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Wednesday, February 10, 2016 0 comments

Ways to Beat the Winter Blues with Your Toddler

For those of you that have chosen to live somewhere other than the frozen tundra, I salute you. Remind me to ask my husband later if there are any transfer options to tropical locations. While I do love my beautiful state of Wisconsin, and I find all seasons here to be magical in their own way, I may have reached my freezing cold limit.

It's cold here. Like, the dog doesn't even want to go outside anymore cold. In my younger years that would have meant cranking up the fire place and snuggling under a blanket after work. That doesn't quite work anymore since we're still working on teaching the toddler that a fire is hot. And that sitting under a blanket part, well, that would require sitting, something my toddler is not fond of.

I've taken the batteries out of Elmo since I couldn't handle him creepily giggling at me from the corner all day and Baby Z and I have made every fake recipe with her fake food in her fake kitchen that I can muster. I've had to branch out the past few weeks and find activities, both inside and outside the house, to keep everyone sane. I like to look for activities that either use supplies I already have around my house or are free/low cost winter distractions within the community. Here are a few of my favorites that we've been enjoying lately:

Indoor Obstacle Course: My toddler loves to climb and crawl under things. This includes crawling under the kitchen table and climbing the couch to hang out with the dog. One day after telling her not to do this for the hundredth time, I decided to capitalize on it instead. We made an obstacle course that covered all baby safe rooms on our first floor. It included climbing over things, crawling under them, kicking a ball, pushing obstacles, and a whole lot of giggling. The best part though, it also included bubble wrap to crawl on under one of  the tables. The building of the obstacle course itself was fun because the older kids were able to help with ideas and everyone had fun trying it out many times throughout the day. It was definitely a hit and was repeated again and again for Dad when he came home as well.

Open Swim: While I'm not ready to jump into swim lessons quite yet, the act of swimming at least reminds me that there are warmer places with water and that summer will come to Wisconsin again soon. After some internet research I found that there is a huge variety of open swim options during the day in our area. The local swim school has a warm pool with an inexpensive open swim option for little ones during the day and many of the local high schools have open swim options in the evening and on the weekends. Although this activity isn't free, its fairly low cost and really tires the littles out.

 Tot School: This one has been a true lifesaver on days we're stuck indoors. There a huge number of websites dedicated to this concept of helping your child learn through play at home. Pinterest is a great start to find ideas and the ideas are truly endless from printables to activities like sensory bins. This week we've used one site's idea to focus on feelings and the color red in honor of Valentine's Day. I used everything I could find in the house (toddler safe of course) that was a variation of red and pink in our sensory bin This included plastic play food, hair bows, Little People, tissue paper, blocks, balls, and other random household items. While many of the activities I've found have been a little above where Baby Z is at, I can always find a way to modify them to her level. If you're lucky enough to still have a napping toddler, use nap time to quickly prepare an activity to keep you busy through the afternoon.

Edible Playdough: The problem with art time in our house is that Baby Z still thinks that most items should probably end up in her mouth at some point. This includes crayons, glue, and tissue paper which are not items I normally include in her daily nutrition. Rather than fight it, I cooked up some simple edible play dough and let her have at it. I still don't encourage eating it, but don't have to stress if she does. Making your own play dough is incredibly easy and inexpensive. A quick search will find you simple recipes like this one on Allrecipes, but there are so many fun variations including ones made with items like cream cheese or peanut butter.

Family Yoga: I'd love to belong to a beautiful workout facility with childcare, but it just isn't in the cards for us right now. However, staying fit and active is important for me to model to the kids, so we don't let the winter weather stop us. Family yoga is a perfect way to help a child learn to focus, move their body, and follow directions. Even if you have a much younger child, you can incorporate your baby into many of the yoga moves. YouTube is my favorite free site for family yoga fun. Just search for options like "toddler yoga" or "mother baby yoga" and you'll find tons of fun, free, and easy options to try with the kids.

Open Gym: Like open swim, this one gets us out of the house and is also low cost or free. Using my internet sleuthing skills again, I found that our local community center offers a free open gym during the week. There are no organized activities, but there are lots of things to play with and new kids and adults to interact with. We just stop in, burn some energy, then bundle back up in our coats to head home. Similarly, our local gymnastics club also offers an open gym time during the day. While it does cost a small amount, they have a special time just for the youngest kids, which keeps Baby Z from getting trampled and lets her climb to her heart's content in a safe environment.

While I'm the first to admit that I've let the kids play in the dog's water bowl because it was close enough to a water table or taken a trip to Target just as a reason to get out of those house, I'm determine to not let the winter cold win. We're still staying active, engaged, and learning while stuck indoors even if it means a little extra effort on my part and a messier house.

Help a mamma out, what are your other free or low cost activities that you love to do in your home or around your community to keep you busy when the outdoors aren't an option? Share in the comments to help us keep things fun in our home!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 13 comments

Do You Remember This Diaper?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 0 comments

Prepping for Baby #2- Lessons Learned

As the weeks creep closer to the arrival of Baby #2, and it becomes more of a reality that the precarious routine we've settled into as a family of three is about to be thrown on its head, I've actually started to think about what we'll need to keep everyone from baby to big sister, and mama sane.

Some of the items are obvious and simple, while others involve me second guessing everything we did the first time around. Let's be honest, there are also things I don't even remember about the first time around, so I'm reaching way back in my sleep deprived brain to try and make this list .

1) Mama Cloth- Yes, I'm starting with mama on this one. Forget that new screaming infant for a minute. I had no idea what to prepare for after birth last time around. Nobody warned me. Well here I am warning you. I will not endure the surfboard sized disposable pads and itchy disposable underwear again. I even ended up using some of my husband's old boxer shorts after my first delivery because I was out of hospital supplied mesh panties, but not ready to open my own underwear drawer yet.

Pink Lemonade makes a variety of reusable cloth pads in minky, bamboo velour, and cotton velour. They even have a 13 inch postpartum pad that I'm going for along with a few overnights and smaller pads for when things eventually taper off (and I promise they will...eventually).
Pink Lemonade Reusable Cloth Pads - Cotton Velour
Party In My Pants also makes an awesome queen sized option in flannel and cotton although I have no interest in "partying in my pants" at that point in time, the soft material will be very welcome.
Party In My Pants Feminine Pads

2) Nursing Pads- I already started with mama, might as well stick with it right? Again, naive first time mama version of me didn't know what to expect in this category either. I had a pack of disposable nursing pads that a friend had passed on to me, but I also endured several nights of waking up to a wet pool of sour smelling breastmilk on the bed. Reusable nursing pads are so much more absorbent, comfortable, and cost effective. The Nicki's Diapers Stay Dry Nursing Pads are my favorite and come in a set of three pairs.
Nicki's Diapers Stay Dry Nursing Pads - 3 pairs

3) Newborn Cloth Diapers- Like many new cloth families, we didn't get brave with the cloth right away. We waited until the umbilical cord stump fell off and she had grown a bit to dive into the cloth world. Little did we know how addicted we'd be and never want to touch a disposable diaper again.

We're excited to try the Imagine Newborn Stay-Dry All in One since we know the fleece will keep baby feeling dry so that they hopefully sleep a bit longer (please baby sleep!). While we are snap lovers with our older daughter, hook and loop is a perfect option for quick changes with a squirmy newborn.
Imagine Newborn Stay-Dry All in One
The Nicki's Diapers Bamboo newborn diapers are also making heir way into our stash. Bamboo is so absorbent so that when baby starts to sleep a few longer stretches at night, we know they'll keep her dry.

Nicki's Diapers Newborn Bamboo All-in-One - Prints (Snap)
4) Diaper Bag - Yes, we already have one (or thirteen) of these, but two children in cloth diapers means we need more space! I tend to be an over packer, planning for the worst even when we're making a quick trip to the grocery store. 

The Ju-Ju-Be Prepared is the ultimate over packers dream! The inner pockets are even color coded for multiple children, which feeds right into my obsessive organizational needs. I also love that they come in cute prints so that I can pretend I'm a stylish millennial rather than an overtired mama. 
Ju-Ju-Be  Prepared

5) Baby Carrier- Baby carriers are another item that we only came to appreciate a few months after our first was born. There were days when she needed the close touch of mama and the only way anyone else in the house was going to eat dinner was if I was wearing her. With baby #2 on the way, we know that walks for a while will consist of wearing one child while the other is in the stroller and many play dates with our firstborn will include the newborn snuggled on my chest. 

For the tiniest of babies, a wrap is the perfect option for keeping baby securely snuggled in so you can be hands free. The Boba wrap is a great example of this since its designed for babies 7-35 pounds and there are no buckles, straps, or buttons to mess with. The learning curve of tying it on is easy and you'll become a pro quickly. 
Boba Baby Wrap Carrier

Once the baby is a little older and has a little more head control, a soft structured carrier is perfect for baby wearing. Most options like the Tula or Lillebaby can be used for both front and back carry. Some brands also have an infant insert so you can start using them even younger. They distribute the weight evenly over the parents shoulders and hips enabling you to wear them for long periods of time with no discomfort. 

LilleBaby Carriers 

6) Bamboo Swaddling Blanket- Yes, we already have lots of blankets and could probably get away without a new one. But have you felt these?! They've all already been claimed in our house because they are so soft and snuggly. Just like I think every new baby deserves a special coming home outfit, Imagine Bamboo Swaddling blankets have been added to my list of new baby must haves. They are light, breathable, adorable, and did I mention soft? Whether you use it to actually swaddle baby or not, cuddling with this blanket will keep everyone happy.

Imagine Bamboo Swaddling Blanket
7) Cozy Plush- Remember, I still have an older child that needs love and attention during the transition, so this one is for her. I now cringe when I think of the times I went to friend's houses to visit a new baby, gift in hand for the new little, completely forgetting the older child. A cozy plush is a stuffed animal that can be warmed up in the microwave for extra comfort on these cold winter nights and smells like soothing lavender. We plan on giving this as a gift from our new baby to our older one when she comes to the hospital to meet her. 
Cozy Plush Animals

What else am I forgetting? I'm sure there's plenty that I've forgotten about those first few sleep deprived weeks and many of you have already gone through this transition. Help a mama out and leave us a comment with your tips and advice!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 0 comments

Traveling with Cloth Diapers

The Incident: Lesson learned, stick with the cloth you love!

When my daughter was just a few months old, she joined us on her first airplane ride. We were first time parents and cloth newbies, and the thought of traveling with cloth just seemed scary. Where would we put the dirty diapers,  how many would we need, what about our cloth wipes? It was just all too much for me.

We decided to go the disposable route, bought a pack from the overwhelming aisle at the store, and didn't think about it again. Until, the incident. I can laugh about it now, I really can. However, flying for the first time with a new baby, long delays, and a lack of sleep insured that I did not laugh about it when it happened.

Our first flight went fine and our baby was a magical sleeper, we didn't think traveling with a baby was so bad. Then our second flight got delayed, and delayed, and delayed. The baby got crankier as time went on and at one point I casually mentioned to my husband that I didn't think she'd pooped yet that day. He shot me a death glare and insisted I not bring it up again, didn't want to jinx things.

We finally took off and our daughter fell asleep snuggled into my arms, enjoying the vibrations of the plane. About half way through she opened her eyes, looked up smiled at me, and let the explosion happen. The result was something that had never before (and has never since) happened when we had her in cloth. Her clothes, my shirt, and my jeans were covered in a putrid brown mess. Everyone around us had their faces scrunched inside their shirts while shooting us death glares. While I had planned ahead and packed her an extra outfit in the diaper bag, I didn't have anything for myself. A flight attendant actually offered to give me a t shirt out of her own luggage, that's how bad the incident was.

We have taken several flights since then, and have never considered anything but cloth. Simply put, we have so much faith in cloth that we aren't going to tempt the blowout gods again. We've learned a few lessons along the way that have made traveling with cloth easier to plan for.

Laundry: What type of laundry facilities will you have access to?

If you're visiting family or friends that have a washer, chat with them ahead of time to make sure they are comfortable with you using it to wash your cloth (and educate them on cloth if they are new to the idea!). One important item to remember is either bring or purchase cloth diaper safe detergent on your trip.

If you won't have regular access to washing facilities, you have a few other options. Some parents prefer to wash in the sink and hang diapers to dry in the bathroom. Flats work well for this since they are easy to pack and easy to wash.

If hand washing isn't something you're interested in, you could consider disposable inserts with covers. They are a much more eco and chemical friendly option than disposables. One option are Grovia BioSoaker Pads, which are fragrance, dye, plastic, and chlorine free. They are also biodegradable and compostable. Flip Disposable Inserts are another option for laying inside covers and they fold down to adjust for size.
GroVia BioSoakers

Diaper Storage: How do you plan on storing your soiled diapers and for how long?

Planet Wise Wet Bag
Depending on how long you will be traveling for and how long you will go between washes, you will want a quality wet bag to store soiled diapers in. A large wet bag easily holds more than a day's worth of diapers for our daughter and we choose to wash more often while traveling. The wet bag can be washed right in the washer with the diapers.

How many diapers to take?  How are you traveling and how often will you wash?

If you are traveling by airplane, calculate how many diapers you'd normally use during that time period and double it to account for delays. If things get real crazy and you're stuck for significantly longer, the ticket counters often have diapers they will provide you with.

Determine how often you will wash your diapers while traveling to determine how to pack. If you are low on space, consider washing every day or every other to save space when packing.

Wipes: Cloth or disposable?

Cloth wipes are easy to travel with as well! Wet them ahead of time with your favorite cloth wipe solution or water and store them in a Planet Wise wipe pouch in your diaper bag. Throw them in a wet bag with your diapers and wash like normal.

Planet Wise Wipe Pouch
If you'd prefer disposable wipes, here's another pro tip for your in case a trash can isn't handy. You can throw those in your wet bag as well and just wash them with your diapers. They don't fall apart in the washer or dryer and you can just throw them away after you're done.

Who else has traveled with a baby in cloth? Any other tips you'd share with others to help make their trip easier?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 0 comments

Our Favorite Cloth Diaper Accessories!

Part of the joy of cloth diapering is how simple and easy they are to use. Once you have a solid wash routine down and have learned the fastest way to get your favorite brand on a rolling, wriggling, tiny human, you are good to go.

However, as many parents have learned over time, there are some great cloth diaper accessories out there that can make your cloth diaper experience even easier. With input from many moms, we’ve put together Nicki’s Diaper's list of favorite cloth diaper accessories. These are the items that the Nicki’s Diapers moms are ordering for their littles on a regular basis and loving!
Spray Pal Diaper SprayerSpray Pal Splatter Shield - New Design!

Newborn poop is wonderful! (Who thought you’d hear that?!) The waste from an exclusively breastfed baby doesn’t need to be removed before washing. Just change the diaper and throw the diaper in the diaper bag until wash day, no extra work required.
And then you start solids….oh my! The new colors and textures are a whole new experience and must be removed before washing. You could try the dunk and swish method, but who likes to experience that? A Spray Pal diaper sprayer easily attaches to your toilet for a no-touch solution to poop removal. Pair it with the Spray Pal Spray Shield, and you avoid any excess water or waste making its way out of the toilet. So simple and easy to use!

Imagine Biodegradable Liners

Another option to avoid the poop dilemma once your baby is on solids. Just lay the liner inside the diaper. Once soiled, shake the diaper contents, Imagine Liner and all, right into the toilet. No dunk and swish needed.

You’re already washing your cloth diapers, there’s no reason not to use cloth wipes as well. Unlike commercial wipes, they are chemical free and so soft on baby’s bottom. The cute prints and super gentle flannel of the Nicki’s Diapers Flannel Wipes can be paired with your favorite wipe solution to save you money and give you a safe and chemical free wipe option.

LuSa Organics Diaper Wipe Concentrate

Speaking of cloth wipes, why not use a wipe solution that will not only clean baby, but also has healing powers as well! The LuSa wipe concentrate is easy to prepare ahead of time by mixing with water and contains a soothing mix of oils, aloe vera juice, and witch hazel combined with essential oils. No chemicals and free of synthetic scents.

Planet Wise Wet Bags

While these are definitely one of our favorite cloth diaper accessories, they have so many other uses around the house as well! We love that they come in three sizes so we can choose which one to use based on our day, and the wet-dry option is perfect for keeping things organized in the diaper bag. Try keeping your wipes and diaper cream in the dry section for easy access and dirty diapers contained in the wet section. We’ve also been known to use these for beach trips, Spray Pal storage, and keeping our mama cloth organized.

GroVia Mighty Bubbles Laundry Treatment

While a good wash routine will keep your cloth diapers clean and stain free, sometimes your diapers could use a little boost. Grovia Mighty Bubbles removes any buildup in your diapers including urine or detergent and it's just so easy to use. Just throw one pod in the washer with your diapers and it dissolves completely and works it’s cloth diaper cleaning magic.

Snappi Diaper Fastener

Let’s face it, nobody wants to use diapers pins on their baby anymore! Don’t worry, the Snappi Diaper Fasteners are our favorite easy solution for securing flats, prefolds, and fitteds. The grip hook teeth take no time at all to hook onto the diaper and are reliable for even the wiggliest littles. They take just three steps to secure and we love that they come in a toddler size too, giving you extra stretch as baby grows.

Nicki's Diapers Bamboo Doubler

Wouldn’t it be great if none of our babies were heavy wetters? The reality is that whether you have a heavy wetter or not, there are times where you want a little extra protection from leaks. For us, that’s the grocery run that is never actually fast or the long car ride to Grandma’s house. Why do we love Nicki’s Bamboo Doublers for this? They come in two sizes, are made from a combination of bamboo and organic cotton, can be used in any diaper type you can imagine, and are oh so absorbent!

CJ's BUTTer Shea Butter Balm - 2 oz Jar
You feel terrible when your baby ends up with an angry, red, bum, but you need to make sure to protect your diapers at the same time. One of our favorite cloth friendly diaper creams is CJ’s BUTTer. Our moms have used the healing solution for diaper rash, eczema, dry skin, wind burn, and even stretch marks! The shea butter is so smooth, soothing, and gentle enough for even sensitive babies.

I have to admit, there was a quick discussion about whether these were a cloth diaper accessory or not, but everyone quickly agreed that these cute leggings are definitely one of our favorite accessories to pair with cloth diapers! Think about it, you have a new baby and you’re learning the ins and outs of cloth diapering. Babies poop, a lot! With all of those diaper changes you could be pulling pants on and off, or you could try Imagine Baby Leggings. They’re so cute, keep baby’s legs warm, protect from scraped knees once they’re on the move, and make diaper changes so easy. If you live in a colder area, they are great to layer under pants in the winter to make sure baby’s legs stay warm and protected while you’re holding or wearing them.

Do you have other favorite cloth diapers accessories that we didn't mention? Send us a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 0 comments

A Working Mom's Guide to Pumping

Establishing a breastfeeding relationship with your infant can often be more challenging and time consuming than you imagined. When Baby Z was born, I had visions of blissful breastfeeding in the glider in her nursery before she slept peacefully in her crib. You can stop laughing now.

Even with loads of support from her pediatrician and local lactation consultants to help with any issues I had establishing breastfeeding, it took more like months than weeks to really feel like baby and I were in the breastfeeding groove. And then, it was time for me to return to work. I had so many questions about if and how our breastfeeding relationship would change, how I would balance pumping with my regular work duties, and all of the details that come with planning to pump at work. It seems that just when we got things on the right track, everything was about to change again.

As it turns out, while you will never hear me say that pumping at work was "fun" or "enjoyable", it was easier than I had made it out to be in head once I knew the right questions to ask and how to set up a routine that worked for me. Here are a few tips to help you get off on the right foot if you are planning to return to work and pump after baby.

1. Find a pump you love and test it out.

Most health insurance companies are now required to provide a breast pump to new mothers, however, the type and quality of those pumps varies. Check with your health insurance company first to see what they provide and try that out. You will have the most success with a hospital grade pump (but these can often be pricey) and a double pump will save you time so you may want to shop around for a pump if the one provided isn't working well for you.

Try it out. Don't be upset if you are only pumping small amounts to start with. It takes time and trial and error to develop a good pumping system that gets you the best output. Many pumps either come with a variety of breast shield sizes or have them available for purchase. Use their recommendations to find the ones that have the best fit and comfort for you. I even had to adjust which size I was using after a few months when my daughter's breastfeeding needs started to slow down and. Adjust the speed and strength of the pump until you find your ideal. Do all of these things before you return to work so that you are ready to be successful from day one.

2. Have an open conversation with your employer.

Most employers are covered by state and federal laws requiring a reasonable amount of break time and space to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother. Find out what the laws are in your state and whether or not you will be paid for this time (which is not a requirement of the law).

  • Where will you pump? Having a location where you feel safe and comfortable pumping will make the process much easier. If you have your own office you may be able to pump there with a sign on your door. However, for the many ladies for which that isn't an option, you'll need to determine a location that works for you and your employer. Can you borrow an empty office or room during that time? Is there a designated lactation location in your office? The federal statute requiring most employers to allow time and space for pumping specifically states that the location cannot be a bathroom, so we ready to discuss that with your employer if needed. Think about what you will need in that space to be successful at pumping. This often includes an electrical outlet for your pump, a (hopefully comfortable!) chair for you to sit in, a table for your pump and supplies, and nearby access to a sink to clean your pumping parts afterwards.

  • When will you pump? As a rule of thumb, you will need to pump as often as your baby nurses. When I first returned that was every 2-3 hours, but baby continually stretched that out as she got older and I was able to adjust and drop pumping sessions accordingly. This meant scheduling a mid-morning and afternoon session into my daily work plan, and pumping during my lunch as well. Discuss this with your employer so you can plan ahead for these sessions, especially if someone else will need to cover your duties during this time. Pumping both breasts at the same time is more time efficient and you can plan around 30 minutes for the pumping process each session.

  • Where will you store your breast milk? The ideal location for storing your breast milk is in a refrigerator, but if that isn't possible, you can also use pre-frozen ice packs to keep it cold for a period of time. You can store the milk itself in sterile plastic bags, or plastic or glass bottles, all which can easily be purchased.  I stored it in our office refrigerator, in a discreet bag, but almost cried on day when someone had taken my bag out (presumably to make room or rearrange things) and not put it back. Since I didn't know how long it had been out, I didn't feel comfortable saving it. Luckily that was only a one-time event, and I learned to think about where I put the bag after that.

3. Develop a pumping routine that is comfortable for you.

You will pump more milk when you feel relaxed and comfortable in your pumping situation. Not always easy to do at work right? Many women find that their output increases when they focus on their baby by looking at pictures or videos of them. In my case, answering emails and getting other computer tasks done while I was pumping helped me because I wasn't focused on pumping itself and how much I was producing.

In my case, to be able to work on my computer while I pumped I needed my hands free. Having the right nursing bra and tank top under my shirts made that easy and simple. I also occasionally pumped on my way to or home from work in my car depending on my schedule. I needed the right pumping accessories to make that work, like a car adapter for my pump and my nursing cover that I used over myself while driving. Determine what accessories will make your pumping routine simpler and less stressful for you and your pumping sessions will be more successful.

If you’re struggling with pumping, contact resources that can help you with advice and tips. Many lactation consultants can sit with you while you pump and help you establish whether your fit and routine are the best for you. Start by contacting your health care provider for resources or contact your local La Leche League. 

Regardless of how much planning ahead you do, returning to work and pumping will take some time to adjust to. Establish a network of friends, coworkers, and family who can help support you during this time to help ease the transition and don’t forget to be proud of the great start your are giving your baby by continuing to provide them with breast milk during this time!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 0 comments

Guest Blog: How to Get Your Baby Started on Solid Food

Starting solids is a major milestone of babyhood - one you look forward to… and one you may feel nervous about!  With dozens of choices on the baby aisle, organic labels and GMO’s to juggle, and the well-meaning advice of family and friends, baby’s first bite can feel more like a mountain than a spoonful. I’ll cover some solid advice for starting solids in this article :)

When Should You Start Solids?
The short answer is to start your baby on solids when you feel comfortable with it.  A lot of moms feel pressured to start really early - at 4-5 months old, or even sooner.  That was the trend for decades, so many hear that advice from mothers or grandmothers.

Today we know that breastmilk provides an excellent source of nutrition for babies, and the first tastes of solid food are just that - a taste.  It’s not necessary to push baby too fast. We also know that things commonly worried about in the past, such as low iron levels, can be avoided by evidence-based care during pregnancy and birth (delayed cord clamping means more iron reserves for baby, for instance).  An excellent pregnancy diet and healthy foods while breastfeeding means you’ll make rich milk that meets baby’s nutritional needs.

A good time to start experimenting with solids is when your baby is sitting up and seems interested in foods.  Babies are actually pretty curious about everything, and they love to put pretty much anything in their mouths - but if you offer baby a taste and s/he seems curious or eager for more, it’s probably a good time to start.

I’ve started solids for 7 babies at this point, and I have found that I really like starting at around 7 months, give or take a week or two.  I watch my baby and his/her response :)

How Should You Start Solids?
There are two main methods for starting solids:

Starting with Purees - this is the traditional way we think of feeding solid foods to baby. You begin with strained or pureed foods and gradually move up in texture until baby is eating table foods with the rest of the family.

Starting Baby-Led Weaning - this method, taught by Gill Rapley, has become increasingly popular.  It involves offering baby large chunks of food (generally baby-fist-sized) and letting baby self-select and self-feed.

You can also use a combination of the above methods.  Which method is right for you really depends on your family and your baby.  Jarred baby food or homemade baby foods are both an option with purees.  Homemade food takes a little more effort, but can be done in batches that last quite awhile.  With baby-led weaning you’ll probably prepare something right along with your meal (of course, you can also puree a little bit of your meal for baby, too). Baby-led gives your baby a chance to experiment and develop motor skills, but you can also give baby-sized chunks along with purees you’re feeding.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here.  I like giving purees so I can get nutrient-dense foods into my baby as s/he gets more and more interested in solids.  I also like giving those fist-sized chunks for baby to grab, suck, chew, gnaw, and just generally experiment with.  We do a mix :)

Sometimes parents do wonder about choking risks with baby-led weaning.  It’s always good to be with your child as s/he starts to experiment with solids.  Don’t give small pieces of
food - that’s why “fist-sized” is a good guideline.  Babies have very strong gag reflex (which is triggered further forward in the mouth than an adult or older child).  As your little one gets used to handling food in his/her mouth, you may see (and hear!) gagging.  This is normal and part of the learning experience.  Stay calm and watch your little one - give him or her the chance to work out how food and tongue work together while you stay close by to encourage.

What Foods Should You Start With?
Much like other choices with solids, what you start with is up to you, but a few guidelines are helpful:

Avoid the “white out” - Dr. Alan Greene points out that we tend to start our babies with bland, nutritionally-devoid white starches (think baby cereals).  Our babies deserve better, more nutrient-dense foods!  Babies also lack the enzymes to digest many starches (they develop around a year or so old). Start with nutrient-dense foods - better choices for starting foods are pureed meats (very nutrient dense), pureed veggies, and chunks of soft nutrient-rich foods. Some examples are:
  • Banana
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocados

You can serve these in fist-sized chunks, or mashed, or a combination of both! Make sure you also include healthy fats in your baby’s meals.  A little drizzle of butter or coconut oil works well. Many vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning the body cannot absorb them without fat.  Plus fats and cholesterol are vital to your baby’s brain development (even the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that 50% of baby’s and 1-year-old toddler calories should come from fat!).

As your little one gets used to first tastes of simple meats and pureed veggies, you can add in more variety.  Stick to meats, veggies, and fruits, then bring in gentle grains like
rice and oatmeal.

After baby’s getting the hang of solids, you can feel free to season your baby’s food similar to how you season your food - baby has tasted all of those seasonings through your milk, and will grow up to enjoy that cuisine around your table!

How Do You Balance Solids and Breastfeeding?
Many moms wonder how breastmilk and solids fit together, and what meals look like on a day-to-day basis. It’s key to remember that, at first, your baby’s solids are an experiment… they’re something fun for you and your little one.  Don’t push it.  Just a taste here and a partial teaspoon there are good.It’s also good to note that it might take 7-10 or more tastes before your child accepts a new food.  Just keep offering and stay positive.  Take a break from a rejected food and try again in a few days or a couple of weeks.  If you keep mealtimes relaxed and model enjoying good food, your baby will pick up on that!

As your little one gets used to solids, they’ll start to make up more and more of the diet.  You’ll probably begin with just one meal, then move on to two and three solid meals as your little one nears a year.  An afternoon snack also becomes part of many family’s routines, and some families have a morning snack too.  I’ve never liked letting my children “graze,” but we do have regular mealtimes and an afternoon snack time to look forward to :)

Breastmilk can and should continue as long as you and baby want it to.  It continues to provide incredible immune benefits and stays tailed for your baby’s specific nutritional needs for each age and stage s/he goes through.  You can breastfeed on demand between meals - most children do just fine with nursing and solids!

Starting solids is an adventure for both you and your baby! Remember to focus on nutrient-dense foods, keep offering, and follow your little one’s lead - you will both enjoy the journey!

Get more information on starting solids in my video mini-course - click here for more information:

Guest Blogger: Kristen Burgess
Kristen Burgess is the founder of where she’s been writing about everything pregnancy, birth, and baby for the last decade.  Kristen is a wife and mama to seven sweet kiddos and uses her spare time to write a http:/// and produce The Birth, Baby, and Life podcast!