Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy holidays

I love this time of year.  Last year I had a six week old at Christmas. Breastfeeding was crazy hard, Mia was colicky and my postpartum hair loss started to really kick in. Oh, and Mia had baby acne and resembled a teenage boy.  This year things are different. I have a healthy, active 13 month old who's learning new words and showing me new parts to her personality every day.  It's a blast. 

In the spirit of the season, I've got to address overindulging and it's not just about you.  Kids can overindulge too!  I have a mother who loves giving my child candy whenever I'm not looking (WHY?!)  Here are some tips I'm integrating this holiday season to make sure Mia gets to enjoy the season, but also gets the essential nutrients she needs:

*Be prepared. For me this means snacks for long car rides and meltdowns at family members' homes.  I like having sliced raw veggies, dried fruit, string cheese, yogurt tubes and whole wheat crackers on hand.  Always good to pack a cooler.  Healthy snacks might also prevent a husband meltdown too. Bonus.

*At holiday gatherings, bring a veggie tray with hand-held veggies, lean meats and cheeses you know your child will eat (think carrots, broccoli, edamame beans, turkey and low-fat cheese)

*Bring a healthy dessert.  Oatmeal cookies are a great way to increase fiber and you can hide all kinds of fruit in them (try blueberries, raisins, dried cherries and cranberries).  You can also make an oatmeal bread using similar ingredients. 

*Encourage exercise.  The holidays offer lots of time for family interaction, but don't just spend the time in front of the TV.  Get the family outside for a nice walk in the fresh winter air. 

Above all, don't stress and enjoy the season.  This year I'm happy my little one is colic and acne-free.  Weeeeee!

Happy holidays to all of you moms and dads out there.  See you in 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vitamin D Frenzy

In the past few weeks new vitamin D and calcium recommendations have been released. The requirements didn't change much, but it got me thinking about the adequacy of Mia's diet when it comes to micronutrients.  I can't get her to take the liquid multivitamin for infants.  I can't blame her. Poly-vi-sol has really stinky iron and you can smell it on your child for hours after you give it to them.  Not fun for me, her or the neighbors.

Given that Mia is eating a variety of foods I'm not too concerned about certain nutrients.  But when my endocrinologist told me I was vitamin D deficient a few weeks ago, I felt embarrassed (a dietitian deficient in a nutrient, the horror!) but also concerned for Mia.   She she's still nursing 5-6 times a day -- is she mainlining the vitamin D out of me?   Just to be on the safe side I bought the Carlson vitamin D drops and have been pleasantly surprised.  Not only will Mia open her mouth like a baby bird when I get the drops out, they don't smell and they have 400 IUs per drop.  I've even started giving myself a few drops here and there.  One thing I didn't do was put the drops on my breasts and then nurse like the instructions said. That was a little too weird for me.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's all Yiddish to me

There's a Yiddish saying that goes "It is better to take food into the mouth than to take worries into the heart."  But what if the worries in your heart are about the food you're giving your toddler? 

There is so much conflicting advice when it comes to introducing certain foods to a baby.  Peanut butter, citrus fruits, wheat, cow's milk, eggs. The list goes on.  It's all trial and error and as a new mom, I can't help but worry about what I'm giving my daughter.  At her 9 month appointment the doctor told me peanut butter was OK, so I didn't worry too much when she grabbed my peanut butter sandwich and licked part of it. But then an hour later she had hives all over. Of course, I freaked out, called the doctor and gave her Benadryl.  The hives went away and she was fine, but it made me totally gun-shy about giving her anything. 

So I've resigned to slowly giving her "off-limits" foods and then hovering over her for the next few hours waiting for any sign of a reaction. In the past few weeks we've given her scrambled eggs, cow's milk and oranges.  She developed two small red blotches on her back.  My first thought: allergic reaction with anaphylaxis (or "a decrease in the ability to breathe, which may cause a coma.")  Why do I immediately go there?  She ended up fine and the red blotches were actually a couple of pox as a side-effect to her recent chicken pox vaccine. 

Call me Nervous Nelly, but does the worry in your heart ever go away? 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hill of the diaper

This might be too much information, but am I the only mom who gets upset when I see whole edamame beans and peas in my baby's diaper?  I went through all of that steaming and got her to swallow them, but the nutrients didn't get absorbed because the beans came out intact. Grrrr.  A professor once told me that foods aren't really nutrition until their component nutrients are absorbed in the intestine.  Just getting them down the hatch and into the stomach doesn't mean you're out of the woods. 

So, here's a tip.  Infants and toddlers who haven't developed molars aren't able to fully chew all foods so they'll be absorbed effectively. That means we have to help them along.  If you're seeing full edamame beans, peas or whatever your legume du jour, make sure you prep them for digestive success -- take the clear shell off edamame beans and mush them up as much as you can (while still making them a finger food).  You can also blend them up and hide the evidence in everything from casseroles to pasta.  I also squeeze individual peas to get the outside skin off before offering as a finger food.  Nothing in life is easy, right?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Eating a Rainbow

You might be surprised that Mia hasn't yet mastered the art of language.  Yes, she can say Mama, Dada, yeah, baby and Mimi (her nickname) but there's also a lot of undefinable babble in there.  As a dietitian, I'm focused on getting her to eat a variety of foods and communicating the names of fruits and vegetables. 

I'm trying to get creative.  Last week I was feeding her carrots, peas and corn and simultaneously pointing excitedly at pictures of each of them in my "I Can Eat a Rainbow" board book.  I searched Mia's face for recongition such as "Mom is amazing!  There are vibrant pictures of carrots, peas and corn right there and look, she's even feeding real versions to me.  I can't wait to eat all of them.  Happy day!"  That didn't happen.  She did eat a few bites of veggies though. I'll take it.


This morning I filled Mia's bottles with half cow's milk and half breast milk.  The transition to cow's milk begins!  Of course, on my way to work I was convinced she'd starve to death and called my nanny about 3 times by noon.  Mia actually took to cow's milk like a duck -- er cow -- to water.  Phew! 

After feeling like the best mom ever because I single handedly transitioned my child to something new, I hit a roadblock during my commuter reading.  I recently dusted off my copy of "What to Expect the First Year" and was reminded in the 12 month section that I need to banish the bottle.  Drat!  Better get on that too.  So my plan is to transition Mia to cow's milk-only bottles by 13 months (eeek only two weeks to go) while still nursing at night, in the morning and on the weekend.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turning One!

My baby girl Mia just turned one.  When I was pregnant I remember thinking about taking breezy summer walks with my baby sound asleep in the stroller. I envisioned cradling my newborn in my arms as she peacefully gazed up at me.  Yes, those things did happen but so did colic, screaming fits, sleepless nights, tears (mine and hers) and an internal struggle with parenting philosophies (cry it out just wasn't going to fly with me).  
I work part-time as a dietitian in food PR and as such Mia's diet falls in my lap.  When I look back on the past year I can't help but think about nursing.  Something that is supposed to come so natural, didn't.  It took months to get the kinks worked out and like many new moms I had a goal in mind -- nurse for a month, maybe six tops.  Now that I've nursed for a year I find myself reading books like "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" while deflecting criticism from well-meaning family members.  Nursing continues to be an important part of Mia's diet and I'll admit, I enjoy it too. 

Some of my fondest memories from the past year are nursing Mia in the middle of the night in the quiet of my Chicago loft apartment.  But nursing is only part of the equation.  These days I'm trying to tip the balance in favor of more solids, less nursing.  That's my year 2 project.