In a week’s time, B will be half a year old. Motherhood hasn’t necessarily gotten easier but perhaps I’m learning to adapt to (and to some extent, accept) this new “lifestyle.” I started a regular newsletter of highlights, tips and photos with B’s caregivers and closest family members, got to know more moms with similar aged babies in my condo complex, church and also through the local Meet Up groups.
1. Mutual weaning: There are many days when I struggle to find my equilibrium. It’s almost like I need to wean myself from B just as he starts to wean from breastmilk to solids. How to ensure I have time for other stuff including self and couple care? First things first. After a quick breakfast, I go into his room to watch him and join in a short cat nap, check mail and do my QT.
2. Elusive sleep – Just when you think you’ve cracked the “schedule,” it changes 😦 – B used to sleep through the night from 9p to 5a but now wakes up intermittently, usually crying out loud and needing help to settle back down just like his first few months. It could be that he’s subconsciously processing all the stimuli. Some babies have difficulty sleeping when they’re facing major developmental milestones like rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, talking and new people or environments. Meanwhile, I’m re-tweaking his daily routine to hopefully help: 6a wake up, 7a brekkie, 8a bath, 9a nap #1, 11a lunch, 1p nap #2, 3p milk, 5p nap #3, 6p outdoor time (weather/baby permitting), 630p dinner, 7p sponge bath/quiet down, 8p bed time – with one late night/early morning milk feed as needed … and mommy pumping and getting her own stuff done in between. Wish us luck!
3. Mosquito magnet: The weather has been insufferably hot. Even though we live on a high floor, there was an outbreak of mozzies (and roaches), and B got 4 nasty bites on his left leg, right elbow and chubby cheek (!) despite all our best attempts. He hasn’t recovered as quickly vs previous bites/cuts, and sadly, these have left quite a scar too. We’ve tried turning on the aircon, using spray, lotion, patches, those-things-you-put-below. Maybe we’ll get a baby-safe fan next…. Help?
1. Check up: At 5.5 months, B weighed 8.5 kg (18.7 lbs), 69 cm long (27″) with a 42.5 cm (16.7″) head circumference — over 90 percentile now!
2. Eating 3 “meals” a day with milk and water to supplement: So far, so good. Has tried cereal (rice, corn, buckwheat, quinoa), carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, green beans. Next: Fruit purees
3. Physical: He stands with support, in fact, B tends to always push up when/wherever he can; sits tripod style – propped up on arms and/or rests on his elbows, lifts head 90 degrees and scans 180 degrees; rolls tummy-to-side (though it’s still one sided for now); wiggles forward; uses a two-handed embracing reach; significantly improved dexterity with his fingers and legs (reaches, grasps, transfers from hand to hand/mouth), cranes neck forward to see or eat. Next: Block play, sorting, crawling?
4. Language/social: Shapes mouth to change sounds; mimics sounds, inflection, gestures; blows bubbles; laughs hilariously when tickled, makes motions for attention (flapping arms to be picked up, babbles, coughs, even shrieks; develops better depth perception; gazes intently; tracks accurately
5. Cognitive: Interested in colours. In the mornings, I read his Scholastic baby colourbook and then point out all the items that match the colours around us. Forms mental images of what to expect when given a cue (baby signing will pay off soon I hope); Becomes aware that people and things have labels (who’s your mommy, B?); learns which sounds and gestures get a response; shows decision-making expressions with mouth and hand; figures out objects; Changes hand position to touch objects.
For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.
We introduced B to solids today as he’s been able to hold his head upright steadily, developed a strong grip, shown more interest in adult food/eating, control over his drooling, and seems to have lost his appetite for an all-milk diet. Since he checked in at 8.3 kg (18 lbs) last week, we also feel quite comfortable weaning him now. For starters, I got him wholegrain rice cereal, mixed 1 spoon of cereal with 3 spoons of expressed milk and viola. He took to it quite well and from what I can tell, the organic cereal tastes like Nestum which I grew up eating :). I plan to keep serving cereal alternating with milk, followed by simple fruit and veggie purees over the next few weeks. It’s fairly easy to get started – a steamer and blender for preparation, small airtight food containers for storage, and baby food planning and cooking library books for inspiration.
General rule of thumb below, though some moms I know do baby-led feeding and are more “liberal.”
- Offer the same solids 3 days in a row to ensure no allergies
- Start by alternating milk and pureed solids for lunch/late morning feed (after he’s satisfied his overnight hunger), and then do the same at dinner and finally breakfast/early morning feed
- Maintain 800-1000 ml total daily milk intake (=4 to 5 bottles of 6-7 oz/180-200 ml milk). Between 5-6 months, no milk should be needed after 7pm (B did this at 4.5 months)
- Once he takes to solids, also offer some water to help with digestion and hydration, esp. during the mid-day
- First foods – give them a runny consistency (add milk or reserve cooking liquid to dilute) as he’ll need to overcome his protective reflex that prevents him from swallowing thick solids
- Cereal – rice, maize
- Veg – carrots, sweet potato, yam, butternut squash, pumpkin, potato, zucchini, sweet peas
- Fruits (non-citrus) – avocado, banana, cooked apples, pears
- AVOID – gluten (wheat, bread, rye, barley, oats), eggs, citrus, nuts, dairy/cheese, fish/shellfish, coffee, honey, excessive spice, sugar and salt
- Tips and tricks:
- Offer initial, small tastes (2-3 spoons) with a plastic, shallow weaning spoon – let him suck it off the end first, and gradually, he will learn to swallow without sucking
- Don’t worry if he rejects, it may take up to 10 to 15 tries so try and try again
- Crying in between spoonfuls usually b/c they are frustrated that feeding isn’t continuous
- Sit him on your lap to reduce stress
- Don’t mix solids with milk in a bottle — this amounts to force feeding and may cause choking, faster weaning than needed, and doesn’t enable baby to communicate
- Introduce single portion breakfast with milk, and lunch and dinner meals accompanied by cooled boiled water and diluted juice
- Total daily milk intake (inclusive of milk used for food prep) ~600-800 ml (=3 to 4 bottles of 7-8 oz/200-220 ml milk) with milk primarily given after meals now in addition to the mid-afternoon and late night/early morning feeds, as needed
- New foods – give a variety / coarser texture (minced/mashed vs blended) with iron and protein:
- Meat (usually mix with blander foods e.g. rice, potatoes, and offer at least once a week) – fish, poultry, lean meat e.g. lamb, turkey
- Veg – artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, watercress, spinach, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, leek, cooked lettuce, parsnip, rutabaga, squash, carob, green beans
- Pulses – lentils, split peas, chickpeas, haricot, flageolet and kidney beans
- Fruit – cooked apricot, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, peach, nectarine, plum, prune + citrus (mixed with other fruits to counteract sugar and acidic content) + dried fruit (mixed)
- Finger foods – soft peeled fruit, steamed veg sticks/raw soft veg, bread, rice cakes + nut butters
- Wheat (pasta, cereal), full fat dairy (natural yogurt, well cooked egg, cheese, soy)
- Olive oil, herbs and spices can also be added now, starting mild, one at a time, as well as finely ground nuts, seeds – amaranth, quinoa, tapioca root, poppy, pumpkin, sunflower
- AVOID – cow’s milk (wait till 2 years old), shellfish, soft boiled eggs, coffee, honey, excessive spice, sugar and salt
- Tips and tricks:
- No need to sterilise everything all the time now
- Offer finger foods and water (in a beaker/sippy cup) in between meals, as needed. Get them involved in feeding themselves to encourage independence and coordination. Finger foods also help relieve teething pressure
- Talk to your baby while feeding
- If full, baby will close his mouth or turn head away
- Establish routine with healthy snacks – 3 square meals a day with the family, eat together but beware his emerging personality (self-feeding, fussiness, food throwing, refusal to eat alone)
- Total daily milk intake falls to 500-600 ml. Reduce late night milk feed and supplement the mid-afternoon milk with finger food snacks and water
- Foods: Try new things to stimulate appetite and senses, finely chopped and minced. Basically, almost all the food you eat yourself within reason:
- Fiber – peas, fruit, veggie juice. Avoid bulky fiber in brown rice or whole wheat
- Meat – at least one portion per day, wider range of fish – mackerel, tuna
- Herbs and spices – parsely, oregano, basil, coriander, onions, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla pod
- Tips and tricks:
- Drop milk intake to allow room for solids. Keep up water and juice to avoid constipation
- Offer drinks in cups rather than bottles to help development of baby teeth as cup drinking is much faster – minimising contact with teeth
- Nutritional balance towards strength vs immune boosting – starch, protein, sugar, unsaturated fat for calories and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
- Lots of energy rich food with fiber, esp. for breakfast (cereal, fruits) – his biggest meal
- Eat small portions but varied types of food, as often as needed
- Enjoy the possibilities!
When B began sleeping longer overnight, I still got up at regular intervals to express milk. However, when I mentioned this to a group of other moms at a friend’s party one night, they told me to just sleep and wake with B instead. What a fantastic “get out of jail” card this sounded to a sleep-deprived newborn mom like me! So last week, despite my internal alarm clock and tingling boobs, if B was asleep, I’d snuggle back down. Then last Thursday, I woke at ~1:30a with a sudden headache and burning boob! My left side was inflamed and I spent the next few hours restlessly alternating between a low grade fever and chills after downing two Panadol pills and painfully emptying all the milk I could (a measly ~3 oz/90 ml after 6 hours–eek! vs my usual ~1-1.5 oz/30-45 ml per hour). The next morning, my obgyn and a lactation consultant confirmed that I was showing early signs of mastitis and prescribed antibiotics, painkillers, warm showers, cold compresses, manual pumping and massages for my left boob. It’ll take longer to express milk because of the added TLC but this will enable me to recover and keep breastfeeding. Else, I could apply cold cabbages to dry up the clogged milk ducts but this would eventually reduce my milk supply.
I didn’t want to wean yet, so I spent all weekend diligently treating my boobs, drinking fluids and resting in between. Thankfully the pain and swelling have subsided and my milk output is slowly recovering. Sadly, the biggest takeaway for me after this incident is simply — breast is best but you get no rest! Last night, when B amazingly slept a whole 8 hours (from 9p to 5a!), I dutifully woke up midway to express. Nothing beats a mother’s love and sacrifice 🙂
For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.