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Archive for the ‘Solid Foods’ Category

Making Baby Food

In the interest of time – that being that I don’t have much of it – I have shamelessly plucked this post from my personal blog. Because sometimes, that’s exactly How We Do It: we double up or skip something or use something twice for the sake of efficiency. Enjoy!

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During Ike, we started each of the kids on rice cereal, but that’s just because we had time to kill being evacuated in San Antonio and what better thing is there to do than to video your kids eating food so you can post the clips for the Internet to see?

However, we didn’t officially start the RJBs on rice cereal until October 4, around 5 ½ months. We were in no rush to start them on solids because we’re just beginning to enjoy the time of feeding them without projectile vomiting, covering ourselves in towels, and in general, having the house wrapped up like the quarantined cloaked and hooded mess in the movie ET before ET finally found his heartlight, let it shine wherever you go, let it make a happy glow for all the world to see, Amen.

Three days after their 6 month birthday, and two days before their 6 month appointment, we gave them their first solid: sweet potatoes. Up until that time, we had been giving them their solid at mid-morning and mid-afternoon, starting with 1 tablespoon once a day and moving up to 3-4 tablespoons twice a day and not as runny. At our doctor appointment, though, he suggested giving them their solids when WE would eat solids – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – so that as time passes and they drop bottles, what’s left is regular meal times.

INFANT FEEDING SEATING
As an aside, I address here, for purposes of relevance, a question my good friend Meg asked about the chairs we use for the kids. We use the Chicco Hippo Hook-On Chair. They retail for a totally-worth-it $49.99 each. Our house is small and narrow and there is no space for two traditional highchairs. The Hook-ons are best used on tables that are well grounded with four legs (not the tables with one central ‘leg’ which become a tipping hazard). The seats are very secure after installation and the fabric is removeable and washable. And with messy eaters like Mateo, that is SO HANDY. To keep the table clean, we use Tiny Diner Placemats by Kiddopotamus. They wash and wipe easy and the little scoop is pretty invaluable.

Breakfast

We haven’t gotten to the point of having to seriously attend to the rug under the table (since they are not yet feeding themselves), but after polling my local Mom’s of Multiples group, suggestions include clear office mats, oilcloth purchased from a fabric store, plastic floor protectors from Ikea, splat mats from Land of Nod, or a Mimi The Sardine mat which I’m told can also double as table covers for arts and crafts. Sure those last two are cute, but the sizes seem awfully small, particularly for the price. Two feet by three feet? Add some velocity to the wingspan of my kids and that will be no match, even if it does have cute ladybugs on it. For now, we use the purchased-on-clearance towels that are no longer protecting the couch from barfing.

INFANT FEEDING SCHEDULE
As for our infant feeding schedule, every care provider and parent is different, but we’re doing the following:

  • Breakfast: 2 cubes solid + 2 tbsp rice cereal, followed by bottle if still hungry
  • Mid-Morning Snack: bottle only
  • Lunch: 2 cubes solid + 2 tbsp rice cereal, followed by bottle if still hungry
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack: bottle only
  • Top-Off Bottle: this is something we have the daycare do at 4:00p.m. because if the kids had to wait from 2ish to 7 to eat, their heads would spin off the axis of their necks. We have seen this happen and do all we can to avoid it.
  • Dinner: 2 cubes solid + 2 tbsp rice cereal. No bottle. Mostly because they just had a bottle (anywhere from 2-7 ounces) at 4:00 p.m. and dinner is around 6:15 p.m.
  • Night Snack: Bottle only – they get this after their baths.

MOTIVATION
I am by no means an extremist: I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t buy only organic, I do use disposable diapers, I do get my kids vaccinated, I do use tap water (though filtered through the refrigerator) for their bottles, I do use generic formula from Costco, I do use formula instead of breastmilk, I do use cleaning chemicals in the house and not just vinegar and water, I don’t grow my own vegetables, I do store food in plastic containers, I do not compost food scraps, I do recycle for the most part. Basically, I’m right down the middle when it comes to being environmentally conscious and responsible within reason for the kids. And I say because I am making their baby food (so far), but I don’t do it simply for green or health reasons. I also do it because I enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen.

RUNNING THE NUMBERS
In my first batch, I made TEN DAYS WORTH OF ORGANIC FRUITS AND VEGGIES FOR TWO BABIES FOR UNDER $22.00. For this post, I ran some numbers and discovered that 16 packs (servings) of Stage 1 food in a container that is 2.5oz each would run an average of $10.50. (and would probably include some waste because the kids are not yet eating 2.5 oz solids at each meal yet). For two kids then, $22.00 worth of containered food would get me through roughly 6.5 days.

Ok, so yeah, there’s the time factor (5 hours over three nights, including prep and cleanup, split up that way because we also wanted to watch TV or needed to do laundry, etc.) and the gas-factor. And I could go around justifying this dollar and that trip and whatever, but the fact is I love being the kitchen, don’t find it stressful, and am rather enjoying it. SO MOM, IF YOU ARE LISTENING, I AM NOT TRYING TO BE A SUPERMOM OR SUPERHERO OR TOO EARTHY, IT’S JUST A NON-ISSUE FOR ME SO BACK OFF BECAUSE MY STUBBORNESS CAME FROM YOUR SIDE OF THE FAMILY.

MEAL PLAN
The first batch included sweet potatoes, pears, apples, butternut squash and carrots.

DSC_8165

This week, I’ll make cauliflower, peas, mangos, watermelon, and zucchini. I’m mostly running through the veggies first, but there will be enough stored to last us (including what they’ve already eaten) through the end of November. Not bad.

RECIPE BOOKS
To be honest, I could have just as easily found some basic information from the internet and gone from there. For example, an old Young Life Wilderness Ranch Staff buddy recommended Wholesome Baby Food and I am sure there are countless others. I know of some readers who love the Annabel Karmel website. But since I had purchased or received these books from my registries prior to the Vomit Months, I’ll go ahead an list them here:

Baby Blender Foods – decent book. Tells you what can be frozen, gives some recipies, etc.

Anne Karmel’s Top 100 Baby Purees – pretty pictures, better information on freezing/serving, but hugely skimpy on the first foods, and some of the multi-ingredient recipes are just flat out frightening.

METHODOLOGY
Step 1: Depending on the vegetable or fruit, I may have to peel or cut prior to cooking. My favorite peeler is the Swiss Kuhn Rikon, first recommended to me by Chef Randy Evans, the executive chef I spent the day with during my fabulous 33rd birthday present.

I picked up the Swiss Kuhn Rikon peeler at Sur La Table , they’re super inexpensive and super sharp. I know this because I accidentally peeled half my finger nail off in one stroke while peeling sweet potatoes. They’re no longer on Sur La Table’s website, but I know they sell them there.

Step 2: Because steaming food preserves the nutrients, has less nutrient runoff from water, and I can also use the same water (with nutrients still in it) to thin the food item in the food processor, I mostly steam the food. But let’s get real here, I steam the food because it gives me a chance to use my lovely Dr. Weil™ Spring® Healthy Kitchen 2-Tier Steamer that I love almost as much as Mateo loves his Wubbanub Penguin and as much as Harper hates to take naps. I tend to make enough of the vegetable to cover dinner(s) for Jen and I and at least 4 days worth per food item for the kiddos. (Some families do far less than that between introducing new foods, some go a whole week. This works for us.)

Step 3: I’ve had a Cuisinart® Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor a very long time and am only now appreciating its usefulness. I can puree in seconds, or later, chop just as quickly.
My food processor just recently asked if it was getting a pension for all the use I’m giving it now.

Step 4: After letting the puree cool, I pour the wholesome goodness into the ice cube trays directly from the food processor container. For somewhat thicker puree’s, I use a collapsible funnel that I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond quite a while back.

For ice trays, I really like my “Perfect Cube” Ice Cube Trays. Each cube, when filled just below the top (so you don’t spill) is approximately 2 Tablespoons = 1 fluid ounce = 29.5736 Milliliters. You can order them online from Target, but I ended up purchasing mine from Sur La Table because they were, surprisingly, less expensive there and there’s a storefront not far from home. A “serving” of baby food is usually about 50ml, so there.

Step 5: I cover the ice cube trays with plastic wrap and stack them in the freezer over night. Usually by the next morning, and most definitely by the next evening, I can pop out the cubes from the trays and store accordingly.

Step 6: The majority of the food cubes, particularly since when I am making baby food, I’m making it in bulk, gets stored in the freezer using my Foodsaver Food Sealer Vacuum. FoodSavers keep food up to 5x fresher than traditional ziplocks and risk of freezer burn is close to the chance of Mateo not drooling for a whole day. I purchased mine from Bed Bath & Beyond about two years ago, and it’s in their stores, though not on the website. I just gotta use those 20% off coupons that come in the mail.

Apples & Sweet Potatoes

Step 7: I leave out and/or take out of the freezer 24-48 hours worth of food at one time. I store these in serving portions in The First Years Take-N-Toss Bowls with Lids containers which my sister suggested and I now love. They come in a pack of 7 for around $3.50. I bought three packs so there’s enough for two kids for a day’s worth to be in the dishwasher, the refrigerator, and daycare. I made labels (we have to label everything for day care) and have containers labeled Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. So no matter who is feeding them or whether it is at home or away, there’s no question as to what and how much to feed.

I’m not willing to say that I’ll forever make their food, or even that I will not use jarred food. I’m not averse to using jarred food in a pinch. If parenting has done anything to me, it has made me a much more flexible, this-is-somewhat-our-plan-but-we’ll-see-how-things-go kind of person. For now, it works, and it gets me back in the kitchen, doing a thing that I love to do, and knowing that I’m participating in providing my entire family with nutritious foods.

Organic

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A reader asked through our Features page whether the HDYDI moms have any recommendations for high chairs.  Well, of course we do! But there’s no single “best” option.  It depends on your space and other needs.  We’ll review the two main types: standard high chairs and the ones that strap onto other chairs, as well as give you some tips on what to look for when making your selection.

Standard High Chairs

Certainly the most commonly-seen and with the most available options, the standalone high chairs are what most of us initially think of when it comes to feeding babies and toddlers their “solid” foods. A quick peek at the Babies R Us website shows over 60 chairs by 14 different brands, ranging in price from $45 to $300!  You can go from vinyl upholstery to sleek Scandinavian styling, full-sized with bells and whistles to compact and minimal. That’s one of the main upsides to the traditional high chair: lots of styles and options to choose from. Many have an extra layer to the tray that snaps off and is dishwasher safe for easy clean-up, and they are often cushy and comfy for the kids.  Many also have height adjustments if you want the kids to be sitting higher or lower for easier reach with the spoonful of pureed sweet potatoes.

The downside is space and portability.  Even with the slimmest of models, two traditional high chairs are going to take up a substantial footprint in your kitchen.  While some fold up more easily and compactly than others, the likelihood of you folding and storing both high chairs 3-5 times a day?  Questionable, at best.  For the same reason, they are not especially portable.  Sure, you can fold them up and throw them in the back of the van, but are you really going to want to do that for every little trip over to grandma’s house?

Booster Seats

The alternative is a wide variety of shapes and styles that are meant to attach to a chair or the table.  For today’s purposes, we’re going to stick with those appropriate for babies and young toddlers.  While there’s arguably wider variation in style than the traditional high chairs, there are overall significantly fewer options.  Some of the models strap onto a dining room or kitchen chair, usually with one strap that goes underneath and one that goes around the back of the chair. They have smaller trays than regular high chairs, and often the tray can be removed when you’re ready for the kids to join you at the table.  Some are hard plastic and some are padded, some recline.  The Fisher-Price brand boosters are a big hit among the HDYDI moms.

The second main category are those that hook onto tables.  Definitely consider the sturdiness of your table in relation to the weight of your child when choosing one of these, and know that they don’t work on all tables (like those with a bit of a “lip” underneath).  Also consider whether food will be placed directly onto your kitchen table, in bowls, or on some kind of placemat.  The likelihood being, we assume, that your kitchen table is not dishwasher-safe.  But two of the HDYDI moms have the Chicco brand hook-on chairs and love how much space they save, even if there are phases (say, the early days of finger foods) when everything manages to get spilled in the cracks.  But hey, that will happen with any of them.

While they don’t work in all circumstances, booster and hook-on chairs are a popular choice in twin families for the very obvious reason that they take up much less space.  They just work with furniture you already have and adapt it to your kids.  How handy!  Many of them are also very easy to clean, and fold up compactly for easy travel.

Features to look for

Once you’ve determined what your space constraints and aesthetic preferences are, there are a few other practical matters to consider.  First and foremost is ease of cleaning.  At my house, we have two standard high chairs that are essentially the same, except one has cloth upholstery and one has some kind of plastic/vinyl.  When we were setting them up, my husband remarked that he wished we had gotten both in the cloth, since the vinyl just didn’t seem an appealing surface to sit on for our delicate children.  Then those delicate children began spilling sweet potatoes and banana everywhere.  And everything they ate got mushed into the seats of their chairs.  They got quickly nasty, and it was then that I learned the cloth chair came with instructions to… wait for it… dry clean only.  You must be joking.  I threw caution to the wind and put it in the wash, and it came out just fine.  But still, that cloth one is an enormous pain in the butt to clean.  Even the vinyl one, though it wipes clean more easily, still has a lot of nooks and crannies where things get a little stuck. Anyways, have messy babies in mind when selecting your chairs.

Then, consider any particular features you think you’ll want.  For instance, some people find that it helps to slightly recline babies as they first get the hang of slurping off of the spoon.  Not all chairs recline, but many standard ones do, as do some of the booster variety.  Also test the way the tray comes on and off, and consider how you’d get a wiggly baby into the seat safely.  Check belts to see if you want a five-point harness or a three-point one (honestly, in my big high chair, I almost never use the restraints, as I find the tray keeps them in just fine).

Something Different

A few other notes on high chair options.  One of the HDYDI moms had a stroke of genius: wooden restaurant high chairs! If you can find a restaurant supply store near you, they can be a cheap and stable option, though not portable.  For other money-saving possibilities, don’t forget your local twin club sale and Craigslist.  IKEA also sells the high chairs that they use in the in-store cafeteria: very inexpensive, and they even stack! For traveling, I have really liked the Eddie Bauer Pop-Up Booster seat.  It folds nice and small, and while it’s maybe not the most stable or practical for everyday use, it’s a great thing to keep in the car or take on trips.

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Babies who lunch

One of my new go-to favorites with my nearly-11-month-olds is going out for lunch.  We frequently need an outing around 11:30, and our house happens to be relatively close to a couple of office parks, so lunch-type places are close and plentiful.  I’ve even stopped bringing food from home for the kids, and just get them a grilled cheese sandwich to share!  We’ve become quiet the grilled cheese conniseurs. I’ve learned just what it is I’m looking for in a lunch outing for the under-one and not-a-lot-of-teeth set, and I really only go to places that have counter-then-sit service, so I can get my food quickly and have already paid, in case I need to make a hasty exit.  And yes, I somehow always take a picture of them with my camera phone when they’re out for lunch.  It’s a compulsion I have.

Our favorites:

Panera
PaneraThey get points for wireless internet, and the fact that you can get organic yogurt as one of the side-dish options on the kiddie meal.  Sadly, they only have strawberry yogurt… but my kids will be a year old soon, so it’ll come in handy.  The grilled cheese itself was on nice soft sandwich bread, but spent so little time in the panini press that the cheese never melted.  Alas.

Au Bon Pain
Unfortunate bread options (does everything have to be “artisan”?), and not good options for side dishes (chips or carrots), and they were not able to just give me the sandwich without the rest of the “combo.”  That said, we got it on whatever their soft white roll/loaf is, which was plenty soft for kids who don’t chew a lot, and the cheddar cheese was so well melted that I had to wait a bit for it to cool off enough to eat.  It was a hit.

Bear Rock Cafe
If they have one of these near you, I highly recommend it. Similar to Panera and the like, but I found their sandwiches very tasty (if sometimes messy), and also good salads.  The grilled cheese was just right, good bread, well-melted, and I don’t even think I was forced to get the combo.  Plus, wireless internet access (which my iPhone does not seem to want to connect to, unfortunately).

Krazy Karry'sKrazy Karry’s
A local burger joint here in Massachusetts, their food is very tasty and the people are accomodating.  The grilled cheese on a sliced hamburger bun was my kids’ first, and they love it.  And mommy gets the onion rings… mmm….

What about you?  What are your favorite baby-friendly lunch spots?  What’s your favorite place for grilled cheese?

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Our kids were glorious eaters. They would try anything. Sag paneer? Loved it. BBQ brisket? Couldn’t get enough. Ozzy could hold his own, but it was Abel who was the real superstar. We even nicknamed him Mikey. The kid would try anything and moan for more. We would hear parents complaining about their finicky kids and we would just shake our heads and count our blessings.

And then our boys turned one.

It’s been a steady downhill spiral since that day. Actually, it was more like a face plant you didn’t see coming. One day they were chowing down and the next day they wouldn’t touch a thing. My husband and I stood there scratching our heads, trying to reason this out. Surely it’s because they’ve been sick with colds. Oh wait, their molars! Yes, it’s because those pesky molars are coming in. But when the phase lasted one month, then two months – now going on four months – I realized something more was at work here. Our wonderful eaters had gone picky. Or a more accurate way of putting it, our babies had become toddlers. It’s as simple as that.

Since my frustration at meal times had also taken a downward spiral, I decided I needed to educate myself on ways to get my boys to eat. They are clearly not malnourished, and still have voracious appetites for all fruit, cheese, frozen waffles, tortillas and veggie sausage. But I felt like their diets were clearly lacking protein and veggies and I was determined to add these things back into their repertoire. Taking the advice of LauraC right here on HDYDI, I set off for my local Barnes and Noble in search of the magic bullet.

I ended up buying Child of Mine and gobbling it up in one sitting. It’s always so affirming to read your experiences, your every day, in black in white. I learned that my kids were, indeed, typical toddlers and I was a typical parent doing the typical things to get my kids to eat. Or rather to not eat. I learned that my bullishness and obsession with getting them to digest meat and vegetables were, more than likely, contributing and/or enhancing the problem. We were locked in a power struggle and I was going to lose. Every. Single. Time. Oh, and to my dismay, there is no magic bullet. And there is absolutely no way of “getting” your child to eat anything. It’s more about letting go and trusting that your child will eat what she needs to eat. And exposing them to good food so they can trust and learn to eat the wonderful things the world has to offer.

So I immediately set out to change my ways. Here’s the jist. It’s my responsibility to provide the what (a healthy variety of foods that we all eat), the when (three structured meals and two planned snacks) and the where (at the table in the form of family meals). It’s their responsibility to decide how much they want to eat and whether they want to eat at all. That’s the formula, plain and simple. After that you just need to take a step back, enjoy your meal, and allow your kids to do what they will with their food. No catering to them. No short-order cooking. No applause for touching a vegetable. No begging or pleading or putting a fork full of tender pot roast in front of their mouths.

So it’s been a week and I’m proud to say that we’ve had family dinner every single night. It’s been no small feat getting a homemade, complete dinner on the table by 5:30 pm. The first two nights I have to admit I was scared. I cooked like a whirling dervish, the kitchen was a wreck, and the food tasted so-so. But then I started figuring out good 30 minute meals that were yummy, accessible to 16 month olds, and satisfying to us. But my biggest fear was leaving the boys to their own devices for this long. To my delight, they are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves, with limited supervision, for upwards of 45 minutes! I put on The Backyardigans (or Sesame Street), which usually holds their attention for about 3 minutes. And then they just run around the house, coming in and out of the kitchen, swiffering, mowing our hardwood floors with their lawnmower, playing with their pint-sized pots and pans, etc. I think they seriously dig doing their own thing while I do mine. They enjoy being just as busy and productive as I do.

To my surprise, dinner time is actually…fun! They get the same things on their plates that we do, plus we always have a fruit salad and some form of bread and butter (since, if worse comes to worse, they will almost always eat this). Some nights they won’t even look at the “new” food. Some days they venture a finger in the chicken stir fry. There have even been a few bites – not that we were paying attention! There have also been a few meals that Oskar hasn’t eaten a thing. And we just have to respect that decision (with gritted teeth!). It’s certainly been a transition, but one that I hope sticks. Because I see progress already, but more than that, we are starting a solid ritual of breaking bread together at least once a day. What better way for the boys to learn good manners, respect, delicious food, conversation, exercising their own judgement and quality family time? Solid things, indeed.

The most important thing in all of this is letting go of my own expectations. It’s an important lesson, especially for a parent of toddlers, or a parent of any aged child for that matter. To have confidence in what you have provided – the offerings, the lessons, the foundation. And then to let go and trust that your child/ren will make the best decision for themselves. Because when it comes down to it, isn’t that what parenting is all about?

Leaving you with my favorite, no hassle dinner from this past week:

Lamb Kafta

1 lb ground lamb

2 minced green onions

A handful of chopped fresh parsley (or a few good shakes of the dried kind)

1 Tbsp paprika

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1-2 Tsp Salt/pepper (depending on how seasoned you like your meat)

1 Tbsp water (makes the meat juicy and moist)

Mix all ingredients together, form into patties or balls, and broil for 7 minutes on each side. You can even line a baking dish with foil for a no-mess clean up. Serve with warm pita, plain yogurt and a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, onion and feta. Yum!

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This week, the Foodie Friday column will review a book that was recommended highly by several moms of HDYDI. A cookbook, you say? For babies? I don’t even cook for myself! And that’s where having twins makes this cooking thing seem like a good idea. Have you SEEN what babyfood costs at the grocery store? Times two? For those of us who like cooking and can get excited by the idea of cooking for babies, this cookbook is for you. For those  of you who aren’t sure about it, I recommend doing a bit of research. Maybe making babyfood is easier than you think! Maybe you can make some and buy others. And for those of you buying little jars…we’re not judging you! We each do what we can, and those jars are full of nutritious, yummy (have you ever tasted the banana babyfood? That’s good stuff!), good food. Me, I liked the idea of cloth diapers. For a minute. Before I had twins. Then the idea of saving the environment went out the window—survival was key! But anyway, back to baby food.

The book:

Petit Apetit, by Lisa Barns

This is a baby cookbook written by a woman who is both a mother and a professional cook. Her goal is to create nutritious, fun, good tasting, adventuresome meals for babies and toddlers. It leans toward organic foods, but obviously you don’t have to buy organic in order to prepare the recipes.

Quick labels: It also has little icons next to each recipe so you can quickly see if it is egg-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian etc.  This is great if you are waiting to introduce some foods (eggs, wheat etc..) or if you baby has some food allergies or intolerances.

Sample recipes: Baby bean dip (black beans & yogurt), Baby Biscotti, Baked Ricotta Cake, Portobello Burgers, no-egg pancakes & curry and herb peas. Yum.

Organization: Recipes are broken down into sections by age. It is for babies and toddlers, so happily, the book will still be useful once your kids have passed the pureed food stage (a downcheck of another good baby cookbook, Annabel Karmel’s baby purees).  Of course, check in with your pediatrician around what food recommendations he/she has. Each doctor has a slightly different recommended schedule of when to introduce certain foods.

TIP If you don’t already have ice cube trays, buy the silicon kind. It makes getting those ice cubes of baby food out of trays even easier!

Happy cooking!

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For that first few weeks — even months — with newborn twins, it felt as though we were forever going to the pediatrician’s office for near-daily weight checks. My second guessing and self-flagellation about my children’s intake began on Day One. Literally, Day One. Check-in nurses would ask, “How much do they take at each feeding?” I had no idea. My breasts might have had a stretchmark or two, but calibrations, they didn’t. Both babies still had their shar-pei unfilled-with-baby-fat loose skin; was I making a bad decision by attempting to breastfeed? What about those recommended first week formula supplements? Were they inferior somehow? The first time I drank juice post-partum, following that nursing both babes screamed for an hour. On more than one occasion I was convinced that my daughter spit up not only her whole “meal,” but the one preceding it as well. In retrospect, all that coupled consumption-focused chaos did serve a purpose. Even with how little I knew and how ill-equipped I felt, my babies survived…and so did I. Word of “learned the hard way” wisdom: If your pediatrician is not alarmed about your twosome’s positions on the infamous percentile “curves,” you should not be either. Now kindergarteners, our he-child is in the 97% for height. Our she-child? Well, at her 6 year appointment she at long last departed the 3% weight curve.

Suppose our experience illustrates pretty effectively, that despite their dual arrival, twins are different children. Identical or fraternal, they’ll grow differently, they’ll eat differently…and trust me, if you don’t mind your P’s and Q’s, you’ll find yourself feeding them differently….or different meals at the very least. As the kids grow, and can — and will — voice their pleasure or lack thereof with a meal presented, try to keep your food-related parental frustration in check. Right along with how and when they sleep, how and when they “output,” what they actually eat is largely in your twins’ control. The good news is, what you offer them, or don’t, is in yours.

Here are some meal-based mantras and mama of multiples discoveries that have made eating with our growing sweeties more palatable:
 

If it ain’t broke…
An affection for a wide variety of vittles is an adult phenomena. Don’t project what you perceive is a menu “rut” onto your twins. If your dual diners are satisfied with a predictable plate that seems to never change — but is fairly balanced nutritionally — learn to love it, not lament it. It will pass.

Make Appetizing via Accessorizing

Oyster forks. Frilly toothpicks. ZooPals plastic flatware. Hinged kiddie chopsticks, or more fun yet, paper-sleeved real ones from a restaurant. If you are apprehensive about introducing a new food item, or if you are seeking to invigorate dining enthusiasm, a little bit of playtime with the process can be very effective. Nurture their nature to your mutual benefit. Serving mini-portions of berries, raisins, nuts, edamame in a variety of Ikea egg cups has worked wonders in our house. Think outside the divided melamine plate; have fun on the high chair trays.

 

  

Pressure Cooker
Admittedly, last Christmas morning, when I opened the present tagged “To: The Family/From: Daddy” and discovered a pressure cooker – a pressure cooker – I was a bit baffled. It’s big. It’s heavy. It doesn’t look like you can wash the lid in the dishwasher (and you can’t). My unspoken question: I know you love us, and try to make things easy for us, but why a pressure cooker? Oh, the wisdom that is twin-daddy. Pasta. Piles and piles of pasta. Cooked expeditiously with a softly moist “whistle” when done. No watching the clock. No setting the oven timer (which happens to be the same timer I use for time-outs, so another surprising added plus). Rotini, spaghetti, macaroni…no matter the shape, no matter the density, perfectly done, everytime. Apparently, you can do veggies in it as well with equally satisfying “non-mush” results. Embarrassingly, I’ve yet to try that yet…the triumph of consistently al dente noodles has yet to lose its novelty.

Parental Example
True Mommy Confessions: this is where I tend to fall short. Yes, I’ve eaten pre-fab frosting from the container and swilled sugar-free RedBull clandestinely in the kitchen while extolling my twins to eat their carrots and bananas. But that said, do make a point to sit down with them not only at mealtimes but at snacks as well, and role-model healthy intake and the manners you’d like them to mimic. Napkins in lap, case in point. Do it with a flourish, and they might just do the same. Don’t bemoan a food item before they’ve even tried it – or even worse, don’t “not offer” a food because you don’t care for it. [Asparagus never passed my lips until I was in college for that very reason. However, I dare not cast too many aspersions; my kids have had a generous portion of some highly unhealthy items that I am overly fond of…it works both ways!]

Ease Access to the Desired Diet
Cookie Monster sings so eloquently (with a musically appropriate undercurrent of the blues), “A cookie is a sometime food.” So conversely, fruits and veggies are for the most part “anytime foods.” By that, for those “I’m hungry” declarations between sanctioned meals and designated snack times, Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies aren’t an option. If they’re genuinely hungry, they will eat the offered options.

Presentation, Presentation, Presentation
Meals in monochrome. Faces constructed from foodstuffs. Structures from saltines (for the rotovirus recuperating). You needn’t make every meal a masterpiece, but occasionally, delight your diners with a little bit of creativity. (It’s fun for you, too!)

 

 

  

 

Suffice it to say, this all looks impressive looking at it written…but let me assure you, our “real-life” implementation occasionally – even often — strays from the ideal. And now, at long last, I think I’m okay with that. As my pediatrician (also a twin mama) has reassured me for nearly seven years now, they will not starve. No they won’t.

At a recent church chili and wings cook-off, our twosome demonstrated how when offered the same assortment of foods, they’ll each invariably eat according to their own developing tastes. Darren had two enormous bowls of chili (of different types) and four wings (each from a different “contestant”). Sarah wanted no chili. She did eat two wings (both the same kind, the only kind available that had breading) and five – count ‘em, five — stalks of celery.

Gotta run…off to pack two lunchboxes (with differing items) and get breakfast for two (same meal, but admittedly, some sugared cereal will be involved) on the table for our twins.

Wishing you all a sweet smorgasbord of dining fun with your twins!
  

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Another MOT asked about road trips with babies. She was planning a two day trip and she didn’t know what to feed her 9 month old twins on the trip. Not having been brave enough to attempt such a trip myself, I posed the question to the moms of HDYDI.

There were things to consider.

1. There may be no access to refrigeration, so foods must be ok at room temperature.

2. Same goes for heating–no foods that can’t be served at room temperature.

3. Low mess, since everyone’s in the car, perhaps without easy access to a sink/washcloth/bathtub that baby sometimes needs post-meal. Thawed blueberries, not the snack for the car.

4. Age of the baby. At six months, formula/breastmilk and cereal is probably fine. By twelve months, you need a host of finger foods, but there are many fewer food restrictions. Nine months is tricky, because many pediatricians may  have you limit high allergen foods, like egg whites. Milk isn’t an option yet and our pediatrician even had us wait on wheat! So, pick and choose among these suggestions depending on the age of your baby.

Several snack suggestion are: cheese cubes (maybe for the first day, since they can probably survive a few hours in the car), cheerios, baby mum-mums, Gerber puffs, bananas, freeze-dried fruits and vegetables (either Gerber and Trader Joe’s brands), goldfish, cereal bars.

Another suggestion is that even if you make your own babyfood, for a car trip or vacation away from the home, try buying babyfood just for this trip. We did this when we traveled for Christmas and the babies were happy to eat something different (in fact really, really enjoy babyfood bananas). If you’re worried that the baby won’t eat something different, try a dry run at home, with the regular food as back up in case there’s no sale on the store bought stuff.

Several HDYDI moms suggested snack cups that won’t spill. (I’m so glad that someone asked this question, since I had never heard of these and they look fantastic. Both the Gerber lil’ snackin’ bowls 
and these other bowls were recommended. Snack traps were not, because of the ease at which little fingers got the top off.

This won’t work for littler babies, but one suggestion was that fast food is always an option on the road, even if you try to avoid it at home. We’d recommend trying out McDonald’s a couple of times before the big trip, to see what foods are a hit and what aren’t and to make sure their little GI systems tolerate them ok. GI upset + traveling is not a good combination. Most fast food places will make a grilled cheese – you
just ask for a hamburger with no meat.

If you’re planning a long trip, good luck! We are heading off for our second plane trip in a few weeks, and I’m already dreading the planning, packing and organizing that will be part of our trip. Only the lure of family at the other end, and thus extra hands, gets us through.

 

 

 

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