Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Food Plan for the little one - where to start!

As I've been breastfeeding Ammarah for the last year and a half - I have to say I haven't always stuck by the 3 constant meals schedule. Although she has always had a breakfast of some sort consisting of brioche or toast for some time - we've now moved onto Weetabix yay!. Then a lunch which was usually a Hipp foods spaghetti heart-shaped tub which she enjoyed occasionally. Then dinner was always  not really defined by any routine or set meal per say but it was whatever I had cooked - sometimes roti, boiled potatoes with our roast or chicken. Nevertheless, I have never really ever been concerned with Ammarah's eating habits. Like her mama, she has a small stomach so is usually snacking on some kind of fruit or biscuit. Actually the main reason is because I was still breastfeeding her.

However, for the last 2 days, alhamdulillah - by the complete miracle of Allah swt, Ammarah has stopped having breastmilk. I know, it's only been 1 and a half years. Some of you may be thinking why stop now, I could make that 2 year mark which was once the intended goal. But as circumstances change so do goals. Actually with baby 2 on the way I've now realised it's a good time to wean Ammarah off the breast. I don't have any great tips to give that's why this post is not about weaning. BUT, I really believe when the time is right and you genuinely feel right about it, it'll happen - of course it will require a bit of effort too. However, I do have a great article that was sent to me by a dear friend that I'd recommend to read as it really helped me make this decision. Read here.

So back to food. -  I felt this post was much needed now as a starting point for myself to get serious about Ammarah's nutrition. Over the last 6 months in particular - I've been taken notes on my phone on the types of food Ammarah has enjoyed eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner and of course as snacks in between. This list will continue growing of course.

Now I've found that some days its easy to prepare meals just for Ammarah especially if the main food I'm cooking is too spicy or salty for her taste buds or it's something she wouldn't enjoy. But I am trying to vary the food. For example, Ammarah doesn't really like egg but yesterday I bought a cheese and onion quiche  which she thoroughly enjoyed  - that's going on the list! So my tips for my friends and new mums are as follows:

1. Take mental or written notes of your baby's food likes and dislikes. Start as early as 6 months. But don't just stick to their likes. Attempt to give them their dislikes at a later time to see if their palate has changed - you'd be surprised at their new love for that food. Give them plenty of water throughout the day too especially in the summer. We've avoided any kind of fizzy or juice drink - I'm obsessed with no baby of mine is having rotten teeth - [more on that later]

2. As busy as life can get - try not to give them too much sweet food for snacking like cake and biscuits, we can all be guilty of that at times and I'm not even talking about with our little ones! Snacking is very on the go for me, so if I'm out I usually nip into the local supermarket and pick up grapes or blueberries but keeping this stuff ready in the fridge is handy for those days spent in doors!

3. Try to stick to a routine for feeding - the 3 meals and some snacks, I think it really helps - well especially if your life is in a routine too :) (Good luck finding that after having a baby lol) Sometimes though I'd find if I stuck to MY regimented routine of lunch at 1pm - and Ammarah wasn't as hungry so allowed a little more play and tried feeding again - of course this took me a while to realise. Now because the routine has kicked in well, Ammarah sort of approaches me and says 'Mama Mama' when she sees me preparing her food which for me indicates she's hungry and now our routines are in sync alhamadulillah

4. Make eating fun! I have seen some mothers worry if their child hasn't finished that last little bit on the plate - do try to avoid that, it'll make your life and the baby's less stressful. So let them play a little longer with their food and make a little mess :) Some days they eat well, burp and are happy and some days they may eat little but snack more and are still happy. But honestly let your little one enjoy eating and not see it as a stressful time for mama and baby! :)  

5. If it helps, make a food plan - I haven't yet but soon I think I will make a rough guide for the week so that I'm not repeating the same foods each day and ensuring Ammarah gets a healthy nutrition.

6. For real concerns, do talk to your health visitor or when you go to get your baby's weight checked at clinic. Talk to other mamas for that peace of mind too and much needed tips. Read on useful sites like Baby Centre.

My own experience, reading many articles and experimenting has helped me to get to this stage alhamdulillah, where I  now feel a lot more confident about Ammarah's diet. If you're still at the early stages of all of this - do not worry - every child is different and a bit of time makes a lot of difference. For those mamas still breastfeeding, know that your baby is picking up a lot of nutrients from your milk and it may seem like they are drinking more milk but eating less, especially before age 1. Do not worry! As a midwife once told me before age 1 babies are only food tasting anyway. The real deal begins after their first birthday and even then it may be later for your little one. Hope this has been useful. I think I've certainly got a few more bits of reading and resarchto do myself to extend Ammarah's food plan - but for now I think we've made a good start alhamdulillah. :)

Monday, 1 December 2014

Children are our blessings - let's cherish the memories :)

Salaam and Peace to all - after a busy few months of soul searching and no laptop, I somehow remembered I still had this blog and thought I'd give myself a reminder of the blessing of Ammarah in our lives alhamdulillah

So Ammarah is coming up to her 1 and a half year mark in a few weeks mashaAllah - time really does fly! She's started teething again but this time it's the big molars, all four! Alhamdulillah it's been going well.

Ammarah loves her books. So I decided to add to her collection and brought her a Mr Men mini collection. At first she just loved taking the little hard-back books out of their case and putting them back in - now she remembers Mr Bump and Mr Nosey.

She's also attempting to say some words: some of her favourites include - shoes and yes she's very obsessed with them, big boots, boys trainers, flip flops any kind of shoes, you name it - you'll find Ammarah in the landing playing with them! And her favourite sound seems to be 'sh' so the other day as the sun came out, I decided to take her to Hounslow Urban Farm to show her some sheep! We had a lovely time walking with the chickens, waiting for the rabbits to move in their huts, watching the lamas chew their food and even attempting to converse with sheep :) The cutest thing ever was her reaction to the chipmunks who were scurrying about in their cage. Ammarah was literally jumping out of her pram with her mouth wide open in excitement!!

I also found Ammarah imitating the animals. When we strolled passed the lamas who came hurriedly to greet us at the fence, they were chewing their food and I found Ammarah doing the same. It's amazing how children learn!

By remembering these moments and writing them down I feel I as a mama can get through any kind of hardship and difficulty that comes my way. We are so quick to capture memories of great days out or occasions but how often do we go back to them and thank Allah for those blessings? Whilst children are our tests in this life, they are also our biggest blessings. In the same way in every hardship we encounter we can certainly find some ease. So not everyday is going to be like this but cherish every moment - from the mess they make on brand new carpet to the cheeky smiles they show you after. From the endless nappies and sleepless nights and non-stop breastfeeding sessions, know it was all just worth it because you are raising the next generation of Muslims, the ambassadors of our faith to carry on this message of Islam inshaAllah.

May Allah swt bless us all with patience, and strong will power to count our blessings in times of hardship inshaAllah. Ameen.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The terrible Twos - So soon? But she's 14 months!

So I didn't expect baby tantrums to be something I'd be writing about so soon.  But I can't help it after little miss Ammarah decided to cause her self a little scene at a restaurant a week ago. By that I mean laying on the floor infront of the huge glass door refusing to let me pick her up - oh and screaming at the top of her lungs - LOL.  I was surprisingly calm about it (have to say that's very much my husband's personality rubbing off on me). I've realised something as a very new parent, you just cannot control the situation sometimes. I mean not completely. I'll explain further.  Actually this realisation was confirmed by the three A's rule mentioned by Shaykh Alaa Alsayed at the Parenting Matters course. A mum had asked that burning question- how do you deal with the terrible two kids,  always throwing tantrums (Not that Ammarah always does alhamdulillah). The Shaykh answered with a simple solution - the 3 A's. The 3 A's are to avoid, alter and accept. So I changed the subject and told her we're going for a walk - she seemed to like that idea and was happy to get up alhamdulillah :)

Sometimes all these tips and acronyms go out of your mind when you're in the thick of it and you really aren't sure what to do - or maybe it's a new mum thing. Today Ammarah managed to pull a lady's hair on a very hot and crowded bus, not once but 5 times!!! The poor lady who had a little one of her own just really ignored it but I was very embarrassed and apologised until she managed it a 5th time! I couldn't believe it! It was a little funny because Ammarah had a cheeky grin on her face while she was doing it.

Ammarah enjoying the children's area
in Greggs Cafe.

I was glad once we were out of that bus! The fresh air and the flowers and trees calmed Ammarah down and we were off on our way home. :)

I guess people with or around children and babies can very much tolerate to some extent baby behaviour - those without and it's very obvious who they are, will simply tell you or give you that look especially on buses. Of course you don't want to look like that helpless parent who's child controls them, so you at least say 'That's naughty!' And eventually after a few incidents of hair pulling they just may listen! ;)

Any suggestions from other mamas would be much appreciated - feel free to comment below  :)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Child's play- this is the life! :-)

Whenever I take Ammarah out for the day, whether to the park, to town or just to visit a friend, I remember to pack all the essentials;  the nappies, wipes, some snack or baby smoothie pack but I always seem to forget her toys.  Mostly she's entertained by the outdoors.  She watches people walk by, cars racing past, sometimes we'd be lucky enough to hear the birds tweet.  But most of all she enjoys pointing out the trees and gets super excited by the flower beds in the street and as we pass by well kept front gardens. We point to all the pretty colours of pinks, yellows, reds, whites and recently we've been spotting a lot of purple daisies too. This is probably why I forget to take her toys.  For babies discovering the big wide world, who needs plastic toys and stuffed animals?

But it was a whole new story when we went out to the parenting course.  I thought to myself, how will I keep Ammarah entertained for the whole day session? So luckily I remembered to pack her stacking cups with all the other stuff. This proved to be a hit amongst some of the children Ammarah was around in the mum and tots room.  And it was only then she enjoyed playing with them more, realising she possessed something really exciting that other children wanted.  Of course she squawked at any child who took any of her brightly coloured cups far from her gaze, which was hilarious to watch really.  Although I did mention her name sternly when she was getting out of hand. 

So it was at this course that I discovered Ammarah can be such a mother hen bossing around children so she could be the main little tot pushing the pink stroller up and down the glass balcony.  But I also discovered Ammarah's pen holding grip and mashaAllah it was very good for a baby. She enjoyed scribbling over my notes, just simply copying mama - :). I decided to follow it up by buying some chunky crayons and a colouring book. I know it seems so soon. But when you think your child's ready for something why wait. Ok, except make sure your watching that you're little one doesn't start chewing on the crayon - that wouldn't be good.

And so I started reading up on my trusted What to Expect book by Heidi Murkoff to see what I should be doing with Ammarah at this stage. Here's a useful very brief summary [I've picked out the best suggestions]:

Toys that encourage musical play include drums, tambourines, shakers, horns, xylophones, keyboards or even the easy pots and pans and a wooden spoon will do just fine! :) Now I found the above information very useful myself but I certainly won't be going out buying all the above and nor am I encouraging others to do so. I know I've missed out reading and books - don't worry I've got a whole load to write on that ;)

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Breastfeeding - You can do it! For a whole 2 years! (inshaaAllah)

I've been breastfeeding Ammarah since she was born now and am proud to say mashaAllah I'm still going strong. So much so that I am dreading the weaning off stage. What kept me going for so long you're possibly wondering? Well it was the encouragement I got from family and friends around me. In fact, at the very early stages, just when I thought this was proving to be far too painful and difficult for me, my sister called and encouraged me. All I remember her saying was, It gets better and easier! And alhamdulillah she was right! So here I am to tell the tale :) So to all the new mamas out there, trying so very hard in the early stages of breastfeeding, don't give up - here's a few extra reasons below straight from the NHS website:

In fact since I've met a few other mamas, I've started to believe that breastfeeding is back in fashion now :) When I struggled to decide how long I could go on for, after so badly wanting to fast last Ramadaan, I met mamas who breastfed each of their children the 2 whole years - one particular mother had 3 children - So 6 years of breastfeeding! I thrived on such encouragement, as if Allah was sending my signs to help me make my decisions. After all the anxiety about weaning Ammarah off before Ramadaan, I actually found it difficult. But Allah swt heard my dua and allowed me to complete all my fasts and continue breastfeeding Ammarah throughout last Ramadaan. They were certainly some of the longest fasts I ever kept and only Allah knows how I managed - the power of dua is amazing!

At 14 months, I now breastfeed Ammarah 3 times a day maximum and have only just purchased my first breastfeeding apron - well it's better late than never. It's really handy so I would really recommend buying it right from the beginning so your baby gets used to it and doesn't start thinking you're playing a peek-a-boo game! 
So my top tips if you're taking breastfeeding all the way to the finish line:

1. Invest in the breastfeeding apron - its good coverage, airy, light weight and doesn't allow your baby to get too hot - it's about £7 on eBay.
2. Invest in a new wardrobe of button down, zip down, wrap style tops or dresses. For those who wear them, you may also want to consider the same for the abayas too
3. You may as well invest in a breast pump (electric double ones seem to work best) especially if you plan to go back to work or everything starts to become painful, it's a great way to take a break to heal up.
4. Drink plenty of water. Drink plenty of water. Drink plenty of water. It was necessary to say this 3 times. :)
5. Find mamas who also breastfeed, just nice having others encourage you along the way alhamdulillah.

And for the little experience I did have of sterilising baby bottles, I would definitely rather breastfeed! 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A certified Muslim Mama?

'Mama, Mama' says Ammarah pointing to her shoes telling me to put them on her little feet. It took a few times for her to say it  (early one morning while the sun shone and lit up our room) and I realised what she was calling me! As I started to wake up I had such a great feeling inside - She's calling me Mama - It's so cute mashaAllah. She knows who I am, even though I'm sure she always knew who I was but she's confirming it now for myself and everyone as silly as it sounds, I know you mamas know what I mean :)

This was the weekend of the Parenting Matters course run by Al Kauthar in London. My association with going to Islamic courses was something I had done in my single life, a little when married and no experience of a full weekend with baby by my side. So I was excited, nervous but grateful for the opportunity. 

It was at this course, being amongst other mums and toddlers that I had finally merged another aspect of the old me to the new me. And it was at this course, that I had the feeling of embracing mother hood - celebrating the role I now had. It's not that I never did, it's that the realisation of motherhood really dawned on me and I liked it alhamdulillah. Looking around me I realised I was not doing this alone.  

At the Mums Q & A session with Shaykh Alaa AlSayed - Ammarah decided to start showing off her very loud singing voice which meant I walked towards the large window balcony corridor (where she had been playing with a pink stroller earlier) to quieten her down whilst I had one ear in to listen to the questions that were being discussed.

These are just some of the gems I picked up:

More to follow soon inshaAllah - until next time :)

Monday, 8 September 2014

Welcome and Introductions

Asalaamualaikum and Peace to all you mamas out there!

Welcome to Just Being a Muslims Mama :) I started this blog as a celebration of my entering motherhood and now fully embracing it. You would have thought I would have done this 14 months ago when my beautiful daughter Ammarah came into the world. But the truth of the matter is I was sooo busy changing nappies, feeding, bathing, clothing AND I was hanging onto any part of my old self that I could have - that active, studious me always getting my hands into some sort of new project: eBay, DIY, teaching, organising events, writing to do lists each day, studying and more studying! I didn't think a baby would change me, well a little, but not THIS much. For a while I tried to find myself once more, the old me. But now as Umm Ammarah I've discovered a  new me; one with new mum friends, food stains on my clothes and a special bond between my daughter that words cannot describe, alhamdulillah and I like it!

I hope through my blog entries I can take you through the life of a Muslim Mama, perhaps inspire or make you giggle a little :) For any new mamas out there, you are in for one adventurous time and for all other mamas. . .