Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Starting Your Baby On Solids

Starting your baby on solids is a fun and exciting time for both you and your little one. You are not only teaching your baby how to swallow food from a spoon, you are also helping her develop a love of mealtime. While this is an exciting time for you and your baby, you may have a lot of questions and some anxiety about this new venture, especially if it’s your first baby. Feeling this way is completely normal, but don’t worry.  With my step-by-step guide and the advice of your pediatrician you can’t go wrong.
When Is My Baby Ready For Solids?
Most babies are ready to start on solids between 4-6 months, but every baby is different so please check with your pediatrician to determine your baby’s readiness.  Personally, I started each of my 4 children on solids at 5 months.  Signs that your baby may be ready are:

*Can sit up with support.
*Can hold her head up and has control of her neck.
*Shows interest in and possibly reaches for the food you are eating.
*Has doubled his birth weight
*Is still hungry after a bottle feed
While it’s important not to start solids too soon, before 4 months, it is equally as important not to start too late.  Babies who start solids later than 6 months are more likely to be picky and hesitate trying new textures.

What are the best first foods for my baby?
The best first foods for your baby are easy to digest, non-allergenic fruits and vegetables like banana, peas, pear, butternut squash, avocado, apple and sweet potato.  You absolutely do not need to start with rice cereal.  It is almost void of nutrients and has a very bland taste. If we want our babies to learn that solid food is yummy, why start them with something not yummy?
My son Royce started with carrots, my son Brendan with banana, my daughter Hayden with apple and my son Mason with butternut squash. It has been my experience that it really doesn’t matter if you introduce a fruit first or a vegetable first. Babies will eat what tastes good to them.  I recommend alternating between fruits and vegetables. For example, if you gave your baby peas as his first food, try apples next.
What texture should the puree be for Stage 1?
The texture should be smooth and creamy, no lumps or anything that would be difficult for your baby to swallow.  If you need to thin the puree, add a little water, breast milk or formula.  If you need to thicken it, add a little baby cereal. Once your baby has mastered the art of swallowing food from a spoon, you can start bumping up the texture and consistency. This usually starts with Stage 2 - around 7 months.

When is the best time of day to give my baby a solid meal?
A great time to give your baby a solid meal is in the late morning after a nap, because she will be rested and ready for some yummy puree! Let her drink some of her bottle or nurse for a few minutes before offering your puree. That way she will have satisfied a little of her hunger, but won’t be completely full yet. Try to feed her in the same place around the same time and start a routine - babies love having a routine.   

How much do I feed my baby at this stage?
In the beginning, there is no need to worry about how much solid food your baby is eating. Right now, the idea is to get him used to swallowing food from a spoon and excited about mealtime. For that first meal, start with a teaspoon or two of puree and be sure to demonstrate swallowing from a spoon so your baby can see what he is supposed to do. As your baby learns, those teaspoons will turn into tablespoons and then into ounces! When introducing new foods, give the same food for 3 days straight so if there is any kind of reaction, you will know what caused it.

Offer a solid meal once a day for about 2-4 weeks, then, if your baby is ready, you can bump it to 2 solid meals per day - normally around 7 months.  The rest of your baby’s feedings will remain the same, either breast milk or formula.  The size of the solid meal will depend on your baby.  He may only take a few bites or he may devour the whole thing and want more.  Keep in mind that it’s not about “cleaning your plate” it’s about enjoying the new experience of eating food.  Follow your baby’s cues, he is finished when he turns his head away, starts spitting the food out or swats at the spoon.  Just like us, sometimes babies are really hungry and sometimes they aren’t.

What if my baby doesn’t seem to like the food and keeps spitting it out?
Don’t stress if your baby spits the food out in the beginning, in fact, it is a natural reflex.  Some babies take to swallowing solid food right away and others take a few days or even weeks to get the hang of it.  If your baby is consistently thrusting his tongue out when you try to feed him, wait a few days or a week and then try again.  Royce took a week to get used to the idea of swallowing food, Hayden 5 days and Mason 2 weeks, but Brendan took to it on the first bite and he was a preemie!

Homemade Baby Food vs. Store Bought
Lots of parents ask me what the difference is between homemade baby food and store bought.  The truth is, there’s a huge difference.  Store bought baby food is processed so it can have a long shelf life and homemade is fresh.  Store bought baby food has to undergo a sterilization process which destroys nutrients and antioxidants, color, taste, texture and aroma of the food.  In fact, so much of the nutrients are lost in processing that many baby food companies artificially add the nutrients back in.  We don’t eat processed food every day, for every meal, why should our babies?

Homemade is healthier than store bought, up to 5 times less expensive and helps prevent picky eating and food allergies.  Homemade baby food is also a lot easier and less time consuming than many parents may realize.  With Sage Spoonfuls, you can make 2 weeks of baby food in as little as 10 minutes and store it in the freezer.  That way, you have the convenience of store bought, but with all the amazing benefits of homemade.
Enjoy this delicious new time in your baby's life!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Weekend To Remember

We took the kids to Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos this past weekend and I will freely admit that I hated it for the first hour we were there. Hated. It. 
We waited in a very long check-in line only to find out our room wouldn't be ready for a while. So, we decided to go into the water park and let the kids swim rather than make them wait. We pulled our bathing suits out of the suitcase and headed into the waterpark where there were no cabanas available, no lockers available and the changing rooms were filthy. I honestly wanted to leave. 

So, I took a deep breath and thought about how excited the kids were to be there. Then, I reminded myself that this was not the Ritz Carlton and to chill out and just go with the flow. Let the fun begin.

Since there were no lockers, I put our clothes in a pile in the corner, crossed my fingers they would be there when we got back and headed to the water park - which was thankfully a lot cleaner than the changing rooms.


We wound up staying in the water park for over 5 hours. The kids had the best time and we loved seeing how much fun they were having. 

When we got back to the room, we showered the kids, ordered a pizza and watched a movie. We were all completely exhausted from such a fun afternoon. 

I love that the rooms are designed for the whole family to stay together. Although, we were not quite sure how it was going to work out since all 4 kids have never slept in the same room together.....with us in the same room as well.

While we didn't have the best night's sleep ever, it really wasn't bad. The kids were amazing. They loved bunking together and it was so cute hearing them talk to each other about the day as they were falling asleep.

This weekend was full of laughs, smiles on the kids faces and just the 6 of us having fun together as a family. No work, no stress, just family time. Exactly the weekend I had hoped it would be and one I know they'll always remember.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Getting Back To 'Me' and Introducing @fitsagemoms!

Two years ago, when I was in the hospital giving birth to my 4th baby, Mason, as the anesthesiologist was putting the epidural into my back he said, "Wow, you have the back of a truck driver."  I said, "Excuse me?" He said, "You have the back of someone who sits a lot. Truck drivers sit a lot."  OMG!  My mom was in the room with me and she seriously almost punched this guy.  Now, while it was an extraordinarily rude and awful thing to say to anyone, especially a woman who was IN LABOR.....he was right.  I was out of shape and had low muscle tone, as a result, my 4th pregnancy was really difficult for me physically.    


Fast forward to last spring. I looked in the mirror and I didn't recognize myself anymore.

Mason was almost 2 and I hadn't really lost any of the baby weight I put on over my 4 pregnancies.  It didn't help that I was on bed rest midway through my 3rd and 4th pregnancies after my 2nd baby was born a preemie.  I was sluggish, out of shape and had no enthusiasm to go out or leave the house.  I was tired all the time, kind of irritable and had constant headaches.  I didn't have the energy to take the kids to the park as much as I should have.  I didn't have the energy or desire to get dressed up and go out with my husband and I let the stress of work demands eat away at me. I lost my spark and was just spent.
For the past 7 years, all of my energy went into having my 4 wonderful children and launching my dream business, Sage Spoonfuls.  I was so immersed in my kids and work that I totally lost "me".  With a busy household and demanding work schedule, I thought I was doing the right thing by putting my personal needs on the back burner to take care of my children, my husband and my business.  I thought it would be selfish to take time out just for me.  I think most moms feel this way. I realize now how totally wrong that mentality is.  
The airlines have it right when they say, "Put your oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else."  While it feels completely counterintuitive as a mom to help yourself before helping your child, I realize now that their message is true. How can I possibly take care of anyone else to the best of my ability if I don't take care of myself?
My turning point came last spring when my 7 year old son Royce asked me to race him down the block. I expected him to win, but he completely smoked me.  He was at the corner before I even hit the midway point.  A very lame performance on my part.  I was out of breath and embarrassed.  I don't know how I could have expected to have any strength or stamina.  I mean, I hadn't been to the gym in years and I had been having 1 or 2 glasses of wine like 5 or 6 nights a week to unwind.
That evening, I told my husband Alex what happened and how I was feeling. What he told me was the spark that lit my fire.  He said, "Listen, you are going to be 40 in 8 months and you have the ability now to get your body strong again and back to where you want it to be. We're not getting any younger and in a few years, you may not have that chance."  He said, "Don't do it for me, I think you are beautiful and I love you.  I want you to do it for yourself.  When you feel good about yourself and regain your physical strength, you will be better in every aspect of your life. You'll have more energy for the kids and work stress won't get to you as much."
I'll never forget that day. That was my turning point.  As much as I hated to work out - and I mean HATE - I realized I needed to make a major change.  It was time to get back to "me".
Since that moment, I've lost 40 pounds and I feel physically stronger and healthier than I did before I had kids. My spark is back and I'm a better wife, mother and business woman because of it. I recognize myself again and it feels amazing.

All moms deserve to feel awesome.  We are the caretakers of the world and we need to put ourselves on our own schedules. Yes, we are tired, busy as hell and have such full plates that they are spilling over, BUT we must make time for ourselves. It's not about numbers on a scale, it's about being fit, healthy, strong and getting back to 'you'.  
My journey back to 'me' didn't happen overnight, but it did happen.  I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you and I would love to hear about your journey.
Follow my new Instagram account @fitsagemoms for daily tips, videos, recipes and info on being a fit mom and feeling great! Share your story with me by tagging your photos with #fitsagemoms. Let's do this ladies - we deserve it!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Turning 40 With Open Arms

I turned 40 on Sunday. Wow.

I've never been the kind of person who stresses about age, but there's something about turning 40 that's making me think. Turning 40 just seems like such a milestone. Something I feel I should stop and take notice of.

Part of me feels like I'm supposed to be freaking out or stressing about it or something. When I walked around Party City getting balloons for my party, most of the 40th birthday items had "Oh No, The Big 4-0" written on them. The only thing running through my mind was how incredibly lame that seemed. I think turning 40 is something to celebrate, not something to be dreaded.
As I sit here a newly Christened 40 year old, I don't feel stressed, I'm not freaking out and I certainly don't feel "Oh No."  I feel strong. I feel stronger than I ever have. My thirties were intense. It was a decade of amazing, life changing, blissful and frightening all rolled into one. My thirties saw the birth of my 4 wonderful children, 3 moves, 10 years of marriage to the love of my life, the launch of Sage Spoonfuls and a whole new career for me.

My thirties also saw many personal and professional challenges. The kind of challenges that made me stand up, fight and figure out who I really am. I no longer care what people think of me, I no longer sweat the small stuff, I'm putting myself on my own agenda and I've learned to live life in the moment, because that's all we really have. I've learned that stressing about stuff is useless, I've learned not to freeze when life gets tough, I've learned to put the phone down at dinner. I've learned to turn everything off when I'm with my kids and I've realized the importance of letting my husband know how much I adore him.

I can't turn back time, so I'm going to embrace 40. I earned every year and every year has made it's mark on me. As I enter this new decade of my life, this new chapter of my story, I'm taking what I've learned in my 30's and welcoming 40 with open arms.

I feel blissful. I feel calm. I feel blessed. Bring it on 40, let's do this.

If you're also turning 40 this year - I wish you every happiness as you usher in this new decade!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spicing Up Your Homemade Baby Food

Herbs and spices can enhance the flavor of any meal, including your homemade baby food. Use them in a way that works into your life, culture and diet. Herbs and spices can usually be introduced at 6 months. Introduce them one at a time, as you would with other foods to see if your child has any reactions. If you have a family history of food allergies, please discuss any concerns with your pediatrician first.

You can use fresh or dried herbs and spices in your homemade baby food. If you are using dried, please buy organic whenever possible. Conventionally processed dried herbs and spices are normally irradiated for shelf life, organic are not. This process is used to achieve shelf life, but i also lessens the health benefits of the herb or spice and may even pose a health risk due to the radiation.

Some of my favorite herbs and spices for homemade baby food are basil, ginger, turmeric, sage and cinnamon.

Basil has a light, fresh, almost mint like flavor. There are many varieties with sweet basil being the most popular. Basil contains flavonoids which protect the body’s cell structures from free radical damage, giving it anti-cancer benefits. For babies 7-9 months and up, try finely chopping some fresh basil and sprinkling on pastina with homemade tomato sauce and a dash of parmesan cheese. Basil pairs well with sweet potato, butternut squash, zucchini and salmon.

Ginger is fragrant with a slightly sweet and hot flavor. There are many different varieties, Jamaican ginger is the most common. It is well known to provide relief from gastrointestinal ailments and can be helpful when your baby has gas, an upset stomach or if he suffers from motion sickness. Ginger is widely available both fresh and dried. Unpeeled fresh ginger will stay fresh in your refrigerator for about 2 weeks. A little ginger goes a long way so don't use too much. Ginger pairs well with most fruit, pumpkin, carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, rice, poultry and meat.

Turmeric is warm, earthy and a little bitter. It is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can be helpful when your baby has gas or swollen gums from teething. Turmeric has also been shown to decrease pain from rheumatoid arthritis and is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect against childhood cancers, including leukemia. Turmeric pairs well with cauliflower, lentils, beef, lamb and rice.

Sage has a minty, earthy and slightly bitter flavor. It has been shown to boost the immune system and improve circulation. However, it is also known to dry up milk in lactating women, so if you are nursing or pumping, avoid eating sage. It pairs well with butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, beans, pork and poultry.

Cinnamon is my favorite spice, it's easy to use and tastes great with a large variety of foods. It has an aromatic, sweet and light spicy flavor. There are over 200 different varieties, with Ceylon being the most popular and widely available. Cinnamon has been shown to aid in circulation and digestion. Cinnamon is delicious with fruit, eggplant, parsnips, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash and oatmeal.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dinner Meal Plan - Week of January 5, 2015

Veggie Quesadillas

Salmon Teriyaki
Chicken Chili with Black Beans & Veggies
Mini Veggie Omelette Muffins
Roast Chicken