Just Us 

In a nutshell, our helper is on home leave for 10 days so we have to do things a bit more efficiently now. This is especially so for Nat’s food prep because he eats 4 solid meals a day with a fruit dessert after lunch & dinner (that’s like 6 meals) so I can’t possibly be steaming his food every other hour haha!

So in the morning while Nat is taking his 1st nap, that’s when all the ingredients for his subsequent meals are prepped.

Top-left: steamed fruit combo for dessert after lunch and dinner

Bottom-left: butternut squash and carrots chopped and ready to cook

Right: throw everything into the rice cooker to cook congee

Previously our helper and my mom would do his food prep 3-4x a day before his meals but seriously… I can’t afford the time for that on the days I’m alone with him. However, we only pre-chop the vegetables and steam the fruits for that day so the freshness is not so affected.

Anyhow, I quite like this situation. It reminds me of the weeks just after Nat was born when we both handled everything in the way we know best – divide and conquer.  No doubt the floor doesn’t get cleaned everyday but twice a week is fine with me.

– CK

Get plain not greek 

So as Nat starts to try a whole host of new foods now that he’s crossed the 8 months mark, we’re also learning how to adjust between strictly adhering to guidelines by feeding him 0 sugar vs what is palatable and edible. Lesson learnt for yogurt – plain is fine! No need to go 100% pure and unsweetened (Greek), which should be reserved for cooking.

That was Nat yesterday when we tried Greek yogurt mixed with fruit. He finished the portion but didn’t really like it. Then yesterday was his 8 month vaccination so we checked with his PD and she says plain is fine, babies probably don’t know how to appreciate Greek yogurt yet.

So today was much better because we used the normal plain yogurt (Emmi), my fave brand and mixed it with one donut peach.

So now we know…

  • Since the yogurt is plain and has a sour taste, the accompanying fruit should have a strong flavor i.e. peaches, bananas etc. to make it palatable for baby
  • Plain yogurt also has some traces of sugar in it under its ‘carbohydrates’ label but nothing too high to worry about

Now that Nat has cleared the yogurt test, we have another thing to feed him for his breakfast besides mixing fruits with rice cereal and baby oatmeal cereal.

Next up: a few days of baby french beans with his porridge because we forgot to test them when he was 6-8 months old before letting him try… wait for it… beef & potato hash on Sat! Yummy.

– CK

Nasal Congestion (again)

The Nat is standing now…

I guess one good thing about my part-time arrangement is that when both the father and son are not well, I am available to bring them to the Doctor. This AM, my mom brought Nat and I to his PD while HJ slept in then in the PM, I brought HJ to the Doctor. This time round, Nat started having nose irritation over the weekend but we don’t know where he caught it from as none of us had any symptoms. Thereafter, he probably passed it to HJ. Anyhow, it doesn’t matter – those two are always passing germs around.

It’s quite strange actually because I observed that whenever HJ gets sick, Nat will sure catch something a few days later but not when I get sick? The last time I was unwell in May, I passed the germs to HJ first then after that, Nat started coughing (2 weeks after I first came down with the flu). Likewise, Nat has been having runny nose and nasal congestion for the past 3-4 days but I feel fine… can’t say the same for HJ though who succumbed to the flu quite fast.

As today was a walk-in appointment, we still have to go back to the PD next Monday for Nat’s 8 month routine vaccination.

Anyhow, since we went down today, we got new instructions from the PD with regard to food testing.

  • She isn’t worried that his daily milk intake isn’t consistently above 500ml – some random days when he really doesn’t feel like drinking much, he takes about 400ml+ of formula.
  • I guess there’s nothing to worry about because he’s gaining weight normally (9.1kg) and eats 4x semi-solid/solid meals a day!?
  • She also told us that we can start testing the following new foods:
  1. Beef
  2. Egg
  3. Cheese (?!)
  4. Yogurt
  • On top of the above list, I checked with the nurse and am going to add blueberries and plums.

Looks like we are in for quite an exciting month ahead with new foods and more milestones. I can already imagine one recipe that we can try in the next 2 weeks – beef potato hash (imagine it with cheese!) … so yummy.

– CK

Menu Planning

A glimpse into what happens on some Friday nights – intense/messy menu editing for Nat… just because we’re still testing new food items while also trying to give him some variety within a routine. This practice only became a bit more complicated after he started having 4x meals a day (with milk inbetween). Now as he is approaching 8 months, the rate of trying new food items have also somewhat slowed down. That’s not much of an issue really since his list of foods is quite extensive already so now it’s mostly about tweaking his menu based on what foods go well with each other.

So here’s some tried and tested porridge recipes that seems to be tasty for Nat between 6-8 months.

  • FISH 
  1. Salmon belly + seaweed (wakame) + tofu
  2. Salmon belly + spinach + winter melon
  3. Threadfin/cod + butternut squash + carrots
  4. Threadfin/cod + spinach + sweet potato
  5. Any of the above fish + broccoli + butternut squash
  • MEAT
  1. Minced chicken/pork + butternut squash + carrots
  2. Minced chicken/pork + butternut squash + peas
  3. Minced chicken/pork + sweet potato + spinach
  4. Minced chicken/pork + broccoli + carrots/winter melon

* Those underlined have been known to cause some wind if given too much so each time, only one such ingredient is added into the porridge and not in large amounts.

Usually, any ‘heavy’ flavours are balanced out with 1-2 vegetables. Butternut squash features quite a lot in Nat’s meals because it’s his favourite so whenever there is a stronger and not so nice-smelling flavour such as peas or cauliflower, butternut squash is featured in the meal.

For non-porridge recipes involving meat, I found these to be quite delicious but we stopped after 2 weeks and switched his dinners to porridge after discovering that he is still not full whenever he has a non-porridge meal in the evenings.

  • Non-porridge MEAT combinations
  1. Chicken/pork + butternut squash or carrots + peas + peach or apricot or apples –> the perk of a non-porridge meat meal is that it can be combined with a fruit for added taste/sweetness and balance vis-a-vis the vegetables.

Actually, most of the time, I plan his meals according to what I think I would feel like eating if I were him haha and I guess I’m the kind of person who likes some variety within a standard menu. 

As such, one meal combination for lunch/dinner is repeated over 2 days before I mix up the fish/vegetable combinations for variety.

Then I realize it’s pretty much like adult meals i.e. pork goes well with apple, sweet potato or pumpkin/squash while chicken goes well with peach and nectarines. So I figured that if it would taste pleasant for me, the same may apply to Nat.

Some useful guiding questions I found myself thinking about include:

a. Are there too many days that a ‘gassy’ food item is being given? i.e. sweet potato, broccoli. It can then be given on alternate days or at most, two days in a row. 

b. Are strong flavours balanced out with a lighter flavour? Like fish generally has a strong smell so the vegetables chosen should not clash with it but instead, compliment it.

c. Is the ingredient more suited for breakfast/lunch or dinner? i.e. bananas also cause wind so it is advisable to feed in the AM, before 3pm to prevent any indigestion issues. Nat’s PD also advised against giving sweet potatoes + broccoli + yam (typically ‘gassy’ foods for dinner. 

Can’t wait for the next stage of 8-10 month foods that he can try. It just gets more exciting as they grow older.

– CK

Porridge Recipes

Yesterday was Nat’s 7 month vaccination appointment – he received 2 jabs. One for flu and another one I can’t recall. Anyhow, in typical Nat-fashion, there was no fever so yay. The more facepalm thing was that we now have to give him 3-4 meals a day, with fish/pork/chicken porridge for lunch and dinner respectively and still drink 500ml+ milk a day (between meals). So yes I spent last night planning his daily menu for the rest of June :0 

So basically in a day his food routine is now as such: 

7am: wake up milk feed (70 to 90ml)

8am: breakfast rice cereal with a fruit (30ml milk mixed inside) 

<NAP> approx. 1 hour 

1045/11am: fish/pork/chicken porridge with 1-2 vegetable combos i.e. sweet potatoes, spinach, peas, carrots 

12pm: pre-nap milk top-up (30ml) 

<NAP> approx 1.5 hours unless we go out then it’s a cat nap 

230pm: afternoon milk feed (90-120ml) 

3pm: fruit purée teatime snack 

<NAP> usually the shortest one around 30-45min

530/545pm: fish/pork/chicken porridge with 1-2 vegetable combos (just no sweet potato or broccoli in the evening as they cause wind) 

730pm: pre-sleep milk feed (approx 90ml) 

10/1030pm: last milk feed (approx 90ml) 

Then while reading up, I realize that baby food recipes are very similar to our adult food ones. For example, pork goes well with sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin and apple. Fish goes well with spinach, wakame (seaweed), broccoli, sweet potato. 

So to add to Nat’s list of foods (below), we’ll be trying mainly chicken and pork for the next 2 weeks. 

Carbohydrates: 

  1. Rice cereal
  2. Oatmeal cereal (best mixed with fruit)
  3. Porridge
  4. Brown rice (trying next week) 

Proteins:

  1. Fish – cod, salmon, threadfin 
  2. Minced chicken (trying next week)
  3. Minced pork (trying next week) 

Vegetables: 

  1. Sweet potato
  2. White potato 
  3. Yam 
  4. Spinach
  5. Broccoli
  6. Cauliflower 
  7. Butternut squash (his no.1 pick)
  8. Carrots 
  9. Peas (his strange favorite?!)
  10. Beetroot (trying next week) 
  11. Wakame seaweed (trying next week) 

Fruits:

  1. Apple
  2. Pear
  3. Banana
  4. Avocado
  5. Peach
  6. Papaya 
  7. Grapes 

Exciting and yummy times 🙂 

– CK 

7 month matters 

So Nat turned 7 months just as we went for a 4 day holiday in Hanoi, leaving him with my mom and helper. Thank God all went very smoothly – his daily routines were pretty much the same with some bonuses like going along for park visits with the dog. The only exception was – Nat started drinking much less milk for his morning and last night feed. So now Nat is on a 4-meal plan with milk inbetween, in line with a Heath Promotion Board (HPB) article that we came across. 


While we were away, pics of Nat at mealtimes, sent to us by my mom was something we looked forward to. That lump of orange in his bowl is actually threadfin porridge with grated carrots. 

So anyway, back to the question – why is Nat not interested in his milk as much as before? 

We know that babies who have started solids still need at least 500ml of milk daily (formula and/or breastmilk). 

Nat usually takes 550-600ml in a day but last week, he just didn’t want to take more than 80ml for his last feed at 10pm. Normally, he would drink between 120-150ml in order to last till the morning. 

Then I wonder… 

Maybe it’s time to change to stage 2 milk? 

We have not switched him yet as Nat’s PD asked us to let him continue on stage 1 for 1-2 more months (we forgot to ask why) so at his next vaccination appt, we’re going to enquire if he can move on to stage 2. 

Maybe purée/solids twice a day isn’t enough? 

So after he refused to drink milk for his 7am feed, my mom mixed his milk with some rice cereal, and he had no issues with that. Then she came across an article in the newspaper about how much babies above 6 months should eat. We basically have to help him structure his meals such that he has breakfast, lunch, teatime and dinner!?


We then incorporated the guidelines in the table above into Nat’s schedule so for the past two days, he’s been having 4 meals with milk top-ups given before his naps and after his solid meals. 

7am: 60ml-90ml milk + rice cereal 

  • Previously he would take 90-120ml of milk but this has not been the case since last week.
  • Initially, I thought maybe his last night feed is too much so he isn’t really hungry in the morning but he has also dropped his demand for milk at 10/1030pm. 
  • However, with the rice cereal, he doesn’t reject the food so I’ll have to check with his PD why this may be the case?

1030/11am: Porridge (with fish/vegetable) for weekdays, and oatmeal (with a fruit/vegetable) for weekends 

  • His favorite is fish porridge with either grated pumpkin or carrots 
  • We’re going to mix with grated sweet potato next week 
  • Oatmeal cereal is best taken with a fruit mixed inside for taste 

12pm: pre-nap milk top-up 

230/3pm: afternoon milk feed followed by fruit purée for tea time 

  • This was and still is his biggest milk feed via bottle between 120-160ml depending on his extent of hunger 

530pm: evening purée (1 main vegetable base mixed with either a fruit or another vegetable) + 1 teaspoon rice cereal & 2 scoops milk powder 

  • When Nat first started on solids, we offered 1 main vegetable but we have been giving him combinations of vegetables and fruits for the last few weeks.
  • His evening meal is quite standard as the recommended vegetables that don’t give gas problems are butternut squash, carrots and peas. 

730pm: pre-bedtime milk top-up

10pm: last milk feed 

  • This is the puzzling one that seems to be dropping on its own. 
  • Last week, a mere 90-120ml could last him until the next morning. However, if he takes anything less than that, he will be peckish at 4/5am. 

In summary, this adjustment to his feeding schedule was an interesting development that took place while we were overseas. It also just proves that nothing is too big that free wifi and whatsapp cannot solve. 

Till our next couple getaway 🙂 

– CK 

Fishy Business

So ever since the PD told us to start Nat on fish, we’ve tried 2 types – threadfin and salmon. Cod’s coming up next week. We steam the fish, mash it up and serve with rice porridge. I know, HJ always jokes that Nat’s menu sounds so much more appetizing and healthier that his own. The salmon test was interesting though as we noted that Nat prefers a certain type of salmon meat – those near the fatty belly! 


So this picture was taken today, the final day of food testing with salmon belly meat. Nat took to it quite well and finished the bowl. This was after the decision to experiment and try salmon belly meat. 

Initially, we gave Nat normal salmon fillet but, as you can tell from the picture below, he didn’t really like it. That was a bit strange because he had no issues with threadfin fillet the week before. 


I could also see that the meat texture was more flaky, abit like tuna, so perhaps swallowing it is also more difficult compared to the softer texture of salmon belly meat. As a result, Nat only took a few spoons. 

So thanks to today’s experiment, we now know that it’s not salmon in general that he doesn’t like but he prefers the salmon belly that is more fatty and softer. Yay. 

It’s like the food tasting never ends. We still have a very long list of green leafy vegetables that we’ve not tried but this is what makes it exciting I guess. 

The combination that I currently can’t wait for is salmon, tofu and spinach porridge. Sounds delicious 🙂 

– CK 

6 months and counting… 

So on my first day back at work, Nat also had his 6th month vaccination appointment. His PD then told us we could introduce protein into Nat’s diet! He can also try broccoli, cauliflower and spinach. I think his menu is more exciting (and healthier) than ours. 

So after doing some reading, I’ve decided to delay broccoli until he’s almost 7 months because it can cause gas in babies. 

In terms of what types of foods babies can take at each stage, this article organizes it nicely in a table. 

So far, there’s 3 categories of food that Nat has tried between 4-6 months, they are grains, vegetables and fruits. 

Grains: rice cereal, oatmeal cereal 

Vegetables: sweet potato (Japanese & Australian varieties), yam, carrots, potatoes

Fruits: pumpkin (local and butternut squash), banana, avocado, apple, pear 

Moving forward, these are the new types of foods that we can introduce as advised by Nat’s PD : 

  1. Fish (threadfin, salmon, cod) – I came across this that explains the types of fish that are better suited for baby food
  2. Cauliflower  
  3. Broccoli 
  4. Spinach 

In terms of how milk is balanced out with puree/porridge, the former still constitutes the bulk of Nat’s diet. 

In a day, he has a total of 5 feeds, 3 are full milk feeds while 2 consists of puréed food. 

Below is Nat’s feeding schedule between 4-6 months in summary.

645/7am: wake up milk feed (120ml)

10/1030am: mid-morning purée (3-4 ounces) followed by a milk top-up (60ml) an hour later after his bath and just before his 2nd nap only if he is still hungry 
230pm: full milk feed (150-180ml) 

530pm: evening purée (3-4 ounces) followed by a milk top-up (60-90ml) an hour later only if he’s peckish 

10/1030pm: final milk feed (160ml) to last him until 6/630am the next day 

I think we would also let Nat try feeding himself via putting bite-sized food pieces into his mouth. So far, we’ve given him baby biscuits and fruits i.e. half a banana to gnaw at. Most of the time, the food ends up everywhere else but his mouth. Owell, we all have to start somewhere right. 

What I find amusing is that ever since I started planning Nat’s menu, we also started eating fruits on a daily basis haha. 

Exciting (and healthy) times ahead. 

– CK 

Nat @ 5 months

We just went for Nat’s 5th month vaccine… in a nutshell it was quite a funny session with his PD asking “Aiyo so heavy, what have you been feeding him?” Of which, HJ replied that he thought Nat wasn’t gaining weight fast enough (he’s 8.2kg), which I think it’s alright? Then, his PD laughed and responded that Nat is chubby enough haha all this while squeezing his thighs.

Nat the drool monster while waiting for his turn


So the trip to the PD also answered some of my questions, especially with regard to his puree feeds.

In summary:

  1. We can increase his puree feed to twice a day – once in the mid-morning and once in the middle of the afternoon. However, as Nat usually naps from 230/3-5pm, we can give the purée once he wakes up. 
  2. More importantly, what kind of puree can we give in the evenings? Sweet potato & yam is no no because it can cause gas and lead to digestion issues. Hence, rice cereal, pumpkin and carrots are the safest options.
  3. Order of feed should be puree followed by milk top-up, with the latter to be adjusted according to how much puree he actually consumes. For example, if 4 to 5 ounces of rice cereal is consumed (a whole bowl), then he would be too full to finish anymore milk. Of course things don’t always go according to plan – if baby is too hungry at 6pm, need to offer 20-30ml of milk first, then start the puree. They basically have to be in a good, calm mood to eat their semi-solids.
  4. Since we had already dropped the 11pm dreamfeed quite early on, our PD told us to keep the last 10pm feed so that Nat won’t have any early morning awakenings. In summary, her guideline was 2 puree feeds (10am and 6pm), supplemented by milk and 3 full milk feeds (7am, 2pm and 10pm) over 24 hours. *Nat’s full feed now is quite fixed at 180ml. 

Here comes the exciting part…

In terms of ‘new’ foods that he can try before his next appointment, these have been added to the existing list:

  • Avocado
  • Oatmeal cereal
  • Banana (starting tomorrow!)

This is his menu for the next few days:

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 7.18.00 pm

  • I chose not to give bananas for 3 days straight just in case he gets gassy. 
  • The yam this week is from Thailand and is a lighter shade of purple as opposed to last week’s variant from Japan, which costs twice as much and is a very dark purple.
  • On those days he’s trying out a new food item like the banana and Thailand yam, we’ll be giving him something he has already tried and tested in the evening so if anything goes wrong, we’ll know that the culprit is the new food since he has no issues with rice cereal, pumpkin or carrot.

Then at the appointment, we forgot to ask if Nat can take gripe water in case he gets another gassy episode. Oh well, we’ll leave it until his next vaccination then.

All in all, we’re just glad that all is well with Nat and that he’s getting a chance to try different foods, whilst still taking the bulk of his milk and sleeping well. The two occasions he woke up at 2am and 5am respectively was no joke man. I think we have forgotten how it felt like to wake up in the middle of the night. Looking back, I don’t know how we survived in Nov and Dec last year. 

– CK

High Chair Feeds

As a conclusion to our high chair issue, we bought the IKEA one after quite a number of our friends recommended it. At under $30, most restaurants also use it so it will feel like home for Nat. Currently, we didn’t fix the table yet but I guess we’ll do it soon once he starts finger-feeding himself maybe around 6 months?

Nat on his high chair eating his 10am puree

So far so good…

The perks:

  • The high-backing of the chair offers good back support
  • Price tag is very friendly – the seat costs $29.90 while the cushion is an extra $9.90
  • The inside of the cushion is actually inflatable so you can adjust the firmness of it by blowing in more air or simply letting air escape
  • Easy to assemble, as with most IKEA items

Downsides:

  • While the cushion cover can be washed, it gets stained quite easily – depending on how messy the kiddo is
  • Chair can’t be folded/kept away like some other models in the market but if it’s used 2x a day, then makes sense to leave it near the dining area, tucked at one corner

Speaking of puree, Nat was supposed to try bananas this weekend before his 5 month PD appointment tomorrow but the bananas my mom bought still need 1-2 days to ripen. As such, we’ll KIV that till tomorrow.

In terms of what he has tried…

  1. Rice cereal: comforting food
  2. Pumpkin: the best in terms of texture, really really soft
  3. Carrot: so-so as it not as soft/smooth as pumpkin
  4. Sweet potato: can be quite dry and it caused some gassy problems but no adverse allergic reaction
  5. Yam (Japanese sweet potato): really dark purple in colour but after boiling for 30min, texture is very soft

Once we ascertained that Nat had no issues with the above items, we then gave him the individual vegetables with rice cereal and also mixed two vegetables mixed – pumpkin and carrot puree.

Next week, we’ll be trying the banana and I bought a more familiar type of yam (light purple) vs Japanese yam.

Perhaps at tomorrow’s appointment, Nat’s PD will tell us to up his puree to 2 meals a day? Once in the morning and once in evening? The latter is a whole new ballgame because one needs to give the right food and at the right time, in order to ensure that milk isn’t rejected/refused in the process.

We shall see. Exciting times planning his schedule and menu 🙂

– CK