Organic Baby Food (in a Pouch!)

I just had my second baby boy in May ’10 and it’s amazing how many different products have jumped on the market since my first son was born. The biggest difference to me is how readily available organic baby food is. I no longer have to make the trek to the specialty grocers… it’s right on the shelf front and center with all the other jarred mainstays. And, there are a ton of different brands too! Three of my favs happen to be Plum Organics, Happy Baby and Bella Baby:

Plum Organics is the first ‘pouch’ I tried, and baby Nate loves every combo. I like the generous portion size of 4.22 oz which is a bit more than your average stage two jar. Plum also sells a spoon you can pop right on the end of the pouch for super portable feeding.

Happy Baby’s pouches are similar to Plum, and I really love some of their combos like banana, blueberry and beets (my toddler actually grabbed one and ate it right out of the pouch and wouldn’t give it back!).  I like Happy Baby as a company too — they partner with Project Peanut Butter to feed malnourished children in Malawi. They have excellent toddler food as well.

Bella Baby is actually a frozen baby food product, which takes a bit more time to prepare, but it means there’s no ascorbic acid to preserve the food — a huge plus for babies with that kind of sensitivity. Each pouch has only one type of food, so you can mix and match, which I think is a great idea for creating variety. The pouches are also great for teething babies: you can open the top, wrap the bottom in a paper towel and allow them to suck on the frozen food.

Snow Angel Day

Woke up to a foot of snow this morning and the weather people are forecasting another six inches to fall throughout the day. Ah, New England in winter! The windows are covered with windswept snow and the tree limbs are almost breaking from their heavy covered limbs. The streets are empty, except for the lone vehicle going who knows where. And there is a special quietness emanating from the snow covered landscape. With a second cup of coffee…I will take the time to take in this wonderful morning. But soon, the neighborhood children will all be about. Some will shovel the front walks and some will pull their sleds to the closest hill. However, a few will give in to that inevitable feeling to just fall back into the soft snow and leave their imprint of their very own snow angel. Remember that feeling? As you swished your arms back and forth, closed your eyes and opened your mouth to catch snowflakes, you wondered what your angel will look like. It is a memory that stays with you forever.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution: Helping to Change the Way our Kids Eat at School

Last night, ABC aired a sneak preview of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, a new show where the cute and quirky British chef takes on America’s school cafeterias and challenges them to serve healthy and delicious food to our kids. I’ve always loved everything about ’the naked chef’ and now I love him even more. Jamie is starting with Huntington, West Virginia, deemed the unhealthiest city in America. The food served is truly disgusting: 90% frozen and processed, without a green veggy in sight. Since it’s easy to watch and judge, I wanted to check out  the school lunches in my town. Here’s this week’s elementary menu from our local paper:

Ugh. Pizza, meatball subs, cheeseburgers, hot dogs and grilled cheeses are the main meals for the week. I can see they are trying to infuse some healthy stuff like carrot sticks and apples. But let’s face it, the kids will eat the grilled cheese, then the tots, then the milk and probably toss the apple. I live in a town just north of Boston, an area that has been deemed one of the healthiest places in the country…you’d think there would be at least one day with some lean white meat (how about a turkey wrap or some bbq grilled chicken?), but instead the focus is on processed red meat and cheese. That’s why I’m behind Jamie all the way. On his website you can sign a petition to support his movement: http://www.jamieoliver.com/. He wants to show the President how many of us parents really care about serving our kids healthy food in school. I signed it and encourage parents to do the same. Go Jamie!

“Food, Inc.” is a Must-See for Parents

Last night I watched Food, Inc., a documentary that “lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA.” What was so eye-opening about the film is just how much our food production processes have changed over my lifetime. The chicken that I ate as a child is not the same chicken that is sold at the grocery store today. Even the seeds that grow grains, soy and other produce are genetically modified… some with hexane, a neurotoxin. As parents, we need to be more informed than our parents were about what they put in our food, because they put so much more. I’d encourage any mother or father to see this film, and make your own decisions about how we choose, purchase and prepare the food that we give our children.

“Traveling with a Toddler: Tips and Tricks to Make your Trip More Enjoyable”

If an upcoming family trip has you feeling anxious about traveling with a toddler and worried about how you can keep him or her occupied, relax and read the following tips. Anticipating any toddler’s needs and being prepared for the unexpected will make the journey so much more enjoyable.

Explain your trip: Know that traveling with young children does disrupt their daily routine and they may need some reassurance that this new undertaking is safe and fun. Talk to them about the airport, the plane, the flight and other things they will see and hear.

Luggage: Have your toddler pull his own carry-on luggage. He will love to be like mom and dad and you can use his carry on to pack the very things he will need on the ride or flight.

A Bag of Fun: Things to pack include: new books, new small toys, finger puppets, crayons, coloring books and paper. I have found that new things will surprise, intrigue and capture their interest. If your toddler has a favorite toy they love, definitely bring it along!

Snacks: Healthy snacks in small individual packages work very well. Pack more than you think in case of unexpected delays. Granola bars, crackers, yogurt, dried fruit, fresh fruit & vegetables (if traveling within U.S. borders) are good choices. Veer away from candy and sugar. You don’t want a hyper child in a confined area!

Extra Wipes: Besides their obvious use, wipes are convenient for cleaning dirty faces, hands, toys that have fallen, and armrests.

Extra Clothes: Toddlers have a knack for spilling everything and anything. Also, make sure you dress your toddler in layers as the weather inside a plane is very unpredictable. An extra change of clothes for Mom and Dad is also a good idea for longer trips, in case any kiddie spills make it to your lap.

Clear Plastic Bags: Use see thru, zip lock plastic bags for all snacks, toys, etc.  It is easier to see what you are looking for and makes it easier for security check points, too

Comfort Items: Bring along your child’s favorite cuddle toy and a soft blanket. No doubt, he will get tired and falling asleep in the airplane seat will be trial enough. However, his favorite sleeping companion will definitely provide some comfort.

Electronic Items/Entertainment: If you can, bring along a portable DVD player and some movies. This can be a real life saver! Instant entertainment!

FAA Rules: If you are flying, check your airline guidelines for toddler seating. They usually require a safety seat/restraint for every toddler. If you don’t need to bring a car seat, you still must have an FAA-approved aviation restraint. The CARES Safety Restraint by Kids Fly Safe is the only one currently on the market. This safety harness comes in it own 6 inch sack and weighs about a pound.  It allows your child to seat in his/her own plane seat, safely and comfortably. Please note, it is only for children who can face forward while riding in a car and weigh over 22 pounds. It’s a relatively new traveling companion and some flight attendants may not be familiar with it, so you may want to take along the included written documentation verifying it’s FAA approved. It is available at amazon.com.

Happy traveling!

Snack and Meal Ideas for a Little One with Dairy Sensitivity

We discovered Leo had dairy sensitivity when I tried to feed him yogurt. Not only did he make a face like it was the worst thing he had ever tasted, he also started breaking out in hives around his mouth and on his chin: the clear sign of a food sensitivity or food allergy. We immediately stopped feeding him any dairy products. Luckily, it’s not anaphylactic, and he should grow out of it. However, it makes for a daunting task as a parent to come up with new foods for a picky toddler, when most kid-friendly foods have dairy as a main ingredient (mac-n-cheese, pizza, ice cream! etc).

(***Please note that I am NOT a doctor and all foods given to your allergic child should be cleared by your pediatrician***)

Here a list of things that we like to feed Leo, for snacks, meals, or a mix of both:

  • fresh fruits: bananas, pears, peaches, plums, blueberries, strawberries, etc
  • fruit cups: the kinds that are in light syrup or water
  • black beans
  • avocado
  • soy cheese
  • soy yogurt
  • chicken nuggets (I like the kind in the natural food section… all white meat and wheat breading. A little more expensive but I serve less nuggies with more veggie and fruit sides)
  • turkey sausage or meatballs
  • sliced deli meat and soy cheese in wheat tortilla roll-ups
  • grilled cheese (made with soy cheese)
  • ritz crackers with jam (we taught Leo how to ‘dip’ and he loves it!)
  • cereal bars or soft granola bars
  • broth based soups (ministrone, chicken and rice, chicken veggie, etc)
  • cooked veggies (peas, broccoli, carrots, edamame beans, etc)
  • sweet potato, microwaved, skinned and cut into cubes OR sweet potato fries (basically cut into stripes, dipped in oil and baked in the oven)
  • cheerios or any wholesome cereal
  • toast with jam (I use Olivio instead of real butter)
  • soynut and jelly sandwiches (Leo’s absolute favorite)

To increase the calcium lost by not having a dairy intake, try to buy:

  • calcium fortified cereal
  • calcium fortified orange juice
  • calcium fortified soy milk

Important fact: There are dairy / food allergies, and food sensitivities. Leo is in the sensitivity category, so he can have things that come in contact with dairy, and still be okay. PLEASE always consult your doctor about what your child can and cannot have. This is only a list of ideas if you child is cleared for most items due to a dairy sensitivity.

Here are some websites/articles with great info:

http://www.faiusa.org/

http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/

http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/index.html

http://www.allergykids.com/

http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill_injure/sick/food_allergies.html

http://www.cookiemag.com/brain/kidhealth/2009/02/allergies

Good luck, and please comment / email if you have any other info.

“I’d trade my husband for a housekeeper”

Okay, so that’s going a bit far, but it sure is a catchy title for the new book by best-selling authors Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile. This is sort of a follow-up to their first book, I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids. The two ladies wondered if marital bliss could ever co-exist with the trials and tribulations of motherhood and so they set out and interviewed hundreds of mothers to find out. I’d Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper examines the challenges of modern parenthood for married couples today and it extends a loving hand so that mothers can step out of the madness make the most of what they have and learn to love their marriages as much as they love their husbands and kids.

Today the authors were featured on Oprah with real mothers recanting not-so-perfect mom stories that were hilarious, very real, and conjured up big sighs of relief that I’m not the only one who has done or thought that. My favorite story was the woman who was driving in her car and both of her kids fell asleep at the same time. A rare occurance, she didn’t want to wake them at any cost. When nature called, she simply reached in the diaper bag and used one of her child’s pampers to make sure she could keep driving in peace!