The Balanced Baby

...food and lifestyle recommendations for the bump and beyond
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Sweet Potato Pancakes

Sweet Pot Pancakes

Healthy finger food for when you’re in a rush or on-the-go. Your baby will love them!

At 10 months Ajax suddenly wanted to eat everything with his hands. Porridge and soft boiled eggs – previous breakfast mainstays – weren’t ideal for this and I didn’t want to keep resorting to toast. After a bit of googling and experimentation I came up with this recipe; gluten and dairy free and naturally sweet! I hope your little one likes them as much as Ajax. He demolishes these pancakes in minutes, fishing the crumbs from his bib.

Recipe 

Serves 2 (Approximately 6-8 small pancakes)

1/2 medium sized sweet potato (cooked in oven for 60 minutes).

2 organic eggs

coconut oil for greasing.

Optional: tahini or almond butter to spread.

Lightly whisk the eggs with a fork then mix together with the sweet potato. Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a frying pan. Pour the batter into the pan into small circular shapes and turn down the heat (you don’t want the pancakes to burn). Cook for two minutes on each side and leave to cool on paper towel, to soak up excess oil. Can be stored for 24 hours in the fridge. 

 

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Best foods for Pregnancy

Wild Salmon, Broccoli, and Bone Broth should all be on the menu when you’re pregnant 

While peanut butter on toast might be the only option when nausea sets in, it’s worth making an effort to load your diet with nutrients when you can. 

Scientists from the University of Southampton have shown that what a woman consumes during pregnancy can alter a baby’s DNA and eating cruciferous vegetables – like broccoli, cabbage and kale – can even help prevent your baby from developing diseases like cancer according to the latest research from Oregon State University. So besides greens with every dinner, what else will help to nourish your growing child?

Clever Baby Foods

Wild Salmon (rather than farmed) is an excellent choice during pregnancy. Why? It’s rich in Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), part of the omega-3 family. This nutrient is absolutely crucial for your baby’s brain; the level of DHA in the umbilical cord might predict a child’s speed of thinking at age eight according to a 2006 study published in The Lancet.  It’s best to avoid tuna during pregnancy, due to the high mercury content, so try swapping for a can of sardines instead; sardines pair well with capers, tomato and avocado on toast.  Sardines are also rich in omega 3, calcium and B12. In fact, one can provides 338% of your B12 requirements, which can help boost mood and balance energy levels. 

Finding fish impossible to stomach during pregnancy? There’s good news for you. Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids in breastmilk may help compensate for dietary fat imbalances babies experienced during gestation.

Fermented Foods and Bone Broths

These should both be high on the pregnancy menu. Both assist in the absorption of nutrients and can improve gut function; especially important during pregnancy when digestion slows down. When our elimination channels are working well it shows on our skin, so getting your gut working well can help give you that pregnancy ‘glow.’ Suffering from stretch marks? The bioavailable collagen in bone broth might help improve the elasticity of your skin. For a mid-morning pick-me-up, add one tablespoon of miso to one cup of broth. Click here for my recipe!

Vitamin D

This is one essential nutrient that you won’t get from food.Over 76% of pregnant women are deficient in vitamin D and yet it’s so important for the healthy formation of bones and teeth. The Vitamin D council recommends 4000-6000 iu for pregnant women and getting adequate amounts can reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia. Click here to read more about vitamin D and how you can supplement your baby from birth.

As for that peanut butter on toast?

You can now enjoy this comfort food guilt-free; peanuts are rich in protein and the fat-busting hormone adiponectin. Worried about your child developing allergies? Fear not. Early exposure to peanuts can slash the risk of a child developing a peanut allergy, according to a 2015 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Is Organic Really Better?

Yes, organic is more expensive; but consider it a donation to Mother Earth. You’re saving the soil from nasty pesticides and your body will reap the rewards from the extra goodness. 

My obsession with everything organic has taken me as far as an organic baby moon at the foot of Mount Etna in Sicily to an ‘organic hotel’ in Copenhagen this year. Few things thrill me more than waking up on an organic mattress to shower with organic shampoo, drink filtered water – and pull an organic beer from the mini-bar should I so choose.

I realise that I am in the minority with this obsession, and that sometimes I take things too far. However, there are real and valid reasons for trying to get as much organic produce into your and your child’s diet;  especially during pregnancy and weaning. 

Pesticides and Pregnancy

‘Pesticides are directly toxic to nervous tissue and a developing baby, whose brain is trying to grow, they can’t handle that,’ says Dr. Bob Sears a paediatrician with over 30 years experience (and 8 kids). ‘I’m a very big fan of organic food in general, I think its very important that pregnant women and nursing women really commit to eating an as organic diet as possible’

Eating organic makes sense.  If you have a choice between eating a strawberry covered in chemicals, or one not covered in chemicals – the choice of obvious.

However availability and affordability can put paid to the best intentions; not everyone lives next door to a Planet Organic, nor has the cash to splash at farmer’s markets every weekend. 

So what is worth spending  your money on?

Vegetables

Organic fruit and vegetables have up to 69 per cent more antioxidants according to a major review of 343 peer-reviewed studies. Scientists from the University of Newcastle found that, in the absence of pesticides, organic plants were able to activate their own defense mechanisms to ward off bugs and pathogens and in doing so, the plants produce more health-promoting phytochemicals.

Milk and Meat

 

Vitamins, minerals and fat-burning nutrients are higher in organic dairy. Milk from organic animals contains 40 per cent higher levels of conjugated linolenic acid (CLA), which has been shown in several studies to promote weight-loss. Research suggests this antioxidant-rich fat is also protective against heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Beneficial omega-3 fatty acids are also 50 per cent higher in organic meat and dairy according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

With meat, it’s not just about the goodness that’s in a grass-fed organic steak, but what’s not in it. In the UK, over a million tonnes of GM crops are imported each year to feed non-organic livestock – which ends up in our milk, cheese, eggs, bacon, poultry and red meat. While industry insists GM crops are safe, the scientific literature is far from so clear cut. The now famous 2012 French study in which rats fed GM corn developed cancerous tumours is enough to make you think twice. 

Bread

Did you know that roughly 30% of British bread samples contain traces of a toxic weedkiller?

The shocking finding comes from a report by the Defra committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF). The chemical, glyphosate, is also sprayed around parks and is used liberally in UK farming; in the last 20 years its use has increased by 400%. So what’s so bad about glyphosate?

Glyphosate is linked With infertility, gastrointestinal disorders, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s,autism, as well as Crohn’s, colitis and diabetes according to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior scientist at MIT. It also promotes the growth of deadly bacteria according to research from the University of Leipzig published in 2015

Organic bread on the other hand, particularly sourdough, is a different story.

Organic slow fermented sourdough can feed the good bacteria in your gut, spikes blood sugar less than regular brown bread and the fermentation process reduces the toxic parts of gluten.

Foods You Don’t Need to Buy Organic 

eggplantnew

Some of the most expensive fruit and vegetables – like avocados, eggplants and mangoes – come under the list of the ‘clean fifteen’ ie fruit and vegetables with the least pesticide residues, so you can buy conventional and save on these items. To check out the full list, click here. 

Fish is also another food where organic is totally irrelevant – you want to be buying wild instead!

Farmed fish are crammed into cages, pumped full of antibiotics and dyes and fed on grain. Your farmed salmon – in your seemingly health sushi – is likely fed on grain! Gross.

Wild salmon on the other hand they get their characteristic pinky-orange colour from eating krill. Farmed salmon miss that so they are fed chemically synthesized astaxanthin to get the same result.

So choose wild sustainable seafood. We’re talking wild salmon, sardines, mackerel – all very high in omega 3 and low in mercury.

Finally, as with everything else with health follow the 80/20 rule. When you’re on vacation it would be sad to kill the holiday vibe (as I have been known to do) frantically looking for organic spinach when you could be relaxing by the pool with a book. If 20 per cent less organic means 20 per cent more chilled out, then that sounds like a healthy balance.

Talking of holidays if you’re interested in hearing more about that organic baby moon in Sicily, here are the details: www.monacidelleterrenere.it

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Vegetable Juice for Baby

Drinking pure organic vegetable juice is the holy grail of health. So when is the right time to introduce it to baby? Read on.

vegjuicebabyFinding the time to make a juice felt like a long lost dream in those first blurry weeks postpartum. But at four months, I thought, ‘we can do this.’ The first time I made a vegetable juice with Ajax in the sling, it felt like a triumph and I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner.

With Ajax snug in the Moby wrap, I would carefully chop several sticks of celery and carrot; tear off a few leaves of kale, slice a cucumber down the middle and pop it all in my Hurom slow juicer.

By the time Ajax was 6 months things got a little more tricky; with his arms flailing around using a knife was too dangerous. But I found that offering him a celery stick kept his hands busy, and soon he could sit by himself on the floor beside me.

From the start he seemed to enjoy watching the juicer pulverise all the veg, and liked touching the pulp as it emerged from the extractor. With his curiosity piqued, it wasn’t a problem getting him to try the juice at 8 months. So what do I drink? It’s not an exact science, and depends what the farmer’s market has on offer, but this is my typical juice.

My Morning Juice

2 carrots

1 beetroot

3 celery stalks

Handful of broccoli sprouts

Handful of kale leaves

Why is Vegetable Juice so Good?

Jam-packed with enzymes, antioxidants and vitamins, drinking greens is the quickest way way to get your five a day. Can you imagine how long it would take you to chomp through a board of veggies like this?

juiceboard

Celery contains the antioxidant apigenin which is powerfully anti-cancer. Kale and carrots are both rich in beta-carotene essential for vision, while broccoli sprouts ( always in my juice) are 100 times more powerful than broccoli. A 2011 study in Oncology Report found that sulforaphane – the active ingredient in broccoli sprouts – suppresses breast cancer growth.

Broccoli sprouts have also been shown to switch on genes associated with detoxification, anti ageing and cancer-protection. While its beyond the remit of this blog to delve into the science of the NRF2 detox pathway, if you’re interested I suggest you listen to the brilliant podcast by Dr Rhonda Patrick of FoundmyFitness.

broccoli-sprouts1

So how much juice should you offer baby?

Introduce it gradually, like any other new food, around 7 months. Start with just 30ml, diluted in filtered water and limit the intake to 50ml a day. And if you have the time, do share with me whether your baby goes for it! Bottoms up.

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Buckwheat Porridge

Buckwheat porridge is a great weaning food. It contains more fibre than brown rice, plus vitamins and minerals to support your baby’s nervous system.

I took a pretty Paleo approach to weaning. At four months, Ajax started off on bone broth; then pureed vegetables in more bone broth. Runny egg yolk with mashed veg was his staple breakfast for weeks on end with wild salmon and stewed meats featuring for lunch and dinner until he was 7 and a half months. Then all of a sudden, my Dad fed him toast… and he liked it. He was a paleo baby no longer and carbs were suddenly on the menu.

Apricots from the orchard puréed, with buckwheat porridge. Full of healthy, gluten-free fibre for baby. Recipe on my website 🍑

Why Postpone Grains?

“Babies developmentally do not have the enzymes to break down the starch complexes in grains,” says Chevonne Clasen, a naturopathic medicine physician. “You are putting a huge stress on their digestive system and therefore, their immune system.”

However, by 8 months I felt that Ajax was ready for some (non-plant based) carbs. Buckwheat, for me, was the obvious place to start.  

Benefits of Buckwheat

Gluten-free and high in fibre, buckwheat is a brilliant choice for an older baby’s digestive health. Despite appearances, buckwheat is actually not a grain. The triangle shaped buckwheat seed, called a groat, is rich in both protein and antioxidants.  These super nutrients include rutins, tannins and catechins (like you find in green tea).

Buckwheat is also a source of B6, which is essential for energy production. B6 helps to make hemoglobin that carries oxygen in red blood cells throughout the body, it also helps to balance blood sugar levels and is an important mood regulator. 

Better than Brown Rice

A 1/4-cup serving of dry buckwheat seeds (roughly 3-4 tablespoons) contains 32 g of carbohydrates and 5 g of fiber. By comparison, brown rice contains only 1-2g of fibre per 1/4 cup.

In addition, the fibre in the buckwheat groats takes longer for your body to digest, which can help you feel fuller for longer. It’s no surprise then that studies show buckwheat can help you lose weight while research from Korea suggests it can slow cancer growth too.

Buckwheat porridge for Baby

2 Tablespoons of raw buckwheat groats 

3/4 cup of water (180 mls)

Optional Coconut yoghurt and or beetroot puree to serve

Soak the buckwheat groats in a bowl of filtered water for 7 hours (or overnight). Rinse well, then place in a saucepan with 3/4 up of filtered water. Bring to the boil then simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until soft.

For a smoother consistency, whizz in a blender for 30 seconds before serving.

Tip: During the last 10 minutes I place a Lilypot on top of the saucepan and defrost beetroot or carrot puree to serve alongside. You could also use mashed banana or apple and apricot puree, whatever your baby likes. 

If you’re planning to join your baby for buckwheat porridge in the morning, I use 6 tablespoons of buckwheat with 530 mls of water.

Boost Fertility?

Buckwheat contains the compound d-chiro-inositol, which has been shown to lower insulin and testosterone levels and increase rates of ovulation, according to fertility expert Alisa Vitti, author of Woman Code. Plus, the B6 in buckwheat is essential for hormone regulation – a deficiency can lead to an imbalance of progesterone and oestrogen. Finally, the fibre in buckwheat helps reduce the ‘transit’ time of food in the body.This ensures that excess oestrogen is excreted rather than being recycled back into your bloodstream.

 

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Long Haul Travel with Baby

He’s licked the wheels of your carry-on case and there’s formula powder sprinkled over the nappies. The fully foldable stroller is too wide for the aeroplane and you’ve left his favourite board book on the last leg. Sound familiar?

Despite best-laid plans, there will always be something that catches you off-guard when you travel with a baby. It’s best to expect and accept that. But a little preparation goes a long way towards avoiding total meltdown half-way over the Atlantic. Having just done the flight to Australia alone with my son, here are some tips that got us through long haul travel with a baby…

Long Haul Travel

Practical Tips for Long Haul Travel

Aim to get to the airport early and find a soft-play area – almost every international airport has one. My son had just started crawling and I wanted to give him some exercise before he was stuck in a seat for 22 hours. He was happy as a clam, romping around in the soft-play area in Heathrow Terminal 2. By the time we boarded at 8pm, he was ready for bed.

Travelling alone with a baby can be a logistical nightmare in terms of luggage. I suggest packing a soft carry-on bag rather than a mini suitcase. You can then wedge it in the bottom of your buggy compartment so there’s less for you to lug. Most airports allow you to take the buggy to the gate, but it’s best to check first. 

Fully foldable buggies that are small enough to fit into the overhead compartment are worth their weight in gold. It means no hanging around waiting for the buggy to emerge from the hold whilst everyone else cruises through security. The Babyzen Yoyo was the world’s first to comply with baggage size guides – and even fits in the EasyJet compartments.

I took the Montain Buggy Nano, thanks to a very generous last-minute lend from a friend. It was super light, which enabled me to sail across Singapore airport in time for a tight connection, but it didn’t fit into the overhead compartment on the last leg due to the wheel size. Slings and baby-carriers are the other obvious solution. But if you’re travelling alone with a slightly heavier baby, sometimes it’s worth having something to sit them in.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are great for boosting the immune system while travelling. Oils like lavender have been scientifically proven to reduce stress and induce sleep, and all essential oils are oxygenating.

Essential oils contain some of the highest oxygenating substances known to man, which is really important when you’re stuck in an aluminium tube breathing recycled air. 

Entertainment

Take several new toys, books your baby hasn’t seen for a while, and a few random items. This was my dad’s suggestion and it worked a treat. I purchased a pair of £4 reading glasses from Amazon before I flew and packed an old remote control with no batteries plus a small plastic hairbrush; endless entertainment. 

For a nine-month old baby used to a lot of stimulation, I found I needed to switch things up every 15 minutes; whether that was book-time on the lap, helping him hold himself up on the aisle seat, or me gargling water to different tunes… whatever works.

Food Tips

Carrot sticks saved us during a traffic stack-up on the way to Heathrow – especially good for a teething baby. If you’ve got a short-haul flight then fresh food is best – avocado and puréed chicken, buckwheat and mixed vegetables; whatever your freezer has on offer.

Nom Nom kids make BPA-free, phthalate-free, dishwasher safe refillable food pouches – great for on the go.

nomnomsml

If you’re in for the long-haul without a fridge then pasteurised pouch food is really the only option. Goodness Gracious and Babease both have a great range of products which are organic and mercifully low on fruit content.

Remember that liquid restrictions don’t apply to infants so take as much filtered water for formula (or simply for drinking) in baby bottles as you need.

When You Land 

The food factor can be as much of an issue on arrival as it can be mid-air. You don’t want to spend a weekend away looking for good-quality meat and organic veg. So, for short trips, take frozen food in your carry-on luggage that you can use for the first few days of the trip. If you live in London, you can purchase some healthy on-the-go baby food from companies such as Little Pickle Pots, or BellotaBaby which I’ve mentioned here in a previous post.

On a recent trip to Copenhagen I took several meals from Little Pickle Pots, which meant Ajax had grass-fed meat and wild salmon to eat for the weekend away.

picklepotshgreens copy

When you’re back on the ground, choose a meal with turmeric. The spice will fire up your digestion and help protect from radiation (during a seven-hour flight from New York to London, travellers receive about the same dose of radiation as a chest X-ray). 

When I interviewed a New York Neuroscientist, Professor Banerjee – he emailed me a paper showing that turmeric can successfully block brain tumour formation. So make friends with turmeric.

* Juice it – with things like carrot, celery and kale. 

* Sprinkle it on sweet potato wedges.

* Or try this Turmeric Chicken Curry recipe for baby.

turmeric chicken real

Finally, try and stay calm, ask for help when you need it, and remember that having baby on your lap for 24 hours might not be ideal for you, but it’s probably heaven for them. 

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Baby’s First Superfood

Turmeric has been shown to help relieve pain during labor, regulate the female reproductive system and purify the uterus and breast milk according to research.

 

turmeric chicken real

My sister-in-law was gobsmacked to find that her breastmilk turned a golden colour when she started juicing with turmeric. It’s a powerful visual reminder of just how important nutrition is during nursing – and indeed when we start weaning.

So why is turmeric such a great food for baby?

‘So far, nobody has found a cancer, at least in the test tube, that curcumin cannot stop,’ said Professor Bharat Aggarwal, when I interviewed him for my book. 

Professor Aggarwal, previously head of the Cytokine Research Group in the department of experimental therapeutics at renowned cancer hospital MD Anderson, is a world-authority on the benefits of turmeric.  

Numerous animal studies have demonstrated turmeric’s potential against  neurodegenerative diseases, depression, diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis AND cancer. In one study the active compound in turmeric reversed the growth of human breast cancer cells by 98 per cent[1]

So here is a recipe to get some serious goodness into your little one – a vibrant change from those bland looking chicken blocks.

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g organic chicken breast fillet sliced.
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Half an onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large lemongrass stem
  • 1 3cm piece of fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp of powdered turmeric)
  • 400ml can of coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

METHOD

Combine the chicken, garlic, onion, lemongrass and turmeric in a bowl. Place coconut oil in a wok over high heat. Add chicken mixture and fry for 1-2 minutes or until cooked. Add coconut milk, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes.

Remove the lemongrass, add the spinach and cook for a further minute.

Set aside to cool and then puree into portions (makes 6 baby portions). For babies over 12 months you may need to simply mash or chop the chicken.

If using a blender with a plastic container, leave to cool completely before blending to avoid the BPA leaching.

Store in the fridge for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to one month.

Serve with a side of green vegetable puree and mashed potato (or rice if you prefer).

[1] Collins, D. The Top 10 Natural Cancer Cures No One is Talking About (Think-Outside-the-Book Publishing, LLC) p 21 http://www.Top10CancerCures.com

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Vitamin D for Babies

If you constantly slather your baby in sunscreen, or keep a muslin over his pram throughout summer, you need to read this. It’s everything you could know about vitamin D for babies.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, from BBC One fame, became a natural medicine advocate via a terrifying experience in which he learnt of the importance of vitamin D for babies. 

More weather like this please! 🌞

The doctor was on holiday in France when his son nearly died. In his now famous Ted Talk, viewed by over half a million people, he explains what happened:

“My wife called out to me, she said ‘he’s not moving’. So I rushed over there and he was lifeless, I thought he was choking. So I picked him up, tried to clear his airway. Nothing happened. I froze. My wife called out – she said we’ve got to get him to hospital.”

“So we rushed there and we were worried because when we got there, he was still not moving. The doctors were worried because they didn’t know what was happening. That night he had two lumbar punctures, because they thought he might have meningitis. He stayed in a foreign hospital for three days.” 

“What actually transpired was, my son had a low level of calcium in his blood that was caused by a low level of vitamin D. My son nearly died from a preventable vitamin deficiency.”

I recently asked my GP (who is of a holistic bent) what is the number one supplement for babies. ‘Vitamin D’ she replied, without a moment’s hesitation.

Prenatal Vitamin D

bump shot

Of course the importance of vitamin D for babies begins in utero.

Over 76% of pregnant women are deficient in vitamin D. Taken to the extreme, prenatal deficiency can lead to rickets. This ‘Dickensian-era’ disease, which affects bone development in children, is rearing its head again. In 2009, it lead to the death of four-month-old boy, Jayden Al-Alas Wray.

So how much should you and your baby take?

The Vitamin D council recommends 4000-6000 iu for pregnant women. This recommendation is backed by a 2015 study published in the journal Paediatrics, which found that maternal supplementation with 6400 iu daily supplies breast-milk was adequate vitamin D for babies. 

For direct infant supplementation, the vitamin D council recommends 1000 iu. The more conservative Food and Nutrition board of America recommends 400 iu for infants, which is what I have been giving my son since he was six weeks old.

If you are breastfeeding, then your baby will be benefiting from the vitamin D you are taking. Note I say ‘taking’, not consuming, as it’s almost impossible to achieve the levels of D you need from diet alone.

vit-D-hollis-med

Sardines and egg yolks are two foods that contain vitamin D, so it won’t hurt to include both when you can (especially since they are also rich in calcium, B vitamins and omega 3s), but I would still recommend supplementing on top. In the short time I was able to give Ajax breast-milk (see my earlier post on breastfeeding), I took one tsp of cod liver oil daily. I chose to take cod liver oil rather than a straight vitamin D since it’s also rich in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid crucial for brain development.

Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil is the brand I use since it is unrefined, unprocessed, and never heated. Several European laboratories regularly test the oils for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), including pesticides (such as DDT), industrial chemicals (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs) and unintentional by-products of industrial processes (such as dioxins and furans). They have also been tested for heavy metals and microbiological contamination.

One tsp provides 400-500u of vitamin D, which is perfect for baby. I have been adding it to Ajax’s formula since he was six weeks old and he doesn’t mind the taste at all. I wish I could say the same. After attempting to cover up the fishy flavour in everything from apple juice to wheatgrass shots, I ended up opting for the Rosita SoftGel capsules. 

If cod liver oil isn’t your thing and you’re after a pure vitamin D, you could try California Gold Nutrition Baby Vitamin D3 or Better You Vitamin D.

Benefits of Vitamin D for Babies

* In Norway, use of cod liver oil during pregnancy was associated with a 70 percent reduced risk of type 1 diabetes.

* A study of over 10,000 infants in Finland conducted between 1966 and 1997 showed that supplementing 2000 iu vitamin D from cod liver oil to infants in the first year of life, virtually removed the risk of type 1 diabetes over the next thirty years.

* Children born to mothers who took cod liver oil during pregnancy and lactation scored higher on intelligence tests at age four compared with children whose mothers took corn oil.

(Studies taken from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Childcare

Sunbaking with baby?

ajax balloon ball

During my pregnancy I soaked up the rays as much as I could, without burning. Although avoiding lying on your back (or front) on a sun lounger is no mean feat!

For infants it’s another story. Babies skin is super sensitive; so much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies under six months old should stay out of the sun completely. I must admit I disobeyed this advice.

From five weeks old I exposed Ajax to the Australian sun, but in very small doses and not between 11-4pm. I also didn’t use sunscreen. Instead my son wore a hat, stayed in the shade and received just a little vitamin D on his legs and toes on the short walk from home to the park. He also spent time outside in the garden in the cool of the early morning and evening.

The best sunscreen for baby? Most are filled with chemicals, except this one… You can read all about it here.

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Baby Massaman Curry

Asian flavours – ginger, turmeric, a dash of lime – play a big role on my dinner table and ultimately I want my son to eat with us. Rather than going straight from bland baby food to adult meals, I wanted to ease the transition by introducing spices early – and this Baby Massaman Curry was a fantastic place to start.

massaman use

In theory, introducing spices at a young age will broaden his palate and help prevent ‘fussy eating’. Plus, doing so when weaning ensures he gets a wide range of vitamins and antioxidants. Ginger, for example, is great if your baby/toddler has a sore tummy as research shows it has an anti-spasmodic effect.

Ginger has also been shown to prevent toxicity, lower inflammation and reduce pain, so it might be helpful for teething too! 

This Baby Massaman Curry was my first foray into baby food with a spicy twist, I hope you enjoy.

BABY BEEF MASSAMAN

INGREDIENTS

For the Curry Paste:

1/2 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp garlic

1/2 tsp tomato purée

1/2 tsp tamarind purée

Juice of 1/2 lime

 

Few sprigs of coriander

Pinch of ground cinnamon

For the Curry:

2 tbsp coconut oil

300g organic beef, diced

400ml coconut milk

200ml filtered water

Juice of 1/2 lime

150g organic potatoes, peeled and diced

 

METHOD

Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a mini blender (or pestle and mortar) and grind, then mix with the remaining paste ingredients until smooth.

Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the beef and cook for 5 minutes until it starts to brown. Then add the coconut milk, water and juice. Lower the heat, cover and leave to simmer for 2 hours. Check every half an hour or so to make sure the curry isn’t drying out. If so, you may need to add a little extra water.

Add the potatoes and cook for a further 40 minutes.

Set aside to cool and then purée into portions (makes 6 generous baby portions). For babies over 12 months, you may need to simply mash or chop the beef and potatoes.

If using a blender with a plastic container, leave to cool completely before blending to avoid the BPA leaching.

Store in the fridge for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to one month.

 

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Mobile Phones and Babies

We have become so blasé that babies now use mobile phones as teething toys. And yet, holding a phone to your head is like holding a low-powered microwave oven close to your brain, according to Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman – author of  Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electromagnetic Pollution.

Ajax phone blog

I tend to fall upon my mobile phone like a ravenous beast as soon as my son is asleep; just a few hours unattended has me desperate for a social media swipe and WhatsApp check. 

But when I’m with Ajax, I’m pretty good at leaving my phone alone – this photo is the only time my son has held a mobile.

Despite this lure of another ‘quick look’, the research on mobile phones and babies is more compelling.

Need to Know: Mobile Phones and Babies

Brain tumours have overtaken leukaemia as the leading cause of cancer death in children (both linked to electromagnetic exposure). 

Never before has a generation been surrounded by electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Never before has a generation of newborns slept with monitors next to their heads emitting these harmful rays. Never before has a generation learnt how to ‘swipe’ before they wipe or listen to nursery rhymes streamed from Spotify.

We assume that because everyone is doing it, it’s OK. But the research tells another story.

Mobile phone use raises children’s risk of brain cancer five-fold, according to a 2008 study from the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden.

The lead author, professor Lennart Hardell believes that children under 12 should not use mobiles except in emergencies and that teenagers should use hands-free devices or headsets and concentrate on texting.

In 2015, France banned the use of WiFi in nursery schools. In Russia, scientists have advised that anyone under the age of 18 should not use a cell phone… the UK seems to be slow to follow suit.

One British doctor, Erica Mallery-Blythe, is hoping to change that with her grassroots organisation PHIRE (Physicians Health Initiative for Radiation and Environment). The website is replete with short videos, easy-to-understand diagrams and a wealth of studies to convince any parent to cut their kids exposure. 

Why Children are More Vulnerable?

A five-year-old can absorb 60 percent more microwave radiation than an adult. According to Dr. Mallery-Blythe, children are more vulnerable to EMR exposure because:

  • Children’s thinner skulls and smaller bones allow greater absorption into bone and deeper tissues
  • Children’s brains can have higher water content and so absorb more radiation
  • Children are smaller (a relatively higher proportion of their tissues may be closer to a point source)
  • Children have more vulnerable developing systems (e.g. neurological/reproductive)
  • Children have a longer time ahead for latent effects to manifest.
 (For more information go to: http://phiremedical.org/vulnerability-in-children) 
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 What You Can do When it Comes to Mobile Phones and Babies

Despite the dangers of mobile phones and babies, I’m not deleting my Ocado app or living without Uber just yet. So what’s the middle ground? Unless you choose to go ‘off grid’ and live in a converted caravan, most of us will need to focus on minimising mobile/WiFi use rather than removing it entirely. Thankfully there are some simple changes you can make that will dramatically cut your exposure.

* Invest in an anti-radiation WaveWall cover for your phone

* Buy a low emissions or no emissions baby monitor 

* Keep your mobile as far away from you and your baby as possible. The iPhone 4 Important Product Information Guide states that you should keep your phone at least 15mm away from your body at all times, otherwise the legal guidelines for mobile radiation will be exceeded.

* Download your e-mail and then disconnect from WiFi, allowing you to read and respond without being exposed.

* Avoid using your phone while you are on the move.

* Cover your baby with a radiation shielding blanket from Radiasmart.com.au when travelling (to avoid cosmic radiation) or to protect yourself when working on a laptop.

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* If you work from home, install an Ethernet cable to your main computer so you can switch the WiFi off (as I have done).

* Say no to smart meters from your utility companies. Smart meters can expose the body to 160x to 800x times as much microwave radiation as mobile phones.

* Only use your phone where the reception is good. The weaker the signal, the more power your phone must use to transmit – leading to more radiation. 

Laura Bond is a journalist, author and health coach. She specialises in helping clients beat stress, reduce their toxic load and prepare their bodies for babies. To find out more, click here.

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