Experience From The Lapis Lazuli Light Mums (I)
Translated by Yih Pin Tang
Raising and feeding babies are always a key threshold for all inexperienced mothers. There are usually questions such as “How should babies be fed during this period?” “What are the incidents that happen frequently?” “How do we deal with them?” Here we specially invited a few Lapis Lazuli Light mothers to share their experience. Although we are not the specialists, we do hope that with the collection of everyone’s effort, a smooth path will be laid out for the future Lapis Lazuli Light mothers, or at least keep them from making the same mistakes. However, each child has his/her own unique characters and body, so we are only sharing our own experience with you. In feeding and raising children, there are way too many negligible matters to take care of. The older generation has taken care of many children and is highly experienced, so remember to ask the older mothers around you for advice.
In practising the Lapis Lazuli Light concepts of protecting the environment, caring for lives and nurturing the body, mind and spirits of children, you are welcome to raise questions regarding raising and educating children should you have any queries, and it is also hoped that you would share your experience with us. Please contact us via fax to USA (1-425-940-2044) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and simply write attention to “For LLL moms”.
How To Prepare Non-Staple Food?
This topic was actually covered much earlier in the August 1998 Lapis Lazuli Light Chinese Magazine, with experience shared by Mandy Hsieh [please refer to “健康素寶寶怎麼吃?” or [meaning in English: “What do Healthy Vegetarian Babies Eat?”]. After that article was published, many vegetarian moms had first referred to it before they fed their babies non-staple food. We would like to recommend that article to you, because it contains a lot of crucial information which will not be repeated in this article.
Feng Juan [name spelled by pinyin]:
After my baby got used to eating fruits, I started boiling vegetable soups for her when she was nine months old. For each meal, only one type of vegetable was used, and it was mainly the seasonal vegetables, such as carrot, cucumber, knot-vegetables, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes. After the vegetable soup was cooked, it was mashed using a blender. After making sure that my baby was not allergic to any of these vegetables, I started to feed her with vegetable and brown rice porridge. As for the rice porridge ingredient, I used brown rice, millet and quinoa, whereas vegetable was always one kind every time. Initially, I tried to add water to the rice that was soaked overnight, mashed and cook the rice, but the food frequently got a little burned due to my negligence. So I later switched to another method; in the early morning, I would first add water to the soaked brown rice and bring to a boil, and then off heat and keep the pot covered for one to two hours, and then add in vegetables and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes. (The pot I used was a ceramic pot). Although this method was more time consuming, I find the vegetable porridge prepared in this way softer and finer in taste, and my child liked it better. For a different taste and for variety, I also soaked a mixture of rolled oats and raisins overnight, and then cooked for her the next day. Sometimes I used organic brown rice bran, add in molasses, stir into paste, and then fed it to her. After she past one year of age, I slowly let her eat the same diet as ours, but I would always add more water to the rice and cook a little longer so that the rice was softer and pappier.
Shu Juan [name spelled by pinyin]:
In feeding fruits to my baby, I most often use a small teaspoon (one that is thinner) to scrape and mash the fruits. After one teaspoon of mashed fruits is fed to her, then I would scrape the next spoonful, this makes the feeding more convenient, and prevents oxidized or discolored fruit mash; fruits such as apples, guava and pears can be fed this way, whereas other types such as jamrosade/rose apple (also known as jambu air in Singapore/Malaysia), grapes and dates require a blender. For raw food, my son quite liked finely chopped alfalfa sprouts and carrots (but he would not eat it if mashed), but his sister did not like it. For the first few months, I had to blend raw food, and then add some wheat germ crackers to get her to eat, and she could eat up to half a bowl each time. Now she likes it even without the crackers. For cooked food, in the beginning I adopted Ms. Mandy Hsieh’s method; I would grind the rice that was soaked overnight into powder, and then cooked it. That was really convenient, but both my son and daughter did not like mushy food. So I switched to cooking sweet potato porridge, kelp porridge, cabbage and carrot porridge, mixed vegetables porridge, vegetable cakes, sesame oil five-grain rice, etc., but they only consumed small amount. When my children were below one year old, I fed them with plain food without any seasonings. After one year old, I added a small amount of miso or sea salt. My son’s appetite improved only after all of his teeth had grown. Initially, he simply had a light tasting of food, and his preference for food also changed over time. For example, at first he loved to eat bananas, but later he would not even take a bite. Now he likes everything. We were so worried that he would become picky with his food, just like the kids of our friends and relatives around us. Luckily after all his teeth were grown, his appetite improved, and after that I think he loved all food except bittergourd. He is now four years old and has excellent appetite and eats about the same amount of food as we do.
My daughter’s appetite was not consistent, though. She would normally try a few bites, and stopped eating when she did not feel hungry. Sometimes she liked rice, so I would serve the three-grain or five-grain rice from the rice cooker (I found the mixture of brown rice, millet and red rice has a nice chewy texture, especially if mixed with glutinous millet, I would serve the rice hot in a bowl, mixed with cold pressed sesame oil, grapeseed oil and a bit of organic black bean soy sauce, almost like the savory pork-oil mixed with rice that we used to eat when we were little (this mixed grain rice was served only after they past one year old). Since the mother’s milk was not readily available, at times when my daughter really refused to eat anything, I would turn to my last resort: wheatgerm crackers soaked in soup, then she would take half a bowl to one bowl, I sometimes used soup from porridge, sometimes I would make a three-grains gruel or apple-carrot juice, etc, and add in a small piece of wheat germ crackers (bought from an organic food shop). She quite liked it, and that could at least supplement her with some water substance.
When I prepared meals for my babies, because I was too lazy to slowly cook the food until mushy, or to use grinder to grind food (it was too troublesome to wash the machine), I emulated the ancients by chewing the food in my mouth, and then spit it out to feed my babies. I personally felt that it was the most convenient way, but my mother-in-law could not accept that and described to me the elaborative preparations other mothers have done for their babies. I suddenly had an idea and replied, my chewing the food would help the baby to digest the food (the amylase in saliva helps to digest carbohydrates), and on top of this, I added, in Taiwanese dialect, “she eats my saliva and she listens to me”. In fact, I was merely trying to find an excuse for my laziness. Amazingly, my gentle mother-in-law accepted it and stopped commenting. One day, two years later, she seriously said to me, “You are right, this child really listens to you!” This part is shared with you as a joke, but you may try it if you wish. The funnier part is that my second baby did not like ground food, she frequently would place whatever food into her mouth, and spit out what she had chewed and yet not able to swallow, and eventually the food ended up in my stomach. And now I as the mother have eaten lots of my daughter’s saliva, I wonder who is going to listen to whom in future? What an immediate life-time retribution!
What Shall I Encourage Children To Eat And Why? What Shouldn’t I Let Children Eat, Or Eat Only After A Certain Age?
Shu Juan [name spelled by pinyin]:
I encourage babies to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, because what I have learned from the Lapis Lazuli Light message is that fresh and natural food is what we are meant to eat. I would restrain my babies from eating processed food or snacks with artificial flavouring, colouring or additives.
Feng Juan [name spelled by pinyin]:
From ten months, in order to let the child get used to raw food, we served a little amount of sprout in the rice or noodles, and encouraged her to eat. Now, my child not only eats half a bowl of sprouts before meal, but also frequently goes into the kitchen to eat the sprouts that we have already washed. After reading the book, Incarnating Child by Joan Salter, whenever I choose ingredients, I would be very careful not to let the child eat vegetables belonging the nightshade family, for example potatoes, tomatoes or eggplants. This is because in the process of their seeds forming into protein, alkaloid is produced, leading to overly high amount of nitrogen.
(For more information, refer to the book Incarnating Child) For beans or bean products, the child must be at least 14 months old before allowing her to try just a small amount. As for snacks and drinks that contain chemical additives, it is definitely banned from my home.
Li Hui [name spelled by pinyin]:
Before my son was two years old, I did not allow him to eat an entire egg or nuts. Firstly, they were not easy to digest; secondly it would result in an allergic constitution. After the age of three, he was then given honey, as the body system of a very young child is unable to digest honey. Foods from the nightshade family were also given very minimally, especially potatoes, higher consumption of potatoes will result in a tendency towards materialism, that is why potatoes are not recommended.
Xiao Hui [name spelled by pinyin]:
I encouraged my children to eat vegetables, green salads, but always with coaxing or cajoling, and still I had to whip up a tasty sauce (a little sweet and sour bear better result). From the age of two to three, fruits were the main course during breakfast, plus a small amount of oats. After five years of age, breakfast progressed to a high protein food, which included eggs, milk, and oats, while fruits were given between two meals. This is according to Dr. Susan Johnston’s suggestions that follow traditional Chinese medicine. She has also suggested that children should not be allowed to eat sweets (artificially made) and processed food.
I feel that as long as it is local and seasonal fresh organic food, then that is good. Children do not need many different, complex kinds of food. They do not know as much as adult. For example, our school specially arranges different kinds of grains be served as snack every day for the children (this mother is a teacher in a Waldorf kindergarten). On Monday, it is brown rice, on Tuesday oats is served, on Wednesday millet, on Thursday quinoa, on Friday rye, on Saturday wheat and on Sunday cornmeal. Generally, this can also be done at home; this will enable the children to absorb best.
Nian Ci [name spelled by pinyin]:
I specially supplement his diet with spirulina, multi-vitamin, and add flaxseed powder and black sesame powder into his favorite no-egg carrot cake.
Other than the main meals and fruits, I feed my children with friendly bacteria, Bliss Delight, Radiance Vitamin C, healthy candies, etc. The best part is that I do not allow my children to eat sweet, but they often ask me “Mummy, may I have a friendly bacteria or a Vitamin C?” in a tone of a child asking for sweets.
Shu Juan [name spelled by pinyin]:
Before I stopped breastfeeding, I never added any supplement. Now I add friendly bacteria, Bliss Delight, lecithin and calcium powder.
Jia Yu [name spelled by pinyin]:
It was only after giving my baby plenty of molasses that the baby’s nails grew well. I guess that for very small children, it is necessary to add more iron into their diet.