Tag Archives: weaning

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.

Sources

http://pcrm.org/health/health-topics/parents-guide-to-building-better-bones

http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_info/Bone/Bone_Health/Juvenile/default.asp

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Nursing At Sixteen Months, Feeling The Pressure!

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Where are my boobs??

Entering into the world of extended breastfeeding wasn’t as terrifying as you might imagine.

The little guy gradually started nursing less often, it became more about comfort and less about quantity. Nursing seemed confined to home, perhaps it was boredom feeding, more often than not it was me using my milk to get him to settle for sleep. We were rarely feeding on the run or while out and about because the world is so much more exciting to look at than the same old boobs!

At sixteen months old, breastfeeding a fully fledged toddler with twelve teeth and a few words in his vocabulary seems perfectly normal to both of us. To close friends and family, it isn’t that strange either, maybe just a little bit, but not strange enough for them to question me about my choice.

And then totally out of the blue, in the middle of a busy playgroup, he came running over to me and began tugging at my shirt. Of course without thinking, we started feeding perched on a windowsill. I looked out across the room to watch the other kids splattering shaving creme and glitter up the walls and all of a sudden…there they were

Two women, crossed arms, staring at me feeding my toddler!

Probably for the first time in my breastfeeding experience, I felt slightly awkward!

It occurred to me that they may find the whole scene slightly awkward…embarrassing…odd?!?

Anyway, not one to be deterred, I gave myself a quick reality check, flashed them a big smile and a giggle and carried on.

A recently published report came to mind, one stating that the confidence of a mother may affect breastfeeding success. The Journal of Advanced Nursing published a report that found that mothers who are more extroverted and less anxious are more likely to breastfeed and to continue to breastfeed than mothers who are introverted or anxious. (Source: Wiley)

So do you feel that a mums personality may go some way towards her breastfeeding success and longevity?

I certainly felt a fleeting pang of embarrassment, but another mum may have been totally mortified and quit breastfeeding then and there.

Generally, I feel inclined to disagree with the findings of the report, that less confident personality traits mean breastfeeding failure is imminent. Myself, the shyest, most private kind of mother, I became totally liberated by the experience of breastfeeding, and make a point of publicly feeding with the hope of inspiring another shy mum to do the same for her child.

I do agree that emotional stability is a more likely contributing factor, health professionals need to tune into all of these underlying personality traits in order to offer the best support and advice.

Let me know about your experience, are you shy, did it affect your confidence to breastfeed, did you lose all inhibitions to do what you felt had to be done?  I also did some research into the benefits of breast milk past one year which you can read here.

Crispy Herb Coated Butternut Fingers…Perfect For BLW Hands!

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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…

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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!

Enjoy…

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