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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Baby-Led Weaning + 6 Month Update

Baby-Led Weaning + 6 Month Update


This post has been a very long time coming for both topics, haha. I have been promising a Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) update since we started the method with Sophia two years ago and baby Anthony is about to be eight months. EIGHT. I figure I need to start this with a disclaimer as all parenting decisions seem to be controversial. This is our personal experience doing BLW with our children and we love it and plan to do it with all our children however this is in no way of judgment for parents who decide to go the puree route or use a combination of both. Take my experience and knowledge along with your own personal research to find what method is best for YOU and YOUR family, this method just happens to be best for OURS.

Every time we mention how we skipped over purees with Sophia and now baby Anthony, people seem to be in awe and have so many questions but two of the most frequently asked questions are what is BLW and won't they choke? I'll address the second question first and then go into more detail about BLW with the first question next.

Won't they choke?
As long as you follow certain measures, your baby isn't anymore likely to choke then when being spoon fed purees therefore always ensure your child is sitting upright in a highchair and never put food in your child's mouth for them when following the BLW method and avoid foods that are an obvious choking hazard.
What is Baby Led Weaning?
For the first year of their life, babies get ALL their nutrition from either breastmilk or formula therefore food before one is just for fun (remember this cute saying no matter what route you take). There is no pressure to make sure the baby eats food in a certain order and a certain amount of times per a day. BLW is allowing your baby to explore food on their terms and decide how to manipulate it.

When following BLW, our children are offered whatever we are eating therefore there is no additional prep which was a major incentive for me. The only difference is the food is properly cut up for them to handle safely (typically this is the width and length of your pinky finger). Having it cut into finger foods allows our children to be able to have a "handle" to hold on to and still plenty of the food item sticking out to gnaw on. In the beginning, it isn't likely they will actually eat anything as they are just learning how to hold it and bring it to their mouth (hand-eye coordination) and working on the chewing motion (helps develop facial muscles that will be needed as they learn to talk). Eventually the baby learns the ability to swallow and then they even begin to realize, food helps them feel full. However breastmilk or formula is still where babies get all their nutrition from for the first year of their life so always be sure your baby has had a full milk feeding before each "mealtime" with the family. 

One of the biggest reasons we loved doing BLW was because momma got to eat while the food was still warm (although there is some sitting on the edge of your seat in the beginning of the BLW as parents are learning the difference between gagging and choking which gagging is okay, it is teaching your child how to chew food into smaller pieces to allow for easier swallowing and again as long as your child is sitting upright in a highchair and they alone are in control of the food going into their mouth, choking isn't anymore likely to happen then when they are being fed purees).

There are numerous benefits and I won't get into every one but I will highlight the ones that were important for us:

  • everyone is able to enjoy family mealtimes together, sitting together at the table for dinner is an important part of our family that we started when we first got married so being able to all sit together and eat at the same time with babies at the table is just beautiful.
  • no mealtime battles, our babies eat or refuse whatever is offered to them. We still offer the same food they may have refused at one mealtime at another mealtime in the future as refusing is not always an indicator that they don't like something. We typically find our children just aren't in the mood for it at that time therefore we do not force them to eat it once refused at that sitting as this develops a trust for food.
  • a positive attitude toward food, as mentioned above we allow our children to accept or reject food and because they are in control, food phobias and food refusals are less likely (Sophia will at least take a bite of something majority of the time we ask her to before refusing and that is all we ask for her is to at least try something before saying no).
  • appetite control, since babies are in control of the food that enters their mouth they develop the ability to stop eating when they are satisfied and are less likely to overeat.

Overall, I highly recommend BLW to all families and suggest you read the Baby-Led Weaning book before starting your journey to ensure this method is right for you and your family.


Six Month Update

Shortly after turning five months, our big guy finally decided to test the waters and army crawl. He even started to roll over and scooch out of his DockATot in the middle of naptime, so we started naptime in his pack n play so we didn't have to worry about him falling off the bed. Disclaimer: it is recommended to NOT put the DockATot in an enclosed environment such as a crib, bassinet, pack n play, etc. He also kept rolling onto his belly during naps and that made this momma panic so I was hovering like crazy the first week or so but luckily the DockATot is created out of breathable material (read more about our DockATot experiences here, here and here). Baby Anthony also discovered his toes and sat in a grocery cart for the first time (but we decided to wait a little longer before trying again because homeboy was just gangster leaning the whole time). And if he didn't learn enough this month, he also started to lunge forward by lifting up and trying to get on his knees and would throw himself. He even decided to treat himself to a curly fry that was left in a bag on the floor so I guess he was too impatient to wait three more days to get this BLW thing going right on his six month mark (Sophia's first solid was also a fry if I remember correctly). Baby Anthony is growing way to fast and constantly has me on my toes but I wouldn't change it.

Six Month Stats
Weight: 21 pounds
Height: 27.5 inches long
Head Circumference: 44.5 inches diameter

Firsts
army crawl
cloth diaper
found his toes
nap in pack n play

Loves
army crawling
following sister

Hates
being on his back
being left out

What I Want to Remember
his huge grin from ear to ear
the way he throws himself forward when he is overly excited to get to something
his sweet giggles

Have you done (or considering) Baby-Led Weaning for any of your children? Or do you prefer starting with purees?

If you found this post helpful or know someone who would, please share it! I have made this pinnable image below to make it easier to share and pin!!

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Stormie Ramirez
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Monday, June 4, 2018

Learning Through Play

Learning Through Play


This post was created in partnership with PicassoTiles but all thoughts and opinions are of my own.

I absolutely love learning and am a huge advocate for early childhood education except I don't think learning has to mean sitting down doing worksheets or flash cards at the early age of two (and this is what they do in most day cares even before two, trust me I have worked in quite a few of them). Children learn by their environment and their surroundings and by playing. There is honestly nothing extravagant you have to do besides spend quality time playing with your young children.
 As you pick up toys to play with, you naturally discuss the object in hand which could be the color and shape of it. You can ask yourself questions that you of course already know the answer to but your child may not: "does it bounce?" "does it have wheels to push back and forth?" "does it make noise?" All these questions and discussions help build their vocabulary and overtime they catch on to colors and how to identify them. Children will catch on to the different basic shapes. There isn't a need to drill or give them a pop quiz on colors, numbers, shapes, alphabet, etc. During these early years, it isn't about mastering all the concepts as soon as possible or being the smartest two year old because trust me they will have plenty of time to master them. As parents, we want to foster a love of learning and how can that be done if we are constantly doing drills or pulling out the flash cards (not that there is anything wrong with flash cards as some kids really enjoy it). The point is to find your child's favorite activity, be involved and just make conversation with them as you play, even if you think it's over their heads. You don't have to "dumb" stuff down or talk in "baby language" use real words to help expand their vocabulary and their thought process.
This is where toys like PicassoTiles come in handy as their brand truly fosters learning by playing. Sophia loves building and while she is playing with her Alphabet Set Magnet Tiles, our conversations can go so many ways. We can discuss the letter that is on each individual tile, we can discuss the color of the tiles, we can go around the house and see what we can stick the magnets to. We can create 2D or 3D shapes. Our options are really endless as we are fostering early foundations in reading (alphabet), math (shapes, 2D and 3D objects), science (magnetic polars), creativity and imagination (open-ended play possibilities) all while playing.
Tip: You can easily add on to the magnetic tiles just like the bristle blocks I talked about last month as PicassoTiles sells different sets.

We also love playing with PicassoTiles Engineering Construction Set, to push Sophia's creativty even further as she can build whatever her mind can dream of (I have always joked that she is my future engineer since she loves building so much) and if you are stumped like me because my imagination is limited they do have an idea book to get your wheels turning. While you are creating and building, you can discuss the color and the amount of pieces you need: "I need one more yellow piece with three holes" as you grab the piece or "can you pass me that red screw" while pointing at the one you need are all great ways to continually build your child's vocabulary and helping them discover colors, shapes and numbers.
Again, you don't need to create a curriculum to last you through the year and you don't need worksheets galore, just get on the floor and play with your kid with good quality toys that have open-ended creative play like PicassoTiles.

If you know someone who would benefit from this post, please feel free to share. I also created a pinnable image so you can bookmark this post to come back to view later on.

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Stormie Ramirez
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Thursday, May 17, 2018

6 Ways to Help a Family in Need

6 Ways to Help a Family in Need


As y'all know Anthony and I have been on this yo-yo unemployed/underemployed life for 10 months now and we have had so many people in our life help us along the way to make this time a tad easier although the only thing that would make this easier would be a stable income (just being honest). Often times people do ask how can they help and maybe it's pride or maybe it's not wanting to be a burden or maybe a mix of both but it is hard just saying what you need so I decided to put a list together of the ways you can come alongside a family you may know that is struggling with unemployment or underemployment and help them during this difficult time.

1. Monetary donation 

We were blessed at the beginning of this journey by a family that gave us a monetary donation and we held on to it until we absolutely needed to use it on bills. This is honestly the biggest way you can help someone although you know the family best and know if they would be wise with this donation or not. If you feel they would spend this unwisely, maybe pay a bill for them yourself as in you call the company and give the account number and payment.

2. Food

There are so many subscription boxes out for everything including meals so gifting a one time (or reoccurring) meal box to a family in need would be an amazing blessing. You could even consider preparing a meal yourself and dropping it off to the family to avoid high cost on yourself (this is also a great idea for families welcoming new children either by birth or adoption, I also plan to share ways to help a family with a new baby/child in the future so stay tuned for that as well). 

3. Gift cards

Provide gift cards from a local grocery store (possibly one that also has a gas station). This will allow the family to get food as needed, household items like toilet paper, laundry soap, etc., or even gas for their vehicle.

4. Diapers/Wipes

If there are young children in the family consider donating diapers and wipes to them (if they cloth diaper ask what type of detergent they use and donate that to them). Also consider donating menstrual items for the young girls and women in the family or teaching them about menstrual cups and cloth pads that can be reused each cycle (I also plan to discuss this in the future further).

5. Clothing

Again if they have young children, they grow out of things extremely fast so consider offering them your children's hand me downs or even buying clothes from a second hand store (see my tips for thrift shopping children's clothes here). Helping a family in need doesn't have to be expensive.

6. Pray

And I mean really pray for them. In our society, we easily say "I'll pray for you" or "We are praying" and never do or my favorite and unrealistic phrase "claim it in the name of Jesus and it is yours" as if Jesus is a genie and we rubbed his lamp for three wishes. But really truly pray for them as you pray for your own family and your own needs, pray that God will build their trust and faith in Him, that God will be glorified in their struggles and that they will cast their worries onto Jesus and God will lead and guide them on their real life scary decisions that need to be made.


Often times, it is better to just do these things without asking the family in need because sometimes it is hard to swallow the pride and admit you need help so just ask the type of laundry soap they use or for their account number to a billing company (I wonder if you could just provide the name and address to the billing company and surprise the family with an anonymous bill payment). There are so many other ways that you could do to help a family in need, these were just the ones that have been incredibly helpful for us personally thus far so if you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comments below and as always I created a pinnable image to share with friends and family as you see fit.

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Stormie Ramirez
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