Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mamas & Muffins: Baby Food

Last Monday was the Mamas & Muffins group, so I got to snuggle some sweet little babies and we all talked about baby food. If you couldn't make it, here's some of the information we discussed:

… there’s no rush …

Frank Greer, M.D., FAAP, member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) Committee on Nutrition, says breastmilk is the optimal choice of nutrition for your baby for the first 12 months.

“The AAP Section on Breastfeeding, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Family Physicians, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, WHO, United Nations Children's Fund, and many other health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life.”

… it’s a go …

Signs baby may be ready for solid food include:

  • baby sits upright
  • baby has lost tongue-thrust reflex
  • baby watches people eating & imitates
  • baby can pinch-grasp smaller objects
  • baby may have doubled(ish) birth weight
  • baby may be teething

    There is no definitive sign, I don't think. I used the examples of my children. I started them both with solid food at about 5.5 months, when they could both sit up, they seemed interested, and could swallow tiny spoonfuls of food. Madelyn was still a few pounds off from doubling her birth weight, but she was teething. Owen was still months from getting teeth, but had long since doubled his birth weight.

    In my opinion, the best way is to be guided by baby. If baby likes the food you offer, has no trouble swallowing it, and is happy at mealtimes, than it sounds like she's ready!

    … first foods …

    first: bananas, pears, unsweetened applesauce, avocado, sweet potatoes, rice cereal, peaches

    and then: yogurt, egg yolk, oatmeal, finely chopped chicken, beans, cheese, cheerios, baby biscuits

    I love the list of food suggestions in the Sears' Baby Book

    I also mentioned to the Mamas about the BRAT & anti-BRAT foods, because I learned this the hard way. Madelyn wouldn't take rice cereal, so this wasn't a problem for her, but after I'd been feeding Owen solids for a month or so (applesauce, bananas, a bit of rice cereal), he became wicked constipated. Poor bubby. I hadn't heard of the BRAT diet, that people sometimes eat if they're recovering from a stomach bug or something else that may have caused diarrhea. Basically, it's Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast - which all have binding-up properties. Turns out I was feeding a lot of those foods to Owen. Then someone (thankfully!) told me that P fruits tend to have the opposite effect, loosening things up: pears, peaches, plums, prunes. All of these are good first foods for babies too, so it became a matter of simply adjusting amounts depending on the desired effect. I'd mix pears and applesauce, or peaches and banana, for example.

    ... make your own…

    Making your own baby food can be easy. Roast vegetables like sweet potatoes or winter squash. Peel and use fruits like bananas, pears, and avocados. Mash with a fork, or food process. Scrape into ice cube trays; freeze; remove from the trays and store in freezer bags. Thaw the cubes in the refrigerator, or warm in the microwave. Check temperature and texture and feed to baby. Or if you want some real excitement, hand baby the spoon!

    It really is that simple.

    Once the baby was just a bit bigger, I'd spend an hour every few weeks - roast a few sweet potatoes; poach some skinless chicken breast; briefly cook a few peaches in a pot of boiling water (X the skin before you put them on so it slips off easily) and then puree it to the texture I wanted in the food processor. Put in the ice cube trays and I had baby meals for several weeks. Add to that the things I fork-mashed (banana, pear, avocado) or made to order (egg yolk) and some plain yogurt, and we were pretty much all set.

    One of the other nice things about making your own baby food (beyond knowing exactly what's in it!) is that you can feed your baby more local foods, and foods that are in season. When Owen was a baby I got a huge box of peaches, in season, and pureed/froze them until he was ready for them. When we picked apples, I froze plain applesauce for him. I know that isn't a huge motivator for some people (and he had plenty of non-local bananas and avocados!), but it was something I felt good about.

    … resources …

    The Z Recs Guide publishes information about harmful chemicals in common baby products.

    Also, a post I wrote about toxins in children's toys and products.

    All about Baby-Led Solids

    Foods to avoid, and why

    KidSafe Seafood

    Baby Safe feeder

    The Baby Book by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN

    Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron

    Feel free to leave any of your favorite baby feeding tips, recipes, links, cookbooks etc. in the comments!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    Help from Good Guide

    I know I'm not the only one who is sometimes overwhelmed by the number of choices available at grocery stores, health food stores, and pharmacies. Not to mention online options! For example, I would stand in front of the rows of bread, reading labels - which ones were 100% whole grain? which had no HFCS? how much protein per slice? About six months ago, I decided it would just be easier to bake my own bread, which I've been doing since. So that solved that decision - but what about body wash for the kids? dishwashing soap? etc & etc!!!

    Well, the Mothering e-newsletter included a link to Good Guide this week and wow, let me tell you - I'm impressed. It rates products on a variety of scales, including the product's effectiveness, its ingredients, and how the company produces it. It also has links to buying products online.

    If you find yourself picking up product after product to read labels, this website might simplify the process for you.

    If you do go and look, could you please leave a comment about the products you looked up & what you learned? The only thing about this new site is it seems like it could be a little addictive! Maybe we could save each other some time if we compiled some information here...

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Sunday, March 15, 2009


    I've really been enjoying a series of posts at Eco Child's Play, a website the supports and promotes "Green Parenting for Non-toxic, Healthy Homes".

    The latest post in this series is Baby Essentials That Aren't: Baby Food, by Heather Dunham. Other "essentials" discussed in previous posts include the crib, the bucket carseat, the stroller, diapers, tub, and brain boosters.

    I thought these articles were fascinating and well-written, and they included lots of resources to learn more. This series is a great antidote to all the commercialism that swirls around pregnancy and postpartum parenting.

    It's a crazy week here this week and I've been up many, many times the past two nights with a dog who is having digestive issues and needs to go outside every hour or two. Good times. So, this is going to be a week of link posts! Hope you enjoy!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Safer Bottle Feeding

    I've already written about safety & children's products in several times, with lots of links in my Pregnancy Awareness Month: Week Three - Nutrition & Green Living and Toxins in Children's Toys and Products posts.

    The third Z Report on BPA was available last September, and full of very useful information re: BPA (bisphenol A) in children's feeding products, especially bottles & sippy cups. I hadn't noticed their wallet-sized card before - it lists BPA-free bottles, sippys, pacifiers, and tableware. What a fantastic resource!

    So I'm revisiting this because I just read an email with a link to this website, EWG's Guide to Infant Formula and Baby Bottles: Guide to Baby-Safe Bottles & Formula, which discusses how to make bottle-feeding as safe as possible. There's a one-page poster pdf and an executive summary that explains the findings regarding BPA in formula packaging. Explore the site for additional information, BPA in Formula -- How Harmful? as well as ways to Take Action!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Pregnancy Awareness Month Week Three: Nutrition & Green Living

    Here is the link to the Pregnancy Awareness Month Week Three Newsletter, which focuses on nutrition and "going green" during pregnancy.

    I've already written a few posts about nutrition, because of its centrality to a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby, so I'm going to include a few resources on "green living" during pregnancy and into parenting.

    It so happens that removing as many chemical cleaners from my household was one of my New Years goals this year, and it has been going very well. I have been making or purchasing natural/organic household cleaners ever since, and my house has been just as clean and a lot safer! Financially, making the cleaners is much cheaper, and that offsets the pricier cleaners that I'm buying. Plus, we just got a Target in my area, and I've purchased a few soaps in the Method line. One of the most helpful websites I've found has been the Healthy Child, Healthy World website and their homemade recipes for cleaners.

    I've expanded my goal to include replacing cleaners for the people in the family too, starting with the children (who were half-way there already with California Baby and Rainbow products). Below are a few resources I've found re: kids products & chemicals:

    Awards for top baby skincare products
    BPA and Children's Feeding Products
    Basics on cloth diapering here and here and on G Diapers.
    Homemade substitutes for commercial shampoo

    I've really been looking at these changes as a process... which has made it a lot easier. Making a change here, and then here, and then over there has been much more "do-able" than throwing everything out & trying to figure out replacements for everything at once.

    Does anyone else have any favorite homemade/natural/organic/gentle/biodegradable etc. products?

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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