Browsing Tag

Infant

Wednesday by Leah: Treasure Boxes

I love watching BabyRoX explore the world. It’s so fascinating to me how he engages with each new object, how he explores textures and tastes and functionality. I love giving him simple toys and watching how he chooses to use them (as opposed to loud, plastic toys that buzz and beep and play 5 different songs and he can’t really understand cause and effect because every time he touches the toy something new happens!). Since he is older now, and able to sit up on his own, handle toys, and understands object permanence, I’ve started giving him treasure boxes to explore each day. I purchased several different types of boxes at Michael’s craft store and each week I fill them with different items. One box has colorful pom poms in it. Another has a variety of wooden shapes – a sphere, a cube, an egg, a peg. Another had feathers but I just changed it and put different types of string and yarn in it. We set aside time each day for focused exploration. In the Montessori tradition, children sit on a work mat – I haven’t gotten him a work mat yet since he usually only spends 5 minutes or less with the treasure box, but I should probably start using one soon so he gets used to the ritual of putting away his other toys and having some focused time exploring different objects.

I give him the treasure box and sit a little ways away and just observe him. Sometimes he is more interested in the box itself. Sometimes he dumps everything out and then chooses which item to put in his mouth first. Other times he takes items in and out of the box. Everything goes in the mouth at this stage, and that’s an important part of his sensory exploration, so I try to give him items that are safe for mouthing, but I also let him play with items that aren’t necessarily infant-friendly. I watch to make sure he isn’t going to hurt himself or choke, but I also want him to explore on his own. I wish I could see his thoughts!

In the grand scope of the day, this is just one adventure of many for him, but he seems to enjoy opening the box and discovering what is inside. It’s amazing how intently he can focus on the objects, turning them over and over, passing them from hand to hand, exploring the taste and texture with his mouth. As he gets older, I plan to introduce items to practice fine motor skills with – jars with lids for opening and closing, or little slots for putting coins or beans in… keys and locks… different sizes and shapes of buttons to sort… the possibilities abound! It’s a simple activity and it costs very little money and hardly any time to put together. And I could seriously watch him for hours! I can’t wait til he is talking and telling me what goes in that lil brain of his.

I always love suggestions of other fun, age-appropriate activities – please share!

Wednesday by Leah: Feeding BabyRoX

I had to leave BabyRoX for 3 whole days and 2 nights last weekend. It was a last-minute trip to Indiana for a friend’s funeral. It was really hard to be away, but I did it! And BabyRoX was fine. And I’m really, really glad I went. I took last week off to do some much-needed grieving and reflecting. One of my reflections, not related to my friend, is… man, pumping sucks. I never minded it when I only had to do it sporadically, but pumping around the clock was way more of a chore than breastfeeding. Mad props to those moms out there who pump every day!

Right now, BabyRoX nurses about 6 times in a 24-hour period. He eats anywhere between 3 and 7 oz of milk each time (I’m guessing, based on how much comes out when I pump!). I had gotten lazy about keeping my freezer supply of milk well stocked. I’ve donated milk, and I’ve even had to throw it out when it gets too old to keep and I didn’t find a mom in need in time. But I am so glad I had *just* enough milk to leave for 3 days. Actually, Mark had to water down the last two bottles. Now I’m going to make sure to keep that freezer full of milk until BabyRoX is eating solids for the majority of his nutrition.

Two months ago, we started exploring the fun and messy world of solid food. We’re doing a hybrid of baby-led weaning and the Montessori approach to weaning. With baby-led weaning, you introduce solids in their regular form – no purées or baby food. You let the child choose what they want to eat and let them explore the food and feed themselves, you don’t spoon-feed the child. Mealtimes happen at the family dining table (or the restaurant, if you’re out and about). This is a really easy approach because it doesn’t involve making baby food. It’s messy, of course, and you have to watch the child carefully to make sure he/she doesn’t choke on food. You also don’t give them ANY and EVERY food – you start out with soft, easy to eat foods like avocado and sweet potato, steamed veggies, etc. I’m not feeding BabyRoX filet mignon or anything. Duh.

The Montessori approach advocates self-feeding, as well, but uses a child-size table and chair (weaning table), instead of having the child in a high chair right away. The emphasis is on learning about mealtime rituals – using utensils, setting the table, cleaning up, drinking from a glass, etc. Initially, food is introduced at a time separate from the family mealtime so that the parent can focus on the child and help the child learn table etiquette and just get used to eating in general. Actually, the awesome blog How We Montessori has a great comparison of the two approaches to weaning/starting solids: here!

So for at least one meal a day BabyRoX eats with us. We have an awesome clamp-to-the-table highchair (this one) so that he can be a part of all the mealtime action. I also give him at least one meal a day at his weaning table. I bought a tiny chair that fits him perfectly and the table right now is a nightstand that just happens to be the right height and super sturdy, but we do need to purchase an actual table soon. He’s had a variety of foods so far and loved almost all of them. He is NOT a fan of creamed spinach or oatmeal. He likes pretty much everything else. Rice, rice cereal, mango, tomato, avocado, sweet potato, broccoli, beets, regular spinach, kale, zucchini, carrots, apples, etc. We’ve explored a lot of foods already. He tried salmon yesterday and loved it. I also don’t just give him bland foods. He’s had spiced-up things already and really seems to like the flavors. He says, “Mmmmmm!” enthusiastically and reaches for more food and/or bangs on the table when he wants more. We’re currently trying to teach him sign language for more instead of table-banging and food-grabbing….but it’s a process.

Eating is fun, and usually very messy. If we’re at a restaurant I try to give him some food he can eat easily without much mess and I help him eat the rest by holding it and letting him guide my hand towards his mouth. I don’t ever shovel food in or try to make him eat anything. Again, he gets almost all of his nutrients from breastmilk still, so eating is more about learning how to eat and getting exposed to various flavors right now.

He has a little glass he can sip milk or water from. Sometimes he sips it nicely and puts it back down. Other times he spills it down his shirt (or bib…I often take his clothes off to feed him dinner because it gets so messy!), and then tries to bang the cup on the table. Again, it’s a process. I don’t expect to have a perfectly well-mannered child at 8 months of age, but I do want him to begin learning proper table etiquette and how to use utensils. I also let him eat with his hands a lot, because a.) that’s easiest and b.) it’s fun and c.) it lets him explore the textures of the foods better. But I also give him a spoon and/or spork and let him try to feed himself that way. We end every meal by wiping hands, mouth, and table. He usually tries to eat the wipe I give him, but sometimes he wipes himself, too. He’s learning!

It’s fun, it’s cute, we have a good time. I’m not super strict on anything food/weaning related other than making sure we are watching him eat in case he chokes and giving him healthy foods as opposed to processed, refined sugar stuff. Yay, food!