What to feed a teething toddler

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This last week has been all about teething in our home, poor Pumpkin is cutting another tooth and that means he is hardly eating a thing. Pumpkin cut his first tooth at eleven and a half months old, yet he showed all the possible signs of teething from when he was six months old. Even now with his five teeth and three more on the way, he really struggles as each new one comes through. Not only does teething put him off his food, it also knocks him right out of his sleep routine and I can guarantee at least two nights this week will again see Pumpkin wide awake and full of energy for anything from three to five hours in the middle of the night. So, as you can imagine, we are all exhausted, grumpy and a little bit tearful out of sleep fatigue!

Over the past week, I have posted a few photographs on my Twitter and Instagram feeds of meals that I have made for Pumpkin; these are my go to meals when teething, as I know he will eat them. If he doesn’t, then I know he is really in a lot of pain and I will then go back to weaning basics and give him his favourite mushy foods and Calpol!. I have had some requests for the recipes, so I am going to share them in this post, please note that I am not a chef or nutritionist! I make most meals up as I go along and use what I have in cupboards and the freezer, so please feel free to adapt as you go along too!

I cram/sneak as many vegetables as possible into my cooking, as since Pumpkin hit toddlerhood, he has become adverse to vegetables and this is one of the only ways I can sneak them into his diet. As a baby, he would happily eat a wide range of vegetables, I don’t know why this changed, but I still continue to offer vegetables at all meals, but it always is treated with the same reply ‘no no mamma’ then it is thrown onto the floor…

Here are two of Pumpkin’s go to teething meals:

Sneaky Veggie Bolognese Sauce

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Ingredients:

Oil (1 Tablespoon)
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 Garlic Clove (crushed or finely chopped)
500g Beef Mince
1 Vegetable Oxo Cube
Tomato Purée 1 Tablespoon
500g Passata
1 Carrot (Grated)
1 Courgette (Grated)
5 Small Mushrooms (Grated)
1 Frozen cube of Spinach (Grated, whilst frozen or use fresh and chop finely)
1 Red Pepper (Grated) – Optional – this was our new addition this week!
Oregano
Worcestershire Sauce (1 Tablespoon)

Method:

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan
2. Soften onion and Garlic in the oil
3. Add the beef mince to the onion and Garlic, and cook until the mince is browned. Once browned, I like to drain the mince in a sieve to get rid of any excess fat and then return to the pan.
4. Put the pan back on the heat, sprinkle in the stock cub, add the Tomato puree and stir well.
5. Add all the grated vegetables and stir until well combined.
6. Add the Passata and stir, if required add some water to loosen the sauce (remember that the vegetables will reduce and this will add some additional liquid as it cooks down)
7. Add oregano and the Worcestershire sauce, stir and bring to the boil.
8. Once at boil, reduce down to the simmer, partly cover with saucepan lid and simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally.

Additional seasoning can be added if required, please feel free to swap and change ingredients for your family’s tastes. You can freeze any leftovers, for quick and easy meals too!

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The next recipe that I posted was a slow cooked Chicken Curry, this recipe is a great way to introduce curry to your little one, whilst making a soft and gum friendly meal for when they are teething! Plus, once it’s in the slow cooker, you can pretty much forget about it and get on with your day! Feel free to adapt the recipe and add vegetables/spices to suit your little ones tastebuds!

Slow Cooked Chicken Curry

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Ingredients:
1/2 Onion
1 Jar Mild Salsa (I didn’t have any passata when I last made this, so substituted with a jar of salsa, and it tasted much better and Pumpkin agreed!)
Mild Curry Powder (1 Tablespoon)
2 Chicken breasts, cut in half
1-2 Teaspoons of Cream Cheese per serving (see Method for details)

Method:
1. Put chopped onion, Salsa and Curry Powder into Slow cooker and stir well.
2. If required, add a little water to loosen the sauce.
3. Add Chicken breasts.
4. Cook on High for 4-5 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked (occasionally stir the sauce).
5. When ready to serve – remove a portion (one half of the chicken breast) and shred into a bowl, add some of the curry sauce and stir through a teaspoon of cream cheese. Add more cream cheese if required for your Toddler’s tastebuds!
6. This can be frozen, just don’t add the cream cheese if you are going to freeze!
7. Serve with Rice or Couscous.

Teething Friendly Snack Ideas:

Mini Bread Sticks – the best ones I have found are from Waitrose
Raisins
Rich Tea Finger Biscuits – given sparingly but he adores them!
Petit Filous
Fruit – All kinds in finger sized portions
Ella’s Kitchen Fruit Smoothies – a fail safe snack when teething is really bad!
Oat Cheerios – dry without milk, make a great finger food snack
Mini Bread Sticks & Cream Cheese Dip
Frozen yoghurt and fruit purée ice lollies

Sometimes Pumpkin is just not interested in lovingly home cooked food, like he used to be when I was weaning him. This can be frustrating when I have made a meal only for him to spit it out and say ‘no no mama” and drop it on the floor. If I am honest, it makes me wonder where I went wrong, I spent hours when he was a baby, making a wide range of different vegetable combinations to match the brightest rainbow to be gleefully munched by him. I just don’t know where and when it changed, suddenly he just isn’t interested in my flavour combinations or the luscious greens. No, Pumpkin is interested in Chicken Dippers, Fish Bites, Sweet potato Crocodiles, Baked Beans, Peas and Sweetcorn.

However, I should be grateful that he is eating something, and I should embrace that and the fact he does eat some home cooked meals, I am currently working on some more hidden veggie meals with him and try to work at his speed and not mine when it comes to new tastes.

I also need to stop taking his food rejections personally, it maybe that his gums are hurting, or his tastebuds are still developing and what tastes nice to me, tastes really nasty to him! After all, don’t we all have days when we would rather have convenience food over cooking a big home cooked meal?

I hope your little one enjoy Pumpkin’s ‘current’ favourite meals, if you have any questions please get in touch and I will be happy to help!

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Ten things I have learnt from having a Toddler

1. Pumpkin may have little legs, but those little toddler legs can run fast, especially when there are clothes to be put on or a nappy to change.

2. Dressing a toddler is like trying to stop the drunk person dancing at the end of a wedding…no matter how many times you try to reason with them, they will continue to wave their arms and legs around like propellers and throwing their head back, as if they are singing along to their favourite wedding disco song!

3. A Toddler will inadvertently use an inappropriate word, as they broaden their vocabulary! Pumpkin is picking up lots of new words, particularly ones from his favourite nursery rhymes; his current favourite is “Hickory Dickory Dock” and whilst we were in the queue at the chemist, he proudly pointed to the clock and at the top of his voice he declared to all that this was a “cock”!, cue pitying looks from other customers and smirks from the sales assistant who was trying not to burst out laughing.

4. What a Toddler may love to eat one day, he will absolutely loathe the next and will behave as if you have poisoned him if you attempt to give it to him again. This will be particularly the case if you try to feed him in public.

5. Whilst on the subject of food, a toddler will start to eat all kinds of lovely home cooked meals at nursery, which you would have tried on numerous occasions to feed him at home, but with no success, however at nursery he will be demanding seconds.

6. When a Toddler learns the word “No”, this will have all sorts of meanings to him and you will need to learn from the tone of his voice to whether he actually means yes. This minuscule difference, will determine whether you will have a “love you forever” smile, tantrum or a riot on your hands!

7. You get to watch the sheer delight on their face as they explore the world around them. As grown ups, we have long forgotten the simple things like how interesting a little stone is on a pavement, or how it feels to just let the rain fall on us and feel the wind blowing around us (and messing up our straightener hair), and do you know what it’s a pleasure to rediscover those things again, who cares about straight hair (ok, maybe I do a bit!!), but just hearing Pumpkins delighted squeals and beaming smile, is absolutely priceless.

8. A Toddler will start putting you through training for when they become bigger children; Pumpkin loves Mega Bloks and I am forever tripping or standing on them and yes it hurts. This is just the training for the big guns…Lego!

9. In a Toddler’s mind, what is yours, belongs to them and what is theirs, belongs to them as they are still mastering the social skill of sharing! A fine example of this was this morning whilst getting dressed, Pumpkin grabbed my bra and toddled off at speed (see point 1), so whilst tying retrieve bra and provide an alternative toy, alternative toy was also taken and Pumpkin was off down the hall waving both arms in the air with bra and toy in each hand…it was too early, not worth the battle, so I gave up and got another not so colour coordinated one!

10. A Toddler will give you an enormous sense of confidence, my fiancé and family never heard me sing before Pumpkin was born and now I spend most of my day singing with him, whether this is indoors or out and about. It makes pumpkin happy and that makes me happy.

The list could go on, but Pumpkin is waking from his nap and I have some serious Megabloks building to do, whilst singing Hickory Dickory Cock, oops I mean Dock!

Parent Shaming

I have noticed over the past month, there seems to be a growing trend on many of the parenting forums of what I am going to call “Parent Shaming”. This is the numerous posts mocking other parents for yes, you guessed it being a parent.

Last night on Facebook, I saw a post shaming a mum who was “being over dramatic” in a coffee shop. Her crime was simply reading stories to her toddler and role playing with his toys in the way that we all know toddlers love, with enthusiasm to bring their imagination alive and ultimately to keep their attention.

This post stuck a chord with me, it was as if the post on Facebook was written about me, for I am that parent who sits in a coffee shop and will read to their child and play in the same “over dramatic” way.  Why?, because that is the way we read a story at home and play with toys in the same way – why should we do it any different anywhere else? We do lower our voices a little to try not to annoy other customers, but we can’t always contain the excitement that may ensure, but that is the delight of childhood.

Let’s delve a little bit deeper into the parent who was subject to the parent shaming, who after all, for that particular moment in time, was only being the best parent they can be for their toddler. Perhaps, like me that parent was trying to manage their PNA (Post Natal Anxiety) that unfortunately, on that day crept up on them unexpectedly and that was the best way to do it whilst keeping an active toddler amused at the same time. Maybe, as a parent, they are simply keeping their child occupied until his snack and drink arrives, and their “over dramatic” interaction is just trying to avoid other customers hearing how loud a toddler can scream and yell! Or, maybe, they are supporting their child in managing an over stimulating environment, through distraction techniques.

Who knows?, and that’s the lesson here, we don’t know what’s going on in the person’s life sat next to us in the coffee shop, and likewise nor do we with other parent’s. Social Media has become entrenched in day to day life, what was once a passing comment in person, has become a comment that may go viral in a matter of minutes, and like this one it may strike a chord with a parent who is guilty to the act that is being so openly shamed. For a short moment, I felt my confidence being knocked and then I kicked myself, for I love story time and role play with my son, so why on earth would I change that for a flippant comment that probably never intended to go viral on social media.

So, let’s give parent’s a break – it’s one of the hardest jobs on earth, after all who works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for no salary, but the undivided attention of a little person dependent upon you. For me, it’s the best job, I have ever had, although I feel at times I felt that needed a degree to do it!

 

Pumpkin is One

One year ago, I was in Labour, which wasn’t supposed to happen as I was booked in to have an elective C Section 4 days later, at a set time, with no, I repeat, no labour pains! However, no matter how much I was repeating the mantra “this is not how it is supposed to happen” to myself, I was reminded every 3 minutes for the next 18 hours, that I was well and truly in labour and Pumpkin was going to come out sooner than planned. It was at this point, I wished that I had paid more attention in the ante-natal class about other birth plans/pain relief. In the end, I had an emergency C Section, my surgical team were amazing and all was fine.

Roll on a year, one of the most magical, life changing years of our lives. A year ago, we became parents to the most adventurous, mischievous and comical little boy, who everyday without fail, makes us laugh and feel extremely lucky. I can’t lie, sometimes the realisation of the responsibility of being a parent to Pumpkin can be overwhelming. Frequently wondering if we are doing things right: are we feeding him the right foods, is he warm/cool enough etc. Then, all we have to do, is look at Pumpkin, he is thriving, happy and learning so much, so quickly; and then we fall in love with him even more than we already have.

Tomorrow, Pumpkin will wake up to his family celebrating his birthday, will he understand what is happening? The lovely scrunchy wrapping paper, the new toys and books, the bright birthday banner across the wall and the sugar loaded cake which he will have as a special treat for his pudding? I don’t know how much he will understand, but it’s his special day and we are going to make it as special as the day he arrived screaming into the world and our arms; the day our lives changed for ever.

For us, we are celebrating a year of surviving as parents and a stronger relationship as a result. This year has been amazing and really hard work; there has been laughter, tears, pure exhaustion, some bickering (again, usually down to pure exhaustion) and a love never experienced before for a little person completely dependent upon us. So, think of us tomorrow evening, eating left-over Birthday cake and then wishing we hadn’t, when we are desperately trying to fall asleep, but can’t because we are on a sugar high at 10.00pm (for those without children…that is a late night, when your little one likes to wake up at 5.00am!).
Happy Birthday 1st Birthday Pumpkin xx

I need a little time…for me.

I have toyed with the idea of writing about the adventures of becoming a mummy to our wonderful little pumpkin and living with Lupus; which likes to rear its ugly head when I least expect and want it to.

However, time has flown by for the past 11 and a half months and I have never quite found some time to sit down and write.  As there is always a nappy to change, better still a cuddle to be had, a lullaby to be sung or at its worse a blood test to be arranged. Oh, and now the The Great British Bake Off is on, so let’s throw another challenge into the mix and while we are at it, and I should just admit it, just by watching the GBBO I get serious cake cravings, so therefore, I’m playing my part increasing M&S’ cake sale profits, as I just don’t have time to bake at the moment – the Domestic Goddess is out of the office until further notice!

Despite all these hurdles, I wouldn’t change a single thing, I absolutely love my little family and everyday I am learning to live with Lupus and embrace it as part of my life too.
I have finally realised that I need a bit of ‘me’ time in this busy hectic thing called motherhood and did I mention we are also in the middle of relocating from Kent to Somerset, stressed? Me??!  Therefore, I am regaining some “me” time by writing a blog amongst all this chaos.

I am hoping that by writing about the day to day happenings in our family life, it will be therapeutic to me (taking away some of the stresses of packing/being surrounded by boxes), to perhaps become a journal to share with Pumpkin later on (I may have to be selective at times) and hopefully be a support to others in similar situations to myself.

So, pour a mug of coffee, grab a cake and join me on this blogging adventure. In reality, that should read…So, while you are enjoying a cold sip of coffee and left over Colin the caterpillar cake, enjoy this insight into my life.