What Are We Feeding Our Kids?

 

Heinz products

 

 

Below is an article published on 22 June 2016,  about the famous Heinz brand promoting some of its sugary products as healthy. So, mums and mums-to-be, beware!

 

 

 

 

Legal Action Brought Against Heinz Over Kids’ Sugary Snacks

Food companies who make misleading health claims on children’s products have been put on notice by Australia’s consumer watchdog, which is taking multinational Heinz to court for promoting its sugary Shredz toddler products as healthy.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has started legal proceedings in the Federal Court against H.J. Heinz Company Australia Ltd in relation to the food snacks marketed to one-to-three-year-olds.

It alleges Heinz is falsely marketing these products as healthy options for young children, when they are not.

In a statement, Heinz said it strenuously denied the ACCC allegations and looked forward to defending it’s position.

“Heinz takes labelling of products very seriously and compiles with all Australian labelling and food laws,” it said.

The Shredz product range includes three varieties – peach apple and veg, berries apple and veg, and strawberry and apple with chia seeds – and has been available in major supermarkets nationally since at least August 2013.

They are predominantly made from fruit juice concentrate and pastes.

“These products contain over 60 per cent sugar, which is significantly higher than that of natural fruit and vegetables – for example, an apple contains approximately 10 per cent sugar,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

The ACCC also alleges the Heinz Shredz products are likely to inhibit the development of a child’s taste for natural fruit and vegetables.

Particular issue has been taken with the products’ packaging, which features prominent images of fresh fruit and vegetables and statements such as ‘99% fruit and veg’.

Mr Sims says major companies have an obligation under the Australian Consumer Law to ensure products’ health claims do not mislead the public.

The legal action has been roundly welcomed by dieticians and obesity prevention advocates, including the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC).

“The OPC is pleased to see such strong action from the ACCC against Heinz for potentially misleading parents who are simply trying to do their best to feed their children nutritious food,” OPC executive manager Jane Martin said.

“It’s very difficult for parents to know which foods are healthy and which aren’t, particularly for toddlers. I think parents are really trying to make the right choices and they need good, clear, honest information about the nature of the products,” Ms Martin said.

“Many parents would be shocked to know that just one 18g serve of Shredz contains almost an entire day’s worth of added sugar for a two-year-old.

Paediatric dietitian and nutritionist Hanan Saleh agrees, and says packaged snacks, like Little Kids Shredz, are not a healthy alternative to a piece of fruit.

When it comes to making healthy food choices for children, Ms Saleh says parents really need to go back to basics or “paddock to plate”.

“Parents should always think twice before picking up anything in packages,” Ms Saleh told AAP.

The average piece of fruit only contains about 10g of sugar per 100g and also has fibre and important vitamins and minerals.

The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective notices and costs.


Heinz is not the only guilty one.

According to The New Daily,  “in 2014, consumer group CHOICE rated 260 snack foods aimed at children and their lunch boxes, to find which were nutritionally poor”. It found high levels of sugar in servings of products aimed at toddlers and children in a major Melbourne supermarket.

Here are some of its findings:

baby food

baby food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How far can we trust these companies when it comes to feeding our kids? Seriously, what are we feeding our kids?

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27 Things Only a New Mum Will Understand

When I heard my cousin complaining about how pregnancy is tough as she cannot lie down properly nor eat the spicy food she wants because of heart burns, I thought to myself “hmmm… and this is just the fun part, the hard work is yet to come’.

The baby doesn’t come with a manual and even if he/she did I believe the longest part of it would be the ‘trouble-shooting’ part! As new mums we don’t have a clue of most things, so when dad or ‘others’ (remember everyone knows better than you how to take care of your baby) ask you why is the baby crying or keep telling you the baby is hungry (even when you just fed for the last 30 minutes!), or (the best one) advise you to ‘sleep while the baby is sleeping’, you really want to pull all your hair out!

New mums, don’t lose hope, you will soon learn all the strings; you are great since you can do everything that you are doing even though you’ve never been trained for it. You will get there. Motherhood is hard but so rewarding and so worth it. So, hang in there! YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!!!

The following was written by Julie Lay and I’m sure most new mums will agree as these are things only a new mum will understand.

1. The complete joy of a warm sitz bath.

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2. Being so afraid to poop that you avoid the bathroom at all costs.

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3. Having incredible boobs … that hurt so badly you’ll kill anyone who so much as brushes up against them.

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4. That taking a shower is a luxury, not a necessity.

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5. The isolation of being alone with a tiny, helpless human. All. Day. LONG.

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6. Celebrating your new eau de parfum: slightly spoiled milk, cabbage, and A+D ointment.

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7. The fear that every other mother in the world is doing a better job than you.

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8. What a dairy cow feels like.

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9. Loving your other half for giving you such an amazing gift.

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10.Hating your other half for the way they eat/sleep/breathe.

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11. What it feels like to have no shame about whipping out a boob in public.

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12. The feeling of victory that fitting into your pre-pregnancy clothes awards you (no matter how much muffin is left on top).

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13. Using the baby as a legitimate excuse to get out of absolutely anything.

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14. Wearing granny panties that are made out of mesh and come up to your eyeballs.

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15. Why you can no longer do jumping jacks. Ever again.

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16. Watching a horror movie and sympathizing with the zombies. If you can stay awake, that is.

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17. Going so crazy with fatigue you find yourself mindlessly rocking a jug of milk to sleep at the grocery store.

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18. That “mother’s intuition” is real. And it is powerful.

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19. The pure joy that is a first glass of wine after nine LONG months of sobriety.

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20. The joy/embarrassment that are Preparation H pads.

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21. Being so in tune with someone that your body actually produces food for them on demand.

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22. Accidental shoplifting.

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23. Leaking through your shirt during an important presentation at work.

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24. Waking up in a cold sweat, convinced you rolled over on the baby — only to find them sleeping soundly in their crib.

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25. That “sleep when the baby sleeps” is the stupidest phrase anyone has ever uttered.

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26. Being proud of the fact that your stomach looks like it was attacked by a tiger.

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27. The amazing feeling of being the one who created this unique human being.

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My favourite is the last one (#27). I totally agree. What do YOU think?

 

Holidays in Mauritius with a Toddler (Part 1/3)

Mauritius

Mauritius

 

Mark Twain, after his visit in 1896, quoted an islander as saying: “Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius”. Mauritius is known as a “Paradise Island”. Although at first I did not quite understand why, with time I have come to realise that Mauritius is indeed a paradise island.

Mauritius is a democratic state, located approximately 2000 kilometres to the south eastern coast of Africa and lies east of Madagascar on 20°5, 57.5E. It has an area of 1865km with 330 kilometres of coastline. Mauritius is 45km in width and 65km in length. Discovered in 1505 by the Portuguese, the island was occupied successively by the Dutch (1598-1712), the French (1715-1810) and the British (1810 to 1968). On 12 March 1968, Mauritius became independent. Republic Day was proclaimed on 12 March 1992.

The local cuisine has therefore inherited from a melting pot of immigrants to the island, mainly from Europe, East Africa and India. In Mauritius it is normal to eat some daal just like it would be normal to eat a croissant, a baguette, a pizza, some fried noodles, some briani and drink some tea, an ‘alouda’ or a cappuccino.

Eventhough the last colonisers of the island were the British, French language was still widely used. Settlers who decided to stay were allowed to keep both their language and religion. The ‘Code Napoleon’ forms part of the Mauritian law and French is still widely used, much more than the English language. For example, most newspapers are in French, the main news bulletin is in French, and the language is more widely spoken by the population than English.

The Mauritian population consists mainly of people of Indian descent who follow mostly Hinduism and Islam. According to the 2001 census by Statistics Mauritius, the major religion is Hinduism (48.5%), then Christianity (32.7%), followed by Islam (17.3 %) and Buddhist (0.4%).

The island is politically stable and people are free to practice their religion. There are numerous mosques, temples, churches and other praying places which can also at times be seen side by side or on the same street.

The local buses are quite reliable and it is the means of transport of many locals. A big percentage of the population also owns a car, adding to the heavy traffic jam mainly in the mornings and afternoons. The roads can be quite narrow in certain areas, plus at times a driver will have to try to drive his way through pedestrians, motorbikes, bicycles and some stray dogs!

I still find it very funny when I think of one of my colleagues in Australia who was surprised that Mauritius had roads and cars!!! Yes readers, Mauritius has both roads and cars. Recently, it has become more and more ‘normal’ to come across cars like Ferraris, Aston Martins, Range Rovers and a few other luxurious cars. And yes, Ive also seen a Lamborghini and a Maserati! For a small island, with only around 1.3 million people, and with no natural resources, this can be quite surprising.

Mauritius has depended on sugar exports for decades but has had to diversify its economy in the last years. Some areas of rising economic activity include agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and finance – particularly banking and business outsourcing. The island is well known for its beautiful beaches and exotic hotels, among which are some world-award winners.

With a beautiful blue sky almost whole year round, a flat income tax rate of 15%, comfortable temperatures whether it’s summer or winter, beautiful beaches, free schools, free hospitals, free transport for students and pensioners, among many other facilities, who wouldn’t want to live in Mauritius?

Places to visit or not to visit

La Croisette – Worth a visit

Shopping Mauritius

Quite modern architecture and layout. Lots of shops with local and international brands. Food court, restaurants and cafes with affordable prices. Regular events. Cinema halls. Clean with play areas for kids. Both lifts and escalators with an underground car park. Easy to use your baby stroller/pram.

Tang Way – Worth the detour

A ‘supermarket’ where you can get almost any product you want – both local and imported. It has its own bakery, pastry shop and you can also buy fresh chicken and fish. Definitely worth going to get a good idea of the local produce and the popular food items with Mauritians.

Zavata Circus – Not sure

Very loud so not advised for young kids. The seating facilities: not comfortable. The price of the ticket doesn’t match the service nor the show you get to watch. A let down.

Bagatelle Mall of Mauritius – Interesting Shopping and Eating Outlets

Mauritius Shopping

mallofmauritius.com

One of the must-visit shopping malls of the island. Very trendy at the moment with Mauritians. Lots to do in terms of shopping (130 shops) and a variety of eating outlets and other services like numerous cinema halls, cafes and restaurants.

Spurs (Bagatelle) – Not sure

I had some time before my daughter’s nap so I thought it would be a great idea to eat at Spurs as my daughter would be able to play in the kids corner and also eat something healthy after. However I wasn’t greeted when I went into the restaurant nor was I advised about the menu. I saw many waiters just standing doing nothing but none of them came to offer their help. After waiting for a while, I called 3 waiters; although each of them acknowledged my presence they didn’t come to take my order. After about 15 minutes wait. I decided to leave.

Jardin Balfour – Simple but nice kids play area

I know Jardin Balfour since I was little and my dad knows it since he was little. It’s been there for a while and even nicer now than it was before. It’s a popular spot with kids particular on Sunday afternoons. I love the giant tortoises, the soothing sound of the flow of the numerous water canals, the beautiful waterfalls, the green scenery, the different chirps of birds. My daughter had a blast chasing the pigeons!

Flic en Flac Beach – So… beautiful

Mauritius Holidays

Mauritius HolidaysOne of the most popular beaches of the island. Great for swimming and beautiful beach. Lots of shops, restaurants, cafes along the Flic en Flac coast. You need to know at what time you are leaving the place and avoid peak time (weekend afternoons) as traffic jam is normal in this area.

Vona Corona Ice Cream Parlour – A must try

This brand of locally made ice cream forms part of the Mauritian culture. Just like Aussies would say, ‘let’s put some prawns on the barbie’, Mauritians would say, ‘let’s have a vona’. Although the local ice cream is an acquired taste, it is a definite must-try similar to the ‘gato piment’ sold on the side of the road.

Jumbo Supermarket – Who doesn’t know Jumbo?

Situated at Phoenix, in the centre of the Island, this supermarket is one of the stops of many locals. It sells ‘almost’ everything. It has recently got an uplift, with many more shops and a much bigger and more varied cuisine in its foodcourt. The ‘Briyani’ is very popular there but so are KFC and Mc Donalds!

Azuri Beach – A must visit

Mauritius Holidays

I love Azuri. It is not only a newly created village with residences for both locals and foreigners but it also has a man-made beach. It is found on the north east coast of the island and is the location for Radisson Blu hotel, a great public café, a butcher shop, a few restaurants among other facilities.

There are many more ‘things to do’ left on my list. Im hoping I can do most of them before I leave Mauritius in a few weeks.

Breastfeeding: Many Pros and a Few Difficulties

 breastfeedingThe World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until baby is around 6 months old; then, it can be a complement to appropriate solid foods until the age of two or beyond (until mum and baby wish for). Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breast milk. No other liquids or solids are given – not even water – with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines. You’ve heard it many times before: breastfeeding is best for your baby and the benefits, huge. Unfortunately it is not as straightforward and easy as it sounds.

Before deciding to breastfeed my baby, I only knew about all the positives. Had I known what I know today about everything that it involves, I believe I would have still made the same choice. However I would have been better prepared to face the journey. This post is mainly to help mums-to-be and new mums get a bigger picture of how beneficial breastfeeding is but also what to expect while doing it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics as well as several other researchers recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months as the advantages are manifold. It is not only good for your baby but also for you, mum.

Some of the Numerous Pros:

  1. Breast milk has all the vitamins, nutrients and immune factors that will help your baby fight numerous diseases. Anti-bodies in breast milk help babies fight these even beyond the breastfeeding stage.
  2. Breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of your child becoming overweight or obese as a teenager or adult. (American Journal of Epidemiology). One of the reasons for example is more insulin in formula stimulating the creation of fat.
  3. There are various benefits due to the emotional bonding taking place while breastfeeding.
  4. Lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  5. Lower risk of post-natal depression (release of oxytocin while breastfeeding leads to relaxation).
  6. Lower risk of some forms of cancer like ovarian and breast cancer.

Breastfeeding is natural but not necessarily easy. It has some inconveniences and the start of the journey can be quite hard. It is recommended you start breastfeeding within the first hour baby is born and this may last for 6 months, 2 years or as long as both you and your baby decide. Hence, it is important you get it right from the start.

A Few Difficulties:

  1. The correct attachment is very important since the very beginning. So, make sure baby is attaching correctly; do not hesitate to ask the mid-wife/nurse or the lactation specialist for help in case of doubt.
  2. It can take a while for babies to learn to breastfeed. If you are still in hospital make sure you ask for help to get started.
  3. For the new born, you will be recommended to feed ‘on demand’; usually a new born feeds about every 2 hours; so, in between make sure you rest (particularly after delivery). You will need the strength, trust me.
  4. Bear in mind that you will have fragmented sleep for at least 3 months, so resting is important. Forget the 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep you used to have. It’s not coming back that soon.
  5. You need a network of supporters; be it neighbours, friends, relatives, well-wishers. You won’t be able to do everything on your own. If possible, hire someone to do the housework or the cooking or both. If you plan to do these while baby is sleeping, you will never have enough rest and will end up being a zombie, like I was.
  6. You also need a wardrobe with plenty of front opening tops/dresses. Else, it can be a real challenge at times to breastfeed your baby.
  7. Lanolin cream is your best friend; else you may end up with sore/cracked nipples, which will make it very hard to continue breastfeeding.
  8. Find the feeding position that’s best for you and your baby. Make sure you are comfortable, as a feed can take a while. Backache is a common problem.
  9. At the start, a feed will take a while and you might even doze off a few times; however while baby gets better at feeding, he may take about 10/15 mins for a feed.
  10. Avoid travelling abroad with an under 3 months old baby while breastfeeding unless you are ready to feed in public (lounge, airplane, and everywhere you call ‘public place’). It’s a very challenging situation to be in.
  11. If you live with an extended family, be ready to get in and out of a room most times of the day, in the first few months.
  12. If you are visiting friends, make sure you ask first if there will be somewhere private where you can breastfeed. Else, feed, go out and come back as soon as possible to feed again!
  13. Make sure you feed on alternate breasts, to avoid engorgement.
  14. If you feel lumps, have a warm shower and massage your breast gently in a rotating way.
  15. Read about blocked ducts and mastitis and if in doubt about anything consult your nurse or GP.

breastfeeding

Some Precautions and Pieces of Advice for Breastfeeding Mums

  • Make sure you have a healthy diet.
  • Resting is important.
  • Avoid caffeine (as it does pass through breast milk).
  • Avoid smoking, passive smoking, alcohol and drugs.
  • Make sure the medication you take is safe for breastfeeding mums.
  • If a few times after a feed, you notice your infant restless, crying, throwing up, consult the pediatrician, as there may be a problem with lactose tolerance or reflux.
  • Avoid using a soother while you are breastfeeding; once breastfeeding is established it can then be used when settling your infant.
  • Don’t worry about ‘stares’ or about negative comments; you will quickly learn that as a new mum (i) you will always be judged (too protective, too relaxed, not patient enough, too patient, too strict, too cool, etc. etc. and you can even be all of them!) and (ii) everyone knows better what’s best for your baby and how you should handle him. Just be relaxed and tell yourself everyone means well…

breastfeeding mumSupport is Essential to a Successful Journey

Many will tell you they understand how hard it is; if it is a breastfeeding mum then you can trust her! Talk to one if you are not sure about something. You may find the solution to the problem you are facing.

With breastfeeding, you will find yourself consciously unskilled at first; however with consistency, patience and determination, you will very quickly become unconsciously skilled! Mood changes are common during and after pregnancy, occurring in up to 85% of women within the first week after the birth, peaking on the third to fifth day. Very often, this may be a factor in discouraging mums from continuing breastfeeding. The blues will pass, so hang in there! If you still do not feel well, do not hesitate to talk to your GP.

It is important that your partner is fully supportive and also understands the benefits and difficulties of breastfeeding. The support of your immediate and extended family, of friends, of the community will be very helpful throughout this journey. Think about all the benefits exclusive breastfeeding will have for your precious little one; this will help you stay motivated.

Breastfeeding in Mauritius

In Mauritius, exclusive breastfeeding lasts for about 2 months and then there is the introduction of water and formula around 4 to 6 months. Mauritian mothers tend to breastfeed until around 2 years. The main reasons for the introduction of water and formula is the lack of information, the belief that milk is not sufficient and employment. The rate is very low as compared to the recommendation of the WHO: a survey found that only 17.9% exclusively breastfeed their babies up to around 6 months old.

Although there is no law about breastfeeding in public, I have rarely seen a mum breastfeeding a baby nor do I know of any designated rooms for breastfeeding in shopping malls, airport or other places. Although there are no support groups that I am aware of, help can be obtained from the local health centres.

Recently a workshop has been launched by the Ministry of Health to celebrate the World Breastfeeding Week, with the view of promoting exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months and continuing breastfeeding beyond. The ministry is also launching a campaign to sensitise people about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding in Qatar

A study on breastfeeding by Sidra Medical and Research Centre has found that many Qatari mothers discontinue breastfeeding after 40 days, or after three months due to lack of information and access to professional lactation support. 
It says this is the major reason for low rates of exclusive breastfeeding among Qatari Women. The rate of breastfeeding in Qatar is significantly lower than the global rate.

I doubt it that it is ‘normal’ to breastfeed in public here, in Doha and I have not seen designated areas in shopping malls till now. In view of the World Breadfeeding Week, Sidra Medical and Research Centre has also launched an awareness campaign to sensitise mums, particularly working mums about breastfeeding.

It’s great that Doha Mums has a breastfeeding support group, which mums can join and where they can discuss common concerns over a cup of decaf tea or coffee!

Breastfeeding in Perth

Aligned with the WHO, The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommends exclusive breastfeeding for around 6 months; then breastfeeding should continue alongside complementary food until 12 months and more (as long as the mother and child want to). According to a survey, it has been found that “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)”.

It is good to know that in Australia, it is your legal right to breastfeed in public and there are laws in place if ever you get discriminated against on this ground. There are 230 local Australian Breastfeeding Association groups throughout Australia and you can rely on their help.

Perth has a few shopping places with breastfeeding rooms: Myer, David Jones, Ikea. Given it is a modern and well-developed city, Perth could do more to offer specific breastfeeding areas for mums and bubs. I also wish Perth airport had one.

To Conclude

In Mauritius, the maternity leave has been extended from 12 to 14 weeks and in Australia, it has been extended to 18 weeks. We are unfortunately still lagging behind as compared to countries like Sweden (six months) or Denmark (52 weeks on paid leave)!

Breastfeeding is something that both mothers and babies have to learn to do; it may take two to three months to establish breastfeeding and feel you have it under control. Support is very important, first to get started and then to keep going.

I was fortunate to deliver my baby in a private hospital where the help and support were fantastic. I decided to stay up to 5 days to make sure I had it right. Given the numerous benefits exclusive breastfeeding has in the first 6 months and breastfeeding has for babies, it would be great if more could be done towards supporting new mums through more information and professional lactation support. Mums must be helped to get it right from the start so that this journey is a pleasant, stress-free one.

Do you think there is enough information about breastfeeding and support for new mums out there?

How to Help Baby Get a Good Sleep? Bedtime Routine is Your Best Friend and Consistency, the Key Word.

Bed time routine

We all know how a good night sleep can make us feel refreshed and boost our mood and morale. Babies/kids, in particular, need a good sleep, both day-time and night-time for their optimum growth and development. Insufficient sleep not only has an incidence on your child’s mood and behaviour (and on yours too!) but also on his development. All babies are different; some sleep through the night as early as one month old, others take 12 months to do it and some, even longer.

From what I have been through I have come to realise how a bed time routine is important and to be consistent with it is the key to a baby’s good night sleep. I learnt about its importance and about sleep associations the hard way. During one month I woke up each night every hour with my 5 months old baby until I was totally sleep deprived and had to go to Ngala for help. I lost a lot of weight and was a very sad person.

When my baby was born I assumed it was normal for her to wake up constantly at night until she would start on solids and then she would start to sleep through the night. I believe I made this assumption, as this was what everybody was telling me. Even during the day, each time my baby would cry, everyone would say ‘she is hungry’ and I would go and feed her. I remember when my daughter was going through a growth spurt (and I had no idea it was one since I had never heard of ‘growth spurt’ at that time) she wanted to be constantly fed. I used to feed her and she would throw up later and then cry again, I’d feed her and she’d throw up later … it was exhausting both for her and for me. I was more than often reminded that being a mum, I had no other choice than accept my situation as this was motherhood! I understood later how I was wrong to believe in all that!

I learnt that being a mum meant that I could have a life too and learning about the following was very helpful:

  • ‘Growth spurts’ and what to expect when baby is going through one.
  • Sleep associations.
  • Overtiredness — the number of hours baby can stay awake for his age, after which over-tiredness kicks in and trust me, this is your worst enemy.
  • Bed time routine.
  • The bedroom and bassinet/cot set up.

Growth Spurts

In the first 12 months babies go through several growth spurts and you will notice major ones when you see baby is crankier than usual; he will also require more feed and be more clingy. When a growth spurt happens, babies can suddenly take weight and height and after that you will notice baby has started to do new things and mastered new skills.

I only learnt about growth spurt much after my baby was born, so I had no idea why my baby was so cranky and why she wanted to feed all the time. I was even advised to check my ‘milk supply as baby was probably not having enough milk’(!!!). I started to worry until I learnt that my milk supply was fine and it was just baby going through a growth spurt.

Many breastfeeding mums start to introduce formula at this point, thinking they are not producing enough milk, that’s why their baby is behaving like that. With breastfeeding, the more you breastfeed the more milk you will produce. Once you decrease the feed the breast will start to produce less and less milk. Hence even during a growth spurt, it is best to feed baby as usual. Give baby lots of cuddle and reassurance. Baby will need extra comfort and trust me, it will pass. If you are still worried, consult your baby’s nurse or pediatrician.

Sleep Associations

Although I did read a fair bit about the Eat-Play-Sleep pattern, when my baby was born, I simply couldn’t understand how this would work. I could not understand how a baby could sleep on her own, without you feeding or rocking her. Eventhough I was given the advice not to let my baby sleep on the breast, this was exactly what was happening after each feed. Then I would take the upmost care not to wake her up before putting her (already asleep) in her bassinet. What I didn’t know at that time was that I was the one who was preventing my baby to have the optimum sleep.

I created a sleep association for her; she quickly learnt that she needed to be fed to sleep and when she woke up after a sleep cycle, she was not able to go back to sleep until she was fed again. This peaked when she was 5 months old and she was waking up after each sleep cycle. I became very quickly sleep deprived.

bed time routineWe can also create such sleep associations with soothers and rocking baby to sleep. Feeding, rocking and giving a pacifier are fine until it becomes a problem. Then your baby will need you to recreate the exact environment in which he fell asleep.

During the first three months, babies require regular feeding during both day and night and night waking is normal. Also, they haven’t developed their ‘clock’ yet so they do not know exactly when it is day or night. However around 3 months old a baby can fall asleep on his own and it is then that it’s very important not to rock baby or to feed baby to sleep or to give him a pacifier; this way baby learns to self-settle and do not have a sleep association which involves you!

It is important to play with your baby during the day, when he is awake; at night, keep lights dim, and do not talk to baby if he wakes up. If you need to change baby’s nappy, be quick and avoid eye contact. It is important for baby to understand that it is night time, he has to sleep and you are very boring at night indeed!

Bedtime Routine

Consciously or unconsciously, we all need a bedtime routine to have a good night’s sleep. Do you have a shower then brush your teeth and get into your PJ’s? Or do you just need to read a book? Most people go through some kind of routine before going to bed. It is the same for babies/kids. With my baby, it was hard at first to establish a bed time routine but I stayed consistent and, with time, it became easier for both baby and myself.

When baby is growing up and getting to know his environment, it is best to provide him with a relaxing bed time routine. Depending on what baby’s age is and at what time baby gets up, you can plan the day’s schedule. For example, a 6 months old baby will nap two to three times a day and can stay awake around 2 to 3 hours hours. So, when baby wakes up, you will know when is the next nap and then work out when is the bed time. About 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime, you can start the routine. For naps, you can do a shorter 10 minutes routine.

Bed time routine

Winding down is important for little ones before they go to bed as this calms them down and they get ready both mentally and physically to sleep.

Well, at first I wasn’t sure what to do nor how this would work out. I thought it would be good for my husband to be part of the routine just in case I wasn’t there some day. The bed time routine I used till my baby was around 18 months old:

  • Quick bath
  • Wear sleep suit and nappy
  • Get in sleeping bag
  • Feed and make sure she didn’t fall asleep (I omitted this step once I stopped breastfeeding and gave her a milk bottle – one with a straw – before she had her bath, when we were still in the living room)
  • Brush teeth (once she had a few teeth)
  • Read a book (big images, no bright colours, few words)
  • Say good night to some objects in the room
  • Say bye to her dad (if he’s there)
  • Switch the lights off (I keep a very dim night lamp on)
  • Say good night
  • Put her in her cot (which has a small blanket and a little doll)
  • Leave the room quickly

Most days, she would go to sleep quietly or just talk and sing till she’d fall asleep. Other days she would fall asleep almost straightaway and on odd days she could even take 20 to 30 minutes to sleep.

Some babies still wake up at night for one or two feeds until they are around one year old. In fact, 90 % of 6-month-olds can sleep through the night without snacking, says clinical social worker Kim West, author of 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. So if you start night weaning around that time, you don’t have to feel guilty.

You don’t have to do all the above steps for a good bed time routine. Whichever steps you choose, make sure your baby has enough time to wind down and you are consistent: do the same things in the same order. After doing the same things over and over again, baby will know bed time is approaching and he will get ready for it; he may even start feeling sleepy once the routine starts. Do not give in – stick to your routine and be consistent.

So, let’s say, your 6 months old baby will go to bed at 7 p.m., you can start the routine around 30 minutes before and before that make sure she is not over excited by screens or by some sweet foods/chocolate.

A Note on Overtiredness

Many parents do not follow a routine with their babies. It is fine if both baby and parents are happy. Many parents say the baby is not tired so he will nap later or maybe in the car or maybe not at all and at night he will only sleep when they will sleep, even if it means 9 or 10 p.m.

Babies can stay awake only for a certain number of hours depending on their age. If they go beyond that, then overtiredness sets it and YES they will not sleep, get over excited and will even sleep later at night or have a very rough night and wake up early. If you watch out for the number of hours baby is meant to stay awake and then no matter what, follow baby’s routine and then put him in his cot, I bet you baby will sleep. (Moreover, for baby’s development he requires a certain hours of sleep; make sure you are giving him all the opportunities to have that.)

bed time routine

Even now, at 2 years old, if I don’t tell my toddler to pack her toys away and insist on her having a shower, she will continue to play and will insist she doesn’t want to go to bed. She even starts crying at times saying she will play and not sleep. At this age, specially, she tries different tricks to delay her bedtime but she knows we won’t give in. She gives in after trying a few minutes and some pretend crying (with real tears!) She’s got some good acting skills! Toddlers do!

Do not wait for your baby to get overtired to put him down for his nap or bedtime. Watch out for the signs of tiredness: yawning, rubbing eyes, avoiding eye contact, clenched fists, crying or shouting for no reason, etc.

Bedroom/Bassinet/Cot set up

When asked, most people will hate to have to sleep anywhere, with lights on and lots of noise and people talking to them all the time. Babies/Kids are the same. Therefore it is essential to create the right environment for baby to have a peaceful uninterrupted sleep.

If possible, it is best to avoid putting baby’s toys in his bedroom. It is important for him to understand that his bedroom is for sleeping and not for playing. Decorating baby’s room is nice but make sure it doesn’t become a distraction to your baby.

I remember during my baby’s first 6 months, she was in her bassinet and there was a mobile with three sheep which were rotating most of the time above her head. I didn’t know at that time that it was a BAD idea to have a mobile in there! I was sending baby the wrong message: when waking up from a sleep cycle, I wanted her to sleep but then I showed her some toys! Confusing!

As mentioned previously, it took me around 6 months to learn about the above points. After 6 months, each time I put baby down for a nap or bedtime I made sure the room was dark and there were no distractions in the room. She definitely slept better.

To Sum Up:

  • Get informed about when your baby is making growth spurts so that you are ready for his behaviour and know how to deal with it.
  • Do not get baby to have a sleep association involving you.
  • When your baby is around 3 months old, start to give your baby a bed time routine and stick to it. Be consistent.
  • Watch out for signs of tiredness and make sure you put your baby down to sleep before your baby is overtired.
  • Create the right environment for baby to sleep.

Some babies sleep through the night as early as one month old and parents do not have any of the above-mentioned problems. That’s great both for the parents and the babies. Other parents are happy with their babies sleeping throughout the day, or at whatever time suits them and also in the car and in the pram, then that’s great too as it’s their choice. If parents are happy to rock baby to sleep for however long it requires then there is no problem in that.

However, for those parents who are finding themselves sleep deprived and want their babies/kids to have a routine, if they believe both baby and themselves require a restful night and not a fragmented sleep and some good daytime naps, then it will be really helpful to work on the above listed points. Having a bed time routine and being consistent will enable you to give your babies/kids the opportunity to have a good sleep. It will not be easy but I believe it is worth the effort for both you and your baby. Does your baby still wake up at night after 12 months?

5 Days With A Toddler At Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl

Marsa Malaz Kempinski

From Gulf Times

This week my husband had one week off work for the Eid festival. We were thrilled as it meant we could have some family time out! We thought why not enjoy Doha? After having heard lots of positive reviews about Marsa Malaz Kempinski, a 5 star hotel in The Pearl, we decided to try it out with our two-year old. Marsa Malaz Kempinski is located on its own private island in The Pearl, with 150 metres of private beach. Amongst many other facilties, the hotel has several outdoor swimming pools, water sports facilities, tennis courts, a kid’s club, 11 food and beverage outlets, a spa with an indoor pool and 281 spacious rooms, among which some luxurious suites.

On arriving at the hotel, I was quite impressed with the décor; everything smelled of luxury: the extraordinary chandeliers, the unique furniture, the endless marble floors, the high ceilings with unique-designed cornices, the unique coloured roses and orchids. We were greeted by ever-smiling staff and everything was done to make sure we were at ease and enjoy our stay. When I looked at the pictures on the website, I had serious doubts about how the room we booked will look in reality. However I was agreeably surprised when I saw our room: it was way nicer than on the website! It was real luxury. Again, the cushiony carpet, the designer furniture, the unique chandeliers and lights, the Villeroy and Boch bathrooms, the paintings and the special attention (like the fruits and nuts, the flowers, the personalised welcome note). Everywhere I looked in the hotel, I had that impression of cleanliness, of luxury, of caring – or should I say opulence?

Marsa Malaz KempinskiMarsa Malaz Kempinski

An impressive blend of Arabian elegance and European grandeur […] The hotel hosts more than half a million pieces of mother of pearl: 330,000 decorating the walls and 280,000 hand carved into the furniture seen in most of the rooms. 
Another attraction includes the hand-made Murano glass oyster chandeliers from Italy, which took three weeks to assemble all the 44,000 pieces of oysters across four chandeliers exhibited within the hotel’s lobby.
 More than 3,000 pieces of handcrafted glasses and more than 9,000 pieces of handcrafted chinaware were made exclusively for the hotel. — Gulf Times

Spending 5 days in a hotel with a toddler can be challenging but here it seemed like 5 days stay is simply not enough. There are so many things I did with my daughter. We played a lot in the Kid’s Club; the two staff members are very caring and full of ideas to keep kids entertained. The first two Eid days had brunch for the kids with a wide selection of food and drinks. There are activities for all ages but also activities that the club plans as a group and which indeed keep the kids busy! Then, there are the different swimming pools which suit all ages. My two-year old had lots of fun in the very shallow one with other kids her age. We also spent some time at the beach where she made quite a few sand castles and destroyed all the ones my husband made; she enjoyed the warm Gulf Sea water, under the watchful eye of one of the many lifeguards (and mine too!). Although the Gulf Sea water is not the beautiful blue Mauritian sea water, it is still enjoyable.

The breakfast, tea and dinner experience was also exquisite. Each of the hotel’s restaurants has its own speciality; we ate mainly at ‘Sawa’ which I highly recommend. The staff are very caring and the food is one of the best I have eaten in a five star hotel. The breakfast buffet had food for different tastes and the international dinner buffet was sublime: we tasted some exquisite Japanese, Spanish, Indian, Chinese, American, Arabic cuisine with delicious and unique deserts. I’m not much of a desert person but I must admit I had so much desert that Im almost certain of having already put on some weight (and Im not joking!) It was great that the restaurant also has a Kid’s Menu although my toddler enjoyed the selection of food already offered; we also ordered some chips ‘just in case…’. The high tea at Café Murano was another treat to the palate with the exotic sandwiches, cakes, and scones, all served in designer tea sets, with view over the sea. The weather was so beautiful in the afternoon that the view from the huge window panes looked like a painting.

Marsa Malaz Kempinski attended to all our requests and also fixed any issues we had: a reflection of a real five-star hotel. Those were the positives. These are a few things that can still be improved:

  1. There was quite a few honking that could be heard at night, so it might be a good thing for the hotel to have some signs outside to discourage honking. It’s not very pleasant to hear these at night, particularly when you are already in bed!
  2. The Kid’s Club could provide more age-related books and games like for example, age-related wooden puzzles for under 3 years old, some playdough, etc. Maybe these little ones could have a dedicated area only for them, without the TV and the video games.
  3. Some of the staff members can be over zealous leading to some false assumptions on their part. They can surely remain professional without over-doing things.

The hotel is 12.5 km from Hamad International Airport and while you are there if you have some spare time, you could visit Katara Heritage Village (3 km) and/or the Museum of Islamic Arts (9 kms). Five days are over but we are almost certain that we will go back, with our toddler! There were so many other activities which we couldn’t do (some of the timings clashed with my daughter’s nap time); but, as my husband put it so well, “if we want to do everything then we would have to stay for a month at least!” – although I think one month in a hotel might be a bit too much, don’t you?

Introducing Solids to Baby? A Quick Guide and a Few Recipes.

Introducing Baby to Solids -- Recipes

When I started my baby on solids, it was hard to decide what to feed her. Like all mums, I wanted to make sure I was giving her the best possible food while at the same time trying to offer her a wide variety of them. When my baby was still around 4 months old, I bought a few books and read through, as I wanted to start on the ‘right foot’.

The book that I’ve been recommending and which I still use till now, with my 2 year old, is Food Babies Love by Emily Dupuche. It’s a real treasure and I must say it really helped me with my baby.

I’ve had many mums telling me about problems they have faced when feeding their babies like:

  • salt needs to be added for baby to eat
  • baby is a very fussy eater
  • baby doesn’t eat veggies
  • baby doesn’t self-feed
  • baby only wants to drink milk
  • baby is eating pureed food even after 1 year old and is still drinking milk from a bottle.

I must admit I have been very lucky for not having had to deal with the above listed issues. And till now, my little girl is a happy eater and will eat her fruits, veggies, meat, pulses, leafy greens, all dairy and everything really. Well, I don’t offer her chocolate, fruit juice, lollies, sweets. Im sure she’d be more than happy to eat those too.

How do you know your baby is ready for solids?

It is now advised to give baby solids when he around 6 months old; ‘around’ is important as some babies are ready a little before that time and some babies a little after (This booklet from Department of Health WA website is quite handy). Too early (before 4 months) is a problem as your baby’s digestive system is not ready yet and too late (after 6 months) might make it harder for baby to accept new tastes and textures.

You will know baby is ready when he starts to be interested in what you are eating and when he starts to follow your spoon to your mouth! Baby must be able to hold his head steady and should not push the food out when you offer it to him. If he does, it doesn’t matter, try again after a few days or in a week.

Why is it important to make sure baby is eating the correct texture according to his age?

Offering solids at around 6 months of age is very important for three main reasons:

  • After 6 months baby’s iron store starts to decrease and the iron in breast milk and formula is not sufficient to keep the store to the required normal level.
  • The muscles used for chewing are the muscles used for speech development. So developing those muscles is important. (You can read more about it here)
  • It is also important for baby to taste a variety of food so that he does not become a fussy eater.

Many mums say things like ‘my husband doesn’t like cabbage that’s why my little one is refusing to eat it’ or ‘I’m allergic to egg, so I cannot give it to my baby as he/she may be allergic too’. This is simply not true. You will know if baby doesn’t like a specific food if you have given it to him more than 10 times and he has refused it. If baby refuses to eat something once, you have to try again another time, maybe another week and then you will be surprised to see that baby might eat it. They are now discovering tastes and do not know what they like or don’t like.

Concerning allergies: it has been found that giving some foods late to babies can increase the risk of food allergies. If you are introducing a new food, it is always best to introduce it during the day, and to then monitor baby closely to see if there is any allergic reaction. When introducing new foods, also make sure you introduce one at a time; in case of an allergic reaction you will know exactly what your baby has eaten.

 

A note on Food Babies Love by Emily Dupuche

Food Babies Love is full of yummy recipes for when babies first start solids to when they can self-feed; I tasted all the food that I cooked from the book and also at times finished them off for my baby. I started my baby with some pumpkin puree and then followed the book’s advice to when to move to different kinds of foods; since then it has been a great journey.

In her 184 pages of inspiring recipes, Emily has put together some delicious recipes, which can also be adapted for toddlers. The ingredients are easily available or can be substituted by usual pantry staples. Some of the recipes can even be used for the whole family or when you are having friends over for tea (like the zucchini slice, the savoury muffins or the sweet ones).

Introducing Solids - recipes

A Few Recipes For When You Start (from Food Babies Love)

Pumpkin Puree (Suitable for freezing; Makes about 1 cup)

Ingredient:

  • 200 grms Butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, and roughly chopped (Any type of pumpkin can also be used)
  • Water for cooking

Method:

Place pumpkin in a small saucepan with a tight fitting lid and barely cover with water. Cover and cook over low heat for 8 – 10 mins or until pumpkin is soft. Strain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid.

Use a stick blender to puree, adding a little cooking water to help thin down the puree and make it smooth.

Set aside 2 tsp of pureed pumpkin and freeze the remaining puree in an ice cube tray.

 

Sweet Potato Puree (Suitable for freezing; Makes about 1 cup)

 Ingredient:

  • 250 grms sweet potato, peeled and diced into rough 1cm pieces (about ½ a medium sweet potato or 1 cup chopped)
  • Water for cooking

Method:

Place sweet potato in a small saucepan with a tight fitting lid and barely cover with water. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 mins or until soft. Strain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid.

Alternatively, place sweet potato in the top of a double steamer and steam for 15 – 20 mins or until tender.

Use a stick blender to puree, adding a little of the cooking water to help thin down the puree and make it smooth.

Set aside 2 tsp of pureed sweet potato for baby’s meal and freeze the remaining puree in an ice cube tray.

 

Banana (Suitable for freezing; Makes about 1 cup) Introducing solids -- recipes

 Ingredient:

  • ½ ripe banana that’s not too ripe and certainly not under-ripe and chalky

Method:

Mashed banana is a great first food for baby but can cause constipation so keep an eye on the nappy and cut down if required.

Peel banana and mash with a fork. Offer to baby mixed with a little of their regular milk and a teaspoon of rice cereal.

 

Stone Fruits (Suitable for freezing; Makes about 1 cup)

Ingredient:

  • 4 – 6 fresh stone fruits, peeled and stones removed (try apricots, peaches, nectarines but choose one variety at a time)

Method:

These are great as purees added to meat dishes, as flavour additives to natural yoghurts or simply peeled as a terrific finger food for babies to suck on – sweet and sticky! Just make sure the fruit is ripe as you don’t want any sourness to turn your baby off.

If using fresh fruit, simply puree with stick blender.

For a cooked version, place the fruit in a small saucepan with a sprinkling of water and cook with a lid on over low heat for 10 mins or until soft.

Puree cooked fruit using a stick blender.

Set aside a few teaspoons for your baby’s meal and freeze remaining puree in an ice cube tray.

 

Other foods you can puree and give baby are: carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, turnip, peas, potato, pear, apple, avocado (just mashed) and many more. If you are using corn, make sure you remove all the husks (by passing it through a fine sieve) before giving it to baby.

 

Freezing Baby food

  • Freeze food straightaway as soon as it is cool.
  • Throw away leftovers; don’t refreeze it. Bacteria and contamination are your worse enemies.
  • After thawing, make sure your food is heated thoroughly and then allow it to cool down before offering to baby. Mix it well and make sure it is at the right temperature.

 

Wish all mums good luck on this food journey which is going to be a melting pot of emotions for both baby and themselves!

Have you tried other recipes when introducing solids to your baby? Want to share?

 

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