Starting Solids for baby – Am I doing it right?

Starting solids is an exciting time for Mum and Baby! It is not something to worry too much about, as “food under one is just for fun”. As long as baby is growing and developing, your milk is meeting their nutritional needs. Starting solids is introducing your baby to smell, texture, taste and they are learning about biting, chewing and swallowing. Also about trajectory and dropping things from their high chair!

There is no right or wrong way to start solids, no one size fits all approach. You know more than you think you do as A Mother, follow your instincts and do what you are comfortable with. There are only guidelines and recommendations.

I took a wonderful discussion with a group of Mummas and their gorgeous babies today! Every time I take a talk we are put on a different tangent to the last talk, this is a typical representation of all things in parenting, and brings me back to the idea that there is not a one size fits all approach. You must do what is right for you.

Here is a summarised form of our chat:

 1. There is no right or wrong way to start solids. Do what feels comfortable for you and make decisions with the information you have on hand.

2. The farex debate

Some were asking why some people think it’s bad. For those who are interested, there is research to suggest the following:

In a nutshell, inorganic arsenic levels are up to 5x higher in rice cereals than in things such as oats. Inorganic arsenic is found in pesticides and is linked to cancer. If keen on farex, try to stick to one serving a day and use other meal times to explore a variety of tastes, textures, smells such as puree vegetables or fruit. Grating in liver or adding spinach is a great way to naturally add in iron.

Farex is a highly processed food. White rice ground to a pulp. There is research to suggest (look up Dr. Greene) that giving baby ground up white rice is metabolically the same as giving baby sugar. It does increase babies insulin levels.

There are minerals and vitamins sprinkled in however baby can get them in other forms, with a varied real food diet. Plants and meat will naturally provide what farex is artifically fortified with.

3. The grains debate.

There is research to suggest that babies guts do not have the enzyme to digest grains until age one. 

Quinoa, however, is easy to digest and a very low allergen. Quinoa has all 9 amino acids (complete protein) and is a good source of fiber.

Rice – research suggests babies do not have the enzyme to digest rice (found in saliva) which is why some mums chew the rice first before feeding it to baby.

4. Baby led weaning.

Baby led weaning is skipping the purees and giving baby appropriately sized peices of food to eat (or baby feeds themselves). Ideas are roast veges, sliced veges and fruit, asparagus, avocado slices, chicken breast slices or tenderloins, banana slices, cucumber slices – whatever you are having for your meal, sliced into a chip shape, where the baby can pick it up and eat it themselves.

This teaches baby to bite, chew and swallow as opposed to purees which teach baby to swallow then months later they learn to bite and chew first.

Baby led weaning is just a term used for letting baby feed themselves. If baby grabs something off your plate, well that’s baby led weaning too.

5. Nz ministry recommends waiting until 7 or 8 months before introducing dairy.

No honey allowed until after age one due to infant botulism.

Don’t add salt or sugar to baby’s food.

6. If a baby is meeting milestones and developing normally, there is no need to be concerned._ _“Food under one is just for fun”. Breastmillk or formula will meet your babies’ needs until the age of one._ _Babies often go through phases of eating a lot and then a few days of not wanting food. Sometimes you wonder why your baby isn’t eating their normal portion of food only to realize a day later that they are sick or teething. Generally, you can use babies queues to judge how much to give.

Remember baby has a good gag reflex which baby uses to push food around their mouth. They are not choking when they are using their gag reflex.

7. Worried about allergies?

This can be a scary thought. Thankfully, most babies are fine with all food groups. A good approach is to introduce common allergy foods such as wheat, gluten, dairy, soya, nuts, eggs, fish and night shades with a 4 – 7 day wait in between. This makes it much easier to identify possible allergies.
Generally, allergies have a reaction of within two hours and intolerances can show days later.
If baby has a serious reaction, call 111 for an ambulance. Look for swelling lips, mouth, tongue, face and/or throat, dizziness, difficulty breathing and collapsing.

8. SAFETY WITH FINGER FOOD 

_Plunket recommends waiting until 7 -8 months for finger foods, you do what you are comfortable with. _

_Make sure you are with baby while eating. _

_If baby chokes (this goes for baby choking on anything, not just food):_

FOR INFANTS (Under 1 year)

If your baby is choking but can still breathe or cry, let him cough the object out himself. If he is unable to breathe, cry or cough you need to take the following action:

1. Lay him facedown on your forearm, being careful to support his head and jaw in your hand. Using the heel of your free hand, give him five quick, forceful blows between the shoulder blades.

2. If the object does not come out, turn him face up on your arm or lap. Put your middle and index fingers at the centre of his breastbone, about one finger breadth below his nipples. Give fine quick chest thrusts. Alternate between five back blows and five chest thrusts until the object is dislodged.

3. If his is unresponsive, start CPR and have someone call 111. Support his head with your hand, and turn him on his back. Put your middle and index fingers at the centre of his chest, about one finger breadth below the nipples. Give five quick chest compressions, pressing 1/2 to 1 inch at a rate of at least 100 per minute. After every five compression, tilt back his chin slightly and give one rescue breath by putting your mouth over his mouth and nose and breathing out. If you see the object, remove it – otherwise, don’t reach into his mouth.

8. Supplements

Personally, no I do not recommend vitamin supplements for babies. Loads of vitamins for children are awful, they are packed full of sugar, read the packet – 4g in every 100g is one teaspoon. _
_If you are worried that baby is not getting enough say, iron, then the NZ Ministry has a great site outlining their guidelines for how much of each vital nutrient a baby should be getting. Take the guessing game out of it, educate yourself on how much a baby really should have, then find a food baby will eat which has the macro or micro nutrient in it. Iron could be oats for breakfast, spinach for lunch, an orange for a snack and mince with avocado for dinner. _ 
_If a baby is failing to thrive then you would go to the GP and be referred to the necessary professional. The reason for failing to thrive could be a manner of things such as perhaps a physical problem or an allergy, rather than baby is just fussy. _
9. http://www.health.govt.nz/ [1] and http://www.vrg.org/ [2] for nutrition guidelines

NUTRITION:

IRON.

Meat iron is haem, not meat iron is non haem. Iron is best absorbed from meat.

Eating foods high in vitamin c will help baby absorb iron

Why the fuss about iron? The same as your own iron stores deplete when you are pregnant and baby is rapidly growing, babies need iron as they are still rapidly growing. If you needed iron while pregnant, you’ll know that without it you are left exhausted. Iron is also essential for brain development, growth and development.

What do you eat to get enough iron? Bf mums need it too! At 9mg/day (nz ministry).

_Haem iron_

Beef fillet Steak 173g is 5.8mg

Half cup mussels 7.5mg

Two lamb steaks (116g) 4.0mg

Lamb liver 4.0mg

90g can salmon 2.1mg

Chicken breast (107g) 2.0mg

Pork loin chop (74g) 1.2mg

Tarakihi fillet 0.8mg

_Non haem iron_

Tofu 100g 5.4mg

Porridge 1cup 1.3mg

Cooked red kidney beans half cup 2.0mg

Lentils half cup 1.2mg

Chickpeas 1.6mg

Brocolli 1 cup 0.9mg

Baked beans 1.6mg

Dates (10) 1.3mg

Spinach one cup 2.5mg

Egg 0.9mg

Multigrain bread 0.7mg

Nz ministry

vrg.org soya beans one cup 8.8mg

Quinoa one cup 2.8mg

Kale one cup 1.2mg

Vitamin c foods kiwi fruit, citrus fruits,

Calcium
Bf woman need extra calcium, diary and other sources.
Nz ministry 1000mg / day rdi
Milk one cup 310mg/day
Prawns 100g 190mg
Salmon small tin 70mg
Tofu 200g 270mg
Spinach 140mg
Cottage cheese 1 tablespoon 9mg
Edam cheese 2cm cube 75mg
Yogurt potter 195mg
Calcium fortified soya drink 286mg
Tofu 100g 105mg
Whole grain bread 33mg
Sardine 66mg
10 almonds 30mg
10 Brazil nuts 68mg
Sesame seeds one tablespoon 88mg
Brocolli cup 59mg

Vitamin D will help calcium absorb, smoking and excess caffeine will inhibit calcium absorption

Iodine 270mg/day
Bf mums needs more iodine
Because baby is growing rapidly
Pre existing thyroid condition should seek doc advise before taking supplement.
Foods – seaweed, seafood and fish. Now that you can eat sushi again!
Kelp
Dairy and egg products.
Bread is fortified with iodine.
Recommended daily supplement containing 150mg iodine.

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Healing Eczema

One great thing that has come out of my son having eczema is that it has almost cured my brothers eczema. How?

My brother, Bradly, has always had mild eczema. It would come and go and wasn’t a bother or a worry. I remember as children, Dad getting this cream for my brother which we would refer to as “snot” because of its colour and texture to treat the eczema.

When Brad was in his early twenties, his eczema suddenly got worse. Like a swarm of ants on food, it took over and devastated his entire body – head to toe. His eczema had cracks,  sores, weeping spots, it was oozing with infections and red raw. It was so sore and the itch was torture. He couldn’t live normally. He would put on his Drs prescribed cream (cetamacrogil, 20 years later they no longer give out the “snot” cream) and sit in front of the fan nearly 24 hours a day. He couldn’t sleep, he couldn’t walk due to pain or work due this debilitating skin condition. We never saw him, he kept to himself in his room at Dad’s house. Instead of my brother, he was pretty much a a sleep deprived zombie covered in weepy sores. This went on for over a year. He had Dr appointments and specialist appointments,  all of these specialists told him the same thing and gave steroid creams. He was supposed to be admitted to hospital for a length of time until he showed improvement however he declined several times. At the Superclinic, they asked him if they could take photos as it was one of the worst cases they had ever seen. These are the only pictures anyone has of Brad, a photographer, with eczema.

Then his nephew,  my son, was born. Bradly has been a wonderful Uncle since day one, he actually came out to the hospital to meet my son and saw him before I did (My son was in NICU and I was busy having a few surgeries post birth – another story for another day). When my son started getting eczema at just two months, you could see it in Bradlys face that he was so sad for the poor bubba! He asked if we had got the steroids etc. and I was always asking Bradly for tips about what to do for the itch etc. Sometimes he’d say, “you’ve done a bath, you put him in front of the fan with cream on, he’s not too hot… there’s really nothing else you can do”. My heart would break and I could see Bradlys did too, as he knew exactly what torture it was to be in pain and itching 24/7.

We did the Dr’s suggestions for a while but I couldn’t sit back and do nothing else. I decided to do some modern parenting (I used google) to explore other ways of treating the eczema. It got so desperate that I was keen to try anything. We started off with trying an elimination diet, so as my son was breastfed, I cut out all common allergens and threw the formula in the bin. Within a month,  my son had dramatically improved then we went on to do full gut health diet along side cutting out chemicals in the home etc and now he’s great! Not 100% but he’s so much better.

I kept Bradly in the loop with what we were trying out, he decided to try cutting out dairy and egg and it worked for him in the same way. Within a month of cutting this out, he had improved greatly. Not 100% but now he’s well enough to sleep, walk and work – things he couldn’t have imagined doing with his condition before.

I asked Brad if the Dr’s, hospital staff or specialists had ever suggested diet as a treatment for him. He said that not one person ever had. This makes me so sad then also a little angry that Bradly had to suffer for years, he was on very strong antibiotics for four months which have caused permanent damage in one eye.

My Dad can’t believe what a difference diet can make,  he said to me “wow, we never thought to look at diet”. I replied,  “Dad, you just never thought to look”.

Hopefully these kinds of stories online can help others in similar situations so they don’t have to suffer in the same way.

A Bad Week For An Allergy Kid (And Mum!)

We thought my toddler was growing out of his allergies. We really did. He seemed to respond better when he was exposed to dairy and egg. Now I realize it wasn’t that he responded better, we only thought he did because the amount we were trying on him were small, like a mouthful here and there, rather than a whole serving of a food.

My son had blood tests done and I barely thought twice about what the results might be, I was expecting a 2/6 (mild) however for both dairy and egg he came back on the severe side of the spectrum 4+/6 – my understanding of this is that while he is not anaphylactic,  he may need to go to the hospital if exposed to these allergens.

The life of an allergy Mum (and that of an allergy sufferer) is full of ups and downs. I have been feeling really bummed following a bad week. We had a triple whammy of the test results and a likely asthma diagnosis plus an exposure to dairy. We spent two hours at the Drs office on Wednesday plus most of Friday at the hospital.  My son is always in pain after eating dairy, he screams and wriggles around for a night or two, then breaks out in eczema. I’m so emotionally drained and physically tired too.

So, Johnny is at a great age (17 months) where he is chatty, curious and hilarious. He keeps me laughing everyday which reminds me that allergies,  eczema and asthma are not the end of the world. He is so busy living in the present moment that he doesn’t mope around about something that happened a whole day ago. He teaches me so much. When I stop wallowing in pity, I do count my blessings and realize that we have a million other things to be greatful and happy for.

It’s been a week now. When I woke up this morning, I could have felt tired, I could have felt drained, I could have felt upset but I didn’t.  Instead I woke up, smiled at my son who smiled back (we cosleep) and I said, “Thank you”.

Rice Milk Bottles and Good Fat Intake

My son has allergies and intolerances to dairy, soy, egg, nut, wheat, gluten and nightshades. I cut these from my own diet and breastfed him until he was 14months old. I stopped breastfeeding as I was about 2months pregnant with our second child.

So, Johnny HATES neocate (the allergy friendly formula) plus I wasn’t keen on it because the main ingredient is corn syrup. This meant the toss up of milk substitute is between coconut milk and rice milk. Rice milk won due to taste and cost, however sometimes he’ll have a coconut milk bottle as well. My concern is about his fat intake, as rice milk won’t provide him with adequate amounts of this.
Fat is absolutely critical for brain development and cellular function/maintainance. A rapidly developing brain (such as in that of a toddler) must have a diet which has a good intake of all essential fatty acids as our bodies cannot manufactur them (which is to say, we eat essential fatty acides because we do not make them).

So, here’s what we do to make sure our brainy kid has enough fat in his diet:

Firstly, he has a 200ml bottle of half rice milk, half water before the midday nap. I always include half a teaspoon of Nordic Naturals DHA liquid in it. Our naturopath put us onto this brand (but the baby one) about a year ago. Available on iherb for quite a good price however I get it from a health shop seems as I go there anyway for eczema creams and what not.

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Side note: the nighttime bottle is laced with probiotics.

Secondly, I try to remember to feed my son chia seeds every day in the form of chia seed pudding with coconut cream and berries/honey or in overnight oats for breakfast or added to baking.
Chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition, they include omegas and calcium. Realistically, he gets chia seeds every other day because I often don’t get around to it and then before I know it the day’s gone! (Mum life lol)

Thirdly, we do ‘fishy Fridays’ where we have salmon on a Friday (then buy cheap cuts of meat for the rest of the week). Honestly, I am rubbish at planning meals and being organised but fishy Fridays is one thing I do almost every Friday. Pintrest is my best friend for ideas on new ways to cook salmon although there’s nothing wrong with salmon and sweet potato/regular potato chips (fish and chips). We use olive oil for cooking, as a good fat.
Salmon is high in essential fatty acids plus has the benefit of being easy to eat while teething.

Tip: Avocado. My son eats it as it is off a spoon/in slices. Way too easy as a snack and another good fat source.

Fat is a macro nutrient, as are proteins and carbs. Macro nutrient just means something we require in large quantities (as opposed to micro nutrients which we require in small quantities). It is vital for children and adults alike so don’t be scared to get in there and enjoy the good stuff too!

We are still on the waiting list to see a dietitian but remember to ask your Dr about seeing one to take the guesswork out of dietary requirements for allergy kids.

Hope this has been helpful!  X