Category Archives: Baby

Baby / Motherhood

Our Philosophy On Food

November 17, 2017

I’ve gotten a few questions now about how we approach food with the kids (you guys seem to be especially interested since I mentioned that they eat curry — so funny), so I thought I would write a post about my overall philosophy on food and how we are implementing those values with the kids. I am not an expert by any means, and this is just what works for our family.

When I was pregnant with Prim, one of the many topics KC and I discussed related to parenting was about food. I grew up in a big Italian family where everyone cooked and pickiness was not tolerated. I want our children to be good and adventurous eaters, so my goal from day one was to do everything in my power to expose them to a variety of foods and flavors to help foster an openness to different kinds of tastes, textures and cuisines.

I started both Prim and Lark on solids at 6 months. To date, neither has ever had any pre-made baby food (no jars or pouches or anything). This is certainly not necessary, but I didn’t think it was a big deal to make their food and I wanted to know exactly what was going in their bodies, so I opted to make their meals myself right from the start. Early on, I would often spend part of a Sunday making 3-4 purees or soft finger foods and freezing them in small portions to be defrosted throughout the week. Both Lark and Prim started with pureed food, but I introduced finger foods very early on (within the first month of starting solids) as well so that they could practice their dexterity. As soon as I could move the kids off purees (meaning that they could feed themselves relatively well on their own and could eat what KC and I were having for dinner), I did. I haven’t read Baby Led Weaning, but understand the basic principles, so I follow a sort of modified version of that.

  • More often than not, the kids eat what we eat for dinner and there are no alternatives. They often have more options than we do (KC and I will have just curry and rice for dinner while the kids will have curry with rice, fruit, and half of a homemade muffin or something). I am not a short-order cook and I certainly do not want to make two or more dinners every night, so there is no “mac and cheese” for the kid who doesn’t want to eat what I’ve cooked.
  • I make sure to serve at least one thing that I know the kids like if I am introducing a new dish. (i.e.: fruit, plain yogurt, etc.)
  • I do not dumb-down food for the kids, but will make spicy food a little milder for them. The curry and chili I make are SPICY, so I will add plain Greek yogurt, rice, avocado, etc. until I feel that the spice is at an ok level for them. I do not make the food non-spicy, just less spicy.

When Prim was really little, I made this soup, intending for it to serve as dinner for all three of us at the time. When it was done cooking, I realized that the brand-new cayenne pepper I had purchased was really spicy. I had this idea that kids hate spicy food and so considered feeding Prim something else, but I had just spent all this time making the soup for dinner and didn’t really have a good alternative for her. I opted to cut the soup with some Greek yogurt and goat cheese, but realized that even after adding those it still had a good kick. I decided to feed it to her, assuming that she would hate it, and lo and behold — she LOVED it. She could not get enough of the soup. I was totally floored, but realized that it actually made a lot of sense. Spicy food is delicious (in my opinion), but I think many parents don’t introduce spicy foods to their kids simply because they assume that kids don’t like or can’t handle spice. In other countries this is totally not the case (India, for example), and children in those countries grow up tolerating heat and loving spicy foods. Since then, both my kids have been exposed to spicy foods and tolerate it quite well for their respective ages. As I mentioned yesterday, if Prim asks to try something spicy, we tell her it’s spicy but still allow her to try it if she wants to.

  • They don’t have to finish anything, but they do need to try everything. 

I should also note that one of the kids “not liking” something does not mean that I will never serve it again. I assume that if they don’t like something at this age it’s most likely because they are either unfamiliar with it or just having a picky day. I believe that you have to try something many times to form a solid opinion about it, so I will just continue to introduce the food next time I feel like cooking whatever it is. I also believe in introducing foods in different ways (for example, broccoli: it’s good roasted with garlic, steamed with lemon, and even mashed with potato).

  • I will usually serve their dinner in courses, beginning with the vegetable, then main dish, followed by fruit/other side (applesauce, yogurt), then dessert if we’re having it (which we usually don’t).
  • We don’t tolerate negative words about the food like, “Ew, gross, disgusting” etc. Right now if Prim doesn’t want to eat something, we either ignore it, or if we have to address it, say, “You’ll like this when you’re older.”
  • We don’t pester the kids about eating or their food. We serve them the food, sit down to eat as a family, and let them eat. We try not to intervene at all while they are eating so they can try things in their own time.

Have you ever noticed how much people like to bug kids while they eat? “Eat more! Take a bite! Try it! Isn’t it good?” It makes me a little crazy.

  • Dessert is not a nightly thing and it is not contingent upon whether you finished your plate at dinner. 

Dessert is a rarity around here, to be honest, and if we do have something special after dinner, it’s usually a homemade sugar-free muffin. My kids are little, so I really try to limit their intake of added sugar. Often if we have real treats, it will be when we’re traveling or on a random trip to the ice cream shop on the weekend.

  • The kids eat on a schedule. Breakfast at 8am, Lunch at 11am, snack after naptime, Dinner at 5:30pm.

Having a schedule helps eliminate the all-day snackfest that tends to ruin mealtimes. Having consistency with the schedule also helps the kids understand that we will eat at specific times, making their day more predictable overall. That said, we obviously leave room for deviation sometimes on the weekends and when we travel.

Following the above does not mean that my kids are perfect eaters by any means. Prim is in the process of asserting her independence with us, which extends to meal times as well. This approach is helpful in that it doesn’t assume that picky phases won’t occur, but provides an approach that can remain consistent throughout those phases. If you’re looking for a good kid-food book, I read and really liked French Kids Eat Everything.

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 9 months

November 16, 2017

^^ even cute with a cold ^^ 

Sleeping: Lark is still sleeping through the night most nights. She just got her first tooth and the second is due to come through any day now, plus she unfortunately got my cold, so there have been some nights that are far from perfect lately, but that’s kind of par for the course at this age.

Eating: Lark is currently loving Winter Minestrone (the amount she ate is sort of insane, given her size) and is also very into Thai green curry. I introduced Prim to spicy food really early and have done the same thing with Lark. I cut the spice in the curry with some plain Greek yogurt, but it’s definitely still got a kick and the kids eat it and love it. My philosophy is that the kids should be introduced to and eat pretty much what we eat, so long as it’s not prohibited or dangerous, we just try to dial back the heat a bit if we’re eating something really spicy. That said, if Prim asks to try something we know is spicy (for example, bitterballen is served with a spicy mustard here), we let her — we just tell her it’s spicy beforehand and make sure we have something close by to offset the spice after.

Saying: Lark is on the verge of saying her first words. She babbles nonstop and might actually be saying “all done” (which she already signs) and “Dada,” but I’m not totally sure enough yet to really call either her first word.

Latest trick: Lark is very quick with her army crawling these days and is getting up on all fours and rocking back and forth. She hasn’t mastered full-on crawling yet, but she’s so fast at creeping around on her belly that I wonder if she will actually crawl at all before she starts pulling up and cruising.

Sweetest things: Lark is still obsessed with her “Lamby” (evidenced by the photos in this post). She now holds onto it when we take her out of her crib and she sleeps with her face right on top of it at night. It is so sweet to sneak a peek at her while she’s sleeping and seeing that little stuffed lamb head peeking out from underneath her cheek.

Favorite thing about this age: Lark has so much personality now. She squeals, laughs, smiles and screeches. KC has been traveling a lot for work lately, and when he gets home from one of his trips and she sees him for the first time — well, basically her reaction just makes my heart explode and I’m like, “Let’s have another baby RIGHT NOW.”

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 8 months

October 21, 2017

Lark hit 8 months on the 16th, but we were traveling in Copenhagen at the time so this update is a little late. Here’s a picture of her tearing into some pizza during our trip.

Sleeping: Lark is now sleeping through the night for 12 hour stretches pretty consistently. I would say she slept through the night about 75-80% of last month, which is so amazing. Prim didn’t sleep through the night like this until she was 11 months, so I’m super pumped about this development. I’m sure we will have random nights where travel or teething get in the way, but just the fact that she’s managing to sleep this long so much earlier than Prim did is a freaking godsend.

Eating: Lark is now diving into eating solids with gusto. She was pretty lukewarm about the whole experience when we started, but she’s now eating about as much as Prim did at this age (ahem, which was A LOT). She still prefers to feed herself, but will allow me to spoonfeed her occasionally, especially if it’s yogurt (both she and Prim from the beginning have been head-over-heels for plain yogurt).

Lifesavers: We recently purchased a new baby carrier, which so far has been awesome. We have had the Beco Gemini for awhile now, but one of the snaps keeps popping, which was driving me CRAZY. We have also randomly been toting Prim around in the carrier when we’re on vacation and she’s ready to pass out and take a nap, and the Gemini’s narrower seat isn’t ideal for carrying a 28lb toddler. I happened to connect with a woman here in Amsterdam who was selling some carriers for wholesale (she had started a babywearing website that she was shutting down) so we were able to purchase the organic version of the Beco Soleil for a steal. So far the carrier has been awesome — it’s not as bulky as the Gemini and has a much wider seat; plus I’m totally into the detachable pocket, which makes accessing necessities like my wallet and keys way easier while babywearing.

Latest trick: Lark is fulling creeping her way around the floor now and can control where she goes. This is especially fun since her favorite things at the moment are the antique fireplace, DVD player, printer, and Prim’s potty.

Sweetest things: Lark is now waving, which is so so sweet. KC has been traveling a lot for work lately, and when we facetime him she gets so excited to see his face and will start waving and babbling (KC is convinced she’s saying “Dada,” but it’s completely wishful thinking on his part.)

Favorite thing about this age: Lark has reached the separation anxiety/stranger danger phase, and while I don’t love either of those milestones, it’s really sweet to see how attached she is to her “people” and will calm down immediately when one of us picks her up.

Baby / Motherhood / Toddler

Our Daily Routine

October 5, 2017

I’m always interested in how people structure their days — especially other mamas. These little ones seem to really thrive on a predictable schedule, I suppose because they lack so little control over their own lives. It must be nice to have a sense of how things are going to go each day when you have pretty much zero authority over the schedule.

We obviously can’t stick to this schedule every single day, but I make an effort to make this their reality at least 80-90% of the time. Oddly enough, I think it’s this consistency that makes both Prim and Lark much more adaptable when we’re traveling and unable to stick to their normal routine. I also keep this structure somewhat flexible to account for the random days when the girls don’t sleep well or nap on the go, but the below is the general framework we follow on normal days.

Prim has been on a schedule for a long time, but I read a lot about routines after Lark was born because I was struggling with managing the schedules of an almost-2-year old and a newborn. I was a little frustrated with a lot of what I read because it seemed like most of the schedules were aimed at people who had a baby OR a toddler — not both. Given that many people have more than one child, I wanted to see schedules that accounted for more than one child in the same household. The only schedule I found that took multiple kids into consideration was the Moms on Call book series, which was really helpful in setting up our rhythm.

Now that Lark is older and the girls are sharing a room, their schedules are much more enmeshed and seamless, but it was not without some trial and error during the first months. Our schedule seems to be continually evolving to account for consolidating naps and nursing sessions as Lark gets older, which I think is normal. Now that Lark is down to two naps a day though, this will likely be our schedule for awhile, as she likely won’t go down to one nap until she’s a year old.

7:30am We get girls out of their room and bring them into our bed for a bit of cozy time and so Lark can nurse.

The girls often wake up around 7am, but after having a rough transition period when they first started sharing a room where Prim would wake up for the day at 5am (um, NO THANKS) I bought her a clock that lights up when it’s time to get up. She now knows that when the “light turns green it’s time to wake up” and will start calling for us after it goes on.

8:00am Breakfast

9:30am Lark nurses and takes first nap (1 1/2 to 2 hours)

11:30/Noon Lunch

1pm-3pm Lark nurses and Prim and Lark nap

The girls go down for their nap awake together and are generally in their room for two hours total, but usually only sleep an hour and a half of that time.

3/3:30pm Snack

4pm Lark nurses (some days)

I’m trying to eliminate this feeding.

5/5:30pm Dinner

I don’t prefer to eat dinner this early and I am working to move dinner back bit by bit. I started having them eat this early when I combined their bedtime routine because Lark could not be up past 7pm (she just can’t hang). I have now managed to push bedtime to 7:30pm (and usually not a moment later — Lark is very strict on this). I am dreading the upcoming time change a little bit, because I really don’t want them going to bed at 6:30pm.

6:45pm Bedtime routine starts

Girls take a bath together, pajamas on, read 1-2 stories, sing one song, nightlight + sound machine on, Lark nurses.

7:30pm Girls in bed, door closed

Baby / Lark / Motherhood

Motherhood Update: Lark at 7 months

September 16, 2017

Sleeping: I finally managed to get Prim’s nap to coincide with Lark’s second nap of that day AND managed to get them down together in the same room. They had actually been napping roughly at the same time most days, but I had Lark sleeping in the guest room because Prim takes a while to wind down for naptime, generally. (My rule for Prim right now is that she doesn’t have to sleep, but she does need to relax and be quiet.) Prim still falls asleep most days, so I actually get 1-2 hours of time by myself, which as any mom will tell you — feels like a freaking VACATION. Of course, because they’re in the same room and on the same nap schedule, the days when naptime falls apart, it’s reallllly falls apart. Motherhood sure does have a way of making sure you don’t pat yourself on the back too quickly!

The world’s largest high chair in Budapest.

Eating: Lark started solids at 6 months, and so far is a totally different eater than Prim was at this age. Prim was pretty interested in eating right off the bat and loved just about anything I gave her. Lark is proving to be a bit more discerning in her tastes and so far is not very fond of being spoonfed. She prefers to feed herself, which, while somewhat convenient, is not really super effective at this age. I started Prim on finger foods pretty early on to build her dexterity, but also spoonfed her for most meals as well. Brainstorming foods that I can turn into finger foods for Lark that are easy for a 6/7 month old to grab and eat without choking herself is a bit tricky, but we’re muddling through together. And as for her pickiness, I am approaching her meals the same way I approach Prim’s — she eats what we eat (to the extent possible) and there are no alternatives.

Lifesavers: It’s gotten pretty chilly in Amsterdam over the past couple of weeks (summer is officially over here, I’m afraid) and nights in particular get cold upstairs. The Puckababy sleep sack has been a lifesaver in this old, Dutch house (because no matter how much we crank the heat, the bedrooms seem to perpetually stay at 65 degrees or lower). We purchased this one for Prim last winter, which Lark will start using once she grows out of the newborn size. I love that it’s good for year-round use, even in the crazy climate of Amsterdam.

Latest trick: Lark has entered the phase where she’s on the move, but has very little control over where she’s going. She often ends up stuck underneath the couch and alerts us to her predicament by screaming like she’s falling into a sinkhole.

Sweetest things: Lark is readily babbling and seems to be trying to keep up with the speech of her very chatty older sister. She’s making more and more sounds these days, and I’ll often find Prim laying on a blanket with her with the two of them babbling back and forth. Prim is already trying to involve Lark into her imaginative play and Lark readily joins in to the extent she can, happily squealing and babbling. I love that these two chatterboxes are already entertaining each other.

Just having a little Lion King moment at one of the churches we visited on vacation.

Favorite thing about this age: Lark is learning how to get herself back to sleep more and more each week. Now on the random nights when Prim has trouble winding down and going to sleep and we have to re-enter the room, she will often open her eyes to peer at us dealing with her big sister and then just roll over and go back to sleep. That milestone is all the praise hands emojis, guys.