Sunday, November 27, 2005

Moving onto Solids at 6 mos

Current wisdom is to start babies on solids at age 6 mos. When Peanut turned 6 mos, we started her out on baby rice. We chose Gerber's and were thinning it out with water. No go. She hated it. Then I read several articles about the changing wisdom of starting out on baby rice - it has virtually no nutritional value and little taste. But, it is least likely to cause allergic reactions.

We quickly moved onto baby oatmeal. Yummy. She really gobbled this stuff down. Its still diluted with bottled water - on rare occasions with mama milk. And, the trick, its heated. A 5 - 6 second zap in the microwave makes it thhe perfect temp. I know some say that babies don't care if the food is cold or warm, but Peanut clearly does. Its easy to see why - the milk she is used to drinking is a nice warm temp.

I have to confess to using food in jars for the first months. We were still on the go and not yet settled in our own home. I opted for Gerber's Tender Harvest organics (available at most grocergy stores) and Eathe's Best (available at Tom Thumb). The cost of baby food in jars is outrageous when you compare it to what you can make on your own for the price, but the convenience is undeniable. I also felt confident that I was giving Peanut safe ingredients.

I'm now making Peanut's food, but more on that later...

The doctor here in Texas recommended the following list for introducing new solids (the ascending order of causing a reaction):
> squash
> carrots
> sweet potatoes
> bananas
> oatmeal
> beets
> spinach
> applesauce
> barley cereal
> pears
> peaches
> chicken
> peas
> green beans

They suggest giving as much solids as desired, but making sure baby consumes the same amount of breast milk or formula.

The Neuvola in Espoo suggest this daily menu for 6 mos olds:
Meal 1 - Breastmilk
Meal 2 - Breastmilk + meat/fish/egg and potatoe/veggie
Meal 3 - Breastmilk
Meal 4 - Breastmilk + 'puuro' (porridge) + berries/fruits
Meal 5 - Breastmilk

For 7 mos olds:
Meal 1 - Puuro + berries/fruits + Breastmilk
Meal 2 - Meat/fish/egg and potatoe/veggie + Breastmilk
Meal 3 - Berries/fruit + Breastmilk
Meal 4 - Potato/Veggie + Breastmilk
Meal 5 - 'Puuro' (porridge) + berries/fruits + Breastmilk

I also got some handouts (dated from 1995) about how to make my own baby food for phase I (veggie purees) and II (puuro and the meat/fish + veggie purees).

Sleeping like a baby - HA!

Peanut is now about 7 1/2 months old and we recently had to make another concerted effort at getting her to bed in the evenings and to sleep through the night. Back at 10 weeks or so, she slept through the night for the first time and did so for several months.

When we moved to Dallas, there were several nights of adjusting to the new timezone. The advice i read was the babies who are breastfed should be fed when they wake during this time. So I did. Peanut was waking maybe 1 or 2 times a night.

But, then it continued. Every night she would wake up at a random time - sometimes 2 am, sometimes 4.30 am - crying, crying, crying. We couldn't bear to listen to her cry so we'd bring her to our bed for a feeding. Which ALWAYS put her back to sleep.

At her recent well-baby visit, the pediatrician simply said you've got to stop the night time feedings. period. she's not hungry, its just habit. And, its going to get worse at around 9 mos when babies develop more adult sleeping cycles and wake more frequently during the night. i felt the hairs on my back stand up in protest. i didn't like the advice. But, recognized that we should try it.....

Baby sleep training is about as controversial as it gets in the baby world:
Sears vs Ferber vs Cry It Out vs Baby Wise vs everything in between.

The aim is to get baby to be able to fall back asleep by herself. It should start with baby going to sleep by herself. We adjusted our evening routine so that milk came before story time. After story time, we turn out the lights, snuggle for a bit in bed and then I put Peanut in her crib while she's still somewhat awake. This was surprisingly easy. There was only about 5 evenings of more intense crying, standing, and crying. We'd go in, lay her down, rub her back/belly and walk out. Once, when it went on for more than 40 mins, I admittedly 'milked her down'.

The nighttime wakings were more of a struggle. When she woke up, we'd give her 5 mins or so to see if she calmed down. Usually she doesn't. Then, we'd go to her crib , lay her down and try the belly/back rub. It wasn't working - at least the first few nights. I'd often have to pick her up and rock her to sleep. It'd take like 40 mins before she settled back to sleep. Exhausting.

Now, about two weeks later, we've had 5 nights of no wakings. Last night, she woke at 4 am, papa went to rub and soothe. She slept for 1/2 hr. Mama's turn. She slept another 45 mins. Mama again. She slept until 6.30 when its morning milk time.

Not an easy path, but it can be done, and I feel in a gentle way.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Finnish Babies Healthiest in Scandinavia, but....

From YLE 24

A new study shows that babies in Finland have better health, compared to other Nordic countries. But the evidence also suggests that Finnish children and young people are at higher risk of illnesses and accidents.

Finland has higher rates of suicide amongst young people, and they smoke more than other Nordic countries. The annual report of the Nordic Health and Social Statistics Committees indicated that over 40 percent of Finnish 15 to 16 year olds had smoked tobacco during the previous month.

In addition, children and young people are the victims of more fatal traffic accidents. The rate of increase in diabetes amongst children and young people is also highest in Finland. In addition, illness caused by asthma and allergies are higher.

Statistics showed that Danish young people consume the most alchohol, with 40 percent having enjoyed a drink no less than twenty times a year and over a quarter admitting that they had been drunk at least once during the previous three months.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

With all this sunshine, who needs Vitamin D drops?!

Its a glorious thing to wake up knowing that you don't have to draw open the curtains with a sense of dread in late November. This time of year in Finland is pretty dreary if not down right drab and depressing. Summer is long gone, the sunshine of autumn has faded and a peak out the window in the morning usually looks out into darkness and a sky tucked away behind a thick woolen blanket of impenetrable clouds.

Not in Texas!

We wake up around 6.30 am and it is indeed dark outside - for another 15-20 minutes before the sky begins to slowly glow. By the time, we head out the door, its clearly going to be another sunshine filled day. (and,not to rub it in to my readers located in finland, but its also about +15 - +20 C)

All this prelude, leads to this. I previously wrote about Vitamin D supplements in Finland. When we arrived in Texas, I visited a few local pharmacies trying to find a refill for our drops. I couldn't find any on the shelves and when I asked the pharmacists, they looked at me like I was asking for brandy filled candies for the baby. "Ummm, no, we don't have anything like that. You'd have to get a prescription from your pediatrician...."

Peanut recently had her first well-baby visit at the pediatrician's office. We chose a doctor recommenced by another finnish mom. Evidently, she has had many finnish patients over the years and knew immediately what I was asking about. And, following a quick nod, launched into the reasons why we don't need them here:
> This is not Finland, there is plenty of sunshine here.
> I've never heard of anyone in Texas suffering from rickets (which can be caused by a lack of Vitamin D).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Finnish connections in Dallas

Its no surprise that the Dallas area has an abundance of Finnish families. The Irving/Las Colinas area is home to the US headquarters of Nokia which also lured several of its suppliers to set up shop here. There was a large influx of Finnish expatriates about 10 years ago, but the steady stream of new ones is more than a trickle.

While the families have settled in many communities, the city of Coppell has been particularly attractive for the Finns. There are a number of reasons:
> Its right down MacArthur Blvd making the commute to the Nokia offices 15 - 20 minutes on average
> The Coppell school district is recognized as one of the top in the North Texas area meaning you don't have to send your children to the expensive private schools
> Coppell is a very nice area
> And it comes highly recommended by the many other Finnish families living there - you may even find yourself neighbors!

Maintaining ties to Finland remains important even for the families who have decided to make the US their permanent home by becoming green card holders or even citizens. Language is a key element of the identity and to help pass it along to children, the North Texas Finnish Language School is here to help. They meet in one of the Nokia office buildings and the font on the homepage is suspiciously similar to the Nokia font!

They even have a class for 0 - 12 mos olds which Peanut & I may attend once we have some free weekends.

For the ladies, there is the Suomalaisten Naisten Yhdistys or Finnish Women's Club. I've joined the mailing list, but haven't yet made it to any of the meetings.

A subgroup which Peanut & I have been active in already is the Mammakerho which is informerly run by a volunteer mom who organizes activities such as playdates in the Puupuisto of Coppell, a Halloween afternoon, etc. Its been a great resources for doctor's references and many other questions.

Bumbo - a bum deal?

This is a look back in time posting as our closet begins to fill with the toys, baby seats, clothes, etc that Peanut has outgrown (already!!!).

For her four-month birthday, we bought Peanut a Bumbo seat from Lastentarvike in Petikko. If you haven't yet heard of Bumbo - its a South African designed baby seat like no other. Your bebe's bum sinks into the soft plastic molded chair and she can lounge as if sitting in a comfy recliner. I have to say Peanut was just adorable in it :-)

I'd read really rave reviews for it in several baby web communities. A google search showed that it had won numerous design and ergonomic awards. Peanut was getting tired of just being in the baby-sitteri so we had plenty of reasons.

And, it was pretty good ... while it lasted. At four months, Peanut - like most babies - could not yet sit on her own even when propped up by pillows, yet she wanted a new perspective on the world. She fit perfectly into the aquamarine Bumbo seat and enjoyed looking around. I would often sit her in front of the hallway mirror and she could chat with the cute little baby looking back at her.

It was also a great little, light weight seat to take along to friends' houses when we went for dinner. Peanut was already flipping back to front, but getting frustrated on her belly so having an alternative to keep her amused was important.

One BIG note of caution here!!! Something about the Bumbo position for the legs will always lead to diaper leaks....I mean big, blowout leaks. More than once, I went to pick her up only to find a puddle of yellow baby poop in the bottom of the seat (with matching stains on Peanut's pants and usually my shirt from where I held her).

The joy of the Bumbo lasted for about 6 - 8 weeks. Peanut wanted more mobility. Better views. She would try to straighten her torso out in the seat, arching her back making it clear she was done with being molded.

But, she then very quickly moved on to good balance when seated on her own. Pillows softened the inevitable topples. I think the Bumbo helped her build her abdominal strength. It was an inadvertant outcome - we hadn't set out to put her in it to build her tiny muscles more quickly.

Long and short of it - we paid 45 euros for the Bumbo. Got some cute cute pictures of Peanut in it. But, probably could have done without it or at least gotten a used one. I can't imagine how a used one could differ from brand new. There are no parts to abuse, break, or lose. Its all plastic - easy to clean. The only damage would be a massive tear which you could see right away.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Our new home on the Prairie

Last month, we packed up our belongings and made the move to Texas! Peanut's Dad was offered a job transfer and we were excited for the opportunity to sample life in the US.

So Peanut's blog will take a bit of a different turn. I'm not yet sure what the angle will be, but expect to learn more about a Peanut in transition, how we adjust here and continued views about babies and related stories.

For now, we are enjoying the warm sunshine, endless prairie skies and chirping crickets.