This page has moved to a new address.

An Aussie Mum's Guide To Eco Friendly Babies

An Aussie Mum's Guide To Eco Friendly Babies: May 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yoghurt and Fruit for Babies

Last time Aldi had their awesome yoghurt makers on special, I missed out- not this time!  I'm going out today to see if I can track one down, I heard rave reviews about them last year!

Home made yoghurt is not only cheap (all you need is milk and a live bacteria culture), it's so good for you!  Most supermarket brands contain gelatin or setting agents, preservatives and added sugars, colours and flavours to make them either cheaper to make, or more appealing to taste.  Organic yoghurts are now readily available but can be expensive to buy.  Making it yourself means you have absolute control over what goes in once you've made a first batch, you can use that yoghurt as a 'starter' (live culture) to make subsequent batches.

Yoghurt is a great baby food- it's smooth, nutritious and good for intestinal flora.  Though doctors recommend against dairy under the age of one, this really only refers to milk, and is to discourage replacing a breast or formula feed with a glass of milk, which is not as nutritious.

Making yoghurt at home means you can also experiment with Goat or Sheep's milk, both of which are cleaner, less processed and less allergenic than cow's milk dairy.  My little man can't tolerate even organic cow yoghurt so we are planning to try him on goat yoghurt this weekend- I'll let you know how he goes!

Plain organic yoghurt can taste a bit gamey, so adding fruit will improve the flavour and add a bit of variety.  Unfortunately fresh, quality fruit is pretty limited at the moment.  I have just made a batches of Apricot and Fig puree from dried fruit, and some frozen blueberries.  Frozen fruits are often more nutritious and 'fresher' than fresh fruit as they are frozen immediately, not left sitting in a truck or on a shelf for a weeks.  Dry fruits mean we have access to a bigger variety or fruits all year round and are fine to use, as long as they are sulphite free, with no added preservatives, sugar or salt.  You can always pick naturally dried apricots- they are dark brown rather than fluorescent orange! Of course organic is best and you can sometimes get this in the supermarket, but more likely from your local health food store.  To use dried fruit, cover with water and simmer gently until it's plump and soft.  Then, mash or puree into the desired consistency.  Most frozen fruits need to be cooked as well- because of the higher water content, you can boil or steam these.

Check out Wholesome Baby Food for great recipes!  They've got sections on yoghurt, kids smoothies and various fruits, including the more exotic ones.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Home Birth Video

Born At Home by Kat Small...
Check out the link above for a beautiful, amazing video of a home birth.  It's presented with style and class and accompanied by a perfect soundtrack.  Watching it bought a tear to my eye- I would have loved to have the courage to have a home birth and I really think it should be made easier for those who choose to do so.

Nappy Rash (or A Pain in the Baby's Bum)

The little man is finally teething and among the long nights, grizzly morning, copious snot and revolting nappies, he developed the WORST case of nappy rash I have ever seen! It appeared overnight and with a bit of TLC it disappeared pretty quickly too, but I have new sympathy for bubba's with a nappy rash, and the mums trying to combat this pervasive problem.

The first thing you can do is swap to cloth nappies if you are not already using them.  Back in the day it was the other way around- the old cotton towelling nappies held moisture close to the skin while the more absorbant disposable sucked it away, keeping the area drier.  Now the multiple layers of Modern Cloth Nappies act more effectively (and are so much more absorbent), while the multitude of chemicals in disposable nappies can severely irritate sensitive skin.  If cloth is not an option, there are brands of chemical free Eenee compostables and Bamboo Nature nappies are disposable, chemical free alternatives.  Where possible, adopt a nudist lifestyle for bub to air out the nether regions!

Other nasty chemicals lurk in baby wipes, bath products, lotions and washing powder, so make those as natural as you can.  You can replace wipes with a spray bottle containing just water (or steep some chamomile tea and use cold for it's soothing properties, or lavender tea for antiseptic healing) and cotton or bamboo cloths, or use organic cotton balls or tissues for a squeaky clean, irritant free behind.

I personally love the Akin Bottom Balm.  It has natural ingredients with Zinc to provide a soothing barrier to stop nasty acids eating away the skin.  Paw Paw Salve (get the yellow label one, or the Natural Alternative brand- stay away from petrochemical based products) will also protect but is better for use as a preventative.  To treat bad rash, Botani Phytoseptic is a TGA registered anti-fungal based on an olive extract- in severe nappy rash there is usually a fungal infection present and this will get on top of it quickly.  Fusion Dermaheal contains Golden Seal which kills a broad range of bugs.  It will heal and protect the area while treating or preventing any infection.

Talcum powder has long gone out of fashion for babies- it can do serious damage to the lungs if inhaled.  Cornstarch powder is a great alternative to keep the area dry, but it has to be applied frequently.

Internally, supplementing with a quality probiotic will help to balance intestinal flora, helping the body to fight yeast or fungal infections from the inside and regulating digestion to prevent overacidity.  Avoid acidic citrus juices and tomato, and go easy on spicy foods for kids who are on solids.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Homeopathy for Mother and Baby

I was sent this article by Donna Lee, a friend of mine who is a Naturopath, Homeopath and Registered Nurse.  I myself use homeopathic medicines- when I first looked into it I was a huge sceptic but the amazing results I get every time I treat my hayfever (so much faster and more effective than clinical medicines and even herbs I've used in the past) have made me a convert.  Homeopathics have been used for many years on humans, animals and even plants!  Many doctors pass off the benefits as placebo, but I've seen or heard of these amazing remedies treat skin rashes, liver conditions, vomiting, colds, hayfever, insomnia, anxiety, bed wetting, infections and dozens of other ailments... in adults, kids, babies and even animals.  Now you can't tell me horses, cats and dogs are prone to 'false positives from a placebo effect'!  The best story I heard was back when I worked in Pharmacy.  A first time Mum and Dad came in for advice on their infants temperature.  They were already using panadol and nurofen consecutively and bub had been into hospital twice.  If they couldn't get the fever down, they would be back again that night.  Of course there was nothing we could offer pharmaceutically, but I gave them a bottle of Brauer Pain and Fever to try.  They were waiting outside the next morning to get another bottle (in case they ran out) and to thank us- within 10 minutes of administering the first dose the temperature had started to drop and by the fourth dose, was less than half a degree above normal.  Here's Donna's article- her contact details are at the bottom if you would like any more info!
Homeopathy For Mother And Baby

A growing number of parents are concerned about the side effects of conventional drugs especially in the treatment of babies and young children.  Homeopathy is growing in popularity in Australia due mainly to the success of commercial preparations sold in pharmacies such as the Brauer baby range.
One third of the French population uses homeopathic medicines, and 32 percent of French family physicians prescribe them. One fifth of all German physicians use homeopathic medicines, 42 percent of British physicians refer patients to homeopathic physicians, and 45 percent of Dutch physicians consider homeopathic medicines effective. Englands Royal Family has been under homeopathic care since the 1930s.

 The majority of the Australian population does not know what homeopathy is, however those that do use homeopathy consider it a godsend to their children as well as themselves.  Homeopathy was first described by Hippocrates 2,500 years ago, the word comes from Greek and means similar. This refers to the central philosophy that a substance that can produce symptoms in a healthy person can cure those symptoms in a sick person. For example, a person suffering from hayfever might be given a remedy prepared from onion, because in a healthy person onion usually produces watering eyes and irritation. However the substances are given in minute doses prepared in homeopathic pharmacies  avoiding  unwanted side effects making them safe to use even in situations where conventional drugs would be dangerous or inadvisable (e.g. during pregnancy, treating babies, infants and the elderly).

 Orthodox medicine often seeks to suppress symptoms by covering them over with strong medication for a quick fix this often drives illness deeper into the body. Homeopathic medicine seeks to gently bring the disease or illness to the surface so as to achieve lasting permanent cure. Homeopathy can be used to treat both physical and emotional disorders.
Before you begin to prescribe at home there are two important laws that you need to follow to use homeopathic medicines successfully:

THE LAW OF SIMILARS states that we must match the symptom picture to the illness or injury to the symptom picture of the medicine
THE LAW OF THE MINIMUM DOSE states that we must only use as little of the medicine as possible to stimulate the body’s own natural healing mechanism.

Homeopathic medicines are delicate and need careful handling. Touch them as little as possible. Shake 1 pill directly into the lid of the bottle and put it directly under the tongue of the person taking the medicine. Put the dose into a clean mouth , if possible 15 minutes before or after having anything to drink, obviously this does not apply in an emergency where it should be given as soon as possible.  You can crush and dissolve remedies in water and sip them (babies), but do not swallow pill down with water, tea or coffee. Avoid mint (notably in toothpaste) camphor, menthol, eucalyptus (often found in vapour rubs and cold remedies) when taking homeopathic remedies as these may antidote certain homeopathic medicines.
Store remedies in a cool dark place away from strong smells and small children.
Before repeating a remedy please consider the law of minimum dose carefully.

Serious injuries and illnesses should never be treated without seeking expert advice. Use your instincts and common sense, if you are worried call for help first, then give the appropriate remedy whilst you are waiting for help to arrive. If symptoms show no improvement or return after initial improvement, always seek professional help. A qualified homeopath may be needed to treat the underlying weakness in the patients constitution. If you already see a homeopath regularly, please discuss self prescribing with them.
The following are common remedies for use in pregnancy, labour and baby’s  first year.
Exhaustion:  Arnica 200c , Kali Phos 200c
Breach position: Pulsatilla 200c (take in 36th week)
Induction:  (alternative to) Caulophyllum 200c
Flu: (just before due date) Gelsenium 200c
Malposition of baby:  (at 36th week) Breech Pulsatilla 200c, Transverse Pulsatilla 200c, Arnica 200c
Nausea:  during pregnancy Ipecac 30c repeat as necessary
Panic:  about birth Aconite 200c, after previous bad experience Cimicifuga 200c
Premature labour:  (to prevent/stop) after fall Arnica 200c, fright Aconite 200c
Sciatica:  (caused by position of baby) Bellis Perennis 200c
Wind:  trapped with pain Carbo veg 200c
Many midwives are now trained in homeopathy, ask your hospital if they have trained staff alternatively ask your homeopath to attend your birth or  train your partner in the use of homeopathic medicines before your due date. Homeopathy can be used safely alongside or instead of any pain relief offered by your medical team.

Back pain during labour:  Gelsenium 200c, Kali Carb 200c, Pulsatilla 200c
Bladder:  (labour pains around) Caulophyllum 200c
Bleeding:  during labour ( bright red, profuse) Ipecac 200c
Cervix:  fails to dilate Caulophyllum 200c or Cimicifuga 200c, half open or hard Sepia 200c, wide open but contractions stop Gelsenium 200c
Contractions : atonic (flabby) weak Caulophyllum 200c or Gelsenium 200c, slow or stop Caulophyllum 200c or Gelsenium 200c, lack expulsive power (especially in second stage) Pulsatilla 200c
Exhaustion: during long difficult labours Kali Phos 200c
Despair:  gloom during labour Cimicifuga 200c
Impatience/Irritability: Chamomilla 200c
Labour Slow: Caulophyllum 200c (speeds up labour). To Fast: or violent Aconite 200c
Oxygen starvation: of mother or baby Carbo Veg 200c
Posterior presentation:  Kali Carb 200c
Shoulder of baby gets stuck:  Arnica 200c
Stillborn baby: give mother Cimicifuga 200c (gloom) Aconite 200c (shock) Ignatia 200c (grief).
Straining excessively: Arnica 200c (repeat often)
Vagina:  hot, dry ,tender ,won’t dilate Aconite 200c
After Pains: after many children Secale 200c, groin area intense Cimicifuga 200c, long lasting Secale 200c, extending to hips buttocks legs Kali Carb 200c, worse if baby feeds Arnica 200c,Chamomilla  200c, Pulsatilla 200c, Secale 200c.
Anger : (often suppressed) about the birth Staphisagria 200c
Back Pain:  Kali Carb 200c, After epidural Hypericum 200c
Breasts:  painful radiating pain from nipple phytolacca 200c, Red, hot, throbbing Belladonna 200c; Pale, hot, worse from moving Bryonia 200c.
Bruising: Arnica 200c or  Bellis perenis 200c
Caesarean: after effects of, Arnica 200c, Bellis Perenis200c, Calendula 200c, Hypericum 200c
Catheter: after effects of Staphisagria 200c
Cracked nipples: Phytolacca 200c
Epidural: after effects of  Arnica 200c, Hypericum 200c
Episiotomy: Calendula 200c, Hypericum 200c Staphisagria 200c
Forceps delivery: after effects of Arnica 200c, Bellis Perennis 200c, Calendula 200c, Staphisagria 200c
Inflammation of penis in newborn : Arnica 200c
Irritability: Chamomilla 200c or Sepia 200c
Milk:  to much Pulsatilla 200c, to little milk : Dulcamara 200c.
Milk filled breast lump:  Silica 30c & massage lump regularly with warm flannel.
Placenta: retained with bearing down sensation Secale 200c, Sepia 200c;
Prolapse:  Sepia 200c; after forceps delivery, Secale 200c
Syntometrine: antidote Secale 200c give asap
Teething/ irritable baby:  Chamomilla 30c
Thrush : Borax 30c give to mother and baby
Urine retention:  mother Arnica 200c baby Aconite 200c
Vaccinations: Give baby Brauer pain and fever relief 1 dose 2hrs before vaccination 1 dose an hour after.
Wounds: Hypericum 200c or Calendula 200c.
Creams and Ointments
Arnica:  can be used externally on unbroken skin, reduces bruising and swelling.
Calendula:  Use on cut broken or sore skin. The ‘homeopaths antiseptic’. A wonderful healing balm. Calendula tincture can be added to bath water(20 drops) or diluted to make a compress.

Remedies The  majority of the above remedies are available in a handy 18 remedy childbirth kit from Helios Homeopathics  other stockists of homeopathic remedies available via mail order include Newtons Pharmacy Sydney and Simillimum homeopathic pharmacy in new Zealand.
Some useful books for further reading include:  
Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby’s First Year by Miranda Castro. 
Homeopathic Medicine For Children And Infants by Dana Ullman. 
Homeopathy & Child Care by Dr Sashi Kant Tiwari.
If any further questions or concerns please contact a professional homeopath

Donna Lee ND, RN
Naturopath, Homeopath, Registered Nurse.
Bachelor of Health Science (Complementary Medicine)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Constipation and Kids

Maybe it's due to the large amount of processed foods kids at these days... maybe it's the lack of water during the day... maybe this is an issue that's been around forever and I'm only finding out about it now... whatever the reason, kids seem to increasingly suffer from constipation.

For little bubba's,  watching water intake (if they are on formula or starting solids) and minimising big changes to diet seems to do the trick in most cases.  Because their digestive systems are still growing, they can find it hard to deal with any sort of change- breast to formula, formula brand changes and the introduction of solids can all cause constipation  diarrhoea or fluctuations between the two.  In hotter weather breast milk is produced with a higher water content to prevent dehydration in the baby- formula of course doesn't have this ability.  Some health nurses will recommend giving small amount of water through the day to keep baby hydrated and keep bowels in top shape.  Same goes for the introduction of solids- giving a little water once bub is up to a couple of feeds a day makes sure stools don't dry out and become hard to pass.  Make sure to include plenty of fruit when introducing solids- pears are great, and you can even steam and puree organic, pitted prunes.  Yoghurt that contains acidophilus will also help to ensure bacteria in the gut stays healthy.

If water isn't working, you can try a little diluted (50/50) pear or prune juice from the age of about 4 months- but go easy on the prune, it can work a little too well if you give too much!  Some nurses will recommend sugar water for small babies.  Brown sugar in boiled water is apparently safe when used in the right ratios, but call a health nurse (in Australia, 13HEALTH will put you on the phone to a qualified Child Health Nurse) to get exact amounts for your baby.  If you see a Naturopath, they can prescribe a strain of infant specific flora supplement that can be mixed into water or milk and can be used from birth to regulate the gut, as well as provide immunity and help allergy or skin conditions.

Once kids get a bit older it does become easier.  Increasing fruit in the diet, making sure they are drinking plenty of water (not juice or soft drinks) and keeping them active will all help to keep the digestive system healthy.  Excess sugar, lack of fibre and good fats, too much processed food or not enough fresh fruit and veg will all contribute to bowel trouble.  Make sure kids are getting a varied diet and include fats from oily fish, wholegrains, nuts (where age appropriate) and seeds- these will not only provide excellent food for growing brains, but lubricate the bowels and promote regularity.

Be really careful about giving kids fibre supplements- if given too much or with not enough water, they can actually worsen constipation or cause blockages in the bowel.  It's better to make sure they are getting enough fibre through general dietary sources like good quality breakfast cereal (be wary of claims on commercial cereal), fresh produce and brown, grainy bread.  Sugary treats and processed foods including white bread should be kept to a minimum as should drinks other than water.  Natural yoghurts are great as mentioned above, or consider using a probiotic suitable for the child's age.

For kids over the age of four with ongoing issues, you can use a bit of flaxseed oil to soften stools and lubricate the bowel- this is very safe and doesn't present dependency issues like a lot of pharmaceutical options.  Magnesium powders are usually pleasantly flavoured and work really well in most cases- these draw water into the bowel to soften and provide bulk (softening can reduce the pain associated with a hard, dry bowel movement) and also relax muscles that may be tensed and preventing bowel evacuation.  Some kids get magnesium deficient very quickly- signs include muscle cramps or twitches, insomnia, irritability and constipation.  These kids may need to take magnesium on and off all their lives.  See a Naturopath for an appropriate recommendation.

Of course, it's always important for severe constipation to be checked out by a doctor.  There may be a blockage in the bowel and that will mean some treatments cannot be used.  These can be very severe and must be dealt with quickly.  Symptoms include pain, vomiting and abdominal distension or bloating.  If in doubt, see you doctor as soon as you can.