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Posts for: May, 2012

By contactus
May 10, 2012
Category: Baby Blog
Tags: Untagged

Exploring the fact that 1+1 doesn't always equal 2.

Jack doesn't get the chance to spend too much time with other children, so when I was asked to   watch a friend's one-year-old for an hour the other morning, I was happy to oblige. When I brought Jack downstairs to see his little visitor and his face beamed with delight, I knew she would be spending the rest of the day with us. 

There are ways in which two children are easier than one, even at 13 and 14 months old.  They were happy to entertain each other: Jack stacked rings and Natalie removed them; Natalie dropped a small stuffed animal on the floor and Jack reached down, picked it up, and handed it to her; Natalie leaned on Jack's back for support when trying to walk, which prompted the cutest scene imaginable: he turned around to face her, and held his arms out across her shoulders, like they were at a junior high school dance.   But just as I was about to get a little too proud of my little gentleman, the screaming began. 

Natalie is a sweet, mellow little girl, but she'll let you know when you've done her wrong. She found Jack's step stool (which has his name on it, so she should have known better) and started pushing it around the kitchen floor.  Jack, seeing his turf invaded, needed to get his stool back.  It wasn't an aggressive push, just a nonchalant takeover of the stool, as if she weren't even there. She screeched, so I asked him to share, for whatever that was worth.  Then she moved on to his stationary musical bike, another favorite of his.  The stool, of course, held no interest for him anymore, so he wormed his way onto the bike with a look on his face like "what's the problem?"  She held her ground and screamed again.

The child care aspect of having two children the same age is much more challenging than one: double the amount of food to prepare, diapers to change, hurt feelings to soothe. But what really got me was the fact that they both seemed to need things at exactly the same time, so there was no way to feel like I was helping one without neglecting the other. This kind of thing has to get easier with practice, because it was exhausting.  My whole routine (and I live by routine) was off kilter, and just about when I thought it was too much, I realized that Natalie was yawning, so I put them both down to sleep.

After their (simultaneous!) naps, I couldn't locate one of Natalie's socks and shoes (one of her cute quirks is that she likes to take her right shoe and sock off). I ended up having to pack her in the car in mismatched socks and no shoes.  This isn't exactly up to snuff for Natalie, since she typically is the best-dressed baby around, but that is the risk someone takes when they leave their child with me.  We headed to the Amherst office to visit their NAP family over lunch.

Later that afternoon, in preparation to bring them outside, I said, "I wonder where Natalie's socks and shoes are? I need to find them so that we can go outside." [Sometimes I wonder where my sanity has gone.  I tend to narrate things all the time now. I found myself at work the other day at a lunch meeting, handing utensils to a colleague and labeling the items as I passed them: "plate," "napkin," "fork."  This is embarrassing]. Within a minute, Jack came in to the kitchen with the lost shoe!  I was equally impressed by both the fact that he understood me AND was able to find the lost item. Just as I was about to look online for baby genius schools, it dawned on me that he was probably the one who moved (or hid!) the shoe in the first place.  After all, he is starting to enter that phase where it is fun to place, throw, and tuck things inside and underneath places: in boxes, under the couch, in the garbage (!) which explains the fact that all of his formally new toys are now missing pieces.

Just as the end of the day approached, they both had the obligatory melt down.  Each of them stopped crying when held, but the child left on the floor then started crying again.  I tried holding both of them, but then they just started pushing each other away, since apparently they each wanted my sole attention.  That is precisely the moment that my friend came to pick up Natalie, since that how it always happens: the day runs smoothly while unobserved, but there needs to be a witness to incompetence.

As things winded down, Jack patted Natalie on the head goodbye. This was an accomplishment in being gentle, but not exactly chivalrous. I didn't have the heart to tell him that in these kinds of interpersonal interactions, this particular move could be interpreted as condescending. We'll keep working on it. 

 

 

 

 


By contactus
May 10, 2012
Category: Baby Blog
Tags: Untagged

As a child ages, his tastes get more discriminating.

Our approach to feeding Jack has always been to offer him as wide a variety of healthy foods as possible.  The foods that a child comes to like have to do with culture, environment and repeated exposures, so we don't shy away from things we might not otherwise eat ourselves. It has helped us broaden our own palates: last winter we ate turnips (since root vegetables are so simple to steam and mash for a baby) and cauliflower (which neither of us would otherwise have prepared). We also try to take advantage of our own disagreements about food: I don't cringe as Jack devours sardines (although I might leave the room), and my husband looks the other way as the slippery texture of avocado gets sucked down.  There is no better opportunity that these early years to help a child eat right.  All people innately find sugar, salt and fat appealing (perhaps even addictive) so we try feed him the more subtle and exotic flavors when he is at his hungriest.

Jack has been known to act as the human vacuum cleaner, but in the last three months, as his relationship to food has changed, he has become more selective.  At nine months, children start developing a pincer grasp, so as he was learning to feed himself, meals start getting messier and taking longer to complete. Food ended up on the floor, the face, the clothes, and hopefully at least some in the mouth.  He had never previously refused food, but all of a sudden, things changed.  The mouth still opened wide, the food went in, but then slowly rolled right back out. By 10 months, he no longer automatically opened his mouth.  He would closely inspect  the food with his eyes crossed and then either open his mouth, or demurely shake his head "no."  Sometimes the "no" was because he preferred to have a drink of water before proceeding with his meal, sometimes he was waiting for a new food, sometimes he was full, and sometimes, he just meant "no" because he felt like it. 

Now that he is beyond a year, we take full advantage of his ability and desire to feed himself and offer him almost entirely with finger foods. They are still all homemade and very simple: steamed carrots/squash/sweet potatoes/green beans cut into bite-sized pieces, peas, kidney or black beans, small pieces of cheese, small cut up pieces of chicken or other meat, spinach patties (his favorite), small pieces of bread or toast with peanut butter, etc.  And for dessert: any kind of berry, raisins, or other fruit will make him go absolutely wild.  Allowing him to feed himself avoids food battles and allows him to stop eating when he is full and maintain his own internal sense of satiety.

Something my husband and I have both encountered along this journey to feed our kid "right" has been the friction between our perspectives towards food and common cultural assumptions.  I often hear "kids won't eat that" (referring to anything from sweet potatoes or plain yogurt to all of the greens that he loves).  There is no question that we are blessed with a hungry baby who loves to eat, so this has made our job easier.  But we take his food very seriously: children learn from their experiences and it is much easier to teach him to prefer and enjoy healthy foods now, then to have to teach him to like these things when he is 5 or 6 years old, or as a teenager.  The also model their parents' food habits, so we make sure to eat things that we are willing to share (he's always asking for food off our plates), and we save the cake for after he's gone to bed!

The challenge comes from wanting to share my own tastes and fond memories of food with Jack. These may not be healthy choices, so it is a conscious effort to steer his tastes in a different direction.  Many of my fond childhood memories around food center around "treats," like ice cream at the local Carvel in the summertime, loads of candy at Halloween (I used to eat through the chocolate in 3 days), or going out for pizza.  What parent wouldn't want their child to share in this enjoyment? There is nothing wrong with enjoying these foods. But what we are trying to create for Jack is just as wonderful a memory around raspberries or fruit salad (and yes, spinach patties!). 




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