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.
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
I’m always on the lookout for supereasy recipes for busy parents and their babies. This great finger food recipe comes courtesy of The Merrymakersisters and it sounds seriously delish.
It only takes 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to cook so all done and ready to serve in a speedy 30 minutes. Winner winner Chicken dinner as we say here in OZ!
Fritters are the bomb
Give me a fritter any day and this certainly makes a change from the usual sweetcorn fritter. There’s something awesome about fritters. They can be enjoyed just as is or topped with deliciousness like avocado or served as a side for brekky, lunch or dinner! Go the fritter!
It ticks all the boxes for balanced nutrition for those busy growing brains and bodies – low glycaemic carbohydrate – tick, nourishing fats – tick and serve it with a protein and veg, maybe chicken and avocado or steamed broccolini trees and you have a complete meal for bub. It’s easy to pick up and just the right size for their little hands.
Here’s what you need to make them:
3 cups grated sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)
4 eggs whisked
2 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper
butter/ghee for the pan
And now for the cooking bit:
Squeeze out any excess juice from the grated sweet potato and place in to a bowl.
Add the eggs, paprika, salt and pepper and mix well.
In a fry pan on medium heat melt some butter.
Use a 1/4 cup to scoop out fritter batter, carefully form in to a fritter with your hands and place in to the fry pan.
Cook for 5 minutes, flip, press down with a spatula, then cook for a further 5 minutes.
Continue to do this with all the fritter batter, it will make about 10-12 fritters.
A baby will tell you they want a feed by their body language. It’s important to properly observe your baby to avoid missing early and mid sleep cues. Once you miss those early cues your baby can get beyond hunger and become hysterical very quickly. Newborns are very prone to going from OK and happy to losing it, just because they are hungry or tired.
Reading your baby’s hunger cues accurately and responding appropriately help your baby feel secure. A baby who feels listened to is a much calmer baby.
Here are the feeding cues you need to know:
These are saying I’m hungry and include:
Stirring and moving
Turning his head towards the breast or your arm etc.
Your baby is now saying, “I’m really hungry now”. These include:
Increasing physical movement
Putting their hand to their mouth
By now your baby is likely to be upset and possibly hysterical. He’s now saying “calm me and feed me”. These cues include:
Agitated body movements
Face colour turning red
To calm your baby try the following:
Skin to skin on your chest
Stroking and massage
Lazy lion position over your arm and sway baby gently
Here is a helpful video demonstrating all of these feeding cues.
I hear the phrase ‘my baby has a sleep regression’ mentioned a lot and I’m going to explore this little hot potato. Breastfeeding your baby to sleep after 4-months of age is the most likely culprit. As a midwife, I totally support breastfeeding. The thing I have a big issue with is when mums are told by other midwives and nurses, ‘Feed your baby to sleep, it won’t do any harm’. In the short term, under 4-months of age, this is true, it won’t. However, long-term past 4-months this is not the truth.
A typical scenario I get asked
“We have a nearly 6 months old who perfectly self-settles for her day naps, including the 7 pm one. Although she usually wakes at least twice before midnight. When for whatever reason she’s not able to resettle without the boob. And then again somewhere around 4ish. She’s on solids, three times a day. Lunch and dinner before her breast milk feed. She wakes in the morning at 630am. Day naps are from 9 to 10am and afternoon nap from 1 to 3pm. Do you have any tips?”
It’s only taken me 30 years of being a midwife to work out the culprit…and I’m taking a detailed look at breastfeeding and nutritive vs. non-nutritive sucking.
My baby could be hungry
Breasts don’t have a volume measure on the outside like a feeding bottle does. A mother’s natural instinct is to breastfeed her baby until satiated and fill their baby full of as much milk as they can. It wouldn’t be natural to do half a breastfeed, would it? And once the little gremlin at the back of your brain starts saying, ‘but what if my baby is hungry?’ ‘have they had enough to drink?’ and ‘they could still be hungry’, your brain and logic start to doubt itself. And this is how the whole feeding to sleep thing starts. You think I’ll just top up my baby, maybe they need a little more…oh they’re still not looking sleepy…maybe they haven’t had enough? Then you read a parenting book or something online saying...feed your baby until they’re milk-drunk or drowsy. You also read…put your baby down to sleep drowsy but awake. So I can see how logic would lead you to feed your baby to sleep. As baby’s get older, usually past 6 weeks it’s really hard to feed till milk drunk or drowsy anyway, this is more of a newborn behaviour. After 6 weeks most babies are really wide awake after a feed.
Put your baby to sleep FULLY-AWAKE
I’d like the books to say instead..put your baby to sleep fully AWAKE. There is no drowsy but awake. A baby is either drowsy or awake, they cannot be both.
Avoiding baby sleep regressions
Drowsy but awake means you are feeding your baby to sleep which is as far away from self-soothing as you can get. Then the 4-month sleep regression is literally tapping you on the shoulder. I’m here to prevent months of sleepless nights for you.
Newborn baby and breastfeeding
In those heady newborn days where you wander through in a haze of night and day and twilight sleep, you can feed to sleep to your heart’s content. Frequent breastfeeding increases supply, especially in those early weeks. The first 6 weeks of breastfeeding are governed by hormonal influences, then supply and demand take over.
When your baby breastfeeds you will notice they do several long sucks that drain the breast and involve the jaw muscles at the side of their face near their ear. We know this sucking as nutritive sucking and active milk transfer occurs. A let-down reflex may or may not be felt after these active nutritive sucks whilst the baby takes a slight break. In this time they are waiting for the pituitary gland to use its feedback mechanism to produce more milk. There may be 10 or more active nutritive sucking episodes whilst the baby is draining the breast of its milk supply. Here is a lovely video demonstrating exactly this activity.
Towards the end of a breastfeed, the baby starts to move to non-nutritive sucking. They have drained the breast of milk and start to comfort suck on the nipple and areola. Non-nutritive sucking doesn’t achieve milk transfer, it is purely a comfort suck and looks like soft fluttery movements of the lips. You will notice the suck is gentle and the jaw is hardly engaged at all. A baby has more touch receptors on their face and neck than anywhere else on their body so non-nutritive sucking is a pleasurable feeling for the baby. Non-nutritive sucking aids digestion and eliminates gas and discomfort. For young babies, under 3 months this can be a useful side-effect of this type of sucking. Once a baby gets to 3 months plus they develop hand awareness and are able to put their hand, fingers and thumb into their mouth. Once we prevent this natural reflex occurring by leaving the baby on the breast at the end of a nutritive feed and moving into non-nutritive; rather than allowing them to self-soothe in the cot, we interfere with the baby’s ability to calm themselves.
I’m not saying you should avoid non-nutritive sucking/nursing completely. It’s OK now and again as long as your baby is going down for a nap fully awake the majority of the time. This is allowing your baby to learn how to calm themselves. Extended breastfeeding with non-nutritive sucking can lead to overtired babies. Some babies would suckle at the breast forever if you let them!
This tragic case of a newborn baby being suffocated and crushed whilst being breastfed, on a postnatal ward, is far from an isolated case. As many of you know by now, I’m a UK trained midwife of 29 years. I’ve heard this same story too many times. The scenario is all too familiar. Mum exhausted from labour is handed her baby to breastfeed in her hospital bed. The midwife may help latch the baby, supports the mum with pillows and leaves the mother to breastfeed alone. This scenario is more common during the night.
Some time passes and the exhausted mum falls asleep. She may have prescription drugs on board from labour and birth and may even have been given opiates on the postnatal ward. This combination together with birth exhaustion is a dangerous combination. Opiates such as endone, morphine and fentanyl depress the respiration. This can lead to a tired mum easily falling asleep.
A newborn baby cannot maintain their own airway and may have prescription drugs on board from the labour process. The prescribed drugs mum has taken may even have passed through her breast milk to her baby. It may even depress the baby’s respiration and lead to the bronchopulmonary infection in the Bolton hospital case.
The midwife should stay with the mum whilst she breastfeeds to ensure safety. Ideally, the mum should breastfeed her baby in the chair which is usually in each patient room in every postnatal ward. However, if you have a mum who is exhausted or has had a caesarian she may choose to stay in her bed. This is where it all goes wrong. There should be a hospital policy that states, breastfeeding in a bed should have a midwife present during the entire feed and the midwife should return the baby to the cot after a feed and place them safely according to SIDS guidelines.
The problem arises on a night shift of staffing levels and meal break times. In Australia, the staff ratio is usually 1 midwife to 6-8 mums and babies on postnatal at night. Once a midwife goes for a break she is gone for an hour and the other midwives cover her patient load. That increases the workload significantly.
During the first 3 days, newborn babies feed every 1-2 hours. Colostrum is high in protein but low in fat so doesn’t satiate a baby for long. During an average postnatal night, a baby will perhaps feed 6-8 times. It’s obvious based on those facts that the staffing levels on postnatal wards are completely inadequate. Skill mix would help address this issue and is something that would maintain safety. Nursery nurses and auxiliary nurses are a way to bridge the staff to patient ratio, cover breaks and keep babies safe.
17 years ago when I was still working as a midwife in the UK the staffing levels were even direr. This maybe explains our poor breastfeeding rates in the UK. In Manchester, I was the only midwife in charge of a 26-bed postnatal ward with an auxiliary nurse! However we had very few side rooms, most beds were part of an open plan ward divided into bays of 4. Are sidewards a safe option on postnatal wards or should we go back to open plan? It is much easier for a midwife to keep an eye on her babies and mums and avoid dangerous risky situations. In Australia, most of the postnatal wards are side rooms only. Is this a good plan for the safety of babies?
Should all babies be breastfed in chairs during the night? Are mums less likely to fall asleep in a chair or is it still risky because of the use of pillows to support a newborn breastfed baby? Ultimately no matter where a mum feeds we cannot escape the extreme exhaustion of those early postnatal days and nights. A mum should never be left alone to feed her baby when she is so tired. Period.
“Bed-sharing ‘raises cot death risk fivefold’,” BBC News reports. The news has featured in much of the media, with headlines based on a large analysis of previous studies into the risk of cot death, or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), associated with bed-sharing.
I have a particular issue with the comments of the midwifery manager of this case at The Royal Bolton Hospital. She says, ‘We are a Level Three UNICEF baby friendly initiative accredited unit which is the highest standard for breastfeeding and is a prestigious award, however, we always strive for improvement and so, taking into account the coroner’s comments, will review guidance.’
I have a feeling Baby Louie’s mum and family don’t give two hoots about her hospital’s breastfeeding award when all they have is a dead baby. RIP baby Louie and I’m dedicating this blog to Louie and all other babies who have passed away on postnatal wards in similar situations. There are too many and this is a risk we need to address immediately. As a midwife who spent so many hours on a postnatal ward on a night shift, I know this needn’t happen to another mum and baby.
These Thai fish cakes are superb for lunch or dinner. Feel free to adjust the curry paste – using just a little if cooking for a child, or none at all – to achieve the right flavour and heat in this dish.
Perfect for little hands that like to feed themselves and full of flavour to prevent fussy eating later on.