Thaddeus is One Now!

Sunday was my son’s first birthday. I’ve been looking forward to this day since he was first born! SERIOUSLY.

The early baby stage was so hard for me, and even though I’m sure 1 has its own challenges, 1 means he’s closer to being able to communicate and that makes me really excited! With as much as I have been anticipating this day, and with as SLOW as the past year has seemed to me, I was really surprised by how emotional I ended up being. By the end of the day I just felt so sad. I have no desire to go back or prolong the baby stage, but as I lay in bed nursing my beautiful little baby I was struck (perhaps for the first time) with the FULL realization that this season is limited. During much of the past year I felt like he would NEVER grow up and now I realize he’s actually growing up rather quickly and before I know it he won’t want to nurse or cuddle or fall asleep by my side. Before I know it he will be big and independent and although there is a part of me that wants that, there is also a part of me that felt a little pain in my heart at the thought. It’s amazing how conflicting the emotions of motherhood can be at times.

Anyway, we had a really nice day and a very nice little birthday brunch for Thaddeus. We tried to keep it small and just had 4 other families there, but with everyone’s kids it ended up being a pretty good size group. Bryan and I made this wonderful homemade doughnut recipe (I used unrefined cane sugar instead of honey for the babies). I also made an egg and spinach dish and baked oatmeal. Our friends brought fruits and walnuts picked from the tree in their backyard. We eat and the kids played and then Thad opened his presents, which were each so perfect. After that everyone joined us in praying a liturgy that Bryan and I wrote when Thad was born – we made a few tweaks to it so that it fit more with the 1st birthday occasion.

Here is a little video showing random little bits of the day:

Here is a picture of me and my little man on his 1st birthday:

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If you have kids what did you do for their first birthday and how did you feel about them turning 1?

Do any of you know what you did for YOUR 1st birthday?

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Scenes From my Life: Happy Father’s Day

I have loved watching my husband become a father. I have been amazed at what an amazing father he is and has been from day one. He instantly cared so much and bonded so deeply with our child. He is quick to spend time with Thaddeus and loves him so well. I feel so blessed to have this amazing man as the father of my son and I can’t wait to watch him develop even more in this area as Thaddeus grows up and as we eventually have more children.

In honor of Father’s Day today I wanted to share with you a few pictures of my husband, Bryan, and my son, Thaddeus. I love my boys so much!!!

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The Day Thaddeus was born

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Bryan and Thad having a little chat (roughly three weeks after Thad was born)

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Cuddling with Daddy

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Bryan carrying Thad in the baby Bjorn. Baby wearing dad’s are HOT!

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My boys. Aren’t they both sooo cute? Thad was about four months old here.

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This is probably my favorite picture of the three of us from Thad’s first few weeks/months. We all love each other very much!

Happy First Father’s Day, my love!!

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Weaning Part IV: Allergies and Foods to Avoid

This post is part of a series of posts on breastfeeding and weaning. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series and would love to hear your thoughts on it. You can find the other posts in the series here:

Weaning Part I: When to Start Solids
Weaning Part II: Baby’s First Food
Weaning Part III: Baby Led Weaning
Weaning Part V: When to Stop Breastfeeding

I’m no expert in health or allergies, but I have learned a bit about these things because I have struggled with allergies and a wide range of chemical and food sensitivities for most of my life. I have wrestled with how to maintain a healthy, active, balanced life without letting my allergies control me and without living on medication. I’ve learned a lot about my own sensitivities and how to control them or at least manage them. But, as I began to think about introducing solids to my sensitive little boy I panicked – I knew next to nothing about allergies and food sensitivities in babies.

The thought of my son possibly going through what I’ve gone through with my food sensitivities seriously depressed me. So, I have wanted to be extra cautious as I introduce solid foods and follow all the guidelines as closely as possible. I also plan on continuing nursing for much longer then the American standard since long-term nursing has time and time again been shown to reduce the occurrence of allergies and food sensitivities (but I’ll talk about that more in a future Weaning Series post).

Even though we have taken a fairly baby led approach to introducing solids we haven’t just let Thaddeus eat off of our plates, as is typically done with this method. Instead we have chosen to introduce one food at a time to him. Our approach has basically been to introduce one food and give it to him for two or three days in a row and then give him a day with only breast milk and watch him closely throughout. At this point he has tried egg yolk, pumpkin, carrots, and apple (the last three were all cooked with just a smidge of fresh butter from grass fed cows).  So far we have not had any negative reactions. Of course since he is feeding himself he also isn’t getting very much of anything at a time. What little amount makes it into his mouth is often just enough to get a taste for it.

Introducing one new food at a time seems to be the most commonly given advice for baby’s who are likely to have food allergies/sensitivities due to the parents having allergies. We plan on continuing to introduce one food at a time slowly over the coming months until we have a decent repertoire of foods Thaddeus can eat. The other piece of advice that is commonly given is to avoid certain high risk foods for at least the first year.

Here are the foods that we plan on avoiding until after Thaddeus turns one (some of these we may avoid until even later than age one, but that is the minimum):

  • Honey

    • This is something to avoid not because of allergies, but because of botulism, which can be very dangerous for babies. I plan on avoiding giving my son honey until at least one year of age and maybe two years.

  • Cow’s Milk

    • Thaddeus is breastfed and will continue to be breast fed so I see no need to introduce cow’s milk anytime soon. Breast milk is made perfectly for his body and is high in all the fat and nutrients he needs as a growing baby. Although we do drink cow’s milk as a family and it does have many wonderful nutrients and health benefits, it also is one of the most common allergens and can be difficult for young bodies to process. Cow’s milk has also been shown to interfere with the absorption of iron and introducing it too young can put babies at an increased risk for iron-deficiency anemia.

  • Grains

    • Grains are often introduced as a first food for baby’s in America (i.e. rice cereal), but we have chosen to delay introducing grains until after Thaddeus is a year old. There are two reasons for this, the first is that grains, and wheat in particular, often cause allergic reactions in children. The second reason is that the enzymes needed to digest grains (particularly amylase) don’t really “kick into gear” until around 28 months of age. According to The Weston A. Price Foundation “a recent Swedish study suggests that when infants are given substantial amounts of cereal, they may suffer from low concentrations of zinc and reduced calcium absorption.” Because of all this we plan on delaying the introduction of grains until at least after Thaddeus’ first birthday. When we do introduce grains we will start with brown rice (the least likely to cause an allergic reaction) and then we will introduce soaked, soured and sprouted grains with wheat being the last to be introduced.

  • Egg White

    • If you’ve been reading along with this series you know that we’ve already introduced egg yolk to my son. The yolk of an egg is full of fat and cholesterol, both necessary for optimal development in babies, and it is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. The egg white is a different story, however. Egg white regularly causes allergic reactions and we plan on avoiding it until after Thad’s first birthday.

  • Peanuts and Nuts

    • It is commonly recommended that these foods not be introduced until after one year of age because they are such common allergens. They also pose choking hazards and some people recommend that they be avoided until after two years of age, others suggest waiting even longer until three years of age. My plan is to wait until two years of age before introducing nuts, but we will see how it goes – if Thad shows a number of allergies already at that point we may wait longer, if he is healthy and does not have allergies we will feel more comfortable introducing them.

  • Chocolate

    • Chocolate is a common allergen and Thaddeus already has trouble if I eat chocolate and then nurse him. Because of this we plan on delaying the introduction of chocolate till at least one year. Some recommend waiting until age two before introducing chocolate and we may do that if we feel it is necessary.

  • Pork and Shellfish

    • Pork and shellfish are common allergens and I plan on waiting to introduce them until after my son is at least one.

  • Citrus and Tomato

    • Citrus and tomato are also common allergens and although most people say they only need to be avoided until about 9 months I plan on waiting to introduce them until about 12 months. This is mainly because my son has already shown some problems with these two things. If I eat a lot of citrus or a lot of tomato and then breastfeed he almost always has problems with it – gas, bloating, fussiness, runny nose, etc.

After going through that list I will say this, there is recent research that suggests, and there are changing recommendations that say, that many of these foods can actually be introduced earlier than a year, particularly if the child is not at risk for allergies and has been exclusively breast fed for the first 4-6 months. I personally feel that I would rather play it safe and avoid these foods for at least the first year and maybe longer, especially since my son IS at risk for food allergies. But, I’d be curious to know what you all think…

If you have a child what foods did you avoid introducing until after a year? Is there anything you wish you had avoided longer? Or what foods do you plan on avoiding until after you child is a year old?

Rejoicing in the journey –
Beth Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Weaning Part II: Baby’s First Food

This post is part of a series of posts on breastfeeding and weaning. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series and would love to hear your thoughts on it. You can find the other posts in the series here:

Weaning Part I: When to Start Solids
Weaning Part III: Baby Led Weaning
Weaning Part IV: Allergies and Foods to Avoid

Weaning Part V: When to Stop Breastfeeding

My husband and I are both first-borns and we both can be serious perfectionists at times. Knowing that and the fact that we both have a bit of a secret love for research and learning will help you to understand our approach to starting our son on solid food. Deciding what our son’s first food should be was not an easy decision for me. I didn’t just give him baby rice cereal because that’s what a book I read suggested and what my friends and family often do. I didn’t just give him cooked carrots because the pediatrician here said that is a common first food for Czech babies. I did take all that into account and then I researched and read and researched and read some more.

As I read I noticed a few things kept coming up. One was concern about iron deficiency in babies. Baby’s have an adequate store of iron when they are born but sometime between 6 months and about 9 months their store of iron becomes depleted. Breast milk is not really considered a good source of iron although the iron that is in breast milk is a very easily absorbed form of iron so some argue that it is still all a baby really needs. Different cultures handle this concern over iron differently; in the US we most often give our babies iron fortified rice cereals to deal with this issue. In other countries (including the Czech Republic, according to our pediatrician) they solve the iron problem by introducing various meats early on (often as a second or third food). Interestingly, even in more primitive cultures without the specific knowledge of nutritional needs they would still unknowingly address this issue by traditionally giving their babies meat fairly early (often pre-chewed organ meats like liver).

After doing the research and looking into all of this I knew that we wanted to give Thaddeus some form of meat as one of his first foods. In general we try to eat and live as naturally as possible, so I would much rather have him get his iron needs met from a natural source then from iron fortification which I had also read can be less easily absorbed by the body.

I have also been doing some general research on food more for my own knowledge then for weaning information. In that research I have been learning a bit more about grains and how difficult they can be for our bodies to digest. I have also been reading about the benefits of fat and cholesterol for health and especially for growth and brain development. Because of this other research I am strongly leaning towards not introducing grains to Thaddeus until he is at least a year old (including rice cereal). I have also decided that I want him to have a good amount of healthy fat and cholesterol in the first foods that we give him.

In the end I decided that Thaddeus’ first food would be egg yolk (the white of the egg can be a possible allergen so it is best avoided, but it is rare for the egg yolk to be problematic). Egg yolk is very rich in fat and cholesterol and it contains iron. Here is just one recent study showing the benefit of giving egg yolk as a first food.  It’s also a completely real, whole food. Nothin’ artificial about an egg yolk. We buy our eggs fresh from a local farm which also helped me to feel very comfortable about giving them to Thaddeus as his first food.

Once we decided on what the first food would be there were still a number of decisions that I hadn’t even realized before I started reading. For example would we puree his foods, or would we opt for a more baby led approach and just give him tastes off of our plate of whatever we were eating? What would be the second, third, fourth foods we give him? What foods would we choose to avoid until 1 year of age or older? How slowly would we introduce foods and when would I stop nursing all together?

So, I’ll work through our answers to those questions over the coming weeks in the rest of this weaning series.

For now I’ll leave you with this little video of Thaddeus trying egg yolk. If you are wondering where the spoons and purees are then you definitely will have to read the next post in this series because that’s exactly what I’ll be addressing. See you then!

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

6 Months Old and Oh so Cute!

Today my little baby, Thaddeus, is 6 months old! Often over the past half a year I felt like the 6 month mark would NEVER come – it felt so far away. Now that it is finally here there is a part of me that feels like it just flew by.

So, today in honor of my quickly growing boy here’s a post all about my beautiful baby:

Favorite things:

–          Music time with Daddy. Almost every day Bryan and Thad have a few minutes of music time. Usually this involves Bryan playing guitar for Thad for a little while and then the two of them playing on the African drum we have from Ghana (Thanks Carrie and Mathias!). Thad LOVES the drum especially. Here are two little videos showing you Thad playing with the drum (and flashing some cute smiles too):

–          Yoga time with mommy. This usually means that he lays on my mat while I do a little yoga and make some funny faces over him. But, if he starts getting fussy then I’ll hold him while doing poses or do a little baby yoga with him, moving his limbs gently. Here’s just a little video of our yoga time:

–          Being carried around in his sleepy wrap. He didn’t like the wrap at first, but now he LOVES it. When he’s in his wrap he’s happy doing pretty much anything, whether we are folding laundry, dancing to some music, or doing the dishes (I think his favorite is doing the dishes – he seems to like watching the water).

–          Bath time. Ok, so he doesn’t ALWAYS like it, but most of the time he seems to really enjoy it. He likes when Bryan splashes the water a little and seems fascinated by the little frog thermometer that floats in his bath.

–          Putting his feet in his mouth…well, really putting ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in his mouth!

–          Drooling. This kid can seriously drool. Sometimes I keep a bib on him so that I don’t have to change his outfit every few minutes after he’s soaked it with drool.

–          Reading and flash cards. He loves it when we read to him and it often calms him down. We also have Language Discovery cards and Animal Discovery cards, which he loves to look at. They say they are for 9 months and up but we show them to him regularly and talk about the pictures. He usually gets a big smile on his face when we start looking at them – so cute!

Things he can do now:

–          He can roll over. He definitely prefers rolling from his back to his belly, but he will also occasionally roll from his belly to his back. Here’s a little video of him rolling:

–          He can grab toys and sometimes even move them from one hand to the other.

–          He can sit up for just a few seconds on his own. Not all the time and not for more than a few seconds, but we still feel like it’s an accomplishment and we are proud of him.

–          Laugh heartily with a full body little person laugh.

–          Unintentionally scoot himself backwards a little bit.

–          He can sometimes lift his body up using both his hands and his legs so that he’s almost in a crawling like position, but he can only hold it for a few seconds. Here is a quick video of him doing this a little bit (although it’s not as good as how he does it now):

Things he really doesn’t like:

–          When mommy leaves the room.

–          Naps.

–          When something is just out of reach and he can’t get to it.

Well, happy half birthday to my little boy! We love him so much!

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.