Part 2: Hotdogs, Burgers and Fishcakes

For those of you who missed my introduction to my fussy eater, you can read it here.

So, we have returned from holiday, we are settled back into daily life at home and we are continuing our laid back approach to Harry’s fussy eating. Harry was able to eat whatever he liked on holiday and there was plenty of ice-cream on his menu, no surprise there. He was in the company of other children including two young ones and witnessed them all eating a variety of healthy, nutritious and yummy food. I don’t think I actually heard any other whiny voices stating ‘I don’t like that mummy’ from any of the other boys but we kept our promise and assured Harry, not to worry and he could just eat whatever he liked. So he did.. lots of bread, some cheese, beans, milkshakes, shreddies and ice-cream. Nearly countable all on one hand, uh hang on and the obligatory chocolate and biscuits, two hands then. It could have sent me a little crazy but I kept myself sane by thinking we need to make sure he’s not pressured into eating anything he’s not comfortable with and hopefully this would help him build his confidence up when trying new foods. Whilst away we adopted the phrase ‘dinner winner’ from our friends and it sure has given us another trick up our sleeves to encourage him to eat especially now his younger brother is in the game!

Part 2: My fussy eater

‘Harry, your daily bread is here’

Fast forward a couple of weeks and we have seen a slight improvement! For Harry it’s quite a big improvement really as he is now happy to eat fishcakes, hotdogs and burgers! We’re not going for ultra healthy foods at the moment, we are just happy with any different foods and some variety from his usual intake of diary products and carbs. In fact, these are the two food groups I have never had to worry about, give Harry a bowl of Shreddies for breakfast, dinner and tea and he is a happy boy. Where he is lacking is fresh fruit and vegetables and I can hear you thinking that this is the same for most kids, but he honestly hasn’t eaten any fresh fruits or vegetables for months, thank God for Innocent smoothies!

I have read a lot recently about allowing children to help in the kitchen with preparing and cooking food and that this can help them become better eaters, it seems to be a growing trend. We have made homemade milkshakes before and he has tried them but soon spat it out and declared he did not like it, YUCK! He obviously tasted more strawberry and less sugar compared to the usual shop bought ones! However, the next challenge is to allow Harry to help me make a fresh smoothie and hope that he will try it. Harry sees us all eat fruit daily especially his younger brother, Jack, and so here’s hoping the sibling rivalry kicks in and he gives it a try. In fact, we have seen a slight shift in his attitude towards foods over the past few weeks. It got so bad last month that he was getting tearful over the suggestion of trying food but now we are able to talk to him and he seems quite open and interested in what we are saying. Possibly because we have been relaxed with him about his eating habits and are happy to go at his pace. Hopefully he will start gaining more and more confidence to try new foods and return to some of his old favourites too. Here’s hoping.

I will follow up on how we get on making our homemade smoothie!

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Introducing my fussy eater…

There is nothing more frustrating than a child who doesn’t eat. Let me introduce you to Harry, my first born who is nearly 3 and a half and weighs just under 30lbs. At the moment Harry’s picky eating is at its peak. He is currently living on cereals & milk, bread and baked beans! Oh and perhaps some long cheese as he likes to call it (to us it’s cheese strips)  the occasional petit filous yoghurt and some innocent smoothies. Harry would eat chocolate for breakfast, dinner and tea if I let him.


I am determined to make Harry a better eater. We have tried all the tricks in the book, hiding food, making hidden vegetable sauces, bribing him with pudding or chocolate, reward charts, flying aeroplanes, pretending to feed his favourite teddies at the table and yes some days these tactics work and some days they don’t. We’ve stayed calm, made him stay at the table, lost our patience, yelled, made empty threats and have had lots of tears. It is rather annoying spending time cooking yummy food for him when he doesn’t want to eat it or even try it! I want Harry to look forward to meal times and sometimes I worry that this is not happening and we are perhaps creating a negative environment when we sit down to eat.

A little background

Harry was breastfeed exclusively for 3 months and spoon fed from 5 months. We took weaning very slow at first, only introducing puree’d fruits, vegetables and baby rice. Harry was always in between the 9th and 25th centile, I got him weighed regularly and he did steadily gain weight so health visitors were never too concerned. By his first birthday he weighed 19lbs, however from his 1st to his 2nd birthday he only gained 2lbs and thus his fussy eating was born.

I personally feel that not being baby-led weaned like my second son, Jack, is why Harry is a fussy eater. Harry never became familiar with different textures as he was on puree’d/lumpy food for quite a long time. I never really let Harry mess too much with his food either and I know now that this has also played a part. Playing with his food, including wiping, touching, smelling and tasting it all builds confidence when eating. With my second son, Jack, I have pretty much left him to his own devices. At first it was nerve wracking watching him eat fruit in finger sticks from 6 months old but the more he did it, the more both our confidences grew. Jack is now 11 months and he is a cracking little eater but I know time will tell as to whether he will continue these eating habits into his later years.

Recently I have simply been asking Harry to just try the food and if he doesn’t like something he doesn’t have to eat it. However even asking Harry to try something at the moment is challenging! So having had a chat with the hubby about the problem we have decided to adopt an easy going, relaxed, he’ll eat when he’s hungry attitude. Yes this is easier said than done but as long as I am offering him varied food then he’ll start eating some other foods eventually, right? It’s been frustrating for us both but we are finally on board with this approach and we have everything crossed that eventually it will work. We are off on holiday soon and are holidaying with friends who also have children the same age as Harry, so we are hoping by adopting this laid back attitude and being surrounded by 3 other boys who do eat a varied diet then he will hopefully find the confidence to try some different foods. Of course there will be plenty of ice-cream and treats too (there is a Haagen Daaz shop on site!) but we will not be using this to bribe him to eat his dinner, after all it is a holiday for him too.

Wish us luck and I shall keep you posted on how we get on when we return!

The Truth about Baby No. 2

It was 10 months ago when my life turned upside down and it was the arrival of our second bundle of joy that did it. The sleepless nights returned and along came the long days that were filled with mayhem from the moment my eyes opened to the moment they closed. There was the constant juggling as I tried to care and look after my then 2 year old and my newborn simultaneously combined with a roller coaster of emotions I had to contend with too. Adjusting to life with two children has been a bigger shock for me than I remembered adjusting to a new life with just the one.

‘They say it’s easier second time around’

Perhaps this has something to do with the age gap between my two children, of which there is two and a half years or perhaps it’s because people assume you know what you are doing and so don’t offer as much help? Whoever said it was easier second time around?!

Whilst pregnant with my second child, I remember my husband asking me (on more than once occasion I might add) how I was going to cope looking after two children? And to be honest, I never actually gave it too much thought as I didn’t expect it to be too much of a big change. All I’d really been thinking about was preparing Harry for the arrival of his brother or sister and the affects that it would have on him, not least me. I never actually stopped and thought about the logistics of looking after two children, their different routines and needs, how I was actually going to get out of the house with two and how I was going to cope!  All my focus was on Harry and how he was going to deal with the change and in the end he dealt with it amazingly, I on the other hand.. not as well.

There are several reasons why I’ve found baby no. 2 more challenging so I thought I would share some of the truths and troubles that I have faced both in the early days and currently as a mum of two:

Sleep Deprivation – The alarm clock has already been made redundant with the first born but add to this being woken up several times in the night again with either child followed by caring for them all day without rest = sleep deprivation at its best! Broken sleep is still as painful as it was the first time around but now say goodbye to lie-ins with the newborn and nap time as sleeping when the baby does is near impossible to do with a toddler in tow. Getting them both to nap at the same time during the day can happen occasionally but you soon begin to realise that this is your only window of opportunity to get something done or put your feet up and have a brew.

Guilt – I was wracked with guilt as soon as my second son, Jack, was born as it was so hard getting use to being pulled in two directions and not being able to attend to either child when they needed me. I constantly wondered how I was going to manage and how I was going to split my time equally between the boys. I quickly realised that Harry was no longer a baby, he looked fully grown in comparison (how did I not see this before?!) and for some reason this added to my feelings of guilt. As we already know newborns are pretty demanding and sometimes I missed the days when it was just the two of us, the days when my eldest had my undivided attention and he didn’t have to wait for what felt like hours on end for me to do something for him. No longer am I his best friend, I have been replaced with CBeebies/Nickelodeon and now Daddy! I also felt guilt about not spending the same amount of quality time with Jack that I had been able to do with Harry. Some days I worried that I hadn’t even spoken directly to Jack, he was present only to my babble when talking shouting at Harry!

You no longer have the patience of a saint – I have been told on many occasions that I am a very patient person however those closest to me especially my husband is sure to disagree and if my 3 year old knew the meaning he would probably disagree too. The combination of looking after two young children, doing the daily chores in the house and a lively springer spaniel can some days be enough to push me over the edge!

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Keeping calm – I sometimes surprise myself at how much I scream and shout at the boys (and the poor dog), it’s not like they actually understand! All I’m doing is adding fuel to the fire. My husband often reminds me that Harry is still young and he doesn’t understand why I’m telling him not to do something but in the heat of the moment this simple fact is quite simply forgotten! I have noticed a couple of triggers recently and so have been trying to work on keeping calm. The main one is when we have been in the house all day combined with Harry’s selective hearing and his recent silly back chat. We seemed to have skipped the terribles twos and entered into the tenacious threes but that is a whole other post.

More bad days – We all have them, they are more common the more children you have I imagine and I know that since having number 2 I have had more than my fair share. It can be a few small things that happen to turn your day upside down or one of those days (probably due to the night before) that just goes from bad to worse, whatever the reason, some days bedtime can not come quicker enough!

Getting out & about – It can be bloody hard work going out outnumbered. It takes twice as long to leave the house and it can be quite stressful getting everyone and everything ready but I quickly realised it is worth the hassle as this is the only thing that keeps us all sane and will ensure that we don’t have one of the above. A walk to the park, meeting up with friends and their children, walking the dog and even a trip to the shops are necessary daily occurrences for us. Have a read at my earlier post about the logistics of getting from A to B to find out how best to do it.

The housework – the laundry doubles, the house is a constant bomb site, the pots quickly stack up and there is always some sick or dirty nappy to attend to. Add all these daily chores to looking after two children and it’s multitasking at it’s peak. It is impossible to have a clean pristine house all the time whilst raising two little ones without help and it drives me potty having to rush around constantly trying to get everything done.

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Help! I need somebody – Having two children does mean that you do need more help. Offers of babysitting one or both children have never been as welcome.

They are not babies for long – Baby number 2 will hit milestones a lot quicker and before long you are going to be refereeing a game of building blocks. Jack learnt to crawl just before he reached 6 months and he has been after Harry’s toys ever since. He is more robust, having had to learn how to handle being pushed around occasionally and I am now fearful of leaving them alone for a minute! The second child has a constant stream of entertainment in watching their older sibling and it’s not long before they soon begin to start practicing everything they have been witnessing over recent weeks.

No time for you – So apart from the rare times that both your children nap at the same time which is usually in the car on the way somewhere I might add, there is very little time to yourself (I do love those car journeys though!) Putting others first is a great expression when defining motherhood. And no longer will you shower, get ready, eat, go to the toilet or even sleep in peace and without an audience. 

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I have struggled with the demands of caring for two little ones, constantly being pulled in two directions 24/7, day in day out is without doubt the most difficult challenge I have dealt with. I am in constant awe of other mums (and dads) who have two or more small children in tow and often wonder how they cope! But despite all the hardship, the exhaustion and the squabbles still to come, having a second child really does feel like the family is more complete. Seeing Harry and Jack start to interact and communicate with each other is wonderful to watch and when they do share moments of tenderness it is utterly heart warming. Having a sibling means that their personalities will help shape their identities and hopefully they will become lifelong playmates.

As for my sanity, I am hoping this will return at some point 🙂

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10 things I’ve done differently second time around

I recently read a post from another mummy blogger about your first child effectively being the guinea pig. It got me thinking about what things I’ve done differently with my two boys and I was surprised to learn there were quite a few! So I have decided to list them. It seems I’ve learnt a lot more second time around! For the sake of clarity I am going to refer to the boys as big bee and little bee.

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1. Shorter stay in hospital

With big bee I stayed in hospital just under 48 hours, I was in no real rush to leave and whilst there I got the hang of breastfeeding with the help of the midwives. However second time around, I was in hospital less than 24 hours and couldn’t have got out of there any quicker! I left the hospital too soon, assuming that I would be able to breastfeed again was a big mistake. I realise now I was lucky with big bee but things were not as easy with little bee, being tongue-tied he struggled latching on and my technique was all wrong. Without the help of the midwives in those first couple of days, it resulted in my breastfeeding days being cut short due to a poor latch and sore nipples. I truly learnt the meaning of the term toe-curling and gave up within two weeks 😦

2. Bottle fed

I managed 4 months breastfeeding with big bee but only 2 weeks with little bee. Even though big bee took a bottle at 4 months, on reflection given the chance I would not hesitate in breastfeeding again. At the time I thought breastfeeding was hard work and sometimes the on demand feeding was…well…pretty demanding! By 4 months I was ready to make the switch however in hindsight compared to bottle feeding it’s a no brainer. Apart from the obvious health benefits, breastfeeding provides instant, ready made feeds, I could get myself nice and comfy with big bee and I still had a free hand to drink my cup of tea, use my phone, grab the remote etc. I needed two hands for bottle feeding, and sterilizing/making up the bottles was just another chore I could have done without. Plus with breastfeeding, I was able to feed and stay in bed which beats having to go downstairs in the middle of the night to fetch a bottle!

3. Tummy time at night time..

..ok, so this is a controversial one. Big bee slept as advised on his back and woke often throughout the day and night unless of course when he was held then he would sleep for longer. Obviously with just big bee this was not too much of a big deal but by the time little bee came along I needed him to sleep anywhere as long as it was not in my arms! Little bee was a wriggler from the start and constantly woke himself up by fidgeting around and hitting himself in his face. This led me to change his sleep position, he napped on his tummy during the day, at first, when I could still keep an eye on him but once he had good head control, he slept on his tummy at night too. This made a huge difference because I am sure sleeping on his front helped him to self soothe himself back to sleep.

4. Baby-led Weaning

I will post another blog on this in more detail in the future but basically big bee was spoon fed and traditionally weaned from 5 months old and is now an incredibly fussy eater. Whereby little bee has been baby-led weaned from 6 months old and even though he is only 10 months old now, he is a more confident eater and is still so far enjoying lots of different foods. Plus the BLW approach has been an amazing experience and so much more enjoyable. It has also been easier preparing meals as little bee just eats pretty much the same as what we are eating.

5. Left little bee with Grandma a lot sooner than big bee

Ok, maybe this had something to do with breastfeeding big bee for longer but I left little bee with my Mum a lot sooner than big bee. I think little bee spent his first night at Grandma’s at just 4 weeks old whereby big bee was nearly 1! Ha, this makes me smile looking back. We are always happy to have the opportunity of a night off now!

6. More maternity leave

I decided to have more leave this time around. Rather than rushing back to work I wanted to enjoy as much time off as possible with my two boys as I am not sure whether this will be my last maternity leave… I’ve taken the full 12 months leave plus a little bit extra due to holiday allowance and even though it’s been hard work, I’ve enjoyed every minute being at home 🙂

7. Went on holiday a lot sooner

Our holiday was already booked before little bee made his appearance into the world. He was just 8 weeks old by the time he was clocking up some air miles however big bee was 18 months old before he went on his first flight. Not that this has made any difference to the boys, it’s more about learning to be more laid back and relaxed with your second child and carrying on as normal. Babies are more transient than you think!

8. Not joined in as many playgroups

Ok, so this one makes me a little sad. I haven’t been able to join in with as many playgroups this time around as I did with big bee. Having two children at home, even though big bee does attend nursery a couple of days a week, not only makes getting out of the house for morning playgroups a nightmare, the difference in ages of my two boys has prevented me from joining in some of the local playgroups. Therefore I have not met any new mums this time around 😦 On a optimistic note, however, I still have 3 months of maternity leave left so maybe there’s still time…

9. Kept to a routine

Because we have stayed at home more since little bee has arrived, I have been able to get little bee into a good routine. He naps brilliantly during the day and is easy to go down most days which leaves me with time to get things done in the house and attend to big bee whilst little bee sleeps. This has been a God send with two children, however I do miss the spontaneity of our days when it was just big bee and me but at the same time I do realise that a routine is essential when you are juggling looking after two children.

10. Less Googling

When big bee was a baby, I was constantly on my phone googling baby related questions. When I wasn’t googling, I would be reading a book or talking to people to find out the answers however with little bee I have not had the time to google as much. I have just had to think logically about the best option and pretty much get on with it. I would say that perhaps I’ve used more intuition and perhaps this is what you learn to do as you have more children?

Looking back, even though I have done things differently with the boys, I feel confident that I did the best I could have done at the time and reflecting in this way has made me feel more confident about the choices I have made, albeit I may not have been thinking this at the time! 
 

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Why I am looking forward to the boys growing up

Since becoming a mummy I have noticed that many parents and non-parents for that matter make comments such as, ‘they won’t stay little forever’, ‘they’ll be grown up before you know it’, ‘blink and you miss it’. As the saying goes if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard ‘time goes so fast’ I’d be rich! The truth is as much as I don’t want to rush through life and there is nothing more I like to do than look at my little boys just as they are now, I am also excited to see them grow and I am looking forward to seeing what the future will hold for them. I don’t want to stay in the here and now forever, at this moment in time that would feel like torture! The endless amounts of washing, ironing, tidying, trying to clean two pairs of dirty mitts several times a day, two dirty mushes, wiping bums, filling the dishwasher, emptying the dishwasher, making up the bottles, cleaning bottles, answering the same questions over and over again… its groundhog day!!!

I am always ready for the next stage, packing up the small baby clothes, packing away the moses basket, I get a sense of relief that Jack is becoming a little independent person. I am not wishing his baby days away but as I see him crawl, cruise and start to practice standing alone, I am proud of all the milestones he is reaching. Seeing him laugh, clap, bop along to songs we sing, they are all little things that he is learning and everything he learns make me smile. Seeing him start to communicate with us by copying what we do and join in when we laugh, are all reasons why I am looking forward to him growing up. OK I admit I am not a huge fan of the newborn stage but once they are able to smile, laugh and learn things, I see them grow and I am excited to see what little person they will become.

I have always been able to be positive about what the future may bring, excited even. I’m excited to hear what ambitions the boys will have. Even now hearing Harry talk about wanting to go to the moon, yes the actual thought fills me with dread but it’s so very exciting that he is already trying to understand the world we live in and what can be achieved. I am looking forward to seeing the boys start school, learn to read and write, play sports, have hobbies and interests, develop friendships. I am looking forward to seeing their own relationship grow, intrigued as to how they will interact with one another when Jack is able to communicate (yes I can already hear the whining.. It’s mine….I waaaaaaant it!). But regardless of the potential squabbles and fights, I hope this will help them bond as brothers. I cannot wait to help them grow, to teach them, explain things to them and be there for them. No matter how tough raising the boys can be at times, seeing them grow and develop into their own little characters makes this job all worthwhile. Being a mummy is the hardest and most tiring challenge I have ever had but I wouldn’t swap it for anything, despite all the washing and dirty bums! 🙂
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Getting from A to Bee!

To say getting out of the house with two young children is a mission has got to be an understatement! But just as you have finished wrestling your incredibly strong 9 month old, have him all cleaned up, buttoned up and ready to go, have managed to convince your 3 year old that Peppa will still be on TV when you get home as well as Ben & Holly, Zack and Quack and he finally has his shoes on.. the right way, you have the tricky question of which mode of transport are we taking today? Depending on where we are going, what we are doing and for how long, not to forget the weather, all contribute to deciding on how to get there.

Whilst pregnant with my second son, I quickly decided that a double buggy was a must. Harry still napped during the day and so this was my ticket to staying mobile. Whilst at the Baby and Toddler show at Eventcity Manchester I chose the Baby Jogger City Mini. However, after a bit of googling I soon realised that there were several options available to transport two young ‘uns. I bought the surf board for my Silver Cross single pram and also invested in a Caboo Close Baby Carrier. These now gave me plenty of choice to lead an active and mobile life with both the boys or so I thought… I soon began to realise that having two young children in tow makes getting around no mean feat. All options have their pros and cons and unfortunately I didn’t find any option easier than the other. This is what I found:

Option 1: Double Buggy

Pros – I know where both children are at all times and I feel happy that they can nap comfortably.

Cons – With both boys in it, it is heavy to push, especially in my area as there are a lot of hills! No child likes to stay in one place for too long especially not my wriggling Jack.

Option 2: Single Buggy with/without buggy board

Pros – allows Harry to hop on and off the board as and when depending on where we are, very handy if he is tired of walking.

Cons – Unfortunately the design of my board means that it is very difficult to push when in use as it is difficult to take a full stride. When not in use maneuvering the pram with one hand due to trying to hold Harry’s hand with the other is the most unenjoyable challenge!

Option 3: Baby Carrier

Pros – This is a great option if we are going on a short errand. Jack is happy to be carried and Harry and I can hold hands easily which makes a short stroll very enjoyable indeed.  Now Jack is nearly 10 kg we have started to use a Tula baby carrier most recently and I have found this easier to use as it provides more support for us both and so we have been able to enjoy being out and about with this for a little longer. I feel in control of both boys and have even managed to carry a parcel in the other hand at the same time too! 

Cons – Jack is too fidgety, he’s just not a fan of being carried this way for long periods.

 And finally Option 4: Carrying the baby seat

I only really did this when collecting Harry from nursery. My advice on this is to use this option sparingly and as a last resort! This is perhaps less enjoyable than option 3!!

Consequently the double buggy only gets used when we purposely go out for a walk but now Spring has arrived this will happen more often (Yay!). Walking with a 3 year old and a pram regardless of the buggy board is just bloody hard work. The Caboo baby carrier only got used in and around the house however using the Tula baby carrier in recent weeks has made my life a little easier. Unfortunately I found that there is no perfect solution to transporting two children around with you as all require patience, strength, the ability to count to 10, and eyes in the back of your head!

Or an extra pair of hands… Mum do you fancy coming to the shops? 🙂