James at 7 Months

As of yesterday, out little guy is officially seven months…decidedly over the hill toward the one year mark ūüôĀ

It has been a challenging, but very fun month.  We got out to explore more than ever and spent tons of quality time with family, the best!  We also enjoyed some truly beautiful weather and spent many hours out in the sunshine.

Here’s a little bit about what life looks like with James at 7 months:

Eating

I was talking to a friend the other day and she told me her daughter (one month older than James) takes around an hour to eat, taking tiny bites.  I had to laugh because that is so opposite of James.  He shoves literally as much food as will fit into his mouth.  He eats enthusiastically for about 15 minutes and then is DONE.  He will start banging on the table and straining to get up.

He’s currently eating three times a day, but is sometimes not that into breakfast. ¬†Some days I feel like he eats almost as much as I do and some days he eats barely anything. ¬†I’m just following his lead on how much he wants.

His favorite foods right now seem to be sweet potatoes, pear, watermelon, and fried egg yolks. ¬†He does not seem to care much for lentils, but will eat some if they’re mixed with avocado or spread on sweet potato slices. ¬†I’m planning to make him pancakes this weekend, which I’m excited about! ¬†His meal times are still one of my favorite parts of the day.

Gross Motor

If I had to characterize this month in one word, it would be MOVEMENT.  James is not yet crawling, but he is 100% mobile and can roll across the room in a flash.

In addition to speed, he’s come a long way in being able to get to precisely where he wants to go.

He is an expert at pivoting his body so that he can roll in the desired direction. ¬†He still prefers to roll in one direction though (to his left if he’s on his back), but this doesn’t slow him down much.

I’m curious to see if he will actually crawl since he’s so mobile already with just rolling, I’m not sure if the motivation / need will be there.

He still resists sitting unless he’s at story time or something super interesting is happening in front of him (such as cars driving down the street….) ¬†He does fine sitting in his chair to eat though. ¬†I think he’s just more interested in being on the move these days.

Fine Motor

I will write more about baby led weaning soon, ¬†but one thing I love about it is the impact it’s had on James’s fine motor skills. ¬†His ability to use his fingers, rather than his whole hand, to pick things up has grown dramatically in the past month. ¬†If he sees a little piece of one of his favorite foods, he gets a look of intense concentration and uses his chubby little fingers to pick it up and bring it to his mouth, almost in slow motion. ¬†You can see all of the effort it takes. ¬†What could be more motivating than tasty food?

He is also more and more able to manipulate objects in his hands to get a desired part into his mouth (whether it’s food or not….)

Sleep

Sleep has definitely been a challenge this month. ¬†I honestly don’t have the energy to talk about it too much right now and my thoughts are all over the place. ¬†Suffice it to say we’re working on getting naps back to a reasonable length (he’s actually taking a nice long one as I type, hooray!).

We’re also working with helping James fall asleep now that he’s realized he can¬†get out of his floor bed. ¬†This just started this week so we’re still adjusting to this and figuring out the best strategy. ¬†I will definitely post a floor bed update once we figure out what works best for him and our family.

Personality

Seven words for seven months: joyful, energetic, curious, independent, friendly, determined, loved.

I know I mentioned that James went through a couple of weeks of feeling really grumpy, but thankfully he is back to his happy self.  At the time, I thought his mood was due to short naps, but he is so happy again even though his naps are often still short.  I now think it was likely due to all of the developmental leaps and changes he was going through (becoming mobile and learning to eat solid foods mainly).  Change makes me grumpy too; I get it little dude.

He has been really cheerful the last couple of weeks though and this age is equally sweet and hilarious.

He loves being outside, playing silly games with his Dad, and EXPLORING.  He likes toys, but I think he likes exploring the house just as much, which I love.  He also likes sneezing Рhe always gets a big smile on his face after he sneezes, which I find hilarious.

He went in a baby swing for the first time the other day and LOVED it.  He was laughing and smiling so big.

He also loves story time. ¬†I originally started going to story time at the library mainly for myself, to meet other moms with babies, but he now gets so excited when we’re there, grinning with his signature tongue-out smile the whole time. ¬†He seems to like going out in general more than he used to, as long as he can move around some while we’re out and not be cooped up in a carrier or stroller the whole time. ¬†It has been so nice to get out more this month.

James used to sometimes burst into tears if a stranger came over or if he was surrounded by too many people, but he has been so friendly lately. ¬†He gives huge smiles to strangers we see when we’re out and talks up a storm.

Speaking of talking, he has started saying “mama”. ¬†I honestly have no idea if he’s using this to refer to me though, or just saying the sounds, so I’m not sure if this counts as his first word? ¬†How can I tell?

He also continues to love bath time, and for some reason, particularly loves the time right after he gets out of the bath and before he gets ready for bed. ¬†He becomes giddy and ridiculously happy at this time, but still easily settles down when it’s time for bed.

It has been so much fun to see his big personality emerge more and more this month. ¬†I’m excited to see what the next month brings!

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Day in the Life – 6.5 Months

Good morning! ¬†It’s hard for me to believe that another month has gone by, but indeed it has, and lots has changed as James has become so much more mobile and gotten really into eating solid food. ¬†This was our day yesterday.

We’ve been working with James on sleeping “through the night” lately. ¬†I suppose you could call it mild sleep training, but I honestly hate the word “training” in reference to children.

He was going to bed on his own just fine, but had started waking up habitually at 9-10, and sometimes other times, wanting to nurse or be soothed back to sleep. ¬†I knew he wasn’t really hungry because when he sometimes went back to sleep with just a little soothing, he woke up many hours later happy and playing.

Last night, he did pretty well!  He woke up once at around 2:45 and started scooting out of bed.  I admit I love watching him doing this on the monitor Рit is both entertaining and kind of amazing to watch.  I went in and moved him back into the middle of his bed and he cried for maybe 2 minutes.  He sucked his thumb and kicked the wall for a while, not fussing, and fell back asleep.  He woke up again at 5:20.  I fed him and he went back to sleep.

I ate breakfast, read blogs, and worked on some bachelorette party planning for my sister (so excited!).  I often workout during this time, but wanted to run on my treadmill today and all of my stuff was in with my sleeping husband, so I decided to wait until nap time.

James woke up right at 7:00, which is great because, according to Dr. Weissbluth (more on that on Friday), children waking up at the same time every day helps their overall sleep. ¬†James seems to naturally wake up around 7 most days, so we’re shooting for that.

He is so happy when I go in.  One thing I love about his floor bed is that I can lay next to him and snuggle in the morning.  I get him up, change his diaper, and get him dressed for the day.

We then go out to the backyard to “greet the world”. ¬†There are lots of interesting bird noises this morning and little snails out from yesterday’s rain. ¬†It’s fun to see him start to notice smaller things like bugs and snails. ¬†He was intent on trying to pet a tiny spider on its web the other day.

We go in to say good morning to his Dad, but James is more in the mood to roll around so we soon give up on morning cuddle time and go play in his room. ¬†He chooses his elephant shaker off of his shelf. ¬†He also bumps his head on his shelf, which he doesn’t seem to care about, but it leaves a red mark that makes me sad.

He starts sounding grumpy so I nurse him, which cheers him up.

I then put him down to play in the living room while I make his breakfast. ¬†I heat up his leftover oatmeal with banana from yesterday and fry a couple of egg yolks in avocado oil. ¬†I cut the egg into strips so he can easily eat it. ¬†He ate a lot more than what’s on his place mat, but I give him a little at a time so it doesn’t all wind up on the floor.

He is playing happily by himself, so I leave him alone while his breakfast cools off. ¬†I quickly change into my running clothes and get the treadmill set up so I can take full advantage of his likely short nap. ¬†He is still happy by himself so I load the dishwasher. ¬†I really try not to interrupt him when he’s busy playing because I want to encourage his concentration and his ability to entertain himself.

Eventually I interrupt him because we’re running out of time for him to eat breakfast before he naps.

He was much more into the oatmeal today than he has been in the past and is getting so good with his spoon.

He’s gotten much more stable in his little chair, so I can sit across from him now and eat with him sometimes, which is really nice.

Mealtime is fun and messy as usual. ¬†I place him on a blanket nearby while I clean up and talk to him about what I’m doing (washing his place mat, putting the extra food away, etc.) so that he at least starts to become aware of the process.

James is yawning by the time I finish cleaning up so I get him ready for a nap, sing him a song, and place him in his bed a few minutes after 9:00 AM.  He falls asleep within five minutes and I book it to the garage for a treadmill run.  I bring the monitor in case he wakes up.

I run three miles at a quick for me pace (8:10 minute miles, though my speed was all over the place). ¬†I was getting tired in the last mile, but my desire to have time for a shower kept me motivated. ¬†I watched Lilo and Stitch on Netflix while I ran because I haven’t seen it and I’m basically a five year old inside.

I rushed through the run and the shower and then realized James was still asleep, woohoo! ¬†Way to go little buddy. ¬†I’m so happy he is taking a real nap, not just 35 minutes, so he will be rested. ¬†I finish booking the place for my sister’s bachelorette. ¬†It is a house / B&B in the Texas wine country and has alpaccas…I’m pretty excited about it. ¬†I then work on this post – a fun and productive morning so far!

James wakes up a little after 10:30, an hour and twenty minute nap, which is great for him lately.

We sing songs and play in the mirror for a bit before I nurse him. ¬†Then we’re off for a walk! ¬†It looked like rain this morning, but the sun came out and it is a beautiful day.

We walk for a little under an hour.  James starts mildly protesting after about 40 minutes so I book it home as fast as I can.

When we get home, James plays and rolls around the living room.  I sit by him and fold laundry.  He decides to come help and laundry turns into peekaboo.  Fine by me.  After a while, James starts getting sleepy eyes and goes down for nap # 2 around 1:00 PM.  He falls asleep quickly and without much protest.

I eat a quick lunch while he naps and start to do some cleaning. ¬†I don’t get much done though because James takes an exceptionally short 30 minute nap. ¬†I’m not too surprised because I noticed he had fallen asleep on his arm in a way that didn’t look too comfortable.

I go to greet him and we go sit in the backyard in the sunshine for a little while. ¬†At times like this I feel so, so thankful that I get to stay home with him. ¬†It’s so nice to just be together outside on a Tuesday afternoon.

Eventually we go in and I nurse him.  We read a few stories from the Bible I got him for Easter and he plays in his room.

After a while, I bring him to his little chair for a late lunch of sweet potatoes, which he loves. ¬†I roasted them in lots of avocado oil and turmeric. ¬†He really loves sweet potatoes and is good at eating them, so I try to load them up with some extra goodness. ¬†Turmeric is the first spice I’ve introduced since it’s so mild and has so many health benefits. ¬†I’ll probably try ginger and garlic next.

He eats seven sweet potato rounds – looks like I’ll need to go back to the grocery store for more sweet potatoes tomorrow! ¬†He can’t get enough.

Cleanup is relatively easy because very little sweet potato made it onto the floor.

I place James on a large blanket in the living room with a couple of toys, but he often seems more interested in exploring the house than toys these days.

Eventually it is time for his last nap of the day.  Some days he only takes two naps, but since his second one was so short, he took three today.

This nap was also short, about twenty minutes I think? ¬†This was strange because James’s short naps are almost always 35 minutes to the minute, so I don’t know what was going on today.

Regardless, he got up, I nursed him and he played some more in his room.  Soon my husband got home and played with him until it was time for dinner.

James had avocado (he ate almost half of a pretty big avocado) and pear slices. ¬†He eats dinner around 5 and we’re not usually ready to eat that early so we sometimes compromise and sit with him and eat a salad so it’s more of a family meal.

After dinner, James played a little more and then took a bath.  He is so cute and curious in the bathtub.  He likes splashing in the water, but also really wants to explore the surrounding area.

After bath time, I nursed him again, gave him a massage, and my husband read him Goodnight Moon. ¬†I sang him a song and put him in his bed. ¬†He didn’t protest at all and fell asleep in about ten minutes.

We had leftover falafel (frozen from Trader Joes – I highly recommend it!) for dinner, so I didn’t need to cook anything. ¬†As I mentioned, the last couple of weeks were a little rough, but so far, this is shaping up to be a great one!

What was the best part of your day yesterday?

 

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Independence Day

A couple of days ago, James made such major moves toward independence that I felt like he was about to head off for college.  I kid, sort if, but I really was amazed!

The first was at story time at the library, which we go to every Thursday afternoon. ¬†For a little background, I first took James to story time when he was four months old. ¬†He sat in my lap the whole time, completely silent and almost completely still. ¬†He seemed stunned. ¬†He is often like this when he is in a new situation – he doesn’t act scared or cry, but is super serious and just takes it all in.

Over the weeks, he’s become increasingly active at story time, bouncing and squealing and reaching out to touch other babies. ¬†This past thursday though, he went off to play by himself for the first time.

After songs and the story, the librarian puts out a bunch of toys and blows bubbles. ¬†I set James down in front of me and after a minute, he rolled off to the middle of the room to check out some scarves and go see the librarian. ¬†I realize this probably seems like a super minor event, but I felt so proud of his independence! ¬†I was happy to see him feeling so comfortable on his own, even when a much older baby came over and started messing with his feet (lol). ¬†I honestly also was a little sad though…I know this was only the first of many steps of him moving away from me.

Later that day, he made another bold move and chose something off of his toy shelf by himself for the first time!

He was playing with a ball on the big rug in his room. ¬†He lost interest in the ball and started to roll around. ¬†He then rolled right over to his toy shelf, surveyed the options, and chose one! ¬†He chose an¬†empty tray, which I suppose makes sense since it was the only thing on the shelf he hadn’t played with before.

Since then, he’s been going to choose his own toys. ¬†He isn’t crawling yet, but has become quite expert at pivoting so he can role in a specific direction to get where he wants to go. ¬†There’s no stopping him now! ¬†He even put a toy he was done with back on the shelf a couple of times, though I know this was likely just coincidence and not an innate sense of tidiness at six months ūüôā

James also showed his newfound independence in one less desirable, though hilarious, way. ¬†One night at about 3:30 AM, he got out of his floor bed (he doesn’t roll out, but lies on his back and very slowly and carefully scooches out, pushing with his feet), rolled across the room and started banging on the door. ¬†It was pretty funny…as long as it doesn’t become a regular thing. ¬†We shall see….

Were you independent as a child?

I think I was in some ways, but I’ve also always been pretty shy and tentative in new situations.

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Montessori Peace Education and Babies

Montessori is not just a method of education, it is a philosophy and a way of being, and peace is at its very core.  Maria Montessori lived during a time of war and turmoil and she viewed children as the hope for the future.  Thus, peace education was and is an extremely important part of Montessori.

When I think about peace, I picture concentric circles with peace radiating outward. ¬†It all begins with inner peace, peace with one’s self. ¬†Then comes peaceful interactions with people you know. ¬†Global peace, or a peaceful outlook toward other countries and cultures and humankind, follows.

This may seem like a lofty topic for babies, but how could it ever be too early to incorporate something so essential?  The early months and years are when a person forms his sense of self, who he is going to be.  What better time could there be to think about peace?

With that in mind, I’ve been trying to incorporate some peace “activities” into our routine. ¬†I really believe that so much of this comes from modeling – children watch how we treat people at the grocery store, they listen to how we talk about people when they’re not there, and they sense how we feel about “others,” or people outside of our own culture. ¬†Still, I think there are some things we can do to intentionally incorporate peace as well.

Cultivate Silence

This may seem impossible with young children, but if you catch them in the right frame of mind, it can be beautiful.  I feel like people often think of children as silly and playful, which they certainly can be, but they also have such deep, beautiful souls if you give them the chance to show you.

In the Montessori classroom,¬†children play the “silence game”. ¬†This is NOT like when an adult challenges a rowdy child to be silent for as long as possible. ¬†The thing about the silence game is you have to catch a child when they can succeed. ¬†If you asked me to be silent when I was in the middle of excitedly telling you something…or right after my second cup of coffee, I would fail too.

But if you notice when a child is already calm and peaceful, you can stretch this and cultivate that sense of peace by sitting in silence.  In the classroom, we would sometimes use a candle or an hourglass timer to mark the game.  We would also sometimes play it while sitting outside and then talk about the sounds we heard.

Obviously this looks different with a baby, but I like to take James outside and sit in silence when he is peaceful. ¬†Often we do this first thing in the morning. ¬†He will eventually start to babble and then we sing songs or talk about what we see outside, but I want him to know that it’s also okay to just be still, to sit without words.

Use Peaceful Language

To encourage peaceful interactions with others at this stage, I just try to use peaceful language. ¬†I know that he’s always watching and listening and I strongly believe that he will pick up more from watching us interact in the world than from us telling him to “play nicely” when he’s older. ¬†I also talk to him about being “gentle” when he reaches out to touch his baby friend (or tries to roll right into her…) ¬†I have no idea how much of this he understands right now, but I figure it’s never to early to start.

Explore Other Cultures

This is a fun one!  I think familiarity with other cultures is a big part of avoiding prejudice.  Some of my favorite memories of attending Montessori preschool as a child are of celebrating holidays from other cultures Рexploring their dress, trying their foods, and listening to stories and songs from other countries.

With James, I’m loving the book Global Babies right now. ¬†It shows babies from countries around the world and talks about how they are all beautiful and loved. ¬†He likes looking at the pictures of different types of faces. ¬†I also try to sing peaceful songs with him and look forward to introducing him to foods from different cultures as he continues his journey with solid foods.

For older children, Same, Same but Different is an excellent book.  I also remember loving this book when I was a child and hope to do more things to celebrate different cultural holidays as James gets older and becomes more aware.

These are just a few easy things we try to incorporate into daily life.  Hopefully we can do more as he gets older!

Were you exposed to different cultures as a child?

If you have children, do you have any tips for incorporating peace / any book ideas?

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Weekend Highlight – Adventures with Watermelon

A lot of our weekend was spent at home, which was nice, but you probably don’t want to see photos of us lounging on the couch or playing on the floor ūüôā

We did get out on Saturday for something really fun though. ¬†My husband’s company had a “family day” event. ¬†Their offices are in a series of old houses in a great Austin neighborhood, so the event was held in the front yards. ¬†There was a summer camp theme and it was super cute. ¬†They had a rock climbing wall for the older kids, a gourmet hot dog food truck, a smores station where you could roast marshmallows, crafts, etc. ¬†There was also a photographer, so I’m excited to see his pictures of James soon.

We had such a nice time chatting with everyone, introducing little James, and meeting others’ children. ¬†James saw another baby, got the funniest surprised look, and insisted on reaching out to touch her. ¬†She did not seem pleased. ¬†I thought his look of surprise was funny since he sees lots of babies at story time every week, but I suppose it was out of context and he wasn’t expecting it. ¬†I imagine him saying, “Oh look! ¬†One of my people is here. ¬†Thank goodness, I thought I was alone.”

When we were sitting down to eat, we noticed someone with watermelon and looked at each other. ¬†I hadn’t thought of watermelon when brainstorming first foods for James, but it’s easy to hold, easy to eat (this one was seedless), so why not?!

I think it’s safe to say that this was James’s favorite food so far (although he seems to really like broccoli too). ¬†Usually he’ll explore the food for a little while and eat some, but then be decidedly done and ready to move on. ¬†With the watermelon, he clutched it tightly, protecting it, and ate almost the whole big slice! ¬†I was amazed. ¬†One of the guys at the party mentioned that cold watermelon is great once they start teething, so I’m going to keep that in mind as well.

We are still very early in the process, but so far, are loving baby led weaning! ¬†It’s so fun to be able to make James healthy meals at home, but also see him enjoying impromptu treats when we’re out and about, just part of the family enjoying a party on a Saturday afternoon.

 

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Baby Led Weaning – The Beginning

Last Saturday, we began the journey of solid foods for James. ¬†This was something I had been looking forward to all month and it was just as fun / entertaining as I thought it would be! ¬†After reading a lot about it, we decided to try “baby led weaning” (BLW) where you basically skip spoon feeding baby purees and go straight to finger foods, allowing them to feed themselves.

When I was researching and trying to decide whether to try BLW, I loved reading specific examples of how different families did it. ¬†I found a lot of the information out there to be theoretical and vague, and this type A mama wanted specifics. ¬†So I wanted to share our BLW journey as we go along, in case it’s helpful to anyone else.

As a disclaimer, if BLW¬†doesn’t work for us, I’ll definitely try something different. ¬†I’m open to everything at this point!

The Chair

Are you familiar with weaning tables / cube chairs?  They are baby sized chairs and tables, low to the ground, that can be used instead of high chairs.  They allow baby to sit close to the ground and use furniture that is just his size (a big thing in Montessori).

Also, when baby is a little older, he can get in and out of the chair independently. ¬†I think this is great practice for staying seated during a meal. ¬†Using a table low to the ground can also be a lot less messy because if baby drops (or throws…) food off of the table, it doesn’t go as far as if it were dropped from a great height. ¬†Physics, my friends.

For all of these reasons, I really wanted a cube chair.  I almost ordered this one off of Etsy.  But we decided we also wanted a high chair, because I think family dinners are important and I want James to be able to join us at the table for dinner.  I plan to use the cube chair for breakfast and lunch and the high chair for dinner.  Since we were getting both, I was hesitant to spend too much on a cube chair.

After a lot of indecision (story of my life), we made it to this past weekend with neither a cube chair or a high chair. ¬†Whoops. ¬†We had been planning to go to Ikea Saturday morning to get a high chair ($15 and I’ve read good reviews!), but I thankfully checked their website before we went and saw that it was out of stock at our store. ¬†I’m glad I checked because Ikea is quite far from us. ¬†I ordered the high chair, but it won’t arrive until April 4.

After looking forward to this all month, I really didn’t want to wait an extra week, so what to do? ¬†Enter my husband, saving the day once again ūüôā ¬†He is an excellent creative problem solver and can always seem to make what we need from what we have.

He quickly made James a little table and chair like it was no big deal. ¬†We had an old Ikea table and he sawed the legs off to make it 11 inches tall. ¬†He then followed this tutorial to build James a little cube chair. ¬†I love it all the more knowing he made it for little James. ¬†I read that you can use beeswax and coconut oil as a natural wood finish, so I just need to find some beeswax to coat it with and we’re good to go! ¬†At this point, James is just as interested in licking the chair as he is in tasting the food, so we definitely need a safe, natural finish.

The Set-up

As my friend Natalie writes about beautifully¬†here, grace and courtesy is a huge part of Montessori. ¬†One small part of this is mealtimes. ¬†In Montessori, meal time is a lovely ritual where set-up, clean-up, and conversation are all just as important as the food. ¬†I’m trying to keep this in mind from the beginning.

One part of Montessori mealtime is using real dishes, even for babies. ¬†I do plan to do this with James, but wanted to introduce the food first so he’s not too distracted by the plate, etc. ¬†We’re using this place mat. ¬†I like that it’s white because the food really stands out. ¬†It’s also large and stays in place well. ¬†I have also used a ramekin when I gave him mashed sweet potatoes and it worked well. ¬†We’re using a little shot glass for water, which may sound funny, but they’re the perfect size and are thick, so less likely to break if dropped. ¬†Using real dishes (e.g., small glasses instead of sippy cups) helps the child learn control of movement – they know that if they drop it, the water will spill, which is hard to learn from spill-proof cups.

I also place a little sponge in the top left corner for spills and a wash cloth to wash his hands before he eats….and his entire body after he’s done. ¬†I want to involve him in the clean up as much as possible from the start to show him it is part of the process. ¬†Right now, that looks like keeping him at the table while I wipe it and say “when we’re done eating, we wipe the table”.

I was tempted to add fresh flowers to the table, but decided it would just be a distraction at this point. ¬†Let’s face it, he would probably want to eat them. ¬†I definitely plan to do this once¬†he’s in the groove with eating though.

I want to sit across from him to make it more like a normal meal time and to help demonstrate how to hold and eat the food, but at this point, James needs some support as he gets used to his chair so I’m sitting next to him. ¬†He sometimes gets tired of sitting in the chair and winds up in my lap. ¬†He’s already looking more comfortable in there after a few days of practice though.

As soon as he can stay in his chair¬†safely and comfortably, I’ll sit across from him and set a place for myself to eat with him. ¬†I really think practicing the mealtime ritual is just as important as the food, especially in our rushed culture where “lunch” is often a granola bar in the car for many adults. (Not judging…this is definitely me some days).

The Food

After scouring the internet and talking to our pediatrician, it seems like you can start with almost any food, assuming your child has no medical conditions and allergies don’t run in your family (most previous restrictions have been lifted, apart from salt, honey, and cow’s milk). ¬†With BLW, you just want to begin with something that will be relatively easy for baby to hold, and something that will be gentle on their digestive system.

We decided to start with avocado. ¬†I liked that I wouldn’t need to cook the avocado, so didn’t have to worry about getting it the right consistency before giving it him. ¬†While I’ve read that choking is no more common with BLW than with purees, I’m still a little paranoid and avocado seemed very low risk due to it’s squishiness. ¬†That’s a technical term.

So far, he’s¬†tried avocado, roasted sweet potato, and pear. ¬†I plan to offer steamed¬†broccoli next.

For the avocado, we simply sliced it and put it on his place mat. ¬†For the sweet potato, I’ve given him roasted strips (french fry sized), and also mashed sweet potato.

For the mashed, we tried “loaded spoons”. ¬†This is where you put a little on the spoon and put the spoon on the table for baby to use if he wants. ¬†I also put a ramekin with a little mashed sweet potato on the table. ¬†He used the spoon and also ate some with his hands. ¬†I was pleasantly surprised with how successful he was with the spoon! ¬†I plan to use loaded spoons for foods that adults would eat with a spoon – so yes to oatmeal, apple sauce, mashed potatoes, no to pureed chicken. ¬†That’s just my personal preference and could certainly change depending on how things go! ¬†I like the idea of him getting used to using utensils though, where appropriate.

For the pear, I gave him about 1/4 of a very ripe pear, with the peel on.  This may have been his favorite so far.

It was a little slippery, but he tried different strategies for getting it into his mouth, including holding it on the table and bending down to suck on it.

I was surprised by how much of the pear was gone when he was through!

The Experience

James had the funniest strategy for eating the first time we gave him avocado, it took me by surprise.  Obviously avocado slices are slippery and hard to pick up.  I thought he would just squish them and lick them off of his hands, which he did some.

He also though bent his head down to the table and sucked up the avocado like a little vacuum cleaner…it was quite entertaining and surprisingly successful!

He tried this same strategy with the sweet potato strips though with less success.  He could pick up the sweet potato strips, but had some difficulty getting them in his mouth.  I may have cut them too thin due to my fear of him choking.  I also got a crinkle cutter to make the pieces easier to hold and totally forgot to use it.  Next time.

He wound up holding one while he sucked his thumb several times. ¬†He honestly didn’t seem too pleased with the experience when he did get one in his mouth, but I have a feeling that will change with a little more practice.

I look forward to his meal times each day and I must say, it’s actually been less messy than I was expecting. ¬†Of course, he gets covered with food, but it’s easy to wipe him off with a wash cloth. ¬†Some gets on the floor, but we pick it up as we go and its no big deal.

Resources

I found Brittany’s¬†post¬†and others on her site to be one of the most helpful resources. ¬†She goes into the practical details that I found were missing on many sites, like what shapes to cut the food in and how big.

I also purchased this BLW recipe¬†book. ¬†From the reviews, this cookbook sounded way more useful than their introductory book which it sounds like is mainly theory / the benefits of BLW. ¬†We’re starting with one food at a time, so I haven’t used any of the recipes yet, but they look great! ¬†There is a lot of variety and recipes from different cultures, which I love.

I also found this post¬†comparing the Montessori approach to eating with baby led weaning. ¬†I read this after we already started, but it looks like we’re doing sort of a hybrid.

I plan to post updates on BLW and how it works for us. ¬†I’m curious to see what foods James will like and to experiment with new recipes. ¬†So far, we’re having a ton of fun with this new adventure!

Did you / would you try baby led weaning?

Were you a picky eater as a child or more adventurous?

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James at 6 Months

I have all sorts of thoughts and feelings about the six month mark. ¬†I can be overly sentimental and six months sounds SO old to me right now. ¬†Halfway to a year. ¬†Is one year the end of babyhood? ¬†I’m not sure, but it sounds dangerously close….

I must say though, it has been a wonderful month. ¬†We’ve gone on lots of little adventures and also had¬†many quiet days at home and in the backyard. ¬†Now that it’s so much easier to get out of the house, I really enjoy the days we spend at home too.

Before we had kids, I told my husband I thought six months was the cutest age for babies, and I must say, it’s pretty darn adorable.

Enough sappiness though.  What has James been up to?

Stats:

Weight: 17 lb 10 oz (53rd percentile)

Height: 27 1/2 inches (85th percentile)

Head circumference: 44.6 cm (85th percentile)

It always makes me laugh when the doctor says he’s a “long and lean” baby…his thighs! ¬†This is actually the highest his weight percentile has ever been though, so that made me happy.

EATING!

More on this soon, but we gave James his first solid food last weekend.

We went with avocado for his first food and it was…messy. ¬†So much fun though. ¬†My sister was in town for the occasion, which made it extra special.

He’s been grabbing for my food the last few weeks and he really seemed to enjoy having some of his own.

Gross Motor

How I found him in the morning….

James is still all about learning to move. ¬†He can quickly roll across the room now and also spends lots of time on his tummy “air swimming” and getting frustrated that it’s not getting him anywhere.

He’s been a proficient roller for quite a while, but I feel like he just realized that he could use rolling to move around the room and get where he wants to go. ¬†There is no stopping him now!

On that note, does anyone have a natural floor cleaner they love?

I’ve seen the most change this month in his ability to bear weight on his legs while we hold him. ¬†This kid is ALL about bouncing. ¬†Bouncing while we hold him up is his number one hobby (in conjunction with spitting…). ¬†It is his happy place. ¬†He gets the biggest grin and sometimes sticks his tongue out while he bounces up and down. ¬†It’s pretty great.

He is not, however, very interested in sitting up. ¬†When I sit him up to practice, he’ll often rock back and forth, trying to scoot, as if to say, “this surely must get me somewhere, or why would mom insist that I try it?” ¬†Sometimes he’ll just¬†bend down and suck on his toes lol.

Lately though, he often lunges back or to the side as soon as I sit him up, clearly making his opinion on sitting known.

The exception to this is when we’re at story time, where he easily sits by himself. ¬†He once sat up for like twenty minutes there, I was shocked. ¬†I think it’s because he was busy watching and listening, and so was not jerking around trying to move. ¬†I try to mimic this by sitting him in front of the mirror so he has something interesting to look at, which sometimes works briefly, but he’s really not that into it. ¬†I suspect that as soon as he’s interested, he’ll be able to sit unassisted no problem.

Fine Motor

James now passes objects back and forth between his hands. ¬†He’s also able to pick something up and rearrange the way he’s holding it to get the desired part in his mouth. ¬†It amazes me to watch his little hands at work when it seems so recent that all he could do was ball them up in little fists.

Personality

James is so happy and funny!  He cracks me up every day.  He is a little scientist, so eager to explore his world.

He takes solid naps more often than not, but hangs in there really well if we’re occasionally off schedule when we’re traveling or have a busy day.

He loves being sung to, playing with scarves, looking in the mirror, and playing games like peekaboo or making silly faces together. ¬†He also tolerates long walks on the beach..er around the neighborhood, which has been great since I love to walk and to be outside. ¬†I worry that it’s already getting hot for long walks though; he’s so warm when I take him out of the stroller!

He has a little baby friend from the library and they are so cute together. ¬†They don’t interact too much, but he definitely seems to recognize her and they reach out to touch each other and smile at each other. ¬†It makes me happy to see him with a little buddy.

He is super chatty when we arrive home after going somewhere new. ¬†He’s often silent when we’re out, just taking it all in, but then he tells me all about it when we get home.

Things I Want to Remember

How he gives me the biggest smile when I go in to greet him in the morning.

How he goes about life with his tongue sticking out, hoping to taste something interesting.

How he sleeps in the strangest position with his little butt in the air.

How he grabs my nose while he’s nursing¬†or while I’m singing to him before a nap (LOL).

How soft his skin is.

How he grabs his belly rolls in the bathtub.

How he looks in the smallest little swimsuit I’ve ever seen.

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Baby Books About Food

You guys, my mom is just the best. ¬†Seriously, if you knew her, you’d agree.

When I went to Houston¬†recently she had the best gift for baby James. ¬†She read in my post about preparing James for solid food that I was looking for some baby books about food. ¬†I use the term “looking” loosely, as what I was really doing was wishing I had some and doing nothing about it.

She gave us four beautiful books about food / eating and we have been loving them.

I’ll start with the best one. ¬†During a particularly busy week where she had parent teacher conferences until 6PM every night (and she gets to school at 7 AM…), my Mom went to Whole Foods after work to get some beautiful produce, went home and photographed it, and made the most beautiful book on Shutterfly.

Again, this is something I’d mentioned wanting to do, but I was clearly not actually making it happen.

This is the best book, not only because it is homemade, but because the images are clear and vibrant against a white background, the best for baby to see.  It only has one food per page, which I think is ideal for a baby.  It is simple and full of foods he is likely to eat in the early days.  I also like that it is large enough that I can prop it open to a certain page if he seems particularly interested in a specific image.

Next up is Eating the Rainbow. ¬†This one shows different babies and toddlers from around the world eating a variety of foods. ¬†I love this one because it combines babies’ interest in faces with their interest in food.

Eating the Alphabet is slightly more “advanced” I would say. ¬†It has beautiful illustrated images of food. ¬†One thing that’s great about this book is that it includes familiar foods as well as more exotic ones like kohlrabi, figs, and persimmons.

I actually think it would be super fun to use this book for a scavenger hunt of sorts with a toddler / young child. ¬†You could choose a few new foods to try each week and search for them at the farmers’ market or grocery store. ¬†Hey, I think I’d even enjoy that!

Lastly, she gave us My First abc, which is not strictly about food, but includes many images of different foods as well as other every day objects.

I’ve already had so much fun with these new books and I see us enjoying them for years to come. ¬†Thanks Mom!

Do you enjoy books about food?

I personally love looking through beautiful cookbooks, a hobby I definitely got from my Mom.

Do you know of any other great children’s books about food?

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Montessori Baby – What’s on James’s Shelf?

Good morning!

I wanted to share an update on James’s nursery today. ¬†I set up his toy shelf before he was born, but it was really just for looks in the first few months. ¬†In the last month or so though, James has been much more interested in toys.

He is all about using his hands and bringing things to his mouth these days. ¬†Now that he actually plays with the toys on his shelf, I try to rotate a few of them at the beginning of each week. ¬†Here’s a snapshot of what’s on his shelf now at five and a half months.

As a side note, Montessori has a big emphasis on using natural materials and I hope to collect some small baskets and wooden trays to hold his toys. ¬†In the meantime I’m using these colorful boxes my Mom had from Birchbox. ¬†I got the idea to use these as storage from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

This basket of books is the newest addition to his shelf and I am absolutely loving it. ¬†There is a closet with built-in shelves right outside James’s room and we keep his books there. ¬†However, I’ve been remembering to read to him a lot more now that there are a few right there on his shelf. ¬†I rotate these each week, except for Goodnight Moon, which is a permanent staple as we read it each night before bed. ¬†This basket is right next to the glider so it is super easy to sit with him there and choose a book to read.

Gund Fuzzy Frog

This has a special place in my heart because I spent way too long browsing stuffed animals and trying to pick the perfect one for him while I was pregnant. ¬†He does not yet show any particular attachment to a stuffed animal, but he does seem to enjoy reaching for them and “wrestling” them.

Crochet Vegetable Rattles

I love these because I think they’re adorable, but I also like that each one offers a different way to grip and a different level of challenge. ¬†For instance, James could grasp the mushroom right away when we gave him these at 3 months old, but the tomato and radish are more difficult.

This Etsy shop has some other really beautiful wooden and crochet toys as well.

Montessori Grasping Toys

These are classic Montessori baby toys, gifted to me by the head of school where I taught.  The one with two discs is great for passing back and forth from hand to hand and James loves to hold the one with wooden beads and work one of the beads into his mouth.

Haba Rainbow Clutching Toy

This seems to be one of James’s favorites.

It is easy to grasp, but also interesting as it bends and has lots of fun colors.  I love Haba toys in general.

Haba Rainbow Ball

Another Haba favorite.  I love this ball because it has lots of interesting textures and colors.  It also rolls away, but not too far, so James can still see it and reach for it.

When James is a little older and can crawl over to the shelf by himself, I will likely have fewer items on each tray (for instance, one or two vegetable rattles instead of all of them). ¬†At this point though, I’m just bringing him the toys, so I can bring him one at a time.

If you have children, do you have any baby toys you recommend?

Are you more of a minimalist or do you like to fill your house with many things you love?

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Day in the Life – 5.5 Months

Good morning! ¬†I hope you’ve had a great week and are looking forward to something fun this weekend. ¬†I’m hoping to do a day in the life post once a month, so I can remember what life was like at each little stage. ¬†This was our day on Tuesday.

I woke up at 5:20.  James was squirming, but not crying or anything.  I fed him so that he would go back to sleep for a little longer.  He stayed half asleep while he ate and then went back to bed.

While he slept, I ate breakfast, drank coffee, and then did a 30 minute Barre3 workout (<- referral link). ¬†One thing I like about Barre3 is that you can select a whole workout, or just choose 10 minute segments, so I don’t have to worry about him waking up and needing me in the middle of the workout. ¬†This time I did get to finish the whole thing though and it felt great! ¬†I don’t always feel like doing it, but I feel so much better when I get a workout in first thing in the morning.

James started squirming again at 6:59 – perfect timing. ¬†I feel like it works best when he wakes up around 7. ¬†When he wakes up earlier, he’s still super sleepy all morning and when he wakes up much later, he doesn’t take good naps. ¬†I give him some time to wake up while I unload and load the dishwasher.

I used to go in immediately when I heard him, but have started trying to give him at least ten minutes or so to wake up first. ¬†He almost always wakes up in a happy mood in the morning and rolls around and talks to himself. ¬†I hope having time in there alone helps him feel comfortable and safe in his room as he gets older. ¬†I am also a major introvert and feel like I’d be heavily annoyed if someone came in and started talking to me right when I opened my eyes every morning ūüôā

As a side note, I wish the baby monitor took pictures / videos. ¬†Does anyone know if this is a thing? ¬†I feel like it should be, I’d buy it. ¬†He is too cute squirming around in there and chatting up a storm.

We have a new favorite morning tradition. ¬†After I greet him and we snuggle for a few minutes, we go sit outside on the back patio. ¬†This has been a different experience since daylight savings, but I figured he is never outside when it’s dark, so maybe it’s interesting? ¬†I love all of the morning sounds and there is something so nice¬†about getting outside first thing. ¬†I know it puts me in a good mood anyway. ¬†Sometimes we sing songs out there and sometimes we just listen and enjoy the stillness.

Today it is just starting to get light and the moon is out.  I think this may be the first time James has seen the moon, which makes me really appreciate all of the wonder of such a beautiful morning.  It was a little chilly, so I put on his cozy fox hat РI can hardly even handle the cuteness.  We sit out there until he starts to get antsy and then I change his diaper and get him dressed for the day.

We go in to say good morning to his Dad – always a highlight of the morning.

After snuggling and playing in our bed for a while, I feed James and then he plays in front of his mirror.  He has been initiating wrestling matches with his blankets lately and it is highly amusing to watch.  I sit next to him and read about the upcoming milestones to expect in a baby development book until he wants attention.

I hold him upright while he bounces Рhis absolute favorite activity of the moment!  I feel like he has very little interest in practicing sitting up because he just wants to MOVE.  Bouncing is much more his speed.

He is getting sleepy eyes so we sit in the glider while I read him “Polar Bear Polar Bear, What do you Hear?”. ¬†I then turn on the white noise, sing him a song (Forever Young – our goodnight song), and put him in his sleep sack for his nap at about 9:10.

While he naps, I work on my Baby Sign Language post and this post.  I also clean the kitchen, dining area, and living room.  Yikes, I need to work on cleaning the floors more often before he starts crawling!

James woke up a little after 11. ¬†I fed him and we set out on the day’s adventure! ¬†My husband was working from home today, so he joined us for lunch.

His favorite taco place (Taco Deli) is right next door to my favorite juice / smoothie place (Juiceland), so it works out perfectly.  They also have outdoor seating, which gives the little guy a lot more to look at.  We go here probably once a week.

When we got home, James had some play time before his afternoon nap.

He goes back and forth between two and three naps these days. ¬†When he takes a long morning nap, he often only takes one afternoon nap. ¬†This is especially true on days like today where he is in the car / on our laps for a lot of his awake time and hasn’t gotten to roll around get his energy out.

He napped from about 2:30-3:30 and then we sat in the backyard again for a little while.  It was seriously beautiful out today.  He played a little more while I folded laundry.

I fed him and when my husband was done with work, we went for a long family walk.

Today was the first time we put him in the stroller without his car seat / converter. ¬†He’s been really squirmy in his car seat lately so I looked up when he could go in the stroller without it…8 weeks. ¬†Whoops. ¬†#newmomfail. ¬†He seemed much happier in the stroller this way so I’m excited to hopefully be able to take some longer walks!

After our walk, James played some more and then we took his 24 week pictures…hard to believe!

Then is was bath time…one of his and my favorite times of the day. ¬†After plenty of bath time fun, I fed him, gave him a massage and we all read Goodnight Moon together before putting him to bed. ¬†I seriously love this stage. ¬†It was a great Tuesday.

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