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72 Hour Kit Free Printables


It is that time of year that I like to remind us all to take a look at our emergency preparedness status. Today, I have two printables for you to use if you like. 

The first, pictured on the left above, is a sheet of a list of things to pack in your 72 hour kit. I left some blank space so you can add things if you have other ideas you want to add to the list. This list is for one person, so each person would need the items on the list. 

For little kids, we leave out a lot of things. To have it all would be super heavy for a little one to pack around. There are also items I don't want a four year old to have, like a knife. These lists also do not include things like diapers, stuffed animals, crayons, etc. that you might want to pack for a child.

This entire list is really too big to fit everything into one kit. My husband and I split some things up, while still trying to make sure each of us has enough to get us through if we were separated. 

The second printable is a sheet for your emergency contact information. You will put the person's name in the top blue bar. Under "Family Information," you will put who is in the family--names of parents, spouse, children, etc. You also add a family picture. Under "Emergency Contact Information," you will fill in your home address. Then you will list contact phone numbers. Include spouse, parents, grandparents, friends, etc. who can be contacted in case of emergency. Be sure you have some long-distance phone numbers listed--they say long distance phone calls are the first to be restored in emergency situations. The "Personal Information" box is self-explanatory. The "Medical and Insurance Information" is also self-explanatory. Just fill it in and add a photo of the person. We have one of these in each person's kit.

Here are other posts on Emergency Preparedness:

Feed Me Friday: Autumn Soup


Starting in the Fall and going into Spring, we have soup each week. As I meal plan, I always look for a soup to have that week. So we try lots of soup recipes (because I have this thing against eating the same recipe in twice in a 30 day period). This soup is seriously amazing. Why? Because you take a bunch of ingredients from your garden and make a delicious soup. It is my favorite soup to use up a bunch of the stuff in my garden that is going out of control. My husband says it "tastes like Fall." But don't worry! You don't need a garden to eat this soup. These ingredients should be cheap at the store, too.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • crushed bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Pinch of basil
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 1 cup zucchini
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 small can of tomatoes
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce
Brow together meat and onion. Drain fat. Add water. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until veggies are soft.

MY CHANGES
Above is the recipe as written. Here is how I change it. 

I do not use a bay leaf.

I double all vegetables. And note that you don't need every one of those vegetables for this soup--if you don't have one, make it anyway!

I also double the water, salt, and the bouillon. I keep pepper the same.

I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. The upside is better flavor. The down side is the skin comes off in the soup, which might be displeasing to some of you. If so, you could blanch the tomatoes first to get the skin off. Or you can just use canned tomatoes. 

For the herbs, I use fresh herbs and do quite a lot of them. Oregano and basil are my two favorite herbs so I load them in there. Plus my basil plant's days are numbered, so I want to use up those leaves!

My "dash" of Worcestershire sauce is probably closer to a Tablespoon, but I don't measure it out.

SERVE WITH
Serve with bread. You can do rolls, breadsticks, french bread, baguettes, or even just a loaf of bread you bought at the store.

FEEDING TO KIDS
Some of my kids are not big soup fans. When I feed them soup, I take the ingredients and put them on a plate. So potatoes, carrots, celery, meat, etc. all on the plate without any broth. I usually use the divider plates. Then they eat it just fine. They like the ingredients, it is just having them all together in a liquid that is disconcerting to them. 

I love feeding soups like this to older babies, pre-toddlers, and toddlers. I do the same as I listed above; I take out the individual ingredients. I then make sure each piece is a good size for that individual child.

Having a Happy and {Wholesome} Halloween


I love, love, super-love the Fall season. I love it all. Leaves changing color, hiking in the mountains, corn mazes, brisk weather, my birthday....all great things. I even love Halloween. Some of you are thinking GASP! And some of you are thinking "why wouldn't you?"

I know many of you out there are not Halloween fans, and that is fine. I am not here to try to change your mind (not sure why I would want to?). What I am here to do is to share how we have a happy and wholesome Halloween each year so any of you who love Halloween but feel conflicted about the "Pagan" holiday can get some ideas on how you, too, can have a happy and wholesome Halloween. These ideas aren't exclusive, inclusive, nor mandatory. These are just ideas.

1-Do Fun Crafts
We love to celebrate the season with fun Fall crafts. There is no shortage (at all) of Fall and Halloween craft project ideas out there on the great wide Internet. Pictured here to the left, you can see a "leaf man" we made several years ago after reading the book Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. I love to read picture books and then do a craft to correspond with it.

You can also do activities that are slimy:


You can find ideas:

2-Decorate With the "Cute" and Leave Out the "Gross"
There is definitely a gory and gross side to Halloween. That side does not appeal to me. I don't really see how it would be appealing to children, either. You can totally decorate for Halloween in a cute way. I have always loved decorating for holidays, and Halloween is no exception. You can find decoration ideas on my Halloween Pinterest board. You can also find ideas on the Fabulous Fall board for the Babywise Friendly Blog Network Pinterest account.

Here are some decorations I have made:



3-Establish Family Traditions
We have many family traditions we look forward to each year. 

We love to go for fall hikes. Where we live, we have mountains close by and the leaves change. It is such a magical time to go for a hike.



Going to the corn maze is another Fall tradition we love. In addition, at this same place we can ride ponies, launch gourds, play in the straw, and much more.  


Each year, we each carve a pumpkin. Carving a pumpkin is such a great learning activity--you get fine motor control practice, art project, sensory activity, and science lesson all in one. We have babies play with the guts. Pre-Toddlers and Toddlers draw and/or paint the pumpkins. Older toddlers and preschoolers draw the face on the pumpkin and we carve it. Kindergarten and older cut out their own pumpkins. You can also start the pumpkin carving off by going to a pumpkin patch:

We also love to go to what is called the Pumpkin Walk. People decorate pumpkins and set them up in a fun scene and you go see their creativity:


My children LOVE to rake up the leaves and then play in them. Time-honored October/November tradition.


4-Eat Good Food
Our Best Bites has a seaonal cook book, and hands down my favorite section of that book is the Fall section. I love Fall recipes! I love pumpkin cookies, pumpkin lattes, butternut squash pastas, soups...mmmmm....and there are  lots of fun desserts to make. There are a bunch of fun ideas on my Halloween board. You can also find ideas on the learning board: Fall ideas here. You can find our Halloween ideas here.





5-Dress Up As a Family
Every year, we dress up for Halloween as a family theme. This is one of my very favorite family traditions. My dad often even gets involved. Here are some of our costumes:









6-Have a Party! 
 Each year we dress up two times. The first time is for our church party. Our ward is so fun and almost everyone dresses up. The second is for trick-or-treating. On Halloween, we get together with family and go trick-or-treating and then come back to our house for soup and family time.

That's not our only party of the month. We also do a party with my husband's family early in the month of October. We do various activities--a fun one is drawing a name of a family member from a hat and then decorating a pumpkin to look like that person. Then you guess who had whom.

We also host an adult-only party with our friends each year. Some years we do murder mystery dinners and some years it is just a costume party. It is always fun.





Conclusion
You can definitely celebrate Halloween without getting gory or gross. You can do it all in good fun! And if you are very anti-Halloween, you can still do lots of fun traditions to celebrate Fall. Children love traditions. Decide on some fun traditions your family would enjoy and do them year after year!


Today, the ladies of the BFBN are all posting on "Fall"--check out their posts:
And be sure to check out the Fabulous Fall board for the Babywise Friendly Blog Network Pinterest account

Trouble: You Don't Have to Look For It

source

Parents tend to base a lot of their parenting decisions and philosophies on experiences from their childhood. This makes a lot of sense--we are products of our life experiences. People sometimes want to do things just as their parents did and sometimes want to be the opposite of their parents. Many times we think and say, "I did [didn't do] XYZ and I turned out just fine!"

Here is the trouble. Our world is so vastly different than it was when we were kids. As parents, we are parenting in areas no other generation has had to worry about before. We are at an extreme disadvantage in things (like cell phone policy) because we don't have an older, wiser generation to turn to for advice. We are the pioneers. 

In many cases, I think our world has often over-corrected itself. We hear about one kid getting hurt in some random way 3,000 miles from us and we suddenly no longer allow our child to do that anymore and think any other parent doing it is surely neglectful (or at best ignorant of the peril they are exposing their child to). 

The book Free Range Kids talks about this overcorrection and suggests we need to allow our children some freedom to be children like we were all able to be once. In general, I really like the book and agree with much of what she says. I do think we have too much news coverage so we know the most bizarre and random ways things can go wrong in our lives. Never mind the millions who have done the same thing without incident. Nothing is safe anymore.

But the problem with the idea of having "free range" children is that the world is different now. When we were children, we had to go looking for trouble. We had to search it out. Today temptations are ever-present for our children and trouble goes looking for them!

So we need to safe guard our children. We need to figure out how to give our children the freedom and growing experiences they need while still protecting them as they need protection. 

Part of doing this is having family rules and standards. As individual families, we need to decide what we are comfortable with. How far can our children ride their bikes alone? Can they have sleepovers? Can they use the computer unsupervised? Can they participate in various media at friends' homes? We need to think through these issues so we can pray about solutions and help fortify our children against the "trouble" looking for them. 

Standards will be different for every family, and that is okay. That doesn't mean you need to feel defensive if your family standards seem more strict than Suzie's family standards. That doesn't mean Betty is a bad parent if her standards seem lax to you. Decide on your standards--feel free to consult friends, neighbors, and family--and then be secure in what you have decided is right for your family. 

As you are deciding on standards, remember to focus on principles rather than a laundry list of rules. You will never be able to foresee every temptation your child will face. You need to teach your child correct principles so he can govern himself when you are not around. This will be done day to day as you are present in his life. 

And don't wait until your child is actually old enough to be out in the world to start teaching these standards. Start as young as your child is now. Dr. Glenn J. Doman, noted author and medical authority, said that "What is placed in the child's [mind] dudring the first eight years of life is probably there to stay." He also said the most receptive age in life is 2-3 years old. Do not wait to teach correct principles! This is why we teach young. This is why discipline is important from a young age. 

Another note, teach correct principles, but don't hesitate to have rules in place to offer extra protection. No one, no matter how good they are, is immune to making mistakes. You can teach correct principles in computer use, but you can offer extra protection by having the computer in a place with heavy traffic flow in the family. This will help ensure no one in the family mis-uses the computer. It will also ensure that if trouble finds your child on the computer, he will be more inclined to turn trouble away rather than visit it for a time. 

And another note, don't be afraid to change rules. Maybe you initially decide to allow sleepovers. Then after a time, you feel like sleepovers are not a good idea. You can change your family policy to no sleepovers. Will the children be upset? I am sure they will! But don't let that stop you from changing rules if they need to be changed any more than you ever let a two year old tantrum get your child candy at the grocery store. 

As you are parenting, keep in mind that we live in a world where trouble finds us now. We need to strengthen our children appropriately. We need to have family rules, policies, and standards appropriately. We need to be prayerful continually for our children and for ourselves. 

And I don't want to scare you into keeping your child locked indoors until his 18th birthday. Not at all. I just want us to be wise in our parenting.

For more articles discussing these issues, see:

Brinley Pre-Toddler Summary: 13 Months Old


This is a summary for Brinley for ages 12.5 months to 13 months old. These are weeks 56-57.

EATING
Eating is all good and continued on the same as it has been.

BOTTLE WEANING
She is still doing the sippy twice a day and bottle twice a day.

SLEEPING
Sleeping is all good and normal. We have a chance to try out one nap once a week now. One day a week we drive McKenna and some of her classmates to preschool. Pick-up time is during her normal nap, and we get home right at noon, so she eats lunch and then goes to bed. The one nap is not stellar--she is pretty tired by the time we get home and she only sleeps about two hours. I guess it will be a good indicator of if she is ready to drop the nap or not. 

PLAYING
The kids were all back in school and that meant...back to independent playtime! And guess what? She was awesome. It was like she never took a two week vacation. She even does it for an hour now--before she was 40-45 minutes. She just picked right up where we left off and I can tell she actually just loves it. 

Speaking of kids in school, the first few days were kind of sad. She would wander the house calling to her siblings. It was cute but they were no where to be found. She has quickly adjusted and she enjoys more one-on-one with me. 

She also gets lots of time with McKenna, and you can see in the picture above what happens when she spends lots of time with McKenna. Dress up is one of McKenna's favorite past times so she is sure to include Brinley in the fun.

She is loving making animal sounds now. 

TEETHING
Brinley has taken FOREVER to get her next teeth in. During this time period, she was teething and cutting all four top teeth at once. She was not happy. Finally one popped through--but a lateral incisor instead of the central! I have never had this happen before. I did some researching on the good old Internet and from what I have found, it isn't terribly uncommon and not a cause for concern. I don't really see why it would be a problem so long as all of the teeth do come in. We have a dentist appointment next month so I will talk to him about it and get some information "from the horses mouth" so to speak.

SCHEDULE
8:45--bottle with solids (fruit, cereal, yogurt, finger foods). Independent Playtime happens in this block.
11:00--nap starts
12:45--wake up, sippy with solids (veggie, fruit, other foods we are eating)
3:00--nap starts
5:00--wake up, sippy with solids (veggie, fruit, dinner) 
7:30--bottle, then bedtime. In bed by 8:00-8:30.


RELATED POSTS/BLOG LABELS:

Room Sharing {9 Tips}

Brayden and Kaitlyn's bunk beds--designed and built by my husband

Room sharing can be quite nerve-wracking! I think any parent who does Babywise, Babywisperer, or follows Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child has a high value on sleep. We believe sleep is super important for the development and growth of our children. Room sharing has potential to disrupt good sleep, and that makes it scary.

Naturally, whenever parents are about to embark on room sharing, they want to know the good tips! What can you do to make this as successful as possible?!? 

Have the Right Kids Share
My first tip is to have the right children share. This is assuming you have some sort of choice. When we first started room sharing at our house (summer of 2012), we had Kaitlyn and McKenna share. This made sense because they were both girls. Here is the problem. McKenna is not a compatible person for sharing. Things started off fine, but long term they did not go so well. At the time, McKenna spent 20-30 minutes at night singing herself to sleep. No problem when you are alone, but a problem when your sister is two feet away from you. She also is a party girl. Slumber party every night!  There were other problems. McKenna needs more sleep than Kaitlyn, but naturally she would wake in the morning when Kaitlyn woke up, which led to grumpy McKenna. 

With Kaitlyn starting school soon, I didn't want her tired every morning. One morning, she said to me, "Mommy, I am so tired! I just want to sleep but McKennna won't let me." McKenna obviously was not ready to share a room with someone. We moved Kaitlyn in with Brayden. It has been a non-issue since! 

If you have a choice in the matter, make these considerations--these are in order of importance for me:
  • I would recommend you choose two children who are on similar schedules. Brayden and Kaitlyn are both in elementary school, so they both need to be up at the same time. McKenna can sleep in some in the mornings (and does--she sleeps 1-1.5 hours later than they do). Bedtime is not critical because you can stagger bedtime, but morning wake-up time is harder to have different. Now, if you have no choice, you can align morning wake up times to match and just make bedtime earlier for one child if she needs more sleep.
  • Choose your two best listeners. Which two children are better at obeying? This makes all the difference in room sharing. Brayden and Kaitlyn are great at following the rules, so they make easy room sharers. 
  • Choose children who won't play with each other as much. Many people will do the oldest and third share a room or second and fourth. Children who are right by each other in birth order are often good playmates. This can make for "party time" instead of sleep time. Obviously my oldest two do just fine sharing. That is why I list it below the "best listeners" part.
  • Consider gender. This is last on my list, though initially I had it first. Now, at some point--at some age--gender will move up the list of importance. Right now, it is low for us. Even when children get old enough to want to be modest when changing clothes, clothes can be changed in the closet or in the bathroom. 
Prepare them Mentally
I have found such great power in preparing children before changes occur. When I want them to be out of diapers, we make a date on the calendar and count down to it. When I want them to share a room, I let them know ahead of time so they can think about it and we can talk about it. Talk about what that will mean, what rules will be, and what expectations will be. Some children will need that time to prepare themselves for change.

Prepare the Room
As we approached sharing a room, I prepared it to be a shared room. I changed photos to reflect both people. I changed decorations that had one child's name to be for both. I moved clothes and toys around. Seeing these things helped get everyone excited.

Create an Optimal Sleep Environment
A good sleep environment is important no matter if you share or not. A tricky thing with sharing is creating the optimal environment for two different people. And anyone who is married knows that well right! When my girls shared, I had one who liked her room warm and one who liked it cold. I had one who was fine with sun in the morning and one who needed black-out curtains. So figure out how to work the environment for both people. One might need some extra blankets on the bed, and one might need fewer blankets.

Have some white noise! White noise is so great for sharing. Then you don't hear every little noise the other person in the room makes. We use the Graco Sweet Slumber Sound Machine. We like it enough that we own three (one for each bedroom).

Another consideration is what type of bed set-up to do. I highly recommend bunk beds. So highly. When the girls shared, they were on a bed with a trundle. So each morning we were taking everything but sheets off of one bed and stacking them on the other bed and putting the trundle away. I didn't love that. Or like it. Plus I think it made it easy for McKenna to party.

With Brayden and Kaitlyn, we did bunk beds. Yes! That is the way to go. Bunk beds make it harder to see and hear each other. There are down sides--obviously if you have a young one on top, that can be concerning for falling. It can also be annoying if you have a potty-training child on a top bunk and there is an accident. So bunk beds aren't necessarily a perfect situation, but for us, it has been ideal. 

Establish Rules
Have a short list of rules that cover what is expected at bed time. Here are some rules we have:
  1. Never wake a sleeping sibling (morning or night)
  2. Stay in bed (until the designated time)
  3. Use your whisper voice
And we later had to make rules like "no stealing Kaitlyn's blanket." 

Establish Consequences
Along with your rules, you need Consequences. For us, if McKenna didn't obey the rules, she had to sleep in a different room that night. This was devastating to her. And eventually we just moved Kaitlyn out all together. Think of a consequence for your children that will be meaningful to them.

Lights Out
Many people have a "no talking after lights out" type of rule. Some find it works well to have the children go to bed 10-30 minutes before they want the child actually going to sleep. During this time, the children can read and talk quietly, Then they turn lights out and no more talking. Part of the fun of sharing a room is some bonding time through conversation and this is a great way to get the best of both worlds.

Make the Change When Sleep Can Be Lost
Don't make the change in the middle of a school week or work week. Don't make the change right before your family vacation when you want everyone to start out well-rested. We made the change in the summer. You could do a weekend if you were sure things would be relatively smooth. You need to be able to handle the potential issues that arise only focusing on those issues, not stressing out about having to get up for work the next morning or worrying about how this will affect her obedience at great-aunt Martha's house next week.

Stagger Bedtimes
If you find bedtime to be an issue, try staggering bedtimes. Put the child down first who falls asleep the fastest. Then put the other child down. Just be sure the one down first is not a super light sleeper. Brinley is a super light sleeper--just opening her door wakes her up instantly. So when we are vacationing, we can't put her down first. We put McKenna down first since she is a very heavy sleeper. You can yell her name and get not even a stir from her. 

Your Tips!
Do you have tips? And for reader tips given in the past, see this post.

Super Baby Food Book {Giveaway}


If you have been around for a while, you know I love, love, love this book. Super love Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. This book is just full of information. It actually has more information than I could ask for, which is huge. I don't find it lacking. It is the best resource I have found on feeding food to your child, from baby on up.

Here is a bit about Yaron:
When Ruth Yaron’s twin boys were born premature and very sick, she knew the most
important thing she could do for them was to feed them the healthiest diet possible.
Unhappy with the information that was available to her, Ruth decided to do her own
exhaustive research on nutrition and health food. Although she was a whiz at
programming satellites for NASA, Ruth was an inexperienced cook. She used dozens of
natural cookbooksto learn her way around a kitchen, experimenting with tofu, carob and
wheat germ,much to the surprise offriends and family.
Ruth Yaron graduated from East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania with degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science. She worked at the GE Space Division and programmed satellites for NASA before writing Super Baby Food. She isthemother ofthree sons and lives with her husband in Scranton, PA. 

Super Baby Food is now out in Third Edition. This is new and updated to include the current guidelines on allergies and introducing foods. And guess what. This is an exciting moment in my life. You know how books have those little endorsements? Well, if you open up this book, the first page has a list of nice things people have said. You will see a nice comment from Martha Stewart, and if you turn the page and read the last comment, you will see one from ME! Yes, that is right. Me. I wrote an endorsement for this book. I feel special. I guess if you ramble about how awesome a book is for years you just might get asked to officially endorse it some day.

Here is the link to the website: http://www.superbabyfood.com/

If you want to know previous thoughts on the book, see this post:

  • You must enter the giveaway to have an entry.
  • No entries are mandatory--you can enter using one or all options. But as I said, you do have to enter to have at least one entry.
  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will disqualify your entry. Trust me, I check.
  • Entries will be accepted until 12:00 AM September 27, 2013.
  • The winner will be randomly selected through Rafflecopter.
  • The winner will be announced sometime after the winner is chosen. I will email the winner.
  • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Be sure to check back and/or check your email. The only thing worse than not winning is to win but not realize it in time.
  • I will not use your email address for any purpose other than contacting you if you are the winner (and FYI, I don't have access to the email addresses except for the winner).
  • US shipping addresses only.


Solid Food and Babies


Guess what. I am getting old. I have entered a phase in parenting that is kind of mind blowing for me. Advice that was given to me when Brayden was a baby is now outdated. And it has changed a few times.

When Brayden was a baby, the recommendation was to start solids at 4 months old. You did it slowly over time. There were a lot of restrictions on what could be given at what ages because you didn't want to cause food allergies. Things were the same for Kaitlyn, though some were starting to suggest waiting until 6 months for solids. 

When McKenna was a baby, there was starting to be some questioning as to whether previous recommendations were really the right way to go or not and things were sort of up in the air. Today, things are very different. And that leads me to this post. I have quite a few posts on solids, but all of the "how-tos" were written almost 5 years ago and are pretty much obsolete now. Foods that we were supposed to avoid because they would cause food allergies we are now supposed to give to avoid food allergies.

TRUST IN YOURSELF
As you are introducing foods to your baby, trust yourself. Listen to your "gut." This is my advice in all parenting choices. Yes, it is good to know what is recommended, but the medical community obviously does not have all of the right answers. 8 years ago, if you gave your baby strawberries, peanut butter, or milk before a certain age, your child was sure to have a food allergy to that food. Today, if you don't, your child is at a higher risk to have a food allergy to those foods. 

Here is my point. Recommendations change and change rapidly. Do your research and then decide what you think is best for your baby. 

WHAT AGE TO START SOLIDS?
The recommended age to start is something that changes quite often. It has changed a number of times in the 8 years I have been a parent. In the early 1900s, recommendations were to wait until after one. Not too long ago (30-50 years), recommendations allowed for as early as 4 days old. 

They are back to saying four months is okay, but you don't need to start at four months. The range is typically 4-6 months--there is debate on whether 4 or 6 is best. Again, go with what you think is best. 

The best thing to do is start when your baby seems very interested in eating solid foods. I have started my babies when they have started leaning toward food we are eating at meal times with their mouths open.

A huge indicator in if your child is ready or not is when the natural tongue-thrust reflex goes away. Babies are born with the reflex to push things out of the mouth. Once baby loses that and is able to swallow (more than liquid), it is a good physical sign that baby is ready.

Another physical sign is when your baby can sit unsupported.

My recommendation is to first wait until 4 months old. You might prefer to wait until 6 months or later and that is totally fine. Then start to watch baby's interest. When interest is there, analyze the tongue-thrust reflex. If it seems like baby could swallow food, give it a try!

WHAT DO YOU FEED BABY?
Things are simple today. Much more simple than they were with my first two. 

First Feedings
First, start with the simple foods that are universally easy on the tummy and are not foods people are usually allergic to. Many people like to start with some sort of cereal like rice or oatmeal. Other good first foods are sweet potatoes, bananas, and peas. 

Moving Forward
Recommendations are now that if a baby has tolerated these simple, non-allergenic foods and is 4 months or older, you can introduce almost anything baby can chew (but do not feed a baby raw honey). How long does a baby have to have eaten foods to have "tolerated" them? I don't know. I would recommend at least two weeks. For my babies, I would do 4 weeks of historically "safe" foods before I got adventurous. This article is a great read on introducing allergens.

Previous Posts
Here are some posts I have written that will help you with the "what":
First, choose what food you want to start with. See above. 

Second, set things up. Have your food read. Have your chair ready for baby to sit in. Have your camera and/or video monitor ready. Have it all ready before you get baby sitting and waiting.

Third, sit baby in the high chair/seat. Put the bib on.

Fourth, pray with your baby if you are a family that prays before meals. Do this each time you feed your baby.

Next, put a bit on the spoon. Make sure the food is a good temperature (not too hot). 

Next, put it in baby's mouth. See what happens! Take photos (I like to do this with my husband taking pictures so we capture the moment). Some babies will love it. Some will gag. Some will shudder. Some will swallow and open wide for the next bite and some will spit it all back out and clamp their mouths shut. Don't be discouraged if a lot comes out. This is totally normal. This is a new skill for baby to learn. Your baby likely will not be very good at it at first. See: 

Gear
What kind of gear will you need? It is very simple. This is what I like:
  • High chair (or some sort of chair for baby to sit in)
  • Bib
  • Spoons
  • Bowls
  • Wash cloth for cleaning hands/face
3-5 Day Wait Rule
In detail, I described your first feeding session. No matter what food you want to introduce next, remember the 3-5 day wait rule. Wait 3-5 days between each new food so you can watch for allergic or negative reactions to the food. So do one food day one. Wait 3-5 days before you do a second food. Do that each time you introduce a new food. Do not introduce mixed foods (like, bananas and sweet potatoes) until your baby has had both successfully.

Baby-Led Weaning
Baby-Led Weaning is a different way on feeding your baby. It involves using chunks of food and no purees. See this post if that is of interest to you:
Previous Posts
HOW MUCH DO YOU FEED?
Start with only about 2 tablespoons of food. Not much! See how that goes and then increase from there. 

Once you have baby eating 3 meals a day, the amount will vary from child to child. I have had babies that ate a whole lot of food and those who ate not so much. Let your baby guide you in deciding how much to feed her.

WHAT IS THE FEEDING SCHEDULE?
For your first meal, choose a time of day that works best for you. I like to do breakfast or lunch so if an allergic reaction were to happen, it would hopefully happen during the day and not the middle of the night when I wouldn't be at 100% capacity for dealing with a strange situation.

I feed solids with the liquid feeding. So I start with breastfeeding the baby, then we feed solids. The Baby Whisperer recommends doing the liquid feeding and then two hours later, feeding the solids. I have two reasons for not liking this approach. One is that it takes a baby who was nursing every 3-4 hours and now has baby eating every two hours all day. I think you risk creating a snacking problem. Second is that it leads to an overly tired baby. A baby should be up for two hours, not up for two and then eating a meal. Plus, you are then feeding solids to a baby who is ready for a nap, and this will mean it is harder to keep baby interested and listening to you. You can read more here:

Initially, you can feed solids just once a day. I would do just once for the first few days. Then you can start to add other feedings. You will want to get to where you feed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Choose the feeding that is closest to those times no matter how many feedings you have in a day. I have a detailed post on when to schedule in solids  here:
For planning out what to feed for the week, remember to feed the rainbow. And you can use my free printable to plan it out if you like. It is here:
HOW DO YOU TEACH MANNERS?
Once you have all of those details down we have talked about so far, you want to start thinking about manners. Basically, when baby does something you don't want her doing long term at the table (like thrusting her hand into a bowl of carrots), don't freak out. If you have a very entertaining reaction, she will naturally want to see that reaction again. Calmly remove her hand, wipe it up, and let her know to not do it again. Then show her where her hand can go instead.

With some things, I like to initially ignore the behavior. So if a baby starts blowing raspberries or does a nice high-pitched squawk, I just ignore it. If it continues, then I let the baby know to not do it at the table. 

Remember to allow things you want to continue and disallow things you don't want to continue. Consistency is always key when teaching your children. Here are some posts to help you:

HOW DO YOU AVOID PICKY EATERS?
I have had three children I would say are definitely not picky and one who I would consider picky. Let me tell you, having a child who is a picky eater is difficult! It is so worth doing what you can to avoid the pickiness. I have several posts on this; I will link them here:
The day will come when you and/or your child will want to move from purees to eating table foods or finger foods. You will want your child eating basically whatever the family eats. See these posts for tips.

CONCLUSION
There you have it! As you go through this process, trust in your own judgement. Consulting with your baby's doctor is always a good idea. And here are some good books:

Poll Discussion: Picky Eaters


Today's poll is on picky eaters. Questions:
  1. Would you consider your child a picky eater? Yes or no.
  2. If yes, do you think you did anything to contribute to that? Yes, no, or N/A
  3. If no, do you think you did anything to contribute to that? Yes, no, or N/A
  4. What did you do to contribute to the type of eater your child is? Elaborate as much as desired.
  5. If you have overcome picky eating, how did you do that? Elaborate as much as desired.
  6. Any words of advice?

Finger Foods Basics

Side Note: (side note to side note, isn't it odd I am starting with a side note?). Back to side note. Somehow, as I planned this week, I happened to put down all posts related to food and children. Even the giveaway. I didn't plan it that way but if I had thought it out, I would have.

Sorry if you are randomly reading this post three years from now--if you want to see what I am talking about, just scroll through what was yesterday and what will be in the next few days. Okay, back to post).

Finger foods! What a conundrum finger foods can be (conundrum=problem--had to clarify because I had to in Sunday School yesterday). I get a lot of questions surrounding finger foods. I totally get it. You have a child you have been feeding nothing but milk for about 6 months or more and suddenly you are supposed to feed finger foods...but what is safe! At what age can I feed it! How small do I need to chop it! Do I cook it! What if my baby gags! Just a few questions that pop up.

WHAT AGE CAN YOU START FINGER FOODS?
You can start when your baby is ready. Don't you just hate answers like that?!?!? That answer exists because there is no magical age when all babies are ready. Babies are individuals.

Generally speaking, some babies are ready as young as six months old. I have really done finger foods around the 7 month mark with all four of my children. See, mom needs to be ready, too. 

Keep this in mind. There are thousands of mothers out there feeding their babies solids through Baby Led Weaning--which involves feeding a baby chunks of real food, not purees. These babies are not choking to death, so your baby can handle finger foods. 

WHAT ARE SIGNS YOUR BABY IS READY?
  • Chew: You will want baby capable of making a "chewing" motion with her mouth when she has food in it. 
  • Desire: You will need baby to want to eat the food--you can't force feed food--especially finger foods. 
  • Fine-Motor Development: Your baby will need to be able to pick up foods in order to eat finger foods. 
Your baby does not need molars or any other type of tooth. Your baby will not get molars until closer to a year (Brinley is 13 months and has no molars yet).

Keep in mind that your baby will need to practice to get good at eating these foods. So don't be alarmed if baby is not good at first. It will take time! She will get better as she practices it.

HOW DO I START?
Choose a food you feel comfortable with (see lists below). Cut it into the size/shape you feel comfortable with. Put a few pieces in front of baby.

Next, I busy myself with something else to do--I stay close by, but I don't stare down the child. I tend to get involved more than I should, so if I see the poor dear struggling, I will pick the food up for her and put it in her mouth. I think it is best for the child to learn to do it, and the best way to learn is practice. If you can sit and watch the struggle without saving your child, do it! But if you are like me, wash some dishes or look through a recipe book or something.

The first few times, there is a good chance your baby will gag. Don't freak out. This is not for the feint of heart. Be there in case gagging leads to real choking (which in my four children it never has), but let the child work it up. This is unfortunately a real life experience in learning how to chew and swallow food. 

SIZE/SHAPE/TEXTURE
Size depends on you. You either want to go small or big--not in between. It can be big enough the baby needs to take bites of it (so cut into long strips or wedges) or more into bite-sized pieces already. Bite-sized pieces require a pincer grasp to pull off. I am a bit more cautious, so my pieces start out bite-sized, which is why my kids are a bit older than many with starting finger foods. You can also start with whole foods--like a whole bagel. Your baby won't put that whole thing in her mouth, but she will be able to hold the thing to her mouth. The younger the baby when starting, the larger the size will need to be.

The size you don't want is the in between where the child shoves it all in the mouth and has too much to chew. The size about the size of a Cheerio is good.

The shape to avoid is the perfectly round circle--the one shaped like the esophagus? You know. You don't want the baby putting the round beauty in her mouth, swallowing it whole, and lodging it in her throat. 

I like to cut mine into little squares. If the baby is grabbing larger chunks, the Baby Led Weaning people say to do wedge-shaped food. This is easier for a baby to "fist." 

Be sure the foods you start out with aren't too slippery. If you chop a banana up into squares, it will be too slippery for a baby to pick up. To do bananas, I cut about a 1-2 inch piece and then run my finger down the middle of it. It will break into 3 pieces. I then feed those pieces to the baby. You can help the texture by rolling the food in something safe for baby that is dry--like oatmeal (this tip is found in Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron).

As your baby gets older, she will be able to pick up even slippery foods.

WHAT DO I FEED BABY?
In reality, if it is cooked correctly for a baby (in other words, soft enough), and cut into a good size for baby, you can feed baby just about anything you would normally eat. Nuts are a no as whole foods. Honey is a no....but baby couldn't pick that up anyway.

You want to watch for allergies, so feed baby foods she has had in pureed form OR wait a few days between each new type of food so you can watch for allergic reactions. 

Here is a list of good first foods:
  • Gerber rice puffs--I start with these because, like I said, I am a bit cautious. I like that these dissolve easily.
  • Cheerios
  • Breads: Bagels, bread, crackers that get mushy (not ones that soak up all moisture like saltines) 
  • Cheese that has been pasteurized
  • Fruits: Banana, melons, cucumber, peaches, pears, mango (just remember, if it is slippery, it can be difficult and therefore frustrating for your child).
  • Veggies: Peas (frozen pease can be quickly thawed by running under cold water), sweet potato sticks, other veggies that have been cooked
  • Black beans
Here is a list of other good foods to add to it as your baby gets older and more able:
  • Pasta--well cooked
  • Cooked eggs--scrambled or boiled and crumbled
  • Cottage cheese
  • Rice
  • Pancakes and other breakfast grains like that (waffles, muffins..)
  • Grated carrots
  • Soft meats
  • Olives
  • Make old foods taste better--add some cream cheese to that bagel. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on that bread. 
  • Whatever you are eating--whatever you are having for dinner, figure out how you can get it into baby-safe size for her to eat, too. Having tacos? Give her some taco meat, some tomatoes, some olives (chopped), some cheese, and some tortilla pieces. The taco would be messy, but she can feed herself the parts. Do the same for soup--separate it out of the broth and into food pieces baby can eat. The sooner you get baby eating what your family regularly eats the better chance you have for having a toddler and older who just eats dinner rather than complaining about dinner. 
CUTTING TIP
Make life easier! Use things to cut that will make it easier on yourself. Use a pastry cutter, a pizza cutter, or kitchen scissors to quickly and easily chop things up. We use pizza cutters to cut up pancakes. Sometimes your fingers are the fastest and easiest--for example I don't cut olives with a knife, I just kind of smash them into several pieces. I squish it until it breaks and I rip it into four pieces. Much faster than cutting!

GOOD BOOKS
I love, love LOVE Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. 

Another resource you might like (that I haven't read) is Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.

What are your finger food tips? Any favorite finger foods?