Homemade Baby Porridge Oats

Homemade Baby Porridge Oats

Making your own baby porridge is super easy and it’s a much cheaper way to feed a baby than the packaged variety. 

Baby porridge is a favourite food parents are choosing to feed their baby. Soft and creamy with a very mild flavour it’s a great first food. Many baby food companies are manufacturing pre-packaged baby porridge oats. However with just a food processor you can make your own finely milled baby oats for a fraction of the price. Most baby porridge oats you can buy in the shops are iron enriched. Whilst this can be useful past 6 months of age it can lead to constipation in some babies.

Store Cupboard Staple

Porridge is one of those useful cupboard standby items and it can be added to both savoury as well as sweet purees. It’s low glycemic and a healthy breakfast option.

Oats are high in fibre, calcium, protein and even some B vitamins. Steel cut oats are slightly healthier and more nutritious than rolled, quick cook or instant oats. Steel cut oats retain the most nutrients because they are not highly processed. However they take approximately 10-20 minutes longer to cook than instant oats.  Steel cut oats are also referred to as pinhead oatmeal in the UK.
Read more at https://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/oatmealbabyfoodrecipes.htm#ajGpSoQR6DlUeBsJ.99

Puree some pear or blueberries and you’re onto a winner your little one will love.

Optional extras

  • Pureed pear
  • Pureed blueberries
  • Pureed strawberries with vanilla bean
  • Poached and pureed nectarines or peaches – poach with star anise and or cinnamon for added flavour
  • Pureed apple – use a red apple such as Pink Lady or Royal Gala as these are sweeter compared to a green Granny Smith


Maternal Anxiety

Maternal Anxiety

Anxiety is a far more common issue with new mums than postnatal depression. For many women, anxiety, not sadness, is what they feel after having their baby.

It can start in pregnancy and once the baby is born grow to a whole new level. Up to one in five pregnant or new mums and one in ten dads will experience perinatal anxiety or depression. About 100,000 families across Australia will be affected by this serious and common illness. 

What does it look like?

Anxiety is complex and how one mum sees it can be very different to another. Though there are some shared similarities. Anxiety is more than being concerned or a little worried. As a midwife and nurse I can often spot an anxious mum once I’m talking to them or reading their email. But not every mum feels brave enough to open up on the thoughts which just keep on flooding their brain.

Mother With Baby Suffering From Post Natal Depression

Anxiety and anxious thoughts are all consuming. Anxiety is affected by the fight or flight hormone, adrenaline so can have an impact on the whole physical body not just the mind. Adrenaline is also known as the hormone of fear. It takes over any other feelings such as happiness, pleasure, joy and just feeling comfortable in your own skin. 


It’s not uncommon to feel anxious about getting anxious. In those brief windows of time when anxiety symptoms aren’t as bad, women can feel apprehensive about their anxiety building again. There can be an overwhelming sense of “what’s the point of feeling good” when I’m soon going to feel anxious again.


  • Feeling scared and alone
  • Overwhelmed
  • Unable to complete a task, flitting from thing to thing but no completion
  • Unable to prioritise a situation
  • Weight loss, feeling nauseous, anorexic, no appetite
  • Problems getting to sleep and waking in the middle of the night with racing thoughts
  • Fast shallow breathing and heart rate
  • Not enjoying the baby or life, a feeling of being disconnected
  • Thinking there’s a problem with the baby when all appears normal to others
  • Panic attacks
  • Fear of going out and socialising (agrophobia)
  • Feeling stressed and seeing everything as stressful
  • Disordered thought patterns, jumping from thought to thought
  • Negative self talk
  • Mind racing and cannot calm it down
  • Unable to relax and sit down even for a few moments
  • Feeling depressed – anxiety and depression can be interlinked
Exhausted mother and baby on the couch

Help and Ways to Cope

When you’re feeling anxious you’re in such overwhelm it’s hard to access help and even describe to another person exactly how you’re feeling. This is one of the biggest problems and yet getting help would make such a difference to your mood and coping mechanisms. Just know you can get better from anxiety and there is no need to live with it. 

Unless you ask for help no one can help you. Taking the first step is vital. Try opening up to someone you trust, maybe another mum, your local GP, your Child & Family Health Nurse, a friend who is a good listener or a helpline such as PANDA (Postnatal Depression and Anxiety Helpline) who have trained counsellors. 

Things You Can Do To Improve Your Anxiety

  • Reduce your caffeine intake – coffee, energy drinks, tea all have caffeine in. Rather than help you they will make your heart rate go faster and anxiety worse.
  • Look at your diet does it need an overhaul? Refined foods and sugar can contribute to your overall mood. Replace refined carbohydrates with low glycaemic and wholegrain alternatives. Or maybe quit gluten? 
  • Help increase your serotonin and endorphins by increasing the tryptophan rich foods in your diet. It’s important you also eat a balance of healthy carbs at the same meal to make sure these tryptophan rich foods reach the brain. A diet with no carbs is a disaster for anxiety and sleep. 
  • Seratonin is the hormone/neuro-transmitter you need for both a stable mood and a good nights sleep. This is why a paleo or low carb diet can be a disaster for anxiety, sleep and overall mood. 
  • Tryptophan is present in many common foods including Turkey, Chicken, Chia seeds, Mushrooms, Wholemeal and Wholegrains, Banana’s and Organic Cacao, etc. Have a look at this list for more info.

Tryptophan rich foods per 100g include:

  • Turkey – 507 mg
  • Mushrooms – 494 mg
  • Chia seeds – 808 mg
  • Cooked spinach 594 mg
  • Pumpkin seeds – 578 mg
  • Tofu and soy products – 513 mg
  • Pumpkin – 400 mg
  • Canned Yellow fin Tuna – 472 mg
  • Tahini – 390 mg
  • Hummus – 60mg
  • Cheese – parmesan, cheddar, gruyere and Swiss cheese have particularly high amounts of tryptophan – 360 mg
  • Kidney beans – 303 mg
  • Sugar-free cacao – 283 mg
  • Chicken – 267 mg
  • Pork, lamb and beef – 220 mg
  • Salmon – 209 mg
  • Sardines (tinned) – 276mg
  • Snapper (fish) – 265mg
  • Tomatoes – 60mg
  • Weetbix and wholewheat foods e.g. wholewheat pasta – 108mg
  • Rye bread – 100mg
  • Pineapples – 10mg
  • Nuts and nut pastes such as almonds, cashews, peanuts and walnuts – 287 mg – 170 mg
  • Green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, spinach and broccoli – lettuce 275 mg, kale 233 mg, broccoli 229 mg
  • Buckwheat – 109mg
  • Oats – 182 mg
  • Eggs – 167 mg
  • Brown rice – 130 mg
  • Avocado – 54 mg per 234 mg
  • Full cream Cows Milk – 46 mg
  • Banana’s (each) – 11 mg
  • Semolina – 90mg
  • Quinoa – 87mg

Low Glycaemic Index Carbohydrates

  • Sweet potato
  • Porridge Oats
  • Muesli and Granola
  • Quinoa
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Pasta
  • Wholegrain Rice
  • Wholewheat Bread
  • Lentils, Pulses, Lima and Butter Beans, Kidney Beans, Peas

Medium Glycaemic Index

  • Quick oats
  • Rye bread
  • Pumpkin
  • Brown and Basmati Rice

It takes about an hour for tryptophan to reach the brain, so plan the timing of your meal for optimum performance. Include low GI Carbohydrates and you’ve got a perfect evening meal to induce a lovely long nights sleep.


A good nights sleep will reduce anxiety whereas severely broken sleep will increase it. Make your bedroom dark and in fact so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. Darkness is necessary to trigger melatonin.Even streetlights, LED lights on internet WiFi, TV’s, smart phones, tablets and other electronic devices can interfere with sleep. Stop using your smart phone or electronic screen devices at least 1-2 hours before bedtime.

Have a snack of cheese and biscuits, cup of hot chocolate or herbal tea to help you wind down. 

Melatonin is at it’s lowest at 5am so if your diet doesn’t have enough tryptophan, protein and carbohydrates of the right glycaemic index you may get pesky early morning waking.Increase those things and you may get a better night sleep.


Meditation & Mindfulness

Taking up meditation can help you learn to control your thoughts and your breathing. Meditation has been shown to reduce heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol the stress hormone. Just taking 10 minutes each day to meditate can be life changing. Meditation can be done on your own or in a group. There are many Apps and programs out there and it’s important you find the right meditation program for you. It’s not just for new age hippies, or yoga people, meditation can be for everyone. 

Yoga and Exercise

Expose your brain to daylight to help reset the circadian rhythm. Exercise helps increase endorphins and serotonin and is another good reason to do some regular exercise. Having a routine and ritual within your day decreases stress and anxiety. Think of ways you can manage your day and your week to benefit your mood. 


Practicing gratitude can help turn your thoughts and mood around. Too often we focus on what isn’t working vs. what is working rather than the other way around. At the end of each day think of 3 good things about your day you are grateful for. Tell yourself you are doing a great job at bringing your baby and children up. Repeat this mantra every single day. Little things such as this can often be the key to changing your mindset. When you’re doing the positives and gratitude do not allow any negative self-talk to enter your thoughts. Let them go.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy & Counselling

If you’ve tried any or all of the above and you’re still struggling then counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy may be helpful. Counselling takes many forms and can be listening visits where you talk through how you’re feeling. Or it may take the form of CBT. Cognitive behavioural Therapy or CBT as it’s often called helps reframe your thoughts by challenging your current mindset. For example you’re thinking you’re a hot mess and disorganised. The CBT therapist may challenge this by asking you ‘why do you think this is true?’ “what does a hot mess look like?’ he may reply and challenge by saying ‘you turned up for this appointment, is this what a disorganised hot mess does?’ or ‘you got out of bed today’ etc. you get the idea. 


The last option, which may be used in combination with other therapies is medication. This may be just a temporary solution until you’re feeling more yourself or it may be a longer term one. Medications such as Sertraline, Fluoxetine, Xanax and Zoloft may be prescribed or beta-blockers such as propranolol. There are many medications which can be used. Do not give up hope if the one you are taking isn’t having the desired effect. Go back to your local Dr and let them know. Most medications are short term and are not habit forming. And there is no shame in needing to take them.

Remind yourself daily you will feel better soon, much better days are on their way. There is absolutely no need to live with anxiety and struggle by yourself. And there is no shame associated with feeling anxious, if just means you’re human.

Remember the wise age-old saying, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. 

Toddler Jumping Out of Cot

Toddler Jumping Out of Cot

Here is a typical toddler sleep problem parents tear their

hair out over!

Hi Karen,
I had a consult last year and I think I still have 1 follow up question. Please let me know if I don’t… 
We have now reached the toddler (22 months) bed stage and sleeping has gone out the wedding. 
A few weeks back my daughter started hating the cot and was hysterical at the thought of going to bed (we have never experienced this). On one occasion she climbed out of the cot so I took the side off and made a toddler bed. 
My toddler continues to hate going to bed and needs me to lay with her. Or wants to lay with me on the lounge. This is happening for night and day naps. We go through hours of her fighting sleep until she eventually falls asleep playing or watching a movie. 
Even when asleep, she is restless and constantly changes positions and moves around (I know this as most nights she ends ups up with me).
I know I need to preserve and get her to stay in her bed but any tips would be good. 

Hello Kimberley,
As you’ve found moving out of a cot is challenging. Was she wearing a sleeping bag when she climbed out? Sleeping bags usually manage to stop the active jumper/climber.
Impulse control and temperature control are big issues in children under 3 years old. They can climb out of bed 50 x because they’re 2! My sisters little one did this when she moved to a toddler bed at 2 yo.
Keeping her in a toddler bed vs. moving back to the cot I’ll let you decide.
Keeping her in the bed you’ll need a safety gate on her room and to remove all items from her room for safety. I’d try a mattress on the floor rather than a bed, usually more successful because of fall risk. If you use a bed you’ll need a bed rail to keep her safe.
Use Magic Presence to settle and resettle. It will take up to 2-4 weeks to get on top of this situation and get her sleeping through the night.




Defiance And The Toddler

Defiance And The Toddler

Separate Individual

Your toddler is now aware she is a separate individual and she loves to test the boundaries. She’s learning about cause and effect e.g. if I do this what will mum do? It is a toddlers job to be oppositional and they are certainly an expert at this job description!

Assert Free Will

She begins to understand she is separate from you and can exert some control over her world. One powerful way she can do this is by defying you. You say, “Please do this,” and she replies, “No!” Being able to assert free will is helpful as it motivates your child to want to make things happen. Being independant builds her confidence. The key is to find ways to show your child how she can be in control and make her own choices in positive ways.



Temperament and Defiant Behaviour

Some children will always be more defiant than others. Those with a strong temperament have got a head start in this skill. Children whose emotional reactions are big and intense, as well as children who are more cautious and timid, may be more oppositional than children who are temperamentally more easygoing and flexible. The reason being their lack of flexibility to change. For example getting strapped into the car seat, delay tactics at bedtime and trying new foods.

When it comes to your child I’d like you to think about the following:

  • What activities or events set off defiance and trouble for your child?
  • Why do you think these activities cause oppositional behaviour?
  • How do you respond to these episodes of defiance? How do you manage it? What does this do to change things? What doesn’t help? What have your learned from these situations?

What to expect at different ages and stages

Birth to 12 Months

Babies are not defiant because they purely act on impulse so do not possess these skills and lack self-control. The best way of managing their behaviour is to redirect and divert if things are challenging e.g. trying to climb the stairs or play with an object which is not safe.

toddler behaviour

18 to 36 Months

This is a typical scenario I get sent about 2-3 year olds.

Hello Karen, We need some behaviour management strategies for Hugo (2y 8m). Recently, he seems to have reached a new level of defiance and independence which we love and encourage but sometimes some things aren’t a choice.

How do you apply the “time in” technique during the day as we often use consequence more so or is this better?

Also how to go about it when he refuses to brush his teeth etc. His bedtime routine is a struggle at the moment – dinner/dessert, upstairs for a bath/shower, pjs, teeth, book /song and bed is the current routine. We are finding he’s recently starting digging his feet in with all of the night time routine and its becoming a negative experience, when it used to be one we loved together. Hubby and I both usually do it together, so he tries to play off each of us so to speak. So, we’d love that relaxing routine back with some positive strategies! 😀 Thank you!

This is my A to the above scenario

Children who have difficulty accepting change are usually more oppositional. These are the ones with a strong personality and also the very timid, quiet children.

Anticipate the kinds of situations that lead to defiance from your child and help him problem solve and cope in advance e.g. using the 5 minute rule and transition statements (see below).

How to reduce toddler tantrums – the 5 minute rule

Time in or as I call it Quiet Time

Quiet Time can be very useful in teaching your child to calm without needing to use Time Out. It helps your child learn to manage their often overwhelming emotions without needing to discipline or use consequences.

Quiet time is sitting your child next to you on the sofa or on your knee in a firm embrace facing away from you if they cannot keep still. Set the timer and allow 1 minute for each year of their age. For a 2 year old the timer is set at 2 minutes etc. Once they are calm and in control of their emotions they can get down and go about their day.

Another method of dealing with tantrums in younger children looks at holding your child in a firm embrace. You will know if this is the way you want to go or whether you prefer the ignoring concept. The Australian Psychologist, Dr Louise Porter uses this concept and calls it ‘Bringing the child in close’.

Alternative To Time Out

Once Hugo complies with your instructions use labelled praise to get this behaviour on repeat.

Empty praise vs. labelled praise and effects on resilience in kids

Respond with Empathy and Set Clear Limits

Validate your child’s feelings. Parents often skip this step and go right to setting the limit. But acknowledging a child’s feelings first is very important as it lets her know you understand where she’s coming from, and her feelings matter. (Keep in mind it’s not the child’s feelings that are the problem, it’s what the child does with her feelings that is the challenge.)

It’s this first step—empathy and validation—helping start to calm them down. Labelling your toddler’s feelings helps her learn to be aware of her emotions and to manage them. Keep your language simple and direct: “I know you don’t want to put your PJ’s on. It’s difficult to go from playtime to bedtime.” When you skip this step, children will “pump up the volume” or escalate their behaviour to show you—louder, harder, and stronger—just how upset they are.

This is often when tantrums start.

After validating your child’s feelings:

The key is to pay as little attention as possible to your toddler’s protests. Ignoring the behaviors you want to eliminate is the fastest way to be rid of them. (The only exception to this rule is if your child is being physically hurtful—hitting, slapping, punching, and so on—in which case you calmly but firmly stop the behavior and explain that he can feel mad but he cannot hit.)

How to get rid of irritating behaviours

Talipes A Congenital Foot Abnormality

Talipes A Congenital Foot Abnormality

Common birth defect of the feet

Talipes is a fairly common issue in newborn babies, affecting 1 in every 1000 births and affecting one or both of the baby’s feet. The cause is unknown and is thought to be due to the position of the baby in the uterus. Positional talipes usually improves with gentle stretches of the foot.



Managing the condition requires careful assessment and monitoring by the child’s doctor or physiotherapist. A baby with positional talipes should also have a hip examination to rule out developmental hip dysplasia as the two conditions may be linked. Researchers suggest 1;17 babies with congenital talipes will also have hip dysplasia.


Gentle exercises to the foot may help flexibility. These foot exercises should be performed regularly, and will be most effective when your baby is relaxed. Foot exercises should never ever feel painful


Turned feet

Talipes means one or both feet are turned and in most cases the front of the foot is turned inwards and downwards (talipes equinovarus). Rarely the foot is turned downwards and outwards (talipes equinovalgus). In the past, talipes used to be known as clubfoot. The current best treatment is by casting and bracing according to the Ponseti method. The standard treatment for talipes has changed greatly in the past 10 years. Moving on from surgical interventions as the favoured approach 10 years ago to boots and braces currently.

Previously, extensive surgery was common in children born with this condition. Following the publication of long term evidence of positive outcomes with more minimally invasive methods, such as the Ponseti technique, has led to a change the approach. Ponseti treatment consists of sequential plasters and prolonged bracing, with minor surgical procedures.


Exercises for positional talipes

Tips and tricks to help with a boots and bar brace (BNB)

Here’s a little boy I went to help with his sleep recently with his hip brace on. He sleeps really well and wears it each night and can roll over in it in his sleep too. He crawls around the house like a dynamo!