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Feeding Milestones for Babies and Toddlers

As much as I wish I could be a stay at home mom, professional blog writer, or professional baker…my day job is actually as a Speech Language Pathologist! It’s a job that I absolutely love (how lucky am I to do something I love every day?!). One of the areas that I deal with as part of my job is feeding difficulties. Recently on my Facebook page, I posted about my frustration in seeing so many Caribbean babies getting cereal in their bottles. This opened up a plethora of questions about feeding milestones, what to do/not to do when transitioning to solids etc. I thought why not turn these feeding questions into a blog post! When I started to put together all of the information I realized what an exceedingly long blog post it would end up being…so in the interest of space and time I’ve decided to break it up into different sections. This being the first of several posts regarding feeding.

Like all things – we should start with the basics! When you know what the timeline of feeding transition is from birth through toddlerhood, it’s easier for you to pinpoint the area that your little one may be having the most difficulties.

O-3 Months
– Babies should be solely breast and/or bottle fed. There are oral reflexes in place for suckling and swallowing.
– It is important that during this time baby establishes an appropriate latch.
– Force feeding baby to drink X amount of ounces should be discouraged.
– Follow the baby’s lead on when he/she demonstrates signs of being full.
– Bottles should never be squeezed, nor nipples cut to encourage the baby to drink more or to drink faster.

4-6 Months
– Babies begin to suck and are no longer suckling.
– Breast/bottle feeding is no longer automatic, it begins to become voluntary.
– Babies begin to reach for bottle or spoon when hungry. May also be able to put hands on bottle, and some may even be able to hold bottle at this age.
– If your baby demonstrates signs of readiness, he/she may begin to take pureed food from a spoon.
This is the age range where babies begin to demonstrate signs of being ready for solid food, however the Cayman Islands Children’s Health Task Force does not recommend solid foods until 6 months of age (unless otherwise advised by the child’s primary paediatrician).

6-9 Months
– Babies should be able to open their mouths and wait for the spoon to enter.
– Many babies can drink from a straw at 9 months. Babies are also ready to transition to sippy cup or preferably, regular cup at this time. This is the perfect time to start bottle weaning!
– By now, a munch pattern using an up/down motion should be observed during meals, however a rotary chew (think of a cow chewing on cud) may begin to develop at this age.
– Baby should quickly and efficiently remove food from a spoon using their top and bottom lips and should also lean their head forward to accept the spoon.
– Babies should be able to hold their bottle or cup in both hands.
– Baby should be able to demonstrate stable head control in a sitting position(no head bobbing) and stable trunk control for independent sitting.

10-12 Months
– At this age, feel free to shift foods from pureed to finger food textures.
– Further development of grasping patterns should also be observed.
– Oral motor skills are also being developed. Your little one may be learning to move his/tongue from side to side, may be starting to munch and may also begin biting (not just on food either!).
– Your baby may also begin seeking independence at this age and may not want you to feed him/her any more.
– Your baby may begin to demonstrate some taste preference shifts and may reject “baby food” flavours. This is the perfect age to begin exposing your baby to the family pot and allowing him/her to explore the flavours and textures that the family enjoys.

13-15 Months
– At this age, your toddler’s biting skills continue to develop. Cognitively, toddlers may also try biting objects or people.
– Chewing should be demonstrated (with or without teeth), although not fully mastered.
– Toddlers should be able to bite through a hard cookie.
– Chopped table food should continue to be provided.
– Bottle use should be discontinued. Cup and/or straw use only at this age. Your toddler should be fully weaned from the bottle by 15 months (ideally).
– At this age, toddlers typically engage in “co-feeding” with their caregiver (i.e. while the toddler is self-feeding, caregiver is also putting food in their mouths in between)
– Toddlers typically can grasp a spoon with their hand and will make attempts to bring it to their mouths, although they may have difficulties with keeping the food on the spoon.
– Toddlers should be able to hold their cup with 2 hands.

16-18 Months
– At this age, your toddler should tolerate more challenging foods that require chewing, such as proteins and vegetables.
– By 18 months most toddlers should be able to chew with their mouths closed (although they often do not).
– At this age your toddler should not have large amounts of food or liquid leaking or spilling from his/her mouth during mealtimes.
– Your toddler should be an efficient finger feeder at this time.
– Your toddler will make attempts to assert their independence during mealtimes and will enjoy practicing using their spoon/fork (although still not great about keeping a lot of it on the spoon still).

Two Years Old
– By age 2, your toddler should be able to manage any type of food he/she likes.
– He/she should be drinking from a regular cup with very little spilling.
– He/she should also be able to feed himself/herself fairly well with a spoon or fork.
– Some “fine tuning” will continue over the next few years.

I hope you find this milestone list useful and informative! Stay tuned for my subsequent posts dealing with feeding, as I’ll be talking about the different stages of baby foods, red flags of picky eating and feeding “do’s” and “don’ts”

Until next time,

Cayman Mummy

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Totally Fresh and Totally YUMMY (reblog from Eco Chic Cayman)

I LOVE the teas from Totally Fresh – they are so refreshing. I also love the fact that they provide so many nutritional benefits (perfect for a breastfeeding mama like myself). My favourite is the moringa lemongrass – I love to boil a big pot of it, add a few teaspoons of Cayman honey and ice it!

Support local agriculture and the local economy and check out Totally Fresh Cayman!

PS Thanks for this amazing review EcoChicCayman – I couldn’t have blogged any better 😉

Totally Fresh Cayman

For all you tea lovers you are in luck! Totally Fresh Cayman produces and brews the finest Moringa Loose Leaf Tea on the island! My personal favorite is the Moringa Lemongrass Iced Tea.  James Pedley, the owner, grows Moringa on his farm.  He has two signature teas Moringa and Moringa Lemongrass.  Due to limited supply herbs such as mint and basil can be requested by special order.  James is dedicated to growing the finest ingredients for his high quality island tea.  Coming soon are new tea flavors, herbs and produce.  Just this year James introduced his line of Moringa Loose Leaf Tea and Iced Tea at Camana Bay’s Farmer’s Market.  It is quickly becoming an island favorite.  Additionally, the Greenhouse Cafe was one of the first restaurants to begin serving his Moringa Lemongrass Iced Tea as a staple part of their drink menu.  It was there that I was first…

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Breastfeeding Benefits for MOTHERS

I meant to post this at the beginning of Breastfeeding Week – but better late than never! It’s well known the benefits of breastfeeding for BABIES, but did you know that breastfeeding also provides significant health benefits for mothers?! Definitely something to consider if you’re on that line between breastfeeding or formula feeding. Here are some of the wonderful health benefits breastfeeding mothers can look forward to…

1.) Breastfeeding helps to reduce the size of the mother’s uterus after child birth. It not only helps it get to closer to what it was pre-pregnancy size, but also does it more quickly as well!

2.) Breastfeeding acts like a natural tranquilizer for mom. I can personally attest to this one! Nursing and even expressing can be a great way for moms to calm down and relax during a stressful day. Had a rough day? Take baby to bed – the both of you will fall asleep very contented!

3.) Breastfeeding can reduce your chances of breast cancer. Breastfeeding your baby for 4-12 months can reduce your risk of breast cancer by 11 percent. Breastfeeding through toddlerhood (24 months or longer), your risk of breast cancer reduces by a whopping 25%!

4.) Breastfeeding reduces your risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers. There is definitely a trend between “female” cancers and breastfeeding and the research is piling up showing that the risk of developing many of these types of cancer reduces significantly with breastfeeding.

5.) Breastfeeding reduces your risk of osteoporosis. Women who have not breastfed are 4 times more likely to develop osteoporosis than women who breastfeed!

So for people who tell you that breastfeeding is too harsh on a mother’s body – check out the research behind these few positives and tell them it’s the other way around – breastfeeding helps to PROTECT a mother’s body! Happy Breastfeeding!

Until next time,

Cayman Mummy

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Express Yourself!

If you’re a working mom like me, you probably have to do the dreaded “expressing” while at work. Breaking out the breast pump at work or at home to pump during the night/on the weekends can be very tedious. I’ve been working full time and expressing milk for over 4 months now to maintain what Cheeks needs while at daycare and sometimes I just wish I was still on maternity leave so I can just let her enjoy her milk straight from the tap! When I initially hit that “I really don’t feel like pumping right now” mood, I knew I didn’t have a choice but I decided to come up with things that I can make part of my expressing routine to make it mommy down time. Here are my “Top 5 Things To Do – While Expressing Breastmilk” 😉 – hope it gives you a chuckle!

1.) Eat or Drink (or both). Sometimes work and home life can be so hectic, moms just don’t have the time to eat and drink water the way they should. Eating a healthy diet and drinking lots of healthy fluids is important for any new mom but especially breastfeeding moms – we have to refuel our tanks and recharge our batteries or else, we can risk compromising our very precious milk supply. So take a breather, sit down and enjoy lunch and a nice, cool drink!

2.) Catch up on your Facebook posts. I used to be such a facebook junkie and now I barely check it the way I used to. Use this time to reconnect with friends and family. Or, if you’re anything like me, post updated pics of how your adorable little baby is growing! Checking out previous posts of your little one will definitely help during the expressing process as well and bring a sweet smile to your face in the middle of a hectic day.

3.) Play Candy Crush. Or Angry Birds. Or whatever other game you like to play. Sometimes as moms we don’t have time to unwind. So take a few minutes and do something completely mindless and ENJOY it.

4.) Catch up on a new book or your favourite magazine. I used to be an avid reader before Cheeks came along. Magazines and trashy novels were my favourite although I like to read almost anything. Just like playing games, it’s a great way for you to unwind and have some time that just for you.

5.) Catch up on your favourite TV shows. Whether its getting through the shows on your DVR or catching up on your favourite series on Netflix or Hulu – take some time to catch up on something that is what YOU like to watch. I especially like to do this when I’m expressing on weekends and I can take advantage of Daddy Duty between feeds.

Whatever your expressing routine is – look at it as an escape into you’re own private world rather than being hooked up to a milk machine – trust me you’ll be enjoying your pump sessions (or at least tolerating them a bit better) before you know it. Know that there are lots of other mommies just like you, taking snippets out of their day to express the liquid gold their little ones need. Keep up the great work!
Until next time!
Cayman Mummy

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Sick Babies, Natural Cures…

It’s that time of year, what the older generations usually refer to as “change of weather” – when we transition into a new season. With this “change of weather” unfortunately many little ones get a cough or some sniffles. If you’re anything like me, I want to avoid using as much medication as I can with baby girl. With baby girl starting daycare next week (where I’m sure she will be bombarded with a million germs who have been dying to make her acquaintance) I thought it would be good to fortify my home remedy tool kit. After doing quite a bit if research I’ve found some things I knew and some things that were new…here’s my list so far!

Sniffles/Stuffy Noses and Coughs

1. Breast milk. Nursing moms can enhance the quality of their milk by eating lots of fresh fruit, veggies and fresh juices along with lots of other fluids and vitamins. Not only does breast milk provide some serious antibodies for baby via ingestion, it can also be squirted into baby’s nasal passages instead of saline drops! How cool is that?!
2. Humidifier. Here’s a trick I learned – use filtered or purified/distilled water – NOT tap water. It makes all the difference for me at least! Some moms recommend adding a few drops of apple cider vinegar as well. Be careful with this next item, vapor rub, as it may not be compatible with your humidifier.
3. Vapor Rub. I think we all grew up on this stuff! They even make a gentler one just for babies…rub it on baby’s neck, chest, back and soles of his/her feet for maximum benefit.
4. Bay Rum. Moisten a cloth or piece of cotton with this and dab it on baby’s head. Be careful not to let it get on baby’s face. You can also add some to baby’s bath water as well.
5. Elevate. Keep baby’s head elevated for his/her comfort.
6. Half of a cut onion under the bed is supposed to help absorb the bacteria in baby’s room. This is why people are often advised to use the entire onion when cooking as onions that are cut naturally draw in impurities.
7. Saline drops. A few drops in each nostril and then suction to help baby get rid of mucous. It can also be used to moisten baby’s nasal passages.

Fevers

1. Rose water. Dabbing rose water on baby’s head is supposed to reduce fever.
2. Fresh squeezed limes in a warm bath is also supposed to relieve fever symptoms.

Teething

1. A chicken drumstick bone that has been boiled until its free from any meat/debris is a favorite teething remedy in Cayman as babies for generations have enjoyed gnawing on the bone.
2. Coconut oil. A tiny bit of coconut oil rubbed onto the baby’s gums can ease teething symptoms.

Cradle Cap

1. Coconut oil. Rubbed generously into the scalp can help flakes to come off and prevents more from coming. It also keeps baby’s hair nice and soft.
2. Breast milk. Put some breast milk on the scalp and rub it into the affected area gently. I’ve personally tried this one and let me tell you, it worked literally overnight!

Pink Eye

1. Warm compress to the eye can help to relieve symptoms.
2. Breast milk. Put a few drops in the affected eye. It works almost overnight!

Ear Infections

1. Breast milk. A few drops of breast milk in the affected ear every few hours.
2. Onion juice. 2-3 drops of warm onion juice in the affected ear a couple of times a day.
3. Olive oil. 1-2 drops of warmed olive oil in the affected ear a couple of times a day.
4. Warm compress on the affected ear.
5. Elevate baby’s head to promote drainage.

These are just a handful of the remedies I’ve come across…what’s your favorite home remedies for babies and young children?

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What I Wish I Knew About Breastfeeding BEFORE Becoming A Mum!

One of the biggest challenges new mummies face is feeding…are you going to breastfeed? Formula feed? Both? Neither? (You’d be surprised how many babies out there are being fed cow’s milk, powdered milk, juices etc instead of proper baby formula or breast milk!!)

For me, the choice was breastfeeding. But there were some unexpected hiccups along the way that came with my naïveté. I read and was told that initially breastfeeding would be slightly uncomfortable but that it becomes easier. So in my head, I would stick my darling daughter on my breast, produce a dairy truck worth of breast milk to freeze and la-de-da I’m the perfect breastfeeding machine. Yeah, it didn’t quite work out that way! Here are the top 5 things I wish someone told me about breastfeeding:
1.) It hurts like hell initially…to me, it was worse than delivery and I delivered my daughter naturally.
2.) Establishing a proper latch is super hard!
3.) You will never experience hunger and thirst like what you will experience those first few days of breastfeeding. (If you are pregnant and are reading this…pack snacks – lots of them!)
4.) Breastmilk is absorbed more quickly by your baby so he/she will become hungry more frequently (which means you will be up feeding your baby more than you realize)!
5.) Have breast pads….lots and lots and lots of breast pads. Not the thin ones from the supermarkets – the heavy duty ones! I found the Avent, Lasinoh and Medela brands to be the best.

If you’re a new breastfeeding mummy or about to become one these are the top 5 things that got me through those rough first weeks.

1.) Seek help! The midwives at the hospital were helpful but not as detailed as I needed. I received handouts but again, not as specific as I needed. I went for the big guns – a lactation consultant (LC). My initial LC was on maternity leave like me but referred me to an amazing LC – Rebecca at the Children’s Clinic. I left there feeling better about myself and ready to tackle breastfeeding head on. Thankfully I went to see her when baby girl was 5 days old. There is also a lovely group of ladies who volunteer with the Cayman Islands Breastfeeding Support Group. You can call or email them and they are happy to help with whatever breastfeeding hiccup you’ve encountered, so if you feel things aren’t right – get help ASAP!

2. Get Rid Of Guilt! Breastfeeding is never easy but it comes easier to some than others. During those first few weeks I supplemented 1-2 feeds a day with formula. I felt guilty about it then, but then I realized – my baby needs to eat! A happy mother has a happy baby and allowing hubby to feed baby while I slept an extra couple of hours made me much happier! Baby girl became exclusively breastfed by the time she was 7 weeks but we still keep a can of formula on hand – just in case there isn’t anything pumped and I’m not around.

3. Get A Cheer Squad! There are times that make you want to throw in the towel, but having that cheer squad can give you the strength you need to persevere. Even if you facebook about it…you’ll be surprised how many people will root you on – it helps!!!

4. Make Friends With Breastfeeding Mummies! They have either gone through it or are going through it. It helps to chat with them and know you’re not alone in this breastfeeding journey!

5.) Eat, Drink and Be Merry! You still need to fuel your body to produce adequate milk that’s healthy and nutrient rich for your baby – so drink lots of fluids and eat up! Keep in mind that some foods and drinks that you think are healthy may negatively affect your supply. For example, I am an avid tea drinker so I was drinking 2 cups of mint tea a day and was struggling with keeping up my supply after I returned to work. I later found out that peppermint tea can dry up your milk, so I’ve now switched to nettles tea – problem solved! (PS – I adore the Nettle With A Twist tea from Tea Time in Cayman -it’s light, refreshing, delicious and Nettles tea is fantastic for milk production!)

I’ve had friends who’ve struggled with breastfeeding – some with poor supply and some with latch issues that they couldn’t get over. They had to resort to formula feeding – and guess what? Their babies are healthy and thriving as well. We live in a stressful world and unfortunately more and more mothers are struggling with breastfeeding. My advice to those mothers – please don’t feel guilty. You have to feed your baby and that’s why formula was created – to nourish your baby if for some reason you aren’t able to. However, for those who can get over the initial struggles of breastfeeding, you’ll find it to be a rewarding life experience that you won’t regret!

Happy Feeding All!