Eat Like A Baby

By Dina Cohen, MS, RDN, CEDRD


Photo Credit: Mait Jüriado via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Mait Jüriado via Compfight cc

My girls are confident self-feeders by now, and it’s a lot of fun to watch them eat. When I put a new food on their trays, they curiously examine it, poking and prodding with great interest, and finally cramming it into their little mouths. By the time they are done, their noses, ears, eyebrows, and hair have all had a share in the meal, and naturally, the floor is a disaster, but it’s great fun for them, and for me! The babies are fascinated by new colors, textures, and tastes. While they recognize their favorites and will grin and gurgle at each other in appreciation when I serve something that they think is fabulous, they’re still very open-minded, and I take full advantage. It’s so entertaining to see their expressions after I shock them with an entirely new texture or flavor. I love that they are so curious and will always try at least a bite or two, no matter how different a new food looks, smells, or feels. I don’t know how long this will last, but I hope it always will! I’m certainly appreciating it for the moment.

Eating with my girls is showing me how enjoyable a meal can be when you involve all your senses and approach it with a sense of discovery and adventure. Watching their active participation in their meals reinforces how valuable it is to eat mindfully. Mealtime is about more than simply filling your stomach and moving on to your next activity. Eating is a much more satisfying experience if it involves noticing and appreciating the color, texture, and flavor of your food. Is it as good as you expected? If you were brave enough to try something new, how much did you enjoy it? Is it worth going back for another bite? Not everything you eat is always going to taste super-amazing, but once you’re eating, your food should taste good to you! My girls aren’t finicky, but they don’t compromise, either. They enjoy a variety of textures and flavors, but if they aren’t impressed with a particular food, they’ll abandon it after a few bites. They listen to their stomachs and will leave over food when they are full.

I try to vary their menu to keep them curious and so that we don’t get into a Cheerio rut. It’s important to me that their meals are stimulating and fun, as well as nourishing and tasty. But I’ll admit that my own meals don’t always receive the same level of attention. As moms, even dietitian moms, it can be easy to put ourselves last and eat the same thing day after day just because it’s easy, and, well…mindless. How different might our eating look if we ensured our meals included a variety of colors and flavors? When did you last try a new ingredient or a unique recipe? How much time do you take for your meals, and how much do you enjoy them? Are your meals enjoyable? Satisfying?

Eating mindfully is something we were born knowing how to do. Noticing how food makes us feel while we’re eating it and how satisfied we are afterwards is not a special talent. We all started out with this ability. Somewhere along the way, though, most of us were socialized to focus more on external signals as opposed to what’s going on internally. We eat in a hurry. We eat past the point of fullness. Sometimes we might finish a meal barely noticing what it was we just consumed. None of this is a crime; sometimes, when life is busy, it’s a necessity. But there’s no question that it’s a less-than-ideal way to eat. The good news is that mindful eating is something that can be relearned. You’ve done it before, and you can do it again. If there’s an opportunity in your day (or even a day in your week), when you can slow down enough to enjoy a meal that’s appealing to your senses and satisfying to your body, you’ll be eating the way it’s meant to be done. So as I amusedly watch my babies’ gleeful faces as they squish and smash their way through their gloriously messy mealtime, I can’t help but think, “Hey…they’ve got a point!”

Confessions of a Former Control Freak


By Dina Cohen, MS RDN CEDRD

One of the best cures for perfectionism has got to be having twins. One baby definitely changes the dynamics of your life, but when there are two, the odds of things going as planned are even more drastically reduced. If one baby manages to stay clean, the other one will surely spit up all over her carefully matched outfit – and yours. If one accommodates your busy schedule, the other refuses to nap. If one happily consumes the meal you worked hard to prepare, the other may turn up her nose at it. Raising twins effectively erases the last vestiges of any illusion of control.

While I was expecting my babies, I read Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman, an American author now living in France, and I was enthralled by her description of the way French kids eat. Apparently, they enjoy a sophisticated, varied menu, and picky eating is seemingly nonexistent. Wow! Imagine having kids like that! I knew it would take more work to ensure that my babies tried a wide range of foods from a young age, but I wanted my children to have a healthy, positive relationship with food, and naturally, I sought to avoid the power struggles that can result from dealing with picky eaters. Excited by what I’d read, I looked forward to starting my twins, Adele and Rebecca, on their first solid foods.

The first few weeks were a lot of fun. They are seven months old now and I still love watching the funny faces they make when they taste their first spoonful of a new food. Because I spend so much of my time working to help kids (and adults!) try new healthy foods, it’s a pleasure to be able to serve items like salmon, tofu, beans, and avocado to eager customers who don’t know yet that some people consider these foods yucky. But I’m learning that the only predictable part of this process is the work I put in. After I’ve cooked, mixed, and pureed the day’s treats and settled the babies into their high chairs, all I can do is hope. They are generally easy to please, but sometimes they’ll eat just one spoonful of a new food and turn down the rest. (Quinoa, for example, was not a success…but we’ll try again!) Some days, one or both will refuse a previously enjoyed food, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Their appetites will vary from day to day and meal to meal, and I never know exactly how things will turn out. Adele is clearly the more enthusiastic eater and seems braver when it comes to new textures and flavors, but a couple of nights ago, after tasting turkey for the first time, she went on strike. Rebecca, who is usually much more hesitant with food, happily finished her sister’s portion. Feeding my babies it teaching me to let go of my expectations and to respect each baby as her own little person with her own unique preferences.

Much of my work with pediatric clients is based on Ellyn Satter’s philosophy of division of responsibility in feeding children. I explain to parents that they are in charge of the timing and content of meals and snacks, but they are not responsible for how much their children eat or whether they choose to eat at all. They also do not have control over how their children’s bodies turn out. Adele and Rebecca provide me with my own miniature twin study right here at home. Adele is fascinated by watching her parents eat, and she’s the one making eager little noises at mealtime. When Adele is particularly hungry, she may get two spoonfuls for every one spoonful Rebecca gets. And guess who the bigger baby is? Surprise…it isn’t Adele!

I’ve come to accept that as with so many things in life, my children’s eating is going to be unpredictable, and that my efforts and their outcome are often unrelated. I must admit that while the babies enjoy my homemade yogurt, their favorite food seems to be jarred fruit. They’ll eat their broccoli, but they clearly would rather have applesauce. (My dietitian brain knows it’s their innate preference for sugar, but I have a feeling they know they’re American!) I’m going to keep doing what I can to ensure that the girls get the best possible start, but I realize that that’s all I can do – set the stage. My babies will eat the way they want to eat and grow the way they’re destined to grow. And while they’re busy experiencing new tastes and flavors, their mom is savoring the sweetness of stepping back and letting go.

 Dina Cohen, MS, RDN, CEDRD provides nutritional counseling for clients of all ages and specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. She is dedicated to helping kids and their families develop lifelong healthy habits and a positive relationship with food. Her private practice, Eatwellsoon, is located Lakewood, NJ, where she lives with her husband and twin daughters.

Fear about Feeding

by Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD


I have a love/hate relationship with feeding my son. I love watching him try new foods and learn skills like grabbing food in his hand. But on the other side, I am scared he will choke on something (he always seems to gag a lot) and I’ve had many moments of “am I doing this right?”

The only thing I know for sure is that there is no “right” way to feed a baby. As many mom friends have told me, it’s up to your mom instincts and a little bit of guidance from a doctor or dietitian. As a dietitian who doesn’t work with infants, I needed some help. I bought one of the best books, “Fearless Feeding” by Jill Castle and Maryann Jacobsen. ( These two dietitians have saved me!! I also decided to sign up for an Infant Safety course to review CPR and choking. The class was scary but I feel more prepared. I also now know the difference between choking and gagging, which I learned is common when babies learn how to chew and swallow.

I’ve read the infant section and learned a lot so far. Now I know what’s appropriate for an infant in terms of food groups, portions, and signals to know hunger vs. fullness. I also have learned about introducing puree’s vs. baby-led weaning and slowly learning how to feed himself. The authors also review that as the amount of food goes up, the amount of formula will go down. My 9.5 month old is now eating 3 meals/day consisting of every food group. He mostly does purees and lumpy foods, but we’ve been working up to finger foods and he’s getting better at the pincher grasp every day. He will mostly eat oatmeal, soft mushy fruit, pureed veggies, potatoes, hummus, avocado or guacamole, fish, scrambled eggs, and bread. His favorite food is whole milk flavored yogurt- it tastes like dessert to me! My infant also needs me to feed him with a spoon vs. other babies might feed themselves at this point. I’ve learned to let him practice this in his own time. He has weaned himself down to 4 bottles per day, ranging anywhere from 4-8 oz (all depending on how much food he’s eaten). I’m still surprised at how variable my child’s appetite can be. Ellyn Satter ( created the Division of Responsibility, which says the parent is in charge of what and the child/infant is in charge of how much (and everything else).   I try my best to apply these principles now of healthy feeding behaviors to create a healthy relationship with feeding from the beginning.

I admit that even though I “know” a lot about this, I’m not a perfect mom. But who is? There are days when my child gets too much sugar and there are days when I realize he didn’t get any veggies. But there are also days where he eats a lot of healthy foods and I know he’s getting nutrition. It’s all about balance, variety, and moderation. These concepts aren’t just great for adults and healthy eating, but can be applied to children of all ages.

Dining Out With Your Young Food Allergic Child

Dining Out With Your Young Food Allergic Child

by Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP

*This post was originally published on The Tender Foodie Blog.  The original article can be found here.

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Many parents feel overwhelmed at the thought of bringing their child with food allergies to any restaurant for fear of exposing him/her to an allergen that could make them horribly ill or worse.  Yet, according to Restaurants USA Magazine,  Americans eat out for 4.2 meals per week! Dining out with our families and friends is part of our social routine.  It’s possible to enjoy this time together as a family, but it requires a bit of planning. One strategy that may soothe some fears is assembling your own “Restaurant Backpack” filled with everything you need to create a safe and fun dining experience for your entire family.



While it might be tempting just to wrap the chair in your coat, as this parent has done (above picture), start instead with a washable highchair cover to shield your little one from those germy, possibly allergy-laced wooden restaurant highchairs.  Fisher Price™ makes a padded version that includes tether straps to attach to toys so they won’t fall on the equally dirty floors.  The carry pouch is included.  Tuck a package of sanitizing wipes in the carry pouch so that when you arrive at your seat, the first thing you do is wipe down the table, highchair and anything that is within reach of your child. Then add the cover, then add the kid. Speaking of toys, it’s ideal to bring quiet toys that won’t disturb the other patrons, lightweight toys that keep the backpack manageable and socially interactive toys that focus on you and your child being together and enjoying the moment.  My top three favorites?


Aquadoodle Travel N Doodle  is a soft, mess-free, portable and foldable drawing mat that includes a refillable “water pen” that magically makes red appear on one side of the mat and blue appear on the other.  The most your child gets on him/herself is a bit of water.  One suggestion: store the pen in a re-sealable plastic baggie or empty it before going home.  It can leak in the backpack.


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Baby Led Weaning: A Developmental Perspective

Baby Lead Weaning: A Developmental Perspective

By Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP

*This post was originally published on ASHA’s online blog.  The original can be found here.

Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov via Compfight cc

One of the things I like best about teaching courses on feeding to parents and professionals around the United States is learning what new trends are evolving around family mealtimes. Over the past year,  one of the common questions I’m asked is, “What about Baby Led Weaning?”

Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is a term coined by Ms. Gill Rapley, co-author of “Baby-led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods.”  Rapley graciously chatted with me about her philosophy and explained that although she did not invent BLW, she found the method to be successful in her work as a former health visitor and midwife in the United Kingdom and continues to study the topic today while earning her PhD.

In a nutshell, BLW centers on the philosophy that babies are developmentally capable of reaching for food and putting it in their mouths at about 6 months of age. As stated on the BLW website “You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t.”  Please note that the word “wean” is not referring to weaning from breast or bottle, but instead refers to a term commonly used in the United Kingdom for adding complementary foods to the baby’s current diet of breast milk or formula.  According to the BLW website, ideas for first foods include “chip size” steamed vegetables such as a broccoli spear with the stem as a handle, roasted potato wedges, meat in large enough pieces for the baby to grasp and chew, rice cakes, cucumber, celery and dried apricots.

As a SLP who focuses on pediatric feeding, I view feeding as a developmental process.  Whether I’m working with a child experiencing delays in development or offering advice to a parent whose child is meeting milestones with ease, I always ask myself “How can I respect and support this family’s mealtime culture while guiding this child safely through the developmental course of learning to eat?”  Thus, for families who are interested in following the BLW method, whether their child is in feeding therapy or not, I try to support their wishes if the child is capable,  while offering the following BLW points to consider:

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Starting Solids in a Positive Way

Starting Solids in a Positive Way
By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDE, CEDRD, CDN

Photo Credit: kate_dave_hugh via Compfight cc

If you ask a hundred pediatricians or dietitians how to start feeding your baby, I can almost guarantee you’d get a hundred different responses.  Some professionals believe in baby purees, while others believe in baby-led weaning.  Some professionals say start with rice cereal, others say avocado or even sweet potato.  Even when to start feeding your baby solid foods is debatable (although most people would agree between 4–6 months).  I felt confused as a new mom—and I’m a dietitian!!

I got the go-ahead to start feeding from my pediatrician at my son’s four-month checkup, and we started a week later.  I knew with my mom’s intuition that it really didn’t matter what food we started with—we would eventually figure out a good plan.  However, I really wanted to start off with feeding in a positive way, knowing that these were amazing habits to keep for the whole family. I’m definitely not perfect, but here are some guidelines I’m attempting to follow:

1.  Just like breastfeeding or bottle feeding, I’m trying to learn his hunger and fullness cues when it comes to solids.  I remind myself that when he gets annoyed and doesn’t open his mouth, he’s full and the meal is over (even if there is a lot of food left).

Photo Credit: Parker Knight via Compfight cc

2.  I’m doing my best to limit distractions like having the TV on in the background or toys nearby.  Just like adults, children get distracted by their surroundings.

3.  I’m usually eating with my baby during a feeding.  When he sees me eat, he tries to grab what I’m eating.  It’s never too early to start sharing meals together, even if (for now) we’re eating different foods.

4.  I’m dedicated to spreading positive messages about food, including what I say about my own food choices and my own body in front of my child. My five-month-old may not understand this, but other people I’m with everyday certainly do.  I want my son to grow up learning about health in a way that makes him feel good about his choices and confident about his body.  It’s never too early to make this a priority.

Postpartum Body Image

Postpartum Body Image
By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD

Photo Credit: Adrian Dreßler via Compfight cc

I had a very easy pregnancy and felt great almost the entire time.  What I didn’t expect was the shock and roller-coaster ride of emotions and body image after giving birth.  Not a lot of people tell you about the intense ups and downs during the postpartum period, especially when it comes to your body.  Everyone says, “Enjoy every minute!!” and “They are only this small once!!”  I remember feeling guilty thinking I wasn’t a fan of the newborn stage and felt so uncomfortable in this new body post-baby.  I would ask myself, “Why do I feel so ‘blah’?”  All I’m supposed to be doing is sitting on the couch and breastfeeding.  The only expectation is to bond with baby Connor, how hard can that be?”

Throughout my pregnancy I told myself I would get back to my normal self as soon as possible.  I didn’t care much about my weight but just wanted to feel good about my body.  I’m a very active person who loves yoga and exercise.  It felt amazing to participate in those activities while I was pregnant.  I also enjoyed gaining weight, knowing that the baby was growing and I was eating to support a healthy pregnancy.  I went back to the doctor a week after giving birth and had lost twenty pounds right away.  “Well that was pretty easy,” I thought to myself as I walked out the door… “I bet I’ll have my ‘normal’ body back in no time.”  So five more weeks pass by, and I walk in for my six-week postpartum checkup.  Those five weeks were probably the hardest weeks of my life, as the initial “high” of giving birth wore off, and life with a newborn started to actually sink in: no sleep, no activity, and increased anxiety.  I get on the scale at my six-week checkup, and the nurse weighs me and says, “Well, we don’t see that too often!  You actually went up!”  I kept on telling myself that weight wasn’t important to me, but in that moment all I could think about was the annoying negative body image voice winning over my healthy self.

Life went on, but something shifted in me around the three-to-four-month mark. I went back to work and felt fulfilled in my career, Connor started sleeping more, and I started to introduce formula and wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding (which honestly took away a lot of stress).  I also asked for help with babysitting so I could get out of the house more often.  I started to not care as much about my postpartum weight loss and started to focus more on doing something each day for myself and self-care for a healthy body.  I felt myself change both mentally and physically as more self-care happened.  I am now feeling so blessed and happy, and my anxiety has decreased.  I am walking more with my mom friends and babies, going to weekly “Mommy and Me” yoga classes, and am training for a five-mile race on Thanksgiving Day.  I am also slowing down each day, cutting back on my “to-do lists,” and just taking it one day at a time with my son with no expectations.  My body feels strong as it has now fully recovered from childbirth, and I feel almost “back to normal.”  But guess what?  I weighed myself the other day out of pure curiosity and wouldn’t you know—my weight was the exact same number it was at my six-week postpartum checkup.  Thanks to a healthier attitude and lots of self-care, I feel incredible both physically and mentally.  I also feel blessed that I can teach my son what it means to love your body no matter what the scale says.

Tips for Eating Well with a Newborn

Tips for Eating Well with a Newborn
By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD

Going into pregnancy, labor, and delivery I read everything I could get my hands on about “life with a newborn”.  However there really is no way to describe the emotional roller coaster you go through until you experience it yourself.  With that being said, self-care is so important during this time and nutrition is one of the most important self-care aspects (in my dietitian opinion of course).  Whether a mom had a vaginal birth or C-section her body just went through a MARATHON and now needs to recover.  Calories, carbs, protein, fat, and all the vitamins and minerals that food provide help your body heal from labor and delivery.  Here are my top 7 tips for getting in proper nutrition with a newborn.

  1. Don’t think “weight loss” right away:  Thank your body for what it just did, it’s perfect in every way right now no matter what you weigh.  Moms may also need extra calories if breastfeeding (especially from healthy fats).  Make sure you take a multivitamin too.
  2. Try to listen to hunger and satiety:  Are you eating now just because you have 5 minutes or are you truly hungry?  Or are you absolutely starving because you haven’t eaten anything in 6 hours?  Try not to let yourself get too hungry or too full to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
  3. Have snacks and easy to grab foods:  I personally ate with one hand the first few weeks of my son’s life.  My favorite grab and go healthy foods are sandwiches (turkey and cheese or peanut butter and banana and honey), protein bars, trail mix, hard boiled eggs, roasted chicpeas, yogurt, cottage cheese and fruit.  Also packing some of these staples in your diaper bag is a good idea.
  4. Go for EASY meals.  No need to be a gourmet chef in the first few months.  I stocked up on frozen Steamfresh veggies and rice to throw in the microwave as sides for a quick dinner.  Coupled with grilled meat (thanks to my husband) dinner was ready in under 15 minutes.  I also tried to make double recipes anytime I actually did cook to have lots of leftovers and even froze some meals.
  5. Notice how refined sugar affects your mood, and hunger? New moms know cookies are quick and tasty. However, just notice if this helps your body or later causes body feelings and signals to become more difficult to address. If you need your pure sugar fix consider eating it near a meal or with a more substantial food at snack. This will help to moderate blood sugar and get you full.
  6. Get enough sleep:  This really isn’t realistic because your sleep will be interrupted for months but sleep has a lot to do with our hunger and satiety cues and metabolism (and sanity!).  Just know the more you can get the better even if it’s not your usual 8 hours.
  7. Don’t stress about nutrition:  Ironically this is probably the most important tip.  Babies can feel our stress and react to it even if they don’t understand everything that’s going on.  Don’t stress about losing weight, getting in all the nutrients you need- just try to do your best and that’s “good enough” which is mentally better than trying to be “perfect”.
Happy 3 months to Connor!

Food Cravings: Consuming Peanuts and Soy During Pregnancy

Originally published on NY Metro

Are you craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich during your pregnancy? Did you religiously consume soy products like yogurt and milk before your pregnancy, but aren’t sure if you should continue to do so? Manhattan nutritionist and mother of two says it’s OK!

Photo Credit: Jack Fussell via Compfight cc

My friends used to glare at me when I ate peanut butter and soy yogurt while pregnant. They, like many other moms, believed in the notions that parents should not introduce nuts or soy to children younger than 2, solid food to infants younger than 6 months, and food like nuts, nut butters, and anything with soy while pregnant.

I loved these foods too much though; peanut butter and soy yogurt remained a primary means for me to consume protein, fat, and calcium for the duration of my pregnancies. To my content, after giving birth, I received my Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network newsletter, confirming that there was no such relationship between these ingredients, food products, and allergies. Since then, neither of my boys has developed any type of severe food allergy either.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you, your babies, and what the latest research says on consuming allergenic products while pregnant, breastfeeding, and in the first years of life.

Food Exposure While Pregnant

If you’re the kind of mom who, like me, relied on peanut butter sandwiches for simple grab-and-go lunches while pregnant, don’t feel guilty if your child has developed a food allergy. There is plenty of proof that ensures that this is not your fault.

Eliminating specific foods during pregnancy and/or while breast-feeding, prolonged breastfeeding, and delayed weaning have not been proven to prevent the development of food allergies. New research actually suggests the opposite—that this may be the ideal time to expose children to sensitive ingredients in order to induce a natural tolerance to such items.

Rather than obsessing over which foods to limit, focus on eating a variety of items on a daily basis. Identify your cravings, and be sure to consume enough calcium and omega 3 fatty acids in a moderate manner. Craving chocolate and peanuts? Don’t eat them in excess every day. Instead, rotate the foods you love and incorporate a variety of ingredients from one meal to the next.

If you are still afraid of what ingredients like nuts and soy may trigger, try using a four-day rotation that’s known to help individuals with food intolerances. For example, if you have eggs on Monday, don’t eat them again until Friday. While this may require extra thinking and work, the four-day rotation can help to calm even the most cautious mom’s fears.

Photo Credit: Ann@74 via Compfight cc

When to Introduce Food to Infants

Back in the 90s, when I studying nutrition and was pursuing my RD certifications, I learned that it was appropriate to introduce solid foods to babies between 4 and 6 months. By the time I had given birth to my first child in 2006, the word on the mommy block was to delay the introduction of solids until at least 6 months or older in order to prevent the development of allergies.

Current research conflicts with this proposal. Jonathan M. Spergel, MD, Ph.D., and chief of the Allergy Sector at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says, “Delaying food introduction after 6 months could be even more detrimental in regards to developing a food allergy.” One study, reported in Pediatrics, supports this theory, suggesting that introducing solid foods at a later age was associated with an increased risk for allergic sensitization to food and inhalant allergens by the age of 5. Another proved that introducing cow’s milk, chicken, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and gluten before 6 months was not significantly associated with eczema or wheezing at any age.

So remember, while there are always exceptions, the general consensus is that introducing solid foods between 4 and 6 months of age is actually associated with the lowest allergy risk. In other words, it’s during this time, before the 6-month-old mark, that it may be best to incorporate solid foods during mealtime.

How to Introduce Peanuts and Tree Nuts to Toddlers

Based on current research, parents do not need to delay the introduction of peanut butter or nut butters until their toddler is 2 or older. However, you should wait to introduce foods that may put your child at risk for choking, such as the actual nut itself.

Also take note that nut butters are highly sticky and can get stuck on the roof of your child’s mouth. If you do choose to feed them nut butter, be sure that they have developed sufficient tongue strength and motor skills to swallow the spread. Serving these sticky products in between two soft pieces of bread may help prevent choking or difficulty chewing as well.

If there is a family history of food allergies to peanuts, nuts, or any other food, a medical physician and registered dietitian should always be consulted. Many times, the pediatrician will try exposing the child in a medical setting if anaphylaxis is of concern.  Another option to consider, of course under the recommendation or supervision of your child’s pediatrician, is to test the potential allergenic food at home with an antihistamine available in case there is an allergic reaction.

Feeding your pregnant body and your growing baby can be a joyful and exciting, not to mention delicious, period of your life. Relax knowing that you can dine on your favorite foods while sporting your bump, introduce solid foods to your bundles of joy between 4 and 6 months old, and even let your little ones nibble on some nutritious nut butter at some point before age 2.

To Breastfeed or Not To Breastfeed?

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, we wanted to share a previous post from a guest blogger, Allison:


Guest Blog: Breastfeeding versus Bottle-feeding
By Allison Brooks

Photo Credit: nettsu via Compfight cc

Moms may differ in their opinions and or choice to breastfeed or bottle-feed. I personally think it should be the woman’s right to choose. Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding both have pros and cons. We hear the many pros of breastfeeding such as less illness, possible greater intelligence of the child and so on. Many organizations including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) promote breast-feeding here in the USA and abroad. However, I question whether this is always appropriate especially if the mother is deficient in micronutrients, deficient in essentially fatty acids, malnourished, stressed, had multiple births in a short period of time or perhaps is not the right choice for the mother. I was breast fed for 3 months and choose to bottle feed my children.

Below, guest blogger Allison Brooks shares her point of view at an international level. Allison studies biomedicalization in Bolivia. Here she presents an example of biomedicalization on breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding in third world countries. Allison shared with me that she too was bottle-fed.  Feel free to comment and share your opinions as well. All are welcome.

Biomedicalization of BreastFeeding: What is healthy here, might not be healthy for all

Biomedicalization is a term used to describe the way in which natural life processes, human conditions and problems are defined and treated as medical conditions. Aging, childbirth and breastfeeding are good examples of normal life processes which have come under the authority of doctors. Biomedicalization may bring benefits, but there are also costs. Philosopher Ivan Illich was one of the first to use the term “medicalization,” which he argued actually caused an increase in social and medical problems as a result of medical intervention. One example is the drive by manufacturers of baby formulas to supplant breastfeeding with formula.

When a mother dies in childbirth or cannot breastfeed for some reason, infant formula may be the only choice. However, in the underdeveloped nations of the world, breastfeeding serves a number of critical purposes. Breastfeeding protects babies from infection, provides them with near-perfect nutrition and acts as a natural birth control for the breastfeeding mother. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop diarrhea, bacterial meningitis, ear infections and respiratory infections than infants who are fed formula. Breastfeeding also triggers beneficial hormone secretion in the mother, and the milk changes in amount and constituents to meet the needs of the individual infant.

The Nestle baby formula promotion of the 1970s urged mothers in less-developed countries to forgo breastfeeding in favor of formula, stressing convenience and nutrition. Nestle used strategies such as sending a new mother home with free samples; once the samples ran out, the child was habituated to formula and the mother’s milk had dried up, so the family had to buy formula.

Problems with this sort of infant nutrition quickly became apparent. Formula must be mixed with water and water in poor countries is often contaminated. Mothers could not read the instructions on water sterilization, or did not have the means to boil the water. Formula-fed babies were much more likely to die of diarrhea or pneumonia as a result of infections. Poor mothers would often mix inadequate amounts of formula for each feeding to make the expensive formula last longer, resulting in malnourished babies.

Nestlé’s marketing activities were considered so unethical that a boycott was launched by a group called the Infant Formula Action Coalition. In 1981 the World health assembly adopted Resolution WHA34.22, which bans the promotions of breast milk substitutes. Although Nestle agreed to accept the code, in 1988, formula companies were accused of repeating the unethical tactics and the boycott, which was still in force as of 2011, was launched. Other companies such as BordenSimilac and Wyeth have come under similar criticism for marketing methods that imply formula and breast milk are nutritionally equal. Most physicians and international organizations such as WHO and UNICEF recommend now breast milk exclusively for the first six months of life.

But the effects of biomedicalization do go way beyond the idea of breastfeeding. Pharmaceutical companies push new rules on societies regardless of their cultures, everyday. This is easy to see in America, because we are the only country that allows pharmaceutical companies to run ads and develop an image for people to follow. Without regards to the culture, the environment and so on, sometimes these “better” medications/therapies can actually be harmful for the people. With new drugs entering the system to promote beauty or health, or a better life-expectancy for cancer, traditional practices are be dropped by the wayside, and people and cultures are being negatively affected.


About Guest Blogger Allison Brooks:

Allison says “I was bottle-fed too, that’s why I say what is healthy to you might not be healthy to others (cultural relativism). Thats why I don’t push my beliefs onto people, I state what I know and allow you to do what you please, with no judgment.”

Allie went to the University of Mississippi. She earned her degree in biomedical anthropology and  is now studying in the field to finish an ethnography on the effects of biomedicalization on Bolivian cultures, but as it relates on other societies as well. She loves to guest blog on her time off to past time and spread the word. When she is not at her computer, Allie enjoys riding her  horse, Lilly and playing with her ducks, Alvin and Shirley.