Friday, February 22, 2013

Baby led weaning (Part 1)

Food is very important to me. And has become more so since having a family.

It's also hugely time consuming. Buying, preparing, making, feeding, cleaning up. It's a huge portion of my day as a (currently) stay-at-home Mum. But it's also something that I wanted to do right.

With my first little girl I feel inclined to say that I did it all wrong. That may sound a little harsh, but we really did have a hard time with things. I don't feel that she ate 'normally' until she was over 2. I struggled with feeding her to the point of tears, both our tears that is.

She didn't want to eat, and would sometimes consume maybe half of her recommended calories for the day, and then fill up with milk. This continued for a long time because I would feel relieved that she would drink milk, but then that had the knock on effect of making her less hungry at meal times.

My first food advice came from our local Early Childhood centre. My mothers' group was given a date when our bubs were 4 months old to go back and go through the first steps of getting your child to eat.  There was some very specific advice, but most of it went like this:

- sit them in a high chair, and do not feed them until they can sit upright for a short period of time (supported)
- start with bland foods, like rice cereal. These are 'best' for baby and are a low allergic food.
- blend & sieve everything so there are no lumps. Your baby will not be able to cope with these.
- introduce new foods slowly, every 4 days or so. That way you will know if they have an allergy.
- spoon feed everything.
- homemade purees are best, but new baby products in supermarkets are getting much better.

They also told us that the World Health Organisation keeps changing their minds about when is best to start solids. Between 4 and 6 months. So they told us that 4 months would be fine.

I eagerly sat my little girl in a highchair and gave her the rice cereal watered down with formula a few days later. She seemed interested in having something in her mouth, but didn't eat it. This continued for weeks - we would do a few spoonfuls of one thing or another, but nothing really got consumed.  I made pumpkin and apple purees at home, and these got spat out - I was unable to get rid of the lumps completely, and resorted to store bought baby foods.

Even two months after starting, we were getting through maybe half a packet of spinach and apple puree a sitting. And then a lot of spoon avoidance. Many meals were taking me 45 minutes to an hour, the time it took to distract my little girl and sneak a spoon into her mouth.

By about 9 months the eating was not improving. Miss K's mothers' group contemporaries were eating stews and rice and mushed up pasta at this point, and getting through good quantities too. I just convinced myself that we would get there through persistence and getting her to try new things that she would love! But instead Miss K was becoming anxious around meal times, just like her mum, and was instantly regurgitating anything with lumps, or anything unfamiliar. Granted, I was still tricking her into having all sorts of things put into her mouth that she didn't really want.  But the vomiting was a really bad turn of events.

I spoke to the Early Childhood Centre and they referred me to a speech pathologist.  This is the most common first call for eating problems as sometimes the muscle structure in the mouth can impair eating. She confirmed that there was no physical problem there, just a resistance to food. She encouraged a very gradual introduction of lumps. Say from slightly lumpy mash potato to mashed rice in purees, to adding couscous. None of which was new to us.

At this time I also started letting Miss K have more handheld food. Her friends were eating biscuits and sandwiches at this point. I saw no harm in giving her things to feed herself, especially when they weren't too messy. Looking back, I think this was the way through. These foods became more acceptable to her, and more interesting. She seemed to take more enjoyment in food. She ate fruit like bananas and pears. Slowly things started to improve.

During this time I was also reading Homemade Heart by Talia. Her blog is great reading for both Mums and foodies, and she goes into great detail of how she went with Baby Led Weaning with her little Tabitha. Including lots of photos!
This was a totally new idea to me, essentially it involves letting the baby decide how and what they eat. Messy yet successful I decided to do further research prior to having baby number 2 which I will go into in Part 2 of this post....

Sorry for such a long blog post. These thoughts have been going through my head for a number of years now, I always knew it would be a long one!

Laura x 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Double MoVida day - Melbourne

A few weeks ago I headed down to Melbourne with my sister to meet my Dad to go to the Australian Open Tennis. He flew from Perth to meet us there. It was such a special long weekend. Out of the three of us, I had spent the most time in the city, and I wouldn't call that much.

We met at Rod Laver Arena and spent a full day watching Li Na and Djokovic, amongst others. Such a treat.

On the Saturday we headed to Prahan market in the morning to meet some friends. Amazing market, and no comparison for Sydney (or is there something I'm missing?) It even had an Essential Ingredient inside it, really who could want for more?  

After that I was getting a few tips from Melbournites and Instagram buddies, so decided to wander along to the Movida Bakery in South Yarra.

We had already managed to book a table at Movida Aqui for that evening, but that wasn't going to stop my enthusiasm for a full day of Movida food. Not at all. Going to Movida in Melbourne had been at the top of my foodie places to go for at least a couple of years. 

The bakery is a tiny little place, tucked down a street that looks like it goes nowhere interesting. They only range a few things there - sandwiches, pies, a few cakes and breads to buy for home. But obviously all of it is amazing. 

We had to try the salted caramel doughnuts (I'm so not a doughnut sort of girl either) on recommendations!  Blew my mind. Soft and unctuous, and the caramel had just enough salt to stop that complete sugar overload feeling. I would travel for these, seriously.
We also shared a spanish style lamb & capsicum pie. Perfection. 

After a whole day of city exploring we managed to find Movida Aqui. It's in the heart of the business distract, nested behind the head offices of NAB. 

My Dad and sister patiently waiting for our 6pm table. We were famished!

The restaurant is larger than I expected, but divided by a very large serving area. It had a polished warehouse feel to it with unfinished ceilings and exposed lighting. But furnished with beautiful wooden tables and I totally love those chairs (please get in touch if you know what they are!)

There were six of us eating - and I was chosen to order as I am a bit more familiar with Spanish food than the others. I must admit, with share plating and six of us there was a lot of diving in before photos were taken. I did capture a few though.

Quail a la parilla with sweetcorn puree, pomegranate and pine nuts

I wouldn't normally order Quail, but something told me this dish would be very special. Amazing. I've definitely never tried sweetcorn puree before, and with the pine nuts and pomegranate it made for a sweet and perfect entree. Like I said, wow.

Arroz negro

The arroz negro (black rice) is a squid ink based paella with seafood. The black is totally overwhelming, it looks like the charred remnants of food when it arrived at the table, but had that beautiful paella glisten. Surprisingly the flavour is not disimilar to that of the classic paella, the squid ink almost playing a mind trick. It was divine. There really aren't many places in Australia where you could expect perfect paella, but I knew that it wouldn't disappoint.

We finished the meal with chocolate con churros and the Flan con pestinos. Simple but perfect.

The other dishes that I didn't manage to photograph were:

The mixed hams & chorizo tabla
The carrillera de buey - beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez on cauliflower puree
Alubias verdes - Sautéed green beans with Manchego and bread crumbs

We also had a jug of sangria. It's been a long time since a meal made me this happy. Bring on a trip to Sydney Movida, soon.