Your questions answered with #SMAnutrition

You may have read my post a few weeks ago in which I shared some information from SMA nutrition about the importance of getting the right nutrition for your baby in their first 1,000 days – from conception to two years old. It’s especially important that your baby gets the right amount of protein – their protein needs decrease as they grow – as this can help to ensure that they grow at a steady rate.

We are now well into our first few weeks of weaning with Gabe and he’s really enjoying trying lots of different foods – even though he’s not actually managing to eat very much yet! I know though that he is still getting all the nutrition he needs from his milk at the moment. There’s a saying that ‘food is for fun until they’re one’ – for now weaning is all about trying new tastes and textures and just getting used to the mechanics of eating. I’m trying to make sure that Gabe gets plenty of chance to try different things and I’m sure it won’t be long until he really gets the hang of it!

Baby corn

In my last post I asked if you had any questions for medic and weekly health columnist Dr Ellie Cannon and below you can find the answers to some of the questions that were asked by some of the other bloggers who wrote about the first 1,000 days too…

I am 5 months pregnant and would love some must have information of how to make sure my baby gets the best start in life.

From the moment of conception, your baby starts growing fast. At this first stage of your 1,000-day journey, make sure your pregnancy diet provides the energy and nutrients you need, by eating a variety of different foods every day, including plenty of protein, dairy products, oily fish, fruit and vegetables. This all helps your baby to get the best start. For the first 6 months of your baby’s life, breast milk is the only food they need. The nutrients and protein in milk your baby drinks are the foundation for their cells, muscles, bones and brain as they develop and grow. At around 6 months you’ll start introducing complementary foods to provide additional nutrients. At this stage, your little one needs the right amount of protein and nutrients to maintain a steady growth and good health.

Have you any tips on how I can factor in bottles of expressed milk too? Do I need to stick to my pregnancy diet during breastfeeding months (no soft cheese etc.)?

Bottles of expressed milk are a popular choice for mums who are breastfeeding. It is also good to have the convenience of both bottle and breastfeeding, for those unexpected mummy absences! A nice time to give a bottle of expressed milk is a dream feed, (dream feed is a calm, quiet feed around 10.30/11pm. It is called the dream feed as your baby is usually fast asleep and will probably take the feed with her eyes closed), or an evening when dad is at home to join in. Once you have banked up enough breast milk, you could make that a part of your regular routine.

When you are breastfeeding, your diet is really important for nourishing yourself and your little one. A healthy diet includes eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day, starchy foods, plenty of fibre, protein, dairy foods and drinking plenty of fluids.  Eating fish while breastfeeding is good for your health and your baby’s, but while you’re breastfeeding you should have no more than two portions of oily fish a week. Also, caffeine can reach your baby through your breast milk and may keep them awake. It’s advised that pregnant and breastfeeding women restrict their caffeine intake to less than 300mg a day (just over two mugs of filter coffee).  While breastfeeding, it’s recommended you take supplements containing 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D each day. You can get all the other vitamins and minerals you need by eating a varied and balanced diet.

My question would be: if mothers do not breastfeed their child does formula contain the same amount of protein as breast milk? Breast milk protein is unique and adapts to your baby’s growth and relative requirements, this means the level of protein can increase or decrease based on the baby’s needs, unlike in baby formula where the level will stay the same.

Feeding your baby, from the early newborn days until they are toddlers telling you what they do and don’t like (and beyond) can seem like such a minefield sometimes but I think as long as you follow your instincts and make sure your child is eating a healthy, balanced diet then you can’t go too far wrong. And if there is anything you aren’t sure about then there is plenty of help and information available from your health visitor and on line in places like the SMA nutrition website.

*This post is in association with SMA nutrition

The first 1,000 days // The importance of the right nutrition from conception to two years old

Did you know that the first 1,000 days of your child’s life, from conception to two years old, are some of the most significant in terms of their growth and development? Making sure that your baby or toddler is getting the right nutrition is something we have all worried about. I know I have! SMA Nutrition has teamed up with medic and weekly health columnist Dr Ellie Cannon to help parents further understand how important the protein levels and nutrition for your baby is during this time.

If your pregnancy is planned then the chances are that from the moment you conceive you will start thinking about what you are eating (or more likely what you can’t eat – no more runny egg yolks!) and how that might be affecting your growing baby. I took pregnancy vitamins and folic acid, and tried to make sure I ate well during both my pregnancies – although there were probably rather more biscuits in my diet than is strictly healthy!

The first 1000 days

And then once your baby has arrived, feeding them becomes one of the most important (and sometimes stressful) things in your life. I think most of us probably know that breastmilk is the best thing for our babies. It contains just the right amount of protein along with all the micronutrients that your baby needs to avoid any deficiencies in early life. What is unique about breastmilk is that the protein level changes as your baby grows. It always provides the right quality and quantity of protein to ensure your baby grows at a steady and appropriate rate, which can actually help to stop them becoming overweight later in life. You can read more about the protein in milk and its importance on the SMA nutrition website.

Knowing all of that, I really wanted to breastfeed both my babies. As a lot of you mamas know though, breastfeeding isn’t always easy. I really struggled with Toby due to a combination of things, and you can read all about our breastfeeding experience here. I was proud that I at least managed to partly breastfeed for six weeks, but in the end, particularly with Toby’s reflux, it turned out that bottle feeding was the best option for us.

The first feed

With Gabe, breastfeeding was more successful, and I breastfed him for 10 weeks. Unfortunately, due to a combination of circumstances, including reflux again, we have ended up bottle feeding Gabe too. Although I know that exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months would have provided both my boys with the best possible nutrition, like a lot of women it just didn’t happen for us and I’m happy that formula exists and can provide my boys with the nutrition that they need.

Of course, after the first six months you’ve then got weaning to think about! We’ve just started weaning with Gabe and he seems to be enjoying his first solid food. I can’t believe he’s six months already though, the time has absolutely flown by!

We’re planning on following the same route we did with Toby, which was a mixture of finger foods and spoon feeding. That was mostly because I couldn’t cope with the extreme mess of pure baby-led weaning! We never gave Toby any purées though, he just had a little bit of what we were having, which made sure he was getting all the different food groups.

Messy weaning
From weaning until he was nearly two Toby was a fantastic eater and would eat anything we put in front of him. As a toddler he has become more fussy, but I think that is as much about asserting his independence as anything else! I think his fussiness definitely increased when he started talking and could tell us ‘Toby doesn’t like it,’ which we hear quite regularly! On the whole though he still has a fairly varied and balanced diet, it’s just very frustrating for me when something that he loves one day is completely rejected the next! I hope Gabe doesn’t pick up on his brother’s picky eating habits. Even though we are already past the first 1,000 days of Toby’s life I know how important it is to keep providing him with appropriate nutrition as it is so vital for his healthy growth and development.

Toddler tea

There is an awful lot of information out there about baby and toddler nutrition but I know sometimes it’s hard to find out what you really want to know. Everyone seems to have different advice, and this is one area where speaking to friends and relatives doesn’t always get you appropriate information, as the guidelines and recommendations have changed quite a lot over the last few decades. When I was a baby I was started on solids at just 10 weeks old. That’s completely unimaginable now but was the norm at the time!

If you have a question, something you would like to know about protein and nutrition during pregnancy or in the first two years of your child’s life, then leave me a comment below. Some of these questions will be answered by Dr Ellie Cannon and I’ll be publishing the answers in another post in a few weeks time.

Update: You can read the Q & A with Dr Ellie Cannon here.

The first 1000 days pin

*This post is in association with SMA nutrition