Tag Archives: food


When you are pregnant for the first time, you go through the biggest life changes you’ll probably ever experience.  One of those is the way your body changes.  Whether your dress size alters or not, I think most will agree, especially if you have your first baby when you are 30 years+ and you go on to have more than one child, the impact will change certain parts of your body forever.

For some women this can be stressful.  However, with the right preparation and knowledge, you can minimise many of these affects and feel great about yourself.

Everyone talks about how important it is to make sure you eat the right things to give your growing foetus all the nutrition he needs, at his different stages of development.  I couldn’t agree more.  It is vital that you eat plenty of food full of vitamins and minerals, with the right sort of natural fats and sugars.  See footnote 1 in STEP EIGHT[1].  However, in my opinion, more emphasis should be on how important it is to look after yourself.

For some reason in our society, when it comes to women who are pregnant they can do no wrong (especially when it comes to eating the wrong foods or lack of exercise).  As long as baby is getting goodness in some form, it doesn’t seem to matter how much you eat or how little exercise you do.  All is forgiven because you are carrying a baby.  I’m here to say, not only does a very healthy way of life benefit your baby, but it also benefits you and can considerably reduce your recovery time after the birth.



Aerobic exercise is extremely important during pregnancy.  Not only do you feel good, but you pump lots more oxygen through your body and into your baby via the umbilical cord.  Oxygen is key for brain growth, and a flow of oxygen is an extremely positive thing for brain development.  As baby grows and the bump gets larger women tend to do less exercise.  It is so important that you try to walk around as much as possible and keep yourself physically motivated. Maintain a good level of fitness and agility, and it will be much easier to physically ‘get back’ when you have had your baby.

Many people take up pregnancy yoga.  I loved it and my wonderful teacher, Lolly Stirk was key to my preparation.  Yogic breathing got me through labour, and I really enjoyed being flexible.

However, after the birth of my first son because I was too flexible and I suffered from dislocations, I couldn’t do yoga any more.  By the ninth month of my second pregnancy, I was wearing a girdle to stop my hips dislocating.  Not very pleasant.  For anyone who does not suffer in this way, yoga is fantastic and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  What is important to remember is that your pregnant body may not benefit from your pre-pregnancy fitness regime in the same way, and seeking advice as to what is best for you can really help.

Be careful not to take too much advise from your neighbour, either.  She may look amazing and still be rigorously exercising every day, but what is ideal for her may not be for you!  Some women love running, for example, and run for months into their pregnancy.  Others (myself included) couldn’t run after I was 3 months gone.  We’re all different and you must listen to your body.

You might find it useful to find someone who can tailor a health and exercise programme to your needs.  Someone who has experience with pregnant women and has knowledge in many areas of exercise and general well-being.  After my second pregnancy I discovered CO Fitness[2] – I wish I had discovered them before!  It’s about finding someone who listens to you and helps achieve your goals, no matter how big or small.



When you are pregnant, you are your growing baby’s entire source of nutrition.  Anything you put into your mouth or breath through your nose, or put on your skin (your skin being the body’s largest organ) will filter through to your baby.  All the blood in your body goes through the placenta every 20 minutes.  So anything in your blood, affects your foetus, quickly.  Also, baby is constantly growing, which is why he needs a constant source of food.  However, it is a fallacy that you need to ‘eat for two’.  Your baby does not need a higher volume of food.  He needs a higher volume of nutrition.  Most people find themselves hungry more often, rather than needing to eat larger portions.  The foetus pushing all your organs up into your rib cage, squashing your stomach, so that it’s capacity is less.  If you get into the habit of larger meals, of course, your stomach will do its best to  accommodate, but don’t kid yourself that it is all for the baby!

Something you commonly hear at girls’ lunch parties when pudding is offered, is “Go on, you’re eating for two!”  That chocolate gateau looks very tempting and tastes absolutely delicious, but do you think all that refined sugar is filling your baby with rich nutrition?  Well, you can think whatever you like, but I’m here to tell you that the biggest thing it is doing is adding inches to your thighs which you’ll have to work really hard to get rid of afterwards.  Now, you may not care a hoot about your waste line, and good for you.  I envy you!  If you are like me and just don’t feel that great about yourself if you go up a dress size, then I would advise you to really take care with your calorie intake.

Self-identity and self-esteem are two things which can take a massive hit after a couple of months of having your baby.  I have spoken about this in previous blogs[3], so I won’t repeat here.  However, I feel passionately about telling women how difficult it can be to lose weight after you have given birth and it’s much easier to try to resist the chocolate or puddings while you are pregnant.

People will tell you, “Don’t worry, it’ll drop off when you’re breast-feeding.”  Well, I don’t anyone who lost weight while breast-feeding.  It’s when most women are absolutely starving all the time and nothing accept stodgy, sugar rich food seems to do the trick.  I put on a stone while breast-feeding both of my boys, having hardly put on anything during pregnancy.  I’m someone who listens to my body.  I knew during pregnancy my baby wanted loads of fresh fruit, vegetables, fresh fish and meat, and loads of healthy carbs, like rice.  The puddings just sat like a lump in my stomach, didn’t give me anything but very short-term energy, and made me feel sleepy and sluggish fifteen minutes later.  I thought, if they are making me feel like this, they can’t be great for my baby either.  Once I was breast-feeding however, the amount of calories I was burning up producing milk, meant I couldn’t get enough sugar.  I spent a fortune on ‘healthy’ sweet things, but still, you can’t get away with cake every day at my age, without feeling it on your hips!  I had starters at every meal and snacks in between as well.  Within 24 hours of my milk drying up, however, my appetite halved, just like that.  I stopped eating as much, cut out a lot of the sugar, and as I had a bit more freedom from baby because he wasn’t tied to the boob any more, I was able to resume my daily two hour walks with the dog.  The combination of which meant over the next four months, the weight slowly dropped off.

All of this, of course, takes a certain amount of control.  And sometimes that can be really hard, especially if you are very tired due to disturbed sleep.  Again, this is why I highly recommend seeking advice from someone who can put you on the right track and support you, just for a few weeks, until you start feeling great again.


Physical Recovery.

When it comes to how you are affected physically, everyone is different and it is totally unpredictable.  There are many little side affects, too many to mention here, but if you are reading this with stories about any experiences that you would like to share, please do, to help other mums out there.  Here are a few of the big ones:

– Stretch marks, weirdly, seem to be hereditary, so if your mum or sister got them, take extra special care.  There are some amazing products on the market and I’d stick to natural oils.  If you want to go for something other than normal virgin olive oil (which I used throughout both my pregnancies – the good quality stuff you’d put on your salads), then try Bio Care[4].  It has PurCellin Oil in it and I think it’s wonderful.  You can’t moisturise enough in my opinion, although some people don’t like using it at night because apparently it blocks your pores.  It’s a personal choice which I’ll leave to you.  Whatever you do, though, don’t leave it until you can see massive stretch marks.  Keep yourself really moisturised during pregnancy.  The older you are the more important this is, due to a reduction in the elasticity in the skin, particularly around the belly and top of the legs.

– Scar tissue is another thing that can be quite prominent if you have a caesarean-section.  I have friends who have had all their children by caesarean and have bad scar tissue which can be very uncomfortable.  I have no personal experience here, but there are many testimonials on line and ask friends and practitioners for advice if you are planning a caesarean or if you have just had one.

– Down below is obviously extremely stretched.  I highly recommend perineum massage as a preparation.  It’s a natural way to give the vagina more ability to stretch without tearing, so there is likely to be less damage and of course less discomfort.  After birth, do not underestimate how important your pelvic floor muscle exercises are.  The best tip someone gave me, was to do them whenever I thought about them, whether I was standing in a queue at the bank, driving somewhere, or watching TV.  You don’t need to set aside a special 5 minutes every day.  If you don’t do them, you might be surprised at what happens the next time you go on a trampoline!  And it definitely benefits your sex life!

So, in summary, look after yourself!  Once you are a mum, or even as early as when you are pregnant, you might become extremely selfless, which happens a lot.  Of course this is Nature’s way, but if you don’t feel good about yourself it’s hard to feel utterly content inside.  The happier and healthier you are and feel, the happier your family will be.

The focus in all my blogs is mental preparation, because people don’t talk about it. Even though physical preparation is as equally important, I wish there was more of a balance.  I believe there is too much emphasis on the physical side, especially with the first baby.  In fact, if women prepared as much mentally as many do physically, they would be a lot better off!

Saying that, to prepare for the physical ordeal, which will probably be the biggest of your body’s life, cannot be underestimated.  For example, I swear by Pregnancy Yoga.  Even though the practice hardly got a look-in second time round, yogic breathing helped me successfully get through both my labours, drug-free.

Women do all sorts of things to prepare physically, but how much to they think about how pregnancy and birth is going to physically affect them?  Once people know you are pregnant, for example, they always encourage you to eat more, “Go on, have some more cake, you are eating for two!”  Eating and how it will affect you (people only seem to talk about how it is going to affect your baby), is one thing that I wish was discussed more.

First of all, you do not need to ‘eat for two’.  It is a fallacy that you need to double your food intake when you are pregnant.  Change your diet so it more healthy and toxin free, yes; increase certain foods high in particular vitamins and mineral relative to the development of your baby, yes[1]; increase your healthy carbohydrate intake, yes; eat little and often, yes[2]; but increase the volume, no!  Think about how nutritionally valuable every bite is.  If it’s not good for you, it won’t be good for the baby either.  However, its negative calorific affect will be particularly bad for you.

The stress women encounter when they put on a lot of weight during pregnancy and then can’t get rid of it, is real and heavy.  People try to make you feel better and say, “Don’t worry it’ll fall off when you breast feed”.  I don’t know who this happens for, but it certainly didn’t happen for me.  I put on weight when I breast fed, both times.

At the same time, pregnancy does create cravings and awful nausea, which can often only be stopped by eating.  And as we know, when you need to eat, you really need to eat!  Often the snacks available when these pangs hit are not the healthiest, and I also know how nothing deals with hunger better than a good old bit of stodge!

So what is a girl to do?  First of all, decide if this is a problem for you or not.  It may not be.  Then look at your diet and how healthy it is.  Whether you care about the extra pounds or not, your baby’s development relies on what you put in your mouth.  If you decide that your diet is not as healthy as it could be and that you are someone who cares about those extra wobbly bits, here are a few suggestions:

  • Try cutting out as much refined sugar as you can.  It has only one benefit: a short energy spurt.  You are then left with an energy dip and the calories on your hips!  Sometimes, a piece of chocolate is the only fix, and little and often is fine, but after every meal, or as your regular snack throughout the day, is not.  If it is chocolate that you need, then try the 70% cocoa ones instead of a Cadbury’s bar.  Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, even though it has caffeine in it, has anti-oxidants in it too and is a relatively healthy alternative.
  • Try and cut out the really fatty foods.  All processed and ready-prepared foods are a no-no.  Convenience foods are the worst – apart from a piece of fruit!  Buy healthy snacks and always have them in your bag.  You know what works for you: healthy crackers, vegetable sticks, fruit or health food bars.
  • If you are one of these people who is good at controlling what you eat, one thing which is worth trying is a wheat free diet.  What, no bread or pasta?!  No cakes or buns?!  If you think of most of the naughty things you eat, nearly all of them contain wheat.  These days, as long as you are not egg intolerant, there are many, much more healthy alternatives for nearly everything naughty and sweet.  They use natural ingredients as sweeteners, and rice or quinoa, or some other substitute, instead of wheat.  They are a bit more expensive but taste much nicer and are much better for you, full of nuts and natural ingredients which taste nice and are really good for your growing baby.  Some people believe that if you are on a wheat free diet while you are pregnant, your baby is likely to be smaller.  I have no idea how they can prove this accurately, and whether this is a good thing, but it may have been a contributing factor as to why I had small babies (6lb 2oz and 6lb 7oz).  I am a bit sceptical.  I have had a wheat intolerance for years and so my wheat free diet had nothing to do with being pregnant.  In fact, I probably waivered a bit more while being pregnant, because every now and again, I just ‘fancied’ something!  All I know is that a small baby means a small head, which is definitely beneficial during childbirth!

You may be one of those people who just loves to eat and does not care about the odd extra pound.  The point is, as long as you are giving your baby all the nutrients he needs, if you put on weight as well, that’s your choice.

The message I’m trying to get across is that it may not be as easy as everyone would have you believe to loose the weight.  It usually takes a year before you feel anything close to your previous self.  If you ever get completely back.  What do you mean ‘if’ you ever get back.  Well, pregnancy brings all kinds of delights which people don’t like to talk about, in the form of stretch marks and excess skin around your stomach, not to mention the drooping boobs after feeding stops.  I encourage any mothers reading this who have stories, to please share them.  It’s so important women know what to expect.  With all the hormonal rubbish going on, we don’t need any other nasty surprises!

There is no doubt that the more weight you put on during pregnancy, especially if you are a slightly older first time mum, the more of an impact it will have on you physically.  Nature intended for us to start pro-creating when we reached puberty.  Nowadays we are leaving it so late that many new mothers are closer to menopause.  We all feel the affects of age once we hit our 30s and so to ask our bodies to perform it’s most arduous and staining of tasks at this age or older, is a big deal, not to be underestimated.  Also remember that our skin is not as elastic, and with age come other health complications.  So if you are an older mum-to-be, take all of this into consideration, look after yourself more than ever and give yourself a break when you need it.  There is nothing the body can’t do, as long as you look after it and don’t take it for granted.  I love being an older mum.  I’m nearly 40 and so I am not searching for my own journey like I was 10 years ago.  Instead, I can give myself much more to my children and I feel I have a lot more I can teach and show them.  There are definite pluses for having kids later on, as long as we look after ourselves physically, and keeping our weight down will really help with that.

[1] I took Zita West pregnancy supplements throughout my pregnancy, because they change each trimester, relative to the development of your baby.  Also, make sure you have plenty of Omega 3 Supplements, rich in DHA which is vital for brain development.  Zita West do a very good one, specific for pregnancy.

[2] Think about the fact that your baby is growing continuously, and so to eat little and often is the best way forward if you can.  When I was pregnant I was told to aim for 6 small, nutritious daily snacks and light meals.

Even though the focus of my writing is usually preparation for mums before they have a baby or when baby is very young, having written about feeding (in my previous blog) I thought I could not pass-by expressing, weaning and all the questions which surround using formula milk.  They are topics which habour many questions and concerns.  There are a million official guidelines but I found those could be as confusing as helpful, because, as we know, every baby is different.

  • The more you rest, the better your milk.

With my first I didn’t listen to advise and hardly rested.  Consequently, I ran out of milk by the end of the day when he was around three months old, and so had no option but to supplement with formula.  With baby number two, I decided that I would rest more, thus not burning so many calories doing other things, and the result was much better milk which lasted much longer.  Apparently in India, many women are not allowed to do anything for the first three months of the baby’s life apart from look after their baby.  We might think this is extreme but there is a good reason for it.  The more you rest at the beginning, the better.  Please try and sleep when baby sleeps, and rest a lot, it will really help you produce a lot of good quality milk.

  • When can I start expressing milk?

I don’t think it’s ever too early to express milk.  If you have commitments which mean you have to be away from your baby during the day, or if you have a maternity nurse or willing relative to do a night feed for you, expressing milk for someone else to give, is wonderful.  Some people find it more exhausting or harder than others and I welcome people to share their experiences here to help other readers.  It’s one of those things that you’ll ‘get on with’ or not.  It can be time consuming so I would recommend the double electronic pump, and you can buy one which straps to your body so you can use your computer while you express!

Expressing certainly gives you some freedom and for Daddy to be able to give a feed can be a lovely bonding thing between him and baby.  Dad’s don’t always anticipate how isolating the first few weeks, or months, can be for him, because baby is so attached to Mum, and he’s no longer no.1 in her eyes!  If he is able to get in on this feeding action, it can be wonderfully rewarding for everyone.  And mums, don’t underestimate how the night feeds can take their toll, night after night, week after week.  Sleep is invaluable and so if your partner is willing to do a night feed, don’t hesitate to take them up on the offer!

  • Introduce a bottle early.

The good thing with expressing is that you introduce a bottle.  Most babies will accept bottles willingly if given early enough.  There are exceptions to this of course, and I know a few people who had to try five different types of bottle or more before baby would accept one.  However, this usually only happens if you introduce a bottle a little later.  If you leave it until baby knows what he likes (about 4 months) he might like the breast so much that he refuses to drink from a bottle.  I had this trouble with my second.  I expressed milk before he was 3 months old, and fed from a bottle without any problem.  I didn’t express regularly, however, and so when I tried again, when he was about 4 and a half months old, he wouldn’t have it.  It took weeks, trying every day, until eventually he took the bottle willingly.  Spare yourself this agony!  If you do have a bit of trouble, try feeding from a bottle when you know he’s really hungry.  Babies have a very strong sense of survival and if they are hungry enough, eventually they will feed.  The older they are, the more stubborn they may be.

  • How early can I introduce water?

You can give your baby water as early as you want.  Remember, some babies are formula fed from day one, and formula is mixed with water.  It should be cooled boiled water for at least 6 months.  When baby starts putting sand and dirt in his mouth every time he goes to the playground, you may think that sterilising water is a bit of a waste of time, but it’s your call.  Some people always use boiled water for their baby to drink.

  • Do I need to sterilise bottles?

Until your baby is at least 6 months old, yes, you do need to sterilise bottles and you must always wash them very thoroughly.  I wash mine separately, using boiling water, washing up liquid and a special bottlebrush.  Do you need a massive sterilising machine?  No you don’t.  They are easy to use and you can sterilise lots of bottles at the same time, but they range from £10 to about £60 and take up a lot of space.  I was given one for my first baby, which I used until we travelled abroad.  I wasn’t going to get that in my suitcase!  So I looked on line for mini-sterilising machines, specifically for travel, which I realised were simply boiling water around your bottle.  From that moment on, abroad or at home, I used the kettle!

My sterilising method:

Having thoroughly washed your bottle with a special bottlebrush and washing up liquid, pour boiling hot water into the bottle until the bottle is full.  I pour water over the teet, as it flows into the bottle, for extra sterilization of the teet, but be careful not to burn your fingers!  Sit the teet upside down in the boiling water, in the top of the bottle (so that water over-flows slightly) and pour boiling water into the up-turned teet until it is full.  Let it stand for a couple of minutes.  It takes a couple of minutes and the bottle is ready for use in less than five.

We travelled around the world twice with our first baby, using this method and it worked perfectly.  Beware of ‘The Industry’ when it comes to all the equipment that you ‘need’.  It is a topic I will cover in a future blog, but I wanted to mention it here, because so much of what you are sold just ends up taking up acres of space in your house, hardly used.  I know a lot of people adore their sterilisers and if you have lots of room, then it might be the way forward for you.  I, on the other hand, was happy to get rid of another appliance and get the space back on my kitchen surface!

  • Am I failing if I introduce formula?

No!  If you are able to breastfeed and do so exclusively for many months, you can feel a bit guilty when you introduce formula.  You shouldn’t!  I remember the deliberations I went through with my first son.  It made me mad that I couldn’t provide enough for him, but I knew he was hungry around 3 months old, and my breast milk just wasn’t cutting it.  As soon as I saw his little satisfied face, when I gave him that first bottle of formula milk, I kicked myself for not introducing it earlier.

We beat ourselves up because we want to provide the best, and everyone always says, ‘breast is best’, but formula is full of vitamins and minerals.  It provides what growing babies and toddlers need in their every-day diet.  They do not get the benefit of your immune system, but they get the consistency of the other ingredients which may be lacking in breast milk if your diet deteriorates.  Formula fed babies have thrived for decades, from birth, and if you feed yours formula, so will yours.

  • How early can I introduce formula milk?

Some women who find breastfeeding difficult, or if their milk does not come in, feed their babies formula from birth.  If you are lucky enough to breastfeed but want to introduce formula, it’s when the time is right for you.  I wanted to breastfeed for a year with my second child, but I am hyper mobile which means my joints dislocate easily and while I was still lactating, my body would not tighten back up and I was in a lot of pain.  A combination of this and the sleeping issues which developed, meant that I introduced formula when he was 6 months old, expressing and feeding breast milk less and less until he was 8 months old, by which time dropping the breast milk was not an issue.

There is no right answer for this.  They do not have a fully developed immune system of their own until they are about one year old, and so some people like to give at least one feed a day until then, if they can.  The general recommendation is to keep him on the breast until baby starts weaning and is on three meals a day with protein, which happens by about 6 months (or for some, a lot earlier).  There are a million reasons why this may be difficult for you, however, and do not feel guilty if you stop before then.

  • Choosing the right formula milk.

When trying to choose a formula, it’s a bit of a minefield.  They are all so similar!  I have used Aptamil for both of my boys and continue to be very happy with it, but you must find the one which suits you and your baby.

The standard brands are all powdered cows’ milk, full of vitamins and minerals essential for baby’s growth.  The comforting this about this, is when they have an off day and don’t eat much, you know they are getting added nutrition from the formula which they would not be getting from normal cow’s milk.  There are organic brands out there, which are more expensive but I’m sure just as good, if not better.  Over three years ago, when I was looking for a formula, they hadn’t had as much scrutiny as the bigger brands and I wanted to go with something more tried and tested.  Now it may well be very different, but you’ll have to do some investigating!  If you do not want to feed cows’ milk formulas because of their high lactose content, or for any other reason, there are soya and goats’ milk alternatives.  I have used both:

  • Soya & Goats’ Milk Formulas.

My first son developed an allergy against lactose when he was about 15 months old.  I took him off cows’ milk formula and replaced with soya formula for several months, which solved the problem.  However, soya based formulas are not recommended for extended periods of time[1].  For my second baby, I was more aware of the high level of lactose in cows’ milk, which the formulas contain but which is not in breast milk.  Goats’ milk is a low lactose alternative, which is better for babies, but many of them do not like the stronger taste.  Aware of the high lactose content in normal formula, for my second baby, I fed half Aptamil (cows’ milk formula) and half Nanny care[2] (goats’ milk formula).  The half and half mix has been very successful.  The goats’ milk formula also has all the added vitamins and minerals.  It’s another option worth considering.

  • My baby is still hungry at night!

If baby is waking more often than you’d like in the night for a feed and you are feeding milk from a bottle, it’s easy to add baby rice to their last bottle before bed, or add a couple of scoops of formula to thicken it up.  Some people don’t agree with this, but I did it for both my babies and I think it gave them (or should I say, me!) at least another hour of sleep.  Again, every baby is different and it’s trial and error.

If you are still exclusively breastfeeding, another option to help him sleep longer at night is to introduce formula milk as his last feed before bed.  It is a lot thicker than breast milk and will fill them up for longer.  I remember the first time both of mine had formula milk.  I had never seen them look so deliriously content.  They looked utterly full for the first time!

Many mothers are happy to wake for a feed in the night for months or even years.  You have to work out what works for you.  If having uninterrupted sleep is the most important thing, you can ‘train’ your baby to sleep through the night without a feed.  How?  Well, you do not give it to him when he wakes for it, and after a few nights he should stop crying out.  It does mean going through a few very painful and rather stressful nights, though, so stock up on sleep and get in the reinforcements in preparation!  Some people do not want to let their babies cry and would rather be disturbed.  I have done both with my second child.  To get through severe sleep deprivation I hired a fantastic night nanny[3] who helped ‘train’ him to sleep through the night when he was 6 months old.  However, when your child has a cold or is teething (which is a lot in the first year!), you have to comfort them.  So after the nanny had left and my baby was sick, I would comfort him in the night when he couldn’t sleep.  He would then get used to the comfort again, and expect it when he was recovered, just like before the training started!  For him to not wake for a bottle, I would have had to have gone through the ‘training’ all over again.  I couldn’t do it.  He still wakes in the night for a bottle, although now that he is a couple of days away from being one, he is starting to help himself, and that’ll happen more and more as the weeks go by.  If you do sleep training early enough, baby should just go back to sleeping through the night once his sickness or teething has passed, that wasn’t the case for me, I did the ‘training’ too late.  It doesn’t bother me because he still sleeps in my bed, and if he disturbs me it’s usually for less than a minute or two, and then I’m asleep again.  If your baby is in his own cot and you have to get up, or you find it difficult to get back to sleep again, however, then that’s not so much fun.  Some people find leaving a bottle in the cot, for him to find during the night, works.  Obviously they need to be several months old to be able to do this and some babies are happier to do it than others.  Whatever you decide, make sure you are not getting exhausted.  If baby is waking you so that you are always tired, you must find a solution – fast.  You must look after yourself because if you are over tired, you won’t have the patience to deal with baby day-in day-out, which ends up affecting baby as much as you.  Don’t feel guilty.  A little pain for a few nights, in the long run, might be better for you both, if exhaustion is the only alternative.

  • So, how to do you know when to wean?

Listen to baby.  Women worry about when to introduce food.  They needn’t.  The moment he’s ready, he’ll tell you that he’s hungry and ready for something more substantial.  It could happen over night.  One day he feeds as normal, the next he’s crying for food every few hours.  It was like that for me with both my boys.  You can’t help but notice, because he’ll be waking in the night more regularly too!

  • What to feed as their first food.

Most people introduce baby rice (the unflavoured ones taste like cardboard!).  The good thing about baby rice is that it fills them up.  It’s an easy carbohydrate to add to other fruit and vegetables purees, and later protein.  Be aware that early introduction of fruit is likely to give your baby a sweet tooth, however.  Both of my boys do!  If you want to avoid this, keep away from too much fruit as their first tastes, especially the pureed and dried fruit.  You’ll find most babies love it, though!  Later you’ll introduce snacks such as crisps[4], rice cakes and biscuits. There are some very good baby brands, with relatively healthy ingredients, like Goodies or Organix, available in most supermarkets.  When it comes to meals, there are a million books out there full of amazing ideas and recipes.  I mainly stick to Annabel Karmel’s[5] books, because she’s a mother who wants to prepare healthy food with not too much fuss.  She guides you all the way from the very first tastes to full menus.  If anyone else has any recommendations, please do let us know.

  • Let baby ‘tell’ you what first foods he wants.

When my second son wanted more than just milk, at 5 months old, he refused what I gave him.  I only offered baby rice and pureed food (and believe me I tried them all!) because that’s what my first had had and what is generally recommended.  It took me 3 weeks, getting more and more frustrated and exhausted, before I gave him simple finger food, which he gobbled up hungrily.  There are so many ‘guide lines’ scaring you about introducing foods too early, in case they develop allergies, that I didn’t consider offering normal food to my baby who had, until then, only drunk breast milk and had no teeth.  Silly I know, and looking back I kick myself for not thinking outside the box, but I only realised how big the problem was when I was utterly exhausted, by which point I was incapable of lateral thought!

Many people swear by ‘baby-led weaning’.  I haven’t read about it, but the essence is, from what people tell me, do not puree any food and just let them eat whatever normal food they can.  The babies get used to eating finger foods, feeding themselves and normal food textures.  My second baby would only eat normal food to begin with, flatly refusing puree.  I managed to introduce purees a little later.  I did not adopt ‘baby-led weaning’, my baby forced me to let him eat that way!  My mantra is ‘let baby lead’ and ‘listen to baby’.

I have to admit that I like feeding my babies pureed food, because I think that they get a greater variety of vitamins, minerals and general nutritional goodness that way.  (I cooked all my own pureed food for baby number one, but have resorted a lot more to Ella’s Kitchen[6] sachets for number two.  They are brilliant!)  Before teeth arrive I find baby led weaning a bit limiting and rather frustrating!  You can only offer them things that ‘melt’ in the mouth and on the protein side that’s not much.  Carrot sticks are great for teething, but I always steamed mine until they practically fell apart.  For me a combination works brilliantly.  I welcome people’s comments about their experiences with ‘baby-led weaning’.  I have heard wonderful success stories, and I hope people will share theirs here, for women who are interested in following this approach.

Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t eat much some days.  When they are teething or sick, in particular, they often don’t feel like much.  We all have off days when we just want comfort food.  For babies, this is usually milk.  If, on occasion, that’s all they fancy, don’t worry, especially when you are first introducing food.  It won’t last forever, and for now, as long as he’s got a smile on his face and you keep on offering alternatives, so that he has it when he feels like it, baby will be fine.  If baby is not happy, he’ll tell you!  In the meantime, give him what he wants, as long as it’s not a lolly pop or sweeties!

  • My baby wakes so early!

Many people put their babies to sleep by 7pm so that they can enjoy their evenings, baby-free, but suffer from very early wake-up calls!  So many times I’ve heard people say, “but it doesn’t make any difference if I put him to sleep two hours later, he still wakes at 6am”.

I like to think of sleeping routines like jet-lag.  If you suddenly moved to America, would you continue to let your baby wake at 6.30am UK time?  Of course not!  Your whole schedule would change, and after about a week your baby would be happy with the new schedule.  If you put your baby is sleep later, eventually he will change, but in order for it to be 100% successful you usually have to change meal times too.  Again, think of it like jet-lag.  If you were to move to America, your whole schedule would change.

My second son has been waking every morning, like clockwork, at 6.30am.  To change this, I have been allowing him to nap for a couple of hours during the day, then putting him to bed at 9.30pm, but this hasn’t been enough.  I have now had to change his feeding schedule as well, otherwise his body is wanting to do a poo about 12 hours after his dinner and he’s hungry for breakfast by 7am.  So I’m letting him snack about 5pm, leaving his main meal until about 7pm.  We’re only day two, but so far so good!  It is new territory for me, because my first son has nearly always been on our schedule.  We usually have family meals together and he has always slept until about 8.30am.  However, I’m quietly confident in changing my second son’s schedule and if anyone is interested, do ask for an update in a week or so, and I’ll let you know how it’s going!

It can be more convenient to feed, bath and get children to bed by 7am, otherwise you can feel like your ‘working day’ goes on endlessly and it is nice to have a bit of chilled adult time at the end of the day with your partner.  However, it’s also nice to hang-out as a family after Daddy gets home from work, have a family meal, maybe watch a film together and get to lie-in until 8am the next morning.  You can’t have it both ways, unless you are one of these unbelievably lucky people whose children sleep for 14 hours in a night.   Like with everything, when it comes to children, you have to decide what works for you, and then create a schedule accordingly.  Baby will adjust and fit in, they are amazingly adaptable, we adults are less so, and that’s the tricky bit!

[1] Please read Jill Irving’s insightful and helpful comments, written November 2010:

[2] ‘Nanny care Goat Milk Nutrition’ made in New Zealand by Dairy Goad Co-operative (N.Z.) Ltd, Hamilton.  UK Helpline: 0800 328 5826.  Retail £18.95 from ‘Portobello Wholefoods’, (266 Portobello Road, London W10 5TY).  It’s about double the price of normal formula from a supermarket.

[4] Pom-Bear are a good gluten free brand, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.


[6] Ella’s Kitchen organic baby foods. 100% organic.  No “other stuff”.