Let's Talk Baby Weaning // Easy Ways to Prep Solids for Babies

On the day I'm writing this post Marcus has turned 8 months old.  He eats 3 meals a day and eats a lot during those meals.  We moved quickly (I think) from purees to solids and he's been having fun with all of it.  At about 5 months we started rice cereal, then we moved onto jarred purees at about 6 months.  At about 7 months we'd progressed to eating soft things like puffs and mashed fruit.  And now at 8 months we're fully on board with Chex, eggs, pancakes, chicken, fish, cut meat balls, cut strawberries, green beans, pasta...I mean he eats a lot of stuff.  Most of the time we just modify what we're eating for meals for him and he's loving it.
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I was super afraid to start solid foods because choking was awfully terrifying for me.  But I really did let Marcus lead the way and if he seemed interested we went for it.  If I could squish it between my tongue and the roof of my mouth I felt confident to give it to him.  Obviously you'll want to talk to your pediatrician about starting and continuing foods and food sizes, etc.  But there are a lot of resources online about traditional weaning, baby led weaning, and accelerated traditional weaning, books galore on the topic & other mommas out there that you trust can be a huge support system!  I think ultimately with Marcus's readiness, we went with accelerated traditional weaning.  Here are some definition breakdowns:

What are the Different Types of Weaning?

Traditional Weaning - this is when you start to offer purreed solids along side the baby's diet of breast milk or formula.  Most baby food manufacturers follow a system that involves different stages of foods based on age.  You'll start with stage 1 foods which are single ingredient, smooth pureed fruits or veggies for babies ages 4-6 months.  Then you'll move up to a stage 2 for babies 7-8 months which combine foods at a slightly thicker texture to introduce new tastes and textures.  Then to stage 3 for 9-12 month babies which are chunkier in texture and must be chewed.  Then you final out with table foods after 12 months old.
Baby Led Weaning - this is a method of introducing foods so that a baby starts to 'self-feed' as soon as they are introduced to solids.  You are also offering food to compliment their diet of breast milk or formula but instead of spooning food into the baby's mouth they are exploring food at their own pace.  While each method focuses on the idea of baby's readiness, BLW focuses on providing table foods in appropriate shapes so that a baby may reach, grab, pick up, and self feed.  This method also allows for spoon feeding of foods like oatmeal and yogurt so that a child can learn to self-feed with a spoon.

Accelerated Traditional Weaning - this method combines the two above when starting to complement a baby's diet of breast milk or formula.  Accelerated weaning takes into account babies readiness for foods and moves from purees to softer and then to solid foods more quickly.  This method offers purees and then softer solid foods to encourage the oral skills needed to eat more advanced foods.  The recommendations here are that a food should be squishable or dissolve so that the child can learn to move food around in their mouths and chew.  Offering purees and solids at the same meal, one at a time, can be helpful to develop these oral skills.

Like I mentioned above we totally followed Marcus's lead and when it seemed he was interested in food and interested in what mommy and daddy ate, we offered it to him.  Again, be sure to check with your pediatrician when it comes to offering solids.  I'm not offering any medical advice here, just sharing my experiences!

Three Ways to Prepare Solids Easier

I can hardly decide what I want to eat and now I've got to feed a baby an actual breakfast/lunch/dinner as well!?! This was overwhelming to me at first but as I slowly built the repertoire of foods Marcus would eat I found simple ways to offer them.  Here are 3 tips I have to prepare food for your little one.

Microwave Eggs

Something super simple to make for a baby is scrambled eggs.  But you may have to dirty a pan and a few utensils if you make them traditionally.  And sometimes in the morning I'm not eating a full on breakfast like I'm going to feed him!  Shallow salad bowls work best for this method of cooking eggs - simply crack and egg into the bowl, scramble, and microwave at 30 second intervals until cooked through.  You can an easier prepared egg and it's easier for them to grab with the second tip below.

Cut foods with a Pizza Cutter

Slicing up foods like the scrambled eggs above or pancakes or toast can be made much, much easier with a pizza cutter!  I spread some leftover puree on toast or a pancake and cut it into bite sized pieces with the pizza cutter.  No more knifing up the food and squishing it while dragging the knife through.  Less crumbs when it comes to cutting toast too!

Personal Blender for Meat

We've offered Marcus both chicken and shrimp after its been blended in our Nutribullet. Of course you can use a regular blender but a small blender like the Nutribullet (or any other personal blender) means you're not dirtying up extra parts and pieces.  You can store the leftover blended meat in the cup with a cap for a day or two and not have to empty it into another container and then clean your whole blender.  Plus I throw my blender blade thing into the dishwasher (not sure if you're supposed to) so it's way easier to clean.  (Honestly, if it can't survive the dishwasher, I don't want it in my house!)
Starting Marcus on solid foods has been and adventure.  I started off super scared he'd choke but gagging and what not is learning.  It is super important to listen to your baby as they start eating food.  I didn't think we'd go the accelerated route and BLW kinda freaked me out but as he developed skills I felt confident following him and also challenging him with textures.  We run into things that he has trouble with or doesn't like and we work through it.  Just the other day we tried something I can only liken to a thicker veggie soup and it was hard for him to navigate the smooth and chunky and chewy texture.  Which is fine, he'll develop skills like that as we progress.

I hope this post helped you navigate feeding your baby a little bit and inspired your to not dirty too many dishes when making up some food for them!  Hope you're feeding journey is fun & exciting!

Resources I consulted: Very Well Family, Wikipedia, Feeding Bytes

What was your feeding journey like?  What food are you most looking forward to sharing with your child?

xoxo, Moe
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Five Ways to Use Eggs for Ostara Spellwork

One of my favorite Sabbats to celebrate (after Imbolc) is Ostara or the Spring EquinoxIt it as this time that we mark the days getting longer, fertility of the earth, planting season, coming out of hibernating winter, and over all the birth of Spring.  The Spring Equinox falls in March (in the northern hemisphere) around the 19th through the 21st and marks when both light and dark are equal.  After the Spring Equinox, we'll start got longer days and shorter nights!  At Imbolc we've celebrated the midwinter mark and at the Spring Equinox we're celebrating bursting forth from winter just as plants are bursting from the earth.  Livestock are being born, eggs are being laid, and for our spiritual selves we can start to lay the foundations for things we'd like to grow and cultivate this year.  
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What better way to celebrate new beginnings and fertility than with the symbol of the egg.  There are a couple of symbols to work with around Ostara but I find that the egg is the easiest to use and the easiest to start with especially if you're new to celebrating.  The egg represents potential, it represents the womb, it represents the nurturing of mother earth, it represents the seed of life.  All of the things we can celebrate during this time.  The egg is a perfect representation of what we'd like to align our minds with during this season - to plant, to nurture, and to grow.  Here are a few ways to use eggs to celebrate Ostara:

Make Candles

Because we're now coming out of winter, the days are growing longer and the light is coming back. There is no better way to represent light returning than with a candle. You can either gently crack the eggs to create two halves or blow the contents of the egg out to create these small candles.  Blowing out the contents of the egg can add a bit of a personal touch - you're using your breath to make space for you intention to grow!  Simply poke a decent size hole in either end of the egg and blow.  Once the egg is empty, open the top hole up just a little more so that you'll have room for the wax and a wick.  Tape up the bottom of the egg so the wax wont escape and add your wick and a little wax.  You can color the eggs and/or color the wax to align with your intentions.  You can also write on the outside of your egg in wax or in marker the goal or intention you're making this candle for.  Have your family all make one (or two!) and put them in a ceramic egg holder to light at Ostara dinner.  Be sure to save those egg insides to cook with!

Write your Goals

Speaking of writing on your eggs, you can outline your goals, wishes, and dreams on the outside of eggsWriting in white or clear wax crayon and then dying the eggs will reveal your goals just as you'd like to manifest them into your life.  Or keep them secret by dying the eggs first then writing in wax.  Decorate your eggs with sigils you've created or spellwork you'd like to see to fruition.  You can even anoint them with essential oils corresponding to your goals or diffuse some that work perfect for the season.  Decorate your altar with these eggs and then bury them with a seed (either outside or in a pot!) that you can nurture as you move through your goals.

Seed Starters

The little shells of eggs are the perfect vessel to start seeds for your garden!  Carefully cracking eggs a little off center will create the perfect little cup to start your seed.  You can incorporate the activity above and label you seed starters with the goal you'd like to accomplish.  Consider growing an herb that corresponds to your goal or intention - like mint for prosperity, lavender for tranquility, rosemary for protection.  Once you're seeds are big enough to transplant either move them to your garden or into a pot on a windowsill.  This would be perfect for children to learn about growth and to give them a little responsibility to help their little plant grow.

Egg Hunt

This is an oldie but a goodie, everyone loves an good egg hunt!  This is a good, solid family activity to involve everyone.  You can fill the eggs with candy or even with different wishes for others.  Perhaps the eggs are filled with some wishes or hopes for others in your family - have everyone sit down and write these things and then stuff the eggs.  Then when they are all found have each person read off the wishes or hopes they'd like to cultivate this year.  Add this wish to the bottom of your seed starter and plant an herb corresponding to the wish. This is a great way to involve extended family in a tradition that could align with an Easter celebration as well.  It's not too out there if perhaps parents or grandparents don't celebrate the Wheel of the Year.

Bake or Cook with Eggs

This is my favorite.  I love to celebrate the Sabbats by cooking.  Saving the insides of your eggs means you can make a yummy breakfast, quiche, or cake.  My favorite way to use eggs is in Deviled Eggs.  This speaks to me because my mother makes the best Deviled Eggs ever so using eggs this way carries on the tradition.  Bake sweet cakes or breads.  Make egg salad sandwiches and head out for a picnic if it's nice out!  A picnic is a great activity to count the ways the earth is blooming and to listen for new little animals.

Ostara celebrates growth.  The Goddess is transitioning into her Maiden form.  We're celebrating fertility, protection, purification, and the nurturing nature of the earth.  Eggs are a great way to celebrate through the season and keep growth as your mindset as we move through Spring.  The easiest way for me to keep the reason for the season in my mind is to have a physical representation.  We keep eggs and hares/rabbits on our family altar and I keep a willow wreath decorated with eggs, lavender, and greenery on my personal altar.  (Check out that super easy and affordable DIY here)  Seeing these symbols everyday reminds me of what I'm working towards.  Having a physical representation of the things I'm looking to embody helps me to move through the seasons with purpose!

I also want to leave you with a last little tip: easy home made egg dye!  Of course you can use natural dyes but this works with quite a few things we've already got in all of our cabinets:
You can learn more about the Spring or Vernal Equinox in this post.  I share info about essential oils, how I align this Sabbat with the moon phases, and give you three oil blends to work with this season!

Blessed Ostara my friends!

What do you do to celebrate the turning of the wheel at the Spring Equinox?

xoxo, Moe