GIVEAWAY: Healthy snack attack!

A few weeks ago, a box bearing edible goodies reached our doorstep. Try them, said Foodpath, the company distributing these snacks, and let us know what you think.

Well, we did and we liked the snacks so much, we decided to write about them (even though we didn’t have to).

Now, what Aidan lacks in the sleep department, he makes up for it in the eating stakes. This kid can eat. Granted, he has his finicky moments when he doesn’t eat stuff that he is supposed to – like veggies – but all in all, he has a healthy appetite and loves food.

These days, he is also big on snacking. Kid loves his snacks so much, he goes into the kitchen regularly to ask for “biscuit” and “tnack”. Unfortunately, mean mum here doesn’t indulge him, hah! He doesn’t get chocolates or chips or sweets at all. I try to feed him wholemeal bread with a smidgen of unsweetened jam or fruit whenever he has hunger pangs between meals but there are times when he is absolutely insistent on the crunchy stuff. I don’t blame him. His parents have a weakness for chips after all, gah.

Luckily, the box that we received from Foodpath contain all sorts of snacks that this nazi mum (yes, the husband called me that once, I have been meaning to write about it) will gladly let her toddler eat.

snacks
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Hitting the 6-month mark

Hitting the 6-month mark

I don’t know how it happened but Elliott turned 6 months old last week. Yes, SIX MONTH OLD. Already. I wrote my usual note to him but realised a few days later that I left out an important milestone.

It hit me that I have successfully breastfed him for 6 whole months.

Wow.

Check out the entry I wrote back in March. We were such noobs when it came to breastfeeding then. When we first started out, I told myself that I’d give it 3 months. If this breastfeeding business doesn’t work out in 3 months, we’d switch to formula milk. No one wants their own kid to starve, right? Besides, like a wise girlfriend reminded me: Formula milk is NOT poison.

1 month flew by.
Then 3 months.

I told myself, Ok, let’s try for 6 months. That’s the recommended timeline from WHO anyway. Every mother who breastfed told me that it will get “easier” over time and honestly, I did not quite believe them at first. Not with sore nipples, engorged boobs, milk blisters, blah blah blah. Those were not fun times.

But somehow, we made it through. And you know what? THEY WERE RIGHT.

Breastfeeding did get easier. A lot easier. We – Elliott and I – both learnt each other’s rhythm and I can now recognise his cries for milk. I guess it also helped that my little man is a milk monster. He loves his milk and takes every opportunity to nurse.

The night feeds have also gotten easier because I have finally learnt how to nurse lying down. This allows me to continue to half snooze while he gets his milk too. Win-win!

To top it off, I recently discovered that I can nurse him on the go in the baby carrier. That was definitely an “Achievement Unlocked” moment for me as Elliott enjoys being nursed to sleep. No one can tell that there’s a baby being nursed below that cover so once he’s done, I simply whip off the cover and continue shopping/eating. Woot!

photo-34
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The first few days

Elliott just turned three weeks old. Has it only been…three weeks? To say that our lives have changed forever is putting it mildly. I feel like we’ve been thrown onto a fast-moving roller coaster without brakes, doing 360 spins over and over again. The first night he was home, we – the new parents – barely slept. When we finally fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion, we would jolt ourselves out of bed at the first sound of his cry/whimper.

I was besieged with anxiety-filled dreams. I would fall asleep and wake up with a shock because I SWEAR I FELL ASLEEP WITH BABY IN MY ARMS! OH NO! When consciousness prevailed, I realised that it was just me hugging my pillow. The husband did not fare much better, sleeping very little and badly too.

We were getting used to having a brand new tiny human at home, as much as he was getting used to his new strange environment out of the womb. I believe I slept (slept being used very loosely here) a total of 1 hour the entire first night/day we were home.

What made it even more challenging was breastfeeding. Ah, breastfeeding. It was my greatest fear. Bigger than childbirth itself. I have heard a million stories from every new mum who breastfed and every single one told me how challenging and difficult it would be BUT TO PLEASE STICK WITH IT BECAUSE IT WOULD DO YOUR BABY GOOD! To prepare myself, I read up voraciously on breastfeeding. I listened intently at the breastfeeding classes that were part of the pre-natal classes. I asked my new mum friends who were breastfeeding. As you can tell, I’m all about being prepared before s*** hits the fan.

When Elliott was born and we were still at the hospital, it wasn’t too bad to breastfeed because the nurses were on hand to help. Suffice to say, it was a completely different ballgame the moment we got home. For each breastfeeding session, I needed help from the husband to latch him on. I would then try my darnest to get him to latch and more often than not, it took 20, 572 attempts and a screaming baby before we would succeed. It was very hit-and-miss. A typical breastfeeding session would see the both of us bathed in sweat.  To say that the husband looked like he just attempted a 42km marathon (think sweat pouring down his forehead, sweat-soaked t-shirt, etc) would be the best way to describe how frazzled we were. All this took place in an AIR-CONDITIONED room.

The above scenario took place for the entire first week and I started to fear breastfeeding. I was, literally, gripped by fear whenever the time to feed came around (and we all know how often newborns need to feed!). I was also nervous by the fact that the husband was only home for one week (paternity leave needs to be at least a month, yo!) and I was going to be alone in trying to latch/breastfeed him. Throw in a lack of sleep, breastmilk-soaked clothes, the crazy hot weather and I was sure I was close to a mental breakdown. Tears were aplenty during this period. My tears, that is.

I was frustrated, scared and not sure what the hell I was doing wrong.
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What My Kids Eat

This is Coco’s (2 years) typical menu over the week:

Mon: Biscuits (B); Whatever Is Served In School (L); macaroni (D)

Tue: Ditto

Wed: Ditto

Thu: Ditto

Fri: Ditto

Sat: Ditto (except that school lunch is replaced with macaroni)

Sun: Ditto

*no milk this week because she’s on a milk strike

And this is Claire’s (9 months):

Mon: Milk, cereal, milk, cereal, milk, cereal, milk

Tue: Ditto

Wed: Ditto

Thu: Ditto

Fri: Ditto

Sat: Ditto

Sun: Ditto

Sure, we add some fresh fruit, raisins, bread and yoghurt into the mix but that pretty much is what they get by on, day after day.

Because that’s all that they want to eat.

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I guess it’s no surprise then that Coco is a featherweight at 10 kg and measures in at the 10th percentile for growth. The sweet PD attributed her petite stature to the fact that “mummy and grandma aren’t very tall either.” Nice.

The PD reassured us that as long as Coco’s consistently growing, albeit at the 10 percentile, we have nothing to worry about.

As for Claire, it’s amazing how she has blossomed from a scrawny 10th percentile foetus into a chubby 8.5 kg infant who happily shares her older sister’s clothes (which the latter, obviously, is not too pleased about.)

But with only 2 milk teeth just pushing through her lower gums, Claire is content to have milk and a variety of cereal as her staple, and shows no sign of wanting to progress to a wider variety of tastes. In fact, we tried to introduce her to porridge, only to have her spit it out in disgust.

What? What's wrong with eating just cereal? Tell me!

What? What’s wrong with eating just cereal? Not happy ah?

Reading the well-intentioned advice of healthy-eating advocates on parenting websites and newsletters makes me feel bad that my children are not eating balanced meals, much less organic food and healthy snacks. When reading parenting magazines, I guiltily fast-forward through glossy page-spreads of creative, stylishly-arranged concoctions toted as being “quick and fuss-free to prepare” and yet promise to meet my children’s every nutritional need. Cherry tomatoes? Cous-cous? Tuna? Pumpkin? I can’t quite imagine Coco being happy to be offered any of these.

Sometimes I wonder whether their pickiness in food stems from my lack of initiative in exposing them to a wider variety of food and my weak resolve in encouraging them to repeatedly try each new taste until they grow to like it. More often, dinner times – fraught with annoying whining – end with, “Dowan DONE! Don’t wake me up and cry for milk if you’re hungry tonight!”

Or could it be due to my lack of effort in making meals more fun and enjoyable for them? Should I stay up after they have gone to bed to create pretty sandwiches shaped like animals for breakfast? Should I attempt to build a garden scene out of a plate of rice?

And is it okay to let Coco snack on rainbow-hued M&Ms and Haribo gummy bears, Percy Pigs and, God forbid, potato chips? Should I throw out the sugary party packs received from pre-school birthday celebrations in favour of wholemeal fruit bars and organic rice cakes?

Cho Colette and her chocolate ice-cream beard.

Cho Colette and her chocolate ice-cream beard.

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Then, I try to rise above the clouds of self-doubt and think back to my favourite childhood meals.

A single egg – fried sunny-side-up and drizzled with light soya sauce, atop a molehill of white rice.

Plain white rice, drenched in brown gravy cooked from chicken stock.

No vegetables whatsoever. Not. A. Scrap. Of. Green.

Bread and kaya.

Colourful sugar biscuits.

Apples, oranges, apples, oranges, apples, oranges. The occasional mango.

Smarties.

Plain yellow noodles in soup.

Bubblegum.

My meals were far from being wholesome and balanced.

I must have put my own mother through the same mental torture, trying to figure out how to make her picky daughter eat more healthily. She probably gave up on me, not before threatening to let me go hungry through the night.

Yet, I was happy, strong and healthy.

And I’m certain that my daughters are too.

Introducing her to the joy of chwee kueh. Salty, oily and oh-so-yummy.

Introducing her to the joy of chwee kueh. Salty, oily and oh-so-yummy.

Food? Bah!

So. We now have on our hands a toddler who refuses to eat. Sounds familiar? Hop on and join me on this blasted train!

At the grand old age of 22 months, Mr A has decided that food is not worthy of his time. From someone who can be really, really, REALLY greedy, he has now morphed into a PITA who says NO! to anything we offer him.

We tried all sorts of tricks: letting him play with his toy trains while we feed him. Letting him self-feed. Playing music in the background. Offering food from our plates. Letting him play with his food. Telling him he can have his yogurt and fruit after dinner. Mixing his food. Separating his food. Giving him only soup and rice (he’s a Chinese ah pek at heart).

NOTHING WORKED.

For a while, we were pissed. How dare he! After all the effort we made to prepare his food? After all that effort we made to shovel food into his mouth? The audacity!

We cajoled. And coaxed. And spoke sternly. And scolded. And explained.

NOTHING WORKED.

And then one day, something clicked in my brain. Why are we doing this? Why are we turning mealtimes into unpleasant experiences? Why are we forcing him to eat when he is clearly not interested? Why did I start off with baby-led weaning if I am prepared to force-feed my kid?

We were getting it all wrong.
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Weaned, done and dusted

Finally, 20 months after we embarked on this breastfeeding journey, we are completely weaned.

I knew that weaning the boy was not going to be easy. He loves to nurse, it’s his source of comfort and way of being close to mama. While the number of nursing sessions in a day have dropped over the months, there were a few that had seemed almost impossible to erase: the evening one, immediately after we get home; the night wakings and the weekend naps.

When I even hint at rejecting him during these sessions, the waterworks come on instantly. Sometimes, these are accompanied by that dramatic collapse onto the bed. Remember, THE WORLD IS ENDING.

But I was done. I felt done. I woke up one day and decided that this was it, I no longer wanted to continue. But how do I wean?

I ran away from home.
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