Isaac Travels: Packing!

By now, Ning and I are so used to travelling that we’ve perfected our packing — we are completely unfazed even if we find ourselves packing at 6 a.m. in the morning, a mere hour before the taxi picks us up to get to the airport in time for a 9.30 a.m. flight. We also travel light. For as long as I can remember, we’ve always managed with two cabin luggage sized trolleys (which we have to check in because of my toiletries) plus a backpack for Ning, and a tote for me.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we can get away with that anymore now that we are travelling with little Isaac. So for our upcoming trip to Tasmania, our packing list includes:

  • 1 x carrier. We decided to forgo bringing a stroller because we intend to do a lot of hiking in Tasmania and the trails are probably not suitable for strollers. Anyway, Isaac is still relatively light (7.5 kg with a full diaper and after a feed) so that makes him a manageable carry for now.
  • 60 x diapers. We’ll be off for 12 days, so that’s 5 diapers per day (which should give us some to spare because Isaac uses about 4 diapers a day currently). This is the bulkiest and heaviest item we have to pack. On the bright side, we will run these down over the course of our stay, and we can use the space for shopping on our return trip!
  • Many many many items of clothing. I don’t even want to begin to think about this. Ning and I usually make do with just a few changes of clothes while travelling, but that’s because we don’t drool constantly or spill foods on ourselves, unlike our little man. So, many rompers, bibs, PJs, blankets, small-square-cloths (probably our entire wardrobe worth of them), and a little sun hat for the Australian summer. The saving grace is that his clothes are tiny.
  • Feeding implements. I am mighty glad that I am still nursing him most of the time, so the key item here is a nursing cover. Other than that, we’ll probably pack two spoons, two sippy cups and his baby bowl for his solid feeds. We had the wild fantasy that he would be polishing off pieces of bread with gusto by the time we travel but alas, this is unlikely to happen so we will still need to manage with some pureed, mashed, semi-solids at some point. And baby detergent to clean. And also a few jars of baby food.
  • Bathing things. Um. Can I repeat once again here how glad I am that Isaac seems to have the early makings of a traveller, what with him being light, still nursing, and not using too many diapers? He can sit very well now so we are not bothering with bringing inflatable bathtubs or bulky bath-seats along. We will just get a non-slip mat which we can place in the bathtub/shower for Isaac to sit on (so he um, doesn’t slip. And also to prevent icky stuff from touching his delicate little body.) And his baby toothbrush, and his baby shampoo and shower foam, and his powder, and his lotion (Ning thinks this is completely unnecessary usually, but definitely a must I think for the dry climate in Australia) and his ruyi oil. Eep, how did this list get so long?
  • Toys. Because how else to distract him on the long flights and drives? I don’t suppose Isaac wants to watch Serial (Bad) Weddings with me onboard the flight.
  • Protective stuff. Sunscreen for the hot Australian sun, and insect repellant for the outdoors.

Um! Did I get it all? And dare I imagine that we can still fit all these into a little cabin trolley?

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First Solids: Baby Led Weaning

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(Isaac in an early, haphazard attempt to introduce steamed pumpkin the BLW way. Disaster! But so cute!) 

I first read about baby-led weaning in New York Times earlier in the year — I was expecting by then, but um, as someone who bought everything only in the last month leading up to Isaac’s birth (and only completed our shift to the new place with three days to spare before the scheduled c-section), clearly I was not making any plans regarding the introduction of solids, which was still months and months away. But I remember thinking that it seemed like a very chill approach to that aspect of child-rearing, and that seemed to fit in how I thought I wanted to raise Isaac. Anyway, I promptly forgot about the entire BLW thing until a month or so ago when the babies in my mummies’ group began to approach the magical six month mark and we started discussing the introduction of solids.

With baby-led weaning, the two key concerns parents usually have are:

  • Choking. Most traditional weaning guides would advise parents to start with pureed or mashed food, or cereal. This is meant to help babies transit from a fully liquid diet, to one which consist of solid food, especially when babies are generally not able to fully coordinate chewing and swallowing of solid bits at six months and may choke on their food.
  • Nutrition. The second concern is that even if babies don’t actually choke on solid pieces of food, they are unlikely to be able to swallow them or polish off any substantial serving of solids. This may prevent them from getting adequate nutrition compared to if they were fed pureed food.

Based on my experience thus far, things seem to be ok:

  • On choking, I found that babies seem to be quite able to take care of themselves. BLW guides would suggest giving babies a large size of food cut in a way that is easy for babies to hold and to NEVER PUT FOOD IN THEIR MOUTH, especially small pieces. When I tried this, Isaac would gum off pieces of toast and pear and he gags sometimes, but always spat out whatever food he could not handle. So while the gagging might look scary, I have come to believe that babies are well able to manage solid pieces if they are given full control.
  • On nutrition, whether solids are introduced the traditional way or BLW way, all experts would say that milk (breast or formula) remains the primary source of nutrition in a child’s first year. By the end of the first year, a toddler should have acquired the skills to start feeding themselves so I wasn’t too worried about nutrition at this point. However, as I am fully breastfeeding, there are some concerns about iron deficiencies after six months (some total breastfeeding proponents would disagree with this). I am not particularly nazi about parenting (either on the total breastfeeding front, or total baby led weaning front) so I am quite happy to introduce a feed of rice cereal mixed with formula milk (both fortified with iron) while trying out baby-led weaning for other foods.

Anyway, it’s been fun! Isaac now munches on toast with us in the morning, and I try to introduce him to a cleanly cooked baby version of whatever I am having for lunch (boiled chicken, slices of fruits etc). And he’s getting better at holding the food and actually working at them, though he doesn’t ingest much! =) Here’s Isaac happily munching on a pear! You can see little bits that he spat out because he’s gummed them off but can’t quite swallow them yet.

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Luckily for me, Isaac hasn’t shown signs of allergies or sensitivities (FINGERS CROSSED! TOUCH WOOD! NO JINX (PLEASE!) so we have been quite chill about introducing whatever we eat to him, as long as they do not contain added salt, oil and sugar (or other preservatives) and are not among the clear no-s (e.g. raw food, non-fully cooked food, egg white, nuts, seafood). But there are good guides out there on what and how to introduce foods to babies in the BLW way (here’s a good leaflet)  and there are also Facebook groups and other blogs sharing BLW recipes. In any case, one good thing about BLW in my opinion is that babies are really developing their self-feeding skills, and tasting the food more than actually eating it. So the amount they ingest is less and I like to think that this makes it less likely to cause serious tummy upsets.

And because we’re adventuresome parents, we’ll probably start adding natural spices and flavors (basil, rosemary, paprika, cumin etc) to the food for little Isaac so he’s open to more tastes!


Baby Milestones: Our Little Man Stands!

At 6.5 months old, little Isaac has officially been documented to stand! His feet are a little awkward in the video, but he actually does correct his posture now and will lift his feet and place them properly flat on the surface. Um, and clearly we are very very proud of our little one!

Actually, I sort of knew that he was able to pull himself to stand a few weeks back. Right about when he could sit up well (at just over 5 months), I began to place my arms in front of him and let him pull himself up on them. When I started, I would lift my arms a little after he holds on so he has some help. Then around 3 weeks ago, he could pull himself up while I locked my arms in place and provided very little or no lift. Once he was able to do that, we tried placing him in various places where there were support he could comfortably hold on to. However, he never seemed to really get that he could use cot railings or the bed rail as support until last night! And it was completely unexpected when he did, because I had only wanted to distract him with the bed rail (he likes scratching at the animal prints on the webbing) but instead he began to pull himself up!

But I must say though, as with all developmental milestones, a whole host of factors determines when exactly each child will achieve it. And the difference in timing really doesn’t mean much in the bigger scheme of things. For pulling up, it’s not only the strength of the child that matters, but also the opportunity. This would extend to whether or not there is anything suitable he can hold on to — not too high, not too low, and small enough for him to hold on to firmly. We realised that his cot railings are actually thicker than my wrists, which may be why he still can’t get a firm enough grip on them. And then as always, there’s always the personality aspect of it. Some babies may get proficient at crawling first, and find it such an effective way of getting around that they have no reason to try to stand. In the case of little Isaac, he’s never been very fond of being on the floor and is much slower at floor abilities. He’s only just managed to be on his hands and knees with his tummy off the floor, but he can’t move without flopping down!

Still, it’s quite comforting to know that while Isaac is slow at some things, he’s also quick at others, so it all works out to make him a happy average baby =) They grow so fast and learn new things every day, and we absolutely can’t wait to see what he’ll do next!