Feeding A (almost) Toddler

Feeding this little girl was SO much easier when she just needed breast milk! As she transitions into a toddler I can definitely tell she is much less interested in full bottles and is much more interested in real food! So how do we make that transition? This is what we are doing!

She started having “table” food at eight months at daycare. I know a lot of people are strongly against daycare facilities…but let me tell you something: I think they are angels! A lot of the tough transitions that children go through, childcare providers get the worst part of it. AND…I barely noticed what was happening! Anyways. So yes, table food at eight months.

Generally at this age babies can start to eat almost everything adults can. Just at much smaller portion sizes and in much smaller pieces. This is a little tricky in our house. We LOVE spicy food. Especially when I stopped nursing. I just wanted to throw jalapeños down my throat. What I have been doing since we love our spices so much is whatever meat we are having I set aside some for the baby and cook it separately. For instance, a few nights ago I made chicken yakisoba. I used one of the chicken breast and just lightly seasoned it with salt and pepper and cooked it separate from the rest of the meat. One chicken breast is actually like four servings for her!

We have had her on a really great schedule for as long as I can remember so it is actually sometimes a little hard to remember to give her real food. One of her bottles is at noon so lunch is the meal that gets away from me. She also very rarely wants very much, if anything, at lunch time lately.

She will get her first bottle of the day at 6am and then around 7:45 I will give her breakfast. Her favorite lately is Gerber oatmeal. She likes the kind with bananas in it. Another go-to favorite is the little frozen mini pancakes. She will also get a snack in between her 9am bottle and noon bottle. This is why she is never super into lunch. For snacks…oh man, it just depends what is laying around! She loves blueberry muffins and Gerber fruit and veggies pouches. Seriously, those things are amazing! I don’t know how we would survive without them. She usually sleeps from 12-2ish and with a bottle at 3pm a snack really just depends on how long she sleeps. Then dinner at 5pm, followed by the final bottle of the day at about 6:30pm.

As I mentioned before, the amount she wants in a bottle is changing fast. She normally would suck down 7oz of breast milk like she was starving to death. It is really common for her to only drink 5oz at a time now. I’m not sure if this is because the formula is more filling or she just prefers real food. I imagine it is a combination of both.

I am still pretty paranoid about the size I cut her food to so I keep it really small. Tonight we had pot roast and she pretty much had everything we did. Unfortunately, tonight she thought it would be fun to feed the dogs her food by handfuls and laugh hysterically so dinner was short lived! I can say…she is a little food thief. Whenever she sees us eating something she will walk up to us and tap our leg and make little smacking noises with her mouth. Its both funny and cute now. We should probably stop that habit though! Also, please ignore our fine china in the picture. The military hasn’t delivered our household goods yet!

Next up will be moving from bottles to sippy cups and formula to milk! She uses a zippy cup very well already. We just have not put milk in the sippy cup yet.

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How to Use Frozen Breast Milk

I can see what people search when they wind up on my blog and some common search terms have to do with using breast milk and specifically frozen milk. So…here goes a blog on how I used my frozen stash of liquid gold!

When I went to a breastfeeding class that the Air Force Base hosted for free I received a refrigerator guide magnet that had the guidelines for using milk. It was VERY helpful when using fresh milk. However, it did not provide as much guidance for using frozen milk.

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As I started to get a good stash we bought a small deep freezer. Boy am I glad we did! I was very lucky and produced a lot of milk. We did not need to use formula at all with her until recently as we started to wean. See my blog on doing that here: http://wp.me/p6P8Lo-3S

My routine for milk was as follows: Anything I would pump “extra” for the next day I would freeze. So when this first started I was taking 3 or 4 5oz bottle to daycare with her. So I would freeze anything over 15 oz. Her daycare has a little bit stricter guidelines than what is “recommended.” Freshly expressed milk was good for 48 hours only (for daycare purposes). Thawed guidelines are the same-use within 24 hours.

When I thaw milk for immediate use I simply run it under warm water as shown below.

I recommend only doing this method when using milk for immediate use. Since thawed milk has a much shorter life than fresh milk I was always worried it would go to waste.

Using frozen milk for her daycare I would take out the milk a full day ahead. For instance, on Sunday morning I would take out milk that she needed for Monday. I make her bottles at night for the next day and it takes awhile for milk to thaw. To thaw this way, see picture below. It is very easy!

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As I mentioned, I took mine out a full day early. This probably depends on whether your milk is in a deep freezer or a refrigerator freezer AND how cold your refrigerator is. It seemed like it took mine FOREVER to thaw.

For fresh milk it is considered safe to refrigerate warmed milk if it is not used within an hour. Example: I pump at 9am. I warm up that milk at 1pm. She doesn’t drink 2 oz of what I warmed up. That milk can go back in the refrigerator by 2pm. It needs to be used within 24 hours after being warmed up though. So at 1pm the next day that milk must be used. I never used this rule of thumb with thawed milk. I do not think it is considered as safe. I would just say be cautious of how much milk you thaw so you do not waste it!

Whenever she doesn’t drink any kind of milk…fresh, thawed, a mix of formula and thawed, I follow the one hour guide to be safe. If she doesn’t drink all of the milk I will try again about 45 minutes later. Some of the time that works. Some babies are also picky about temperatures. Too hot or too cold. So I’m sure that is part of it sometimes also. If I warmed it up too much the cooling down makes her want it more. Others I end up throwing out 3-4 oz 😦

I hope this was helpful for those new moms who don’t want to waste their milk. It is a precious thing, that breast milk!

Introducing Formula/Weaning

I know this was a huge wonder of mine while pregnant and after baby girl was born. I do not know what is “normal” but I can talk about the process for me!

I will start by saying: this process started a little sooner for me than I originally wanted. Here is why: the military decided we should go to Japan. No worries-this is a good thing! The dilemma was that I had SO much frozen milk. The fees to ship it would be outrageous considering once we get to Japan it will be one month from her first birthday when she can start cow milk. So my goal was to begin weaning and use the frozen!

The process took about 1.5 months. She already gets 3 bottles a day from daycare so taking a bottle was not going to be an issue for us. I know that those who have exclusively nursed say sometimes just taking bottle is the tricky part!

At 9 months she was getting a morning nursing when she first woke up and then a nighttime nursing right before bed. The nighttime nursing was the one I was terrified to take away so we took the morning nursing first. At this point it was still all breast milk-just in a bottle so there was not any issues. Other than I was giving her too much! She gets 7 oz bottles at daycare but she was only drinking about 5 oz in the mornings. We did this for about 3 weeks and I started pumping only once a day at this point to slow down my production. And it slowed fast! Much faster than I thought. I went from pumping 18-24 oz a day to around 12 oz a day within a week.

About a week ago I took away the night nursing. It has gone pretty well so far. The one thing it has changed is her bed time. She would fall asleep nursing about 90% of the time and with a bottle she never falls asleep. Luckily for us if we lay her down between 7-7:30 pm she will put herself to sleep within 5 minutes. Yes, I know…we have a freak child 🙂 We do not expect to be so lucky if/when we have another one!

Where are we currently? She is 10.5 months now. I have began trying to introduce formula. It is really hit or miss right for now. She will not drink just formula. I have about 250 oz of frozen left so her morning and night bottles I have been doing 2-3 oz of formula and 2-3 oz of breast milk mixed together. When she absolutely refuses the mixture I add a little bit of rice cereal and that seems to help. If she is not drinking it consistently by this weekend I will try Similac. I have been using Enfamil supplemental so far.

I am hoping for the best over the next 10 days before we fly out! I have not pumped in a little over a week so I am not producing very much (if any). Over the weekend she was pretty tired and fighting it and I actually nursed her and she passed out. I do not know if she was actually getting any milk or if it was just for comfort.

Below is also a picture of how I stored my milk. The best space saver I found was to freeze the bag laying down and then it was easier to prop up like in the bottom of the picture and then to place in bins like the top portion. The bins are how I stored it in the deep freezer!

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Everything I Never Knew About Breastfeeding.

As promised…here we go! So many questions always surround this touchy, sensitive subject. Does it hurt? How long do you do it for? How much milk should you produce? When is it okay to introduce a bottle/pacifier? What is wrong with formula? I do not know all the “right” answers to these questions. I can share with you what I have experienced and what those I personally know have said about their experiences.

I will start by saying the touchy, sensitive comment…was sarcasm. I will never understand why breastfeeding is such a controversial topic. What I do understand is that it can make people uncomfortable who are unfamiliar with it. I believe the thing that makes people uncomfortable is public nursing. From what I have seen…chances are if you saw someone nursing in public (and I mean without a nursing cover) it was a rare situation. I say this because it is happening ALL around you and you just do not notice because most women are discreet and you cannot even tell. I somehow managed to only nurse in public once and it was with a nursing cover. Even then I got some stares and a whispered “how inappropriate.” Not sure what was inappropriate but…lets get back to all those questions.

Does it hurt? It did me for many weeks. For a couple reasons. One, until I went in for my six week postpartum check I did not realize if you are cracking like I was you should use lanolin cream after each nursing. Whoops! After I started using it more the pain was much better! Another reason it may have been painful was because Scarlett did not latch very well on one side for quite some time (10 weeks) and I used a nipple shield. So many people say horrible things about nipple shields but let me tell you-it worked for us! She did not get nipple confusion or have issues otherwise.

How long do you do it for? This question goes two ways. How long was each nursing and to what age. Well, I learned much later that my daughter used me as a pacifier and would “nurse” for hours. I spent the first 4-5 weeks of her life on a couch with her latched on! I believe what most books say is that after 20 minutes they are not getting any milk and they are using you as a pacifier. This also may have attributed to the pain! Now for the tricky one…to what age. To me this is a completely personal choice. I have heard baby led weaning is generally best. Me personally, I am starting the weaning process now. The reason for that leads to the next question.

How much should you produce. I have no clue. I do know that I am a milk machine. I went back to work when she was 8 weeks old. We introduced a bottle pretty early on when she just would not give me a break from nursing so we did not have any bottle taking issues. When I went back to work I had to pump.I would pump around 9am, nurse her at lunch, pump again at 2pm, then the other pumping early on depended on her sleeping habits. I quickly built up a huge stash. I am talking I currently have probably enough frozen milk to last until she is 1 (in 2.5 months). That is why I am starting to wean. Since we are moving to Japan I cannot take it with us so I want to use as much of it as possible. To put into number what I pumped: it was usually 27-32 ounces a day and I would only send her to daycare with 18 ounces and then it bumped up to 21 ounces. That was also with nursing her in the morning and at night.

That is all the insight I have for now. I will do at least one more breastfeeding post since I am weaning. I know this is something that I was so curious about so I want to share my experience with you all. 10338253_1142011155816665_2979713689489562773_n

Disregard me looking a mess but this is the picture that was “inappropriate” while nursing in public 🙂