Q&A: feeding solids but not purees

Onward and upward! writes:

"As a new mom, I am often questioning little details of raising my son.The vast amount of information and opinions available on the Internet
just seem to make it worse.

For example, he's having trouble
with constipation (despite breast milk and trying just about every
formula out there), so I started him on pureed veggies and fruits,
hoping it would create looser stools. It hasn't made a difference so
far. But then I go and read an article in the BBC news that says skip pureed foods altogether, and only give
them solid foods after about six months or so. The premise is that your
baby needs to learn how to chew first, and only after he is ready to do
so; and pureed foods can leave them constipated AND postpone their
ability to learn to chew. Huh. What do you think?"

Veeery interesting. And, yes, there's definitely too much information on the internet. If you click away now I won't be insulted.

First of all, before we get to the actual
topic, are you absolutely sure it's constipation? Many babies
(especially breastfed ones) don't poop every day, and some can go for
days without pooping, and this is absolutely normal. If they have gas
and strain to fart it can look like constipation, but the key is to
check the consistency. As long as the poop (I'm not going to call it
"stool," people) is soft and a normal color (not hard or black), it's
not constipation.

Now to the article: I don't think any of this is that
shocking. Even the most recent recommendation from the AAP
(American Association Academy [thanks for catching that perhaps not-so-surprising typo, Sarah] of Pediatrics, with whom I have a one-way
"eh"-hate relationship) is not to start food until six months. Before
that there's really no need for it (barring feeding problems like GERD)
and milk or formula has all the nutrition they need. There's a reason
babies that young can't chew, and it's because they're supposed to be
getting their nutrition in liquid form. There's also some thought now
that introducing carbohydrates (rice cereal, etc.) too early can mess
with babies' systems so they don't regulate insulin as well and are
more prone to developing diabetes later on.

So the recommendation not to start with solids until 6 months isn't making me take any particular notice.

Some of you are aware that my favorite study is about a baby-led approach to starting solids.

Q&A: the annual “summer air travel nightmare” question

Emily writes:

"We are taking our 18-month-old son overseas soon. I’ve readthrough your archives and feel relatively equipped to deal with his jet
lag and the unfamiliarity of a new place, once we get there. But the
trip itself will be brutal. It involves 2 red-eyes in a row: a
too-short one at midnight to get from our home in the west to New York;
five hours in the airport, and then an 11 hour flight which leaves at
11 am and lands at 5 am the next day in the new time zone. Then we have
to tough it out until we can sleep that night.

How do I help my son get through this flight? We will try to
get him to sleep early beforehand, so that he gets some rest before the
airport and the first red-eye. During the layover we will run around
and stretch our legs as much as we possibly can. But 11 hours on a
plane, including both some daytime and a night’s rest? I am planning to
bring his PJs and bedtime books on the plane so that we can try to
replicate our going-to-sleep routine mid-flight. Various pediatrician
and parent types have suggested Benadryl, but I am reluctant to give
him unnecessary medication. He still nurses avidly, so that’s a help.
He has flown plenty of times before, but never for more than 5 hours at
a time. Anything  you and your readers can suggest would be greatly,
greatly appreciated."

The good news is that this will be the worst trip of your life, travel-wise. So that’s something.

It sounds like you’ve really thought out the whole thing and have identified the trouble spot. The 5-hour flight probably won’t be a problem, since he’ll probably sleep for an hour or so. And then the layover in the airport should be doable, with all the runningrunningrunning he’ll do. (Although with that much time it might actually be worth it to research someplace close to the airport and go outside, so he can get some sunshine and fresh air while he runs. If you post which airport you’ll be at in the comments the New Yorkers in the crowd will help you find a park or something close by.)

It’s really that 11-hour flight that’s going to kill you. If you’ve got as many activities as you can schlep (including a bunch of small new ones he’s never seen before), and you can replicate the bedtime routine, that’s probably as good as it’s going to get. Try to stuff him full of food to make him sleepy when it’s time, and hope you get good flight attendants. (I find that flight attendants make or break the flight, much like the nurses in the hospital make or break a labor and delivery.)

My only opinion on the Benadryl is that you MUST give it a trial run before you use it on a plane, because it makes some kids zonk out but it makes other kids hopped up and unable to calm down for anything.  So if you’re thinking of trying it, make sure you know if it works the way you want it to, or you could make things 100 times worse for yourself (and everyone else on the flight). I don’t have a problem with giving it in theory, but can also understand why you wouldn’t want to.

Who regularly travels that far with kids? I know there are some regular readers who fly to India and the Middle East from the US. I’ve never flown more than 5 hours with my kids, so am basically useless with the detailed practical tips. Is there something really obvious that I haven’t talked about?

Q&A: naming “lady parts” with kids

Michele writes:

"What do you call your "lady parts" with children?

I mean, you can’t go wrong with "pee-pee" for penis, but I’m not loving the word "vagina" (and technically, that’s *not* my vagina, it’s my vulva) and since  Andrew (2.5 yrs) is in his name-everything-a-million-times-a-day phase I listen to a lot of "Andrew has a pee-pee, momma has a pee-pee, daddy has a pee-pee."

He surprised me in the shower the other day and said "Look at momma’s bum!," pointing to what some would call the "front bum." From there, it turned into "Momma has a hairy bum. A hairy black bum." So, you understand why I need a name? He doesn’t see me naked often, not because I am a prude, but we don’t co-sleep and I shower at night, so there’s not much opportunity for it.

I tried out "yoni," which is the Indian word, i think. Sounds much prettier, huh? Until at bedtime last night, Andrew caressed my cheek, grabbed my hair and said "Momma has a yoni hat on her head.""

This clearly isn’t the most pressing question in the Ask Moxie queue, but it’s definitely the funniest. And since the heat is addling my brain (such that I somehow lost yesterday’s post and didn’t realize it, thinking auto-post had worked and you were reading my dubious words of wisdom, until this morning) it’s the best you’re going to get for today.

I went with vulva. It’s accurate; it’s reasonably pronounceable; and I’m really into straight-up information. (Which is why I also went with penis and testicles.) Of course, then you end up with kids saying things like "Mommy has a vulva hat on your head." But what’s the alternative? They’re going to use whatever words you give them in a funny way anyway.

"Yoni hat." Heh.

Anyone else? What did you go with? And how did your kids embarrass you with language?

Update and my Q on games for kids

(Are they still making the Magic Eraser? I looked at two stores for one this weekend and couldn’t find one. Or did all those kids getting their skin peeled off get it yanked from the market?)

Remember Shelley, who was wondering about her daughter’s learning Swedish? She sent in an update:

"Thought you might be interested in an update on my 3-y-o’s Swedish language development … if you recall I asked you about that some time ago. Well, she was in Sweden for 4 weeks on a family vacation, and spoke a lot of Swedish there, more than I’ve heard her ever speak before, which was great but not that surprising — I mean, an immersion experience does wonders for kicking passive language development up to more active usage of the language, and it has always been clear that she has 100% comprehension of Swedish. But what’s been so unexpected (and delightful) is that she’s continued to develop the Swedish usage now that we’re home, and is using even more Swedish now than when we were there. She blends Swedish and English in sentences, in paragraphs, and all the time with her father (the actual Swede) and me (the fluent non-Swede), but *never* with non-Swedish speakers. She has total understanding of who speaks Swedishand who doesn’t, and often will ask what something is called in English or Swedish. The other day she picked up a Swedish kids’ book and remarked, "Hannah can’t read me this," (Hannah is a babysitter we use sometimes.)

The other day we were at a picnic, and a mom there was playing with her kid and with Lise, showing them cards and asking them to name the objects on them. She showed Lise a card — her face lit up and she started to say something and stopped. The woman, who knew a bit about her, said intuitively, "you can tell me in Swedish," and Lise said triumphantly (and correctly), "snigel!" She then looked at me and asked what it was called in English.

So the point is, she’s getting it. Exciting stuff!"

Snakk om straks! (Talk about luck!) I’m glad to hear that. Any other stories about dual language acquisition welcome (Menita, Lisa C, and anyone else I’m blanking on now).

Speaking of card games….my older one has been fascinated by card games for weeks. We started with Go Fish, and then moved on to War (but we didn’t tell him it was called War, so he started calling it "Aces, Winners, and Fun" but is now calling it "Aces Win Everything"), and then this weekend taught him Solitaire. He’s picking up the nuances and the rhythm really quickly, in an almost scary way. I noticed that he was unconsciously counting cards last night, for example.

So I have two questions for you all:

1) What should we move on to next? A co-worker suggested chess, but I’m not sure if it’s too early. He’s 5 and reading and counting cards. Have any of you taught your young kids chess? Some people seem to think it’s a mind-building miracle, akin to teaching Latin to preschoolers (experience with teaching Latin also welcome, while we’re at it). Or should I just go straight to Texas Hold ‘Em?

2) Can someone tell me the card vocabulary in Spanish so he and I can practice Spanish while we play? I’ve got ace (as), the numbers, queen (reina) and king (rey). But I don’t know jack or joker (is it chacal or am I remembering wrong?). And I need to know how to say "Go fish!" Hearts are corazones and diamonds diamantes, but I don’t know spades or clubs. Gracias por su ayuda.

Happy Independence Day. Now ask us a question.

[UPDATE: You are amazing! 35 comments on a holiday! I’m going to leave this at the top for Thursday, too, so we can continue the exchange of information.]

Oops. I totally forgot that for my non-American readers today isn’t a holiday. Sorry. And I also apologize for completely missing Canada Day, which was Monday. (Did anyone else see this article saying that a majority of Canadians couldn’t answer enough questions to pass their own citizenship test? Made me feel better about not being able to name the Canadian Prime Minister* last week when quizzed by my boss. Of course, that raises the question about whether it’s better for a head of state to be unknown or infamous.)

So for my non-American readers**, I’d like to provide a service. Ask us any question about the US or Americans, and we will answer over the next few days (when we’re back from grilling hot dogs, eating apple pie, and shooting off fireworks). Good topics include parenting, food, idioms, labor law, etc. We promise not to be offended unless it’s clear that your intent is to offend, in which we will threaten to "open up a can of whupass."

Americans, fortify yourselves with grilled foods and watermelon so you can answer.

* Am I the only one that thinks it’s funny that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s name isn’t anywhere on the first page of his official government website?

** What the heck–let’s ask each other questions, too. I know plenty of you in other parts of the country have questions about New Yorkers or Midwesterners. I may post some questions of my own in the comments.

Q&A: something wrong with 5-month-old?

Sarah writes:

"I would really appreciate your view.  I worry there is something wrongwith my baby, or else he is just inexplicably unhappy.  He is 5 months
old and only happy if he is in his Baby Bjorn on a walk, or watching
Baby Einstein videos.  He can do any of the following — look at his
mobile, lie on his playmat, sit on my lap, or practice tummy time —
for about FIVE minutes before he starts to whine.  He whines in his
bouncy chair.  He whines in his high chair.  He whines sitting on
anyone’s lap.  He nurses well, sometimes enjoys a little cereal or
banana, and, thank goodness, sleeps extremely well (both naps and
through the night).  Is it normal that he seems so bored and/or grumpy
all the time?  He smiles, but doesn’t laugh often.  Do you think there
is something wrong with him?"

Normal, and normal.

He’s at that age at which he’s figured out that there’s all sorts of stuff to do in the world, and he can’t do any of it. Let’s face it–mobiles and playmats are really only so much fun (almost exactly five minutes of fun, truthfully) but then he needs to be where the action is. He’s a man on the town, a guy with places to go. Only he can’t move around to get at any of that action himself. So it makes him pissed off and whiny.

He zones out with Baby Einstein because everyone zones out when they watch TV (which is why JetBlue flights are always so pleasant–everyone’s anesthetized with the TV so they don’t harass the flight attendants). And he’s happy when he’s up in the Bjorn with you because then he’s up! where the cool people are! and he can see things! and he’s moving! But then you want to get something done so you put him on the playmat and that makes him cranky.

Eventually this will pass, because eventually he will be able to crawl, and then walk, and then run, and then drive, and he’ll be in charge of his own motion. But for now, the more you can keep him up and in motion the happier he’ll be. The Bjorn is probably killing your back by now, so I’d just bite the bullet and spend the money on an Ergo or wrap. You can put him on your back that way and he’ll be happy while you just go about your normal day. The motion all helps the neural connections form in his brain. When you put him down, put him on his tummy, because the more time he spends on his tummy the more practice he gets with the building blocks of crawling, but don’t expect that he’ll like it.

Other options are to borrow a big dog and/or a 5-year-old to entertain him in this premobile phase. But that might end up being more work than you want.

Any reminiscences or ideas?