Friday, December 26, 2014

There and back again ... our Tolkien journey

I first became aware of The Lord of the Rings when a dog called Frodo had a short-lived sojourn as my family dog when I was about 10. He ate the washing and went to "The Farm".

I can't recall exactly when I read The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings but it would have been around 12 or 13 years old. I loved them but had no idea the prominence they would later go on to have in my life. I would periodically return every few years to revisit them, as one of the closet Tolkien lovers in a world that didn't really know it even existed.

Then, when my eldest daughter was a reluctant and struggling reader aged about 15, she needed to read a book of her own choice for school and I encouraged her to read The Hobbit. That magic led her to not only read The Lord of the Rings but also The Silmarillion (which had defeated me as an avid reader!) and converted her to a compulsive reader and lover of the Fantasy genre.

Not long after, word began to spread that Peter Jackson was making a movie of LOTR - no ... three movies!! And the anticipation and hope began. But what if he ruined it? Around this time, two kittens joined our family and were named Merry and Frodo (Merry being a female cat gained a male character's name, as females in Tolkien's works tend to have names too grand for a domestic cat!).

The first movie was released on Boxing Day 2001 - and we joined to queue for tickets. And it was perfect! Melissa and I released our jointly-held breaths as the vision in our heads was matched by that of Peter Jackson. And love of the movie raanked alongside love of the books.

Kieran was just ten and also struggled with reading. However, when we added the audio CD full BBC production of LOTR to our collection, he patiently listened to the whole  13 hours virtually uninterrupted! He was also immersed in Middle Earth. Kaitlyn and Rod tried to be as enthusiastic but it was we three who shared the passion.

I remember the Christmas we surprised Kieran with the full Fellowship of figures - a friend working for a toy store chain was able to get them with her staff discount. Except for one - Strider - who was stuck on a wharf and not delivered in time. Also on his gift list was a Hobbit cloak of his own, sewn in secret by me in  the cosy space of our ensuite bathroom! This was packaged in a silver box, with a letter from Gandalf advising the Fellowship were in hiding within our lounge room to be found - apart from Strider, who would join them at a later date.

But I wasn't the only one sewing costumes. Melissa took her rudimentary sewing skills and taught herself how to draft patterns and recreate costumes from the movies. And that introduced her to the world of cos-play. And conventions.

Which led to her volunteering at the LOTR exhibition in Sydney, where she even managed to be featured in a newspaper article!

Which led to a family roadtrip  so we could all see the exhibition!

 And then more conventions and meeting with stars of the movies.


So, by the time she was celebrating her 21st birthday, Melissa was also preparing to hop over to New Zealand, so she could visit the movie locations! Her birthday yielded so more treasures for her growing collection.

In the end, she spent two years in NZ!

Sadly, the movies came to an end and the family consoled ourselves with Harry Potter instead each Boxing Day. And then, rumours began that Peter Jackson was making The Hobbit! And that turned into a trilogy as well! By now, Kieran was also into cosplay and brother and sister attend conventions together! In 2013, they easily won tickets to see one of the movies accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, in an Instagram competition on ABC radio. 

And now, today we saw the final installment of The Hobbit. And we are left with just our memories, a large cache of merchandise and everything on DVD - except we now wait for the release of this third movie and, no doubt, the boxed set of three! 

Sadly, little Merry didn't quite make it to the end of the journey, going to the east just a couple of weeks ago. Frodo is his annoying self and belies his fifteen years of age. Melissa and Kieran are about to turn 31 and 24. But offer them their swords and cloaks and they will oblige you a little sword play and are sure to indoctrinate Charlie into the fold as soon as possible :)

Thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson for your legacies.

Monday, December 15, 2014

30th Santa photo!

Continuing our family tradition, we headed to the city for our annual Santa photo yesterday and- after some serious desensitising over the past few weeks - Charlie added her second year to her own tradition. We also got a very special moment between Mummy, Charlie, Santa and his toy reindeer to treasure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

RIP Gwen O'Dowd

It is with sadness I announce the death of my mother-in-law Gwen yesterday,  November 10 2014.

I was 15 when I met my husband,  36 years ago. As a young mother,  Gwen and I spent a lot of time together,  much like Kaitlyn and I do today. She was always happy to care for the children for a few hours or a day and we would do our grocery shopping together for many years. She was always happy to come to the children's special events and hosted our family Christmas every year.

As my family grew up and my life was filled by work and more, and she and Robin enjoyed their retirement years together,  we spent much less time together - despite only living a few streets apart. These past few years her health issues took away some of her joy, but seeing Kaitlyn marry and become a mother gave light to her darker days.

Gwen spent the final hours of life with her family in attendance, right down to 18mo, Charlie.  She passed peacefully as pulmonary oedema took her quietly.

She was my other mother and a wonderful role model and will be greatly missed.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Liquid Gold presentation

I thought you might like to see my slides from my presentation at Liquid Gold.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Breastfeeding Charlie - it Took a Village: UPDATED

Twelve months after publishing Breastfeeding Charlie - It Took a Village to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, I am busy preparing to present it at the Australian Breastfeeding Association national conference Liquid Gold. A year ago, Charlie was just five months old and the twist in the story happened not long after I published, so here is the updated version.

Breastfeeding Charlie - It Took a Village: updated by Yvette Jenkins O'Dowd

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Friday, June 20, 2014

People with no kids don't know by Jeff Roy

People with no kids don't know

Michael McIntyre is so right. People without kids think they know, but they don't have a clue.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Charlie's Natural Play Space

Like most adults, my childhood memories of play generally occurred outdoors. With the freedom of children in the 1970s, my friends and our siblings roamed not only our neighbourhood on the outskirts of Melbourne but also the undeveloped land surrounding us, where remnant bushland and retired farmland gave us unlimited connection with nature and unsupervised play opportunities from a young age - the instructions to "look after your brother/sister" and "be home before its dark" rang in our ears as we raced out the door.

My own children, fortunate to grow up in the same neighbourhood as both their parents, found their own nature play spaces, even though many of our own were now sub-divided and out of bounds. Their roaming spaces were smaller and more play occurred in back yards, but their was still plenty of dirt, mud and risk taking going on unseen by parental eyes. Cubby houses, mud pie creations and endless games of imagination went on from dawn to dusk in the summer holidays and on weekends and school days when increasing extracurricular activities permitted.

Another generation is now growing up in that very same neighbourhood! My daughter, her husband and daughter have recently moved in with us for the foreseeable future. Where before, it was a part-time space on the days I cared for her while mum is at work, our back yard is now a full-time play space for my 13 month old granddaughter Charlie. And while we are still blessed with green spaces close at hand, even more areas have been sub-divided for housing and increasing fear of predatory adults means unsupervised play is rare now - and likely to be rarer by the time Charlie is of an age to gain such freedom.

There is concern around the world about children's reduced access to natural place spaces and free play outdoors. Our idyllic local environment - where we can access the beach, bushland and rural spaces within a five minute drive from our front door and have an abundance of community spaces many parts of the world could only dream about - is not to be taken for granted. We need to ensure all children have access to outdoor play.

Our family attend a weekly playgroup Nature Kids, uniquely using local natural spaces as its venues and using the environment to let our children play and learn. Charlie began attending the group before she was 9 months old and is thriving on the experience. This has motivated me to further encourage outdoor play at home by establishing an age-appropriate mini-natural space for her play in our garden.

I knew from the experiences Charlie enjoys at Natured Kids some of the elements I wanted to include in her play space - and Pinterest helped me develop those concepts into practical ideas. Rather than list all the sources of inspiration here, hop over to my Pinterest Board Natural Backyard Play Spaces and have a look.

The obvious requirements were: sand, water, dirt, mud, stones, sound, light and air. And art.
This space is intended for toddler play, so it needed to be contained, visible and relatively safe. I have many plans and dreams for our backyard, with a focus on making it a children's delight for Charlie, her friends and future siblings and cousins to come. A replacement cubby house (our beloved one is literally falling apart at the seams), realms for fairies, dragons and other folk are gradually evolving from garden beds, space for riding trikes and bikes along our brick-paving and more are on the drawing board. But - for now - an obvious space lent itself to my plan. An area beneath our Flame Tree, where long-term drought and water restrictions, competition for water and nutrients amongst multiple established tress and my limited abilities had rendered a dream garden bed to look like this:

A blank slate after my wonderful backyard blitz in January
Adjacent to the garden beds being planted to attract fairies, butterflies and small girls picking flowers, immediately down from our deck, beside the clothes line and offering both sun and shade year round, this would be the ideal location.

Bricks were lifted and a retaining wall put in place to both level the space and accommodate the sand area. A swing set was bought second-hand, as were a toddler slide, a small playhouse, water-play table and some child-sized chairs. Although this is a natural play-space, some plastic is needed and buying it used reduces the impact on the environment. As she grows, some of these will be replaced or no longer needed and passed on.

Enjoying her new space already - and it isn't yet complete!
Now the hardware was in place, it was time to get dirty! This girl loves to get in and check it all out!

Not one to pass up an opportunity, the bricks were barely lifted and the play began!
All this was being undertaken at a ridiculous time in our lives. Following my husband's unexpected brain surgery, he was unable to drive for three months, which not only impacted on his work life but also meant he was not able to drive his car for family purposes - and his was the only car able to tow a trailer! Added to this, we were in the throes of downsizing our household AND my daughter's and beginning the gradual merging of the two. Throw in Charlie's first birthday, a family wedding on her father's side and a bout of illness knocking our household for six, it was a very frustrating time as I am so reliant on others to do any heavy work!

However, my vision was affirmed as Charlie took delight in playing outside at EVERY opportunity! I began to see my winter huddled under an umbrella, rugged up and pushing the swing endlessly! Her enjoyment pushed me to keep going until the full dream was realised. I drew my vision to share with the family:

I sourced second-hand materials for the project - free rocks, tree stumps from a neighbour when a grand tree was sadly removed and various odds and ends for the music wall. Apart from some blue board and a tin of blackboard paint - plus the timber etc hubby used to build the retaining wall - everything else has had a previous life before this.

And so - finally - I can call it done (well, tomorrow will see a final coat of blackboard paint and a tree stump has an appointment with a chain saw to create the stools).  There will obviously be additions as they come our way and evolution over time. But for now -

All the pieces in their places
So what does the end user think? I'll let you be the judge:
One happy toddler!!!
I hope we have inspired you to give up a little bit of outdoor space for child's play. We live on an average suburban block and this space is maybe the size of a single garage. We have spent a couple of hundred dollars on the retaining wall, sand and blackboard. And converted a disappointing space into one with real purpose.

And finally, as autumn tumbles into winter, a little glimpse into other areas of our garden which make me smile right now.

In Granny's Garden magic happens

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Introducing: Southern Natural Parenting Network

The eastern side of Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne - from the bayside suburbs out to the Dandenong Ranges and down through the Mornington Peninsula - is a wonderful place to live and raise families.

As a family that practice many facets of natural-styled parenting - full term breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, baby-led weaning, modern cloth nappies and more - we have noticed that whatever group of mums we join, some familiar faces keep popping up!

In fact - the wide variety of online and face to face groups supporting our style of child raising is almost too great. Connecting with like-minded parents relies on word of mouth and a good deal of time searching Facebook and Google. Too often, individual mums feel isolated and unsupported among more mainstream parenting groups and family circles and unaware of a parallel community where they would feel so much at home.

When a mother I knew reached out to find a new mums group when one wasn't facilitated by her local council and another confessed her group had never really come together for that face to face support we know is important, I offered to hook them both up with other mums in the region looking for the same thing. A few status shares later, with several mums confessing they were in the same boat, I decided to put into action an idea that had been brewing and a new Facebook group was born.

I believe community is essential for mothering and the lack of a traditional village leads to many of the problems we face today. For parents for are swimming upstream against the norm, this rings true even moreso.

Southern Natural Parenting Network is intended to connect women with groups, services and resources which support their parenting choices. From neighbourhood mums groups to larger organisations, its purpose is to make those connections easier.

Raising the adults of the future is a responsibility of the whole of society. This is one way I can do my part.

Southern Natural Parenting Network

Breastfeeding in public: it's LAW!

Really happy to have my photography, daughter and granddaughter as part of this!

Check out The Brave Breastfeeder on Facebook for more great support for mums just trying to do what nature intended.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Velcro Babies: Separation anxiety in the older baby

Around 9 months of age, babies come to an amazing - but alarming - realisation: their mother is not a part of them, she is a separate entity.

This huge leap in awareness is a total surprise. For nine months in the womb and around nine months out, the mother is just like some parts of the body: you can't always see them, but they are there all the time.

Realisation that in fact, the mother could abandon the baby at any moment is a huge shock. And leads to the only reassurance possible: constantly keep the mother in sight. Suddenly, baby is no longer content to lie awake in bed, play on the floor or even be held by other people unless her mother is in close physical and visual contact.

Strap on the velcro - where you go, baby goes too!

Charlie has been in the midst of this development stage for a while now. At ten months, she is working hard on walking and it won't be long until she moves to the next stage of management: following mum everywhere!

Because we knew Kaitlyn would have to return to work at some time in the second half of Charlie's first year, she and I have worked hard to cement a strong attachment between Charlie and I so being in my care without mum would be less distressing. This has worked just as we hoped - to the extent that Charlie applies the same separation anxiety to me moving out of sight as she does with Kaitlyn! Even when Kaitlyn is right there beside her!!

We have learned it is sudden, unannounced movement which particularly triggers the momentary distress and that making eye contact, saying bye bye and waving  allow her to prepare for the separation: even if just walking into the other room to get something. Talking to her from the other room is also helpful and reassuring.

Interestingly, Charlie is quite as ease with Kaitlyn leaving to go to work and sometimes barely interupts what she is doing when she returns! Provided she is either involved in - or unaware of - the moment of separation, being apart is not a problem.

Other developmental changes occur around the same time that are related to this awareness of being out of sight but not gone forever: Peak-a-boo becomes THE game for babies at this stage, so they comfortably see someone disappear and reappear over and over, learning this is normal and reliable. Waving bye bye reinforces people go away and waving hello that they return. And the awareness that something out of sight still exists means looking into bags, boxes and buckets for toys is meaningful - out of sight isn't out of mind.

Babywearing comes into its own during this stage if you wish to do anything without holding a baby who won't leave your side. Taking them with you when you shower, use the toilet, collect the mail, load the washing and all the other quick tasks you could previously leave them playing while you go, now only get done with them in your arms or at your feet.

It is a frustrating stage at times, but necessary for your baby to move into more independence as a toddler. Soon, that separation will be a bonus for your baby, because life becomes a lot more interesting when mum isn't constantly by your side!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hubby's Head Update

Apologies to family and friends for not posting since I announced my husband needed surgery!

It has been a crazy almost-week, but today he came home from hospital. The surgery was successful and now all that is needed is rest so he can recover.

He needed this like a hole in the head

To say he has been lucky is an understatement: that initial injury could have killed him if he wasn't wearing a bike helmet. That he managed to go about life relatively normal for TWO MONTHS with his brain slowly bleeding is incredible. That he drove to and from Adelaide in the weeks before needing surgery is frightening!

The staff at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, our major trauma centre, are first class and knowing they are there when we need them at times like this is reassuring. Not wanting to ever need them again but if we do - best place to be.

After driving an hour each way to visit every day (except yesterday, when I had a breastfeeding class to teach) we are all looking forward to some rest!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

For family and friends not on Facebook

This afternoon my husband was admitted to hospital.

Tuesday night update:

We are home now, the surgeon told us to so we get some sleep. Rod  will go into surgery tonight, to have the blood clot removed. It is a sub-dural haematoma: they will cut a small hole in his skull. It is a good prognosis and better than if he had continued on without seeking medical assistance - he would have likely died in a couple of weeks. This is a trauma from the concussion he suffered in his second cycling accident, in late November. We had noticed he was a bit 'off" since he got home after nearly three weeks away but he had actually been compensating quite well until now. He saw the GP today because the headaches were getting worse and he was sent for an MRI.

The neurosurgeon will call me when he comes out of theatre, unless it is on the middle of the night (unless something goes wrong)

It is very possible - maybe likely - he will need a second surgery over the next few weeks. There will be some speech deficit because it is his left brain affected and his right arm and leg weakness will probably need therapy, so there will be rehab involved. He could be in hospital as long as two weeks but the doctor says he will hopefully be home next week.

I know family will be anxious to visit but I will ask you not to until we give the okay - he may be in ICU and his memory has been affected so he could be a bit confused and not need to be overwhelmed by people.

He is in the Alfred Hospital an hour's drive from home. At this stage, Kaitlyn is working tomorrow morning as planned and I will have Charlie. I expect we will probably go into the hospital in the afternoon, if he is up to seeing us. We will then take each day as it comes.

Your messages of support mean a lot. At this stage, I can't think of anything anyone can do to help but know I can ask if we do. Whether I can physically handle driving to and from the city daily I am not sure, but hopefully between the family we can juggle it.

Apart from being a little confused and forgetting things, he was in good spirits and under the impression this doesn't mean the end of cycling!! I would suggest he needs his head read!

We are actually quite calm and positive because he is in the right place with the right people and although there is risk, there isn't anywhere better to be taking that risk. The greater risk has surely been him carrying on as normal since December, driving to Adelaide and back and being on the road everyday for work!

I will update again as soon as I have news. (Facebook comes into its own as everyone except his parents is on here, so saves a lot of phone time.) keep wishing, praying, sending positive energy or whatever you are doing as I am sure it all helps.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Which baby carrier should you buy? Not as simple a question as you might think! Part one - Safety, comfort and quality

Its a question I get asked a lot: "You have lots of baby carriers - which one should I buy?"

Sounds simple. But isn't.

Choosing a baby carrier is a very individual thing. It will depend on the age and size of your child now - and how long you would hope to wear them into the future. Your body size and shape - and that of your partner and other family members who plan to use it. Your climate and lifestyle. Aesthetics. Your child's preferences and behaviour. Your budget.

The most important questions to ask are actually about the carrier itself - is it safe and is it comfortable?

For safety, the international T.I.C.K.S. guidelines have been adopted around the world to promote safe babywearing:

Everyone who carries your child in any type of baby carrier should be made aware of these guidelines. Avoid any product that doesn't allow your baby to be worn on your chest as shown. Obviously, wearing your baby on your back requires some modification but the key factors remain the same.

With regards to comfort, most people who ask me about that do so from the parent's perspective but the child's comfort is even more important! There are carriers that provide optimal comfort and support for your baby - and others that don't. 

It not only makes sense to make sure your baby is carried comfortably but it also important from a long-term health perspective. Babies hips are particularly vulnerable and frequent or long-term use of some styles of carrier could lead to ongoing issues. 

Once you have established that the carrier you are considering can be used in safety and comfort for your child, its almost time to start looking at your options! 

But first - you get what you pay for.

There are several issues in the unregulated, global nature of baby carriers that you need to keep in mind. Firstly, counterfeit versions of popular products are a huge problem and unwary parents buying bargains can end up with poorly made copies which are likely 
  • made with inferior material and parts – particularly the buckles
  • not product tested for safety standards
  • not covered by any Product Insurance
  • not covered by Product Warranty
Secondly, even with the best intentions, some manufacturers are simply unaware of recommendations for making and selling carriers. Simple products like ring slings or mei tais may look easy to sew and many a mum makes a small income selling online or at markets. The consumer who doesn't know what to be looking for or has no way of checking before the purchase is delivered may be at risk of hidden weakness in seams, unsafe hardware or incorrect fabric or thread used in sewing. The weight of a sleeping baby or heavy toddler may lead to failure of the carrier and risk of accidents.

It simply isn't worth the risk

If you are buying a hand-made carrier, be aware of the key points of the construction and ask questions until you are happy you are buying a safely made product. For example - mei tais generally have an internal layer where the weight is borne and should be triple-stitched in an "X-box" where the straps join the body. This will be beneath the decorative layer in most cases and you may only be able to determine it is used by asking.


If you do not feel confident to determine safe construction before buying online, then sticking with the name brands from reputable retailers may be safer in the long run.

The US baby carrier industry now has mandatory regulations for anyone making and selling ANY baby carrier. In Australia, the ACCC is currently assessing the industry and it is likely similar regulation will come into place. These actions are in direct response to infant deaths and are intended to protect both consumers and manufacturers/retailers.
DEC 2013: Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is undertaking a consumer survey on parents’ perceptions on using baby sling carriers. The survey is being overseen by the Queensland Consumer Products Injury Research Advisory Group, of which the ACCC is a member. For more information and to participate in the survey, visit the QUT survey website.
When your budget doesn't stretch to the cost of a brand-new, reputable brand of baby carrier - consider instead buying a used one through buy, swap and sell groups who insist on validating not only the products but the people offering them. eg Babywearing Buy Swap and Sell Facebook Group

Before your baby is born, perhaps ask for contributions towards the cost of your carrier in place of sundry small items at your baby shower, as a workplace leaving present or as a large item gift from family. 

So - you know about safety, comfort and quality - next: What types of carriers can I choose from?

Disclaimer: This information is offered as a guide only. Ultimately, your choice of baby carrier and how you wear it is your responsibility. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Around Six Months - the experience of avoiding premature introduction of solids

The NEW ABA info sheets - See below to order!
(Who is that gorgeous baby bottom left? ) 

My last post Around Six Months, which discussed why premature introduction of solids, was almost four months ago and, since then, my granddaughter Charlie has made the transition to eating foods alongside her ongoing breastfeeding. So I thought it only fair to update on our family's experience of starting solids in a new generation.

Charlie had her first experience of eating food on the day she turned six months. She was thriving on breastmilk alone and - despite warnings to the contrary - "delaying" solids had not led to her seeking extra feeds during the day or night.

It is frequently suggested that babies need to start solids because they are "too hungry" on breastmilk alone - this really makes no sense, as solid foods are not introduced to supplement the breastmilk diet, rather they are educational only. Breastmilk remains the primary food until at least 12 months: to use the popular rhyme "Food Before One Is Just For Fun!"

Whilst babies iron stores begin to be depleted from around six months, this is a slow process and the iron in breastmilk is the most easily absorbed. Rather than feeding babies the paste-like rice cereal that is fortified with iron, simply including iron-rich foods in their diet will support that which they get from breastmilk.

Who needs rice cereal? Charlie took to beef only days after starting solids!
We were encouraged to offer Charlie a full range of foods right from the start. Indeed, a dietician explained, when I asked, that it is important to expose babies to as many foods as possible by around seven months, including nuts (not whole), fish, wheat, dairy, eggs and other foods.
Unless the baby is already known to be allergic to a food, then all major allergens, including eggs, nuts and seafood (and dairy, wheat and soy) be introduced as soon as possible from when solids begin. This is regardless of family history  even if the baby has a sibling who is food-allergic.

There is no need to separate them by long periods of time - 2-3 days in between each should be fine unless there are suspicions about any of them. Then once introduced, give them to the baby regularly.

Obviously nuts should be in the form of pastes/butters or cooked into sate, crushed nuts in biscuits, etc and not whole. Nuts includes both peanuts and tree nuts.

Fish is particularly good for babies, possibly due to the omega-3s acting to calm the immune system from overreacting (anti-inflammatory). One study on timing of fish introduction found that babies introduced to fish before 8 months (they only had before and after 8 months in their study groups), had lower rates of allergy several years later, and this was *any* allergy, not just to fish.

Wheat is also important to introduce ASAP to minimise the development of coeliac disease. 
Joy Anderson AM B.Sc.(Nutrition) Postgrad.Dip.Diet APD IBCLC

Specialist Dietetics and Lactation Services

1A/5 Pensioner Guard Rd, North Fremantle, WA
Also phone and Skype consultations

Well, Charlie embraced that guidance with enthusiasm and experienced a wide variety of foods within those first four weeks. Quality over quantity, she was able to taste the best of the new seasons fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, nut butters, breads, yoghurt, cheese, red meats, chicken and more! At Farmers markets, we would delight stall-holders by offering the baby in the carrier taste tests of hummus, berries, breads and more. In cafes and food courts, she would sit up alongside us and taste whatever we had to offer, from salads to soups - the only things not offered were junk foods and sweet treats. In the early days, she didn't realise when we ate something without sharing but as she has become more experienced, it is hard to eat an icecream with her staring into your eyes asking for a taste!

Baby-Led is as much about learning how to eat as it is about eating!
At almost nine months, Charlie mostly feeds herself, having the occasional "fast food" option of organic pouches when something quick and easy isn't available. Spoons are used for things like yoghurt but mostly she controls what she eats and shows very clearly when she has had enough. She eats three meals a day, plus snacks, as well as her normal breastfeeds, which have not diminished. Water from a sippy caup was introduced around the same time, which she quickly learned to drink and she now uses a straw cup for both water and expressed breastmilk when she is away from mum.

Baby-Led Weaning (UK terminology, referring to introduction of solids, not weaning from milk feeds) wasn't formally around when I had my babies, although my third child tried to practice it!!! I pureed and mashed and spooned and prepared special meals from special cookbooks ... I did it all! 20-30 years later - I LOVE this approach so much! Charlie isn't a separate entity who needs to be fed, she is a person who eats with us, who shares meals with her family and friends and who has control over what she eats. Her foods aren't anonymous mixes but separate foods with different tastes and textures. Fine motor skills are honed by eating. Food is quite obviously that stuff  displayed in the market or store, where she eagerly looks over what is arrayed and enjoys touching and smelling what is on offer - and tasting it then and there if she can!

The second six months is a time of learning about food and indulging in its variety, tastes and textures. Ahead lie the battles of toddlers and food but this stage is just delight in watching them discover a whole world of wonderful things they can eat!



The Australian Breastfeeding Association South Eastern Suburbs group has a fabulous new group project fundraiser!

Introducing Solids Sheets — A4 pad of tear-off colour gloss sheets on introducing solids, including visual images of signs of readiness (consistent with latest NHMRC recommendations). The reverse side has detailed information on introducing solids, including signs of readiness, how to begin, allergies, risk of early solids introduction and ideas for first foods.

A fabulous resource for breastfeeding counsellors, breastfeeding educators, lactation consultants and health professionals.

Price: Pad of 50 $15 each plus postage

Friday, January 3, 2014