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Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

6-12 months

Give ’em A Whole Chicken Leg

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 5:10 pm | By Stephanie Woo

The other day, B, M, hubby and I went to Le Pain Quotidien, a great organic restaurant in NYC, for lunch. We watched the Mom and Dad next to us feed their 2 1/2 year old baby mush out of a jar and plastic bag, while our 13 month olds ate quiche lorraine and croissant.

I would have been that mom if my own mother hadn’t set me straight three months ago. At ten months, they were still eating mushy foods, most of it went through the food processor before ending up on their plate.

“You should give them an entire apple, a whole chicken leg, whole dumplings. Give them big pieces of food, don’t cut it up, let them bite into it!” were my mom’s instructions. So starting at 11 months, that’s what I did. Here’s what the result looks like:

It takes a different level of willpower and “teeth-power” to eat a whole apple

Brooke sat on the sofa and worked on that apple for half an hour – that is a lot of apple for a 13 month old!

Long udon noodles are delicious and so much fun to eat

Chicken and corn dumplings – gimme two of those for dinner!

Chicken wings – delicious!

Biting into a whole apple or sinking your teeth into chicken wings gives food an entirely different feel than tiny chopped-up pieces. Give your child a different experience – one that is true to how we adults experience food. Children want to learn what the real world is like, give them a taste! If you have a picky eater, try giving them big pieces of food that they can eat by themselves. Kids always like something better when they can do it by themselves!

Video: You Must Let Your Child Try This

Monday, December 5th, 2011 2:47 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Mackenzie is going through a phase of pointing at everything and saying, “Da?” She wants to know its name.

It’s like she woke up one day and suddenly discovered that everything has a name.  She’s always asking to be picked up and walked around so she can point at things and wait for us to give her the name. The sheer joy she exhibits upon hearing the names of those things makes it worthwhile to repeat ‘lights,’ ‘flowers,’ door’ a hundred thousand times, which is how often she asks.

Of all her favorite words, ‘light’ is at the top of the list. She loves to point at lights, hear the word ‘light’ in English (from Dad), then hear it again in Chinese (from me), watch us turn on and off the light, she’s interested in lamps, recessed lighting, hanging chandelier, bathroom lights, etc.…you can say she is generally obsessed with lights.

So I went to the hardware store and bought this foot-controlled light dimmer:

There were a couple other kinds, but many of them were hard to slide.  This one has a large switch and slides easily for little hands. I did a couple demonstrations for Mackenzie and Brooke. I would sit them in my lap and then slowly show them, “Turn the light on. Turn the light off. Turn the light on. Turn the light off…” Throughout the day, the light will suddenly turn on or off. I would look over and see someone practicing turning on and off the light.

Montessori says to “Follow the Child.” The key is to observe them carefully over a period of time, see what they’re interested in, then give it to them. When you can connect them to the right thing, it’s like a switch goes on in their head…

How do I stop my child from climbing on everything?

Monday, December 5th, 2011 2:32 pm | By Stephanie Woo

I took Brooke to an indoor playground the other day. She stared at the older kids as they went up and down the slide. I went to get something from the stroller and when I turned around, Brooke had climbed halfway up the stairs of the slide! I almost had a heart-attack but I did my best to stay calm and watched her get to the top. I helped her slide down and immediately, she went for the stairs again.

From that day on after we got home, she started climbing onto anything she could, including the weaning table. Somewhere in the middle of the meal, we would find her on top of the table with her knee in a bowl of rice!

Clearly, my little monkey was itching to climb. I knew I had to give her something to climb because if I didn’t, she would find something to climb onto anyway. Babies are like that, you cannot stop them because they NEED to do these things, whether it’s putting things in their mouth or climbing. If you don’t want them to do something, you need to redirect their energy and give them a version of it that they CAN do.

So I asked my nanny to clean the staircase in my building and I let her loose on the stairs. She went up and up. Super fast too. And then I would take her down and start again. Up and up again. Five flights in the morning. Then five flights in the afternoon. Then five flights the next morning. She would squeal and babble loudly all the way up and her laughter would echo through the hallway. She loved it.

We’ve continued climbing stairs everyday and I’m happy to report the table-climbing has stopped. Brooke is in better shape than ever and Mama is still catching up!