When I knitted a baby jelly bag cap

The good thing about the approaching cold season (and it may be the only good thing) is that falling temperatures and early darkness are ideal conditions for knitting and crocheting.

During the first few cold days in September, I embarked on a new knitting project.  If you wonder, how I can have a 9 month old and still have time to knit – well, this is because my adorable son is not crawling yet (although he has in the last few days manage to lift his bum off the ground) but is just rolling around very leisurely, so I can actually watch him while I sit on the sofa and knit.

Since I got the ROWAN knitting magazine “Little Rowan” last year while heavily pregnant, I wanted to make this adorable jelly bag cap and finally I succeeded.  It is every bit as adorable as I imagined it to be.

IMG_6416.JPG

Before you rush off to buy this Rowan knitting magazine, let me say that I was overall NOT HAPPY with these ROWAN patterns, as – even though I used the recommended Rowan yarn – the sizing was all wrong. I made one of their jumpers which looks adorable but is far too wide and another cardigan I abandoned half way through as it would have only fitted a seriously obese baby.  Debbie Bliss Baby patterns are far more reliable in my experience, but they are not as cute.

For the hat pattern I used my favourite yarn, the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and hoped and prayed that the end product would fit.  It will probably fit for the next 10 years to come…  I have achieved my goal though.  Jamie looks like a little adorable baby dwarf and at the same time he will be super-warm throughout the cold months to come.

Look Mummy knitting.jpg

Somehow he doesn’t look all that happy with my creation…

Question to all you knitters out there – Where do you get your patterns from? I would appreciate advice on baby clothes but also on nice stuff for mummy.  Thanks!

Posted in Knitting/Crochet | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Jamie’s Favourite Fish and Meat Recipes (6-9 months)

It is important for babies from around 6 months to have a balanced diet and this includes fish and meat.  Jamie prefers vegetables and he refused my lovingly prepared beef dishes.

Fortunately, chicken, cod and salmon are new favourites.  Here are some of the recipes that Jamie can’t get enough of.

Cod with Spinach and Potatoes

Adapted from Annabel Karmel.  Jamie loves this recipe and just wolves it down whenever I make it. 

(makes about 4 portions)

IMG_5850.JPG

  • 3-4 medium potatoes (preferably a floury variant)
  • ~150 g of cod
  • 200 g of spinach (one bag)
  • full fat milk/water mix (prepare about 300 ml, you may need more or less)
  • some fresh dill (optional)
  1. Bring to boil a mixture of milk and water and add peeled and sliced potatoes.
  2. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked, if necessary add more milk/water mix.
  3. When potatoes are soft, add spinach and simmer for another few minutes.
  4. For the last couple of minutes add cod and simmer on very low heat until the cod is cooked through but not dry.
  5. Sprinkle with fresh dill (optional).
  6. Puree with hand blender for younger babies.  For older babies, take some of the cod and mash it with a fork while pureeing the rest – this gives a nice mixture of smoothness and texture and won’t alienate your baby.

Salmon with Spinach and Sweet Potato

This recipe is basically the same as the one described above, just that you substitute cod with salmon, and use sweet potato instead of potatoes.  Fresh coriander works lovely with this dish. 

(makes about 4 portions)

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 200 g (one bag) of fresh spinach
  • ~ 150 g fresh salmon
  • full fat milk/water mixture, around 300 ml (you may need more or less)
  • fresh coriander (optional).
  1. Bring to boil a mixture of milk and water and add peeled and sliced sweet potatoes.
  2. Simmer until the sweet potatoes are cooked, if necessary add more milk/water mix.
  3. When potatoes are soft, add spinach and simmer for another few minutes.
  4. For the last couple of minutes add salmon and simmer on very low heat until the salmon is cooked through but not dry.
  5. Puree with hand blender for younger babies.  For older babies, take some of the salmon and mash it with a fork while pureeing the rest – this gives a nice mixture of smoothness and texture and won’t alienate your baby.

 

Jamie’s First Chicken Curry

(makes about 4 portions)

IMG_5769.JPG

  • 2 medium carrots
  • a handful of green beans
  • one chicken breast
  • a tin (160 ml) of coconut cream
  • 1/2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander
  • a splash of vegetable oil
  1. Saute chicken in some vegetable oil
  2. Then add coconut cream, peeled and sliced carrots, green beans and mild curry powder
  3. Cook until vegetables are tender and chicken thoroughly cooked through but not dry
  4. Finally sprinkle with fresh coriander.
  5. Puree with hand blender.  For older babies, puree only the vegetables and mix in chopped chicken.

IMG_5772.JPG

For some more recipe ideas may I refer you to earlier posts:

- Jamie’s favourite vegetarian dishes (6-9 months)

- First baby foods (around 6 months)

 

Posted in Baby FOod | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A baby (and mummy) must have: THE SIGG BOTTLE

Age: 8 months 20 days.  Last few weeks of maternity leave.

Jamie loves drinking water.  But not out of these boring tippie cups (“Who do you think I am, mama, a baby??”) but out of mama’s glass or basically anything that could possibly contain fluids.

The SIgg bottle1.jpg

Sometimes this uncontrollable urge to drink can become rather worrying.  (Maybe I shouldn’t have had that occasional glass of wine during pregnancy…)


IMG_6339.JPG

 As this, albeit very entertaining, got very wet and very messy, Jamie and I found a compromise: The SIGG bottle (recommended to me by A., who has a SIGG-loving baby at Jamie’s age).

SIGG is a Swiss company who has made reusable water bottles since 1908.  The designs are so lovely that they even made it into the MOMA!

Jamie loves his SIGG bottle so much!  When he sees it, even from the distance, his little legs and arms start pounding, he smiles, gets really excited and he makes this ahh ahh ahh noises (translation: “Give me my bottle, mama!”).

The SIgg bottle.jpg

I was infected by Jamie’s enthusiasm and got myself a bottle too.

Posted in Baby FOod | Tagged , | 2 Comments

How a baby shows his affection or Love Hurts

IMG_5865.JPG

In the first few months all you get back in return for all the love, affection and time you put into your new arrival is a seemingly never-ending series of sleepless night and heaps of dirty nappies.

Not that it matters at this stage when you are all lovey-dovey, your organism flooded with oxytocin, but nevertheless it’s so rewarding and beautiful when there is suddenly some reaction to mama and even some little signs of affection. It starts with a smile reciprocated (is there anything more touching than your baby smiling at you?), a face lightening up when you enter the room and crying suddenly stopping when you gently cradle your baby into your arms.

Slowly there are physical signs of affection developing as well.  (At least I interpret them as signs of affection, one way to stay sane with a baby who hasn’t slept through the night for more than 3 months).

There is a little baby head leaned against your shoulder, or snuggled towards your neck if a stranger is approaching.  (“Mama you are my safe haven”).

And, if you are still breastfeeding, you will experience the wandering hand, soft and chubby, clumsily stroking your cheek or your other breast.  (Stroking the other breast could of course also have to do with the fact that Jamie is, albeit small, a man). However, Jamie hasn’t quite figured out the difference between gentle touching and brutal force. (“Mama is so nice and soft and warm and smells of food.  I wonder what happens when I dig my sharp little nails into her skin.  I’m sure she is going to love it… Hahaha that’s so funny, she screams, I have to try that again!”)

And then there it is!  The first baby kiss!  It is the absolute pinnacle of cuteness, when baby reaches out, pulls your face towards him and gives you a moist and gummy kiss in the middle of your face.  But also there lots has yet to be learned:  (“I kiss mama because she is so nice and I love her so much.  Hold on, what is this strange thing in the middle of her face?  I have been wondering about this forever.  I’m sure if I suck on it, milk will come out.  There couldn’t possibly be any other explanation for its existence.  No doesn’t work.  I’ll be damned!  Maybe it’s edible, I should bite into it.  Hahaha, mama screams again, that’s so funny!”)

My face is covered in scratches (can anyone tell me how to cut nails so that they are not so sharp?), my nose hurts and don’t even ask about my right breast.  I’m just glad that Jamie doesn’t have teeth yet!

Posted in Child Development | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Jamie’s Favourite Vegetarian Dishes (6-9 Months) Part I

Jamie is 8 months now and in the past few months I have experimented with cooking my own baby food.  The first stage of weaning has passed (read about it in another post) and in the second stage (from about 6 to 9 months), a greater variety of foods is introduced: all kinds of vegetables, fish, meat, pulses and milk products.  In addition, the food texture should be increasingly lumpy and baby starts to enjoy playing around with finger food.

I want Jamie’s home-cooked food to be nutritious, healthy and tasty and I am keen to introduce as many new flavours as possible. (To me as a foodie, my culinary nightmare is a kid that only eats pasta with butter until he is 7 and is unwilling to try new food).

I have managed so far to keep ready-made baby meals to a minimum.  Even though they are super-practical they taste like rubbish and I don’t want my baby to eat something that I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole).

The following recipes are the ones that Jamie loved.  They should serve as an inspiration and not exact instructions.  Ingredients can be readily substituted and spices and herbs left out or added.  Also amounts of ingredients should just serve as a guideline.  Particularly the amount of fluid (I use either water, low-sodium stock or full fat cow’s milk) is relative to the size of e.g. potatoes you use.  Don’t forget that you can always add more but you can’t really thicken a soupy purée (and try to feed soup with a tiny weaning spoon to a squirming baby….)

Note:  dishes based on fruit need almost no added liquid (fruits have such a high water content that any added water makes the purée to liquidly), vegetables need some and fish and meat a lot of added fluid.

IMG_5338.JPG

If you create your own recipes for baby food, remember the following points:

- particularly for vegetable-only dishes, it’s important that they contain some unsaturated oils (particularly healthy are rapeseed and olive oil).  This is not only because your baby needs the calories, but also because vitamin A, D, E and K can only be absorbed together with oil.

- dishes should contain something with higher calorie content and carbohydrates, such as potatoes, fish, meat, tofu or pulses.

- Stay clear of salt (babies don’t know it and therefore won’t miss it) and don’t add sugar.  Natural sugars coming from fruits and vegetables are of course fine.  Also avoid honey, low-fat milk products and non-pasteurised cheese.  Some countries recommend to avoid cow’s milk products in the first year.  In the UK, the recommendation is that small amounts of cow’s milk is fine, as long as it is not drunk instead of breast milk/infant formula.

- Your creation should be easy to purée and not produce glue-like substances.  You’ll know what I mean…

- always make more and freeze, then it is almost no work (a couple of hours once a week and you are sorted)

- there is absolutely no reason to serve baby bland food.  You don’t like it, so why should poor baby?

- in the end, everything goes.  Even if you are the most atrocious cook, baby will most probably eat it and it will still be better for him than ready-made baby food.  Get him used to your cooking rather sooner than later.

For more information and inspiration, I recommend sites such as Annabel Karmel, or Wholesome Baby Food. 

 

Italian Bean Stew

This recipe produces a lovely sauce also for older kids or adults which can be eaten with pasta or some steamed rice.

  • 150g of Borlotti beans
  •  2 spring onions
  • ½ clove of garlic
  • ½ red pepper
  •  3 tomatoes, skinned (or low salt canned tomatoes)
  •  2 small potatoes
  • a sprig of fresh or a pinch of dried thyme
  • a sprig of fresh parsley
  • olive oil
  1. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan and sauté chopped spring onions for about 3-4 minutes and garlic for the last 30 seconds.
  2. Add chopped peppers, skinned and chopped tomatoes, diced potatoes and thyme, pour over a little water or low sodium vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
  3. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked
  4. Add beans and parsley and simmer for a further 3-5 minutes
  5. Puree with hand blender for younger babies and mash with fork for older ones.

 

Kohlrabi-Potato Mash

This is one of Jamie’s favourites, prepared with fresh kohlrabi from my mum’s garden.  It convinces with its beautiful smooth consistency and, with a little salt, would be a great purée to be served with meat.

  •  1 large kohlrabi
  •  3 medium sized potatoes
  • ~ 400 ml of water/full-fat milk mixed (1:1)
  • a splash of cream
  • a tbsp of fresh dill
  1. Peel potatoes and kohlrabi and cut both into roughly 1 cm slices.
  2. Put vegetables in a pan, cover with some of the water/milk mix and bring to the boil
  3. Simmer until potatoes and kohlrabi are tender, adding more water/milk mix if needed.  Don’t add all the fluid at once, as you don’t want the end product to be too liquidly.
  4. When the vegetables are cooked, add chopped dill and a splash of cream.
  5. Puree with hand blender for younger babies and mash with fork for older ones.

 

Baby Sag Aloo

That recipe is very delicious and Jamie can’t get enough of it.  I have made it many times by now.

IMG_5805.JPG

 

  • half an onion or one shallot
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 3-5 peeled potatoes
  • 200 g fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • a splash of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  1. Fry onions in vegetable oil until soft (3-5 min), then add ginger and spices and sauté for another minute
  2. Add diced potatoes and cover with water, bring to the boil.
  3. Simmer until potatoes are tender (add more water if needed), then stir in spinach and simmer for another couple of minutes.
  4. When finished, add a splash of fresh lemon juice.
  5. Puree with hand blender for younger babies and mash with fork for older ones.

 

 

Posted in Baby FOod | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

First Baby Foods – less is more until 6 months

While the general recommendation is to start babies on solids at exactly 6 months, a lot of mothers (including myself – read here why I did it) introduce solids around 4-5 months.

The Basics

Don’t force it, make it fun and start with one meal a day, then, when baby is happy, curious and enjoys himself, add a second one.

Before 6 months, stick to simple fruit and vegetable purées.  It is recommended to wait at least one day (some advice states to wait 3 days) between introducing new foods in case baby is allergic.

As it is so easy and satisfying to make your own purées and you can bulk-freeze, there is absolutely no reason to feed your baby ready-made baby food.   (apart from when you are on holiday, out and about etc. and can’t make your own food, but even then there is the possibility of non-cook purées (see below)).  If you are uncertain if it’s worth the time, read this rather interesting article about ready-made baby food.  Yuck!

I always made more purée, probably enough for 4-6 portions, which I froze in a Oxo baby food freezer tray.  Before 6 months, expect your baby to eat from nothing to around 4 cubes (~ 80 ml) per meal.  The best way to defrost is overnight in the freezer.  If you are as disorganised as me, this is probably not going to happen.  I have been happily defrosting in the microwave and I don’t think anything speaks against doing this?

Many people start with baby rice as the first meals.  Baby rice is fine as it is totally neutral and mixed with breast milk or formula it tastes, well, of breast milk or formula.  It has however nil nutrients, so I wouldn’t feed it for very long.

Mix breast milk/formula also with your fruit and veg purées to make the new flavours and textures less of a shock to your little one.

(I wrote a more detailed post about what you need when you start solids)

Vegetable Purées

Carrot Purée (3-4 portions, can be frozen)

-       Peel and chop 3 medium sized carrot
-       Put in steamer and steam until tender (around 15 minutes)
-       Blend with hand blender (add breast milk/formula or water if too solid)

Parsnip Purée (3-4 portions, can be frozen)

-       Peel and chop 2 parsnips
-       Put in steamer and steam until tender (around 15 minutes)
-       Blend with hand blender (add breast milk/formula or water if too solid)

Sweet Potato Purée (3-4 portions, can be frozen)

-       Wash one large or 2 small sweet potatoes and prick with a fork
-       Place in roasting tin and roast on 180 degrees until tender (depending on size about    30 minutes)
-       Let cool until easy to handle and peel
-       Blend with hand blender (add breast milk/formula or water if too solid)

 Butternut Squash Purée (half, 3-4 portions, can be frozen)

-       Peel and cube one butternut squash
-       Either roast at 180 degrees (better to preserve nutrients) or simmer with little water until tender
-       Blend with hand blender (add breast milk/formula or water if too solid)

Potato Purée (3-4 portions, can be frozen)

-       Peel 3 medium sized potatoes and chop into chunks
-       Simmer covered in water until tender
-       Mash with a fork or potato masher (add breast milk/formula or water if too solid)

Fruit Purées

 Apple Purée (3-4 portions, can be frozen)

-       Peel and core 3 sweet apples, cut into chunks
-       Place in saucepan about half covered water and simmer until tender (about 7-10 minutes), stir occasionally
-       Blend with a hand blender

Pear Purée (3-4 portions, can be frozen)

-       Peel 3 pears and remove core
-       Place in saucepan with very little water (pears lose a lot of water) and simmer for a 2-4 minutes, pears lose so much water that you don’t have to add any
-        Blend with a hand blender

 

No-Cook Purées

No-cook purees are the perfect option when you don’t have time to cook or are out and about.  When I was on holiday I gave one ready made jar once a day (and my foodie heart was bleeding) and fresh fruit once.  Overly ripe fruit is easier to mash up.

Papaya (half, 1 portion)

-       Cut papaya, deseed and scoop out the flesh
-       Mash thoroughly with a fork

Papaya (half, 1 portion)

-       Use only a very ripe mango
-       Peel and remove pit
-       Mash thoroughly with a fork

Banana (half to one third, 1 portion)

-       use a ripe to over-ripe bananan
-       mash with fork

Avocado (half to one third, 1 portion)

-       peel and mash with fork
-       Avocado is very rich, so a good evening food for a very hungry baby.

Apricot (2, 1 portion)

-       Use only very ripe apricots
-       Peel and remove pit
-       Mash thoroughly with a fork

 

When you have stocked up your frozen baby food cubes, there is no limit to combining them.

Good Combinations are for example

Mashed banana with
–      Apple puree
–      Fresh apricot
–      Fresh Avocado
–      Pear puree

Carrot Puree with
-       Parsnip puree
-       Butternut squash puree
-       Sweet potato puree
-       Apple puree

After your baby has braved the first step of weaning, you are ready to move on to Stage 2 at 6 months of age, when you can introduce most ingredients and cook more complex dishes.

Posted in Baby FOod | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

6 Months today – Happy Birthday Jamie!

IMG_4760.JPG

The last 6 months with you, my beloved Jamie, have been the happiest of my life and I can’t even remember how life was without you.  I had no idea that a little person like you who can’t talk, who objectively doesn’t do anything exciting at all and who is a 24/7 job, would transform my life so much for the better.  Beyond any shadow of a doubt you are the most amazing and wonderful creature who has ever touched the face of the earth!

You have changed me – I have become much calmer, more patient and probably nicer, and you have helped me to figure out that a lot of the petty little things that I have filled my life with before are actually not that important.  Now my existence has been taking over by a grinning, giggling, gurgling and cooing (and a pooping, crying and waking me up at night) baby and I never before felt so content with such a feeling of accomplishment and fulfilment.

(On the downside, I have become possibly the most boring person in the entire universe of new mothers, but that’s another story)

So Happy 6 Months Birthday my lovely son, I am so grateful that you came into my life!

As much as I love to see you develop, pick up new skills with astonishing speed and every day open up more to the world, I feel at the same time very nostalgic about every moment with you that has irrevocably passed and that I will never get back.  In fact I hate being separated from you for any time at all, just to not miss any precious moment. (This is going to be fun when I will have to go back to work, but also this is an entirely different story).

Here a few memories that I would like to bottle and store on an imaginary shelf, for me to take down, open and relive whenever I want in the future (particularly after you have become an sullen teenager with a questionable girlfriend and a drug habit or something).

1. Your first tentative smiles that were so rare and I would do anything to trigger one. (I have developed new wrinkles from having this big grin on my face all day every day…)

2. The way your face lightens up when you see me for the fist time in the morning, as if you had just set eyes on the most amazing thing in your whole little baby life

3. Your little baby giggles when I sing to you (admittedly I sing badly, but that’s still no reason to laugh, young man!)

4. The hilariously disgusted expression on your face when you try new food.

5. The gusto with which you tuck into my home-made baby gourmet food and how you get so cross-eyed when you follow the spoon until it reaches your mouth.

6. Your ridiculous happiness (indicated by pumping your legs and arms and a big toothless grin) when you see your little friends of your favourite Tiny Love mobile and how confused you get when ever you manage (by mistake mostly) to catch one of your buddies and the mobile comes to a grinding halt.

7. The funny little sound you make when you come anywhere near my breast “Achaa Achaa Achaa” which evolves into a pained wail when I can’t get my boob out fast enough.

8. How everything that you can get hold of goes straight into your mouth. I mean STRAIGHT.

9. The way you can spend hours just lying somewhere talking to yourself, the current favourite is a very loud “arrrrrrrr” which has taken over from the more guttural “rrrrrrrr” and before the much more quiet “chhhhh”.

10. How you love to fall asleep nestled to my breast with my nipple in your mouth – food, warmth and the delicious milk smell, baby heaven!

11. The way you only cry when I put you on your belly and you have to work, you lazy bugger!

12. How you just love holding onto your feet and your endless and fruitless tries to get your toes into your mouth.

13. How you have totally not figured out yet that when I pull your hat over your eyes it is not actually night and you go straight to sleep.

14. Your baby smell and the softness of your baby head.

15. Your roly-poly baby-ness with chubby cheeks which I can’t stop kissing and chunky legs.  I could just eat you!

I could go on forever…

Here a little retrospective of the last 6 months:

Jamie monthly.jpg

Just born but already so adorable

Jamie monthly1.jpg

Only a couple of weeks old, but very expressive already!

Jamie monthly2.jpg

One month old and into funny hats

Jamie monthly3.jpg

Two months and rather bald

Jamie monthly4.jpg

Three months and smiling

Jamie monthly5.jpg

Four months and possibly the coolest baby in the world

Jamie monthly6.jpg

Five months and finally some tentative movements

Jamie monthly7.jpg

Six months, almost sitting and cute as a button

 

Posted in New Baby | Tagged , , | 4 Comments