Monday, November 22, 2010

Advice for Parents by Parents

I recently posted a request on Facebook for readers to send me the best piece of parenting advice they had received.  Here are the responses.  And please keep sending them, I will post everything!
The first 12 weeks is triage, just get through it the best you can.

Eventually, you'll hit the "Blockbuster Phase" and all is downhill from there.  This refers to the time after baby is born, when you and your spouse can sit through a movie on the couch, without falling asleep.

Something green is better than nothing green, on a plate.  Eventually, they will try it.

The dirtier the bath water, the better the day.

Remember, everything is just a phase… the good and the bad!

Instead of “sharing” call it “taking turns.”  It works much better for preschoolers.

"1-2-3, eyes on me" really gets a child’s attention.  This can also be used for discipline.  Threaten to count to 3 if child doesn't come to the dinner table, brush teeth, etc.  If you do count and you do get to 3, a timeout is issued.  (Always give the child a warning that you are going to count if the request isn't completed.)

Use your chicken wing!  (referring to covering your cough or sneeze with the crook of your elbow instead of your hand.)

Thanks to everyone for sharing their favorite piece of advice.  Next I will blog your funniest "kid" stories, so send those too!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Weekly Dinner Menu for your Family

My friends and I were just talking about how, now that we have kids, are lives center around food.  We are so concerned with feeding our kids 3 healthy meals and 2 snacks per day.  I wish that I was a snake and could eat a mouse or two a month!  But it is very important for me to sit down as a family and eat a balanced dinner, most evenings.

In light of that recent conversation, I have put together a manageable weekly dinner menu for my readers!

Night #1:
Turkey Tacos.  See recipe below.

Night #2:

Night #3:
Breakfast for dinner!  Make eggs, bacon and toast OR check out the delicious cinnamon wheat raisin waffle recipe below.

Night #4:
Frozen Ravioli and Tomato Sauce from a Jar: I always buy the chicken ravioli from Whole Foods because I don't like my family to eat a lot of preservatives.  And I buy the organic tomato sauce.  I sauté some onions in olive oil, and maybe a couple of cloves of garlic (just smash the cloves in the olive oil for 3 minutes and them throw them away.)  Then, add the sauce and let simmer for 10-15 mintues.

Buy a bag of spinach and sprinkle with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  This is your side veggie.

Night #5:
Fish with couscous or rice pilaf and steamed broccoli.  Our local grocery store has terrific tilapia that is breaded with a chipotle crust.  It couldn’t be any easier to cook.  You just throw it in a pan and bake it on 350 for 20 minutes.  I also like to buy fresh trout or salmon and bake it the same way, but I add a little butter, thyme or rosemary, sea salt and ground pepper.  I buy the rice or couscous that is already in a box with herbs.  Couscous cooks really fast, but if you buy any type of rice, get that started on the stove before the fish goes in the oven.

Night #6:
Quesadillas.  This was one of my son’s favorites when he was just learning to eat big people food.  Lightly butter some burrito-sized tortillas (just one side of each.)  Add one to a non-stick pan and turn stove to medium.  Add cheddar cheese (I buy the bags that are already grated) and then add any ingredients you like.  We always add canned/chopped black olives, freshly chopped mushrooms and then we hide diced green beans out of the can!  Top with a second tortilla.  Cook like a grilled cheese (5-7 minutes each side.)

And then I add some of the extra canned green beans on the side of everyone’s plates.

Night #7:
Make your own pizzas.  I like to buy pre-made mini crusts by Mama’s (better than the competitor.)  Add Contadina Pizza Sauce, top with shredded mozzarella cheese, pizza herbs if you so desire and favorite ingredients.  I like to hide chopped veggies in my kid’s pizza too!

Here are a few other ideas.  I have found a delicious store bought Indian sauce made by Patak’s.  My favorite is the Korma Curry which is mustard yellow in color.  I cook some diced onions in olive oil, then add diced, raw some chicken breasts.  Cook until no longer pink, about 15 minutes, then add the sauce.  Mix it every few minutes until ready to serve (I try and let it sit in the sauce for about 15-20 minutes.)

Annie’s Homegrown makes some OK boxed meals (like Hamburger Helper.)  I like the tuna noodle one the best.  I have yet to try the chicken option, but it is in my cabinet as we speak.

I am a huge lover of chicken, so we cook a lot of it.  We like to make our own chicken strips.  Cut chicken breasts into strips, dip in egg, then in bread crumbs (I buy Italian seasoned OR Panko) and cook on the stove with some olive oil.  That’s it!  (You can also bake...)

Please enjoy these recipes below.  There are a couple of extra for you to try!

Turkey Tacos

Saute some chopped yellow onions in PAM or Olive Oil for 5-10 minutes. 

Add ground white turkey.  Cook on medium until no longer pink.

Add 1 Tbsp. Chili Powder and 1 tsp. Cumin.  Mix well.

Add half large jar of prepared salsa and about 3 Tbsp. water.  Mix well.

Simmer on low 2-4 hours.  Mix every 30-45 minutes.

About 30 minutes before serving, add chopped mushrooms, red or green peppers, or any other veggies that you enjoy.

Cinnamon-Raisin Whole-Wheat Waffles

¾ cup raisins
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 ¾ cup buttermilk
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Melt the butter in microwave and set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until combined.
  4. In another bowl, beat together the buttermilk, vanilla and eggs with the whisk until mixed.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and whisk until just combined.
  6. Fold the raisins and melted butter into the batter.
  7. Lightly butter or spray the grids of your iron, if needed.  Pour batter into iron!
Chicken fajitas
  1. 1 teaspoon pure chile powder
  2. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  3. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  4. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  6. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  7. 1/4 cup water
  8. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  9. 1 whole skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch strips
  10. 1 green bell pepper—cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
  11. 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  12. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  13. 8 flour tortillas, warmed in the microwave
  14. Shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream, for serving
1.      In a resealable plastic bag, combine the chile powder with the salt, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, cornstarch, water and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken, bell pepper and onion, seal and knead gently to coat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
2.      Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet until shimmering. Empty the contents of the bag into the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.
3.      Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large bowl and serve with the warmed tortillas, lettuce, cheese, salsa, sour cream and lime wedges.

Let me know if you have any questions OR if there is something you want to see mentioned.  I love to bake too, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Transition from Formula to Milk, Bottle to Sippie Cup

I just received another great question!  A mom of a one-year old wanted help transitioning her child from formula to milk and from bottle to sippie cup.

Here is my answer using my own experience with my son William:

OK, so William only had one bottle a day (most days) from 6 to 12 months because I still breast fed.  Right at 6 months, we gave him a sippie cup with water (only the kind with a straw) and he enjoyed it as a fun thing, but it was definitely separate in his mind from “tool that gives me daily nutrition.”

When he turned 1, being the rule follower that I am, I had to wean from the bottle immediately (not a good way to live your life with a baby!)  But I was also ready to be done nursing.  My dilemma was that I didn’t want to wean from breast to bottle and then bottle to cup, I wanted to do it all at once. 

So, that is what we did!  I tried to give William a bottle of cow’s milk, a sippy of cow’s milk and a combination of formula and cow’s milk in either container, but he wanted NONE of it.  But just like trying to get him to take a bottle as a newborn or trying to get him to eat rice cereal, it was a gradual process.  The clincher for us was doing it every day, once or twice a day, and having my husband do it.  William was used to me breast feeding him, so he could smell it, but he was also used to me feeding him 4-6 times a day - a totally different way.

My advice is to do it gradually, maybe once a day, the same time of day, and make it a ritual.  And maybe even have husband attempt it every night.  My other idea was to do it at his least hungry time and his most hungry time (not sure which ended up working better.)  And my final idea (we did all of these things) was to give the bottle for a few minutes, and then slip a sippie in when baby pauses for a breath.  Combining all of this worked for us in the end.  But it did take 1-2 weeks with me far away from the ritual.

As an aside, one question I would have for you – the sippie with water that she isn’t interested in – is that a tip and sip or a straw style?  I ask because you’ll come to learn, as your kids get a little older, that they drink easier, faster and more out of a straw.  Simultaneously while your husband works on the sippie/cow milk transition, you might give her a straw style sippie with water (just as an addition to the other ritual that you’ll be working on.)

Good luck and keep me updated!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Poop! … or Not… Help with Constipation!

I received the following question yesterday from a friend out of state.

Any mommy wisdom on constipation? Baby just switched to cows milk so that has
to be it. She stands there shaking and crying and afraid to poop. We already
talked to the doc, but are curious about your experience.

And my answer:

I am the expert!!! My 4-year old son has had constipation issues since he was 6-months old.
His started around the time he began eating baby food and the doctor told me to try prune juice, prunes, apple juice, but NOTHING worked. He went fairly regularly, but it was hard and small pebbles. When he was maybe 9 months, the doc had me give him milk of magnesia in his bottle. I did that for probably a year, but it still never worked great (this is all in hindsight.) He went every day but it was never easy, and it was never the right consistency (should be like mash potatoes.)
When he was about 18 months, I went out of town and when I came back about 5 days later (slacker husband), his constipation was so bad he got a fissure. I called the dr. and they were too busy too see him!! I told them he was shaking in pain, crying. etc., so they told me to buy an enema and do it myself or go to the ER. There is NO way he would let stay still for me (we had tried suppositories in the past), so I went to the ER.

While waiting in the ER lobby, he pooped a little bit in his diaper.  I thought I was a hysterical mom and shouldn't be there since he pooped. But then the ER doc did an x-ray and made me come out and look at it b/c he had never seen more poo in a kid. The ENTIRE x-ray was covered in poo (even though he went a little bit every day.) Sooo, they gave him two
huge syringes of milk of molasses (ancient medical cure!!) 
We sat there for 2 hours where he proceeded to fill up 7-8 diapers, while screaming and writhing in pain.

The doctor then told me to start Miralax and see a specialist. We did both and
the specialist said that she has seen about 5000 kids for constipation and 2
were from allergies (milk) and the rest were ALL genetic, change in diet,
personality, etc. and that they all grow out of it. That was when he was
about 2.5. He has had Miralax every day since then (he is 4 now.)

Miralax has been a miracle for us  and the experts claim that it is easy on the colon, not addictive, etc. My son was on 1-2 full caps a day and now he is down to one half cap per morning. If he doesn't have it for one day, his fissure bleeds. The dr. said to just try
to wean every few months and see if he is ready. But most kids that have constipation
to this extreme are on it for 3-4 years.
And he is a great eater now.  He eats green veggies every night at dinner, meat, chicken, fish only wheat bread, etc. I still wonder if it is something more since it comes on sooo fast, but I have to trust the doctors for now.
Sooo, my advice, if you have tried prunes, juice and added fiber (green
veggies,) then go for the Miralax. Know that it might take 2-3 days of her
having it before it kicks in (the doctors don't mention this). Of course, check with
your pediatrician first and also keep in mind that it might only be needed for a week, a month, etc. (until she is used to cow's milk.)
And finally, genetics play a big part. Are either of you constipated?  Or were you or your siblings constipated as kids?  That can play a role too.
Good luck, let me know what other questions you have!

Oh Baby! Daylight Savings Time

I received two interesting, but opposite questions yesterday, so decided to answer them in back-to-back blogs.

The first was asking how to handle baby’s schedule on the day we “fall back” and end daylight savings.  Specifically, what should you do about baby’s routine – feedings, naptime and bedtime?

Easy!  Just follow the clock.  Don’t even think about what time it “should be”, just change your clock and do feedings, naps and bedtime according to the “new” time.  Baby might take a few days to adjust, but in my experience, the adjustment is minor.  It helps mom’s sanity not to have to do any math while looking at the clock and it seems that baby has a near seamless transition this way.

And this all goes for toddlers and preschoolers too!