First Foods Around the World

babies in bloom first foodsWhat did you give your little one for his / her first meal? Pureed fruits? Vegetables? Meat? Oats?

And WHEN did you give it to them? Was Daddy there, too? Grandma? Auntie?

It’s a big decision isn’t it? A huge parenting milestone. Not to mention adorable / hysterical when it comes to the faces babies will pull when they try new flavors and textures for the first time. Trust us, if you are about to start weaning, get the camera ready!

While here in the US, it’s widely encouraged to breastfeed up to six months before introducing food, it is not the case for other countries and different cultures. It varies so much around the world– and it’s FASCINATING!

Did you know for example that a Tibetan baby’s first interaction with food is at FOUR days old? A piece of zamba – a mix of barley, wheat, corn, and peas, stirred, fried, ground in to flour and mixed with yak butter – is stuck to the baby’s forehead in a purity ritual.

Japanese parents start ahead of our six month recommendation too. Usually on the 100th day of the child’s life. At this stage, babies will often be presented with a dish called okayu, a rice porridge topped with dried fish and vegetables or mashed pumpkin.

In China, babies at four months will typically have moved on from breast milk to rice dishes paired with fish, carrots, seaweed, and eggs as well as blends such as chicken soup, pumpkin, ground pork and smashed eggplant. Jamaican parents often start at the four month mark too. Before morning milk, babies are given indigenous fruit blends – custard apple, mango, banana, papaya, naseberry – with honey.

And what about spices? When would you introduce those in to your baby’s diet? In India, at six months old, babies are introduced to khichidi – a vegetarian dish of rice and high protein lentils loaded with herbs and spices like cumin, cilantro, mint and cinnamon. Mexican parents also commonly opt to introduce spice young, sprinkling chili powder and lime on to apples, oranges and pears for baby.

Thought provoking isn’t it? What a colorful variety of dishes for the littles of the world!

Feeling emotional about weaning?

While babies of the world all eat differently, it is important to remember that all parents react to weaning differently too. While for some it is fun and exciting, it’s not unusual for others to have sad or uneasy feelings about this chapter.

There’s the ‘my baby is growing up so fast’ tears and anxieties about choking or allergies. As well as a sense of loss for many mothers who have breastfed and enjoyed that special ‘oneness’ with their child.

Some breastfeeding mothers even experience mood changes, which many researchers believe is down to hormones, because weaning brings with it a drop in prolactin and oxytocin levels. Prolactin, as well as being the hormone required for milk production, also promotes well-being, calmness and relaxation. Oxytocin, the hormone in charge of milk ejection, is also known as the ‘love hormone.’ When feeding decreases, or stops, so does the ‘feel good’ oxytocin.

Thankfully more and more research is being done into post-weaning depression. Support and awareness is growing. So remember, if you or someone you know has symptoms for longer than a few weeks, it’s important you speak with a doctor.

If you are interested in reading more about weaning around the globe, you can find the source of this article here.

What Type of Sunscreen is Best for Kids?

babies in bloom sunscreenBlessed with more than our fair share of glorious sunshine, we all know how important it is to be sun smart here in SoCal.

But that doesn’t stop us from getting a little confused every now and then when it comes to sun safety, especially when we’re talking sunscreen for our little ones. With so many options on the shelves nowadays, and ever changing recommendations, how do you know which one to go for?

As it is International Sun Screen Day this week (27th), we’re sharing with you what we’ve read and know about choosing and using sunscreen on kids – we hope it helps!

At what age can I start using sunscreen?

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says sunscreen should be avoided if possible in babies younger than six months and that every effort should be made to keep babies covered or in the shade. However, if protective clothing and shade are NOT available, Healthy Children.Org advise using sunscreen on small areas of the body such as the face and the back of hands. If this is your only option, you might want to test your baby’s sensitivity first with a small amount of sunscreen on their inner wrist.

What should I look for in a sunscreen for kids?

Healthy Children.Org say that a sunscreen should have the following:

  • “Broad-Spectrum” on the label – that means it will screen out both UVB rays (the ones that will give you sunburn) AND UVA rays (aging rays).
  • An SPF (sun protection factor) of at LEAST 15 (the AAD however recommends at least 30). The higher the SPF, the more UVB protection it has.
  • Water Resistance – either ‘Water Resistant’ (effective for up to 40 minutes in water) or ‘Very Water Resistant’(effective for up to 80 minutes in water). Note, manufacturers are now banned from using misleading words such as ‘waterproof’ and ‘sweat proof’ on labels as re-applications is always required.

What about chemicals?

Many parents are worried by this. The most common sunscreens on the market will contain chemical filters – from two to six of these ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/ or titanium dioxide.

Many kids’ brands are now formulated with safer, more effective ingredients than those in other products – about 63 % of kids sunscreens contain effective mineral ingredients that provide good protection from ultraviolet-A rays, compared to 40 percent of other sunscreens says the Environmental Working Group (EWG). They have an annual safe sunscreen guide on their website which is a wonderful resource – look out for their 2016 edition here.

How often should I apply sunscreen?

Every day if you will be outside. Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin says the AAD.

  • Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15-30 minutes BEFORE going outdoors – it needs time to absorb in to the skin.
  • Use enough to cover all exposed areas – especially the face, nose, ears, feet, hands and even the back of the knees. Most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen.
  • Be careful around the eyes – if you rub sunscreen in to a little ones eyes, wipe the eyes and hands clean with a damp cloth.
  • If it irritates the skin, try another brand. If a rash develops, talk with your child’s doctor.
  • Reapply sunscreen every TWO hours.

Does sunscreen expire?

The FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years. Some sunscreens include an expiration date but if yours doesn’t, write the date you purchased it on the bottle. If the expiration date has passed, throw it out.

What is the best sunscreen?

There is no right answer to this.  The best type of sunscreen is the one you will use again and again says the AAD. Lotion, cream, stick or spray, it’s a matter of personal choice. Pick one that is practical and appealing to you as well as ticking all the safety boxes in our ‘what should I look for’ section.

Don’t forget to look after YOU in the sun too parents! Set a great, sun safe example to your littles!

Oh and if anyone has THE secret to putting on sunscreen without tears, tantrums and toddler tackles, please let us know.   🙂

For more tips on sun and water safety, click  here.

Breastfeeding and Working Mothers

babies in bloom breastfeeding and working mothersIt’s easy to make plans while you are still pregnant, isn’t it? Like breastfeeding for example.  A lot of moms-to-be will have an idea of how long they want to breastfeed for – that is if they want to breastfeed at all of course.

But you know what they say, life is what happens when you are busy making plans. Sometimes life just ‘happens’ to us and not in the way we first imagined it. Your best laid plans may feel impossible once baby arrives, because babies are simply unpredictable bundles of awesomeness.

Breastfeeding is hard work, long hours and can be determined by so many variables –from a mother’s physical discomfort or baby’s tongue tie, to the level of emotional support. Going the distance just isn’t always that easy. Education and preparation can certainly be key for establishing successful breastfeeding in the early days. In fact, one of our most popular classes is the Breastfeeding 101 at our Boutique. This class teaches techniques to help new moms get off to a good start and avoid common problems – latching difficulties, positioning, pain, plus those endless worries about baby ‘getting enough’ milk, are some of the most common reasons for new moms to quit breastfeeding.

But what if you have survived and triumphed the exhausting early days and now have to face a return to work?

What happens beyond maternity leave?

To many working moms, continuing to breastfeed sounds like mission impossible! In fact, research just out this week suggests a direct impact of work on breastfeeding.

An Australian study of over 2,000 mothers showed that breastfeeding after returning to work may depend on how many hours a mother works. The research shows that working mothers are MORE likely to breastfeed their babies for the recommended minimum of at least six months if they can work less than 20 hours a week.

The findings add to a substantial body of evidence linking more time at home with longer periods of breastfeeding, “Breastfeeding is time consuming, often cumbersome for some employed women, and still not intentionally supported in many work sites,” said Melanie Lutenbacher, a researcher at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville.

60% of mothers in this study, who were working no more than 19 hours a week, were still breastfeeding at six months, where as 39% of women who returned full time were still breastfeeding.

A lot of the reports in the news say ‘just 39%’. JUST!

Well, we say A BIG HATS OFF to that 39% of full time working mothers! Go mamas! You are living proof it CAN be done. Your success will inspire others and see that percentage climb.

Yes, there is a lot to think about, from where and when to pump at work, to transporting and storing breast milk and employer support. Add general work stress to the mix and it can look and sound utterly overwhelming. But it IS possible with the right planning, preparation, determination and support.

In addition to our twice weekly Lactation Lounge support class, we also run Breastfeeding for Working Mothers workshops. It’s a great place to gain confidence and meet likeminded, determined mothers who want to continue breastfeeding beyond maternity. Just keep in mind that 39%, stay positive and check out our event calendar for future dates.


May is Better Sleep Month

BabiesinBloom_KelseySmithPhotography2015(PrintResolution300PPINativeFile)-41“SLEEP?” we hear many of you cry. “What’s that?!”

If you are struggling to get your baby to sleep through the night, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We know it can be HARD. And when you feel like you have tried everything, we know it can feel relentless. You’re exhausted. Defeated. Overwhelmed. You’re just not you.

‘Better Sleep Month’ is all about encouraging people to seek and establish better, healthier sleeping patterns. So what better time is there than now to take a moment and virtually hug, empower and support all our sleep deprived parents out there! It WILL get better, we promise you.

First, stop telling yourself you’ve messed up. That’s just the exhaustion talking, coupled up with the obligatory mom guilt that we all know and hate. Just because your friend’s baby is sleeping 11 hours a night at nine months, doesn’t mean you have done it all wrong. There is no ‘one size fits all’ way to do this. No two babies are wired the same.

Second, it is never too late to fix it. Good sleep habits can be learned at any age says Jen Varela, our wonderful friend and Sleep Coach, be it six months or five years old.

Under the age of six months, we are not talking about sleep training, but sleep shaping. This is all about sleep hygiene and simply identifying the methods used to get baby to sleep. From around three months, small incremental steps can be taken to make adjustments in how your baby sleeps at night – this is because most infants take about 12 weeks to fully produce melatonin, the “sleep hormone.” So for example, instead of nursing him/her to sleep, simply try rocking instead. Don’t worry, baby will let you know if it is too soon to make that change. And if it is, just hit pause on this shift for a little while and then try again.

Sleep training is generally recommended for babies six months or older. This is when you use a specific method, over a period of time, and then start removing ‘sleep crutches’ to enable baby to self sooth and put his/herself to sleep.

Third, let’s be real. There will ALWAYS be tears. There is no getting away from this. But our expert Jen’s goal is always to have as little crying as possible, and to avoid ‘toxic stress.’ She believes there is a big difference between tears in arms and not. If a baby is crying in arms, there is a stress buffer there by way of the nurturing parent, vs. things like the detached ‘cry-it-out’ method. Sleep training needn’t be a battle – it CAN be gentle and successful.

Jen runs regular Gentle Sleep Coaching workshops at our Boutique, so if you feel like you need to get a better idea on methods, or just feel like you need a darn miracle, please register. She may be the Fairy Godmother you have been looking for. We promise you, no question will be a stupid question, and no case is a hopeless one. Stay strong folks – this too shall pass!