Monday, 26 October 2015

Week 2 of baby led weaning

Now that we are two weeks into solids here's an update on how its going. So far he has mainly had fingers of fruit and veg as I wanted to see him get the hang of holding foods and feeding himself but I think Ill start cooking a little more for him this week.

Breakfasts - Breakfast is normally about an hour after he has woken and been fed in the morning.

  • Raspberries - great faces when he eats these.
  • Banana - when we have ones that are still a little hard he will gnaw away but mostly I find that he still mashes them in his hand so there has been a bit of spoon feeding
  • Pancakes - Ill post a recipe for sugar free ones soon
  • Porridge - he loves porridge which I make with water. I sometimes mash banana or raspberries through it. I load the spoon for him and he will eat away to his hearts content
  • Greek yogurt - I buy the aldi one which has no added ingredients. 
  • Overnight oats - I made a variant of overnight oats with Greek yogurt and milk this week. He enjoyed it when eating it and it was thick enough not to fall off the spoon but vomited it up fairly shortly afterwards

Lunch/Dinner - I find that about 3 o'clock in the afternoon is when hes happiest having some more food, he makes it fairly clear if he doesn't want to eat or sit in his high chair! Most evenings he's getting a little too tired to eat anything when we have dinner (about 6:30) but we will normally give him something to nibble on. Restaurants and cafes have been pretty good about giving me some plain veg on the side for him which is great as Ive found that most of the food I have been served has a salty sauce of some kind on it. 
  • Broccoli - He loves tenderstem broccoli and its great as it has such long stalks for him to hold and nibble on
  • Cucumber - a big favourite which might be due to teeth coming up too. I peel it and cut it into fingers for him
  • Melon - again I think he might love this because he is teething and its nice and cool on his gums. 
  • Chicken - I fried up finger size slices of chicken and he happily chewed on these - this was his first meat
  • Pasta - not a big fan of fusilli but I think it was a little small for his hand. 
  • Mozzarella - he squeezed a lot of the goodness out of this but enjoyed it enough to have 3 pieces
  • Pitta - I have made pittas for him with avocado spread on them and he loves chomping away on these. I have a great pitta recipe which Ill post up this week. 
  • Mushy peas - while we were out for dinner he had some mushy minty peas - Ill definitely need to make these and put them on bread for him
  • Apple - he ate half a steamed apple in one sitting! 
  • Red peppers - I think these were a little too hard for him when raw but when fried a little (with the chicken above) he enjoyed them
Drinking - I give him a sippy cup with water when he's eating which sometimes distracts him and ends up being flung on the floor. After mistakenly buying a sippy cup that leaked I bought this Nuby one last week and he is slowly getting the hang of it although I often find him holding it upside down trying to chew on it! 

Monday, 19 October 2015

Silk Road Cafe review

The Silk Road Cafe is a gem of a cafe thats hidden away in the Chester Beatty Library in the grounds of Dublin Castle. Despite being in the centre of Dublin its not a place I would ever think of going to. I only ended up visiting after a friend mentioned that our maternity leave needed a bit more culture. Five of us with our five small people went along for a Wednesday lunch time visit last week.

Food - As the name suggests the food is heavily slanted towards what you might find on the silk routes of old - think falafel, moussaka and curries. I had the falafel plate with 4 salads, my choice included tabouleh and stuffed vine leaves. My friends had moussaka and curries. All the mains are around the 9-10 Euro mark and hearty enough to keep you going for a long day of sightseeing/babyschlepping. They have an amazing selection of cakes (pictured above) which through some amazing feat of willpower were avoided on this visit!

Accessibility - The cafe is on the ground floor of the Chester Beatty Library and was no problem to access. The entrance had automatically opening electric doors as did the entrances to all the library floors

Changing facilities - Excellent. Theres a separate changing room (without loo) which has a large fixed ledge for changing.

Highchairs - Only 2 available

Space for buggy - Plenty. We, along with 5 babies and buggies, sat in the atrium area and there would have been space for a lot more.

Service - The cafe is self service style but the staff were really helpful and brought dishes to the table for a number of us that went to the counter carrying babies.

Table booking - Not needed for a weekday lunch

Overall rating - 4.5/5 - Great value for really hearty tasty food. Im marking it down a half mark only because I fancied something a little lighter today and everything was quite heavy for a lunchtime feed. I will definitely be back here again when Im a little hungrier than today.

Baby friendly rating - 5/5 - Of all the places Ive been since having thelittlefoodie I felt more comfortable here than anywhere else. It might just be me, but often I feel like a bit of a nuisance taking up space with my screamy baby. We lounged around for a few hours chatting and drinking coffees and didnt feel that we were disturbing anyone. At one point a member of staff of the library even welcomed us and the babies and asked for our opinion on the new changing room. There are quite a few of the salads and side vegetables that would be perfect for baby led weaning (all of us had food with us today though)

The damage - €13 for a large cappuccino and falafel plate with 4 salads.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

First days of Baby Led Weaning

As the little man had been increasingly curious about food over the last few weeks we decided to start him on solids over the weekend. Here's what he has eaten so far and his reactions:

Porridge beard
Day 1
  • Steamed broccoli - I may have cooked this too much as it went everywhere, but this could have been down to the stems were not long enough for him to hold too. I'm going to try with sprouting broccoli next to see if that works better. As his very first taste he was intrigued. 
  • Steamed carrot - Again I might have gone too far with steaming so it kept breaking in his fingers before he got it to his mouth. Its definitely a big learning experience holding something that breaks! I wasn't sure that he swallowed any of it until I saw his nappy the next day
  • Galia Melon - He loved this and cried when we ran out of it. 
  • Strawberry - I gave him this in one of these little net things. I'm pretty sure he has my sweet tooth as he was very fond of this
Day 2 
  • All the same as day 1 - no real change. 
Day 3 
  • Porridge - Ill admit I did spoon feed him this although it was still very messy as his hands kept going into his mouth. 
  • Avocado - a little too slippery for him to get into his mouth 
  • Steamed sweet potato - He chomped away on this but it spat a lot out too. 
Day 4 
  • Porridge - this time I filled the spoon and gave it to him - incredibly messy but he loved playing with it. There's definitely no point dressing your baby before porridge! 
  • Banana - lots of smiles, lots of mess

What we have learnt so far: 
Overall so far its been very messy and a little bit scary but I can see that he is learning a lot and enjoying eating immensely. A lot of the food was spat out after being gnawed, often a few minutes after he finished eating which was a great reminder to keep him upright for a while after eating. After a few days of using baby wipes to clean him Ive decided to keep a face cloth in the kitchen to wipe him down. Despite lots of warning from friends the gagging is very unnerving but doesn't seem to bother him at all. There has been no change at all to his milk feeds so far. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Best brunch in Dublin with a baby - Herbstreet brunch review

Things have been a little quiet around these parts recently with nobody getting much sleep as the littlefoodie has been sprouting his first two teeth. Due to this lunches have been much shorter affairs and bed times have been early enough for me to barely get close to a computer!  

While my other recent reviews have all been for week day lunches, today's review is for one of my favourite weekend haunts. Herbstreet is one of the older unsung heroes of the brunch market in Dublin. It gets very little press but always has a queue out the door on a Saturday or Sunday morning and while Ive had dinner there, brunch is definitely the speciality. If you have a hangover this is the place to go as it has a great brunch menu. If you have a hangover and a small child, there's even more of a draw. 

Food - Every time I come here its always a challenge to pick what Ill have but this time I had the french toast with bacon and maple syrup and the mr had the eggs benedict. Its a real challenge because the pancakes, full Irish and eggos mexicalos are all pretty good too. At around 12 euro for most of the mains its a little more expensive than some other brunch places but the quality is great and portions will keep you going half the day. Their orange juice is freshly pressed and they make a mean coffee too (as seen below served with side salad of giraffe)

Accessibility - There is only a ground floor so accessibility is not an issue. 

Changing facilities - There is a large wheelchair/buggy accessible loo beside the other toilets with changing table and fancy nappy wrapping bin. 

Highchairs - The littlefoodie was particularly fussy on our most recent visit and went from sitting in his buggy, to our laps to a highchair and back again. I saw at least 2 other kids in high chairs while we were there so they must have plenty of them.

Space for buggy - Not a massive amount inside but the staff are more than willing to make room. There is also a large terrace at the front (heaters and retractable awning for the cold) which would be perfect if you had a few buggies along. 

Service -  Our server was really lovely in helping us get a space that the buggy would fit and chatting to the littlefoodie. Some of the other staff also came over for a chat with him while we had breakfast. Service is professional and prompt, without you ever feeling rushed over your lazy Sunday brunch. 

Table booking - They dont take bookings for brunch at the weekend but if you turn up and there's a queue they will give you a time estimate and tell you to come back which is handy if you have a little one in tow. Ive heard that you can (and should) book tables for lunch during the week.

Overall rating - 5/5 - Anyone I have ever introduced to Herbstreet has become a regular, the service and food are great

Babyfriendly rating - 5/5 - Ive regularly seen babies and older children here. Its a busy enough place that you wont feel self conscious about a screaming baba and the staff will make you feel at home. 

The damage - Brunch for two, 2 orange juices and cappuccinos came to just under €40

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

They say it takes a village - breastfeeding resources

Much of the blame for the low breastfeeding rates in Ireland is laid on formula being pushed on the generation before us, as a result those having babies now dont have a knowledgable support network around them if they choose to breastfeed. While this may be true I definitely feel that the health service also needs to take some ownership as from my own stay in hospital I could see that promotion of formula was rampant and that midwives had very little time to help new mothers trying to breastfeed.

Even though I had plenty of support from my own mother, there was still nothing quite like getting help from new mothers and those still nursing over those first few weeks. A lot of the questions I had popped up at 3 in the morning when it wasnt possible to call people so I have included some online resources too:

  • Kellymom - a wealth of answers to every possible breastfeeding related question. Invaluable on those first days at 4am when you arent sure if you are doing anything right. 
  • Ciudiu - Ciudiú host great support groups for breastfeeding moms. After a few weeks of only being comfortable feeding lying down which meant that I wasnt leaving the house, a lovely breastfeeding counsellor at my local group helped me feed sitting down which was life changing at the time. 
  • Your local public health nurse - Some of these are great, some are not much more than baby weight watchers. I was pretty lucky with my nurse, she had nursed her own children and gave me links to a lot of resources. Even if your PHN is useless they most likely host a breastfeeding support group where you can meet with the other local mothers. Just having someone local to chat to makes a world of difference and in my case led to great new friends, my first nursing in public experiences and weekly lunches
  • La Leche League - My local group was a bit hard to get to but LLL are meant to be a fantastic source of information and I certainly used their website on many occasions. 
  • - This website is a fantastic source of information for late night questions. I have also heard that if you email them they will come back to you really quickly. 
  • Lactation consultants - Breastfeeding shouldnt hurt, but if it does (especially after 2 weeks) its definitely worth contacting a lactation consultant. Its a real shame that this is a resource that is not available for free as a new mother but the cost is minimal for the support they give. After 9 weeks I contacted a consultant who came to my house and spent two hours with me watching me feed and looking at my little guy. She was such an encouraging support to me, diagnosed tongue tie and recommended a procedure that made life for both of us a lot easier. Its worth every penny if something feels wrong.  
  • EBI facebook group - This facebook group is full of inspirational breastfeeding mothers and a great place for questions you might have late at night as well as breastfeeding humour, interesting articles, tips on where to get great nursing friendly clothes and more. 

The other thing you might look forward to after nine months of ballooning out of most of your clothes are new clothes. Nursing clothes can be kind of expensive and annoyingly a lot of nursing clothes are designed to cater for a pregnant belly too so are none to flattering. Here are some of my favourites
  • Buy some cheap vest tops and wear something loose on top so that you can pull your top up and the vest top down. Half of your wardrobe suddenly becomes nursing friendly
  • Hotmilk make really nice nursing bras that dont make you look like an old lady and are available in a lot of the larger department stores
  • Boob Design do really good quality tops and hoodies for keeping you warm while feeding. Added bonus - there is a 90% chance that you will be out when the package arrives and your neighbour will end up having to sign for the package with boob written on it. 
  • Wrap dresses - hide a multitude of sins and are great for access
  • H&M nursing tops are cheap and cheerful 
  • Scarves are fairly useful when youre starting out trying to figure out how to hold a tiny baby while allowing them access to milk. I always have one in the changing bag
If there are any resources that you found useful then please share them in the comments. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Baby led weaning - what is it and why?

When the littlefoodie was born I had read a lot about the 9 short months of pregnancy and labour but very little about what to do when the baby arrives. This, although crazy, seemed to be very common among the other new moms that I met. Everyone reads what they need to know now and not much further. I definitely wasnt thinking as far ahead as introducing solids, so I was very confused when someone mentioned adding baby rice to milk at about the 8 week mark. Around this time one of the girls I know mentioned Baby Led weaning and it sounded like it made a lot more sense to me than baby rices and purees.

So what is Baby Led Weaning (BLW)? 

In contrast to normal weaning where you introduce food slowly by feeding your baby purees of increasing thickness, with baby led weaning you jump straight to finger foods and focus on the baby feeding themselves.

I have been reading the Baby-led Weaning book by Gill Rapley to find out more and the guidelines are all pretty common sense. Some of the main things Ive learnt from the book

  • Wait until the baby is ready - comfortable sitting unaided, reaching for and showing interest in food and at least 6 months old (some people start with rice and purees as early as 4 months)
  • Its great for appetite control, nutrition and avoiding food pickiness later in life as you are introducing all textures straight away. 
  • Its great for babies fine motor skills as they learn to pick up food and bring it to their mouths
  • Its ok for a baby to reject certain foods, but try introducing again in different formats as it can take up to 15 times to get a taste for a food (this is why I didnt like olives until my late twenties!)
  • Makes life easier when eating out - baby just eats food from your plate at the same time as you
  • Babies still get most of their nutrients from milk in the first year and choose to eat the nutrients they need when offered. 
  • Offer a variety of foods but let baby choose what they want to eat - dont force feed
  • Avoid sugar and salt - you dont want baby getting a taste for these! 
  • Embrace the mess. Apparently its messier but for a shorter amount of time as babies get used to feeding themselves. 
There is a great getting started list here

Im really excited about BLW because of my own love of food. I want the littlefoodie to be able to join in at mealtimes and experience all the joys and textures of food as they should be served and I dont want him to feel left out from what others around him are eating (this will mean less cake in our household!). I know there will be plenty of mess to deal with in the short term, but look forward to the benefits and will document the new foods and recipes I find as we start over the next few weeks.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Airfield Overends review

I had never been to Airfield before I had the littlefoodie but was informed that I wouldnt last maternity leave without a visit because its "where all the southside mothers go" according to my own one. Ive now been 3 times since being on leave and have found it both delicious and baby friendly. The clientele consists about 60% of older ladies having lunch and the rest is moms with babies so there is no fear of your screechy little one interrupting an interview/important business deal here. The dining room is full of light and beautifully designed with views onto a pond and wildflower meadow. 

Food - This and the last time I visited I had the empanada of the day - today was puff pastry filled with sausage, cheese and horseradish. My sister in law (who also had a baby in tow) had the chicken liver pate. Thankfully neither of us are dieting as a lot of the menu is fairly calorific. Airfield really caters towards the ladies that lunch as the special of the day comes with a glass of wine and theres a fairly impressive selection of cakes on view as you enter the door. I arrived for lunch at 1:45 and it was still fairly busy when we left at around 4. We both had coffee and a cookie and some Madelines for dessert. The cakes are particularly good here too. 

Accessibility - There is only a ground floor here and its easy to get buggies in and out. The entrance is really wide so no problem getting buggy through the doors. 

Changing facilities- There is a disabled loo with changing table just inside the door. 

High chairs - I spotted a bunch of high chairs at the back of the restaurant

Space for buggy- There is plenty of room for buggies around the place. Saying this, its the second time that Ive been shepherded into one of the nooks at the side where they seem to hide all the children away and there isnt so much room for buggies in these areas.

Service - Our server was really lovely and attentive. She couldnt resist the womanising charms of the littlefoodie and picked him up for a cuddle before we left

Table booking - No need - plenty of space and even though it was busy we wouldnt have had to wait too long

Overall rating - 4/5 - Would be lovely to have more salads on the menu, that being said I havent tried the ones that are on the menu (next time Im not having the empanada). Also as most things are over the €10 mark its definitely not an every day lunch option. 

Baby friendliness rating - 5/5 - No problem bringing babies here at all (although the parking spots are a bit tight for getting car seats out). 

The damage - Just shy of €30 for 2 very light lunches, coffees, cookies and madeleines.