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Homemade Goodness

So Cheeks has made it to the solid food phase and so far she’s enjoying every mouthful of it! She is a girl after my own heart though – she prefers the homemade stuff over the store bought, which is fine by me!

Making baby food is really not as time consuming as one might think though…it freezes well and you can easily portion it out to your baby’s needs. Not only is it extremely cost effective to make your own but its also better for baby! Just look on the ingredients listed on some of the baby foods and cereals on the market – I wouldn’t want to eat that stuff much less feed it to Cheeks!

I think homemade cereals are the most scary for new parents to make – at least it was for me…so I’m going to show you just how it easy it is to make your baby’s cereal. You can do any grain using this method – oats, millet or barley even. Today I’m using organic brown rice.

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This bag of rice can make a ton of rice cereal – the equivalent of about five boxes worth of rice cereal but costs about the same as two boxes of the regular rice cereal or one box of the organic rice cereal. Talk about a money saver!

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Here I’ve added one cup of brown rice to the short cup on my fabulous baby bullet that I inherited from a friend. I’ve attached the milling blade to do this part. If you don’t have a baby bullet, a blender, food processor or even a coffee grinder (one that’s never been used, preferably!) could also be used.

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You want to mill it so that it becomes a fine powder like above. You can see the side by side comparison between the brown rice powder and a popular white rice cereal (notice the lack of colourful crystals in the milled brown rice cereal).

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In a decent sized pot, add the rice powder and four times the amount of water (in this case, 4 cups of water). Bring to a boil while stirring frequently. Then reduce it to a simmer and cook it between 20-30 minutes. Stirring occasionally to reduce the occurrence of lumps and to prevent the cereal from sticking. You want to keep the ratio to about 1:4 – one part rice to four parts water. When the rice is finished cooking, it should yield a thick cereal that looks like this…

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Allow it to cool and voilà! Homemade Brown Rice Cereal! You can blend it again if you want it super smooth, and you can thin it out very easily as well. No chemicals or crystallized who knows what…just simple, wholesome goodness. I hope you give it a try!

Until next time…

Cayman Mummy

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Picking The Right Child Care Option For Your Family

Choosing child care options is by far one of the most agonizing decisions one can make as a parent. Should I ask a family member to mind baby? Get a nanny or a helper? Enroll baby in daycare? How does one choose? Here are some general points that I felt were important to consider…this is by no means the only method to use but it helped me come up with a good daycare option for Cheeks once we decided that the daycare route was best for our family…

1. Price. By establishing the price range you want to stay with in, you automatically give yourself a smaller pool of options to choose from which will make the next steps a bit smoother for you. Things to also consider in the price is the overall value for money – consider the child to teacher ratio and the types of additional services (such as provision of meals, special lessons/one on one tutoring etc.)

2. Cleanliness. Is the classroom tiled or carpeted? How does it smell when you walk in? Do they clean the toys? How do the kids in the classroom look after playtime? I know we can’t keep our babies in the ‘germ free bubble’ that is called home forever BUT we do need to make sure we minimize germ sharing as well.

3. Curriculum. Does the teaching style at the daycare match your personal philosophy on how children should taught? Does the school promote learning through discovery or do they utilize more structured teaching methods? I would also put the classroom environment under curriculum as well. Cheeks will get very upset when she’s bored and I wanted to see an environment that facilitates her curiosity and her global development.

4. Time. Does the daycare’s hours of operation work with your schedule? The last thing a working parent needs is a daycare that runs on hours that conflicts with your work schedule.

5. Staff. Are they well trained? Caring? Patient? And are the receptive to what you want for your child? When you visit a potential school, don’t just talk with the teachers but observe their interactions with the children. A child’s response to a caregiver will be the most genuine testament to their ability to care for YOUR child. Having a formal degree is always an asset, but one cannot be taught how to be loving and nurturing so take personalities into account as well.

6. Flexibility. Is the carer is flexible and open? Do they accept your parental suggestions and follow through with your requests for baby? If baby is off schedule that day do they cater to her needs specifically? Are they open to receiving information about new techniques in teaching or facilitating development etc.? For me this was important because I don’t want my child to fit into any cookie cutter ideals – but rather be in an environment where she can develop and flourish on her own time.

7. Nutrition. Many daycares provide meals. How many meals do they provide? Are they well balanced, healthy meals or bulk purchased processed foods? Will the school be mindful of dietary preferences or restrictions? Will they follow through with your meal preferences, and prepare snacks and meals you send for baby to your specifications? I’m very particular about the foods I want Cheeks exposed to now that she is ready for solids and I know many other Mummies are the same. I want to make sure she’s getting exposed to foods the way her paediatrician recommended I did and its a relief to know her carers follow my instructions when it comes to meal times.

And finally…

8. Communication! For me I want my child’s carers to write or tell me a summary of Cheeks’ day. How many diapers did she go through? What was her mood like? How were her naps? As she grows and her schedule changes its important for me to know these things so I can anticipate these changes on weekends when she’s home. An open and honest communication channel between patent and carer is always in your baby’s best interest.

I used these points to choose a daycare for Cheeks and I have to say – so far, so good! I’m very happy with the care she has gotten thus far, and at this age the transition from home to a daycare environment was very smooth. I hope this helps all of the Mummies in Cayman with choosing the right daycare for your little one!

Until next time,

Cayman Mummy