Friday, 26 February 2016

Baby led weaning flapjacks - date & banana - a recipe by Bex

I obviously meant to publish this way back in July, when the twins were 8 months old, but I just found it when I thought I'd make these flapjacks again.  Shows you how often I actually bake these days, even something this easy!

While staying with my parents here in Saudi, I'm finding a bit more time to experiment (and blog at last!) with some baby food recipes.  I thought I'd try baking some healthy flapjacks for the twins and dates and banana seemed a good option.  Turns out there are quite a few similar recipes already but I just made this one up as baking flapjacks doesn't need to be accurate like when baking cakes.  It seems to have worked well so I thought I'd share my version here.  It's pretty simple with just 4 ingredients and the babies love them!  (So do I!)

1 banana, mashed (115g)
55g chopped dates
150g oats
50g coconut oil or butter (melted)

A rule in our house when it comes to oven cooking anything is "if in doubt, 180oC" so I preheated the oven to 180oC.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, compress into the bottom of a shallow baking tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Breastfeeding twins, one year on - by Bex

Despite a rocky start, I've been very lucky that the majority of my time breastfeeding has been lovely.   I never would have thought at the start that I'd still be feeding them myself at 15 months!  I'm pretty proud to be able to say that.  I've been told it's not common to manage to exclusively breastfeed twins.  I could say it's been easy for me but that's not strictly true.  Of course, it was tiring, feeding two tiny babies on my own all day and all night.  At one point I was up every hour!  Tandem feeding was a godsend but it was still hard going at times.  The easy part was not having to worry about the constant sterilising and making up bottles.  Having expressed for a while, it was hard enough keeping on top of the bottles we did use, not to mention thinking about going out, packing enough formula/bottles, it was so easy to just have their bag ready with the other essentials like nappies, etc. and we could just go.  Same goes for night feeds, I could just grab them from the co-sleeper, feed them and put them back down, no waiting and no need to leave my bed unless they needed to be changed or until they were older and sleeping in cots.  I'd definitely say it was the lazy option!

I do have pictures of him smiling more than this during this sleepy feed but it's a bit too nippley for sharing!

One of my more subtle nursing tops
(but it makes me a bit too warm most of the time)

 The best part though was of course the closeness.  I know from bottle feeding them myself that you can achieve the same cuddly closeness without breastfeeding but I would have struggled to keep that when tandem feeding with bottles.  We always fed one each if we gave them a bottle and I wouldn't have been able to be quite as snuggly while trying to juggle two babies and two bottles at once, even with my pillow.  Having my hands free while they suckled, I was able to stroke them and cradle them rather than having to hold bottles.  (And take photos, videos, control the TV...)

An emergency feeding stop by the side of the road en route to Glasgow!

I forgot just quite how ridiculously huge my boobs were before we started weaning!

I did stop tandem feeding for a while when they were around 7 months old, it was more awkward using the pillow then as they would kick against the back of the sofa, plus I liked the one to one time feeding them separately gave us.  Once they were bigger and eating a few solids, they fed less frequently and for less time so it didn't matter so much to feed them together.  Plus it did get awfully hot having two babies snuggled in to me in the summer!

Sometimes it did cause a little issue with one having to wait if they suddenly decided they needed some milk, especially if they woke at the same time in the morning or after a nap.

Which led to occasional faces like this: (Kalyan wasn't finished yet when he was ousted!)

They were always friends again after though:

And mostly we had lovely times like this:

And again, occasional jealous twin issues:

I did eventually start tandem feeding again, without the pillow, particularly in mornings.  I found I could get Kalyan sorted and if Priya was in the right position (anywhere on the correct side basically), she would sort herself out and sit (or sometimes stand!) comfortably beside me and find her nipple.

This was about a week before their birthday.

 And tandem feeding often leads to super cute moments afterwards, like this:

She's not trying to eat him, this is her kiss!

Being able to instantly calm them was also a godsend, after immunisations for example, just whip out a boob and they stopped crying and immediately felt better with a little milk.  Or if we were out in public and one of them was suddenly starving and having a melt down, instant milk no worries about finding somewhere to warm a bottle.  And on the plane, when their ears hurt during landing, just start feeding and it's all fine.  I've now fed them on a farm, in various shops and on trains.  I love being able to comfort and soothe them at a moment's notice, it's so convenient!

It hasn't been without it's problems though.  Although here I can feed them any time, anywhere, we've visited countries where it's not quite so easy.  In Turkey, I felt comfortable feeding them on the beach or by the pool, in the bar or restaurant if required - basically on the resort.  However, out and about, knowing it's quite a conservative, Muslim country, we wanted to respect that and I didn't feel comfortable out and about if I had to feed them.  We didn't go out much anyway but when we did, I had trouble trying to keep hidden.  Luckily they were 10 months by then so it wasn't quite as difficult as when I visited Saudi Arabia which I'm sure you'll know is a much stricter country with severe rules and laws and the twins were 8 months so still drinking lots of milk between solids.

In Saudi you can't even show your ankles, never mind any other flesh, so breastfeeding is most certainly not allowed in public!  We tried to avoid making any long trips out but if we did get stuck needing to feed (and lets face it, it's a very, very hot country) we had to improvise by either using screens (reserved for families to be shielded in cafes and restaurants) and careful positioning under my abaya or hiding in the back of the car with heavily tinted windows.  I mostly managed just using the toilets though.  They have very nice toilets, often with changing areas as there are no fitting rooms in shops so it wasn't as bad as it sounds.  As you can see, trying to actually cover the twins while feeding did not work as Kalyan just ripped the cover off again!  (Mum was guarding me at the edge of the screen and Dad was patrolling outside!  I really didn't want to get arrested!)

The staff were very helpful in this Italian restaurant and put this screen up in the corner for me so I could face the wall.

In the airport, we managed to find a screened off area on the way in to the ladies toilets and prayer room where I could sit and not have to worry.

I always hoped to manage 6 months and then if I was able to keep going, stop at 1 year.  Stopping has not been as easy as I thought it might.  When we tried to cut down on day time feeding, it was often challenging with Kalyan being very moody and crying whenever he saw me if I'd been out and left him with Daddy or grandparents, I was always greeted with urgent sobbing despite him being absolutely fine for a whole day if I was gone (we did a few practice days for me going back to work when they were 10 months old).

It was very hard not to give in and feed him often throughout the day when I was alone looking after the twins, even though I knew he didn't "need" milk as he'd been on solid foods for months, drank lots of water and was given plenty of cuddles to ensure we still had the closeness he seemed to associate with breastfeeding.  I obviously wanted to comfort him and give him milk as and when it was required but if we carried on like that I'd be feeding him for years and that's just not practical for us.  The other issue was Priya being absolutely fine without but when seeing K getting milk, she'd always come crawling over for her share.

In the end, we managed to just stop feeds downstairs so they only associated breastfeeding with the nursery or our bed.  I had to just do this "cold turkey" and tried to distract him with snacks, water or toys if he started the frantic call for milk.  (It was quite a specific noise which is hard to describe.)  We timed this to be over a weekend when Daddy was home to help.  Anyway, it worked and within 3 days he was used to it, perfectly happy going all day without milk when Mummy was around and even having just a cup of cow's milk before bed.  And then they both got Hand, Foot & Mouth disease.

Both being quite ill with high temperatures, sore mouths and loss of appetite, we were back to feeding on demand, whenever and wherever.  After they were better, we managed to quite quickly get back to feeds just morning and night upstairs and left it another couple of weeks before switching back to cups of cow's milk only before bed.  Luckily this was achieved with minimal distress at bedtime and they both settled in their cots after just 5 minutes for the first couple of days and then accepted the new routine.

So here we are at 15 months, still breastfeeding in the mornings but I have to say, I'm in no hurry to stop that.  Our little morning ritual with those initial gulping cuddles are precious and I love those minutes before we all have to get up, dressed and downstairs for whatever our day holds, be it work for me and the child minder for them or a day of baby groups and Happyland!

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