Old folk’s wisdom versus modern medical advices
I observed that some of our old folk’s wisdom like avoiding certain foods because it is ‘windy’ or can cause coughing and phelgm do agree with modern medical findings. For e.g. it is recommended that children below one year are not to given citrus fruits like oranges because citrus fruits are some of the common foods that may trigger allergies. Some children do get tummy aches due to bloatiness because of food intolerance. Therefore, it is wise to pay careful attention when a child is extra fussy and observe if it is due to food intolerance. Other foods not advisable for children below one year of age are honey, egg whites and whole wheat.
One has to be alert if one’s child shows signs of food allergies like swollen eyelids, rashes, coughing and phlegm after taking some food. Some old folk’s advice is to keep giving the food to the child until he is ‘used’ to it. However, doctors have often caution parents to seek medical consultation if such signs appear because food allergies can cause major problems if not handled with care.
Recently, I got hold of a book on nutrition and learnt some new things like not to adopt the ‘Love me, love my food’ attitude and the term ‘pouching’. Now, I often remind myself not to get too frustrated when my baby refuses to eat the food which I had lovingly prepared. If he refuses it, I will just go to the sink and wash it down without taking it personally as if I was rejected. He just hates the taste of the food, that’s all. Secondly, I learnt that the term used for toddlers who kept food in their mouth is ‘pouching’. A lot of emotional stress and battle of wills are involved and I would make sure that I leave my baby to decide on how much he wants to eat and not how much I want him to eat.
Often, we see grandmas, maids and mothers following their toddlers around the whole housing estate with a bowl during mealtimes. Personally, I hate this routine as it is time wasting and a bad habit too. A local paediatrician mentioned that this is called grazing and not a good idea to allow a child to do that. She recommended ‘active feeding’ and that means talking, singing, playing or reading to the child while he is eating. Every one of us is so familiar with the plane and hangar tactic where we pretend the food is the plane and the child’s mouth the hangar. However, one has to refrain from putting the child in front of the TV and keep stuffing the food into the mouth while his eyes are glued to the show. Mealtimes are meant for enjoying the taste of well-prepared, nutritious food and not a routine to fatten up a child.
As I have children age from teenagers to baby, I have learnt through experiences that a simple routine like mealtimes can either be nightmarish or enjoyable. Children are capable of turning mealtimes into negotiation strategies and using it as a tool to test limits. I will accommodate simple requests but will deny them if they are unreasonable. Often, I will tell my older children to go and starve themselves if they like and ignore their demands. For e.g. “If I finish this plate of rice, you have to buy me that toy.” Of course, I bear in mind that children usually eat as much as their bodies need and are not likely to be deprived off any important nutrients if they eat poorly occasionally.
Generally, people deem plump children as the ideal size. I have two scrawny sons who look like some war refugees. I would get remarks and suggestions from people implying that I am not giving them enough to eat. On the other hand, I also have a 13 yrs old son who wears large men size clothings. With such a varied sizes and shapes, I have to surrender to the fact that all children grow at different rates and as long as they are healthy, eat a balanced meal and have active lifestyles, there is nothing to worry.
All of us mothers certainly look forward to the annual Mother’s Day when our husbands and children shower us with Mother’s Day gifts. Mother’s Day gifts need not be something grand but something meaningful. For example, the best Mother’s Day gift I get is when my hubby allowed me to sleep in while he took care of the babies in the morning. For a tired mom, that is like the best Mother’s Day gift ever.
Mother’s Day is usually celebrated on the second week of May. I do not have much wishes for Mother’s Day but just feel happy that we are recognised for our love towards the family. Usually, on Mother’s Day, my church will shower the moms with a special prayers and my children normally buy a stalk of carnation for me.
I am sure when they are much older, they will continue this tradition of gift giving on Mother’s Day.
One does not need a whole range of kitchen utensils to prepare baby food. However, two things will come in very handy, i.e. the slow-cooker and a hand-blender. These are multi-tasking kitchen gadgets which can be used for the whole family food preparation and cost less than RM100 each. One just needs to toss in the ingredients like rice or oats into the slow-cooker to make a porridge and add the rest of the ingredients. In the earlier stage, baby food needs to be blended into very smooth consistency and thus, the hand-blender will come in handy.
Time saving tips
* To save time on cooking rice or oats, I wash a batch of rice, dry them in the oven, blend the rice/oats to powdery, and keep them in airtight container. Cooking time is very much lessen.
* When Matthew was younger and only took small serving of food, I cook extra portions, freeze them in ice tray, store the frozen food cubes in plastic bag, and kept in airtight container. However, label with the date and avoid storing frozen cubes longer than 1 week. Fishes do not store well. To heat up the cubes, one just has to pop it in the microwave and reheat for 1 minute or steam it. (Caution: One ought to be careful when giving food heated in microwave because sometimes, there are ‘hot spots’ that can burn because of uneven heat distribution. Always stir the food well.)
* At times, I will cook for the family, dish out a small portion of food before I add in any salt or flavourings and blend the food for my baby.
* When I prepare soups made of vegetables and meat/bones stock, I will dish out some before adding salt and cook porridge with it.
* As baby food is not supposed to be flavoured with any salt or soy sauce, I use herbs and spices like garlic, onion, bayleaf, cinnamon powder, celery etc to enhance the flavour.
* One readily available ingredient is homemade ikan bilis powder. I will soak the ikan bilis for a long time until all the saltiness is removed, dry them in the oven till crispy and pound them into fine powder. A pinch added to porridge not only makes it tastier, it is full of calcium too.
* Babies love the taste of soft fruits like banana and papayas. All one need to do is just to scrape the fruit with a spoon and fed to the baby.
* Different babies react differently to the texture of foods. While other 9 months old babies are adapting to soft porridges with bits and pieces of vegetables and meats, Matthew dislike any lumps in his food.
* Some babies only like Malaysian/Chinese flavoured porridges while others like those with a more Westernised taste like corns, peas, cheese and pasta.
* Food for young babies must be in a runny consistency instead of thick gooey stuff which sticks to the palate.
* It takes patience and time to make the transition for my baby to get used to chewing his food. I offer him rice crackers, rice crispies and soft fruits to chew on. However, he still oftens gagged while eating rusks and other baby biscuits. Therefore, one has to be very careful and never leave a baby alone with any kind of food.