Baby Solids: Typical Foods for 6 to 9 months

Continued post from Baby Solids: Baby Led Weaning vs Purées

For me, the hardest part was figuring out WHAT to make and worrying that her meals were “well rounded.” The below list shows a lot of the go-tos that I prepare, in addition to my Once Upon a Farm pouches and Yumi jars.

Blends/Purées

  • Avocado with a squirt of lime*
  • Applesauce mixed with a nut butter (I alternate peanut, cashew and almond)*
  • Nut Butter smashed with Banana*
  • Overnight Oats*
    • I mix oats, raisins, ceylon cinnamon, chia seeds and almond milk in a tupperware. I let that juicy combo sit overnight in the fridge, then blend in the am. She loves it!
  • Plain Whole Yogurt mixed with a smashed fruit*
    • I often used Siggi’s or Brown Cow Greek Yogurt. I just started the Stonyfield Organic whole plain yogurt cups as they are portioned well
    • Best fruits to smash are raspberries and blackberries
  • Carrots (pureed)
  • Black Beans
  • Hummus
  • Sprouted Lentils blended with garlic
  • Peas*
  • Chili
    • Kidney beans, ground beef, spices, tomatoes–make your usual chili and then blend! I was just careful to limit added salt and hot spices.
  • HappyBaby brand oatmeal mixed with almond milk or apple sauce
  • Spaghetti Squash with tomato sauce

BLW/Whole Foods

  • Skinned Cucumber spears
  • Skinned whole carrots (good for teething)
  • Celery
  • Steamed whole carrots
  • Steamed broccoli*
  • Steamed Cauliflower
  • Steamed Asparagus*
  • Blueberries, halved*
  • Strawberries, quartered
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Pear, skinned/wedged
  • Pineapple (organic rings or chunks)*
  • Mango, skinned/wedged*
  • Mozzarella balls (cilegine!)*
  • Cheese…*
  • Baguette Bread, specifically from Bay Cities (if you’ve been to Santa Monica, you know)*
  • Polenta
  • Whole Wheat fusili
  • Chunks of steak (filet or tender cuts)*
  • Roast Pork tenderloin chunks
  • Chicken pieces (darker pieces seem to be easier)
  • Salmon, flaked
  • Lamb Meatballs
  • Chicken meatballs
  • Sweet Potato Fries!!!*
    • We tried this once at a restaurant at 9 months. She LOVED it. Oops.

*Aurora favorite

 

Her first sweet potato fry

 

Interested in my recommended baby food, delivered to your door? Next post coming up: Baby Solids: Easier than Homemade

Baby Solids: Baby Led Weaning vs Purées

This is a follow up to my previous post where I share what we did for solids from 4-6 months.

 

At 6 months, I really noticed a change in Aurora and a much greater interest in food. Now it was much harder to eat in front of her as she was very interested in what was on my plate. At around 6 months, Aurora also started to crawl, and her being more mobile made it even harder to keep food away from her! I really welcomed her interest in food though, as I know that could only help her become a better eater.

There are two schools of thought: Baby Led Weaning and Purées only. I saw the merits in each and decided to do a modified form that included both styles.

Baby Led Weaning

Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is giving your child whole pieces of food, cut into manageable yet larger pieces/chunks so that they can grasp and feed themselves.

Pros

  • Baby practices dexterity, pincer grasp and handling food
  • Baby chooses what they want to eat
  • Baby practices “chewing” by gnawing on the foods
  • This approach is more exploratory
  • Parent doesn’t have to give every spoonful (though watching and helping is necessary)
  • Parent saves time if making purées
    • However, I still spent time preparing the BLW foods

Cons

  • Choking!
  • Baby might not get a lot of food successfully from fingers to mouth
  • Baby might get frustrated that they can’t get food into mouth

Purées

Pros

  • More success in actually getting nutrition into your baby’s mouth
  • Parent can direct more of the exposure to tastes
  • Pouches are useful on the go

Cons

  • Time consuming to prepare (if making own)
  • Can be expensive if buying jars/pouches
  • Can be taxing to figure out good combinations & vary meals
  • Baby can get bored or not use hands as much

Our Conclusion

  • I found that a combination of BLW and Purées was the best approach for Aurora.
  • I wanted to make sure that she had good exposure to tastes and I wanted to get nutrition and calories into her little body, so purées were a staple of every meal.
  • I enjoy making food for her, so when I had time, I liked to prepare purees with my Béaba, and experiment with new combinations.
  • Aurora was very into BLW as she loves to feed herself. She got very good at the pincer grasp and at handling food quickly–she realized that there was a reward to learning how to do it well!
  • I found that combination for each meal worked well as while she was picking something up, I’d get a spoon loaded and waiting. After she swallowed the bite that she fed herself, I’d offer the spoon.
  • I felt good knowing that I guaranteed that she good nutrition with purees but she had the fun, exploratory aspect of feeding herself with the BLW foods.
  • I also watched many Youtube videos on Infant CPR and walked through it with my babygroup leader. I do suggest doing an Infant CPR course. I used to be a lifeguard so feel pretty confident but have signed up for one just in case as I feel it is valuable to know.

How to do Easy, Fun, Local Trips with Babies

As new parents, you are home more than you’ve ever been. And if you are anything like me, you’ll get stir crazy. I also am very used to traveling a couple times per month, so this whole “staying home” thing gets to me quicker than most.

I’ve found that in lieu of longer trips, which take a lot of mental and physical preparation, as well as the return adjustment period; easy, local trips are the way to go. You want to avoid planes, time changes and long car rides–especially if you have a baby that doesn’t love being in the car (ours does NOT).

Find a Nearby Destination

For us, that means locations that are 2 hours or less in driving distance from Santa Monica. Luckily, we have lots of great options. We can do the desert, the beach, the moutains and lots of unique places in between. This is a major reason why we moved to California!

 

So far for our local trips, we’ve taken Aurora to (not counting anything on a plane):

Venice (3 weeks)

Lake Arrowhead (2 months)

Idyllwild (5 months)

Huntington Beach (6 months)

Newport Beach (8.5 months)

 

Book an Upgraded Room

Okay, so you’ve found that perfect location but what do you now? Renting a hotel room works but realize that if you are going to share one room with your little one, you will need to have lights out at bedtime. This means, you also will either go to bed at 7pm or you will have to tiptoe around and hang out in the dark. Not the best option (though we’ve done that in Huntington and let’s just say, we ate room service in the bathroom… not awesome). If you are going with the hotel route, definitely upgrade your room so you can have a separate room with a door where your baby can sleep peacefully while you order room service in the other room.

 

Book a House

Usually more affordable option, and often more comfortable, is booking a house. Even if you book a tiny bungalow or a 1 bedroom, you’ll be able to let your baby nap in a separate room. This means that you can actually enjoy nap times and also, have a nice dinner, watch a movie and basically take advantage of all that sleeping time to relax with your partner. You also will have a kitchen, which is very helpful for baby food preparation and cooking in.

 

 

Get a Babysitter

Now I have never done this, but I imagine that if you feel comfortable with a hotel babysitter service or finding a local person to babysit, that is a great option for you to have a day or evening out. Personally, I would be a little hesitant to do this unless I brought someone with me to babysit. However, if it were a vetted person that was provided by the hotel, I would consider it. If this doesn’t feel comfortable to you, skip this tip and read below.

 

Go with the Baby’s Schedule

Like all travel now, it will revolve around your baby’s daily schedule. We are on the two nap a day schedule so for us, our day looked like this:

7am: Wake Up

7-10am: Breakfast for baby, cooking breakfast for parents, play time, coffee and hanging out

10am-11:30am: Nap time for baby/Parents could clean (yay!), relax, watch tv or one person could go out for a bit

11:30-2:30: Feed baby then out the door. We used this 3 hour window to explore and have lunch out. One day we walked around Balboa and Aurora got way too many presents at the toy store. The other day we took the ferry over to Balboa Park and checked out the silly rides, walked to the beach and found a playground and found a nice lunch spot.

230-4ish: Baby Naps somewhere in here. Parents relax or one person goes out. 

4-6pm: Sunset stroll. We either put her in the stroller or baby carrier and took a nice walk around the neighborhood. Afterwards, we brought her back for play time, dinner, bath and bed. *Note: the stroll is better with wine.

7pm: Bedtime for baby. Dinner and fun time for parents!

Sunset stroll

 

Have a Stay Home Date

On our recent trip to Newport Beach, I knew that we were going to be spending a lot of time in our Airbnb. We were staying on Balboa Island, which is pretty quiet anyway, so we were looking forward to our nights in.

To make these nights a little more exciting, I decided that we should each take “charge” of a night. The person in charge had to come up with a theme, get the groceries ahead and cook the dinner. (Cleaning up is a bonus!) They must inform the other person of the theme and any “dress code.” Also, if games or movies are involved, be prepared!

Coconut Shrimp

My husband took the first night and went with a James Bond theme as he knows my obsession with Bond movies. We both dressed up, even though we were just in our rental home’s dining room, and drank shaken martinis and ate steaks. We washed it down with a Bond movie.

Night two was my night– I went with a tiki theme and made coconut shrimp, teriyaki pork and had a speciality rum drink. I brought some island decor and sourced local shrimp while down there. With the reggae on, we enjoyed a “tropical” evening, despite the fact that it was raining outside.

A little cheesy? Sure! But if you aren’t able to leave the house, you might as well mix it up and make the nights memorable and different from your usual nights in at home.

 

Try not to Bring a Lot

I say try, because I know that this is hard. It is harder to pack for a baby when you are driving because you are able to pack more! Here’s some advice after overpacking and being buried alive in the car a few too many times.

  • Wash Clothes
    • If you have rented a house, count on the washing machine to save you from bringing too much clothes. If not, I brought dreft packets for some sink washing.
  • No tub
    • Check out the sink and bathtub situations and if you can avoid bringing a bathtub, do it. Those things are huge.
  • Bring a clip on high chair.
  • Limit toys.
    • Your baby will be in a new place so that is very exciting already and there’s lots to explore. I have lost so so so many toys on trips.
  • Bring outlet covers.
    • You can’t babyproof a whole hotel room or house, but I did wish I had a few extra things like outlet covers, especially now that we have a very fast crawler.
  • Bring pre-made baby food
    • I didn’t want to be blending my own baby food there and didn’t know what sort of kitchen utensils they’d have, so I brought a freezer pack that had all my own baby food ready to go. I made a few ahead and put them in these small food containers.
    • I also brought along my favorite freshly made purées from Yumi and these excellent fresh pouches from Once Upon a Farm. Both require refrigeration so be sure to get a good size freezer pack for the ride.

Trust me, these little local trips are worth it! They are good for your mental health, your relationship and it is good for your little one to see and do new things! I know Aurora was very excited the whole time and enjoyed all the “new” around her. The more you travel with them, the easier it gets for all of you!

How To Travel while Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and traveling actually go together quite well–when you are bringing your baby, that is. When you are traveling WITHOUT your baby and you are still a breastfeeding mama, things get complicated. That is why I wanted to share my advice for how I managed to make sure Aurora was fed,  to keep my supply up, and to safely bring all my milk back home while I was traveling.

A box of milk, thanks to Milk Stork

Firstly, breastfeeding shouldn’t keep you from traveling. It is not easy but it is definitely doable, and as a breastfeeding mom, you rarely have breaks anyway so if a worthwhile opportunity comes along, I suggest you take it.

 

Leave a HUGE Stash

You need to first make sure that you leave your home with enough breastmilk to feed your little one while you are away. I produce enough but was never an “over producer” so for me, this was the hardest part.

To make sure that I had enough, I would wake up at 3am and pump in the middle of the night every night. This made the most sense for me because throughout the day Aurora drinks a lot and she also doesn’t like me to pump in front of her (it’s too interesting/she rips out the cords etc).

It is not ideal to wake up in the middle of the night but I would set up all the parts so it was ready to go, plug the pump in near the couch and just stumble out to pump in a half-asleep stupor. After, I’d pop straight in the fridge. Don’t worry about labeling/storing until morning. I found that the more things I did where I used my brain (like writing down the date and ounces, lol) the harder it was for me to fall back asleep.

FaceTime with my angel

It turned out that we JUST had enough because she was eating more than expected that weekend. Most babies need about 25 ounces per day around 6/7/8 months. Aurora was eating closer to 28 ounces, in addition to solids for breakfast and dinner, so our calculations were a bit off.

Moral of the story: the more you can leave, the better!

 

Make Sure you have a Fridge!

One thing to note is that you will need access to a refrigerator to store your milk while away, so I made sure to call our hotel (in this case, the Austin Motel) to make sure that they had one–they did!

Also, an in-room microwave is super handy for sterilizing, but not necessary. Check and see if they have one or can bring one in.  I used just hot water in the bathroom and special, all natural dishsoap, which worked fine, but I would’ve loved a microwave.

 

Use Milk Stork to get your milk home safely

Milk Stork SAVED me! I am so happy that I found them and that a service like this even exists! Depending on the option  you choose, they send a Pump & Ship or Pump & Tote package to your hotel that either allows you to ship your milk back (yes it’ll keep it all cold for 72 hours) or gives you a carry on tote to take with you on the plane.

I opted to do both so I could ship the majority and then carry on a day’s worth. This was ideal as it takes about a day for the milk to get there (it is overnighted via Fedex) so I beat my milk home. If you are going for longer trips, this would really come in handy as you can send your milk back home while you are still away!  

Milk Stork Carry On Tote

I also really liked the customer service and how Fedex picks up the package from your hotel.

Note: in my situation, Fedex did NOT pick up in time so I actually carried the package to the nearest Fedex store. It wa not worth the risk of them forgetting that precious milk!

 

Airplane Pumping

Until airplanes make a special room for breastfeeding moms to pump, trying to pump while up in the air will not be easy. You are forced to either make it work in the tiny bathroom or at your seat underneath blankets. I’ve done the latter on an overnight flight when everyone was sleeping, lights were off and it was only my husband and I in the row. Those conditions don’t happen often, so I would suggest thinking about the flying time when you are deciding if you are going on a plane without your baby. For me, the flight was to Austin from LAX, and only about 2 hours so I could make it work without pumping until the airport.

 

Airport Pumping

Airports have come a long way and now are some of the most well equipped locations for pumping! I am very thankful to have discovered Mamava, a female owned company that has created self standing lactation rooms and pumping pods. They are clean, uplifting and private–plus they are in a lot of public spaces.

Mamava

To find one, download the Mamava app and you will be able to find out which terminal they are in and even if there are other breastfeeding stations in your area. This was a lifesaver for me all across the country!

 

Good Breastmilk Storage Bags

Now with all this time spent pumping your milk, you want to make sure that your “liquid gold” doesn’t leak! I have tried Lasinoh bags as well as Unimom Breastmilk bags, but for traveling, I recommend the heavy duty Booby Bags. These have a double ziplock and they are sturdier material. They also fit more (up to 8 ounces) easily.

Booby Bags!

You can pick them up right here. I am so happy that I did the research and found them!

 

Portable Mini Freezer Pack

So, how was I going to keep the milk chilled before I got it into my hotel refrigerator? I stowed a small freezer pack (like this cute one) in my purse before I went out. So handy!

 

Bring along Lactation Bites

Pumping all day long is not fun and many are worried that their milk supply will drop. To fight that and to fight my all day long hunger cravings, I packed a long a bag of Majka–delicious lactation bites. These are all natural, organic and full of stuff that is good for you and your milk supply. I love the taste of the chocolate bites and the protein powder is excellent too! I didn’t notice any drop in supply!

I pumped 4 times per day and ended up completely replacing my supply when I got back home. And my little daughter was happily fed the whole time. It can happen but just takes a bit of planning. Hopefully, these tips help make it a little easier!

 

xoxo

Kelley

Speaker at the LA Travel & Adventure Show: Where to Go in 2019

It was such a blast to be asked back to speak at the LA Travel & Adventure show this past Saturday. This is my third time speaking there and I think it was the best!

Photo by Tanveer Badal

I focused on the top places to go in 2019. This list was not easy–it required a lot of research, asking fellow travelers and my own personal experience but I whittled it down to 10 really special places that should be visited asap.

You can read the full post on where to go in 2019 right here!

I loved checking out the Hokkaido booth, where fellow travel journalists Kelly & Tanveer Badal were showing off their beautiful Wondertrunk travel magazine.

As always, Pauline Frommer gave a great talk and I loved hearing about Switzerland, one of my all time favorite countries, from Alex Hermann.

Pauline Frommer

I also enjoyed the packing tips from Angel Castellanos and the photography pointers from Ralph Velasco.

Photo by Sarah Dandashy

My favorite part was telling some personal stories about my experiences in Setouchi, Japan and while sailing on a Mediterranean cruise. Girona, Suzhou and Sestri Levante were personal favorites too.

Photo by Tanveer Badal

Special thanks to Sarah Dandashy and Tanveer Badal for the excellent photos of the talk! I always forget to ask someone to take them and it was so nice of these two fellow journos and friends to do so!

Found some travel friends!
Sarah Dandashy, Angel Castellanos and Lisa Niver

Where to Travel to in 2019

I was honored to speak at the LA Travel and Adventures show for the third time this past weekend. This year I decided to share more top destinations for 2019. I chose to give you alternatives to some more well known, more touristy places. By the way, the more touristy options are popular for a reason! I love all these places listed. However, if you want more value, more authenticity and just less tourists (I do!) than this is what I suggest.

Instead of South Africa, go to… CHAD

Zakouma National Park, Chad

Chad’s Zakouma National Park is proud to have bounced back from nearly decimated wildlife populations due to poaching. Their conservations efforts have led to a park teeming with life. However, access is limited. Come 2020, only those who’ve made large donations to the park can enter so get in now while you can!

 

Instead of Thailand, go to… VIETNAM

If you are in the market for a beach vacation with history, amazing food and that laidback Southeastern Asian vibe, Vietnam is your best bet. Far less touristy than the very well known beaches and islands of Thailand, Vietnam’s central coast has over 2000 miles of sandy while beaches, not to mention a ton of new hotel openings ranging from a luxe Anantara, a J.W. Marriott and mom & pop beach bungalows.

 

Instead of Beijing, go to… SUZHOU

Suzhou’s Canals

If it is Ancient China you seek, you will have a hard time finding it in the smoggy, trafficky city of Beijing (I swear the traffic there is the worst in the world). Suzhou, a stunningly preserved city that was the summer playground of the emperors, is a step back in time. You can float down canals of the old city, walk through working silk factories (silk was discovered here) and partake in calligraphy lessons. Not to mention, there are over 250 gardens for you to find your zen.

What makes Suzhou even better–no cars needed! Fly to Shanghai and take the 35 minute bullet train into the city and you are all set.

 

Instead of KYOTO, go to… SETOUCHI

Iya Valley, Setouchi, Japan

Kyoto has long been touted as the cultural place to go in Japan. Well, though beautiful, this city is VERY popular. Instead, check out the region of Setouchi to the south. Just a bullet train or short flight away, this watery region is all coastlines and islands. Seaplanes, biking paths, kayaking by temples–there is so much outdoor adventure in addition to all the authentic local culture. Soba, Sake and Kobe are from here. Stop by the oldest onsen in Japan for the ultimate relaxation or stay in a farmhouse in Iya if you want to feel like you are in the Japan of centuries ago.

 

Instead of Cinque Terre, go to… SESTRI LEVANTE

Sestri Levante

In Sestri Levante, you’ll find a seaside, medieval village with local kids licking gelato scoops and old men gossiping on benches. This is real Italy and a great value for that seaside Italian escape. Far less crowds and far more authenticity awaits you in this Ligurian charmer.


Instead of Barcelona go to… GIRONA

The walls of Girona

Girona is like one of Barcelona’s medieval neighborhoods, but without the chain stores, throngs of tourists and cheesiness that accompany a big city. Girona’s stunning look has made it an important location in Game of Thrones, and walking through the walled streets you can really see why. Quite classy with excellent Catalan food (you can have Michelin here if you like) and charming bed and breakfasts (Check out Hotel Nord 1901), the walled city of Girona is wonderful stay. Bonus: you are 20 minutes from Costa Brava!

 

Instead of Caribbean Cruise… MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE

Monaco, from the Viking Star

Hit up some of Europe’s poshest ports via cruise, and not have to deal with teh prices and hassles of visiting on your own. The cruise lines tend to attract a tamer crowd more interested in the local history and stops, than the party scene. Plus, I recommend that you choose an embarkation or disembarkation city that you want to stay a few extra days in so you can really dig into one spot.

 

Instead of Cancun… Zihuatanejo

Just a quick flight from LA, this Mexican beach paradise lacks the high rises and spring break feel of Cancun, in favor of local fisherman, thatched palapas and sunset that will knock the mezcal out of your hand. Whether you stay at the bougie Thompson Zihuatanejo or a smaller boutique hotel, you will want to be near Las Ropas Beach.

 

Instead of Hawaii… Tahiti

Tahiti has captured the heart of the US all over again, this time with Obama vacationing there for weeks and Moana capturing the hearts of all the kids out there. Now, Tahiti is not just for honeymooners or the rich & famous. The once exorbitantly expensive flight over has been cut down to only $330 each way (FrenchBee.com, SFO to Tahiti). Air France and other airlines have followed suit and cut their fares.

If you want highend, try The Brando on its own private island. For a more cultural and affordable experience, Tahitian pensions (bed and breakfasts) are great options.

 

Instead of Rio de Janeiro… SALVADOR

Salvador’s Pelourinho Neighborhood

The capital of Bahia, Salvador as an edge. Afro Brazilian culture meets Portuguese colonialism, and all of this is set on a coastline. You will have a much more local experience as soon as you set foot here. Don’t miss the multi colored buildings of Pelourinho, the old village.

My recommendation is to use Salvador as a base to explore the surfing in Itacare or the waterfalls and grottoes of Chapada Diamantina, both short flights from here.

Agree? Disagree? Have places to add? Leave them in the comments!

xoxo Kelley

Starting Baby Solids: A Feeding Guide for 4-6 Months

After working so hard to master breastfeeding, introducing solids was a little intimidating. There are so many options, methods and conflicting advice out there that I was overwhelmed. My babygroup leader and my pediatrician never seemed to say the same thing! I however polled a lot of other moms and did some of my own research to come up with what I felt was a suitable time to start for Aurora.

I also heard that Feeding Littles, an online tutorial, is very useful in helpings parents to navigate the best solid food choices for their little ones. I haven’t tried it yet but so many friends rave about it!

We first tried solids at exactly 4 months. She was holding her head up well but could not sit up unassisted. We sat her in a baby Bumbo seat and started with only purées. The first attempt was pretty good! She seemed interested and surprised and would open up her mouth for more.

So far the only food she very much hasn’t liked is plain greek yogurt! But if I mix in a fruit, she loves  it!

 

Allergens

We started with one ingredient foods and continued the food one to two times per day for 3 days to make sure that she didn’t have an allergy. The 3 day rule is because sometimes they don’t show an allergy right away.

Eating Eggies!

We were told to introduce allergens (Dairy, Egg and Nuts) early, so we made sure to expose Aurora to each of these at least once per week and have continued that to now. There is conflicting advice on this but we decided this was the best route for us, after researching and talking it over with our pediatrician.

There is also an option to add these allergens to the baby’s bottles in a powder form, called Ready, Set, Food. I didn’t go this route as she doesn’t have bottles consistently but I have heard very good things.

 

Baby Solids at 4 Months

We decided to start with only purées. I was not making homemade food at this point since she only was just starting to eat and eating very little. I decided to wait till she was eating more in quantity before I went the homemade route as that’s a lot of time and energy to be wasting most of it. The brands that I used were HappyBaby, Earthganics, Peter Rabbit and Plum Baby.

However now, I wish I had known about YUMI and Once Upon a Farm, both are fresh and require refrigeration and in my opinion, better than the shelf brands (which need preservatives to stay fresh).

 

  • HappyBaby Oatmeal mixed with Breastmilk
    • Very thin consistency
  • Avocado
    • Smashed and mixed with breastmilk
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Winter Squash
  • Peas
  • Carrots

Baby Solids at 5 Months:

  • Egg Yolk
    • Scrambled and mixed with breastmilk
  • Broccoli
    • Smashed with a fork
  • Peanut butter
    • mixed with breastmilk
  • Prunes
  • Pears
  • Banana
    • Jarred & smashed
  • Full Fat Greek Yogurt

Breakfast at the Woodstock Inn in Vermont

Baby Solids at 6 Months:

  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Blueberry
  • Blackberry
  • Whole Eggs
    • Scrambled with whites
  • Steak
    • Filet mignon pieces
  • Salmon
    • Flaked pieces
  • Cheese
    • Mozzarella, Cheddar and other mild cheeses
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Melon
  • Pineapple

 

Solids While Traveling

Aurora was 6 months old when we traveled for 3 weeks for Christmas and it was during this time that we started using more puree pouches as it was much easier on the go than trying to spoon feed. Aurora loves to suck right out of the pouches!

We found the fewest ingredient pouches and stuck with those (ie. Sweet Potatoes, Prunes, Applesauce) but we did graduate to some combinations as she approached 7 months.

I tried to be mindful of each pouch’s ingredients to make sure she was only being exposed to ONE new ingredient each time. For instance, if the pouch was apple, squash and blueberry, I made sure that she had already tried apple and squash so I would know if she had an allergy to blueberry.

 

Foods to Avoid

  • Honey
  • Milk
  • Added Salt
  • Added Sugars
  • Juice
  • Too Much Water
    • 2 oz per day is recommended as a maximum
    • The worry is that they will fill up on water over breastmilk

 

Conclusions

Since we do a mix of baby led weaning and purées, I can tell that Aurora prefers to feed herself. She loves chunks of food and holding the spoon, though it can get messy in both cases!

However you decide to do it, is great! Just be sure to remember that breastmilk or formula should still be pretty much the only source of nutrition as this stage.

Best Winter Baby Gear

Living in California, I never realized how hard it can be to dress a baby warmly for the cold temps. However, with our Christmas Holiday travel involving 3 weeks in Vermont, my home state, I had to do some major research. The frustrating thing about buying warm clothing for a little one is that they will most likely grow out of it by next season. And if you are only needing it for a cold weather trip, it is annoying to shell out serious cash for something that will not get used that much. BUT, your baby has to be warm, so unless you have hand-me-owns or can borrow gear, here’s what I think it is worth it to spend the money (note: I left off a lot of things that I bought but didn’t like!). 

**Nothing in this article was sponsored or gifted. 

Winter Gear Winner’s Circle

Snow Suit: Ralph Lauren

I bought (and returned) a wide variety of jackets and snow pants so I can give some honest feedback here. Most (I’m looking at you North Face) jackets were far too thin. They were like lightly lined shells, and though cute, you’d need to have about 5 layers underneath them to keep your baby warm. Aurora hates getting clothes on so much, I couldn’t handle that prospect. We were going to be dealing with well below freezing temperatures in Vermont, so I wanted to take no chances.

The Ralph Lauren Quilted Snowsuit was a winner for so many reasons.

Pros:

  • The Ralph Lauren snowsuit is SO warm and so well made.
  • I loved how the mittens attach right to the sleeves.
  • I liked that the jacket separate from the snowpants because we might want to just throw on her jacket if we are going for a walk and she wasn’t going to be in the snow.
  • The pale pink was a neutral color that wouldn’t clash with hats/boots. Lots of the jackets I saw had wild patterns which I wasn’t thrilled about.

Cons:

  • It is quite thick (aka WARM) so when she was in it, her movement was limited…lol

 

Hat: The Blueberry Hill

I discovered The Blueberry Hill in a shop here in Santa Monica and when I looked online, I was overwhelmed by all the cuteness. Started by a mom, these hats are seriously cute. I could put her in one even if it were hot just because the photos would be so damn adorably.

I bought the lion hat and was gifted the reindeer hat. I have to be honest, we will be buying these in bigger sizes and more styles throughout Aurora’s life, I am sure of it.

Pros:

  • Um.. Adorable
  • Well made

Cons:

  • For us, we felt the sizing was off. We had to buy the 12-24 months size for our 6 month old.

 

Boots: Zutano

We actually were given pink fur lined Ugg boots. They are adorable! But, they are almost impossible to get on. They are very stiff and the fur is so thick, you almost need to size up 2 sizes to get them on your baby’s foot, especially if your baby has socks on.

Pros:

  • I preferred the Zutano booties because they were easy to put on and the clasp made them stay on.
  • They also had grips on the bottom for those that are standing/walking.
  • I liked the simple colors for easy coordinating.
  • I liked that they went up her ankle a little so her ankles were less likely to be exposed.

Cons:

  • Not waterproof
  • Not super warm but with good thick socks, they worked for us.

 

Bunting: Hanna Andersson

I am a fan of Hanna Andersson’s high quality and bright, easy to match styles. This bunting was perfect for the Christmas season but they do have other colors that would make this more of a year long piece.

Pros:

  • Roomy fit allows for extended use
  • Super warm–you only need a long sleeve/long pant underneath.
  • Easy to put on and comfortable

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Too thick to put a jacket over

I know that Rory might wear these things often but they were worth it to keep her warm and cute to boot!

What your favorite winter clothing? I’d love to know!

Is First Class/Business Class better than Economy for a baby?

This came up as a very contentious question when I asked my followers on Instagram. Many were adamantly against First Class with a baby. Some even said that several airlines don’t allow babies in First Class. Others said they 100% would if they could, or have and loved it.

Now, after having used an upgrade for a first class ticket cross country (from Boston to LAX), I feel like I can weigh in properly with my opinion.

Pros

Priority Boarding & Lounge Access

  • No waiting in lines
  • You are able to board last if you want to maximize freedom off the plane (I always do)
  • Some first/business class tickets include lounge access which is nice for food, changing areas and play areas for baby pre-flight
First Class Baby

First Class Baby

More Space

  • Easier to entertain your baby
  • More comfortable to hold her, share the seat or in our case,
  • Or… give the baby the whole seat and you & partner share the other seat, which we did…
First Class Baby

We even let her play a little on the floor. Not my favorite thing but helpful!

More attention by flight attendants

  • They are there to help you with tissues, ice, plastic cups (Rory loves chewing on them) or WINE FOR YOU (which I recommend on these long hauls).

More privacy

  • You can breastfeed easier. This is huge! 
  • You can sing, play games and pass the baby without disturbing others.

Cleaner

  • I am not sure if this is true, but it seems to be a bit cleaner than economy seats.

Better bathrooms

  • Given that a fraction of the amount of people use the first class bathrooms compared to the economy bathrooms, this is definitely true. Also, flight attendants clean it more often.

Cons

  • Annoying other people that paid up for a better experience.
  • It is expensive!

 

My Summary:

If you are able to afford it (or have an upgrade like I did), I DO think it is worth it on longer haul flights. Anything that can make it a little more comfortable for your little one will make it easier on you as a parent.

I do not think that you should worry about bothering others on the flight. Everyone has headphones and in the higher classes, you are further away from others than normal.

I personally think a sick, coughing person is way more offensive than anyone with a baby!

And I have to be honest, the actual first class on our particular United flight was in no way comparable to other first class/business class experiences I’ve had, particularly on international flights. We flew from Boston to LAX during the first week of January and it wasn’t super clean, few extra luxuries, food was not great and staff were just okay. BUT sure did beat the other options!

 

Other Good Options that I recommend (in order of preference):

Bassinet in Economy Bulkhead (alitalia)

Bassinet in Economy Bulkhead (alitalia)

Economy Bulkhead

  • Extra space to move around
  • Bassinet access for babies under 25 lbs
  • Occasionally only 2 seats so no extra person if you are traveling with a partner
  • Easy access to bathrooms & flight attendants
  • *** If you are going to request a bassinet, you have to CALL. Do not expect them to give you one even if you have a ticket with a lap infant. You have to call ahead as they don’t always have them.

Economy Plus Bulkhead

Economy Plus

  • Any bit of more space is key, especially for active, larger or older babies. Mine has always been active and larger for her age and not interested in napping in bright or loud places.
  • Priority boarding helps!
  • Better access to overhead space

Economy: 3 Seats Together

  • If you can buy an extra seat and have 3 seats together, that might be comparable to first class in my opinion!
  • I wouldn’t rely on getting an extra third seat for free as planes, especially high traffic routes between hubs, are often overbooked. Even if it says that the seat is open at check-in, standby passengers often fill it.

And at the end of the day, flying middle seat economy is HARD but doable and always totally worth it (especially when you land!).

 

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Tell me below!

Winter in Vermont at the Woodstock Inn and Resort

Each time I go back to my little Vermont hometown, I am reminded that I basically grew up in a storybook. Woodstock, Vermont is a bucolic little village nestled amidst rolling hills, hugging a charming center green and a briskly flowing river.  Stone, brick and cape houses line the ambling streets that make up this 3000 person town, every bend of it steeped in time.

The Woodstock Covered Bridge

The Woodstock Covered Bridge

It’s no surprise that my fellow New Englanders know of Woodstock, VT. I’d even say, many beyond the Northeast are aware of this popular weekend hideaway. For such a small town, its reputation precedes itself — and for good reason.

The hectic, digital day-to-day stresses are buried beneath the quiet splendor of village strolls, breathtaking hikes up Mount Tom or afternoons spent skipping rocks along the river.

Though you do get cell service here now (we didn’t when I was growing up), you just might want to turn off your phone and enjoy the rare and simple pleasures of this place.

When asked about Woodstock, the one word that usually comes to my mind is “quaint.” But don’t get my wrong,  that doesn’t mean it is boring! There’s a lot of energy in this 350 year old town, and every time I return, I see that energy increasing. I’d attribute a lot of that forward progress to the town’s centerpiece, the Woodstock Inn and Resort. (My father runs his jewelry shop in the heart of town, and has for the last 30 years, and he definitely agrees that the Inn is a huge factor in keeping Woodstock so relevant.)

Gillingham’s, the town general store

Some iteration of the Woodstock Inn & Resort has been welcoming guests for 225 years.That is crazy! I’ve traveled all over the world, filming some of the world’s best hotels, and that type of hotel history very is RARE, especially in the USA.

The Inn started out as a small bed & breakfast, and over the centuries continued to expand and gain more and more popularity. In the mid 1900s, Laurance Rockefeller, a former resident of Woodstock, bought the hotel and it was under his leadership for 50 years. He definitely helped to put it on the luxury hotel map, in a big way.

I am very fortunate to have had such a legendary resort in my hometown backyard. It has been part of my family’s story forever, playing host to special dinners, celebratory breakfasts, parties and even prom!

Woodstock Inn during Christmas

It was such a treat to return to the Inn just after Christmas and share this special hotel with my daughter, Aurora. I look for different things in hotels now that I am a mom and I have to say, the Woodstock Inn & Resort surprised me with being exceptionally family friendly. They had undergone expansive improvements when I filmed the property in 2013 for my Get Lost in Woodstock series but now, they’ve added even more luxurious detail to all the public areas and the guest rooms in particular. 

 

Fireside Ambiance

Fireplace at the Woodstock Inn

Fireplace at the Woodstock Inn

Ever since I was a little kid, I was drawn to the oversized fireplace that greets you as walk through the Inn’s entrance. The cozy feeling with the couches and sitting areas, beautiful wall color and attention to detail, makes the entire main area of the Inn so welcoming. I wanted to sit in on each sofa and relax with a cup of tea (you can actually do that during their daily afternoon tea time). We of course didn’t have spare moments for that with a 6 month old, but it was fun to daydream about as I hurriedly walked past these lovely areas with my tired/hungry/active baby. 

 

Legacy Suites

Having a little one with a strict bedtime of 7pm complicates hotel life a bit for us parents. After 7pm, it is lights out (and complete silence) so having an additional room is more than necessary. We absolutely loved the newly renovated Legacy Suite. Ours in particular was the Frederick Billings Suite, the legendary local that was a pioneer in the farm industry and a famous face in Woodstock. It was situated in the main part of the inn and had tasteful decor that highlighted Vermont’s farm history. 

Woodstock Inn & Resort

As you enter, there’s a long tiled hallway to the bedroom and adjoining sitting room. (You can see a walkthrough on my Instagram stories here) I loved how the suite was situated far from the door, with the bedroom set back against a lovely view of the Inn’s snowy backyard. This distance made the whole suite feel more private and like our own apartment as opposed to a hotel room.

Frederick Billings Legacy Suite

The stone bathroom and rain shower with Zents products was modern and chic. The separate sitting room was decorated in rich hues and woods, making it feel like a cozy study. Though it had a wet bar, TV and pull out couch, this room became our daughter, Aurora’s room. The Inn provided a crib and we set up her changing area and toys in here. It was perfect! She happily napped here throughout the day and fell asleep at 7pm each night, and mom & dad could close the door and relax.

We were even able to order room service and hang out for a few more hours with my parents while Aurora happily dozed next door. This is a parents’ dream! We had the best of the Inn’s dining and didn’t have to disrupt our daughter’s sleep. 

Room Service dinner with the parents!

 

Red Rooster

Breakfast at the Red Rooster

What a delicious way to start the day! My parents met us here at The Red Rooster for breakfast and we all followed our noses to the two rooms filled with a sumptuous breakfast buffet. Fresh fruits, made-to-order omelets, a variety of homemade pastries and specially crafted breakfast treats awaited our empty plates. I was especially excited to see the giant, serve yourself maple syrup stand! (As a Vermonter, it runs in my veins of course 😉 

VT SYRUP! YES PLEASE!


Happiest Hour

A favorite of my parents’ for decades, Richardson’s Tavern has not lost any of its signature warm ambiance. The dimly lit room is where you want to be to unwind fireside after a wintery day, holding a drink and enjoying pub style bite.

Red Rooster Cocktail Bar

Red Rooster Cocktail Bar

I also was impressed by the newer bar at the Red Rooster. A brighter version of the tavern, the bartender makes excellent cocktails here and I loved the elegant style of this space and its marble bar.

 

Retro Game Room

Game Room at the Woodstock Inn

Retro Game Room at the Woodstock Inn

Even in the game room, the Inn retains its personality here. This classy area showcased working vintage pinball machines and a long wooden shuffleboard table. There was a pool table, a fireplace and more–no wonder it was packed! These games might have been out of Aurora’s age range, but hey, they sure entertained her competitive parents very well.

 

Woodstock Athletic Club

I am very familiar with the Woodstock Inn’s Athletic Club as I used to be a part of the Woodstock’s high school tennis team and these were our home courts. All guests of the Inn have free access to the pool, gym, tennis courts and workout classes. We opted to take a dip in the pool as Aurora finds pool time SUPER exciting. I think she thinks we are all taking a big bath with her. We splashed around and enjoyed ourselves for a morning.

 

Suicide Six Ski Area

We left Aurora with her grandma and myself, my husband and my dad hit the slopes of Suicide Six! My first time of skis was on this bunny hill and I spent too many afternoons and weekends skiing all these trails with my dad and friends throughout the years.

Located just 15 minutes from the Inn, this mountain is perfect for those that are into a fun, laidback day on the slopes. A brand new quad eliminated any lines for us and their snowmaking and grooming made for excellent conditions on the trails that were open.

Skiing with my dad at Suicide Six, like I did as kid!

By no means is this a large mountain, but its trails are beautifully cut through the forest (I even saw animal tracks as I skiied down). The classic lodge makes you feel like you are back in time and reminded me that this is one of the oldest ski areas in the country.

 

Billings Farm & Museum

Aurora did join us for a tour of Woodstock’s signature Billings Farm & Museum. It was so nice that the Woodstock Inn provides all guests with free entry to this unique local historical site and working dairy farm.

We did a self guided tour of the stables, the goat shed, chicken coop and cow barn. DO NOT MISS THE BABY COW NURSERY. It might be one of the cutest, up close experiences I’ve ever had baby animals. The baby cows were unbelievably friendly and social–they kept licking Aurora and nibbling on my clothes. She (and I) was shrieking with delight!

We were fortunate to make the talk about cows with a farmer in the dairy barn. Aurora’s eyes widened as she viewed her first full grown cow. The farmer on site gave us a lot of amazing information about these cows, how Billings Farm cares for them, their breeding, and their personalities! Aurora and I even got to brush one! 

It was with a heavy heart that we checked out and had to bid farewell to Woodstock. However, just like it has been throughout my life, the Woodstock Inn & Resort was the perfect backdrop to so many special memories with my parents, my husband and especially, our daughter.

I still cannot speak more highly of this resort’s appreciation for its out-of-towners as well as its locals. 

There’s something about the energy of this hotel that just brings about the most joyful times, no matter what time of year.

On our next visit, Aurora will be walking (!) and I am sure that we will have a whole different story to tell! Hopefully, more baby cows and maple syrup will be included.