Tag Archives: Nutrition

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



An Apple A Day, Growth Vs Nutrition.

20131114-103413.jpgWas the first year of your baby’s life blighted by that WHO growth chart. Each weigh in, exciting, but tinged with just a little fear…failure to thrive, dropping off the curve, supplementing suggestions, early weaning…

Then the solids start, and the mission to bulk up continues.

Food becomes such a focus, but is it for the right reasons?

There are many reasons why a healthy, varied and fun diet is so important in those first months and years…but only at the bottom of my list of reasons will you find the growth chart.

Here are a few of the reasons why I try to focus on variety and enjoyment of food, rather than pure old weight gain.

Variety is the spice of life…

It is believed that the taste for flavour begins in the womb, literally, by flavouring the amniotic fluid! What you eat in pregnancy supposedly going on to affect you baby’s tastes as the grow up. The idea continues with breast milk, not only a constantly evolving source of nutrition but of changing flavour too. It is another way of potentially influencing tiny taste buds and preparing them for a variety of foods.

So the idea continues from birth to 12 months. This is a time when baby is most receptive to new tastes and textures, the theory being that exposing them to as many flavours and foods as possible in these early months means that they will continue with all of these recognisable foods and hopefully be as adventurous going forward in life.

Iron deficiency

Quite a major reason for a varied diet, particularly in a breast fed child, is the lack of iron in breast milk. Around six months when the digestive system is fully formed (please read my article on the virgin gut) and baby’s reserves of iron are all but gone, it is important to introduce some good sources of iron like beans, peas, lentils, broccoli, green leafy vegetables and dried fruit. Knowing you need to incorporate such specific foods can make you quite creative, my guy loved this spinach and lentil dahl for an iron boost and a more exotic alternative to broccoli!!

Strong skeleton, strong mind…

The adult skeleton normally contains 206 bones.  Babies on the other hand have a different mix of over 300 different bones and cartilage parts. One you probably know about, the cranium, start off as three separate plates which shift and move to allow for passage of the baby’s head through the birth canal.  As the baby grows, these plates fuse into one cranium, that soft fontanelle disappears.

All bones start off as cartilage, but many are still cartilage at the time of birth. Cartilage turns into bone over time through a process called ossification.

Calcium is obviously the big factor in bone development.  A diet rich in calcium is vital for your child.  But bones are a made up of more than just calcium…collagen water, phosphorus, magnesium, and other minerals are all found in bone…so they are all as important as calcium in making bone!

Vitamin C from citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, and other fruits and vegetables is essential for making collagen, the connective tissue that minerals cling to when bone is formed.

Vitamin K is thought to stimulate bone formation. It is found mainly in dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, but is also available in beans, soy, and some fruits and vegetables.

Potassium decreases the loss of calcium from the body and increases the rate of bone building. Oranges, bananas, potatoes, and many other fruits, vegetables, and beans are all rich sources of potassium.

Magnesium, like calcium, is an important bone mineral. Studies have shown higher magnesium intakes to be associated with stronger bones. “Beans and greens”—legumes and green leafy vegetables—are excellent sources of magnesium.

Fruits and vegetables are also important for what they don’t do. Some foods—especially cheeses, meats, fish, and some grains—make the blood more acidic when digested and metabolized. These foods add to the body’s “acid load.” When this happens, bone minerals, especially calcium, are often pulled from the bones to neutralize these acids.  Diets high in fruits and vegetables actually tip the acid-base scales in the opposite direction and make it easier for bones to hold onto their calcium. (Source: PCRM)

So variety really is more important than quantity?

When you understand the importance of developing good lifelong eating habits and growing bones and growing every other element of a child’s body, it becomes clear that pure weight gain is just a by-product of all of this.

Were you a slave to the growth chart, were you terrified of dropping down a percentile??  Do you think less importance should be placed on that growth chart, or do you think it is an important indication of a healthy child.  Please comment to let me know your thoughts.




Crispy Herb Coated Butternut Fingers…Perfect For BLW Hands!


Butternut squash is one of my favourite vegetables at the moment, it has been perfect for baby led weaning, mashed, roasted, boiled, it always turns out tasty and healthy.  Ok, it makes a lovely hearty soup, but today I was feeling creative, so I tried something a little different with it.

Butternut squash is a winter squash, but it seems to be around all year, you can dress it up for the summer easily!

Low in fat, and high in fibre, it contains potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems.

It’s bright orange flesh gives away the fact that it is packed full of carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, shown to protect against heart disease.  And on top of that, there are high levels of Vitamins C and A and folate.  Super!

In fact, because it is so virtuous, I feel less naughty for frying it in a little olive oil to make crispy chips.  It is perfect for baby led weaning, little fist sized chunks with a crispy outside and a creamy inside make for an interesting new texture and a pretty tasty side dish for the adults too!  Have a look at the recipe below…


1 Butternut squash
2tbs plain flour
1 heaped tsp mixed herbs or any that you have
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

It’s a fairly simple method, I like easy…the hardest part is peeling and chopping the squash, but once peeled, cut into large chunky (mis-shapen) chips.

Boil until tender but not overly mushy.

Drain away the water and dry on kitchen paper to remove most of the excess water.

In a shallow dish, mix flour, smoked paprika, mixed herbs and pepper to season.

Lightly coat the butternut chips in the flour and sake away excess flour.

Lightly fry in an oil of your choice, I love some olive oil.

Drain again on kitchen paper and garnish with chopped fresh or dried herbs if you fancy!



Entering Extended Feeding Territory…Better Than Cows Milk.


Hopefully, we have just had our final encounter with the health visitor!!!

We are at the one year mark (already) and a check up was in order according to the NHS guidelines.  So far we have managed six months of exclusive breast feeding, we have continued and plan to continue breast feeding for a good while longer and we have hit the 50th percentile consistently at every weigh in…

I feel proud of our achievements, as any parent would…

So why did I leave that check up feeling so agitated?

There was not one word of praise for reaching our breastfeeding milestone, in fact  the health visitor tried several times to push a pint of cows milk a day at us, then she tried to shove multi-vitamin at us and finally told me that he needs to eat more than the three meals and two snacks a day that he already feasts upon.

The reason?

“Well if he was drinking formula milk he would be getting all of the vitamins and minerals he needs.”

Aarrhggh…What kind of support is that?  There was nothing about the little guy to suggest he was in ‘need’ of anything!  She clearly wasn’t listening to anything I had told her about his healthy appetite and seemed concerned that I was just forcing breast milk for my own agenda.

I had a rant to a fellow boob-a-holic mum, she had received similar advice, that breast milk is nutritionally redundant at one year, ooh my blood is boiling!

So where is this information coming from?

The WHO recommends breast feeding for at least two years. It is widely recognised that breast milk past 12 months still passes immunity and nutrition to the child, it provides comfort and security to the child and for the bonus point, extended feeding increases protection against breast and ovarian cancers and osteoporosis in mothers.  Why would I even consider stopping now?

The WHO summarise that breast milk is the natural first food for babies:

  • It provides 100% of the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life.
  • It provides up to 50% or more of a child’s nutritional needs between 6-12 months.
  • It provides up to 33% of a child’s energy and nutritional needs during the second year of life.

As for the nutritional composition of breast milk past 12 months, there is little documented research, but it does exist.  Nothing spectacular happens at 12 months that reduces breast milk to water.  I was curious about the nutritional content when I expressed some milk recently…The milk in the bottle just seemed different to me, it seemed richer, creamier and thicker, it didn’t separate into the two layers that I was familiar with earlier on in his life…I found a little bit of info that went some way to explain why…

Research shows that the fat and energy content of milk over the one year mark to be significantly higher than in milk at the 2-6 month mark.  Good news in the full fat cows milk war that was being waged on me!

Anyway, as this woman was so intent on selling me shares in her dairy farm, I thought I would take a look at this wonder milk of the cows to see how it compares to breast milk in its composition and content.

Milk Crate With Cow


Starting with the fat content of milk, medical professionals seem keen to get a whole lot of whole milk into growing children…by that I mean full fat, regular milk, cheese, yoghurt etc.  The reason being that babies and children grow so rapidly, they need to meet their calorie intake in the form of fat, 1g of fat has more than double the amount of calories of 1g of protein or carbohydrate.  It is also an essential part of the formation and development of the brain

Breast milk has up to 5% fat.

Whole cows milk on average has 3.25% fat.

Good but not quite as fatty as my specialist supply!


The main carb in breast milk is lactose.  At around 7% the carbohydrate content provides around 40% of the total amount of calories from breast milk.

Cows milk comes in at just over 4% lactose.

Good but not as good as my personal milk stash.


This is an interesting one.  Cows milk seems to pull ahead in the competition on this one with just over 3% protein content compared to the 1% of breast milk.

How these percentages are made up is the interesting bit…

Breast milk is split 60% whey, 40% casein.

Cows milk is split 20% whey, 80% casein.

It is the unique balance of proteins in human milk which is easy to digest, whey in particular being most suited to little people.  Importantly it is less taxing on the kidneys and stomach.

Once again breast milk seems best balanced and is more than adequate for a growing child based on protein composition.  Another point to mothers milk!


Vitamin content seems to be directly related to mothers intake, so babies can become deficient in a few areas.  In particular:

  1. Vitamin B12
  2. Thiamin
  3. Folate
  4. Vitamin D

It is important to keep taking a vitamin supplement to keep these levels up, however vitamin D is usually always deficient in mothers milk.  Cows milk is usually always fortified with vitamin D.

For this reason, and the fact that sunshine needed for the body to make vitamin D, I will probably introduce some vitamin drops to the little guy to keep his vit D levels up.


Human Milk Cow’s Milk Formula
Calcium (mg/100 ml) 27 124 46
Phosphorus (mg/100 ml) 15 93 32
Sodium (mEq/100 ml) .7 2.1 .8
Zinc (mg/100 ml) .27-.07 .4 .5
Iron (mg/100 ml) 0.04 .0.05 0.11 (1.28)

I found this table of mineral content courtesy of nutritioncare.org as well as the following piece of info:

Interestingly as with all vitamins and minerals in breast milk, they are highly bioavailable (better absorption &/or conservation). So even at lower concentrations than in cows milk, human milk generally meets the mineral requirements for normal infants. (Levels added to formulas are higher to compensate for the less favourable absorption.)

The relatively low protein, sodium, potassium, and chloride levels in human milk also place the kidneys under less of a load than cows milk or formula, which is beneficial to the underdeveloped organs while they mature.

Concentrations of minerals in human milk generally decline over time, probably due to slower growth rate of the child, of course this reduces the demand on mothers body so she can start to replenish her own reserves.


It seems that extended breast feeding has many benefits and advantages, for both mother and baby.  I am ready to answer anyone who questions my choice to continue feeding the little guy, I may even go back to the health visitor and baffle her with some of the science!!!

I will definitely be looking for a vitamin D supplement for him to take, but I certainly will not be too worried about the amount of cows milk he is getting as my milk is as good as, if not better for him than any homogenised, pasteurised, fortified cows milk.  A good varied diet for mother and baby and my milk on demand should be just fine!

So have you had any negative experiences about extended breast feeding.  Have you ever started to doubt the quality of your supply?  Please let me know and leave your comments below.

Baby Jelly Recipe. No Junk. No Sugar. No Gelatin!


Baby desserts can be fun and interesting without being stodgy or laden with sugar.  Sometimes if the little guy has had rice or pasta for dinner, I don’t like to weigh him down with a heavy yoghurt or rice pudding.  This baby jelly recipe is great for a lighter but still nutritional pudding, and it is really easy to make.

We use agar flakes to make this baby friendly jelly at home.  Chemical and bleach free, made from seaweed which is cooked and then freeze dried to make the flakes.  Agar is a rich source of water-soluble, indigestible fibre, and the fruit juice can be a good source of vitamins.

In this recipe I used a red grape juice, we have a guest baby coming for lunch who suffers with reflux, so acidic fruits are off the menu, however, the gelling of the agar can actually be destroyed with the use of acidic foods so be aware of this if you were wanting to make an orange or pineapple jelly…it might not work, or it might need more agar.


I bought these agar flakes in the local supermarket.

It makes a slightly unconventional textured jelly…so don’t be expecting  the usual wobble, but the little guy doesn’t know any different and he loves it!

The basic recipe is simple, you can vary the concentration of the fruit juice, or add berries, chunks of banana or whatever takes your fancy.

Don’t forget to have a look at some of my other baby treats like wholemeal biscotti and rice pudding.

jelly2300ml grape juice
100ml cold water
1level tablespoon agar flakes

Pour the cold liquid into a saucepan and sprinkle the agar flakes over the surface.  Do not stir.

Bring to the boil.

Once at boiling point, reduce to a simmer and stir the flakes into the liquid.

Simmer for 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally until all flakes have dissolved fully.

You can test for how well it will set by dropping a little liquid onto a chilled saucer, it should firm up quickly.

If the mixture is not quite setting add a sprinkling more of the agar and stir until dissolved.  Test again.

Divide into dishes of your choice.  Allow to cool, then refrigerate.

jelly 3

Do not stir your flakes until liquid starts to boil