sleep, rested

A heartfelt post about baby sleep

A heartfelt post about baby sleep

A post about baby sleep. Picture this. While my hubby and I were sitting by the campfire at a cottage, out of the blue, he mumbled “Thank you Dazzle”.

Let me give you the back story and tell you about Dazzle. For the first time since our 3rd child was born, our three kids were asleep and it was only 7:15pm. My hubby and I had the whole evening to ourselves and we were chatting together by a campfire. Now this was unheard of because I co-slept with my 3rd child until he was 10 months old, a few days before that cottage getaway. I used to spend hours trying to get him to fall asleep and he woke up several times a night to nurse. Needless to say, I had been tired. Look at these dark circles under my eyes:

tired, sleep, baby

I was so tired. This was me:

  • All I wanted to do was sleep
  • I didn’t want to work out anymore
  • I was impatient with all my children
  • I wasn’t laughing anymore
  • I wasn’t motivated to cook, work or even play
  • I couldn’t sleep because I was too tired (it’s a thing!)
  • I had no time for myself because I was always trying to get my baby to fall asleep
  • I wasn’t enjoying the precious moments with my baby because I was so tired
  • My brain was scattered because all I could think of was “I’m tired” and “When is the next time I will sleep”

It wasn’t only me who was tired. My baby was tired too. He would fall asleep at any time during the day, in the baby carrier, stroller, anywhere:

tired, sleep, baby, carrier

Needless to say, I was burnt out. I nursed my 10 month old back to sleep I don’t know how many times a night.

sleep, baby, nursing

I remember thinking “This is what it must feel like to have three kids. I can’t believe no one warned me about how difficult this would be”.

On June 12, 2019, a particularly bad day, I get a message from Jenn, asking me if I would like to collaborate.

Let’s back up way back in 2002 so you can get a visual of Jenn. I worked with her as a camp counsellor and her camp name was Dazzle (she is on the left, I’m on the right):

sleep, camp

Jenn is now a mom of a toddler and she recently trained to become a sleep consultant. She messaged me to collaborate because our audience is very similar (parents of infants). Reluctantly, I wrote back asking her what her approach to sleep is because I want to make sure it’s consistent with “mine”. Note: I wanted to know if she let babies cry in a dark room for hours because that’s what I thought sleep consultants were about. Selfishly, I asked her “What do you recommend with babies sleeping in their parents’ beds?”. Her response was “Lots of families choose to share a bed with their babies, and it works for them. Those families aren’t looking for my support. When moms who co-sleep with their babies approach me for support, it’s usually because they’re not happy with how things are going anymore. Mom is tired or baby is tired.” At that moment, a lightbulb went off. THAT’S ME! I’m so tired and my baby is probably super tired as well because we never get long stretches of sleep. Whatever I was doing WASN’T working anymore.

I agreed to schedule a call with her. Jenn is still the same gentle, open-minded and caring person she was 15 some years ago when we worked together at camp. She created a customized plan for us and I followed it to the T that same night. I have to say that her plan worked like magic for us. After a few nights of glorious sleep, I told Jenn:

“I’m falling in love with my baby all over again”

My life was changed:

  • I get evenings with my hubby
  • I feel rested
  • My baby’s naps are predictable
  • I know I will get to sleep from 7pm-6am without any wakings
  • I started running again
  • I’m laughing and making jokes now
  • My baby is rested
  • I’m feeling more present with my children and my biz

Look how rested and joyful we look!

sleep, rest, baby, blw, solids, dietitian

sleep, rested

I must say that I was against getting a sleep consultant because I thought it had to involve letting babies cry for hours several nights in a crib. Abandoned and alone in a dark room. I was ill informed. When people offered me help with sleep, I’d say I’m OK, it’s normal if they wake up. Until I couldn’t anymore.

Here are some reasons I never got help with sleep:

  • I thought I knew what I was doing
  • Our system was working quite well
  • I thought my baby would figure it out on his own
  • I actually wanted to sleep with my baby

If what you are doing with your baby works for you, great. I co-slept with my other children and it worked for us most of the time.

My message here is that if ever you notice that you’re tired and what you’re doing isn’t working, get help. Don’t wait until you are too depleted. It’s not normal to be tired all the time.

There are specialists for everything. If you need help with the introduction of solid food for your baby, you know to contact me, a dietitian. If you need help with sleep, contact a sleep consultant. I’m not advocating for all sleep consultants. I know there are some that recommend letting your baby cry for long periods of time at a very young age and even night weaning too early. Before paying for a sleep consultant, ask questions. If you want my personal recommendation, contact Jenn. All her services are online and she even offers a free 15 minute call so you can ask your questions to make sure she is the perfect fit for you.

So, now you have it. Thank you Dazzle for helping me and my baby get the sleep that we needed so much. We are sincerely grateful for your help and hope that other parents get the sleep they need.

 

Baby sleep, sleep, baby, solids, blw, baby led weaning

 

Lentil Strawberry Popsicles

Lentil Strawberry Popsicles

 

For babies 6 months and up. High in iron and vitamin C, these popsicles are so easy to prep. So many parents ask me where I get these super practical small popsicle moulds. They’re so perfect because they’re made in silicone and they come out so easily (no need to run hot water over them). Here is the link to BUY THE POPSICLE MOULDS.

 

Ingredients

½ cup (125 ml) cooked green lentils (or unsalted canned green lentils, drained)

½ cup (125 ml) fresh strawberries

½ cup (125 ml) orange juice

 

Preparation

Cook the lentils. I usually cook 2 cups of dried green lentils in 6 cups of water for 20 minutes and store them in the freezer to use in recipes like this one. Be sure to use a large enough pot because the lentils expand when cooked! Place all ingredients in the blender and process until smooth. Pour into the popsicle moulds and freeze for at least an hour.

 

A great way to incorporate lentils into anyone’s diet. Vegetarian, vegan, baby led weaning, BLW, baby led weaning, babies, feeding.

This blog post contains affiliate links so you can easily find the exact products I use. If you purchase them by using these specific links, I get a very small commission. Thank you for the support!

BLW outdoors

With summer coming soon, it’s time to get outdoors with baby and get some fresh air. Sometimes it’s tough to get outside with a baby because you’re tired, there is so much that you want to do, naps, etc. But remember that most of the time, it’s worth going outdoors You’ll feel good and baby too. What’s more? You will both get some of that much-needed vitamin D by being exposed to the sun.

Baby Led Weaning (BLW) doesn’t have to be done inside only. It can be done outdoors and on the go. This blog post will answer questions such as: What foods should I avoid when doing BLW on the go? What foods are best for BLW on the go that will minimize the mess? What equipment do I need to make BLW easy outside the home?

 

First: BLW safety on the go

First off, you want to make sure you’re proceeding safely when you’re out and about. When you’re on the go, in a stroller for example, the stroller must be in an upright position (not laying back) at 90 degrees. You ideally don’t want to be moving so stationary is best. Also, make sure baby is facing you when he or she is eating.

Here is my baby eating a breakfast ball (breakfast ball recipe here!) in our Venice Child stroller:

 

 

What equipment do you need when doing Baby Led Weaning on the go?

To keep your baby still, I like to bring either my stroller or a booster seat when we are eating outside the home. Also, I like to bring wipes to clean up the mess along with a bib or change of clothes for baby. All those aren’t mandatory but do make the experience of eating outside the home much easier.

 

What foods should I avoid when eating out?

I like to avoid foods that are messier, like juicy foods and small foods. Also, smelly foods are to be avoided as well! I like to avoid frozen thawed strawberries, blueberries, rice, saucy pasta, salmon, sardines and peas.

 

What foods can I bring to minimize the mess?

When out and about, I like to bring foods that don’t dirty my stroller or baby’s clothes. It just makes it easier to clean. I love bringing hard boiled eggs, muffins, waffles, pancakes and roasted vegetables. Large pieces work best. Foods don’t need to be served heated up because by the time they’re served to baby, they’re usually room temperature anyway. More practical. I love to bring leftovers. Here is a typical container that I like to bring along when outside with baby: roast sweet potato, roast broccoli, piece of soft chicken thigh.

Here is my baby eating a banana muffin in his stroller (recipe in my online course at nutritionforbaby.com):

 

I get it. It’s not always easy to get outside. I’ve struggled with that too. But get out there! So many distractions for baby to explore and you’ll feel so much better after a few minutes out there. Snap a pic of your baby eating outside and tag me!

#sponsored (Venice Child sent me their stroller in exchange for picture and this blog post)

 

 

The New Canadian Food Guide: for babies too?

The new Canadian Food Guide: for Babies too?

 

The inauguration of the new Canadian food Guide happened yesterday and I’m honoured to have been the dietitian invited to participate. Since I work with babies, lots of you reached out to me asking if the recommendations from the new Guide apply to their baby.

 

Tina from City TV, my 6 month old and I

 

A Historical Event: the Launch of the New Canadian Food Guide

 

I’m proud to have met the Honorable Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor and to have participated with Paule Bernier, president of our Professional Order of Dietitians of Quebec and Nathalie Savoie, president of Dietitians of Canada. Here are a few pictures of the event:

 

 

 

 

I talked about how the new Canada’s Food Guide will impact the lives of families across the country, including mine. Dietitians, policy makers and many others will be considering the new guidelines and we will see changes in our food environment over the coming weeks, months and years. At the same time, the families that I work with as a dietitian will be reflecting on what this new guide means for them. Food is so much more than a source of nutrients for our bodies. Food has the potential to heal, to prevent disease and to bring us together. As a dietitian, my role is to translate the complex science of nutrition into advice for the unique needs and circumstances of the families I work with.

 

Does this mean that the recommendations changed for my baby?

 

So, do the new recommendations of the new Canadian Food Guide apply to my baby? The answer is no. The new Canadian Food Guide is for children ages 2 years old and up. Recommendations remain the same for babies and children 0-24 months old. To read the official recommendations in  the joint statement from Health Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and Breastfeeding Committee for Canada, check out Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants. This document was updated in 2014 and includes information about breastfeeding, vitamin D, iron, food textures and more.

 

If you prefer to learn by watching short videos, I incorporated those official recommendations about starting solids in my online course. You will learn everything you need to know by watching 2-5 minute videos and you can ask me an unlimited number of questions under each video. I answer the questions quickly. There are also more than 30 recipes and videos of babies eating in the online course.

 

My own baby started eating foods

 

In fact, the baby you see below turned 6 months today. It’s a big day and he is ready to start solids! This morning, he explored an egg mixed with a bit of olive oil to make it soft:

 

 

What an incredible moment. He loved the experience and can’t wait to try new foods.

 

Limited time offer

My online course is 50% off until January 31st, 2019 so don’t wait. Use the following link to take advantage of the rebate: 50% OFF THE ONLINE COURSE UNTIL JANUARY 31, 2019.

How to Practice Safe BLW During the Holidays (3 of 3): Desserts

Desserts: How to Practice Safe BLW During the Holidays (3 of 3)

Santa has some by the fireplace. They are rolled into log shapes and cut into stars. Friends trade amongst themselves and share family secrets, while kids beg to lick the bowl they were created in. Holiday desserts are a delectable part of celebrating, and an important part of a healthy adult relationship with food. However, they don’t fall into the classic baby-led weaning guidelines.

That being said, the holidays are a special occasion, which includes having all our loved ones join in the celebration. That is why we developed this final instalment of our holiday series, to discuss whether festive desserts should be given to a BLW baby.

 

Watch us explain the pros and cons of giving your baby a holiday dessert:

If you found this video useful and want to see more like it, subscribe to my channel today.

Holiday Desserts and BLW

 

Cons

Holiday cookies and desserts tend to be super sweet, and may contain ingredients that aren’t the best for baby. Your baby certainly does not need the extra sugar. Desserts also tend to contain ingredients, such as chocolate chips, edible silver balls, nuts or dried fruit, that can pose a choking hazard.

BLW, tasty, baby, baby led weaning, infant, nutrition, first foods, holidays, healthy, safe, health, wellness, desserts
No sugar is best for baby physically, but what about the negative emotional effects of feeling excluded from the festivities?

 

Pros

Letting your infant have a safe BLW dessert can help your child feel included in the holiday season and integrated in the festivities. Having a small amount of sugar on a rare occasion, while not necessary, won’t have a large negative impact on your little one. Not only that, but this is an opportunity to experience new flavours and textures that your baby may have otherwise not been exposed to.

BLW, tasty, baby, baby led weaning, infant, nutrition, first foods, holidays, healthy, safe, health, wellness, desserts
Just a little sugar will not be harmful to your BLW baby.

 

Verdict

It is really your choice as a parent if you’d like to include desserts that are the right shape and do not contain potential choking hazards. If you are still not convinced, you can try my Holiday Cut-Out Cookie recipe. They are free of refined sugar and totally appropriate for baby to give you the best of both worlds.

BLW, tasty, baby, baby led weaning, infant, nutrition, first foods, holidays, healthy, safe, health, wellness, desserts, holiday cut-out cookies
The perfect compromise.

 

Are you the “it’s just once a year” or the “babies don’t need extra sugar” type of parent? Comment below!

 

cookies

One-bowl applesauce chia cookies for babies

One-bowl applesauce chia cookies for babies

 

This is a recipe for parents who like to experiment with different types of flours. In this recipe I used almond flour and coconut flour. It’s a gluten-free cookie recipe for babies with no refined sugar for babies 6 months and up. Super moist and easy to prep in a pinch.

I got my 3 year old to make these cookies. If she can make them, so can you!

We made our own applesauce by coring the apples and placing them in our Instant Pot on manual for 5 minutes. Then we put them in the blender for instant homemade applesauce. You can also buy applesauce if you prefer! These cookies are actually perfect for breakfast and snack. I put a bit of maple syrup for sweetness so there is no refined sugar. They’re also gluten-free!

Before introducing complementary foods to your baby, it’s important that you proceed safely no matter which approach you opt for. Some parents opt for baby led weaning (BLW) and some for the traditional approach to solids and offer purees. Be sure to obtain your information from a trusted source like my online course for introducing foods to babies here.

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

One-bowl applesauce sauce cookies recipe

Ingredients

¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¾ cups quick oats

½ cup almond flour

½ cup coconut flour

½ cup coconut, shredded, unsweetened

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl. Shape into cookies about 1 tbsp each and place on a covered baking sheet. Bake for 13 minutes or until slightly browned. Let cool and offer to your baby. Yields 24 cookies.

What did you bake with your apples this year? Comment below!

Apple cake or cupcakes with lemony cream cheese frosting

Apple birthday cake with lemony cream cheese frosting

*This recipe can make cake, cupcakes or muffins

Looking for a great two-layer cake recipe that’s sugar-free and perfect for babies just starting out with complementary foods? Look no further. The flavour combination of apples with the lemony cream cheese frosting is just subliminal. What’s more, my almost 4-year old daughter made this cake with just a bit of help from me so you can too!

 

cake

 

Please note that raw apples are a choking hazard for babies so be sure to offer them cooked like in this recipe.

 

This recipe can also be used for a birthday smash cake. The main ingredients are apples, whole wheat flour, butter, cream cheese and dates. I make a date paste and use it instead of refined sugar. This recipe is great for babies from 6 months old because the texture is so moist. Please note that this apple birthday cake does contain potential allergens (wheat and cow’s milk) so be sure to have introduced these to your baby before trying this cake.

 

Before introducing complementary foods to your baby, it’s important that you proceed safely no matter which approach you opt for. Some parents opt for baby led weaning (BLW) and some for the traditional approach to solids and offer purees. Be sure to obtain your information from a trusted source like my online course for introducing foods to babies here.

 

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

 

This is what the cakes looks like coming out of the oven:

 

cake, birthday cake

 

Apple Date Cake with Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting

 

1 cup dates, pitted

½ cup water

½ cup unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 ¾ cup whole wheat flour (can also use all purpose flour, could probably work with gluten-free flour)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup milk (any kind, I used cow’s milk)

1 ½ cup apples, cored, coarsely grated

2 tbsp unsalted butter

 

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the dates and water for 4 minutes. Blend the date mixture in a blender or hand blender to obtain a thick paste. In a large bowl, add the date paste, butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and milk. Fold in the apples. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans with the butter and separate the cake batter into the 2 pans. Bake the cake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and then add the frosting.

* To make cupcakes or muffins, transfer to greased or lined regular muffin moulds and bake for 22 minutes.

 

cake

Frosting (double the following recipe for extra frosting)

 

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

8 oz (250 g) cream cheese, room temperature 

¼ cup maple syrup, optional

1 tsp vanilla

Zest of 1 lemon

 

Beat all the ingredients together and frost your cake. Don’t forget to put some in between the 2 cakes! If you love icing, double this recipe.

 

Let me know if you try this cake, cupcakes or muffins in the comments!

How to Serve Strawberries Year Round to Your BLW Baby

How to Serve Strawberries Year Round to Your BLW Baby

 

Berries are incredibly nutritious for your little one. They tend to be very high in antioxidants, providing a good source of many vitamins and minerals. However, due to their shape and size, they can be difficult to incorporate due to choking risk. This is where whole, large strawberries come in. They are full of vitamin C and magnesium, and are the perfect size for little hands and mouths. Seems like a win-win right?

 

Not exactly. I am going to be berry frank; off season strawberries in Montreal fall into two main categories, namely 1) Expensive and 2) Tasteless. Luckily, we can get past all this by purchasing frozen berries. Not only do they tend to be cheaper, but they are picked ripe and immediately flash frozen, to help lock in nutrients and flavour. Now that’s sweet!

 

Take a look this video to see a BLW infant enjoy a thawed frozen strawberry:

 

WARNING*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

Want more videos with info about baby led weaning by a registered dietitian? Subscribe to my channel today!

 

How to Serve a Frozen Strawberry to Your BLW Baby

 

You want to begin by choosing frozen strawberries that are whole. When selecting a few fruits from the bag for your baby, make sure to choose large berries.

BLW, Fresh, Tasty, Salt-Free, vegetarian, vegan, fruit, breakfast, snack, baby, baby led weaning, infant, nutrition, first foods, healthy, safe, vitamin C, berry
You can save even more and help reduce food waste by trying “naturally imperfect” frozen fruits.

 

Of course, frozen strawberries would be difficult to eat as is, so it is important to thaw them. The best method is to do this overnight in the fridge. The slower they are thawed, the more intact they stay. That being said if you’re in a rush and need to defrost quickly, the texture is still appropriate. Place the whole defrosted strawberry on a tray and let your BLW infant dig in.

BLW, Fresh, Tasty, Salt-Free, vegetarian, vegan, fruit, breakfast, snack, baby, baby led weaning, infant, nutrition, first foods, healthy, safe, vitamin C, berry
Simply delicious!

 

PRECAUTIONS

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely

Have you tried frozen fruit for your baby? Let us know in the comments below!

chick peas, baby, diversification, blw,homemade,storebought,hummus,legumes

Homemade or Store-bought Hummus for Baby

Homemade or Store-bought Hummus for Baby

 

One of the most popular questions I get from parents is the following: “ Can I give store-bought hummus to my baby of 6 months doing Baby Led Weaning (BLW)?”

 

hummus, no allergens, baby, blw, diversification, solid foods, iron

 

Hummus is a chickpea dip or purée. First off, parents want to give it to their baby since it’s a puree that’s easy to offer in a pre-filled spoon or spread on another food, such as a piece of avocado:

 

hummus, iron,repice, blw

 

Also, hummus contains iron since it is prepared from chickpeas, so it is perfect for babies who have high iron needs between the ages of 7 and 12 months. In addition, hummus is usually prepared with lemon juice that contains vitamin C which helps with the absorption of iron. On the other hand, some parents are worried because the store-bought hummus contains added salt and wonder if it is too salty for their baby.

 

Is store-bought hummus too salty for my baby?

 

Generally, it is not recommended to offer salted foods to a baby less than 12 months. However, if we read the nutritional label, we see that 2 tbsp. (30ml) of store-bought hummus Fontaine Santé with caramelised onions contains 110mg of sodium.

 

The maximum sodium per day for babies 7 to 12 months is 370 mg. It is certain that baby will eat other foods that contain a little salt during the day. Also breast milk and baby formula contain some (about 130 mg per day). If a baby eats 1 tbsp (15 ml), he would obtain about 55 mg of sodium from hummus + 130 mg of sodium from his milk = 185 mg of sodium total (well below 370 mg per day). You should also read the ingredient list to make sure there are no “mystery” ingredients, depending on the type of hummus you choose. So if you usually buy store-bought hummus, you can offer it to your baby here and there without any problem. It’s practical!

 

Why prepare homemade hummus?

 

On the other hand, if you’d like to prepare it yourself so it’s cheaper and to ensure the quality of ingredients, the recipe is very simple. In addition, you can keep portions in the freezer for 3 months. What I like about making homemade hummus is that I can prepare it without salt for the baby, then simply add salt for the rest of the family members. Also, I use a minimal ingredients (chickpeas, freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, fresh garlic) so I know exactly where they come from. I can also adjust the taste of my hummus depending on the spices that I have on hand.

 

I decided to create a recipe without key allergens (so without sesame butter or tahini) so that this recipe is suitable for all babies. It’s also vegan! I also wanted to mention that I do not use water in this recipe (just olive oil) to maximize the intake of good fats for your baby. This is surely not a diluted product! Here are the ingredients I used:

 

ingredients, iron, recipe, chickpeas, baby, diversification, blw, homemade, store bought

 

Homemade hummus recipe for babies

 

1 can (540 ml / 19 oz) chickpeas no salt added, rinsed and drained

The juice of 2 lemons

 1/2 cup of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) of cumin

 

In your blender, add the chickpeas, lemon jus, olive oil and garlic then blend into a smooth purée. As simple as that!

 

The Importance of Iron for Babies

 

The iron requirements of babies 7 to 12 months old are enormous. Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and black beans contain iron, but these foods tend to be small, round, and hard, which is a choking hazard for babies. Offering hummus on a pre-filled spoon that baby themselves bring to their mouth can be a good option:

 

blw, hummus, homemade, baby

My almost 6 year old daughter wanted to act as the model for demonstrating the use of a pre-filled spoon, in the high chair:

 

blw, complimentary foods, hummus, spoon, iron, fibre

 

PRECAUTIONS

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

 

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely
  • you read the warning below

WARNING*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

For ongoing support throughout your adventure with the introduction of complementary foods, sign up for my online course here. For other simple recipes like this, get my baby cookbook here.

 

Do you buy your hummus or do you make it yourself? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

breastmilk, feedings, breastfeeding, blw, solid foods, nutrition

Breastmilk or solid foods? Weighing up the issues

Breastmilk or solid foods? Weighing up the issues

 

Parents who are following Baby Led Weaning (BLW) sometimes have questions or concerns if their baby seems to rely on breastmilk feeds and doesn’t eat very much solid food, especially when they get to around a year old.

First off, I would like to thank Gill Rapley, who wrote the following text about BLW. I’m sharing it because it’s so useful to parents who follow me. Thank you Gill!

Questions include:

  • How quickly should milk feeds be phased out?
  • Does a greater reliance on breastmilk (or formula) lead to slower weight gain?
  • Will cutting down the milk feeds help my baby eat more solid food?

 

For simplicity, I’ll assume that the ‘milk’ in question is breastmilk. Breastmilk has more intrinsic value for the infant than formula. Especially  in terms of protection from infection. However, much of what follows may well apply to formula feeding as well.

(Please note: I’m not in a position to offer individual advice for babies I have never met, and would not seek to override the advice of health professionals regarding babies whose health may be a genuine cause for concern, so this is a general discussion.)

 

Background – why do people expect weaning to happen quickly?

 

For many years babies were started on solid foods at four months of age (or even younger). So the transition to family meals was actively controlled by their caregivers. Parents were encouraged to cut out milk feeds and increase the amount of solid food eaten by the baby. This was to be done according to a pre-determined schedule. Pureed or mashed food would be spoon fed to babies and they were encouraged to drink lots of cow’s milk.

The aim was to completely replace breastmilk (or formula) with a mixed diet of solid food and cow’s milk by the first birthday. At the same time, a huge rise in formula feeding led to a lack of confidence in breastfeeding. Formula allowed parents to control their babies’ intake from the moment of birth. However, it was in a way that was impossible (and undesirable) with breastfeeding. All of this made artificially controlling the transition to solid foods easy because:

  • the quantity of formula taken at each feed could be cut down at a rate decided by the caregiver
  • the baby could be encouraged to take more solid food than he or she really wanted. (Mouthfuls of puree are difficult to spit out and tend to be swallowed quickly, with no need to chew)

 

What could  happen when parents control the pace of weaning?

 

The pace of weaning was put firmly in the hands of care givers, rather than of babies themselves. So the transition to solids was artificially speeded up so that it would occur more quickly than would happen naturally.

The upshot of all this is that many parents, grandparents and professionals are concerned when they see a baby of around a year old eating very little solid food. A one-year-old relying mainly on milk feeds, with just a few tastes of other foods, may appear to be ‘abnormal’. This may give caregivers a possible indication that something is ‘wrong’. If that baby is self-feeding, as in BLW, they assume that the answer is to take control and manage his feeding for him. This is usually done by introducing purees and spoon feeding, or by actively reducing feeds of breastmilk or formula – or both- even though there is no evidence that this does anything to improve a baby’s health.

breastmilk, feedings, breastfeeding, blw, solid foods, nutrition
For breastfed infants the quantity of milk intake is up to the baby, thus the decision to stop or continue feeding is made by the infant themselves.

What about nutrition?

 

There is no rationale for pushing solid foods at the expense of breastmilk. No solid food comes close to the concentration of nutrients in breastmilk. So, mouthful for mouthful, breastmilk will always provide better total nutrition than any other food. Seeking to replace breastmilk in a child’s diet risks them being less well nourished, not more. (This is the reason many societies give breastmilk to sick or elderly people who can’t manage large quantities of other foods.)

All that babies need, once they’re over six months, is access to small amounts of other foods to make sure they’re getting enough micro-nutrients. Of these, iron (and zinc) are probably the most important. However, the amounts of food needed to supply these needs are extremely small, especially if red meat is included. (Note: An individual baby’s stores of iron can be affected by the timing of the cutting of the umbilical cord at birth. If it is left to finish pulsating, the baby gets the maximum amount of iron possible, making it likely that his stores will last well beyond six months.)

 

How important is breastmilk?

 

As explained above, the rush to replace breastmilk is a throwback from when we didn’t know much about its constituents. As well as when we didn’t understand how inadequate cow’s milk is as a substitute. In the light of more recent evidence of the value of breastmilk it’s clear that, rather than preventing them from eating other foods, breastmilk provides an important safety net for a child whose appetite for other foods is small. Put another way, if a child isn’t thriving on a diet of breastmilk with other foods, the thing that makes least sense is to replace the breastmilk! Plus, there are reported cases of babies who were later found to have digestive problems or allergies, and whose intake of breastmilk turned out to be crucial to their survival and well-being. We need a very good reason to deny babies access to their mother’s breast at any age.

 

Does intake of solids offer better nutrition than breastmilk?

 

Many health practitioners believe that spoon feeding will increase the baby’s intake of solid food in addition to their milk.  This simply doesn’t work if the baby is breastfed. Provided they are allowed to feed whenever they want, breastfeeding babies are always in charge of their milk intake. It’s impossible to persuade them to continue feeding at the breast when they’ve taken all their body tells them they need. This natural appetite control means that, if their tummy is full of solids, they will take less breastmilk to compensate.

So, like it or not, the solid food will replace breastmilk, not add to it. This will reduce, not increase, the baby’s overall nutrition. (Note: This approach can be made to work with formula feeding because it’s possible to encourage the baby to continue feeding beyond the point where they would naturally stop. Unfortunately, this also teaches them to routinely ignore signs of fullness and is one possible reason why formula feeding is linked to obesity.)

baby, formula feeds, nutrition, intake

 

What about weight?

 

As well as providing energy, most of what babies eat and drink maintains their body systems and growing new cells. Of course some weight gain is expected as babies grow. We should note that what is recognized nowadays as ‘normal’ weight gain is less than it used to be. We no longer believe that ‘bigger is better’ where babies are concerned. However, we have a legacy of attaching huge importance to weight that is hard to move away from. In addition, weighing has wrongly been seen as a good way to assess whether breastfeeding is ‘working’. There has been an inappropriate additional focus on weight for breastfed babies.

 

It’s important to bear in mind that weight gain is rarely regular or constant. The overall pattern over a period of weeks or months is more meaningful than one or two weights taken individually. Some babies and toddlers’ weight slows down for a while to compensate for an earlier period of rapid gain. Plus, if there weren’t some naturally small (and large) babies, the centile lines on the weight charts wouldn’t be there.

 

baby, weight, solids, health, growth, toddler,

 

 What are the other health indicators ?

Weight is only one guide to a child’s health. Equally important observations are length, head circumference, muscle tone, appetite, bowel habits, temperature, color and energy levels. Any one of these may temporarily give rise to concern but on its own rarely indicates anything sinister. Although it may trigger a need to undertake further investigations. In particular, length and head circumference can often be better indicators of a child’s growth than weight. If both these are on target then it’s unlikely there’s anything wrong.

 

Babies are weighed primarily to signal any illnesses that might otherwise have gone unnoticed (digestive disorders, growth hormone deficiencies and heart defects). Given the calorie content of breastmilk, it is very unlikely that a baby whose appetite for solid food is small but who is feeding well and frequently at the breast will not be getting all the nourishment they need. The response to any concern about weight should therefore be to compare it with other observations. Then if necessary, investigate further, not to use the weight as a reason to swap breastmilk for solid food. If there are any suspicions that an individual baby’s gentle (‘slow’) weight gain may be due to an underlying illness, then those suspicions should be acted upon – because whatever it is won’t go away just by forcing the baby to eat more.

 

The key message

In summary, we need to adjust our expectations about what babies should be eating in the last part of their first year. Unless there is good reason to suppose otherwise, we should assume that those who choose to eat only small amounts of solid foods are simply letting their parents know that breastmilk is doing a great job. They will phase out breastfeeding when they are ready. Meanwhile, all we need to do is carry on including them in healthy, relaxed family mealtimes. This way they can make their own decisions about when they feel ready to share those meals more fully.

 

Precautions

Before doing Baby-Led Weaning (BLW) with your baby, it is important to proceed safely by contacting a pediatric registered dietitian. Among other things, make sure that:

  • your baby is ready and does not start too early
  • your baby is sitting at 90 degrees
  • you do not place food in his/her mouth with your fingers
  • the environment is calm during meals
  • you offer the right foods to your baby
  • you watch your baby eat at all times
  • you contact a pediatric registered dietitian to make sure you are proceeding safely
  • you read the warning below

Warning*

BLW is contraindicated for babies at risk of dysphagia, such as babies who have an anatomic disorder (cleft palate, tongue tie), a neurological disorder (developmental delay, hypotonia, oral hypotonia) or a genetic disorder. Follow-up by a health professional (doctor, pediatric registered dietitian) is necessary for babies at risk of anemia such as babies born prematurely, babies with low birth weight (less than 3000 g), worries related to growth, babies born to an anemic mother, baby for whom cow’s milk was introduced early and/or a vegan baby.

*Cusson and Labonté, Baby-Led Weaning Conference, June 2018, Nutrium, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal

 

To get all the information you need about introducing complementary foods, sign up for my online course at blw.jessicacoll.com . You’ll get my unlimited support and all the answers to your questions.

 

What’s your main concern about your baby making the switch from primarily milk feeds to solid foods? Comment below!