Every mother wants the very best outcome for her baby. We all want to see our children thrive in the world we brought them into. Sadly, around the world, “Nutrition-related factors contribute to about 45% of deaths in children under 5 years of age.”–WHO, Children: Reducing Mortality Accessed 8/21/2016.
What can we do?
The first 1000 days of a child’s life, beginning at conception, are the most critical for building a strong foundation of health that could impact them for the rest of their life.
A woman pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant can give their baby a head start in good nutrition, by eating a healthy diet based on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
Even a healthy, balanced diet may still leave nutritional gaps. Take me, for example: since I am vegetarian, I need to take special care to find a good source of B12 vitamin and Iron for healthy red blood cells. Another example, many people are cutting back on salt or are using specialty salts like kosher or Himalayan pink salt which is are not fortified with Iodine, a necessary nutrient for thyroid function. Fish is considered an excellent source of DHA Omega-3s which support eye and brain development. However, potent mercury levels in fish products today, make certain fish off limits for pregnant women. Other sources of Omega-3s are flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds, soybeans, fortified dairy products, yogurt, etc. For these reasons and more, prenatal supplementation is a prudent choice for expecting moms or moms who are thinking of becoming pregnant, because prenatal supplements are specifically formulated to support the healthy growth and development of a baby in utero, and to support the health of mom and baby during breastfeeding.
Read more on my other blog: Naturally
Learn more about nutrition for healthy moms and babies in this Podcast segment of Shaklee Hotline news called Science Talk with Dr. Bruce Daggy and Dr. Sonhee Park…
Breastfeeding is another important step in ensuring your child’s nutrition. Breastmilk is nature’s perfect food, and breastfeeding is associated with better bonding between mother and baby, higher IQ, protective against many allergies, diseases and illnesses, and MANY other benefits. I’ve been nursing my son for two-and-a-half years, and definitely would encourage every new mom to give it a shot. Read more about my breastfeeding story here.
For breastfeeding support and information, I highly recommend bookmarking KellyMom.com.
Thankfully we live in an era where if breastfeeding does not work out for a mother and infant, there are many high-quality infant formulas that can be a healthy alternative. Most commercial options (even some organic ones) contain ingredients and additives that are not good for baby such corn syrup and soy oil. From my research, the best commercial option is made by a brand named Holle from Switzerland.
I was helping out a friend research other options for formula when I learned about the option of making your own. The Weston A. Price foundation is an organization that advocates traditional food and food preparation. They have a few formula recipes that can be found here. Unfortunately, some of the ingredients were difficult to find in my area or are very expensive, so my friend did her best with what she had. Much later I discovered this recipe from Shaklee and the ingredients are easy to find right on my website. I trust Shaklee because of their commitment to the purity, potency, and performance of every one of their products, and if I ever have to use formula or recommend one this recipe would be it:
“Food under one is just for fun.”
Breastmilk alone is ideal for the first six months of life. If you cannot breastfeed, or decide to wean your baby before 12 months formula is recommended. Introducing solids between 4 and 6 months should be at your discretion and your pediatrician’s advice. Try to offer a variety of age-appropriate tastes and textures, while avoiding sugary juice and soft drinks. This is an exploratory phase building up to regular meal times. For example, by the time your child is 12-months old solids will be about 25% of his diet, 50% at 18 months, and 80% at 24 months. After the first year of life, then full fat cow’s milk may be introduced. At around 2 years of age, some pediatricians will recommend weaning off of whole milk in exchange for 2% or skim milk depending on the growth of your child. If you breastfeed for at least 2 years as recommended by the WHO, you don’t have to worry about this adjustment as breast milk adjusts itself based on the age and needs of the nursling (pretty cool, right?).
The first 1000 days of a child’s life is a period of physical and emotional nourishment, not just feeding.
If we want to give our children the best possible start, let’s use nature’s best food: a nutrient rich and whole-food-supplemented prenatal diet, breast milk exclusively for the 6 six months, introducing wholesome solids only after 6 months and gradually building up baby’s diet to be varied and nutritious with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, milk (for healthy fats) and whole grains by the time they reach 2 years old.
Isaac’s Nutrition Regimen
I took Shaklee’s Vita-lea plus a prescription folic acid as my prenatal supplements. I wasn’t vegetarian then, and I used to crave meat and spicy foods. Even then I became slightly anemic and took a prescription iron regimen that brought up my hemoglobin levels before the birth.
Isaac was exclusively breastfed until about 4-5 months old when I started allowing him to sit at the table to observe mealtime. It wasn’t long before he wanted to have a taste of what he was seeing. I put a tiny bit of avocado or mashed banana in his tray and allow him to squish it in his hands and have a few licks.
At 6 months I started him on solids of quinoa pureed with mango and steamed spinach, as an example. I allowed him to lead and didn’t try to coax him to eat more if he lost interest.
At about 12 Months I prepared smoothies for him like the ones I make for myself which contain fruits greens, probiotics, and Shaklee soy protein. I also started him on a prescription iron supplement (which turned out to do nothing for his hemoglobin levels). I should have given him this instead.
At 18 months, he was around 50% solids as mentioned above and since we are vegetarian I started giving him 1/2 an Incredivite, then a full one at 2 years old. Shaklee’s Incredivites Chewable Multivitamin from provides Calcium, vitamin C, D, E, and all eight B vitamins. It also includes lactoferrin–the same substance found in breast milk to support healthy immune function.
While at home he will snack on fruits, raisins, and animal crackers before taking a nap. When he wakes up he is very hungry and I will serve him whatever has been prepared for lunch: spaghetti, rice, and beans, egg sandwich, taco soup, etc.
After learning about phytic acid, I started him on a daily 1 Chewable Vita-C (100mg) from Shaklee. Phytic acid comes in many staple vegetarian foods (legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains) and considered an anti-nutrient because it binds to minerals in our food making them less available to be absorbed by the body. Vitamin C helps inhibit phytic acid allowing for better mineral absorption. For example, doctors and nutritionists recommend iron-rich foods such as spinach be eaten with citrus foods because the vitamin C in the citrus assists with iron absorption. I’m not concerned about his hemoglobin levels now.
His afternoon snack is not always a healthy choice because we often spend time at Papa and Nana’s house which is kept well stocked with cookies and chips just for him. But I make sure to take him there so they can enjoy each other and so that he can play outside in the afternoon sun soaking up vitamin D. Win some, lose some.
Dinner if often a repeat of lunch or something very light such as oatmeal or cream of wheat prepared with milk and flaxseed meal and fruit.
Almost every night I give Isaac one tablet of Chewable CalMag from Shaklee. This helps to relax the muscles so that he can ease into bedtime. And since we limit the use of dairy products, this is an important supplement to support his growing bones.
As he is beginning to wean, I will soon be adding Shaklee’s Mighty Smart DHA chews to ensure he gets adequate Omega 3 fats to support his young, growing brain.
If you want to ensure the first 1000 days of your child’s life is nourishing, but are not sure where to start I want to invite you to take HealthPrint–a health assessment of only 20 questions that will give you personalized solutions based on recommendations of a team of award-winning scientists, doctors, and nutritionists.