What better way to declare your independence then by eating all by yourself?!
On Monday morning Mom was preparing breakfast for her five beautiful children and decided that their traditional oatmeal and yogurt needed a splash of color. While apples and bananas are favorites they weren’t bright enough, but berries certainly would do the trick! Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries turned the dreary oats into a bright purple surprise! Little did Mom know that today was the day that her children were going to exercise their right to feed themselves! Kali was the first to say, “No thanks, Mom, I got this.” Of course, she chose not to use her words, but rather to swat the spoon from Mama’s hand sending it flying onto Bella’s lap. She then proceeded to raspberry her raspberries all over the table and her brother, Theo, sitting 2 seats over. Theo thought this was hilarious and joined the raspberry spray fest. Of course once the spoon hit Bella, she, too, caught on, and soon Mom had a mutiny on her hands. While I would have appreciated a subtler request to learn how to feed themselves; the message was nevertheless received. I am eager to celebrate this milestone with my children. I won’t be packing away the Baby Bullet just yet, but now that four out of the five have at least 2 choppers we will be discovering the quints’ finger food faves! Their new meal plan that embraces their new found independence and celebrates their 11-month milestones is as follows: Breakfast:
5-6 ounces Milk (Breast Milk with Goats Milk)
Banana OR Cooked Pears, Peaches, Fig, Plum or Apple
Cheerios OR Oatmeal OR Oat-based Teething Biscuit
5-6 ounces Milk
Cooked Carrots, Peas, Summer squash
Ground Meat (Beef, Chicken, Turkey) OR Flaked Fish
Cooked Potato OR Spiral Whole Grain Pasta
5-6 ounces Milk OR Water (Will switch to water after 1 year)
Avocado OR Chopped Hard Boiled Egg
Cheerios OR Oat-based Teething Biscuit
5-6 ounces Milk
Cooked Carrots, Peas, Summer squash
Cooked Beans (Chick peas or Kidney beans) OR Soft Cubed Tofu
Almost seven months have passed since I last blogged about what a day in the life is like for one of the V5. As most know, life is a lot different for a 10 month old as compared to a 4 month old, especially since our 4 month olds truly resembled a 2 month old at that time. Nowadays, the kids are catching up developmentally and are currently tracking with 9-10 month old milestones. So, what keeps our rug rats busy? Let’s explore a day in the life of the V5!
As one can imagine, we continue to keep the quints on a tight schedule and they help to keep us true to our word. We start the day at 7am. This honestly is the best part of my day because I am greeted by wide-eyed grins, smiles and giggles…well not everyone is giggling. Theo is typically whining and ready for breakfast. We bring the kids downstairs, change their clothes and pop them in their table for breakfast. Breakfast consists of oatmeal, various fruits and homemade yogurt along with their bottle, which is half goats milk and half mama’s milk. After breakfast, the kiddos go back up to their cribs for their first nap. This is the only nap that they take in their cribs. Kali and Theo tend to sleep for about 45 minutes and others, like Elliott, will fall back asleep until almost 11am.
After they wake up from their first nap, they are downstairs for the day. They play until their next care time at 11am. Lunch is at 11am and they know it. The choir starts to sing at about 10 til’ 11, which creates a mad dash to get them changed and back in the table, while warming their bottles and making lunch. Lunch is usually a starchy vegetable or grain with protein, like turkey, beef or chicken, and a vegetable. They down their lunch and bottles and then play at the table while we clean up. They love to play with their spoons following mealtime. After lunch, it is quiet time. Some of the quints fall back asleep and others play quietly.
Everyone is awake by 1pm, and it’s time to play again! We have transformed our home into a baby-safe exploration center. I let the kids roam around the kitchen, living room and dining room areas. They have a blast crawling, rolling and exploring. They typically travel with at least one toy in hand. The most popular toys right now are their egg maracas, the tower* of Sophies, stackable cups and connecting rings. They also find great enjoyment from whacking the doorstopper and kicking the walls. It is certainly free entertainment watching them learn what they can do- and cannot do- as they roam.
Two o’clock is snack and learning time! We gather at the table for bottles and a finger foods such as green peas, banana, avocado, or a homemade teething biscuit. After eating, the kids stay at the table a bit longer to play with their stacking cups, sippy cups and other toys.
Dinner often sneaks up on us at 5pm, when the kids starting “singing” again. We change them and place them back in the table for their last meal of the day. Dinner varies and sometimes is leftovers from lunch, but most often it is a vegetarian meal such as cheesy potatoes with broccoli or scrambled eggs with spinach, along with another bottle. After dinner they will stay up until bedtime, playing and roaming until about 7pm. Sometimes we are able to sneak in a walk around the neighborhood, too.
At seven, we begin cleaning them up and getting them ready for bed- PJ time! If all goes well, we usually have time for a story or two before their bedtime bottles. This bottle is a bit larger in volume and has Neosure and mama’s milk. Everyone is getting fed by 7:30pm and typically in their cribs for the night by 8pm. On a good night, all of them close their peepers and are off to dreamland until 6am when they slowly start to wake up. On a not-so-good-night, they all take turns teething and throwing the I-don’t-wanna-go-to-bed tantrum. We have been blessed though, and 5 out of the 7 nights every week are good nights.
And, that’s a wrap! Once the V5 are tucked in their beds, mom and dad prepare for the next day, making bottles, doing the wash, picking up toys, running the dishwasher and mopping the floor. It certainly is a full-time job, but I wouldn’t trade a minute for the world!
Spring has [finally] sprung here in Madison! So, what have the quints been up to while they awaited spring?
Well, they have been eating like champs and are up to 3 solid meals per day. A typical day of meals would be 2-3 T of oatmeal with yogurt and bananas for breakfast, 2-3 T of beef or chicken with squash and potatoes for lunch, and dinner rounds out the day with 2-3 T of a green veggie, vegetarian protein (chickpeas, tofu or eggs) and a healthy fat (avocado).
When the kids aren’t feasting at meals, they tend to be trying to gum each other or anything within 5 inches of their mouth, munch on their toes, or blow raspberries.
Another favorite past-time at 8 months is teething. Frank and I joke that getting teeth is a very inefficient process… 2 years of tears times five, well may be times seven. When all start moaning and groaning, hoping for those choppers, we gently ask them for results, and no more excuses. All are also working hard on learning how to crawl. They are all pros at the infamous Sphynx pose, as well as, rolling over. Theo is the closest to getting wheels. His efforts and dedication to learning to crawl are truly admirable. However, at this point he is easily frustrated and tends to opt for rolling like a log to get to and fro.
The kids are also barely big enough to fit into their dining table, which- for now- is a play place.
It is also the official meeting space for Girl’s Club Meetings…sorry no boys allowed!
The V-5 have also been patiently awaiting their first adventure around the neighborhood. They took their first stroll this past weekend…and they appeared to be less than thrilled about it.
Despite, the lack of smiles and giggles that we anticipated, they looked pretty darn cute sporting their new spring jackets!
The V-5 definitely “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.” As a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) I couldn’t miss the opportunity of featuring my beautiful children during National Nutrition Month®!
Eating well is a pillar in the pursuit of overall wellness, especially if you are/were a premature infant. I attribute my children’s well-being to their healthcare team’s (which includes Mommy & Daddy) dedication to feeding them well from day one.
I have bragged on and on about breast milk in past posts, including Mommy Nutrition and 2 Simple Acts, so the following will feature the best solid foods for infants, or Baby’s Super Foods. These also happen to be super foods for the oldest of children- aka adults. I selected the following foods based on their nutrient density, ease of digestion and preparation and friendliness to the young palate.
Meat and poultry are great first foods due to their iron content. Baby’s stores of iron begin to fade around 6 months so, a food rich in iron is important. Additionally, iron from animal sources (heme-iron) is much easier to absorb and use by the body. Meat also is loaded with B-vitamins and zinc. If you opt for grass-fed over grain-fed cattle, you will also get meat with more healthy omega-3 fats, vitamins A and E, and less of the unhealthy saturated fats, hormones and antibiotics. Organic poultry is ideal for the same reasons; basically more time and attention are directed towards the birds living quarters and nutrition creating a better quality end product.
Lentils may be small but they are mighty. They are loaded with protein, fiber, iron, zinc and a host of B-vitamins. They are also a good source of copper, potassium and molybdenum. These legumes are quick and easy to prepare and generally more tender than other types of dried beans.
This nutritional powerhouse can be made by boiling chicken or beef bones in water and a touch of vinegar. It is a significant source of GAGs, or glycosaminoglycans, chondroitin sulfate, keratan sulfate and hyaluronic acid, which are all “ingredients” for cartilage. Additionally, the red marrow has myeloid stem cells, which supports red blood cell development and the immune system. This broth also is a great source of glycine and proline, which are the building blocks for other amino acids (protein). Glycine and proline are also used by the body to aid digestion, promote healing, and create healthy plasma. Logically, bone broth also provides a good source of minerals found in bone: calcium, phosphorus and magnesium to aid in bone development and maintenance.
This fatty fruit is a good source of fiber, vitamins K, E and C, a few B-vitamins, as well as, potassium, and copper. Avocadoes provide a host of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals (antioxidants from plants) and can help with absorption of other nutrients, like carotenoids (orange, yellow and red phytochemicals). Besides aiding in blood sugar regulation and heart health, they also make a great beauty product.
This orange, winter squash may require some extra prep work but the sweet flavor and benefits are well worth it. Although squash are a starchy vegetable, their carbohydrate is much different than a potato; it has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The orange color gives away that it is a great source of vitamin A, but it is also loaded with vitamins C, B6 and several minerals.
This hardy cereal is a great first food for infants. My vote goes to oats over rice for an infant cereal because it is rich in iron, zinc, phosphorus, fiber and protein, as well as, several other vitamins and minerals. It also comes without the worry of arsenic toxicity.
Why gluten-free? Well, gluten is a very inflammatory agent that is found in wheat, rye, barley and some oats and can be difficult to digest. Often times, traditional oats can also be “contaminated” with wheat due to shared processing equipment. I feel it is best for babies to be wheat-free until their first birthdays when they dive into that cake! Overall, I opt for gluten-free because it is much nicer to the kiddos’ digestive tract.
I had to include at least one common fruit. Bananas are a great first fruit because they are a good source of vitamins C, B6, B2 and of course, potassium. They also provide bone-building minerals, including magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Besides the benefit of being very convenient to prepare, they are also known as nature’s antacid because they contain a substance that can help the stomach and intestines produce the mucus lining.
Another bonus of the foods mentioned above is that when they are pureed they contain at least 20 calories per Tablespoon, which is equivalent to the average amount of calories in one-ounce of breast milk. When you have picky bottle-feeders who love solids this can be a huge lifesaver!
Whether these foods are old favorites or perhaps news ones to try, I encourage children of all ages to serve up these super foods and “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right!”
There are several signs that a child is ready to start solids:
At least 4 months old (Check!)
Significant weight gain.
The quints have definitely doubled their birth weights)
Theo is now 14½ lbs.,
Bella is 11lbs,
Lily is our little one at 10½ lbs.,
Kali is 12 lbs., and
Ellie is just shy of 12 lbs.
Able to make chewing motions and loss of “extrusion reflex.”
The extrusion reflex is when an infant uses their tongue to push solids from their mouth. An infant’s mouth develops in sync with their digestive tract. Therefore, if the little one is able to push food to the back of their mouth with their tongue and simultaneously swallow their gut is ready to accept the food.
Able to support their own heads with good neck strength.
In preparation for solid food we began feeding the kids in their bumbo seats. At first this was a disaster! The bumbo is designed to teach little ones to use their core to sit up, so you can imagine what happens when they are all tensing their abs during mealtime. Spit ups and blowouts galore! But, thank goodness this did not last long. A week’s worth of feedings and they got the hang of it.
I attribute the great gains in their neck and head strength to their time in the bumbo seats. Even big brother, Theo, with his 95th percentile noggin can hold that coconut up proudly!
Good appetite and often still hungry after their feeding.
This is definitely the case for Theo, Kali and Lily who often are quite upset to be sucking air at the end of their bottles.
Curious with what Mom and Dad are munching on.
So, needless to say after reviewing the list above, I was confident that the quints were physically ready for solids.
Which foods do you start with?
There is a bit of a debate on which food is best to start with. Currently, there is no strong evidence to support a specific sequence of introduction. Nutritionally, the best foods to start with are those that are highest in iron. This is because around 4-6 months of age a child’s iron stores are becoming depleted. This is especially true for premature infants because their time to accrue these stores was cut-short. Additionally, foods high in zinc and vitamin D are especially important because these nutrients are traditionally low in breast milk.
Traditionally, people start with iron fortified rice cereal. However, from my research this appears to be merely a generational tradition and in fact meat is a much better first food. This article from Dr. Greer, one of the quints’ physicians at the Madison NICU, offers a great explanation! Rice cereal is very easy to digest and has a very low allergy risk, but the iron from the food is not as easily absorbed and this food is high calories and low in nutrition. Plant-based iron (non-heme iron) is not used by the body as easily as that from an animal source (heme iron). Additionally, meat is a great source of zinc. I believe that chicken is a fantastic first food, followed by beef.
The quint’s sequence will be as follows, with a new food every three days:
I chose butternut squash and sweet potatoes because they are fairly high in vitamin C. The body uses vitamin C to help the absorption and use of iron. Zucchini was next as their first dark green vegetable because it is easy to digest and a low allergy risk. Their first grain will be gluten-free oatmeal because it is naturally high in iron and B-vitamins.
This delicious faire will be homemade with an awesome Baby Bullet, courtesy of a fellow quint mom. I puree the vegetables using breast milk and the meats using bone broth. Both are fantastic sources of vitamins and minerals and freeze very well! In just one hour, I had a month’s worth of food for the kiddos.
Let the games begin!
Frank and I thought we would catch this monumental meal on film. This video illustrates why it is important to feed your little one their bottle before trying solids. Can you guess which quints had eaten first?
If you guessed Theo and Lily you were right! They were cool and calm during their trial. Ellie and Bella were quite the opposite and approached meltdown mode. Kali, well, Kali enjoys mealtime in whatever order it is presented.
The other very important reason to offer solids after their milk is because breast milk should remain the primary source of nutrition for infants until at least 1 year of age, and thus you don’t want to ruin a feeding with an unfortunate food trial. I do promise you that Theo, Ellie and Bella all recovered from this feeding experience.
So, at the conclusion of food trial #1, all of the quints tolerated chicken. I would say that Lily, Ellie and Kali even liked it. I believe Bella will come around to liking it, too. As for Mr. Theo…I’m pretty sure he just wants a butter burger and some crinkle cut fries.