What's the deal with dairy?

Who would have thought something as innocuous as milk could be so controversial? Dairy is one of the most common foods I get asked about in my clinical practice. There is plenty of conflicting advice around, even amongst health practitioners! No wonder it’s confusing!

So let me start with when we introduce dairy for the first time - introducing solids.

Introducing Solids

Up until 12 months of age, the primary food for your baby is breast milk or formula. The introduction of solids at around 6 months is to supplement breast milk or formula and to increase key nutrients for growth and development like iron and zinc.

Because cow's milk and other dairy foods are a common cause of food allergy in babies, it is recommended to introduce these before the age of 12 months to reduce the risk of allergy.

I recommend the introduction of full-fat dairy including yoghurt, kefir and small amounts of cheese, from around 8 month of age. You can also use very small amounts of cow’s...

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Grieving the loss of the mother I wanted to be. My journey with postnatal depression & anxiety

I got my period this morning and it made me cry. 

I'm not trying to have a baby. I'm 42, my "baby" is 13 and I have adult daughters. My days of newborns and nappies are done. But something happened that I wasn't expecting. 

I am grieving

But I'm not grieving the loss of a baby. I'm grieving the loss of the kind of mother I wanted to be and I'm never going to get the chance to do this again. To do it differently with all the knowledge I have now. 

All I had ever wanted was to be a mum. I had no plans for any kind of career or travel. I wanted to settle down, get married and have a family. I dreamed about the type of mum I would be. I wanted to be a stay at home mum, making home made baby food and going for long walks. I would be the kindy mum and volunteer in the canteen. I had it all planned out. 

After suffering from PCOS and having a cyst removed which left scarring on one Fallopian tube when I was 20, I was told it was unlikely I would...

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Are your mealtimes a battle?

Are you finding meal times a battle? Simply feeding your children can become incredibly stressful and something that can feel like a full time job! We worry that our kids aren't eating enough or they're refusing the foods we know are good for them. 

Maybe you’re at your wits end with pushing foods on your kids ("three more bites!"), bribing them to eat ("if your eat your dinner, you can have dessert"), or constantly pressuring them to consume "healthy foods,"  because you know it's good for them. 

It can be very tempting to just give up and feed them something you know they'll actually eat (hello white bread, cheese and milk...). But this can very quickly lead to these being the ONLY foods they'll eat.

So what can you do?

In my practice, I work with the Division or Responsibility in feeding (sDOR). This way of feeding encourages you, as the parent or caregiver, to select, prepare and serve different foods, so that you decide what,...

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10 Easy Steps to Meal Planning

For many people, meal planning is something done on the run, while you are in the middle of the supermarket thinking about the types of meals you might cook for the week. For others, it’s one meal at a time and for some, it doesn’t exist at all!

I have had many mums tell me that they wake up in the morning, dreading what to cook for dinner that night. They worry that the kids won’t eat it or they worry that they don’t have enough time to prepare a decent meal for their family or simply that they don’t know what to cook.

Meal planning will save you not only time and money, but your health will also benefit immensely. Reducing the amount of highly processed foods or take away foods your family eats will drastically cut down the amount of added sugars, refined carbohydrates, trans fats and additives you consume. It’s a win win!!

Here are my 10 easy steps to meal planning.

1. Set Aside the Time to Meal Plan

It takes time to transition to shopping and...

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If I Have a Food Allergy, Will My Baby Have it Too?

 

Your baby “may be” more likely to have a food allergy if you have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema.  However having a family history does not guarantee they will be also allergic to foods.  

So let me give you a little bit more information about what allergy is, the risk factors for allergies and some tips for when you’re introducing a potential  allergen to your baby for the first time. 

Allergy is defined as an immune reaction to an ingested food that results in clinical signs or symptoms. 

The cause of food allergy is multifactorial and includes family history, environmental factors and the gut microbiome - there is no “one” cause. Australia has the highest rate of food allergy in the world, with one in 10 children in Australia diagnosed with a food allergy.

The link between food allergies and eczema is the strongest - with a child with eczema 11 times more likely to develop a peanut allergy that one...

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Can I Give My Baby Shop Bought Baby Foods?

 

Knowing what foods to feed your baby can be overwhelming.

Then there’s the supermarket shelves packed with products that tell you to buy their products because they’re “packed with iron” or “contains the goodness of real fruit”.

While shop bought or packaged foods can be convenient, and let's face it, life is not about trying to be perfect, there may be times where something out of a packet is going to be handy, so it's important to have an understanding of what is actually in the food you're feeding your baby so that you can make an informed choice if you do decide to feed them some packet foods. 

So when considering whether or not to feed your baby packaged foods, consider my three principles;

  • Always provide for the changing nutritional needs of your growing baby
  • Protect and nurture the gut’s critical role in immunity, physical health and mental wellbeing
  • Build a positive relationship between your baby and nutritious, whole foods

...

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Should I Be Worried That My Baby Isn't Interested in Food?

 

No, there’s no reason to be worried just yet. 

There are three parts to my answer here. The first is about meeting your baby’s nutritional requirements. 

The second is about baby readiness - is your baby physically and developmentally ready to start solids foods?

And thirdly, it’s about building a positive relationship with nutritious whole foods. 

At  7 month, your baby’s main source of nutrition is still breast milk or formula with solid foods  being “complementary” to this. As long as they are still having plenty of breastmilk or formula, their main nutritional needs are still being met. 

All babies are different and grow and develop at different rates, and while it’s hard not to compare your baby with everyone else’s, doing this, can create a whole lot of stress for yourself!

There are a few reasons your baby may not be keen on solids yet; 

They’re simply not ready yet. 

They are...

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Is Gagging Normal?

 

Gagging can be quite scary for parents to witness because it can be so dramatic, but it's actually a very common occurrence and is part of a baby's learning process. 

As opposed to choking which is completely silent and happens when something is completely blocking the airway, gagging  can be very noisy and quite dramatic. 

Babies might gag and cough often when starting solids because the gag reflex in younger babies mouths is quite far forward and moves back as they age.  This serves as a safety mechanism against choking while they're learning to eat, and helps them eject anything quickly if they need to - much like the tongue thrust reflex. 

A baby’s gag reflex begins moving further back at around 6-8 months, and should be completely back to where an adults would be by around 12 months. 

So when you see a six month old gagging, you are really seeing a reflex action that protects them, rather than  a choking risk.

So what should you do to...

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What Can I Feed My Baby For Breakfast?

 

Let me answer this question by first addressing any misconceptions that might exist around what “breakfast” is and isn’t.  Breakfast is just a meal for your baby. 

Any food that you can feed them at any other time of the day, you can also feed them for breakfast.  Now I know that for some people, that seems a little unusual - because they have grown up thinking that you only eat certain foods for breakfast.  So let’s talk about this...

Traditionally, breakfast is the first meal of the day to “break the fast” of the previous night. Food manufacturers would have us believe that breakfast needs to be “breakfast foods” like cereal or toast, but this just isn’t true. 

In fact, most “breakfast foods” lack the nutrients your child needs to thrive and they also often contain additives and added sugars that can have a negative impact on your child’s health. 

Take for example rice cereal - No...

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What Can I Do About My Baby's Constipation?

 

Constipation is a very common problem when you move from easily digested breastmilk or formula to introducing solid foods. 

My recommended treatments for constipation are...

  1. Avoid rice cereal - rice cereals can be difficult for your baby’s immature gut to digest and also contain added iron that can cause constipation. 
  2. Mix in some fats with your baby’s foods  (olive or coconut oil or some ghee) - fats help to keep the digestive system moving.
  3. Offer your baby  a little bit of stewed pear or apple (grate some pear, including the skin, pop into a saucepan, cover with just enough water to cover the fruit) and cook on low heat until soft. If pureeing foods, then puree in a blender - You can give this on it’s own, or mix in with veggies. 
  4. Offer a little bit of water in between feeds (30ml of cooled, boiled water).
  5. Give your little one a warm bath, then using some baby massage oil, massage her tummy in a clockwise direction 
  6. If you...
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