Archive for the ‘Breastfeeding’ Category

Easy Homemade Purees

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

homemade baby foodIf you haven’t tried, making your own baby food purees is super easy and surprisingly quick. You don’t need to buy any special equipment, assuming you have a typically stocked kitchen. It’s a nutritious and inexpensive way to start your child on solids.

The easiest choices are banana and avocado, as all you need to do is mash up a bit of fresh fruit. Make sure they are ripe, and scoop out some avocado or slice of a chunk of banana into a bowl. Mash it smooth with a fork and voila, dinner is served (or breakfast or lunch or whatever).

Other fruits and vegetables require cooking before mashing. Generally speaking, steaming is my favorite option as it retains a lot of nutrients, and also keeps the texture moist and easy to puree. Veggies like squash, carrots, potatoes, and softer fruits like peaches can all be mashed with a fork by hand, if you don’t have a food processor or blender.

For more fibrous foods, like green beans, spinach, or apples, it’s best to use a food processor or blender after steaming. When blending, you will need a blending liquid. Expressed breast milk or formula are good options (if you exclusively breastfeed but don’t have a freezer stash, this can be a good way to use up the sample formula cans that formula companies send). If your child fights constipation, you can use a little bit of prune juice as the liquid.

Meat can be a little tougher to process. Again, steaming is a good way to go (baking works too though). Rough chop and put in your processor along with with your chosen liquid. Keep in mind, when processing, that a smoother texture is usually better tolerated, so check the texture and when in doubt, blend a little longer.

Feel free to make a batch at a time; you can freeze the purees in ice cube trays and store in ziploc bags in the freezer once frozen. I used to thaw out what I needed for the next day by putting frozen cubes in old glass baby food jars and then into the fridge the night before. You can also purchase jars specially designed for homemade baby food.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three boys (and desperately hoping that they don’t burn the house down someday). She and her family are enjoying living an ex-pat life overseas.

My Baby Isn’t Interested in Solids

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

My baby isn't interested in solidsThere are as many methods to transition a baby to solid foods as there are baby gurus out there. Cereal first, meat first, nuts, no nuts, baby-led weaning …

No matter the method though, a child cannot live forever on breastmilk or formula alone, and there will come a day when she has her first taste of food.

What if baby isn’t interested in solids? Many people say to have your baby sit with the family during mealtimes, and he will naturally become interested in solids seeing his family eating them, too. This is exactly how things went down with my two younger boys. My oldest, however, Mr. Stubborn, was a different story.

Come six months of age, my mom group friends’ babies were all starting to chow down. There didn’t seem to be a picky eater among them (though the Internet does have a way of glossing over things, doesn’t it?). Mr. Stubborn though, was not interested. In any of it. I packed up the baby spoons and tried again in a few weeks. Nope. By eight months old, he was still growing like a weed, but was still refusing everything but breastmilk. I was exhausted providing all of the calories for a 97 percenter in weight category.

Every reluctant eater will have a different food that will finally start to turn things around. For mine, it was rice husk crackers. I know, there’s not a ton going on there, nutrient-wise, but it was an enjoyable sensory experience for him, which started him finally getting more adventurous on other foods. So don’t give up. Take a break, and keep trying a variety of foods.

Finally, if you have any concerns, make sure to bring it up with your pediatrician. It’s possible that your child may need to see a feeding therapist, particularly if she isn’t growing at a rate your pediatrician and you are happy with.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to three boys (and desperately hoping that they don’t burn the house down someday). She and her family are enjoying living an ex-pat life overseas.



Foods that Cause Colic

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

maisie cry 1When my oldest son was born, we could use him to tell time. At pretty much exactly 7pm each evening until 11pm, he would cry. And cry. And cry. I wore a path in the carpet walking back and forth with him in the carrier, as this was the only thing that seemed to soothe him. Diagnosis? Colic.

If you’re breastfeeding and your baby has colic, it’s worth investigating whether it’s something that you are eating that’s causing tummy issues (and therefore irritability) in your infant. Common food triggers are dairy, caffeine, spicy foods, nuts, some grains, chocolate and sometimes cruciferous veggies, as they can cause gas. Your infant may be sensitive to more than one thing as well.

Sidenote: both breastfed and formula fed babies experience colic. If your child is formula fed and experiencing colic symptoms, you can talk with your pediatrician about changing to another formula.

If you suspect this may be the case, you will need to do an elimination diet. Eliminate one or more of these items for a couple weeks, and see how your baby is doing. If she seems less fussy after two weeks, you then challenge the diet, one food at a time. After a couple days, if your child stays less fussy, add in another, and repeat.

If you’re eliminating foods, you will naturally become an ingredient label super sleuth. Dairy in particular is in a huge number of foods, things you never would think to find it in. If you aren’t cooking from scratch, read every label. Restaurants can be trickier; you often will need to ask your server about the ingredients (chain restaurants generally have nutritional information available online, so you can peruse before you go).

Some good news though; if your child seems sensitive to something you are eating, it doesn’t mean your child will be allergic to that ingredient. More often than not, the child grows out of the sensitivity.

If you think your baby is suffering from colic (with colic, often the entire family suffers together), definitely bring it up with your doctor. She will help you rule out other causes of irritability. And there’s a bit of hope out there as well. Your baby WILL grow out of it. Like everything else newborn, the days are long but the months are short. By four months of age, most babies have grown out of it.

Meaghan Howard is a busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys and a houseful of animals. She and her family are enjoying living overseas for the time being.

Post-pregnancy Teas

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

post-partum teasThe first three months after giving birth are known as the fourth trimester. It is a time when baby is getting used to being out of the womb and in the world. Just as we do our best to nourish our bodies during the first three trimesters, the fourth trimester is just as important. Nutrition is still going to be important, and adding some herbal teas can be very beneficial as well. These are my top picks for postpartum teas.

Red raspberry leaf. If you started drinking it through pregnancy (or even if you didn’t) it’s a great idea to keep drinking it. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and especially high amounts of vitamins C and E as well as calcium and iron, which is especially important after giving birth. It also helps some women increase their breast milk supply because of its naturally high mineral content.

Nettle tea. This is a wonderful restorative tea that helps get rid of new motherhood fatigue by boosting energy and even helping to calm anxiety. It has a deep, rich flavor that I think resembles the earthiness of coffee. It gets its dark color from green chlorophyll, which helps create rich blood and is said to strengthen vitality.

Lemon balm. One of my very favorite teas it is an antiviral, which can help keep you from getting sick but it is also a wonderful calming herb. It has a mild delicious flavor and you can drink it throughout the day to help calm your nerves or before bed to help you sleep. My favorite way to drink it is to make a large batch, mix it with some honey and store it in the fridge to drink cold.

Chamomile. Known as one of the best relaxation teas to help before bed it also serves many other purposes. In the same way as lemon balm you can drink it throughout the day to help reduce stress, tension and nervousness. It is also great to help reduce gas and bloating making it a great post meal beverage. Try mixing some chamomile leaves with lemon balm for an even more delicious tea.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception to those trying to get their groove back after pregnancy to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mom and baby.

Iron-Rich Foods for Postpartum Recovery

Friday, August 12th, 2016

iron-rosh foodsI have struggled with keeping my iron levels up since adolescence. I thought that finally I would have a break from dealing with it when I was pregnant (no period, no blood loss!). Which is true, you aren’t menstruating every month. However, building a tiny human from scratch (Good job, moms!) demands a lot of iron. It’s the reason why prenatal vitamins tend to have so much iron in them (which is why some women have tummy troubles with them).

If you are having troubles with your iron levels, there are lots of foods that can help. For me personally, my body seems to absorb iron best from red meat (I don’t like liver, but if you do, liver is an excellent source of iron). I got that tip from an ANP I used to see. When I start to feel weak or get a bit bruisy, I try and eat a serving of steak. I’m not a huge meat eater, but it makes a big difference in how I feel. Iron from animal sources is called heme iron, because the source originally contained hemoglobin. Shellfish like clams and oysters are also very good sources of iron.

Broccoli, potatoes,  and spinach and other green leafy vegetables are also good sources of iron. Iron from non-animal sources is called nonheme and doesn’t absorb as well as heme. Blackstrap molasses is a good as well–if you enjoy the taste, you can get a hefty iron boost by stirring some into Cream of Wheat (which is fortified with iron).

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, tofu, quinoa, lentils and red kidney beans are all good sources of protein and iron.

One thing to keep in mind, whether you’re trying to boost your levels through food and/or supplement, is that vitamin C is BFFs with iron. Try and get vitamin C, through either food or supplement, alongside your iron-rich food or supplement.

Finally, if you don’t tolerate regular iron supplements well but need something beyond what you’re eating, Floradix is a really excellent supplement. You drink it before eating. I’ll be honest, it’s super expensive and it tastes kind of yucky, but I have had a lot of luck with it when I dip too far down.

Meaghan Howard is a busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys and a houseful of animals. She and her family are enjoying living overseas for the time being.