How to make homemade baby brown rice cereal

Yes, it is possible to make your own brown rice cereal for baby! And it only requires one ingredient: brown rice.

Just pulverize a few cups of dry brown rice to a powder in a food processor.

I would not recommend doing this during nap time! It’s loud, and it took me a good 10-15 minutes of grinding. It makes a decent size batch that can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

To prepare the cereal, I followed a recipe from The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Whisk in 1/4 cup brown rice powder and stir for 5-10 minutes over very low heat. Cool slightly, then transfer to the blender and blend in up to 1/4 cup breast milk or formula to get your desired consistency.

The blender step may be unnecessary. It made baby led weaning seem more appealing to me, though, since I am not particularly fond of cleaning the blender (quick tip though, fill it with water and a squirt of dish soap and blend on low to get an easy jump start). You could probably just whisk in the breast milk instead of blending.

I divided the goods into this handy storage container with about two tablespoons in each section.

Let the cereal cool to room temperature before feeding to baby. Serving size is about 1-2 tablespoons to start.

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Corban’s first solids

At Corban’s four-month checkup, our pediatrician gave us a bunch of information on starting solids (purees) and gave us the go ahead to start whenever we’re ready.

Three days shy of his 6-month birthday, we finally started.

I knew C wasn’t quite ready at 4 months. He didn’t show any interest in food and was doing just fine on breast milk alone (and by just fine, I mean he was gaining weight like crazy, had chipmunk cheeks and sported sausage link thighs.) Additionally, based on the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization, I wanted to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months.  I was surprised to learn that only 10-15% of American babies are exclusively breastfed until 6 months, but nevertheless, I felt this was right for us.

For the past few weeks though, it has become clear that Corban was ready for some real food. He started grabbing for food when we would eat with him in our laps, and would stare us down while playing across the room when we had food or drink in hand.

Because he is so grabby and loves putting things into his mouth, I started researching baby led weaning (BLW), which I’ve heard a lot about in the blog world. Basically, baby led weaning skips purees and starts your child on finger food right from the start, but the start isn’t until he can sit up on his own, so usually at least 6 months of age. The child then feeds himself (with parental supervision, of course). This lets baby control the feeding experience and helps him learn to chew and swallow at an early age. There are a lot of other benefits, including not having to puree foods or buy baby food, and being able to eat alongside baby instead of spoon feeding.

I am definitely sold on giving BLW a shot, but since Corban still can’t quite sit up on his own, we decided to start with brown rice cereal from a spoon and see how that goes before trying baby led weaning.

Did you know you can make your own brown rice cereal? It’s really easy! I’ll post about it tomorrow.

Now the fun part: feeding time!

His first reaction was that of curiosity. He was excited to put the spoon in his mouth, but didn’t quite understand what was coming off the spoon.

To stick with the BLW concept of baby learning to feed himself, I tried to let Corban control the spoon. This was fun, but he wasn’t quite coordinated enough to get the food off the spoon and into his mouth. It just kind of ended up everywhere, so we helped him out quite a bit.

I think he liked playing with the spoon more than actually eating the cereal.

There were lots of fun faces though.

And a big mess at the end.

We’ve had two more cereal feedings since, and he doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of brown rice. I’ll continue for the next couple days with it, but probably switch to something more exciting like sweet potato or avocado slices by the end of the week. I think he’ll enjoy picking up chunks of food and tasting them himself.

Here’s a video of our first feeding – probably only entertaining to our family, but there’s a cute kitty interaction in the beginning (before we kicked Biggles out so he wouldn’t try to steal Corban’s food).

Question: If you have kids, how long did you exclusively breast feed? If you have future kids, how long do you plan to exclusively breast feed? I know there are conflicting recommendations and studies on this subject and everyone has their own preferences, so I’m just curious!

Twenty-six

It’s a big week for us — today I turned 26 years old and later this week Corban turns 26 weeks old. Also known as six months!

We celebrated this morning with a towel spread out on the family room floor, me in my pajamas, Peter with the camera and Corban in the Bumbo seat ready to have his first bites of solid food. It’s been almost two months since our doctor gave us the go ahead to start feeding him purees, so I figured my birthday would be a memorable day to finally get him started (and get a few feedings in before his six-month pediatrician visit).

I’ll write more about that in a separate post, but he definitely enjoyed his homemade brown rice cereal. Or at least he loved playing with the spoon. It was really fun to watch his reaction!

Other highlights of the day included…

  • Voting in a historic recall election. Corban’s first time at the polls! (I didn’t take him when I voted in the presidential primary.)

  • Lunch at Café One24, a clean eating restaurant. (I like to use my birthday to get Peter to go with me to restaurants that he normally wouldn’t be interested in!)

I had a wild mushroom flatbread that was phenomenal. I could have eaten the crust plain and been happy, but the goat cheese, onions, mushrooms and herbs on top of it definitely didn’t hurt. Peter had a pork tenderloin sandwich that was also very good. I was excited to try the sweet potato roasted red pepper soup, but in total contrast to our entrées, it was watery and tasted like red pepper in liquid form. Not good, in my opinion. I won’t hold it against them though, since the rest of our meal was excellent, if a bit pricy for the portion sizes.

  • A bit of astronomy. This evening we headed to the Milwaukee Astronomical Society, conveniently located not too far from our house, to check out the transit of Venus through telescopes there.

Sleepy baby snuggled up patiently as we waited in line for the big papa telescope (though this picture makes him look kind of grumpy).

It was nice to spend some time outside looking through various telescopes and seeing firsthand this event that won’t come again in any of our lifetimes (unless Corban lives well into his 100s).

Through a smaller telescope around 5:30 p.m. (notice how close it is to the edge of the sun):

Through the big telescope close to 6:30 p.m. (the image is reflected differently on this telescope, but you can see how far Venus has traveled from the edge in just an hour):

All in all, a fine day on which to turn 26!

Getting his hair washed with God

When I was about two and a half years old, my mom showed me a photo from my baptism and asked me what was happening in the picture. Without much hesitation I replied that I was “getting my hair washed with God.”

Well, Corban “had his hair washed with God” yesterday, and it was quite a special day for us.

He donned a tie for the occasion.

I was nervous that he would get fussy or make inappropriate gastrointestinal noises while we were in front of the congregation, but he just snoozed and then woke up and squirmed around when the water hit him.

(Photos courtesy of Elmer Sparks, who happened to have his camera while working the sound booth during the service)

He actually barely has fussed at all this entire weekend. I think he really likes being held and being around people.

Peter’s parents, my parents, my siblings and my aunt and uncle came into town for the occasion and we hosted lunch after the baptism. You know I’m out of food blogger mode – or just too distracted as a mom and hostess – because I forgot to take pictures of the food and the table setting I created. Just pics of this little guy.

After everything was cleared away and my family hit the road, I snapped this shot of the cleaned up aftermath.

I used my mix-n-match Goodwill “china” set and homemade Dollar Tree cloth napkins and placemats. The cupcakes were a hit – buttermilk chocolate with fudge frosting and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (to make 12 cupcakes I halved that cake recipe and baked for only 20 minutes. Frosting recipe/amount stayed the same).

Also on the menu was my absolute favorite pulled pork recipe, Pioneer Woman’s green beans, fresh fruit salad, my mother-in-law’s delicious rolls and my mom’s Chinese salad.

We had these verses at each place setting:

Peter picked them out — the first is from our perspective and the second is what we hope will be Corban’s perspective in the future.

The whole weekend as I thought about Corban’s baptism I was so thankful for our faith and the wonderful church God has blessed us with. Corban’s baptism isn’t a saving act, but a commitment to raise him in the covenant family with the hope and trust that he will one day believe. I loved how our pastor explained this during the service, especially since both Peter’s and my families come from different backgrounds and beliefs on the issue of baptism. Here is a nice explanation of our beliefs.

This was also a special moment because of the very meaning of Corban’s name, “a gift from God, dedicated to God,” from the Hebrew word Korban, which means “offering.”

Now we have two days to recover from the weekend’s excitement and then we’re off to Florida for a nice little vacation! More on that (hopefully) soon.

Homemade Frappuccino

I’m not a regular coffee drinker (which was nice since it was easy to give it up during pregnancy), but sometimes after a long night with Corban all I want in the morning is a strong brew. With a side of morning smileys, of course.

(I never have my real camera nearby when he flashes one of these, so iPhone pics will have to do. He is definitely smiling a lot more these past few days!)

I came across this recipe for a homemade vanilla Frappuccino on Pinterest and modified it a bit using what I had. These babies don’t taste quite as good as the real deal from Starbucks, but they’re also a lot healthier, cheaper and good enough that I look forward to one every day or two. I tried making it two different ways and right now I’m kind of liking the second version better, but that’s subject to change.

Homemade Chocolate Frappuccino Version One
Makes 1 large drink

10-13 ice cubes
3/4 cup cold coffee
1/4 cup skim milk or vanilla soy milk
1 heaping tablespoon hot chocolate mix (I use good ole Swiss Miss)
1 heaping tablespoon Vega chocolate shake ‘n’ go smoothie mix*
Whipped cream (optional)

Blend ice cubes in blender until crushed down to a very fine texture. Add remaining ingredients except whipped cream and blend until smooth. Top with whipped cream and enjoy through a straw.

Homemade Chocolate Frappuccino Version Two
Makes 1 medium drink

10-13 ice cubes
1/2 cup skim milk or vanilla soy milk
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 heaping tablespoon hot chocolate mix
1 heaping tablespoon Vega chocolate shake ‘n’ go smoothie mix*
Whipped cream (optional)

Blend ice cubes in blender until crushed down to a very fine texture. Add remaining ingredients except whipped cream and blend until smooth. Top with whipped cream and enjoy through a straw.

*The Vega Shake ‘N’ Go mix is from a sample I picked up at the Healthy Living Summit 2010 (yikes) and just recently opened. It has lots of good nutrients in it, but doesn’t truly taste like chocolate, hence the necessity of the Swiss Miss. You could eliminate this or sub in another protein powder or health mix if you wanted.

Fueling for nursing

I’m used to talking about fueling for athletics, but nursing is its own sport.

In it, you spend a lot of time sitting around, and that sitting around really wipes you out!

When I first started breastfeeding Corban, a few days into it I noticed that I was only going to the bathroom a few times a day. After being pregnant and peeing every hour or two, this actually was a welcome break – but definitely not a healthy one. All my fluids were going into producing milk and I clearly was dehydrated.

I really have to make an effort to drink lots of water right now. It’s easy to get thirsty when you’re watching your baby lie there and drink for minutes on end, but unless you have a glass of water right beside you, it’s also easy to forget to grab one when he’s done eating and you’re free to move about again. Tip #1: Keep a full glass of water at your side when you nurse – and drink it!

TMI alert, but my digestive system kind of got out of whack after delivery, and the aforementioned dehydration from nursing didn’t help it. This can cause some uncomfortable… situations. My doctor recommended eating probiotics to get things back on track, and that has helped a lot. BUT, those Activia yogurts, in my opinion, taste awful. They are so loaded with sugar it’s sickening. So… Tip #2: Make probiotic smoothies. Blend frozen fruit, milk and yogurt, top with unsweetened coconut, and you’ve got yourself a tasty recipe for digestive health. I’ve been enjoying pomegranate-berry yogurt with frozen blueberries and banana, and vanilla yogurt with frozen raspberries and banana. It tastes like frozen yogurt (I guess it technically is).

At the times of day when your baby is eating most often, at least if you have a ridiculously hungry baby like I do, you’re going to get ridiculously hungry and not have time to prepare a nutritious snack. Or you might be carrying baby around and only have one hand free to grab something. Tip #3: Have easy, healthful, one-handed food ready to grab. As much as I wanted a clementine the other evening between nursing sessions, there was just no way I could put down my crabby baby long enough to peel one. Grapes were the better option. Little things like washing apples before putting them in the fridge and keeping a bowl full of almonds on the counter will make a big difference when you’re desperate for a quick snack.

Tip #4: Eat meals in parts. If you don’t have time to eat a full meal before baby demands milk, just eat part of it then and part of it after the nursing session is over. Breaking up meals will also help keep you fueled throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to have breakfast: part one at 4 a.m.! If you feel hungry, eat. I’ve definitely had toast in the middle of the night.

Tip #5: Cook when you have time. You can plan to make dinner at 5 p.m. every night, but there’s no telling what could happen when the time rolls around (assuming your baby can be as unpredictable as mine when it comes to feeding times). Make dinner when you have time and aren’t starving, like during a long nap earlier in the day, and then just heat it up at mealtime. It’s no fun spending time preparing dinner only to be interrupted by baby’s hungry faces right before you’re about to sit down to eat. Nursing while hungry can also leave you very drained.

Nursing moms, any tips to add?

My favorite pregnancy symptoms

The other week I wrote a kind of negative nancy post on surprising pregnancy symptoms. It scared my friend about pregnancy. And I don’t even think I have it that bad!

Really, I’d say most of my negative symptoms are more inconvenient than hard.

But let’s be positive today. Here are my favorite parts about being pregnant – the things I might actually miss once the baby is here.

-Baby kicks! This is by far the best side effect of pregnancy – getting to feel the baby move inside me. I think Peter’s jealous (although the baby is really cooperative and will kick for him when he puts his hand on my belly). When I’m at work or in a meeting and I feel the baby move, it’s like we have a little secret bond that no one knows about. As Baby has grown, it’s gotten uncomfortable at times when he or she is moving around higher up in my abdomen. But I still love it.

-Excuses. This is really lame of me to admit, but when else will I have an excuse not to carry in all the groceries or help move a piece of furniture? Normally, I am more than willing to help do things like that, but it’s kind of nice not doing it (for good reason). It didn’t get me out of fertilizing the lawn last weekend, though.

-New wardrobe. While I don’t exactly feel the most attractive in my present state, it has been kind of nice putting away most of my usual clothes and busting out a new wardrobe from borrowed clothes and new finds. I am not a big shopper, so a lot of my normal clothes I’ve had for a while and don’t really miss. The flip side of this is that my wardrobe is more limited and I am starting to get sick of my maternity work pants since I only have one pair (I switch them off with jeans and dresses/skirts). But back to the positive, I actually like my two pairs of maternity jeans more than my regular jeans.

-Food mentality. I must say, it’s refreshing to not associate food with weight/size. Now, when I eat healthfully, I gain weight. When I eat too many desserts, I gain weight too. My eating habits don’t really have a noticeable effect on my size (note that this is also because I have not gone to one extreme or the other with food – my eating habits haven’t actually changed much and I think they are fairly balanced). I don’t strive for a balanced diet so my pants won’t get too tight. I do it so Baby and I will be healthy. It’s nice not thinking at all about pants fitting.

-New relationships. Being pregnant is the best conversation starter. I’ve gotten to know several coworkers better by swapping pregnancy/parenting stories. I’ve learned more about all sorts of people in my life, from friends to the cashier at my Pick ‘N’ Save. It’s an instant bond with other parents, who are excited to see another person joining their ranks.

-Dreams. Though I’ve had my share of nightmares while pregnant, I also get to dream. Daydream. A lot. About everything baby/family related. It’s fun to imagine the future (though I know it will likely be nothing like I’m picturing). I dream about what our kids will look like and act like, how we’ll be as parents, how big our family will be and what everyone’s names will be. I get to look at little tiny newborn onesies and picture our baby in them. And that’s a really easy way to get happy instantly.

That’s just a glimpse at the happy side of pregnancy. I really, truly believe the good outweighs the bad. Though I’ll be glad to be able to run again and drink margaritas and [I’m really hoping] have clear skin, I’m enjoying this temporary state of housing a baby inside me.

My surprising pregnancy symptoms

Just like labor, every pregnancy is very different. There’s no way to really know what to expect.

Going into this adventure, I didn’t really have any expectations except that I would be hunched over a toilet for the first three months and the thought of a leafy green would disgust me.

Turns out neither of those expectations came true! [Yay.]

Here are some of the more unexpected symptoms I’ve experienced:

-Constant nasal congestion. I now know what it feels like to have allergies, except it’s like I’m allergic to everything.

-Itchy eyes. See above. I have to limit my contact-wearing to every other day.

-Nosebleeds. Thankfully, this has subsided, but I would get light nosebleeds almost every morning during the first trimester.

-Sensitive gums. They bleed if I floss. There’s one particular spot that’s extra-sensitive. The nurse I get paid to talk to through my insurance company tried to tell me I wasn’t keeping up with my dental hygiene and I might have gum disease, which can cause pre-term labor. My dentist told me I have great hygiene and sensitive gums is a pregnancy side effect. My doctor concurred. Take that, nurse.

-Lack of appetite. I thought pregnant women were constantly hungry. I guess I am not one of those pregnant women. Instead of traditional hunger, my body tells me I need food by feeling weak or empty. I don’t really crave much. I rarely feel like cooking. It’s actually really sad! I used to get such joy out of good food, but now most of the time I just have to force myself to eat something palatable. This isn’t always the case, but it has been lately. And don’t worry, I am getting enough calories and paying attention to nutrition.

-Acne. This should be a post in itself. My skin has never been as bad as it has over the past seven months. I’ve overhauled my skincare routine, and that has helped maybe a little, but it pretty much just… sucks (for lack of a better word) and is really frustrating.

-Ridiculous gag reflex. I never threw up from morning sickness during the first trimester, when most women are bowing to the porcelain god. If you’re squeamish about barf, stop reading here. OK, I warned you. I have, however, thrown up from coughing too much when I was sick with a bad cold earlier in the summer and, unfortunately, right now. It’s pretty disgusting. I guess that’s what I get for not getting real morning sickness. I also have to be careful when brushing my teeth not to gag myself or I’ll say goodbye to my breakfast. Yeah, sick.

-Fatigue. OK, I expected this. But I never expected it to be this bad! It comes and goes, but some days I just cannot get enough sleep no matter how long I’m snuggled in bed. And I pretty much always get 8-9 hours a night these days.

-Nightmares. They say you have “vivid dreams” during pregnancy, but mine are definitely vivid nightmares, not dreams. And violent nightmares at that. Usually it’s something like I’m getting shot at or stalked or attacked. The other night was the absolute worst though – I dreamed I had the baby, a girl, but she was kidnapped and murdered! I don’t even like writing that. It was horrible. Go away, nightmares!

-Sore feet. If I’m on my feet all day, a foot massage from Peter is a necessity.

-Constantly being warm. This is a pretty predictable pregnancy symptom, and I admit I’ve kind of enjoyed it at times. I am normally cold everywhere I go – especially in the summer when buildings are overly air conditioned. This summer I was perfectly comfortable in those cold buildings though. It was great. At work, however, my desk is in an extra-warm area of the newsroom. Even before getting pregnant, I couldn’t wear sweaters in the winter because I’d get too warm. Now it feels like it’s 400 degrees every day.

-Forgetfulness/stupidity. I’m pretty sure my brain is not functioning at 100%. I have forgotten a couple meetings or written them down on the wrong days while pregnant. The crossword puzzle and word scramble games at my baby shower seemed absolutely impossible.

All of the above sound bad, but overall I think I’ve had it pretty easy during this pregnancy. I’m able to be active and pretty much function as my usual self. I’m definitely thankful that everything has gone smoothly so far and the baby’s heart is beating strong and looks healthy – that’s the most important thing.

I’d take clear skin if it were offered though 😉

Pregnancy-safe wine

If I can’t drink it, at least I can eat it.

This cheese was an impulse buy at Pick ‘N’ Save – it’s some sort of award-winning reserve and it cost a little more than I’d normally spend on cheese – but it is SO good. I don’t really taste the Merlot in it, but along with a few grapes or a sliced apple, this is my pregnant version of a glass of wine after work.