isla’s six-month essentials

Isla's 6-month essentials: Sophie the Giraffe teether; Svan Complete High Chair; Bright Starts Grab and Stack Blocks; NUK Soft Spout Learner Cup; Haba Rira Clutching Toy; Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack; BabyBjorn Soft Bib; Where's Ellie? Board BookWe try our best as new parents to be minimalists. We stick to books, wooden toys and other basics from which we think Isla will really benefit. At six months old she’s rolling every which way, grabs anything and everything, loves turning the pages during story-time, rocks back and forth on all fours as if she’s going to catapult into a crawl at any moment and is quickly learning to feed herself. She loves all things bright, books she can chew, toys that crinkle and the feel of wood on her gums. Feeding time has also become very important (follow our journey with baby-led weaning), but introducing solids is messy business. Having the right gear is essential. Here are a few things we wouldn’t want to do without around here (listed clockwise).

Bright Starts Grab and Stack Blocks. Two of these have bells inside and the other two make that crinkling noise babies go nuts over. They’re colorful, have fun animals, numbers and letters on them and they’re very lightweight so they are easy travel companions.
NUK Learner Cup. Isla grabbed hold of those handles the very first time we gave her this sippy cup. It’s durable (she throws it all over the place), easy to use/clean/carry and so far there’s only minimal spillage (but I think it’s coming from Isla’s mouth, not the cup).
Haba Rira Clutching Toy. This wooden rattle was recommended by Lynzy, of Sparkling Footsteps. I am partial to wooden toys in general and I love that this one is small enough for Isla’s tiny fists. She eats it all day long because, I imagine, it feels great on her sore gums.
Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack. I don’t know about you, but these were a staple when we were babies and it appears nothing has changed. Isla goes crazy for the rings and has become a pro at getting them off (and chewing them).
BabyBjorn Soft Bib. I bought a two-pack of these bibs and haven’t used anything else for feeding since they arrived. Baby-led weaning is a mess, but these bibs catch nearly everything she drops in front of her. She’s even started to realize and reach in there to grab her food! It’s pretty amazing. This bib is a mealtime necessity and huge clean-up saver for us.
Where’s Ellie? Board Book. This is the first book Isla really seems to understand. She searches and searches for Ellie (you can tell she’s concentrating very hard), turns the pages as quickly as possible when she doesn’t see Ellie (she tries to cheat and skip to the last page, too, because she’s figured it out) and cannot control her excitement at the end when we find that silly pachyderm. And then we start all over again. We also love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, The Going to Bed Book and Hello Bugs (which I bought because of the bee on the cover not realizing she’d love it so much!).
Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether. Oh, Sophie. We don’t leave home without her. We started with the mini Sophie when Isla was a newborn because it was easier for her to grab but we’ve since graduated to full-size Sophie. I sort of feel like I’m giving my daughter a dog toy, but hey, anything that makes her this happy … I don’t care if it really is a dog toy!
Svan Complete High Chair. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but we love this high chair. Baby-led weaning means mealtime with Isla can sometimes take a while so her high chair has to be comfortable and the right size for her to feed herself. This one is easy to clean, looks nice with all of our regular furniture and is the perfect size for both Isla and our home.

What are some of your infant essentials?

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franklin square park

The carousel at Franklin Square Park in Philadelphia

As much as I enjoy summer weekends down the shore, there is something so sweet about spending a quiet Sunday in the city when the rest of the world is on a beach somewhere. We were able to spend nearly the entire day at Franklin Square Park (at 6th and Race St.). We played on the grass, met up with friends, enjoyed dinner from Square Burger, rode the carousel and walked around with absolutely no agenda. If you’re looking for a fun place in the city for kids, the park also has a great playground, a beautiful fountain and mini golf. We walked nearly three miles to finally check out this much-hyped city space and, thankfully, it was worth it for the perfect Sunday.

Franklin Square Park in Philadelphia

The fountain at Franklin Square Park in Philadelphia

Franklin Square Park in Philadelphia

Franklin Square Park in Philadelphia

Isla excited

Fries, burgers and a cake shake from Square Burger at Franklin Square Park in Philadelphia

The burger and fries at Square Burger were better than I expected (very Shake Shack-esq) but the “cake shake” was not for me. Think Tastykake butterscotch krimpet and caramel sauce blended with vanilla ice cream. Also known as thick, heavy sugar in a cup. We had to try one (when in Rome kinda thing) but it was way too sweet. I’ll take simple chocolate any day.

On the grass at Franklin Square Park in Philadelphia

Baby on the carousel at Franklin Square Park in Philadelphia

Isla wearing sunglasses

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lemon egg toast

lemon egg toast on toasted ciabatta bread with provolone and arugula

When I was pregnant with Isla all I wanted all day, every day was an over-easy egg (and some sushi), but the raw food restriction made it a no-no. My all-time favorite breakfast dish is the truffled egg toast served at Chhaya Cafe. (I’m not even kidding when I say I daydream about this dish every single morning.) Since my mornings are now spent at home with the baby, not commuting an hour on an empty stomach, I actually have time to make myself a gourmet breakfast, which means it’s eggs over-easy on repeat. While nothing, and I mean nothing, will come close to Chhaya’s version, I decided to make my own simple and similar egg toast recipe at home. Needless to say, my mornings just got a whole lot more delicious! Here’s the recipe:

ingredients:
1 egg
salt & pepper
loaf of fresh ciabatta bread
cheese (I’ve used provolone, but Chhaya uses aged cheddar, which is better)
baby arugula
lemon
(Chhaya also uses truffle oil but I have yet to try that)

instructions:
prepare your over-easy egg with salt and pepper (I prefer mine very runny)
meanwhile, slice and lightly toast a piece of bread
place your bread on a plate and put sliced cheese on top (to slightly melt the cheese consider microwaving it for a few seconds)
top the bread and cheese with arugula and drizzle with fresh lemon juice (and salt & pepper to taste)
place runny egg on top and serve hot

And there you have it. A copycat breakfast to hold me over until Sunday brunch.

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baby-led weaning | part two

baby-led weaning peach

Rather than write about baby-led weaning week-by-week, I’m going to break this down into parts to share our progress. So here comes part two, which includes peaches, sweet potatoes (two ways) and our failed attempt at yellow squash …

baby-led weaning peach

Peaches! Peaches are now the favorite. Broccoli, to my dismay, is out … for now. I tried to give her broccoli again the day after we introduced peaches and she gave it a really dirty look. But we’re going to keep trying. The peaches were amazing. Isla couldn’t stop licking her lips and sucking her thumb (and making the funniest faces I’ve ever seen from her) to get every last drop of that sweet, tangy juice. She ate an entire peach the first time we introduced it.

baby-led weaning peach

I served the peaches uncooked but without the skin, which was coming off in tiny bits and pieces when I started to peel it so I was glad I didn’t attempt to give it to her. To make peeling easier you can boil the peach for one minute and it’ll slide right off. I found it was easier just to use my fingers or a knife though since boiling the peach makes it too slippery for Isla to pick up. I cut the peach in quarters and gave her one big chunk at a time. Mostly she just sucked that amazing juice and spit out the rest, which was a-ok by me.

baby-led weaning peach

In hindsight, both the peaches and sweet potatoes were a bit easier for Isla to handle and less nerve-wracking for mom and dad (no chunks to gag on), but we continue to give her avocado and banana and she is getting better every day.

baby-led weaning sweet potato

That, my friends, is a sweet potato fry mustache. My girl. Such a ham. The sweet potatoes were a huge hit. I’ve been giving them to her in combination with other foods nearly every day because she loves them and they are so good for her. So far, we have prepared sweet potatoes two different ways …

baby-led weaning sweet potato

The first time I introduced sweet potato was in the form of baked fries. Here’s how:

Preheat over to 400°
Peel the whole sweet potato
Cut into long, thick fries (I found the skinnier ones cooked more quickly and charred a bit so the thicker the better. Thicker is also easier to grab.)
Put the fries in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and toss around for a light coating
Lay the fries out on a baking sheet (so there is no overlapping) and bake for 20-25 minutes (flipping after 10 minutes) or until soft enough for you to smoosh with your thumb and forefinger
Let cool and serve one at a time

baby-led weaning sweet potato

The fries don’t require any additional seasoning. In fact, I loved them so much I ate more than she did. One for you, three for me.

baby-led weaning yellow squash

Then we tried yellow squash. This failed for a couple of reasons, none being the taste. My preparation was all wrong. I cut it lengthwise and scooped out all the seeds, which pretty much left no meat. Then I baked the two halves in covered corningware in an inch of water at 400° for 25 minutes, until the insides were really soft. Then I spooned out the insides and tried to give it to her in small chunks (once it cooled a bit, of course). It was too stringy so I had to make the chunks pretty small, which means she couldn’t pick them up. She would get some in her fist eventually but the pieces were so small she just couldn’t get them into her mouth. I’m going to wait on summer squash and zucchini until she can eat them in strips or rounds with some seasonings. I’m unsure how she’ll handle the seeds so … pause on these.

baby-led weaning sweet potato

This brings me to our second way of preparing the sweet potato. I was in a pinch without the yellow squash so I needed something quick. Here’s how I prepared it:

Wash thoroughly then poke holes in the top of the sweet potato
Heat in the microwave for 6 minutes
Poke with a fork to see if it’s nice and soft
Cut it in half and make sure the inside is soft (Mine wasn’t so I put one half in the fridge for later and put the other one back in the microwave for 2 1/5 minutes. When it came out it was really mushy all the way to the center and peeled right out of the skin.)

baby-led weaning sweet potato

I was able to keep chunks in tact and give it to her almost in fry shape so she could grab each piece. As you can see in the photos above, she went to town. If you’re trying sweet potato for the first time, this is a good way to do it. The potato was incredibly soft, as you can see by all the tiny little chunks all over her tray, and there was very little fear of choking. Occasionally, I squished those little chunks together to make bigger chunks she could grab.

NUK soft spout sippy cup

We give Isla about two ounces of water from a sippy cup during meals at the recommendation of our pediatrician. Water can be extremely dangerous for babies so please talk to your doctor before giving water or other fluids to an infant. If you do get approval and are in search of a solid sippy cup (I searched for what felt like weeks for the right cup), we love the NUK Learner Cup with a soft spout, which was recommended to me by several of my mom friends.

baby-led weaning peach

And that’s part two. At this point we’re rotating/combining avocados, peaches, broccoli, bananas and sweet potatoes but we’re not quite sure what to introduce next. Any advice? I’d love to hear what foods you are serving (or have served) to your six-month-olds.

baby-led weaning peach

*Please note: This post is meant to provide useful tips about baby-led weaning. This is our family’s personal journey and is not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. I am NOT a doctor. I am a stay-at-home mom with a background in public relations so taking medical advice from me would be straight up crazy. Seriously. We’re exploring baby-led weaning in consultation with our pediatrician … every step of the way. You should do the same. 

For more about our journey with BLW:
BLW | week one
Instagram (hashtag #BLWwithIslaBee)

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petite trousers

Philadelphia Life + Style Blog: Anthropologie Lunares petite Trousers; StyleMint tank top: Zara black leather sandals; Studio47West necklace; Essie Topless and Barefoot; Warby Parker Neville Blue Marblewood sunglasses

I found these trousers in the petite section at Anthropologie and I was thrilled to discover they fit me so well. Okay fine, they’re way too long, which is par for the course, but I prefer them rolled anyway so it all works. I love the printed trouser trend, which I know is nothing new, but I’ve been trying for a while to find the right pair and kept striking out. H&M has a pair I just ordered so I’m hoping those work, too. Those were, admittedly, well within my budget, whereas these polka-dotted beauties were a bit of a birthday splurge (but I used my birthday discount so I feel like it’s okay.) The print combined with the loose, light fabric makes them great for just about any season. I am also a big fan of the high waist, which actually makes my legs look long! Now that’s a first. They’ll be perfect for lounging at home with the little one, date nights in the city and breezy days down the shore. I’m looking forward to making these a staple over the coming months.

Anthropologie Lunares petite Trousers; StyleMint tank top: Zara black leather sandals; Studio47West necklace; Essie Topless and Barefoot; Warby Parker Neville Blue Marblewood sunglasses

Anthropologie Lunares petite Trousers; StyleMint tank top: Zara black leather sandals; Studio47West necklace; Essie Topless and Barefoot; Warby Parker Neville Blue Marblewood sunglasses

Anthropologie Lunares petite Trousers; StyleMint tank top: Zara black leather sandals; Studio47West necklace; Essie Topless and Barefoot; Warby Parker Neville Blue Marblewood sunglasses

Philadelphia Street Style: Anthropologie Lunares petite Trousers; StyleMint tank top: Zara black leather sandals; Studio47West necklace; Essie Topless and Barefoot; Warby Parker Neville Blue Marblewood sunglasses

Petite Style blogger in Philadelphia: Anthropologie Lunares petite Trousers; StyleMint tank top: Zara black leather sandals; Studio47West necklace; Essie Topless and Barefoot; Warby Parker Neville Blue Marblewood sunglasses

{Anthropologie trousers; StyleMint top: Zara sandals; Warby Parker “Neville” sunglasses; Studio47West + gifted Etsy “I” necklace; vintage bracelet; Etsy knuckle rings; Essie “Topless and Barefoot” nail polish}

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