Plant Based Mum Blog

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Eczema Awareness Week: 14-20 May 2018

Next week is Eczema Awareness Week, and this cause has a special place in my heart - particularly when I think of new mums who have little ones that may be just starting to show signs of eczema.

My first-born suffered from eczema from the age of four months, and to this day occasionally experiences very mild flare ups if it is warm. When she first started displaying symptoms I wasn’t sure where to turn to, or what to do, to help diagnose and treat them.

Amongst all the random (and sometimes unwanted) advice and old wives tales thrown at you as a new mum it can be difficult at first to trust your own instinct and navigate your own journey as a mum. All I knew at that time was that it was important to me that I obtain advice and treatment options from qualified medical professionals, so I did just that.

I spoke to my trusted GP and we also attended an eczema workshop run by specialists at the Royal Children’s Hospital and with our treatment plan underway, my daughters symptoms and suffering was soon relieved, and she was once again a bright, happy and bubbly baby!

The Eczema Association of Australasia is running free workshops across the country next week, as part of Eczema Awareness Week. Visit www.eczema.org.au for more information.

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Starting Solids - Homemade Purée Recipes

My baby boy has recently turned six months old, and we are excited to be starting his journey with solid foods. 

Here are some of our favourite recipes for baby’s first foods:  

Sweet Potato, Parsnip and Cauliflower Purée

Wash and peel the sweet potato, cauliflower and parsnip, and chop into very small pieces. Steam vegetables until well cooked (by steaming them you are keeping as many of the nutrients in as possible). Once cooked, add to blender and blend until smooth. You can add a little breastmilk before serving to ease baby’s transition too - and for more nutrient and immune boosting power. Serve cooled. 

Broccoli, Spinach and Carrot Purée 

Wash broccoli, spinach and carrot well. Roughly chop broccoli and carrot into small pieces. Steam broccoli, carrot and spinach until cooked. Add to blender and blend until smooth. Again, you can add a little breastmilk to the pureé if you desire. Serve cooled. 

Apple, Banana and Avocado Purée 

Add chopped apple, banana and avocado to a blender. Blend until smooth and serve. 

Bon Appétit!

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Best foods for breastfeeding

It’s important to follow a healthy diet to ensure you are living your best life, even more important when your choices feed your little one. On the blog today I thought I would share my top food choices as a breastfeeding mama. 

Avocado 

Safe to say I am pretty much addicted to avocado. I ate it almost everyday when pregnant with my baby boy, and I continue to love it. Avocados are a great option when breastfeeding as they are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins E, K and B6. 

Oats

Oats are a well known galactagogue - a form of food or herb that promotes breastmilk supply - which means they are a perfect choice for breastfeeding mothers. So enjoy your oats for breakfast mamas! 

Salmon

While some mamas choose not to consume meat or fish, as a pescatarian I personally love salmon. Salmon is rich in omega-3’s and makes a good source of protein for when you need that energy most. 

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a staple food in our household. As a busy Mum of two I often have little time to prepare lunch, so I will simply throw some ingredients together and pair with brown rice for a satisfying, high fibre meal.  

Chickpeas 

Chickpeas make a great edition to any meal - simply throw them in to a pasta or rice dish and you will be benefiting from the goodness of zinc, iron, high fibre and all that plant based protein.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are so yummy and filling. They are a good source of beta-carotene, vitamin B6 and fibre, so they make an excellent edition to any mamas diet. 

Spinach

Cooked spinach should form an essential part of your diet, whether you are breastfeeding or not! The benefits are just too good! Spinach is a good ‘ol original ‘superfood’ - it ticks off many vitamins and minerals in one neat green package - vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper and iron, just to name a few.

Oranges

Whether a breastfeeding mum can enjoy her oranges (or orange juice for that matter) really depends on the baby. Some babies, particularly those with reflux, can be sensitive to citrus, but some will tolerate it just fine. Oranges are well known to be one of the best sources of vitamin C, a good source of fibre, and they contain a range of other important vitamins and minerals, such as folate. 

Berries 

Again this depends on the baby, if you have a baby with reflux you probably want to steer clear of berries (such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries). Berries, however, are a great source of antioxidents and fibre - and they make a yummy edition to any breakfast! 

Water 

Although not a ‘food’, plenty of water is absolutely essential for breastfeeding. I tend to keep a bottle of water with me at all times, one in the car and a couple on my bedside table so that I remember to fill up. 

Disclaimer: I am by no means a doctor or dietician so please do not take my post as medical advice, the above is purely my personal thoughts on breastfeeding nutrition.

Thanks for reading! 

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The Fun and the Chaos of Two under Two

My daughter - my first born baby - recently turned two and my son - my second born baby - will soon be five months, I still can’t believe it! I’m not sure where that time went. It feels like I only had my daughter yesterday, and yet here I am as a Mum who has enjoyed the fun, the sweet moments and the chaos that comes with having two under two. 

It has been so sweet to watch my girl become a big sister - chatting away to her brother, giving him cuddles and adoring him since the day we came home from the hospital. And it’s just as sweet to see my baby boy smiling back at his sister, and now laughing with her and trying to babble back as he get’s older.  

Admittedly, the adjustment for me was tough at first (and it probably was for my first born too) particularly in those first few weeks. But, once we found our groove as a now family of four, we relished our new normal.

So, to those mammas (and dadas!) thinking about - or about to be in the trenches with - two under two, here are some of my learnings:

Prepare in advance 

This goes beyond preparing for your new baby’s arrival in the usual way - you know the drill...new baby clothes, setting up the crib and stocking up on those newborn nappies. Help your toddler to prepare in advance by talking to your toddler about the baby (you may think they cannot understand, especially if they do not have a large vocabulary, but believe me they do!). You can help to make this big change such a special and exciting time for them. Chat to your toddler about your ever expanding belly during the pregnancy, read books together about a new baby and even get your toddler some baby dolls and toy baby products so that they can play ‘mummy’ too!

Be Gentle On Yourself Postpartum

Mamma, take your time in the fourth trimester and enlist the help of your tribe to allow you, Dad, baby and toddler the time to bond. It’s important for you, and the journey you’ve just been through bringing baby into the world, to be gentle on yourself as you heal after the birth, as you bond with baby, and as you bond as a growing family. 

Toddlers Tend To Love Familiarity 

If your toddler has a routine (even if it’s quite loose), do your best to stick to that. Baby will easily adapt to your toddlers routine, not so much the other way around! By maintaining your toddlers routine as much as possible it will give them the familiarity they crave - which is especially important with this big change in their little life. At the end of the day, you know your babies best, and what will work best for them.

Quality One on One Time 

Carve out some one on one time to spend with your toddler. This is important for both Mum and Dad to achieve. Your toddler is used to being the centre of attention - and not in a bad way, that’s just what they are used to as there was only one of them! It fills everyone’s cup to have some real quality one on one time with each child in the family. Maybe Mum can have some one on one time playing toys with toddler while baby takes a morning nap, and Dad can have some one on one time when he gets home from work (or even early in the morning before work if your toddler is an early riser). On the weekend Mum can take toddler shopping while Dad is with baby, and then Dad can take toddler to the pool for a swim while Mum is with baby. 

Enjoy Time Together As A Family 

Enjoy plenty of family outings together - from a day at the museum, to a road trip getaway, to a simple afternoon at the park - it’s fun for everyone, it helps toddler and baby to bond, and you’ll create some great family memories along the way.

With a whole lot of love and a go-with-the-flow attitude it is possible to survive and thrive with two under two.

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The Fourth Trimester

My baby boy recently turned three months, and I have cherished this time in our fourth trimester, bonding and getting to know one another. 

The concept of the fourth trimester is no secret. It is a term used by medical professionals and parents alike, and entails the first three months after the birth of your baby. It is an important and almost sacred time to bond with baby, and to nurture your little miracle as they transition from the safety of the womb to the big wide world. 

During this time in particular, baby has a primal instinct to be close to mum. Skin on skin, especially for the first few weeks, is a good way to introduce baby safely to the world - he, or she, can hear the sounds and see the sights all while having the comfort of being close to mummy - and it also helps to build supply, helps mum and baby rest and recover from birth, and keeps mum and baby relaxed through the release of hormones.

As much as the fourth trimester is a time to rest, it is also always nice to venture out into the sunshine and to get some fresh air, even when baby is oh so little. When you are out and about baby will still want to be close to you too. A wrap or a carrier is perfect for this (and is also good for keeping germs at bay when your baby is oh so little!). I personally love going on outdoor adventures with my little ones, and enjoy keeping baby close using my ergo carrier (or you could simply use a homemade babywrap). My baby boy is always so comfortable in the carrier, and often falls asleep for the whole outing as he is soothed by my familiar scent, warmth, voice and presence. 

The fourth trimester is also a time for you to really get to know your baby - and get to know yourself as a mother. A time for you to learn your baby’s unique likes and dislikes - how do they like to be held, do they experience wind and need to be burped often or not, what type of carrier do they enjoy being in (if at all) - the list goes on,...and every baby will have different preferences, as well as every mother having different preferences too. There’s no right and wrong, it’s all down to you and your baby. 

Additionally, the fourth trimester is a time where the whole family can bond, especially in the first weeks home with baby - Dad and baby, and baby and sibling(s) too. It’s great for siblings to have some (supervised) time from the get go to get to know their new brother or sister. 

Lastly, and most importantly, the fourth trimester is about learning to trust your own instinct and experience the amazing role of being a mother. Remember to have confidence in yourself - you are your baby’s mother and no one knows baby better than you!  

Thanks for reading!  

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Homemade Ice Lollies

With the heatwave continuing in Melbourne, I thought I’d share a recipe for our favourite treat to help keep our toddler cool. 

Apple, Mango and Banana Ice Lolly Treat 

Simply blend 1 roughly chopped apple, 1 banana, 1 roughly chopped mango and half a cup of water. Place mixture into NUK ‘Fresh Freeze Pop’ Ice lolly molds. Leave overnight in freezer. To serve; firstly run mold under warm water, release lolly from mold and provide to toddler (tip: make sure you have a bib for them as it can get messy!).

These ice lollies can also be used for little baby once they are onto solids - or you can even freeze breast milk in the molds instead, to help ensure they are getting all those natural nutrients. As a bonus, these treats don’t only work well in the summer, but they are great all year ‘round for when baby is teething too.

Thanks for reading!  

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Newborn Must Haves

My baby boy is now three months old, and although I think in ‘official terms’ that now makes him no longer a ‘newborn’ *wipes tears* he will always be my baby. Time to share my newborn “must haves” - a selection of the items I found I personally couldn’t do without during the first three months. 

Rattle and Toys

My little one is at that stage where he loves to grip rattles so I keep one in the nappy bag and one near the change table to encourage this skill. He also loves the noise they make and enjoys turning his head toward the sound.

Bibs 

Let’s face it, the first three months and beyond are messy for a baby (and for a mummy!). My little one has minor reflux so a good bib is never far out of reach in this household. For us, My Little Love Heart Bibs are the bibs of choice. Australian made with bamboo fibers, these bibs are soft and gentle for my newborn’s sensitive skin and by buying Australian made you are supporting local trade - win win. 

Swaddles and Sleep Bags

Swaddle wraps and sleeping bags help baby to sleep and keep them warm safely. Swaddles also come in very handy as burp cloths, and could even be used as make shift change mats in a pinch too. Our favourite sleep bags are from ErgoCocoon, these are made from organic cotton with super easy access for those middle of the night nappy changes. They also allow you to transition to ‘arms free’ once your baby has grown to this stage, so their range of sleep bags can grow with your little one.

Our favourite swaddles are from Aden and Anais - they are made with bamboo fibers so they are beautifully soft and gentle on baby’s skin. As a bonus, this company was founded by an Aussie and they have many gorgeous designs available.

Wipes 

With my youngest having eczema, Water Wipes are the wipes of choice in our household. As the name suggests they are made using purely water with a dash of essential oil (grapefruit), so they can be used from birth. No nasties on sensitive skin is always a good thing. You can also make your own version of ‘water wipes’ - keep an eye on the blog for more on that later. 

Creams 

This mummy loves Moo Goo for her own beauty needs but we also use Moo Goo for baby too. My little one is at the stage where he has started to get cradle cap so Moo Goo Scalp Cream has been our cream of choice to help combat this. 

Nappies

As much as we would love to do cloth diapers all the time, I find it somewhat impractical when we are on the go and also with a busy toddler. We have recently tried Eco Original Nappies and we love them - good for the environment and for baby’s bot! 

Bouncer

When baby is a little older they love sitting in their bouncer! Bouncers are a great way for baby to look out at their surroundings, chat to mummy while she finishes her breakfast and/or just have some fun between feeds and nap time! Our favourite bouncer is from BabyBjorn - and my tip would be to pick one in a neutral colour so you can use it for any brothers or sisters that may come along or you can lend to friends/a family member once baby has outgrown it.

Books for Baby

It’s never to early to start reading to baby. Reading to your baby helps immensely with language acquisition  and can also help with motor skills too - especially if you choose soft books with textures that baby can explore!

Baby Bath Products

Bathtime is a great opportunity to bond with your baby, for both mums and dads. You can chat to your baby, sing him/her songs and help them splash a little while you bathe them. We love the Skip Hop Moby Smart Sling Bath. We used it for our daughter when she was a baby, and now use it for our son. This bath gently cradles your baby and has two different ergonomic positions - so you can use it from newborn right up until 3/4 months (or possibly older if you have a small babe).

Baby Carrier

I’ve always loved using baby carriers. Look at countries around the word and how they nurture their babies - they keep them close and often use baby carriers when on the move. We use the ErgoBaby Performance Baby Carrier as we find it is great in all weather conditions and will withstand exercise and hikes with baby.

First Aid Products

One of the most used products for our newborn (and one that will no doubt be used time and time again throughout their childhoods) is our Cherubbaby Thermometer. Being able to take your newborn or childs’ temperature efficiently and easily helps you to monitor the overall health status of your child. This thermometer is the only one I would recommend to my friends and family - it is simple to use, gives temperature alerts, delivers readings fast and is hospital grade.

First Aid Training is also of upmost importance for any new parent, grandparent or carer. We completed a course with Tiny Hearts First Aid with our family when we were pregnant with our baby girl a few years ago, and we will also be attending a refresher course very soon. Tiny Hearts First Aid offer free training across Victoria, Australia, they stock child first aid kits in their online store and have some great online fact sheets and training resources - such as this video on YouTube.

What are your ‘must have’ newborn items? 

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What’s In My Nappy Bag - Part Two

With two little ones to call my own (the eldest still in nappies, being almost two), I thought I’d share what’s in my nappy bag for two bubbas.

The Bag

First things first, a good quality nappy bag is a must. I knew I needed a bag that was durable enough to be plonked down in the tanbark at a playground, or thrown into the car at a moments notice. This time around I also wanted something functional and it was important to me that it still be stylish enough to double as my own bag - something that wasn’t your obvious logo embossed nappy bag. Being budget conscious I also didn’t want to spend a fortune, but wanted something that would last. With all that in mind, I opted for the Witchery ‘Harry Nylon’ tote and it has been fantastic.

Functionality

As a busy Mum of two, I need to be able to access certain items quickly - especially when I am out and about. This is where bag inserts came in handy. I use these from Target as they are water proof (not very sustainable, but very inexpensive and practical!), or you can purchase more of an insert style such as this one from amazon.

All The Essentials

I always keep my nappy bag pre stocked and ready to go, as you’ll never know when you will have to head out. I simply fill one of my bag inserts with snacks and a couple of medicinal needs (such as panodol and teething gel) and the other with all the nappy change essentials (think spare nappies, wipes, nappy disposal bags, nappy rash cream, disposable gloves for change time, change mats and hand sanitizer).

Speaking of essentials here are a few other items we always carry with us:

Small Toys

It is a good option to throw a few small toys in to keep the little ones amused when out and about. If you have a teething baby a good teething toy is a must.

Bibs

Our all time fave bibs are from My Little Love Heart Bibs. These are handmade bamboo bibs, made in Australia.

The bibs are amazing and are the only kind I like using on my babies. Our eldest had quite bad eczema, particularly from the age of three to six months, and these were some of the only bibs that didn’t flare up her super sensitive skin. She still experiences tiny flair ups of eczema now and then, especially in the heat or if someone with strong fragrance cuddles her. I am praying that our youngest does not have to go through the pain and discomfort of eczema but time will tell.

I continue to use these bibs all the time, especially for my youngest who is just three months as he is still at that posseting stage - and in a few months time he will be starting solids too.

Change of Clothes

This is vital! All mums live in fear of a ill-timed nappy mishap so it is essential to carry a change of outfit for your little ones. We pack a whole outfit for our youngest and a change of pants for our eldest. You never know when they will be needed!

Thanks for reading!