos of food as you go.    

4-5 year olds will enjoy cracking eggs open and picking out the shell bits that may end up in the bowl as well!  They can open packages of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and add them to the dishes you’re preparing.

6-10 year olds will enjoy measuring out ingredients and filling the measuring cups themselves.  They’ll also want to mix ingredients together.  The older kids in this group can practice reading and math skills by preparing an easy and healthy meal from a recipe. 

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My baby drinks wine

I feel bad.  My 8 month old has been drinking wine and I haven’t stopped him.  I mean I’m not filling his sippy cup with it, but because I’ve been drinking wine in the evenings and I’m still breastfeeding he’s drinking nonetheless.  I’m not a huge drinker normally.  In fact, I spent the better part of my twenties never partaking in the stuff.  For a year and a half during college, I lived in France, a country known for its exquisite wines, and never even tasted a Bordeaux.  Having grown up with a strong family history of alcoholism I wanted to do as much as I possibly could when I was younger to prevent myself from going down that same path.  My shot at prevention seems to have worked so far because for the most part I can’t drink more than two glasses of wine at a time.  I like being relaxed.  I like being tipsy.  I don’t like being drunk.  I don’t like the headachy feeling I get the morning after the nights I go too far and drink, heaven forbid, a third glass.  Beer disgusts me and liquor does the same.  A glass of red wine though while I slice, simmer, and serve up dinner is divine.  I didn’t think I’d drink much wine during the breastfeeding months, but after a pregnancy permeated with an aversion for almost all things food related I was ready for sipping and savoring almost as soon as Elias popped out.  As I’ve entered back into the working world I’m even more excited for a glass of wine at the end of a day.  I don’t partake every evening, but partaking at all usually means Elias partakes too.   

I’ve done the reading and research.  I know I could wait 90 minutes after the last sip of wine to feed my baby and he’d be safe from the very low possibility of ill effects.  I always aim to make that happen, but the timing never seems to work out.  Last night I waited to start drinking until he went to sleep and then as I swallowed the last sip of my second glass he woke up.  I was able to distract him for fifteen minutes before he would wait no more.  I figured a tipsy baby was better than a hungry one?

When I was pregnant I complained a lot about the lack of coping mechanisms I could turn to in my state.  I couldn’t meditate because I fell asleep.  I couldn’t exercise (at least the way I wanted to) because it hurt and I couldn’t drink wine, because well we all know the risks inherent in that.  I am reminded all too often that some things aren’t all that different now that the baby is on the outside.  I wanted so much to change after pregnancy and yet I still can’t meditate without falling asleep or exercise without pain.  The wine brings with it a healthy dose of guilt some nights, but for now it’s what I got.    

I’m sure I’m not the only breastfeeding mom out there who drinks a glass of wine on occasion.  Do you also feel guilty?  Do you sometimes feel fed up with how much of what you do to your own body continues to affect your little one?

Eat Like Bebe

Elias at seven and a half months is eating solid foods.  He has been for several weeks and while I was in the kitchen washing, peeling, and pureeing veggies for him the other night I started to think about my own diet over the last year and a half.  I have been re-inspired to stop using breastfeeding as an excuse to eat a little more and stay a little heavier and move back toward the eating habits that serve my health.  Traditionally I have eaten a fairly diverse array of fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains and healthy fats but when morning sickness/all day sickness set in during pregnancy my diet went to hell in a hand basket and I can’t say that I’ve been super proactive in getting my old habits back.  During my first trimester all I could stomach was frozen pizza and thankfully I’ve at least given that up, but I have used breastfeeding as an excuse for far too many months to eat cake and lots of it!  I mean don’t breastfeeding women need extra calories to produce all that milk?  A breastfeeding mamma and a linebacker are similar in the sense that both need extra calories and lots of them.  Cake calories though are mostly empty in that they supply very little solid nutrition to either me or my growing baby.  I’ve known this and yet I’ve continued to splurge.

In looking down at the orange flesh of a sweet potato about to be fed to my baby I got to thinking that this is how my entire family should be eating.  We should all be partaking in lots of whole unprocessed, salt-free, sugar-free foods just like Elias and just like that the switch flipped and the cake was purged from my life.  Some of the things both myself and bebe are enjoying this week include a savory lentil stew made with creamy coconut milk, a beet and apple puree, and an herbed rice stuffed butternut squash.  I am eating lots of legumes, nuts and seeds as an add on to what Eli can eat as a seven month old, but we’re both enjoying our new menu immensely.  I have hardly missed the cake.

How about you?  Has it been a challenge to eat healthily as a new working mom?  What have you done to inspire yourself and your family to eat well?