Parenting

How Virgin Coconut Oil Helped My Baby Gain Weight

Wolf was a relatively heavy newborn at 3.5 kg, but he was slow to gain weight from the very beginning. At one point, he was even severely underweight due to complications encountered while breastfeeding. We were able to address the issues with the help of lactation counselors, and his weight gain improved. When he turned six months, he was well within the normal weight range for his age, and we were able to achieve this on breast milk alone.

The newborn Wolf:

Wolf at six months:

Given our history with weight issues, I was anxious about starting him on solids. You may wonder why. You may be thinking, “Wouldn’t you be eager to start feeding him solid food so he can bulk up?” It is a common misconception (which I also held before) that babies will naturally gain weight faster once they begin eating solids. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Weight gain tends to slow down as babies take in food other than breast milk. One reason is from six months onwards, babies become more active and eager to explore their surroundings, thus burning more calories. This obviously cannot be avoided. Another reason is that ounce for ounce, breast milk has more calories and fat than most solid food for babies, and so solid food tends to bring down total caloric and fat intake of babies. It is this second factor’s consequences that I could mitigate to a certain extent.

It was easier said than done, though. According to this article, there are few solid food options for babies that come close to breast milk in terms of calories and fat, and I can count them on one hand — avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, and rice. I had heard though from a lactation counselor that her pediatrician suggested virgin coconut oil (VCO) for her baby who was slow to gain. VCO has high amounts of lauric acid, which is the the same type of healthy fat found in breast milk. That’s why many milk formulas contain VCO. So I decided to try adding VCO to Wolf’s diet.

Wolf at seven months, before eating his first solid meal, avocado:

When Wolf began solids, I would add a teaspoon of VCO to everything he ate, especially if the food that he was eating was not calorie or fat dense (such as carrots). By doing this, I was able to keep his weight gain on track. You may ask, how am I sure that it was the VCO that kept him gaining well? On Wolf’s eighth month, I became complacent. I stopped adding VCO to his food. To my dismay, Wolf did not gain anything in three weeks! I then added VCO again to his diet, and in less than a week, he gained 300 grams.

Wolf at eight months:

VCO has many other uses aside from promoting healthy weight gain in babies. It can be used to supplement the nutrition of adult diets, moisturize skin, massage baby, prevent and treat diaper rash, minimize cradle cap, help heal minor cuts, condition hair, and so much more! With the many benefits, VCO is surely a good buy for every household. I’m such a believer that I’m even considering using VCO to cook our food at home. I doubt Casey would agree though (he hates coconut). But hey, he should hate it just a little less, now that it has worked wonders for Baby Wolf! ❤️

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Parenting, pregnancy

The Quiet Joy of Having a Baby

There are many women who choose not to become mothers. For them, motherhood is just not among their life goals. I used to be one of those women. Back in high school, while my friends would fantasize about their ideal weddings and come up with names for their future children, I shuddered at the thought of getting pregnant, giving birth, and becoming dumpy for the rest of my life. Haha.

Then I got married to an amazing man who was a great cook and handy with tools — in other words, a very domesticated guy. Needless to say, he wanted kids. I entered into our marriage fully aware of this and willing to set aside my anxiety to grant his desires. As we grew more in love, I also grew more at ease with the idea of raising his babies. I realized that the reasons I had before for not wanting children — the fear of getting fat, the dreaded sleepless nights, the endless crying — were surmountable with a loving partner by my side.

More than two years into our marriage, we decided to do away with birth control. A month later, I got a positive pregnancy test. We didn’t expect it would happen so soon, but I was happy that we didn’t have to deal with the stress of trying several times to conceive.

While I was pregnant, many people asked me if I were scared of giving birth. I always replied that I was more scared of what would happen after the baby came out. Caring for a baby seemed like such a huge responsibility to me, with the disadvantages outweighing the benefits. I was imagining non-stop crying of the baby (and mommy), poop everywhere, utter chaos on bad days and mundane routines on good days. Suffice to say, I had a very bleak picture of what it meant to be a new parent.

Boy, was I wrong.

Perhaps I was too jaded. I often err on the side of pessimism, and it keeps my expectations in check. I dreaded too much and hoped for too little. Now, as I reflect on the past eight months caring for my baby, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. I didn’t expect being a mom to be this.. enjoyable! Yes, there are sleepless nights and round-the-clock diaper changes, but all those chores are rewarded with the most adorable coos and smiles that make the fatigue worth it. And the number one reason I had before for not wanting to conceive, which is that I didn’t want to gain weight that I wouldn’t be able to shed post-partum, is now no longer an issue, because in these eight months, I’ve successfully returned to my pre-pregnancy weight.

I am just in my twenties, and I have so much of life still ahead of me, but I can say that having a baby is the most incredible, humbling, rewarding experience thus far. My advice for women on the fence with having kids is to take that terrifying plunge. The experience is much more wonderful than it seems. The “bad” side often gets the limelight, and we tend to think of infants as how they are portrayed in movies — synonymous to wailing poop machines. But the good, no, the great side, is too often overlooked, perhaps because it is quiet and tender — the warmth of your baby falling asleep on your chest, the delight on his face as he learns to sit up, the wonder with which he becomes aware of his fingers and toes.

Babies find joy in the smallest things. They teach you, not only to love another human unconditionally, but also to rediscover and love the world. I do not regret and don’t think I will ever regret having a baby. Some days are exhausting. Some days are chaotic. But all days are amazing.

Parenting

Sweet Dreams

I once dreamt of becoming the president
Ruling the land with grace
Benevolent toward my people

I once dreamt of becoming a saint
Leading thousands in worship
Singing hymns and making miracles

I once dreamt of becoming an astronaut
Voyaging beyond the unknown
Saving the future

All those dreams
remained figments of my naivety
Worlds away from the reality
of growing up

All I dream about now
are tiny shoes and cribs
and my fair baby
falling down

I am jolted awake
and he is safe in my arms
breathing softly, thank God

He stirs and nestles against me
Smiling in his sleep
as I kiss his forehead
It's so quiet
yet overwhelming

Is there anything more profound?

Parenting

Wolf’s First Solid Food

Today marks Wolf’s 7th month! To celebrate, we decided to let him have his first taste of solid food. Although he is not yet able to sit up well unsupported, he has been eager to participate during meal time by avidly watching me eat and sometimes even grabbing my spoon. He has been showing interest in food, and so I wanted to let him have a taste to see how he takes to it.

Wolf is patiently waiting for his food. ☺️
A healthy humble offering to his Little Lordship!

 

I decided months ago that his first solid food will be fresh avocado. Why avocado?

  1. Avocado is a super food and is even said to be “nature’s perfect food,” as it contains healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that aid in developing baby’s brain, strengthening his immune system, and supplying him with essential nutrients.
  2. Avocado tastes good but is not overwhelming. It is soft and creamy, with a very subtle hint of sweetness. It is advisable to start with a bland food so that baby does not reject bland food later on (ex. If you start with mango, baby might want that level of sweetness all the time). Avocado on its own is not too flavorful, and that’s why many people eat it with sugar or condensed milk. I enjoy eating it alone though. I can think of no other fruit that is more similar to milk than avocado, and so I surmise that it is an ideal first solid food.
  3. Avocado is natural and unprocessed. One popular first baby food is infant cereal, but these are usually heavily processed and may be more difficult for baby to digest. As much as possible, I want to feed Wolf fresh, whole, and natural food.
  4. Avocado is the only natural baby food I know of that contains more fat and calories than breastmilk. Many people think that once babies begin eating solids, they will bulk up faster. Most of the time, this is actually not the case, because breastmilk has more calories and fat than most food given to babies. I constantly monitor Wolf’s weight to ensure he stays within normal range and doesn’t lose weight again. As much as possible, I want to give him solid food that’s high in good fat and calories. Avocado has more than twice the amount of calories and around four times more fat than breastmilk, and so I think avocado will help Wolf continue his healthy weight gain.
  5. Avocado is in season during May to September, which coincides with Wolf’s 5th to 9th months, the time of his first exploration of solids. It’s best to go with what’s in season when feeding babies (and adults too). This way, you get a variety of healthy, fresh food, just as nature intended.

 

Wolf’s first solid food, yummy avocado! ❤️

So how did Wolf like it? Well, I can say that for now, he still prefers breastmilk. Haha. He did eat without making any fuss, but he ate just less than a tablespoon before losing interest. Granted, I nursed him before feeding the avocado, as is advised for babies below one year old. After he warms up to the activity of eating solids, he’ll gradually increase his appetite for them. Baby steps!

We mashed the avocado and mixed in a bit of breastmilk.
Wolf anticipating the feast ahead!
His first bite!
Nom nom nom
I’m sorry for the mess, Mom!
Just kidding. I’m not sorry at all! Mwahahaha!
Parenting

Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer: A Must-Have for OC Moms and Dads

The joy I have felt being a mom is incomparable to any of the previous highs of my life. However, the expense of raising a child is also, unfortunately, unparalleled. Wolf is not yet even one year old, yet I already feel like I’ve spent more on him than I have on myself for my whole 27 years of existence. Haha. God is just so good that He continues to provide for us. So far, we are able to afford the things we need and want even without me working full-time. 

I suppose, being a low maintenance girl, it’s a bit difficult for me to get used to spending on someone extremely high maintenance. Babies really need so many things! Buying stuff for a baby is especially tricky, because many fancy products that are marketed as must-haves may not actually be necessary. Parents have to be discerning about where to allocate their hard-earned cash. Does the baby need a crib with built-in music and vibration, a crib with a changing station, or can he just sleep in a cardboard box like the babies in Finland? Haha. Do we buy the stroller with 360 degree wheel rotation, the one with newborn support, or the one with a detachable bassinet? There are really so many options, but compromises have to be made when we purchase big-ticket items, if we are to set aside money for the future. 

One thing though that I do not compromise on is Wolf’s health. His vaccinations are always up-to-date and administered at a private hospital, Asian Hospital (we could actually save a lot by getting them at government health centers for free, but the brands of the vaccines used in those health centers have been known to cause unwanted side effects). I invested in a double electric breast pump, because I am exclusively breastfeeding Wolf and plan to do so as long as he desires it. When it is a matter of health, I am ready to fork over the cash. And so when my cousin and fellow mommy Roxanne suggested we check out the Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer for cleaning Wolf’s toys, despite its high price, we purchased the sterilizer without a second thought. It’s a must to be fastidious about sanitation for Wolf, especially because diarrhea is very common among babies his age, as they tend to put everything in their mouths. 

Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
The sterilizer comes in blue, pink, or white. I would’ve preferred the white one, but only the blue and pink ones were being sold at a discount. Boo.

The Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer uses plasma (ionized gas) to quickly and safely sterilize items at room temperature. This type of sterilization is the same type used to purify water and decontaminate surgical instruments! Because the sterilization process does not involve heat, water, or chemicals, it is safe to use to sterilize any type of material. The Aller Sterilizer is really handy for sterilizing irregularly shaped materials that are difficult to clean manually (as are many of Wolf’s toys). It is especially nifty for sterilizing battery-operated stuffed toys that cannot be washed, such as Wolf’s favorite musical seahorse. It can be used to sterilize other stuff too, such as make-up brushes, towels, and even cellphones! The sterilization process takes just 15 minutes and consumes just 3 watts per session, and so toys can be sterilized before every use.

Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
Spot Mr. Seahorse! ❤️
Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
The sterilizer doubles as a toy box too. I love how it keeps Wolf’s toys clean and organized!

I am quite satisfied with my purchase. I don’t have to worry about Wolf exploring everything with his mouth, because I can ensure that all his toys are squeaky clean, down to the molecular level! There is only one minor inconvenience, and that is the design of the lid, which can be tricky to close without getting your fingers caught, as the grooves are inconveniently located in front and at the back, and not at the sides. With practice though, one gets the hang of closing the box without self-injury. 
Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
Placing the grooves at the sides instead of the front and back would have made placing the lid much easier!
Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
Just plug it in and switch it on. It shuts off automatically (signaled by the light going out) after sterilization. It’s so convenient!
THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P7,750 (promo price, discounted by P1,000)
Value for Peso: 4.75 / 5.0

For OC moms like me, the Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer is worth spending on, because it gives me peace of mind. I can let my baby explore freely knowing that all his toys are stripped of disease-carrying germs. I see the device as a necessary investment, as I’d rather spend a few thousands now than tens of thousands later on hospital bills. As they say, prevention is better than cure, and better safe than sorry!