Saturday, September 28, 2013

On that farm ...

Tea cosies!

My showbag - I don't spose I could convince you I needed tea?


Charlie's milk and cookies

At the milking barn

Friday, September 20, 2013

New blog header!!

Do you like my updated blog header? Big thanks to my friend Meaghan who put it together for me, adding a photo of Kaitlyn, Charlie and I to mark 50 in my timeline :) Photo by 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Experts call for tighter regulation of baby formula marketing

Please watch this excellent interview with Julie Smith. But first:

  • Remember that regulation of infant formula advetising and marketing is NOT a criticism of mothers who cannot breastfeed.
  • Marketing of formula to women who are breastfeeding is a known factor in premature weaning.
  • There is very little difference in composition between different brands of formula. Most are much the same.
  • Advertising of infant formula for babies under 12 months is not allowed. Toddler formula was introduced as soon as that regulation came into place.
  • Previously, the cut off for advertising was six months. Follow on formula, suitable from six months, was swiftly invented.
  • Most health professionals do not encourage the use of formula of any kind beyond 12 months.
  • Formula companies promote toddler formula as an aid to brand awareness, not because children need them. 
  • As well as toddler products, we are now seeing some labelled for pre-school aged children. 
  • Most toddler formula companies use marketing such as clubs, websites, taste testing (at baby expos), balloons, showbags etc to encourage and maintain brand loyalty.
  • Multinational companies marketing formula around the world adapt their products and marketing to fit within the regulations in each company. Where it is legal to do so, aggressive marketing commences in pregnancy. 
Now watch the story. 

Experts call for tighter regulation of baby formula marketing

If you were not able to meet your own breastfeeding goals or chose not to breastfeed, please understand that calls for regulation are not a criticism - indeed, it is you and your baby who are the potential targets of more aggressive advertising and marketing. Consider how much of your family budget you spend on infant formula and ask yourself who would profit from you continuing to use it beyond the first year?

(This link is to an Australian TV website and is probably not available outside our country. If I can get hold of a transcript or report I will share it here.)

First Magnolia blossom from my birthday present @julie irvine

Same weight at birth! Difference between 10 days and 5 months!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

First time I made one of these for a baby, rice was long grain or short grain! This one has Basmatti, brown and aborio, because that was all I had in the pantry!

Sitting up like a big girl - mummy and granny get to eat with two hands!

Around six months

At five months of age, my granddaughter Charlie is now the only one of ten babies in her Mums Group not to have started solids.

This despite none of those babies yet reaching the "around six months" age recommendation for doing so.

Sometimes, it feels like we are banging our heads on a brick wall trying to achieve the guidelines of babies being exclusively breastfed in the first year of life - between the push for supplements of infant formula from as early as the first week to solids being actively encouraged at four months of age, it seems that many health professionals are either ignorant of, or disagree with, both the World Health Organisation AND the National Health & Medical Research Council, both of whom clearly state the age at which foods other than breastmilk/infant formula should be introduced to a baby:

Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed1 for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health2. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.World Health Organisation Infant Feeding Guidelines
In Australia, it is recommended that infants be exclusively breastfed until around 6 months of age when solid foods are introduced. It is further recommended that breastfeeding be continued until 12 months of age and beyond, for as long as the mother and child desire. NHMRC Infant Feeding Guidelines 2012
Now, these are not some wacko group with an agenda to push, they are the formal bodies who provide guidelines on all aspects of health care globally and in Australia. I wonder if those health professionals are also defying the recommendations in other areas?

Call me cynical, but you have to wonder who else has an interest in starting babies earlier than these clear guidelines - oh, that's right - the very large, multinational baby food industry! You only need to browse the aisle of your supermarket to see row after row of jars and packets stating "suitable from 4 months".

When babies are given "solids" (actually a misnomer) before they are developmentally ready, the foods need to be so liquified that they are nothing like the foods we eat. So all these "4-6 months" jars are pureed and contain nothing lumpy. They slip into the open mouths of babies, don't challenge the tongue thrust reflex very effectively and slide down the throat without much difference to the milk feeds the baby is used to.

Which is why the media reports of a recent study in the UK make such interesting reading:

Commercial baby food too sweet, lacks nutrition

The nutritional content of commercial foods was compared to typical homemade foods in the study.
The comparison showed commercial foods generally had half the nutrients of typical home made foods with the exception of iron content.
A 50g service of homemade food would supply the same amount of energy and protein as 100g of a similar commercial product, say the authors.
The reason for introducing solid foods is to increase the energy content of a baby's diet and provide more nutrients.
"Yet the most commonly used commercial foods considered in this study supply no more energy than breast or formula milk," the study says.
"While it is understandable that parents may choose to use these products early in the weaning process, health professionals should be aware that such food will not add to the nutrient density of a milk diet," the authors say.

But what about that other "first food", almost universely used with fondness, despite agreeance that it tastes on par with something like wall-paper paste: Farex and other brands of rice-cereal?
As long as iron-rich foods are included in first foods, foods can be introduced in any order and at a rate that suits the infant, NHMRC experts say.
But a national obesity conference in 2012 was told a baby's first solid food should be mashed vegetables - not the traditional baby rice cereal.
Endocrinologist and Obesity Australia chief Professor John Funder says the first four years of a child's life is crucial in determining whether they will develop eating habits that lead to obesity.
Starting a child off on a diet of rice cereal was like giving them "an oral glucose tolerance test''.
Children fed high carbohydrate, high salt and high fat diets as toddlers will have their brains wired to desire these foods for the rest of their lives, Professor Funder said.

So why are these products so blatantly marketed as being  the first foods for infants, if they are clearly not the healthiest options for parents to choose? This is a question that has been put to the FSANZ - (Food Standards Australia & new Zealand) who sets food labelling standards in the Food Standards Code. These standards are enforced by the Australian states and territories and, in New Zealand, by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Their final report makes interesting reading and contains this telling statement:

Most parents relied on two main signals from their baby in determining if he or she was ready for solids – these were regarded more as signs of hunger rather than developmental readiness: 
• an indication of strong interest in food by following with their eyes when others eat around them, or reaching for food from an adult’s plate; and 
• disturbed sleep patterns at night, indicating that the breast or bottle feed was no longer enough
You will note their is no reference to being physically ready - the tongue-thrust reflux gone, able to sit in an upright position to eat safely.

You can read the full report here. You will note this document is dated 2004 and clearly labelling has not changed as suggested.

So we are left with the following confusing picture for parents:

  • The WHO and NHMRC guidelines say around six months is the age to introduce foods other than breastmilk.
  • The commerical baby food industry continue to label their products as suitable from four months.
  • Health professionals and others continue to suggest starting solids will improve infant sleep and infant growth - despite the normalcy of increased night waking and weight gain plateau in the 4-6 month age group.
Its time we asked the question of our Local, State and Federal Governments WHY so many mothers are starting solids at 4 months and not around 6 months. In Victoria, solids are discussed at the four month Maternal & Child Health visit. One has to question if the emphasis of that talk is on waiting until 6 months or if mothers are being encouraged to start earlier. Statistics on breastfeeding rates may tell the story:
Statistics from the 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Surveyresults indicate that 96% of mothers initiate breastfeeding. Thereafter, exclusive breastfeeding rates drop off. Less than half (39%) of babies are still being exclusively breastfed to 3 months (less than 4 months) and less than one quarter (15%) to 5 months (less than 6 months).
Is it really a move to infant formula replacing breastmilk that gives these figures or are our exclusively breastfed babies during this significant age range decreasing because of the early introduction of other foods?

Questions you might like to ask your State and Federal Health Ministers.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A baby and her heritage

Take a gorgeous five-month old baby, add the trunk her great-great grandparents brought to Australia when they migrated from England in the 1950s, toss in the collected baby shawls from all her families, her granny's teddy and doll and you get some treasured photos at no cost!!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: Breastmilk jewellry

I received the most wonderful gift this week: a pendant encapsulating my daughter's breastmilk!

Now, if breastfeeding is just a way of feeding babies in your mind, you might well be wondering ... "Why??"

But if breastfeeding to you is an incredible bond between mother and child, a source of connection, love and love as well as food, then you will understand. And if you have read Breastfeeding Charlie: It Took a Village, you will know that the early days of Kaitlyn's breastfeeding experience meant every drop of milk was like liquid gold and valued even more.

I meet many women whose breastfeeding experience is a treasured time - perhaps only brief hours or days with a baby born too soon or whose life was too short; or time of great sadness when it just didn't work out as they had hoped. Some women have a cache of frozen expressed milk they cannot bear to throw out long past its use-by date, their only tangible connection to that special time.

All of these mothers will understand the appeal of this unique memento.

In fact, when Kaitlyn ordered my pendant, she got one for herself too. And so we have an extra bond between us now too.

My pendant

Kaitlyn's pendant

When I posted the photo of my piece on Facebook, friends clamoured to know where they came from. I contacted the creator and she was so happy we were happy with them, she has offered a special discount for ABA members!

Blackbird Accessories is a small business that can also create pieces including placenta or hair, other ways to safely keep treasured memories.

You can find Blackbird Accessories on Facebook and to get your discount, quote your ABA membership number - on your members card or the mailing sheet from Essence magazine, or phone Head Office to look it up for you.

My gift was part of a thank you from my co-workers at the Breastfeeding Centre, which I sadly left in May. Breastfeeding has connected me with so many women over the past three decades, not least of all those I worked alongside as we gave practical support to mothers visiting the Centre. That they should conspire with my daughter to give me what they all knew I would treasure is just another example of the bonds of women who come together to support women. It is a time and a gift I will always remember.

But which would you choose?

Making new friends

Too cute - is the baby included?

Checking out highchairs

Friday, September 6, 2013

Why I still love ABA meetings

This week, Kaitlyn and I did our double-ABA meetings - Frankston Group and Dandenong Group. Once again, I was reminded why the volunteer work I do is so important.

Both groups have welcomed new people and embraced them into the community of mothers they needed. I just wish more women joined the Australian Breastfeeding Association during their pregnancy and then they would have that support right from the start of their journey. It makes a huge difference when they do.

Join now!