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BABY NUTRITION

Nutrition is vitally important during the first few years of an infant's life. Providing the correct balance of nutrients straight away will help to give the child a much longer and far healthier quality of life. It will also help to develop the brain and make learning easier which is so important in the now fast moving world.

 

Breast feeding the baby for the first 12 months is far better than giving processed formula because it provides all the nourishment required and antibodies directly from the mother. It also costs nothing which should be a good incentive.

 

Omega-3 fats are essential components of brain structure. Babies who are breast fed score higher on IQ-tests because it contains more of these structural omega-3 fats than formula.

 

One important fact to remember, when using any lotions, creams or powders, is that the skin can absorb chemicals therefore, unless the baby is able to orally consume the product being used, it is unadvisable to smother the baby's skin with it. Natural plants are far gentler and acceptable for the infant's new skin.

 

Here you will find information for the new mother and the natural foods to feed the baby and use medicinally plus foods and hazards to avoid.

 

What to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Breast milk production

Some women experience problems with producing adequate milk to feed the new infant. Breast milk is vital for new babies as it contains all the nutrients necessary for healthy development

  • Anise seeds: A tea can be made from anise seeds by adding a cup of boiled water to three teaspoons of crushed seeds, steeping for 20-minutes. This may be used to stimulate the productions of mother's milk.

  • Fennel can increase breast milk in nursing mothers.

  • Drumstick leaves can be boiled in water and sea salt, the water drained and the leaves served with ghee (clarified butter) to lactating mothers to increase breast milk.

  • Motherwort can help mothers with milk production. Bring to the boil 6 ounces of bottled or filtered water. Add one tablespoon of dried motherwort and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Drink this tea two to three times a day. It has a bitter taste but honey can help to disguise this.

  • Sage can reduce excessive lactation.

  • Swede (rutabaga): Regular consumption of Swede increases milk production capacity in lactating mothers.

 

 

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Natural good foods for a new baby

When the baby is being weaned, between four and six months of age, the pureed solid foods must have a good balance of all nutrients and minerals to ensure proper development of the baby's brain and body. Organically reared chicken and duck are good meats to begin feeding babies at six months old. They should be minced, braised and then pureed with vegetables.

It is perfectly safe to feed the baby whatever the home cooked family meal is, pureed well in a blender or food processor until smooth, creamy and lump free, as long as it is not processed foods or ready meals or containing any of the above hazardous ingredients. Avoid any foods containing added salt or sugar or synthetic food additives.

Foods should be introduced one at a time and a week apart so that if the baby has an allergy the food can be stopped. Food allergies sometimes present very mildly as skin rashes or diarrhoea. If the baby has an adverse reaction, even small, after the same food has been fed three times they likely are allergic.

If using a rub-on teething medication, keep a close eye on the baby as it can numb the throat and interfere with swallowing.

Stage one 4 - 6 months

Before attempting to feed solid food, an infant needs good head and neck control and must be able to sit up. Make sure the baby is always sitting up when feeding to avoid choking.

When initially weaning try adding some breast milk to the pureed foods to help the transition. Start by offering just a few pieces or teaspoons of food, once a day.

The best vegetables to start feeding babies

  • Butternut squash

  • Parsnip

  • Potato

  • Sweet potato

  • Swede

The best fruit to introduce first

  • Apples

  • Pears (gently cooked until soft and pureed)

  • Papaya (uncooked)

Stage two 6 months

Add some of the Stage One pureed fruit and vegetables to the foods listed below to help with transition. Introduce foods one at a time and a week apart. All food must be pureed in a blender or food processor until all lumps are gone. Carefully remove any indigestible vegetable skins or fish bones to avoid choking.

Milk alone, whether it is breast milk or formula milk, will no longer provide all the nutrients a baby needs at six months, particularly iron and copper (copper is needed in order to absorb iron). Around six months, the iron a baby inherits from its mother starts to run out, so it is important to slowly introduce pureed iron-rich foods into their diet.

Highest sources of iron in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Dried apricots 6.3 mg

  • Wheat 6.3 mg

  • Artichokes 3.4 mg

  • Lean beef 2.9 mg

  • Turkey 2.3mg

  • Raisins 1.9 mg

  • Chicken 1.3 mg

  • Tuna 1.3 mg

Highest sources of copper in milligrams per 200 calorie serving

  • Calf’s liver 17 mg

  • Beef 17 mg

  • Lamb 10 mg

  • Duck 9 mg

  • Basil 3 mg

  • Cocoa (organic) 3 mg

  • Mineral water 3 mg

  • Apple cider vinegar 3 mg

  • Turnip greens 3 mg

  • Potatoes 2 mg

  • Coriander 2 mg

  • Asparagus 2 mg

  • Swiss chard 2 mg

  • Beetroot greens 2 mg

Meats should be minced and cooked well then pureed in a blender. Fish and meat should only be fed once or twice a week initially and a portion should be the size of the baby’s fist and no more.

Breast milk should still be fed but not as often until the baby reaches12 months of age.

See more about the importance of these minerals:

After 6 months also start introducing the following

The following whole grains and pseudo-grains can be cooked until very soft and mashed well for a good addition to an infant’s daily diet after six months of age. Goat's milk is easier to digest than cow's milk and can be used to make porridge for breakfast cereals to be introduced but not as a drink on its own. Use fruit to sweeten the porridge not sugar or honey.

Nutrients are classified as either fat soluble (vitamins A, D, E and K and carotenoids) or water soluble (vitamins B and C). Fat-soluble nutrients need some fat consumed with them to be absorbed in the body. Vitamins D and E generally are found in fatty foods already but some foods, containing vitamins A and K and carotenoids, will need to be consumed with some avocado or a little cold-pressed pure oil of coconut, hemp seed, olive, rapeseed or rice bran oil to enable absorption.

To find out which natural foods contain fat-soluble nutrients follow these links:

Feed foods containing vitamin C with iron-rich foods such as beetroot and spinach to enable absorption of the iron.

Highest sources of vitamin C in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Acerola cherries 1677.6 mg

  • Camu camu berries 532 mg

  • Rosehips 426 mg

  • Guavas 228.3 mg

  • Yellow bell peppers 183.5 mg

  • Black currants 181 mg

  • Thyme 160.01 mg

  • Kale 120 mg

  • Kiwi fruit 105.4 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 102 mg

  • Mustard greens 70 mg

  • Cress 69 mg

  • Persimmons fruit 66 mg

  • Swede 62 mg

  • Basil 61 mg

  • Papaya 60 mg

  • Strawberries 58 mg

  • Chives 58 mg

  • Cauliflower 48 mg

  • Kumquats 43.9 mg

  • Watercress 43 mg

  • Kidney bean sprouts 38.7 mg

  • Melon 36.7 mg

  • Coriander 27 mg

Highest sources of iron in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Black pepper, marjoram, parsley, spinach, thyme 224 mg

  • Spirulina 29 mg

  • Bran 19 mg

  • Liver 18 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 9 mg

  • Cashew nuts 6.7 mg

  • Dried apricot 6.3 mg

  • Wheat 6.3 mg

  • Artichokes 3.4 mg

  • Lean beef 2.9 mg

  • Turkey 2.3mg

  • Raisins 1.9 mg

  • Chicken 1.3 mg

  • Tuna 1.3 mg

Stage three 9 months

The following can now be introduced:

  • Barley

  • Eggs (well cooked)

  • Citrus fruits

  • Rye and wheat.

Broccoli and legumes are best delayed until the baby is 12 months old because they can cause painful flatulence.

Stage four 12 months onwards

Food should still be pureed (until the baby's teeth have grown) but gradually soft finger foods and more solid food can be introduced now. Milk should always be full fat. The following foods can now be introduced:

NOTE: Because of the high calcium, iron and vitamin content, drumstick leaves can be used as a wonderful tonic for infants and growing children to promote strong and healthy bones and for purifying the bloodstream. To prepare the tonic, drumstick leaves should be ground with water, strained and then mixed with milk.

Herbs and spices

Contrary to an outdated, though popular belief in the west, babies from 6 months old can tolerate herbs and spices with out any adverse side effects and these foods do provide a very healthy array of nutrients and minerals. Babies born in the East and of indigenous tribes enjoy tasty food from day one of weaning. Bland food lacks many nutrients and minerals which are vital for the development and growth of infants.

Even mild chilli peppers are easily tolerated but avoid hot chilli peppers which can irritate the baby's skin, eyes and mouth. Breast fed babies actually experience the taste and goodness of herbs and spices which the mother has consumed, therefore, to follow this with only bland food when weaning is regressive.

Vegetables

It is a good idea to introduce all types of vegetables in pureed form mixed with a few drops of with a little virgin cold pressed coconut oil or hemp seed oil before the infant reaches their second birthday. Persevering up to 10 times can teach the baby to accept and like vegetables which will then stay with them as they grow up. The child's brain and body development needs all the nutrients contained in all colours of vegetables. Never ever add sugar to any vegetables.

Infant ailments

Colic

From two weeks to three or four months many babies shows signs of colic. Constant crying, irritability, flatulence, back arching and bringing the legs up to the belly can be signs of colic. Colic is not usually a serious condition in babies and will naturally go away by itself.

Colic can result from tiredness so allowing, and encouraging, babies to sleep more by not stimulating them but rocking gently can help send the baby off to sleep. Many find a trip in a car or placing baby in a basket on a running tumble dryer can help send them off to sleep. Make sure the basket is securely fastened and won't slip off.

Natural remedies for colic in babies

The protein in dairy produce especially cow's milk can cause colic in babies. Removing it from the diet may improve the symptoms. Goat's milk is far less irritating to the intestines. Breast feeding is best of all as it naturally provides the nutrients and anti-bodies needed by the baby to develop. The tips below can help alleviate symptoms and provide some respite for mother and baby.

  • Adding small amounts of specially formulated fibre to the baby’s diet can relieve colic as well.

  • Probiotic powder formulated for babies and infants can work.

  • A small teaspoon of warmed olive oil may bring relief.

  • Fresh spearmint leaves boiled in water then cooled, strained and added to the baby's food can also relieve colic.

  • Organic gripe water made from ginger, fennel and chamomile is a known cure for colic.

  • Grape jelly smeared on a baby's dummy can help bring relief.

  • Feeding more often can also help to relieve symptoms. Babies often fall asleep when feeding so after winding let the baby sleep.

  • Feed the baby sitting up and keep upright after a feed can relieve flatulence and colic symptoms.

  • Drinking alcohol when breast feeding is not recommended but if you want to drink wait two hours per drink afterwards before nursing or drink after nursing. A baby can be sensitive to bright lights and loud sounds so a darkened quiet room can often help settle the infant.

  • Gentle leg exercises while the baby lies on their back can help to relieve flatulence. Hold the infant's ankles and make small circular motions like the baby was riding a bicycle.

  • A gentle clockwise circular massage on the baby’s stomach using olive oil can relieve wind and cramps.

  • Carrying a baby with you as often as possible before colic sets in has been known to stop the occurrence of it altogether.

  • Certain soaps and mildew can cause colic, eczema, congestion and diarrhoea. Choose natural soaps and detergents or make your own. See the Hygiene, Toxins and Health page.

Breast feeding and colic

When breast feeding, the foods the lactating mother consumes may be causing colic in the baby. By a process of elimination it is possible to find out which food is causing it and is usually something that has been eaten two to six hours before feeding. The most common culprits include cows' milk products, ice cream, soya products, wheat, egg, nuts, corn or corn syrup. If breast feeding, try cutting out the following foods one at a time to see if symptoms improve:

  • Broccoli

  • Cabbage

  • Caffeine (coffee, fizzy drinks, tea etc.)

  • Cauliflower

  • Citrus fruits and their juices such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit.

  • Chocolate

  • Coffee

  • Corn or corn syrup

  • Cucumber

  • Eggs

  • Fruits with a laxative effect, such as cherries, prunes and rhubarb

  • Garlic

  • Herbal supplements

  • Kiwifruit

  • Milk and milk products

  • Nuts

  • Onion

  • Peppers

  • Pineapple

  • Soya products

  • Spices (cinnamon, garlic, curry, chilli pepper)

  • Strawberries

  • Wheat

Medical conditions that can cause colic like symptoms in babies

There may be medical conditions causing irritability and crying in a baby so these must be investigated especially when natural remedies do not work.

  • A hair wrapped around a finger or toe.

  • An infection (for example an ear or urinary infection).

  • An eye problem (for example: a scratch or increased pressure).

  • An abnormality of the rhythm of the heart.

  • Bone fracture.

  • Evidence of reflux or gastrointestinal distress.

  • Hernia.

  • Pressure or inflammation of the brain and nervous system.

E number food additives can cause serious intestinal and neurological problems for babies and are often included in liquid medications. Try to avoid them wherever possible. Many types of confectionary, snacks and fizzy drinks include additives like aspartame and should also be avoided especially by breast feeding mothers.

Cradle cap

  • Almond, olive or rapeseed oil: Rub into baby's hair and let it sit for a while, then gently rub with a clean soft toothbrush.

  • Coconut oil: (cold pressed pure organic). Melt into liquid form in the palm of the hand by rubbing with the fingertips then gently apply to the baby's head before bed. Then brush out with a soft hair brush in the morning.

  • Fine toothed lice comb: Use with a little edible oil to comb out the flakes.

  • Shea butter: Rub it into the baby's scalp, then comb it off gently.

Nappy (diaper) rash

  • Breast milk. Use a small amount to gently apply to the rash.

  • Apple cider vinegar: Dilute a teaspoonful with a half cup of water. Lightly dab it onto the baby's rash with a washcloth. It contains anti-bacterial agents to help combat the diaper rash.

  • Coconut oil: (cold pressed pure organic). Melt into liquid form in the palm of the hand by rubbing with the fingertips then gently apply to the baby's rash. This can relieve the pain and stop bacterial and fungal infections.

  • Oatmeal: Place it in a blender and mix on the highest setting until it turns into a fine powder. Mix it in a tub of water until it has a silky feel, then let the infant soak in the bath for 15-20 minutes.

  • Yogurt (additive free, plain, organic with live cultures): Apply a thick layer to the baby's diaper rash. Wipe it clean with each diaper change and apply a new layer until the rash is gone.

Foods and hazards to avoid with a new baby

Allergies

Introduce any high allergy foods very slowly (once a week) and lightly, after 6 months, especially if other family members suffer from any allergies. Some foods that commonly cause an allergic reaction are: egg whites, fish, oranges, peanuts and strawberries. Allergic reaction can cause a skin rash, diarrhoea, bloating and an increase of intestinal gas.

When this happens stop the food immediately and the symptoms should subside within a couple of hours. If they do not, and any swelling of face or difficulty in breathing becomes apparent, immediate medical attention must be sought. Some food allergies can be serious and lead to convulsions and be fatal so great care must be taken when introducing allergen foods to the baby's diet. Do not refrain from adding these foods though as they are highly nutritious and beneficial to the developing infant.

Citrus fruits

These should be introduced slowly after 9 months as they can cause severe diaper rash, diarrhoea and vomiting.

Fish

Some fish can contain levels of mercury too high for infants. For foetuses, infants and children, the primary health effect of mercury is impaired neurological development. Mercury exposure in the womb, which can result from a mother's consumption of fish and shellfish that contain it, can adversely affect a baby's growing brain and nervous system and have impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language and fine motor and visual spatial skills. Never feed babies marlin, shark, swordfish or tuna.

Food additives

Synthetic food additives can cause serious neurological and physical problems for infants and children and should be avoided where ever possible. Aspartame is one that is added to many sweet products and drinks and has been shown to cause attention deficit disorder and many other adverse conditions. Even infant liquid medications contain additives and preservatives that can cause problems.

See the Food Additives page for more information.

Genetically modified crops

These are often altered to withstand far more powerful pesticide, herbicides and fungicide solutions so should not be fed to infants. Their nutritional content is also altered and they may lack the correct balance of nutrients required for developing Infants. Varieties of beetroots, canola, corn, cotton, maize, sugar, tomatoes and rapeseed have been genetically modified to tolerate higher levels and strengths of herbicides containing glyphosate.

Honey

Babies can contract spores of Clostridium botulinum from honey which cause bacteria growth which can lead to infant botulism. Botulism can be fatal. Honey should not be given to babies under 12 months.

Hot foods

Avoid feeding anything too warm to the baby by checking it on the inside of the elbow or wrist. Hot foods can burn the baby's delicate tissues in the mouth, throat and stomach and can lead to digestive problems later on.

Lithium button batteries

Children, especially between the ages of twelve months and six years old, can mistake the shiny lithium button shaped (coin) batteries for sweets and swallow them. These batteries do not have to be chewed, crushed or damaged to cause serious harm as it is not what is inside the battery that is a hazard. The battery sets up an electrical current which causes a build-up of sodium hydroxide which is caustic soda. This then burns through the oesophagus and into major blood vessels which causes severe bleeding that is impossible to control or stop and can be fatal.

Those that do survive are left with serious life changing injuries and may need to be fed through tubes for the rest of their lives. Some complications include aorta-oesophageal fistulas, oesophageal strictures, trachea-oesophageal fistulas and vocal cord paralysis. The most serious cases are with lithium button batteries larger than 20 mm (the size of a 10 pence piece in the UK) which can cause severe injury within two hours. Button batteries can also cause significant necrotic injury (tissue damage) when stuck in the nose or ears. Any items with these types of batteries must be kept out of reach or locked away from young children.

Portable items that contain lithium button batteries

  • Calculators

  • Cameras

  • Camcorders

  • Clock radios

  • DVD players

  • Electric scales

  • Flameless candles

  • Key fobs

  • Laptops

  • Mobile phones

  • MP3 players

  • Pedometers

  • Portable games machines

  • Power tools

  • Remote controls

  • Thermometers

  • Torches

  • Toys

NOTE: Lithium batteries can also be a fire hazard if they become overheated. Always check that gadgets using lithium batteries do not become too warm to the touch as this may indicate they have become faulty and may burst into flames.

Milk (cow, goat, sheep, soy or rice)

These milks can't be properly digested by babies under one year of age due to their still developing digestive system. It won't give proper nutrition and can be harmful to an infant's kidneys. Goat's milk can be used to make porridge after six months but no milk (except breast) should be given as a stand alone drink until the baby reaches 12 months.

Nitrates and blue baby syndrome

In early life some foods can cause blue baby syndrome (methemoglobinemia) and anaemia due to being high in nitrates. They are fine for babies over one year old, but should be fed in moderation (once a week) until year one especially spinach and beetroot. Symptoms of blue baby syndrome are shortness of breath, the skin will turn blue (due to lack of oxygen in the blood) and the baby may lose consciousness. Natural foods high in nitrates are:

Non organic foods

Make sure animal sourced foods fed to young infants are not contaminated with antibiotics or growth hormones or given feed grown with pesticides or chemical fertilizers as this will affect their smaller bodies far more than it does adults. This is also important for breastfeeding mothers. Naturally grass-fed and free range organic meats are best.

Foods that must be organic

  • Apples

  • Asparagus

  • Aubergine

  • Avocado

  • Bananas

  • Bell peppers

  • Blue berries

  • Cantaloupe

  • Carrots

  • Cauliflower

  • Celery

  • Cherries

  • Chilli peppers

  • Cocoa beans

  • Coffee beans

  • Collard greens

  • Courgettes

  • Cucumbers

  • Grapefruit

  • Grapes

  • Kale

  • Kiwi fruit

  • Lettuce

 
  • Mange toute peas

  • Mangos

  • Mushrooms

  • Nectarines

  • Onions

  • Oranges

  • Papaya

  • Peaches

  • Pears

  • Pineapples

  • Plums

  • Potatoes

  • Raspberries

  • Runner beans

  • Spinach

  • Spring onions

  • Squash

  • Strawberries

  • Sweet corn

  • Peas frozen

  • Tomatoes

  • Watermelon

 

Processed and refined foods

Avoid feeding infants any processed and refined foods especially bacon, biscuits, cakes, chicken nuggets, chips (French fries), chocolate, cordials, crisps, fizzy drinks, ham, ice cream, milk-based drinks, pies, pizza, salted snacks, sausages, shop bought fruit juices, sweets, table salt, white flour and white rice.

The nutrition they need for good development is lacking in all these products which can also contain unhealthy food additives and too much sugar, bad fats and salt. Home-made meals, snacks and drinks are vital so that you can monitor what your child is consuming. A healthy start in life will stay with them for the rest of their life and it is your responsibility to provide this and they will thank you for it later. Invest in a good quality juicer, blender and grinder so you can create tasty nutritious foods and drinks using all natural ingredients for them right from the beginning.

Salt

This makes the baby's kidneys work too hard. Many natural foods already contain sodium and most processed foods contain far too much of it.

Second-hand tobacco smoke

Second hand tobacco smoke can seriously damage a baby or growing child's arteries and developing lungs so it must be forbidden within any room that a baby or child is present. Even hours after smoking in a room or a car, the affects can still be damaging, as tobacco smoke hangs in the air for some time.

Small sized solid foods

Because the baby does not yet have teeth to chew, (and even when they do initially), bite sized and smaller pieces of solid food that do not dissolve in the mouth are a choking hazard. Fish bones, seeds and nuts are particularly hazardous.

Sugar

Consumption of excess sugar can lead to diabetes, obesity and tooth decay. Many natural foods already contain natural sugars and most processed foods contain far too much of it. Try to introduce non sweet foods as early as possible and persevere but do not add sugar as a persuasive tactic. This can help to stop the baby's preference for sweet foods in later life.

Sugar is highly addictive and can become a preference if fed to babies under two years of age. Try to avoid taking infants to shops where confectionary is placed at their eye level. When they can chew properly try giving fruit, raisins or vegetable sticks as snacks to avert their attention when in food shops.

Learn more and find natural remedies

Swaddling the baby

It is recommended that a baby is NEVER swaddled (wrapped in tight blankets) as this can cause overheating and restriction of circulation leading to cot death and also affect the development of the baby's hip joints.

Wheat

Starting wheat too quickly can cause coeliac disease or an inability to process gluten properly, this disease does have a genetic predisposition but it is best left until after two years of age. There are many other healthy alternatives which are gluten-free such as:

See the whole grains section.

See more in the Pregnancy and childbirth section

Infant oral mutilation

Some uneducated African people engage in a primitive traditional practise where the young tooth buds of babies and young children, from six months to three years of age, are gouged out using unsterile cutting instruments. They believe these natural tooth buds of new primary teeth to be worms and bad spirits causing ill health to the child.

This practice has severe and irreversible detrimental consequences for the secondary teeth and gums in later life. The complications of infant oral mutilation include anaemia, pneumonia, meningitis and tetanus, as well as risk of transmission of blood born infections such as hepatitis B and HIV. In severe cases septicaemia can lead to death.

As well as being prevalent in Africa, this barbaric practise has now been seen in western countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the USA where Africans have relocated to.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation is a form of child abuse common to some African, Asian and Middle Eastern cultures and takes place all over the world. Carried out in secret, and often without anaesthetic, it involves the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs. This can have devastating consequences and no one has the right to practice unnecessary mutilation of a child's genital organs. See the FGM page.

Visit the following pages for information about why elimination is very important before, during and after pregnancy and during breast feeding and the early years of an infant.

Stem cell research and storing baby teeth

New technology means that stems cells can be taken from a child's baby teeth to grow new organs and tissues which can help to save their life in later years. These organs will not be rejected as they come from the person receiving them. There are many companies which can safely store these baby teeth for years but they need to receive them immediately after they fall out and the younger the child the better the chances of getting good stems cells for this purpose. Do a search online for 'storing baby teeth' to find a company that will provide more information.

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