Tag Archives: Milk

Having A Moment Of Milk Doubt? How Often To Nurse Past 1 Year Old.


Every so often I have a breast milk fuelled wobble.

I start thinking about pouring the little guy a couple of cups of milk a day. I worry that his calcium intake is not sufficient for his bone development. Should I be supplementing with vitamin drops, am I really doing the best thing letting him feed several times daily still.

At times like this, I need to find reassurance that I am still doing the right thing for my guy, that I am not depriving him of any vital nourishment, and that in fact he is getting the fullest of fattiest milk to develop his brain and the most bioavailable source of vitamins and minerals possible.

There isn’t an enormous amount of information out there about extended breastfeeding, even less of it is properly researched…so it took some time to find rthe reassurance I was seeking.

You can read some of my previous research here, I looked into exactly why breast milk is so good past one year…

But how much should a toddler be drinking?

There is no official minimum intake guideline for milk. Form what I managed to round up from various sources, it seems like between 1-3 years of age, 15-18 oz of cows milk is a good amount (400-500ml). But how does that translate to the invisible measures of breast milk.

According to KellyMom, as long as your toddler is nursing at least 3-4 times a day then there is no need add cups of cows milk.

The reasoning…milk-splash.jpg

Cows milk is just a convenience, a convenient source of calcium, vitamin D and fat.

Check out my detailed research here to see exactly why breast milk is more than adequate, but just quickly, it is super full fat, with high levels of vitamins and minerals designed specifically to be easily absorbed by the human child.

So if your child is nursing regularly still, then go with it, combined with the varied diet that he will be getting, then all should be good in the brain and bone!!

If you want the figures in detail, the NHS website recommends the following as a guideline daily intake, but it can be averaged out over a week:

Ages 1 to 3 years: 700 milligrams (mg) per day
Ages 4 to 8 years: 1,000 mg per day

Here are some serving recommendations:

  • 1/4 cup raw tofu prepared with calcium sulphate: 217 mg (The calcium content of tofu varies, depending on how it’s processed. Check the label.)
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt: 207 mg
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses: 172 mg
  • 1/2 cup fruit yoghurt: 122 to 192 mg
  • 1/2 cup calcium-fortified orange juice: 133 to 250 mg
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese: 167 mg
  • 1/2 cup milk: 150 mg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate milk: 144 mg
  • 1/2 ounce Swiss cheese: 112 mg
  • 1/2 cup vanilla frozen yoghurt, soft-serve: 102 mg
  • 1/2 ounce cheddar cheese: 102 mg
  • 1 slice whole grain bread: 24 mg
  • 1/2 ounce mozzarella cheese: 103 mg
  • 1/4 cup collard greens: 66 mg
  • 1/4 cup homemade pudding (from mix or scratch): 76 mg
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed butter): 64 mg
  • 1/4 cup turnip greens: 50 mg
  • 1/4 cup cooked spinach: 60 mg
  • 1/2 cup calcium-fortified cereal (ready to eat): 51 mg
  • 1/2 cup calcium-fortified soy beverage: 40 to 250 mg



The Virgin Gut. How Important Is Gut Flora In Babies


Something that makes me a little uneasy is seeing a four month old being spoon fed baby rice.


How much do you know about the virgin gut?

I didn’t know about the virgin gut until many months into motherhood. I haven’t been a mum for that long, I pretty much learn on the go, in fact I was still totally clueless about parenthood until I had the guy in my arms. Like a lot of things that I am passionate about today, my knowledge of the virgin gut grew from a seed of information which I became totally obsessive over.

I have been desperate to share my understanding of it ever since, but I have been too chicken to spout to all but one close friend. So now I am ready to dazzle my captive audience…because if you have got this far, I know you are interested.

What is it about?

The virgin gut is all about gut flora, immature, open guts and and what can pass into the blood stream from that gut. And before you reach for that bowl of baby rice (see more reasons here), or that bottle of formula, just small quantities of anything other than breast milk can quickly upset the gut flora of baby’s tiny digestive system, before it has had a chance to fully mature.

The consequences of introducing foreign substances can have lifelong effects, asthma, eczema and allergies…which is why the WHO recommends six months exclusive breast milk…here is the reasoning…

A theory.

At the heart of the theory is the gastrointestinal tract – the digestive system – the alimentary canal – or simply, as I will refer to it – the gut – from food in, to food out and most importantly for this article the stomach and intestines.

An adult gut contains thousands of species of bacteria, how they get there is a process that starts on that journey out into the world. (There is current research that suggests the process of colonizing the gut with bacteria starts in the womb, with the swallowing of the amniotic fluid, but lets assume as is more widely accepted that the process of colonizing the gut starts as the baby is being born.)

sleeping babyDuring a natural birth, through labour and delivery, baby starts swallowing all those bacteria hanging around the birth canal and rectum. The bacteria travel through the stomach and the small and large intestines and multiply over the first few weeks of life to establish a pretty diverse microbiota (a community of micro-organisms, bacteria, viruses, and fungi that normally live in or on a given organ in the body.)

Interestingly, the type of bacteria of the gut of an emergency c-section baby is different to a vaginally born baby, and a planned c-section baby has a different gut flora altogether, this is due to different environmental factors being introduced to the baby, and less chance of swallowing mums personal bacterias!

Why is this gut flora so important?

The colonization of the gut flora at the beginning of life is massively important because it impacts the development of the immune system and has a major role in immune system functioning. It has been suggested that 80-85% of the immune system is in the gut. So from birth, right from the outset, the gut is building to protect from autoimmune and metabolic diseases.

What is happening inside baby?

Back to baby…In newborns the gut is not fully matured, it is referred to as an open gut, full of tiny holes or spaces through which things can pass into the blood stream.
From breast milk it will be antibodies, friendly bacteria, vitamins, minerals, hormones, enzymes, growth factors and many other special substances that will pass through. From formula and other foods, allergy triggering milk proteins, less desirable bacteria and other nasties will pass through.

Breastfeeding symbol

Breast milk.

So lets take a newborns gut and colonize it with mothers helpful bacteria. Then fill it with the good stuff, exclusive breast milk, and throw in a few helpful bacteria picked up from mums boob as well…it is only this combination of milk and breasts which can results in the development of biofilms. Biofilms are groups of micro-organisms which in the gut, create a protective lining against harmful pathogens. This is how breast milk reduces incidences of diarrhoea, influenza and respiratory infections during infancy, and begins to protect against the development of allergies, type 1 diabetes and other illnesses, because the beneficial bacteria are present and correct and doing their job!

baby bottleFormula milk.

Now…introduce anything else to your little ones gut before it has had a chance to mature and the resulting effect strips the gut of all of its original flora, the gut opens up, the tiny microscopic spaces are left wide open. Even adding probiotics (live bacteria) and prebiotics (oligosaccharides) to make the microbiota of formula milk similar to that of breast milk is futile because milk proteins strip away the biofilms lining the gut, and leave it literally wide open.

It is these milk proteins, themselves allergens, which pass into the blood stream and stimulate or trigger protective processe. The immune system sees the proteins as the enemy and tries to fight it off. For the unluckiest of babies it can lead to a life blighted with sensitivities, asthma, eczema, and many different food allergies.

I am a breast feeding mum, I am not against your personal choice to formula feed or combine feed, but personally I would do my utmost to avoid my feeding my baby a drop of artificial milk. In rare cases, I understand that there can be complications with mum and formula may become a necessity.

However, I do believe that if more people understood exactly what formula is doing inside that tiny gut, then society may become less convinced that formula is a fantastic alternative and more people may battle through the frequent feeding, night waking, pain, and hungry demands of baby really make breast feeding work.


WHO | Exclusive breastfeeding. 2013. WHO | Exclusive breastfeeding. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/exclusive_breastfeeding/en/. [Accessed 31 March 2013].

Maternal Factors Pre- and During Delivery Contribute to Gut Microbiota Shaping in Newborns. 2013. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3417649/. [Accessed 31 March 2013].

Breast Milk Promotes a Different Gut Flora Growth Than Infant Formulas – DukeHealth.org. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dukehealth.org/health_library/news/breast-milk-promotes-a-different-gut-flora-growth-than-infant-formulas. [Accessed 31 March 2013].

Intestinal microflora in early infancy: composition and development. 2013. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.medicinabiointegrata.com/doc/probiotici/Microflora%20intestinale%20nel%20bambino.pdf. [Accessed 31 March 2013].

Feed Their Personalities. The Follow On Con…

formula tin

I could kick myself. I find myself humming the tune to the Cow & Gate advert today. The one telling you to feed their personalities…with purees, mush and follow on substitutes! ‘Come on Eileen’, the track originally by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, it’s catchy, I find myself being drawn in by the cute super-group of babies.

Now that I am more savvy towards formula, formula companies and the whole charade of their advertising strategies, I understand that these commercials are no longer just cute and catchy, but carry a more sinister subliminal messaging system.

Since the World Health Organization adopted The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in 1981 there have been strict rules on infant formula marketing and advertising. The problem with the code is, it is just a code, not a law. It is down to the individual governments to legislate and implement the code.

In 1995 in the UK, it became illegal to advertise infant formula, for use from birth to six months with the introduction of new legislation The Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula (England) Regulations.

So what exactly have I been seeing on the TV and in the magazines?

Well, the regulations surrounding formula did not include follow on milk, and the formula companies took advantage this loophole.

Statutory Instruments 2007 No. 3521,The Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula (England) Regulations states for the avoidance of the risk of confusion between infant formula and follow-on formula that… Infant formula and follow-on formula shall be labelled in such a way that it enables consumers to make a clear distinction between such products so as to avoid any risk of confusion between infant formula and follow on formula.

But as you can see from the photographs below, the packaging is almost identical for infant formula and follow on milks, so infant formula is by association being promoted in a seemingly legal advertisements.

cowgate1 Aptamil1

This puffs formula powder in the face of the original legislation and the protection it should be giving to the womanly art of breast feeding.

The advert got me wondering what exactly makes follow on milk so popular. Is there any goodness to it, or is it just another way for the formula companies to keep the money pouring in.

The main difference between infant formula and follow on milk is the type of milk protein used. Infant formula has a higher whey content. Follow on milk has a higher casein content. Casein is harder for the stomach to digest, so it sits in babies stomach for even longer than whey based formula, keeping them fuller for longer, which is why these milks are sometimes labelled for hungry babies or nighttime feeds. NHS Choices. 2012. Types of formula. [online] http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/types-of-infant-formula.aspx#close

Follow on milks also claim to contain all of the vitamins that a growing child needs and all of the iron that they require. So how necessary is all of this iron if your child is fed a balanced and healthy diet?

The iron in breast milk is quite clever. It is bound to lactoferrin a protein which aids absorption of the iron. Together with the high content of lactase and vitamin c in breast milk, iron is highly bio available (close to 50%). Being bound to the lactoferrin also means that free iron is not floating around in baby’s gut feeding other bacteria and organisms because of its bacteriostatic and bactericidal effects.

Follow on milk has impressively high levels of iron, but this isn’t matched with the other bits like lactase, lactoferrin and vitamin c.  This means that the percentage of iron absorbed is relatively low (around 12%), but also is the perfect feeding ground for iron loving organisms like e-coli which in turn can cause gastrointestinal problems in little people, like constipation and diarrhea.

it seems more and more likely that follow on milk was was designed to promote the formula brands.  In line with the advertising laws for formula, infant formula is not included in any in store promotions, displays, price reductions, special offers or even store points like Boots advantage points. Follow on milk circumnavigates all of these issues, it is cheaper, and most importantly can raise the visibility of formula ranges.

So what have I learnt.  Babies obviously need plenty of iron, especially over six months old.   If not from breast milk then it needs to come from formula.  But wherever possible, and as soon as possible, wouldn’t it be best ti ideally get babies iron from a varied and healthy diet.  I think that should be the goal to keep in mind.

Baby Rice Pudding

Rice pudding

I was lurking in the yoghurt aisle of the supermarket, as you do, looking at the sugar content of baby yoghurts and desserts.  Revolting, sugar, water, preservatives and a little more sugar for good luck.  The only thing I found to meet my impossibly high specification was the Plum Organic fromage frais, sweetened only with natural fruit pulp.  That went in the shopping trolly, but while I was there I took note of some flavor combinations and pudding ideas to try and re-create at home.

The latest addition…£1 for two pots of Ellas rice pudding.  You what?!  Surely I could do that myself.  Now I haven’t made rice pudding for many years, since an attempt that even the birds refused to ingest…So here goes.

Makes approx 300ml of rice pudding (5 small portions for my guy)

50g pudding rice
500ml milk
1 thin strip of orange or lemon peel
dash of vanilla extract

Pop it all in a saucepan, bring to the boil, remove the peel and then simmer on low for 40ish minutes or until most of the water is absorbed.  Hey presto!

Leave to cool and divide up as you wish.  Mine went into some breast milk storage pots ready to freeze.  Use within a month and heat until piping hot throughout.

Was it worth the burnt milk on the hob and the impossible to clean saucepan.  As I stacked up the little pots I wondered how can one saucepan of rice pudding bring so much satisfaction, I am a bit of a geek like that.

I did ummm and ahhh over to freeze or not to freeze the rice.  Rice is notorious for breeding bacteria if not used within a reasonable time, but I use my own judgement and finish the pots on the day I defroste them, if any of it makes it to the freezer and I haven’t finished the lot!