Having a baby is all kinds of wonderful and brutal mixed up into one crazy shitstorm of a few months. What do you think? Did I describe that accurately? It’s such a unique and complex experience that is difficult to describe accurately in a few lines. When you become a mother, there’s a lot of talk about survival. And, let’s be honest: that’s what it can be about many days--just getting by. That said, after having my second baby a couple of months ago, I feel better equipped to handle the ups and downs of newborn life and am pretty committed to creating a life that looks a lot more like thriving than surviving. I want to share my own lessons learned and tips to thrive through these crazy days in hopes that it can help other new moms live even a little above that survival baseline and maybe even create a life with her baby that she always envisioned.
#1 Get your feeds in and manage the daytime sleep
This is probably my most specific tip and may not win me any popularity contests depending on your parenting style or school of thought. But I’m ok with it, because I can honestly say that this rule helped me stay sane with both of my babes and, because of that and the nature of this post, I can’t not share it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love baby sleep. And I don’t just mean babies that sleep (although, ultimately that is what we’re aiming for here). I mean I love learning the ins and outs of baby sleep. There is a boatload of literature and resources on this topic and it can be difficult to figure out how you want to approach sleep and how to get your baby to actually do it. But, a common thread I’ve found amongst most sleep resources and professionals is this: have your baby consume most of their feeds during the day. I’m no expert, but this screams logic to me. If your baby consumes the majority of their food during the day, they are less likely to be asking for it all night long. So, I always suggest starting there. Feed every 2-3 hours. Now, this inevitably affects daytime sleep. Sometimes, in order to ensure your baby gets in all of their feeds, you have to wake them from naps (gasp!), thus also controlling their daytime sleep. And here’s the thing: another concept that makes sense to me is that a baby who sleeps all day long will, at some point, sleep less during the night. I know this is the part of my belief system that doesn’t always sit so well with every parent. But, hey, this is my blog. And because I want to provide something really practical and actionable, here’s a rough daily feeding schedule that I used with both of my children from very early days (once they had reached birth weight after that initial loss), and spoiler alert: both of my kiddos have always been awesome night sleepers. By no means are they perfect, but they’re really good. I’m not saying that this is why… but I’m also not saying it’s not. If you’ve never done something before, and you don’t have anyone to tell you where to start, it can feel like driving without a road map. A schedule gives you a starting point, and thus, a little bit of confidence.
Disclaimer: I would use this schedule to base my day off, but would always feed before listed times if baby was hungry, of course (and Austin usually is!). Every day looks a little different, because, of course, babies are not robots.
Feed: 11:30am (top up)
Feed: 6:30pm (sometimes with top up bottle of expressed milk, as supply is lower at end of day)
For my children, this schedule resulted in a maximum of two night feeds that quickly turned into one. Totally manageable for me. Of course, there are a number of circumstances where implementing a daytime feeding schedule combined with appropriate wake windows will not automatically lead to better nighttime sleep. But assuming there are no impeding issues with you and/or your babe, it might be a solid place to start.
I like to follow an age appropriate schedule for daytime sleep limits with lots of flexibility, but, because I don’t feel like getting stoned (people can be a bit touchy about this topic… especially when they find out I wake my babies from time to time), I’m going to leave those explanations to the experts. Here are three of my favourite sleep resources:
Little Ones Sleep Guides: a simple online purchase that helped me structure my day-to-day routine based on age, while helping me implement solid sleep habits in my babes from the beginning.
Baby’s Best Sleep: Amanda’s phone consult saved me during a particularly challenging regression. Her very “real talk” approach on Instagram is appreciated by all moms in the trenches of baby sleep, and her podcast, Slumber Party, covers an array of sleep and parenting related topics.
Taking Cara Babies: Great tips on Instagram, a super informative blog, and available online guides/courses.
I have personally used each of these sleep resources in different capacities and have found value in all of them at different stages of my babies’ lives. I think there is space for a lot of experts in the baby sleep world, because different perspectives and approaches will feel right for different people. It may take some time to feel it out, but always trust your instincts when it comes to the needs of your babe. That will help you decide who you align with best if and when you decide you need baby sleep support.
#2 Ask for and accept help
I admit that, for baby number one, I was not good at this. If you follow my blog, you know I suffered from postpartum anxiety with my daughter, and I think this is primarily why accepting and asking for help was difficult. I didn’t know how to step outside of my anxiety long enough to let anyone in. This would mean potentially losing control of the situation, and I couldn’t handle that.
But this time is different. Oh baby, is it different. I am filled with such a sense of confidence and calm and thank my lucky stars for it every day. I should clarify that confidence doesn’t mean knowing it all. Far from it. It comes from knowing that you aren’t likely to screw anything up too badly, and believing in the power of your instincts to lead the way. This has afforded me to accept any help thrown my way (within reason). You want to watch my baby while I run to the store? Yes please. You are offering to come over so my husband and I can go out to an event? Absolutely. Also, are you available to watch the baby while I go to the dentist? Your loved ones want to help you, but they don’t always know how. They may worry about crossing boundaries or stepping on toes. So, even if they aren’t offering up their assistance, ask for it! They love you and want to support you. I promise. Be confident in this and use your resources. You will be so thankful for the sanity it provides because sometimes you just need to step away and accomplish something not baby related, or simply hit the reset button. Don’t tell yourself any stories about being a nuisance and don’t be a damn marter. No one is going to give you a medal for it and it’s your family who will suffer the consequences. As the saying goes, it takes a village.
If you don’t have close family or friends who can help you out, consider hiring a postpartum doula if that’s an option for you. Many people think of doula’s as support for mom and dad during labour and delivery, but what many people don’t realize is that many doulas helps parents in the home during those early months, post-birth. They can support by helping with the baby, doing household chores like laundry, cooking meals, helping with older siblings, etc. This is a really incredible support option, particularly for parents who don’t have friends and family available.
#3 Get outside
If you’re having a rough day with your baby--lots of crying, won’t nap, nothing getting done-- and you’re left feeling drained from being on this hamster wheel of soothing and settling, getting outside can be an incredibly powerful reset. Those difficult days leave you all up in your head and it can be hard to escape. A change of scenery, outside of your four walls, is often all you need to shift into a completely different headspace. I encourage you to leave the house every day. It doesn’t have to be for long, but you have to leave. An article written for Harvard Health Publishing referenced a 2015 study that looked at the brain activity of those that walked in a natural setting vs. an urban one, and found that the subjects who spent time in nature had “lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.” These benefits are very powerful, particularly for the newly postpartum woman, often walking on a narrow tightrope of mental health. If it’s crappy weather, go to the mall and walk around, drive to a cafe and grab a coffee with your baby in the carrier. The act of simply getting outside of your house can completely shift the outcome of your day. The sooner you are able to follow through with this rule consistently, the sooner you will feel like you are doing more than just ‘getting through the day’ with your baby. You will quickly find more enjoyment in your daily routine as a whole.
#4 Find Your Tribe
I’ve written about this topic before, which is a good indication of how powerful I think it is. Historically, women moved and acted in tribes. They were never isolated and asked to care for a child on their own. We are wired to want to support and be supported by other women. So it can feel incredibly isolating to be a new mother caring for their infant alone all day. If you are lucky enough to have friends also on maternity leave or home with their baby at the same time as you, this is a huge advantage. Set up weekly playdates and rotate houses. Have coffee and snacks while your little ones kick around on the floor or take a nap. You can laugh (and cry) together about all of the ridiculousness that is motherhood. It’s incredibly therapeutic to let it all out, the good and the bad, with other people in the same boat, and allows you to escape the daily monotony of being alone at home with your babe.
If you don’t have this automatic mom power group in place, then you have to put in some work. Decide on a few activities that you would enjoy doing that include your baby and tap into the mom groups in your community. If you don’t know what those are or how to find them, ask around (either in person or on local social media groups). You will be amazed at how quickly other women flock to get you up and running (because that’s what we do for each other!). I really wish I had done this sooner on my first mat leave, as I wasn’t lucky enough to have a group of friends close by also on leave. But, around the time Ayla was six months, I joined a mom and baby yoga class, a music class, and a creative play class. I also met another new mom and we set up weekly play/coffee dates. Having these weekly activities got me out of the house, provided new stimulation for my daughter and introduced me to a group of incredible women. This completely changed the trajectory of my mat leave. I enjoyed our days more and made friendships with women whom I am still close with now and commiserate with on a regular basis. This time around I was much quicker to jump into the mom and baby community, but being a bit busier now, I was very picky with how I wanted to spend my energy. I decided being active was what filled my cup the most, so I sought out workout classes that allowed me to have baby in tow and they became a regular part of my weekly schedule. I love working out, so this was a natural move for me, but I get just as much out of these meetups because of the connection it provides with other moms. I leave every class feeling fulfilled and uplifted. These are emotions I connect a lot more with thriving than simply survival.
#5 Know that self care is mandatory, not a luxury.
(and remember you are more than a mother)
There’s something about moms in particular that make us feel like if we do anything for ourselves, we’re being self indulgent, and inevitably, feelings of guilt tarnish the very little “me” time we get. Stop viewing self care as a luxury. It needs to be a mandatory part of your week. Not month. Week. Maybe day. Taking care of yourself benefits several areas of your life. When you put your own oxygen mask on first, so to speak, it ensures you have the ability to take care of your loved ones. It’s true on airplanes and it’s true in your daily life. You can’t possibly give to your children or your partner if you’re empty. So fill that cup, damnitt, and if you’re having a difficult time getting this done, refer back to tip #2.
It’s incredibly important that our children see us take a break from mothering to care for ourselves. We are modelling the act of self care when we do this and communicating to them the importance of it in their own lives. I don’t want my daughter thinking that my only job is to be her mother and that I don’t value anything else. Because it is so far from the truth. You were someone before you were a mother and that person still exists. So step back from your daily duties and find some solitude. Remember who that woman was before she birthed her children and go spend some time with her. I am regretful that it took me so long to wholeheartedly embrace this philosophy with my daughter. But am thankful that this reflection is has allowed me to honour it now.
For me, I have some non negotiables on a weekly basis. Once I passed that six week mark, I needed time to workout a minimum of 3 times a week in order to feel like I have enough gas in the tank to give to my family without feeling drained. Sometimes I work out with a group of other moms, babies in tow. Sometimes I work out in my basement over nap or after the kids are in bed. Other times I will go to the gym in the evenings. Working out is an immediate reminder of who I was before I was a mom and it’s what I still love to do for me. Something else that takes minimal planning and that I find pretty easy to do is take a nightly shower. Basic hygiene may not sound revolutionary, but there’s something very therapeutic about that quiet time in a hot shower at the end of a long day and enjoying some solitude before bed. This is a simple daily self-care activity that refreshes and relaxes me.
So find your mandatory, non negotiable self-care routines, ensure your partner and support system are very clear on what they are, and make them happen every week. At the beginning of this year, Dave and I made individual plans that mapped out our ideal daily, monthly and weekly routines. This was an organized and clear way to communicate to each other what we needed in order to be our best selves. We talked about the items on each other’s lists and work really hard to support each other in making them happen. Not only does it allow us to parent better, but it makes us better partners.
Taking care of yourself is not a luxury. If you want to thrive in the rest of your roles, it’s priority.
Not surprisingly, when I asked other parents on my Instagram to send me their top tips to crushing life with a newborn, I was sent some great advice. This just proves once again how powerful the parent community is and how you should be tapping into it on the regular (not just moms, because I had a few dads toss their hats in the ring as well).
Much of the advice echoed a lot of what I have included above, so you can trust that these tips are working for a lot of parents out there. And because I couldn’t pick just one additional tip to include, here are some of my favourites that made their way into my DMs:
It’s only temporary.
This is so beyond true when it comes to babies. I remember hitting a difficult phase with Ayla and thinking, “Is this forever? Is this the new normal?” It isn’t. Nothing is. So, whether you’re in a good phase or a difficult one, know that it will pass.
Have a to-do list of chores ready for anyone who asks how they can help.
Such a good idea that had never crossed my mind! You want to help? Here’s my list. Pick whatever you’d like!
Be kind to yourself and lower your expectations. Take it one day at a time.
I combined a few here, but it seemed appropriate. Have grace for yourself. You are doing a HUGE job while likely adjusting to the biggest role change of your life. Your day-to-day is bound to look very different. Embrace that and work towards being ok with it.
So, that’s it. I feel like this is a solid foundation to get you up and running towards the life you always dreamed of living with your baby. Even though some days it will inevitably be about simply surviving, it doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t be!) like that all of the time. Be an active participant in creating the life that you want as you travel through those first few crazy months with your baby. It will all be over before you know it, and although challenging at times, you’re not going to want to miss it.
Six weeks ago, we welcomed the fourth member of our family earth side and, needless to say, we’re pretty smitten. Austin Andrew Mundy arrived on December 22nd at 6:58am, weighing 7lbs 6oz. We didn’t have a “plan” that we were hoping would pan out when it came to the birth of either of our children. It was really about getting in there and seeing what felt right, and, of course, making sure baby was safe and happy. That said, we had a few ideas of what could happen this time around, based on some consistent family history. Myself, my mother, and my grandmother were all born at home due to precipitous birth--in other words, an extremely fast labour. So, with this top of mind, although we were hoping to make it to the hospital before delivery, we had a soft home birth plan… you know… just in case (it involves a lot of shower curtains).
We had planned a family Christmas celebration with my inlaws, which included a full weekend of events and a sleepover party. I had been experiencing inconsistent contractions here and there in the days prior, so we threw the hospital bags in the car, prepared for anything. Around 5pm on Saturday, while sipping Perrier and snacking on horderves, I started to notice some light cramping in fairly regular intervals. Looking back, I’m not sure why I wasn’t concerned that I wouldn’t just pop my baby out in the bathroom of his Grandparents, given all of the discussion that had taken place around this possibility. I guess my intuition told me otherwise. As the evening progressed and contractions increased, it was clear that I would, in fact, have the full labour experience once again. But for how long was still unknown. I wasn’t even convinced it was really happening. However, around 6pm, I looked at my sister and said, “I think I’m in labour.”
The postpartum experience, health choices during pregnancy and the authentic share
The other night, I had a scheduled call with my naturopath which left me in a very reflective state (our appointments have a habit of doing that). We talked about a few interesting topics and I thought I would share some of our chat here, including my own reflections on our conversation. And, for anyone interested, I’m going to provide a little preggo update in terms of my nutrition and activity during T3.
Oh hey--still here. It’s crazy how I can enjoy something like writing so much and still make so little time for it. This seems to be the theme of motherhood, I’ve found. As much as I preach putting on your own oxygen mask first, I have to admit that, when time is precious, I tend to choose physical activity and time with my girlfriends before my other hobbies (blogging being one of them, etc.). My guess is because it takes a lot of brain power and I feel like that’s not something I have a surplus of these days! All I know is that I hope a second maternity leave comes with a little extra writing time.
… Did I mention I’m pregnant? Numero dos is on the way and we are pretty stoked to announce it’s a boy! It’s the first grandson for both sides of our family and we couldn’t be more excited about it. That said, excitement isn’t the only emotion I’ve felt throughout this pregnancy. It definitely took me some time to wrap my head around the fact that we will soon be a family of four! I have also dealt with my fair share of mom guilt, especially knowing that Ayla isn’t really old enough to understand that she won’t be the queen of the castle anymore and is going to have to share her parents. As much as we try to explain it to her (and I do think she knows something is up) I know she doesn’t truly get what’s about to happen (and potentially thinks we’ve just changed the name for “bellybutton” to “baby”). And let’s be serious: she is going to be pissed. For a while, anyway. And then I’m hoping that she, ya know, loves her brother. I’ll keep you posted (but for real: do you think I should read at all into the fact that she wouldn't hold the pregnancy test or the sign for the photos above? It's fine, right?). That said, I’ve been working really hard not to dwell on that aspect of this life change. I really try to focus on the fact that we are so lucky to have a growing family and I know everyone’s heart will only grow with this new addition.
I was in denial for a solid month before Ayla started daycare. I just chose not to think about it. It seemed easier than dealing with how difficult it was going to be. But, inevitably, Ayla’s transition plan showed up in my inbox one day and I had to face reality: my maternity leave was over and it was time to hand my child over to someone else’s care. This entire period seems a little unfair: going back to work, sending your child to daycare for the first time and celebrating a first birthday--a glaring reminder that their infancy is somehow over. It’s a lot to process. You may not be surprised to learn that I cried every day for a week leading up to my return to work. It wasn’t the work part I was upset about; it was worrying about Ayla. Would she learn to sleep at daycare? Would they be able to meet her needs? Would she be happy? Did we make the right decision? Was she ready? Should I have extended my maternity leave and kept her at home for longer? Would she feel abandoned? All of these questions played on repeat in my head. But, inevitably, time marched forward, and before I knew it, I was dusting off my work clothes and putting my professional hat on after a year of messy buns and stretchy pants.
Ayla began eating solid foods at five and half months. We started with vegetables, slowing introducing each food group until she had tried most things by the time she was ten months old. I was thrilled that she seemed to be a great little eater, rarely turning down new foods that were offered (with the exception of broccoli). We primarily chose to follow the methods of baby led weaning, but threw a few purees into the mix as well. All in all, Ayla was exposed to numerous textures and flavours by an early age. She didn’t experience any obvious allergies or intolerances and we moved confidently forward, much to this nutrition nut’s satisfaction.
I have learned over and over again that, when it comes to babies, nothing lasts forever. If you’re going through a challenging phase, most of the time it will pass and you just need to put your head down and shoot for survival. Alternatively (and unfortunately), if you’re experiencing a good phase, learn to enjoy every moment… because there’s a good chance it won’t be sticking around either. Knowing all of this, I shouldn’t have been surprised when Ayla began to turn her nose up at most foods. It all began around 12 months (she is now 13 months). Trusty, staple foods were being left on her tray or thrown to the ground. Lunch time would result in very little food being eaten at all. Ayla began to create a rather short list of acceptable food items and before we knew it, we had entered the dreaded picky eater stage.
I thought for sure I had another year before hitting this phase of our lives that most mothers talk about. If I’m being honest, I was thinking maybe we would even avoid it altogether… you now… because I was using all of the right techniques and nutrition is "my thing". Spoiler alert: even if you think you’re “doing it right”, your child is their own person and will do exactly what they damn well please, whether you like it or not. And that is precisely what the universe is taking the opportunity to teach me, yet again. And one more note on "doing it right": we loved BLW, but Ayla’s current favourite foods are smooth or pureed. So if you went down the puree route, don’t worry too much about your baby having a “texture” issue later on. We are a prime example that it can happen either way.
So, how am I navigating this phase of Ayla’s nutrition journey? The biggest thing I do is try to keep my stress levels in check. It’s easy to be concerned about whether your child is getting all of the nutrients and calories they need when they seem to be surviving on yogurt and bananas alone. But trust that, if you remain calm, and continue to be their nutritional guide, they will get what they need. Even with a short list of acceptable food items, there are still little daily hacks that you can use to boost the nutritional profile of each meal. For example, as you may have guessed, one of the foods that Ayla is currently always down with is yogurt. Yogurt is a great food in and of itself. If you choose the right brand, it is high in fat, protein and probiotics. I flavour it with different foods so she continues to be exposed to various tastes (nut butter, unsweetened applesauce, mashed berries, cinnamon, etc.). I also always add a fat like chia seeds or hemp hearts. This is also where I toss in Ayla’s vitamins, like fish oil and D. So, although yogurt may seem like a simple food, it can be a catalyst for a ton of other nutrients. Another hack I use is adding things like grated zucchini and eggs to oatmeal! If you make your oats on the stove top, you can stir in an egg until cooked without changing the flavour or texture of the dish much at all. So, although Ayla doesn’t currently enjoy eggs on their own, I know she’s getting the benefits of this nutrition powerhouse in other ways.
The other main thing that we continue to do during this picky period is expose Ayla to a variety of foods. This can be frustrating, preparing food that you are fairly confident is going to be left on the plate. But I encourage you not to give up, because exposure is the only way they will ever have the opportunity to enjoy new food items. It may not happen tomorrow or even next month, but you can bet it won’t happen at all if they are never given the chance to try it. I try to choose foods that we are already eating for dinner and preparing anyway, or add simple foods to her plate like sliced cucumber or cheese (hey Ayla, remember when you liked both of those things three months ago? Good times). I am not a child-specific nutrition expert. My training is primarily rooted in adult nutrition. But I have done extensive reading on this topic, as it has definitely become a passion since becoming a mother, and the one word that comes up time and time again is exposure. Just keep at it. Build it and they will come…
Dave and I work very hard not to have any sort of an agenda during meal time (easier said than done). We serve Ayla a meal that includes a few (but not too many) flavours and textures, providing her with some choice. We try not bring many items of food to her mouth for her (even though we’re sure that, if she just got a small taste, she would love it!) and we try to keep the mood light. This may sound kind of dumb since Ayla is only 13 months old, but I am very confident that babies can read your mood and that she understands a great deal more than she can communicate to us. This is also just a practice that I hope we continue well beyond Ayla’s toddler years, in hopes that it will help her develop a healthy relationship with food. We eat as a family as often as possible so that she sees us enjoying a variety of foods and has proper eating behaviours modelled for her daily.
Finally, I try to keep in mind where we are in our lives right now. I just returned to work four weeks ago after a year of maternity leave, and Ayla began daycare. She cut her first teeth and has been hit with about 37 viruses since being exposed to so many new children (feels like 37, anyway). All of these things have the ability to drastically affect her appetite, which makes sense. I remember that she won’t have the same hunger levels every day, just like we don’t, and that’s ok. It will take time to fully adjust to our new routine, and once she’s accepted it as her new normal, we may see another shift in her eating.
So, that’s where we’re at! If you are experiencing anything similar with your little one, know that I feel your pain. It can be a huge source of worry and frustration as a parent. But know that you are doing great. Our children are not robots. They are likely still getting most, if not all, of what they need and their eating habits will probably change again before you know it. Remember the old saying: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Keep pushing forward, as I will be, and let’s all take a deep breath together….
Parents of picky eaters, unite!
I am always looking for fun snack recipes for Ayla. I want them to have a good nutritional profile, but they also have to be tasty for her to show any interest. I had seen lots of cookie recipes that used chickpeas in place of flour and thought that sounded like a great place to start for a winning, healthy snack. But as I began looking around, I couldn't quite find a recipe that I was happy with. So, taking ideas from a variety of sources, I got to work on my own creation. Generally speaking, this hasn't worked out for me in the past, so when I gave my first batch the official taste test, I was shocked that they were actually quite tasty! And to make things even better, these cookies are packed with fibre, and are gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. But none of this mattered if the ultimate taste tester didn't approve. Luckily, Ayla gobbled them up! Huge mom win. I can't tell you how many hours I have spent in the kitchen coming up with what that I think will be great dishes for the babe, only to have her turn her nose up at them. I needed an ego boost.
What I love most about this recipe is that you throw all of the ingredients in a blender at once, making the prep work really quick and easy. You can have these cookies prepped and cooked in less than 45 minutes. They really do resemble the peanut butter cookie of my childhood, but with more nutritious undertones. I wanted them to be baby friendly, which means low sugar (natural or otherwise) but if you are making them for yourself or an older child, there a couple of alterations you can do to make them a bit of a sweeter treat. I used 2 tablespoons of 100% maple syrup as my sweetener, plus a banana. You could up the maple syrup for an extra kick of sweetness (perhaps 1/4-1/2 cup), as well as stir in chocolate chips just before scooping them onto your cookie sheet. Chocolate chips tend to go a long way in elevating most cookie recipes. The first batch I made definitely had a more "rustic" look to them. The second time around, I used damp hands to create more uniformed shapes and pressed down on the tops with a fork to resemble a more traditional peanut butter cookie.
Find the recipe and instructions below and let me know what your family thinks!
1 can drained, rinsed chickpeas
1 cup quick oats (or oat flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 ripe banana
3/4 cup natural peanut butter (you can swap out for another nut or seed butter)
2 Tbsp 100% maple syrup (more if you want a sweeter cookie)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Optional: 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add all of the ingredients into your blender (minus chocolate chips, if using--stir in at the end) and blend until combined. The batter will be thick, so add water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed. Use a tablespoon to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown. For a more aesthetic cookie, dampen your hands to shape them and gently press down on top with a fork.
I admit that I didn’t understand the excitement that offering peas and carrots to someone for the first time could bring until I had a baby. It was actually embarrassing how excited I was to start Ayla on solid foods. So when she began to show readiness signs, the nutrition wheels immediately began turning in my head. What should her first food be? Should it be a puree or finger food? How slowly should I introduce each new food? Do I want to hold off on anything for a few months?
I am a planner and a researcher at heart. I have always liked to have all of the information before I get started on a project, and I instantly become a sponge for knowledge. My favourite research topics are health and nutrition related, and over the years, I have done a lot of related reading. But when it came to the world of baby nutrition, I was a pretty blank slate. Sure, lots of basic nutrition principles apply to all of us, regardless of age, but I knew there was a whole world of baby-specific nutrition articles and healthy mamas to be inspired by for this chapter of my life.
The first step was to decide: purees or finger foods? There are arguments for both, but in the end I decided to go with… both. Just like nutrition “labels”, I’ve never liked to limit or pigeon hole myself into one category of eating. The same was true when it came to feeding Ayla.
I loved the concept of baby led weaning (or baby led feeding, as it is sometimes referred to) for several reasons. Because baby is in charge of what goes into her mouth and how much, it fosters a positive relationship with food from the very beginning. The self feeding method supports fine motor development and offers a variety of sensory experiences. Even though constant supervision is required, of course, it frees up mom and dad’s hands so they can eat at the same time. That means that family meal time can be established from the get-go, allowing parents to model eating skills at the dinner table.
I, by nature, am not an anxious person. That was, of course, until Dave and I decided to start trying for a baby. Suddenly, I was ridden with anxiety and self doubt--a feeling that was very foreign to me. It was one of the first “goals” in my life that I could not achieve simply through focus and determination. There was, of course, the obvious act necessary to make a baby that I could participate in, but beyond that… I couldn’t will my body to conceive the moment I was ready. It became quickly apparent that a Type A personality was not going to play in my favour when it came to making and raising babies. The root of this? Control. Or lack there of, I should say.
I am writing this from a very vulnerable place and it is not something that I am fully comfortable with. To shine light on a time when I felt out of control and less capable is, in fact, a very uncomfortable thing for me to do. I think as women, but particularly as mothers, it can be hard to show others that we battle with self doubt and mental health. For some reason, we feel there is this expectation to be Super Woman at all times. But, from everything I have learned through this experience, I can say with confidence that every mom feels this way at some point in her journey, if not on the regular. It is my hope that, by sharing my story, I will help other women climbing similar mountains know that they are not alone and that, with time, and maybe a little help, this too shall pass. You may feel weak, but you possess endless amounts of strength and wisdom. Know how I know? Because you are a mom. And no one can love or care for your child like you can. No one can know and understand their needs better than you. You are a mother. And that is synonymous with strength.
I recently shifted the focus of Eat.Move.Live (the name of this blog) from ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle’, to the more general term of ‘Health and Lifestyle’. Not that health in the general sense hasn’t been important to me in the past, but since becoming a new mom, a few events have really ignited my passion for a holistic approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle. Since the beginning of my journey into nutrition, my interests have broadened to include physical and mental health, and an understanding that this is achieved differently by everyone. I hope that I can capture my ongoing journey through posts on nutrition, but also mental health, life as a mom, finding balance, supporting Ayla's optimal health, and more. If you have any topics you would like to see me write about, please shoot me an email or comment below!