Living Arrows 37/52

It’s week 37 of the I Heart Snapping Living Arrows project which must mean another week has gone by. I was still off work for most of the week but my police check came through on Thursday so I was back in school on Friday (although happily we only have a half day on a Friday!).

Toby has still been going to nursery although a couple of days I kept him at home until after his morning nap to make sure he got some sleep and to try and help him get over his cold. Naps are a bit hit and miss at nursery – at home he still has two long naps (up to three hours sometimes!) but at nursery we’re lucky if he gets two 45 minute naps. I’m glad he is at least getting some daytime sleep but it really isn’t as much as he needs.

Anyway, his cold does seem to be improving which is a relief – he seems to have had it forever! We’ve had more developments this week too. Toby now waves and says ‘hiya’ when he sees us (which is adorable!) and today he managed to get himself stood up without holding on to anything (which I missed because I was out at rehearsals). Still no walking though, but he will now sometimes walk if we hold his hands which he’s never done before.

And so, to this week’s photos… I’m going to share a little series of pictures this week – when it comes to weaning we’ve done a mixture of baby led and traditional weaning (you can read about it here if you’re interested) but I will admit that for my own sanity we have tended to spoon feed Toby anything he can’t pick up without making tons of mess. At 14 months though I think it’s probably time he starts learning how to use a spoon himself so seeing as he was getting a bath straight after tea tonight I let him have a go with his yoghurt (admittedly I only gave him the pot and spoon once it was nearly empty!). As you can see he didn’t quite get it right straight away but he figured it out pretty quickly. Honestly, I am amazed every day at the moment at how clever Toby is and just how quickly he picks things up. I just can’t wait to see what he gets up to this week…

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living arrows

Weaning // Finding our own way

Toby is now almost one and it’s been just over six months since we first introduced him to solid food. Before we started weaning I’d read a couple of books ‘Weaning Made Easy‘ and ‘Baby-Led Weaning‘. Baby-led weaning made total sense to me – by bypassing purées and giving Toby the same things we ate, and letting him feed himself, he would be in control of what he ate and hopefully would develop a healthy appetite and relationship with food.

The reality, however, turned out a little differently…

In the very beginning Toby simply wasn’t interested in putting anything in his mouth. I know I could have left him to figure it out on his own but if I held something to his mouth then he would happily eat it so it seemed like it was more the putting it in his mouth himself than actually eating that was a problem. I wrote about this at the time in a guest post over on Redhead Babyled which you can read here.

Examining a rice cake

Examining a rice cake at six months old

We carried on putting finger foods (veg sticks, toast, breadsticks etc) on Toby’s highchair tray as well as feeding him other bits and pieces off our plates and eventually he did figure out how to pick things up and eat them himself. We also carried on feeding him aswell – either with a spoon or just by popping something in his mouth or holding it for him to take a bite.

I really wanted to embrace baby-led weaning and let Toby feed himself but there was one major stumbling block…

I just couldn’t handle the mess! I don’t know if this makes me a terrible person for letting my own feelings get in the way of something which perhaps would have been better for Toby but every meal was getting me so worked up that I couldn’t carry on. I tried loaded spoons a couple of times but so little food got into Toby’s mouth (and so much food got everywhere else) that I went back to feeding him things like porridge and yogurt myself.

Porridge face

Porridge face (before we gave up loaded spoons!) at seven months

If Toby is having something he can pick up himself without making too much mess (things like breadsticks, sandwiches, fruit and veg, dry cereal, chicken) then I put it on his tray and he feeds himself. He did go through a bit of a phase of just squashing anything we gave him but he seems to be getting over that now. Up until recently if I gave Toby more than one thing, or a big piece of something, he would just try and shove the lot in his mouth in one go – which led to our only proper, out of the highchair, choking incident when he shoved a massive broccoli floret in his mouth in one go (he was fine though!). However, in the last week or so I have been trying to get Toby used to choosing what he wants to eat so I put a few different things on his tray so he can choose what he wants and then I just keep adding more. He usually eats everything eventually but at least he is gaining some control over what he eats when. He’s got much better a picking something up, taking a bite out of it, eating that bite and then having some more. I am also trying to introduce taking things off a plate or out of a bowl, which is going OK as long as I keep a hold of the plate or bowl too!

picking from the bowl

Getting his own Shreddies out of the bowl at twelve months

I do still spoon feed Toby the messy things like yogurt or spaghetti bolognese and for the moment he seems quite happy to eat these things from a spoon. I am definitely not force feeding him – which is the criticism sometimes levelled at this method of feeding. If Toby doesn’t want something then he will let you know, and there’s no chance of getting him to open his mouth to eat it! We don’t do aeroplanes or play games. Mostly Toby will have his mouth wide open for the next spoonful before I’ve got back to the bowl and when he’s done that’s that.

I’ve read quite a lot of blog posts and articles about weaning and there seems to be a misconception from some proponents of baby-led weaning that if you aren’t following baby-led weaning methods to the letter then you must be spoon feeding your baby purées or mashed food and you are somehow doing something detrimental to your baby’s health and well-being. But that simply isn’t the case. We have found our own way with weaning. Toby eats almost exactly what we eat. He has his meals with us and we all have the same things on our plates. The only purées he has ever had are fruit purée in his porridge or Weetabix, or as a snack when we’re out somewhere. Feeding Toby the way we do means we have happily been able to take him to restaurants and cafés knowing he can share our meals and do so without me having a meltdown about the mess.

I’m sure in the next few months Toby will get even better at feeding himself. We’ll start using plates and cutlery more and I’m sure he’ll get the hang of those too. Weaning seems to be such an emotive subject at the moment but to be honest I don’t think it really matters how you choose to feed your child – as long as you are feeding them and they’re happy (and you’re happy) then I’m sure they’ll be just fine. By they time they’re five no-one is going to care whether they were spoon fed or put every morsel they ever ate in their mouth on their own. As with so many things in the last year, we found a way that works for us and I’m happy with that.

I’d love to hear about your weaning experiences, especially if you did a bit of a combination like us – I’m sure we’re not the only ones who have made it up as we went along!

No more reflux!

no more reflux medication

Toby was diagnosed with (mostly silent) reflux when he was about six weeks old. I wrote about his diagnosis and treatment here. Once we got Toby on the proper medication he reflux was much easier to manage. He was very rarely sick and as long as we gave him his medicine he didn’t seem to be in any discomfort. A few times over the next few months I had to call the doctor and get them to recalculate the dosage of ranitidine – the dosage can be increased in line with a baby’s weight gain so whenever we noticed Toby’s symptoms returning we would increase the dose. The last time we did that was when Toby was about six months old, around the same time we started weaning.

I had read that babies often grow out of reflux and this can coincide with the introduction of solids. In fact some parents are even advised to wean their babies early to try and reduce reflux symptoms. The difficulty is that, if your baby’s reflux is well controlled with medication there’s no way of knowing if it is improving or not without reducing the medication and waiting to see what happens. We had tried this a couple of times before but Toby’s symptoms had always come back but when he got to six months we thought we would try again. (We had already stopped using the Dentinox Colic Drops the month before – I really don’t think they were doing anything anyway!) We started off by reducing the amount of Gaviscon in his bottles. He used to have one and a half sachets in an eight ounce bottle so we slowly reduced this over several weeks. We cut down to one sachet per bottle and kept it at that for a week with no ill effects. So we then reduced to two-thirds of a sachet for another week (this one was a bit tricky but as we always made three bottles at a time it just meant two sachets split as evenly as we could between the three bottles). That went OK so the next week we went down to half a sachet. Toby was sick a little bit as we reduced the dose, which was a bit strange for us as the Gaviscon had previously meant he was never sick, but it was nothing more than a bit of spitting up occasionally after a feed. We finally had a week with a third of a sachet per bottle before stopping the Gaviscon all together, although we could have probably skipped the last week.

After that we started reducing Toby’s ranitidine. This was the one I was more worried about because without it previously the reflux caused him real discomfort and I didn’t want to put him through that unnecessarily. Again, each time we reduced the dose we kept it at the new level for a week before reducing again. At its highest, Toby was taking 1.5 mls of ranitidine morning and evening and 1 ml at lunchtime. The first week we just dropped the lunchtime does completely. The next week we reduced the morning dose to 1 ml and kept the evening at 1.5 ml, the next week both doses were 1 ml. A week later we cut out the morning dose. We kept just the evening dose of 1 ml for two weeks just to make sure all was well – Toby’s symptoms had always been worse when he went to bed. And finally we dropped that last dose and that was it – NO MORE REFLUX MEDS!

I have left it a couple of weeks before writing about this because I wanted to make sure Toby really had grown out of his reflux and we weren’t going to have to go back to medication. And so far so good! To be honest we probably could have reduced his medication much quicker but it’s so hard to know. We didn’t get any guidance from our health visitor or GP (although to be fair I didn’t ask!). I wanted to do it slowly to make it easier to monitor Toby’s condition. He suffered from silent reflux so there weren’t really any visible symptoms – we got pretty good at spotting the signs of when he was uncomfortable but as he has been teething the last few months as well it would have been easy to confuse the two and go back to the reflux meds when that wasn’t really the problem.

I’m so glad we have managed to wean Toby off his medication. It makes preparing feeds a lot easier, it’s easier to go out without worrying about taking medicine with us, but most of all I’m just glad that my baby boy is OK and doesn’t need to take medication every day any more.

We were lucky really, in that Toby’s reflux was fairly mild and managed well with medication, and that it didn’t seem to be linked to any kind of lactose or cow’s milk protein allergy which is very common. I know there are a lot of parents struggling to deal with reflux babies and perhaps not getting the support they should from their healthcare professionals. I am glad that I stuck to my guns with my health visitor and GP and pushed for medication that worked for us. I would say to other parents in a similar situation to trust your instincts; if your baby’s reflux still isn’t under control keep going back to your doctor, push for a referral to a paediatrician if you need to. There are medications out there that will help. And although it can be really annoying when people tell you that they will grow out of it eventually, it is true. It might take a while but sooner or later that reflux will be gone.

Review: Vital Baby Weaning Set and KidiSipper Tubby

Vital Baby Weaning Set and KidiSipper Tubby

Toby has only recently started weaning and we’re always keen to try anything that might make life easier. He already has four different sippy cups as I keep buying new ones in the hope he’ll work out how to use them! We were recently given the chance to try out a weaning set and sippy cup from family-run business Vital Baby. Vital Baby sell a whole host of baby feeding products along with various other things such as bath toys, teethers and skincare products.

The Details

The Vital Baby Weaning Set is a shaped bowl with a lip to make it easy to hold. It also has a lid with built in spoon storage and the spoon to go with it. The Weaning Set retails at £3.99 and is available in pink, blue or orange. We were also sent the KidiSipper Tubby to try out. This is a non-spill sippy cup with a soft, flexible spout. It also has a removable cover to keep the spout clean.The KidiSipper Tubby retails at £3.49 and comes in blue, orange or purple. Vital Baby products can be purchased direct from the company and are also stocked at Boots, John Lewis, Mothercare, Toys R Us, Ocado, Mamas & Papas and Amazon.

Weaning Set in use

The Pros

  • The Weaning Set is a really useful product, whether for use at home or out and about. As Toby doesn’t stay up with us for dinner I usually save a bit for him to have for his lunch the next day. This lidded bowl has been great for keeping things fresh in the fridge.
  • The spoon that comes with the Weaning Set is a perfect size for Toby, either for me to feed him or if he is (attempting) to feed himself. It has a soft tip which I really like – Toby has a tendency to dive at the spoon if I’m holding it and with this one I don’t need to worry about hurting him with it.
  • We haven’t actually taken the Weaning Set out anywhere yet but when we do I’m sure having the built-in spoon cover will be really handy both to keep the spoon clean before and to keep the dirty spoon away from anything else afterwards.
  • I have used the Weaning Set in the microwave and dishwasher without any problems.
  • The KidiSipper Tubby is a good size for Toby at 7 months. He seems to find it easier to hold the handles than on some of the other sippy cups we have.
  • I like the soft spout of the KidiSipper – again Toby likes to take a dive at his cup to get it in his mouth so I don’t need to worry about him hurting himself. This is very similar to the Nuby sippy cup we already have.
  • The non-spill valve works well – even after being thrown on the floor we didn’t have any leaks. Although the valve is non-spill there doesn’t seem to be too much effort required to get the water out. Toby is managing to get plenty – in fact the only spills we’ve had are when he decides to fill his mouth with water and then just dribble it down his chin rather than swallow it!
  • The lid on the KidiSipper is interchangeable with most of the other cups and bottles in the Vital Baby range which is a good feature.
  • We haven’t used the top for the cup while at home but again, this will be a useful feature when we take it out with us.

KidiSipper Tubby (Weaning)

The Cons

  • There are honestly no downsides to these products that I can come up with!

The Verdict

I really like both products that we tried from Vital Baby, and looking on their website there are plenty of other products that I would like to try. Some of the other cups and bottles look great for when Toby is a bit older and I also think the Unbelievabowl looks fantastic. I’ve tried to give Toby the bowl to feed himself occasionally but he just wants to throw it on the floor so one that suctions on to the highchair would be ideal! All the Vital Baby products are very reasonably priced too – I would be happy to recommend them to anyone looking for baby or toddler feeding products.

**Disclosure: I was sent the Vital Baby Weaning Set and KidiSipper Tubby  in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

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