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Executive Summary: Eat your fruits and vegetables! | EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™.

For those who don’t already know of this list, I recommend reading it. It is expensive, but we try to buy organic when necessary, for Benji’s sake. I like this list because it also tells you what foods are least pesticide laden so you can save some pennies buying non-organic versions of those foods!

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Benji’s been enjoying some pretty delicious homemade purées. Today’s brekkie (Australian slang for breakfast), made by his dad: apple, pear, and strawberry purée with organic oatmeal porridge and some fork mashed fresh sweet papaya.

With a baby in the house, I have to constantly think of ways to be more efficient in doing things, in particular, household tasks and cooking. Benji is still in the early stages of eating solids and I still prepare his food separately. Even though that involves just a steamer and a blender, it takes quite a bit more work and cleaning up. One of my girlfriends really swore by the Philips AVENT baby food maker she got, and after watching a YouTube presentation of it, I was also sold: a two-in-one baby food maker – what a nifty little contraption!

But alas, we live in Melbourne, Australia, where brands from the US (like Philips) cost twice as much (US128 on Ebay VS AUD250; exchange rate being about 1:1) and since the voltage systems are incompatible, we are unable to get it from the US and use it here.

At the local grocery store, Aldi, we saw a baby food maker, slightly bigger and less elegant looking, but still quite a time saver, for only AUD58 and decided to try it instead.

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Although I know it’s not as good as the Philips one, I still really like it. It steams in one compartment and blends in another, eliminating quite a bit of washing and having to use more tools. I can’t quite stress how this little bit of efficiency has helped me so much in my daily routine.  Hopefully it will help you, too.

Do you use a baby food maker? Which one(s) and do you like it? How else do you prepare your food?

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Benji’s been teething for a long, long time now. His two lower central incisors have since sprung up but he’s still feeling the itch once in awhile. I am not surprised if the two upper ones pop up anytime now given how much he still drools and bites. One of the things he seems to particularly enjoy gnawing on are these teething rusks. I also like how he can grasp them in his palm which makes it a great way to introduce finger foods to him. The ones I got are made in Australia and are wheat and dairy free; I’m still not 100% certain that he has these food allergies but since his eczema has flared up in the winter here, I’m not taking chances. (More on this topic later.)

For the moms out there who have more free time than me and want to try making your own, here’s a recipe. Let me know how you go with it if you do!

We’re now in Seoul, South Korea, and *finally* had a day to rest up today after nearly a full month of continuous activities. Bry’s been putting up hundreds of photos on our Flickr account for family and friends around the world to keep up with our travels (and Benji), and here’s a crazy one I just saw, of the baby food section at one of the inner suburban grocery stores where we got Benji’s jar food. What a spread!

Thank you kind people for your encouragements here and privately about Benji’s development. We will find a solution it just takes time. And money. And energy. But it will be resolved. 🙂

While we await for an appointment to see a Radiologist for a hip ultrasound/x-ray, I start to tackle the problem of Benji’s slow weight gain — increasing his milk intake and figuring out what other solids to let him try. Even though I know breastmilk is still to be his main source of nutrition and contributor to his weight gain, the Ped recommended that we start feeding him solids 3 times a day (we had started him on them late last week; an exciting milestone!). Now, does feeding him more solids help with his growth? There is little evidence to suggest it will but the Ped seemed to think it would help. In fact, it might decrease his intake of milk as he takes more solids. But since we’re at 5.5 months now, and should start him on solids at around this time, I decided to just go with her recommendations anyway (and again, I could’ve argued with her that this will decrease his milk intake but I didn’t).

So, here is my spiel on baby’s first solids – what I was told, what I read, and what I decided to do:

One other thing I really didn’t like about our Pediatrician other than the fact that she screwed up Benji’s age, failed to give us a full prescription in our first appointment for Benji’s vaccines when she said she would, and thought we were there the second time for Benji’s 4 month shots (Lady, read your case notes BEFORE seeing your patients!) was her insistence that we start Benji on white rice cereal as his first solids. Her eyes glared at me disapprovingly when I told her avocado was Benji’s first food and that he took it well. “NOnonono, I told you rice cereal first, then orange vegetables.” (She did tell me that last appointment; I guess she remembers *some* things but not others. Then continued “Avocado is too strong for his digestive system.” I was too hungry and furious with her to even rebut with the plethora of articles I read online, both research and anecdotal, suggesting that rice cereal is NOT the best option for baby’s first foods. It is the easiest (for some; personally don’t think it’s much easier to prepare than, say, mashing up an avocado) and most available. But is it the most nutritious? No. Or, that the latest research promotes starting babies on natural foods, not processed foods made of processed flour.

In fact, more research are suggesting that white rice cereal is not nutritious as baby’s first foods. Read more about why Rice Cereal is not a good first food for babies from the WhiteOut campaign by Dr Greene, a Pediatrician and Clinical Professor at Stanford University.

What about the recent NYtimes article that mentioned that Pediatricians in France recommend babies first foods like leek soup, endive, spinach, and beet. Completely natural, and delicious! I may not know my veggie color groups very well but they certainly don’t sound like orange vegetables to me.

Anecdotally, a friend, whose husband is a Pediatrician, also started her daughter on natural foods instead of rice cereal. And yes, her husband didn’t think rice cereal was necessarily the best first food.

My choices were guided by information from Dr Greene as well as other helpful sources I read on kellymom.com, Le Leche League International, and wholesomebabyfood.com . Dr Greene suggested in place of rice cereal, to start babies on sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados. If it is necessary to feed babies cereal, he recommended organic whole grain cereals instead. The Ped we saw also said to feed Benji veggies first, then fruits, to prevent babies from developing a “sweet tooth,” something which, from what I read from numerous places, is a myth, since breastmilk is already naturally sweet!

Since Benji’s weight gain has been slow, and since the Pediatrician was insistent he goes on rice cereal, I met her halfway and decided to give Organic Barley Cereal for his second taste of solids. We’re into day #7 of solids and so far, Benji seems to really enjoy both the avocado and barley cereal and has not had obvious allergic reactions to them. He opens his mouth whenever the spoon is near his mouth, and has now learned to keep the food in (lost most of the tongue thrust reflex) and swallow it. He also loves holding the spoon and trying to put it in his mouth (like he does with everything else that comes within his reach! Heh.).

Our next trial will be sweet potato and then yam. It’s all very exciting. I have also spent the last couple days reading up recipes for homemade baby foods on Anabel Karmel and am looking forward to trying them in the next few months. However, because we do highly suspect food allergies due to his eczema, I will be extremely cautious with foods we will introduce and try down the line such as beef (my brother was allergic to it as a kid) and seafood (my dad is mildly allergic to shellfish).

In addition to the solids, I have also added one extra milk feed in the day, which Benji seems to be taking quite well, too. We shall see if his weight will continue to blossom. I don’t expect it to increase dramatically the way it did in the first couple months and since both me and my husband are skinny people (we’re Asians. Shrug.) a chubby kid is not expected.

Oh, and yes, we are not going back to that same Pediatrician again!