Baby Health

Navigating Picky Eaters and Food Sensitivities

Whether you have a picky eater or a child with food sensitivities, sometimes as a parent you may find yourself having to get creative with snacks and meal planning!

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It can be so easy to fall into the trap of feeding your child a separate meal from everyone else most days; or relying on a not-so-healthy option just to get some food in your child's belly.

One of the reasons that I teach about food introduction is to help avoid pickiness and also to try and alleviate food sensitivities. The most common food sensitivities are nuts, gluten and dairy. If you feel that your child has behavioral difficulties, doesn't sleep well, gets skin rashes or has dark circles under their eyes, I encourage you to get them tested for food sensitivities. Seeing a Naturopath is the way to go as the tests they use is far more extensive.

If you have found yourself in this boat here are some things you can do to get on a different path with your little one.

Start with simple and mild foods and then graduate up to more adventurous options. Choose one veggie at a time and have your child try it every day for a week; even if it is just a bite. If by the end of the week then it is safe to say that one may be a no-go! 

Sweet potatoes and carrots are a nice beginner. My favorite way to serve these is cutting them up into sticks (like fries), coat in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast them in the oven until they are soft and a little crispy on the outside. They can be dipped in anything! You could even try a little raw honey. There are so many ways to sneak veggies into meals. A great cook book for this is Deceptively Delicious. You will find ways to hide vegetables in just about anything! There are wonderful dinner options. Plan your meals out. If you can, make it visible for everyone to see so they can know what to expect each evening. One night a week try and make something new with diverse flavors such as a curry dish. The other nights of the week can be easy and basic, a protein, a veggie and a grain. Some ideas are tacos, pasta, grill packets, omelets. 

There is always the tried and true smoothie idea. Bananas cover up just about anything! Stuff your blender with fruits and spinach; for a dairy free option use coconut or almond milk as your liquid. For good fats, I just found a wonderful coconut milk yogurt called CoYo. It is amazing how many great products are out there to help with food sensitivities. Here are my favorite go-to snacks:

Larabars: While these do have nuts, they are a great snack to keep in your bag with you. There are so many flavors! My favorite is Cinnamon Roll!

Bitsy's: These tasty snacks are organic, allergen friendly and they sneak in veggies! They have crackers and cookies available.

Seaweed Snacks: This may not be for everyone but you would be surprised how many kids love them! They come in their own little package and are very healthy! I have found that Trader Joe's sells them for only $.99 a package!

Popcorn: There good brands out there but this is an easy snack to make at home. I suggest cooking your own on the stove; it is easy and takes about 5 minutes. Sprinkle some salt and a little butter. To make it sweet add some maple syrup.

Natural Fruit Strips: Target's Simply Balanced brand is organic and cost effective. If you like to cook, here is a fun recipe to try!

Fruit & Veggie Pouches: You can't go wrong with these! They are full of fruits and vegetables. They are quick and easy. Again, if you want to make your own, you can buy reusable squeeze pouches!

Remember, you are doing a great job! Feeding little ones can be tricky and sometimes us moms put so much pressure on ourselves. Many of these options are easy and quick.

 

 

 

Help Support The Global Big Latch On

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For the past 8 years Health Foundations Birth Center has had the honor of being a site for supporting the Big Latch On. The Big Latch On is a global movement to raise awareness and provide support to breastfeeding mothers. This year we are very excited to be partnering with Blooma for this wonderful event. Global Big Latch On events take place at registered locations around the world.

Some of the goals of the Big Latch On are: 

  • Provide support for communities to identify and grow opportunities to provide on-going breastfeeding support and promotion in local communities.
  • Raise awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available locally and globally.
  • Help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places.
  • Make breastfeeding as normal part of day-to-day life at a local community level.
  • Increase support for women who breastfeed - women are supported by their partners, family and their communities.
  • Ensure communities have the resources to advocate for coordinated appropriate and accessible breastfeeding support services.

Last year the total attendance was 50,383 people! 

We would love you to be a part of this movement with us. This year we are participating on August 3rd starting at 10:00am. Please sign up here! We will be having snacks and handing out goodie bags. Blooma will be leading a Bring Your Own Baby Yoga Class right after the latch on.

Dr. Amy's Guide to Food Introduction

 photo credit: Big River Farms CSA

photo credit: Big River Farms CSA

One of Dr. Amy’s passions is food introduction. It is a fundamental building block for a baby’s development, their immune system and has long-term health benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding (no formula or solid foods). Breast milk contains antibodies that support immune function as well as optimal nutrient ratios that change as the child grows. Until approximately 6 months of age, a baby’s digestive tract is not able to adequately digest most foods. Early introduction of foods may result in food allergies or sensitivities. Around six to nine months, breastfed and formula-fed infants will begin to develop their gastrointestinal track in a way that makes them ready to start some solid foods.

Food introduction is one of the most important times in your child’s health; it becomes the building blocks and foundation of health for the rest of your child’s life. The gastrointestinal tract is an extension of the immune system. Introducing foods in a way that will not cause allergic reactions will help build a stronger and more solid foundation than if your child is always fighting off immune reactions. So many early health problems in children are related to food introduction. It is pertinent that you observe your child for signs of a reaction, such as red marks around their mouth, red cheeks, eczema, diaper rash, constipation or diarrhea, etc. (see below more complete list). If these early warning signs are not headed, more serious reactions may result as the immune system becomes more and more compromised.

Signs Baby is Ready for Solid Foods

•      Is at least 6 months old

•      Able to sit unsupported

•      Can push away food

•      Can turn head from side to side

•      Shows interest in what you are eating

Since breast milk is all your baby needs in terms of nutrients, there needn't be any rush to start your baby on solids. Let your baby lead. If she is always grabbing for your food, then allow her to explore it. But if she isn’t interested, don’t force her to try it. Most babies will become interested in food between six to nine months. If your child hasn’t started trying solids by nine months, start offering it to him and see how he responds.

This transition in life can be a source of stress for many parents. Take your time and be patient with your child. Know that she is getting all the nutrients she needs from your breast milk or formula.

Up until the first year, the benefit to babies of trying solids is being exposed to new textures and learning hand mouth coordination; prior to a year most babies gastrointestinal tracts are not mature enough to be absorbing many nutrients from solids, so if your child isn’t eating a lot of solids, it is not compromising his nutrient intake as long as he is still drinking breast milk or formula.

Introducing Foods

New foods should be introduced one at a time. Wait a few days after introducing each new food to see if your baby reacts to the food. If your baby has any of the following symptoms below, remove the food from baby’s diet for 2-3 months, then try again.

If your child has a life- threatening reaction to a food such as difficulty breathing, call 911.

Your baby will show you he has had enough to eat. Stop feeding him when he spits food out, closes his mouth, or turns his head away.  Let him control how much he eats.

Symptoms that may indicate a reaction to a food include:

•      Rash around the mouth or anus

•      Hyperactivity or lethargy

•      “Allergic shiners” (dark circles under eyes)

•      Skin reactions/rashes

•      Infections/cold/flu

•      Diarrhea or mucus in stool

•      Constipation

•      Runny/stuffy nose or sneezing

•      Redness of face/cheeks

•      Ear infection

•      Other unusual symptom for your child

Use the following schedule as a general guide for introducing foods to healthy, full-term babies. You can hang it on the fridge and put a date next to each new food introduction so that it is easier to remember what your child is eating and for reference if your child develops a reaction. If your child has chronic illness, special needs, or has signs of allergies or sensitivities such as asthma, chronic respiratory infections, or chronic ear infections, a modified schedule may be necessary.

Even though it is a common practice in our culture to give babies powered rice cereal, this is not an evidenced based practice and is not recommended by nutritionists. Start with vegetables and fruits. When it is time to introduce grains, use whole grains whenever possible, instead of processed grains.

Finally, enjoy this new time in your baby’s life as he explores new textures and tastes. Be playful with your child and let meal times be a fun game or a time to be social and sing songs about foods. Use it as a time to learn colors or numbers, instead of always focusing on getting your child to eat. If they don’t like something, introduce it again in a few months. Try to make it easier on yourself by modeling good nutrition to your child and giving them some of your meal, instead of always having to make something completely different for them. Enjoying our meals improves digestion and overall quality of life, so do what you need to for yourself to de-stress mealtime and enjoy.

Join us on March 26th at 10:00am on the MyTalk, 107.1 Mom Show to learn more and visit https://www.health-foundations.com/mom-show/ after the show to download a specific food introduction schedule.

 

Managing Visitors After Baby

Newborn Visitors

Nothing attracts well-meaning visitors like a brand new, adorable baby. Once the little one arrives, friends and family will be eager to meet your little one. Being prepared ahead of time for how you and your partner want to handle visitors once baby arrives will save you a great deal of stress and spare you some potentially uncomfortable conversations.  Here are 5 tips for managing doting friends and family once you bring your baby home.  

  1. Come up with a plan with your partner: These days/weeks following the birth of your baby are all about you, your baby, and your new family. You will not only be adjusting to caring for a newborn but also dealing with your own recovery and rapidly fluctuating postpartum hormones. It is important to be mindful of rest and nourishment. This is also a special time of bonding for you and your baby. Set those boundaries ahead of time and stick to them. There will be plenty of time for everyone to meet baby when the time is right!
  2. Accept help: When baby arrives, it is perfectly fine to ask for/accept help. Most people will offer- say yes! People often like to bring a meal, but don’t be afraid to ask for help with things like walking the dog, looking after your other children, or even holding the baby while you shower. Knowing that some of your daily chores are being taken care of allows you to focus on important things like resting and bonding with your new babe.
  3. Have your partner protect your space: Agree ahead of time that your partner will be the person to greet visitors and also gently nudge them once they have been there for a little while. A good amount of visiting time is about 15 minutes. Your partner can tactfully send people along their way when you need your rest, gently step in if your parents or in-laws are overstepping their bounds, and/or make suggestions as to how people can make themselves useful during their visit.
  4. Shamelessly ban sick visitors: There are few things as susceptible to germs and illness as a vulnerable newborn. There is no excuse for visitors showing up with a cough, the sniffles, a sore throat or even recovering from “food poisoning.” Let those mama bear instincts take hold and politely suggest that anyone who is not feeling 100 percent save their visit for a later date. It’s also okay to require that visitors wash their hands and use hand sanitizer before holding your baby. 
  5. Allow for plenty of alone time: A steady stream of visitors can be exhausting. You will likely already be feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, working to establish your breastfeeding relationship and will be navigating life with your newest family member. Try to space your visitors out and limit the time they spend in order to allow plenty of time for you and your little family to bond. True friends and family will understand how sacred this special time is for you and your new family.

You should never feel the need to apologize for prioritizing and taking care of yourself and your new baby in the days and weeks following your delivery. Your baby. Your family. Your way.

For questions regarding prenatal or postpartum care, natural delivery or other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center.

The Facts on Circumcision: FAQ's & What You Need To Know

Baby Boy Circumcision

There are few topics surrounding newborns that can incite such heated debates as the decision of whether or not to circumcise baby boys. For many families, the decision to circumcise their sons is easily made for cultural or religious beliefs, or simply wanting them to be like dad. But critics of the circumcision often liken the procedure to female genital mutilation and denounce its inherent risks and long-term consequences. No matter what decision you make for your son, the important thing is that you educate yourself on the risks and benefits beforehand and choose the path that is right for your family. Here’s what you need to know.

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin of the penis exposing the glans or penis head. Circumcision is a surgical procedure typically done within the first ten days of life by a doctor in the hospital or pediatricians’ office, or in religious exceptions, in the home. 

How common is circumcision? 

Although circumcision rates are declining with more and more parents choosing to forego the procedure, approximately 55 percent of infant males are still routinely circumcised. 

Does circumcision have health benefits?

Research suggests that circumcision reduces the risk of urinary tract infections in infants by up to 90 percent and penile cancer in older men by more than 50 percent. However, these conditions are rare in uncircumcised individuals as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics does acknowledge that circumcision reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Does circumcision have risks?

Like any surgical procedure, circumcision does have risks. Complications occur in approximately .2-2 percent of circumcision procedures and may include bleeding, infection, negative reaction to anesthesia or problems with the foreskin such as failing to heal properly or reattachment to the end of the penis. Fortunately, complications are rare and are typically easily addressed with treatment. 

Will circumcision hurt my baby?

With proper use of a local anesthetic, the pain experienced by the infant will hopefully be minimal. Historically, doctors did not use any sort of anesthesia or pain relief prior to the procedure which can be quite painful. Fortunately, now, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants receive a topical or injectable anesthetic before being circumcised. Talk to your doctor about what type of anesthetic will be used for your baby before the procedure. 

Is it more hygienic to have my baby circumcised?

Both a circumcised and an uncircumcised penis require gentle cleansing with warm water. If you choose not to circumcise your son, it is not necessary to retract the foreskin to clean beneath it. This will happen on its own typically before puberty. As your son ages , it’s important to instruct him on how to properly cleanse his penile region whether he is circumcised or not just as you would with other areas of bodily hygiene. 

If I choose to have my son circumcised, how long will it take to heal?

Circumcisions typically take 7-10 days to heal. The doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to care for the penis as it heals. During this time, take special precautions to clean the area gently and apply petroleum jelly during diaper changes to prevent the incision site from sticking to the diaper. Do not use baby wipes on the incision site.  

The decision of whether or not to circumcise your son is a personal, family decision that should be dealt with as such. If you have questions or concerns about the procedure or would like more information, contact a pediatrician before he is born to set up a time to talk. As with any medical procedure, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of the risks and benefits beforehand so that you can make an informed decision that is best for your child. 

For questions about pregnancy, natural birth, infant care and the postpartum period, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

GERD: Is Your Infant Suffering from Acid Reflux?

Infant With Gerd (Acid Reflux)

Acid reflux, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), in infants can be worrisome for you and uncomfortable for your baby. Although GERD is rarely serious in infants and will typically resolve on its own by age 1, it’s important to know how you can help your baby and what the treatment options are. Here’s what you need to know about acid reflux in infants.

What Causes GERD in Infants?

Acid reflux in infants is caused by food and acid in the stomach traveling back up the esophagus into the mouth. The reflux may cause irritation to the esophagus and cause your baby to spit up excessively or vomit. GERD is usually the result of a digestive system that has not yet fully matured. Because of this, once the digestive system is fully developed around one year of age, your baby’s symptoms should resolve on their own. Typically, infants who suffer from acid reflux are otherwise healthy.

Symptoms of GERD in Infants:

While spitting up is a normal daily occurrence in infants up to and even occasionally beyond six months, these symptoms may suggest your infant is suffering from acid reflux:

  • Spitting up or vomiting excessively and often throughout the day
  • Crying during or immediately after feedings
  • Frequent gas/belly pains
  • Fussiness at the breast or bottle
  • Gagging or choking while eating
  • Persistent Coughing

How Do Doctors Diagnose GERD in Infants?

More often than not, your baby’s pediatrician will be able to diagnose acid reflux based upon the symptoms alone. Typically, any further testing will not be necessary. If the pediatrician is concerned that the issue may extend beyond an immature digestive tract, he or she may recommend further testing.

Testing may include:

  • X-rays of the digestive tract: Your baby may be given barium in a bottle to highlight possible obstructions to the digestive tract on the X-ray images.
  • Ultrasound: to rule out pyloric stenosis.
  • Blood and urine samples: to rule out the possibility of infections that may cause vomiting.
  • Esophageal PH monitoring: This is a procedure in which a small tube is inserted into baby’s esophagus through the nose or mouth to monitor acidity levels. This may require hospitalization.
  • Upper endoscopy: This procedure is typically done under general anesthesia and involves placing a small tube with a camera lens into baby’s esophagus, stomach and small intestine to rule out the presence of obstructions or other complications.

Most babies will not require the above testing and a diagnosis should be possible based on symptoms alone.

How Can I Help My Baby Feel Better?

Having a baby who suffers from acid reflux can make a parent feel helpless. There’s nothing worse than seeing your baby in pain and not being able to solve the problem. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to help reduce your baby’s GERD symptoms. These include:

  • Slightly elevating baby’s head: Instead of lying baby flat to sleep, place a wedge under the crib or basinet mattress to give his head a slight boost. Many moms and dads love the Fisher Price Rock N Play Sleeper for keeping a baby with acid reflux slightly propped. Baby should always be placed on his back to sleep.
  • If bottle feeding, offer more frequent but smaller meals.
  • Burp baby often during feedings.
  • Keep baby upright for 30 minutes following a feeding.
  • Some pediatricians may recommend adding one teaspoon of rice cereal to baby’s bottle if bottle feeding. There are conflicting opinions on this approach before six months of age so be sure to consult your pediatrician and do your research before trying this option.
  • If you are breastfeeding, try adjusting your diet by strategically eliminating things like dairy, caffeine, beef, eggs, etc., that might be contributing to your baby’s reflux.
  • If formula feeding, try experimenting with different formulas. Consult your pediatrician for recommendations.
  • Use bottles that eliminate baby’s air intake such as Dr. Brown's.
  • If your baby is still experiencing a considerable amount of discomfort despite the above changes, your pediatrician may prescribe simethicone or a calcium carbonate antacid to further reduce his symptoms.

In extreme, but rare cases, GERD may cause breathing problems and even pneumonia. There is a surgical option available in which the surgeon wraps the top part of the stomach around the esophagus to form a block that prevents reflux from occurring due to stomach acidity. This, however, is a very uncommon and rarely necessary procedure for infants.

If you have questions about acid reflux in infants or would like information about natural birth, pregnancy and postpartum services or women’s care, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support you through your pregnancy and beyond.