Monday, August 30, 2010

"Bless all young mothers..."

This past weekend I hosted a delightfully successful Phonics and Early Maths workshop for 42 mothers and pre-school teachers. We had the joy of listening to two knowledgeable and passionate ladies share some wonderfully creative, practical ideas for playfully teaching our children, and my toes curled with utter delight as I watched the moms in the audience enjoy the whole thing! But I had put in many long hours to make the morning happen, and spent most of last week making up goodie bags, sewing bunting and a banner for my toy display, baking and frosting cupcakes for the ladies to enjoy at teatime, and sending out many, many e-mails in reply to queries about the event. Still, what a joy to see something like this come together and mothers being inspired to go home bubbling over with delicious ideas!

So when my husband suggested a daytrip up the West Coast on Sunday morning, I gratefully accepted! Earlier in the week I saw a quick and easy recipe for kebabs and couscous salsa salad over at Se7en, and I quickly put it all together to serve as a cold lunch later in the day. We packed the picnic basket, the small folding table, some soothing instrumental music, and a bag full of books to keep littlies entertained, and winded our way through glorious fields of spring flowers, and up the coast to a tiny fisherman's villiage called Velddrif. It was the perfect spot for us: a seemingly endless stretch of shelley beach,  little waves just big enough to cause a toddler tremendous excitement without any threat of knocking her over, and only two other people also quietly enjoying the mellow spring afternoon on the beach.

Sweetpea picked the Namaqualand daisies from a little patch of wildflowers next to where we were parked...

Lunch is served!

All I forgot was a cheery table cloth -will do better next time!!

After lunch the Dad dozed in the shade of the car, Arrowboy explored the succulents growing on the road next to the beach, and Sweetpea and I used some of our enamel picnic crockery as vessels for building sandcastles. And all around just the sweet quietness of swishing waves breaking over broken shells and pebbles, and the seagulls overhead...

And off he goes..

The view...

And then, after all that delicious tranquility, we headed back home with two exhausted children who nodded off before we even reached the tar road again... And it would have been the perfect end to the perfect day if only they had remained asleep for the rest of the two hour drive home. But, alas, Sweetpea woke up after just ten minutes, terribly groggy and complaining of an earcahe, until her wailing woke up ArrowBoy and he joined in the cacophony with wails of his own, and all this persisted for the rest of the drive home, and well into evening. I fell into bed bleary-eyed and drained later that eve, only to be woken shortly thereafter by Sweetpea's inconsolable sobs that the only way she could ever go to sleep, is if I let her sleep with us. By four in the morning the Dad and I could not stand the kicking anymore, and I carried her back to her own bed.

Suffice it to say that I don't do well on lack of sleep, and that today was hard, Monday being laundry day and then the oven stopped working and dinner was late and I found out we won't be moving to a house with a beautiful big yard after all...Oh my goodness, it is a sure recipe for horrible, selfish, utterly unattractive SELF-PITY!!!!

 But then..oh then... at the end of it all, I sat down at my computer to tie up some loose ends in the admin department of this household, and inbetween browsed a few blogs...and discovered this poem. And a little wall broke inside and released some weary tears and The Gentle Shepherd softly reminded me again that "He shall gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11.

" God,

bless all young mothers

at end of day,

kneeling wearily with each

small one

to hear them pray.

Too tired to rise when done...

and yet, they do,

longing simply to sleep

one whole night through.

Too tired to sleep,

too tired to pray...


bless all young mothers

at close of day."

~ Ruth Bell Graham

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Keeping it real: the final fishy chapter

So, we have been having endless amounts of fun exploring fish the past two weeks, and the most gratifying part of it all is how much Sweetpea has come to enjoy and learn from some factual fish books I bought for her from Bargain Books two weeks ago. We read them together about three times, and now she spontaneously seeks them out, and pores over the photographs, commenting on details and naming all the different kinds of fish and other sea animals. Her favourites are blowfish and jellyfish.She loves telling me that giant sharks have no teeth and are therefore not scary, but that hammerheads are very dangerous. The only confusion is around walrusses and whales: the Afrikaans words for these two animals sound almost exactly the same, so when she points them out to me, she sometimes uses the wrong one.

One of the Montessori principles that appealed to me most when I first read Paula Polk Lillard's Montessori from the Start almost two years ago, was the focus on using REAL things when teaching our children: picture books with photographs, and small plastic animals that look like the real thing. She also emphasised that one gives concrete information  to the hand first, before trying to give abstract information to the brain, and as such I try to keep my children's learning experiences as real and direct as possible. So, to conclude our fish theme on a high note, I bought a fish home from the fish market at our local grocery store (R21, 50 from Checkers, in case you'd like to do the same!), for us to explore. I set it on a tray on a low table outside and brought out our fish books as well, so we could do some comparisons.

Sweetpea's reaction to the fish was interesting: she immediately knew this was different - real -  and I think she sensed something unnatural about a real fish lying so still on a tray... At first she wouldn't come close and stayed behind me, curiously peeking over my shoulder and asking questions, but not daring to come too near. Of course ArrowBoy was hands-on right from the word go!

My, what big eyes you have, grandma!

We spoke about how the fish was caught in the sea by a fisherman, and that it was now dead. I didn't make a big deal about it, though, and drew her in with questions about the parts of the fish we learned while building our felt puzzle earlier in the week. I explained how the gills worked and showed her the sideline that helps with balance - all things that are way beyond her current level of understanding, I know, but it felt right to do so and she listened intently nontheless. When I opened her books to compare fishy traits, she finally relaxed and started exploring on her own.

And my, what big teeth you have! PS: forgive my ignorance, but I was surprised at our fish's cute little tongue!

The Gills.

The original plan was to cook our little specimen for supper that evening, but all the learning took a lot longer longer than I anticipated and as a result the fish was in the sun for far too long. The Dad suggested we chop it up finely and use it as compost (!?) but I am already having endless trouble with neighbour cats, so alas, the little fellow ended up in the trash...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Some super-fun Fish crafts

Hope you are not all fished-out yet, because we are still having oceans full of fishy fun around here! Since paint and glue are the two most amazing substances as far as Sweetpea is concerned,  we've been using a lot of both to create some fantastic sea creatures!

After reading the book Bright Stanley by Matt Buckingham ( you can order your own copy by clicking on the link below), we talked a bit about how fish are covered in scales. I bought a stack of really excellent books on sealife from Bargain Books last week, so we paged through them in search for pictures of fish with scales, and learnt that not all animals that live in the ocean have scales: Some have skin, others have feathers and still others, like seahorses are covered in flat protective shields!

After all that it was time to get busy with some glue and paper scales, and here is what we came up with:
(I just CANNOT get this picture to go the right way - aaargh! But you get the idea!)

And since Sweetpea has a newfound fascination with JELLYFISH, we had to make one of those, too! I cut a paper plate in half and she painted it green. When it had dried, we used sponge stamps to create an interesting texture on top of the green. Lastly we smeared plenty of white glue to the back of the 'head' and glued on the tentacles. Of all our fishy crafts, this one is Sweetpea's favourite by far! We stuck it up against the glass sliding door and it looks beautiful when the sun shines through the cellophane!

Our friend Trudie from Fun with Little mouse gave Sweetpea this sticker set and she spent an entire afternoon recreating the story of Nemo on the pretty background sheet. Thanks, Trudie!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Foam fish numbers game

As part of our fish theme this week I made a fishing game to help Sweetpea with recognising amounts of one to three. Although she counts well up to 12, we are still working on understanding just how many THREE are. So, I made a special die that would only have one, two or three dots per side. For this I used a polystyrene cube, and drew on the circles with a black marker.

I cut the fish from craft foam and again used a black marker for drawing the dots. I also added a few unnumbered fish with different facial expressions.

Since it was a beautifully sunny day, we took the game outside on the grass and she was fishing from atop the trampoline. To play, she had to follow my instructions. I could say: "Throw the die. OK, you threw a three. Now find the blue fish with three dots on its body." Or, I asked her to catch the sad-looking orange fish. This is a really simple little game and we played for only a few minutes, but since she is a bit wary of counting these days, it was perfect - we practiced a  few number concepts and before she was bored, we were done!

For bath time I removed the paper clips and when the foam got wet, it stuck nicely to the side of the bath, so we rehearsed our numbers again in a playful way!

The rod we used came with a magnetic puzzle that is part of the range of Nucleus Toys which I sell. The fish puzzle is now out of stock, but I have this lovely butterflies and bugs puzzle available for R40 each, so let me know if you would like to order one!

 Also, I sell the craft foam I used to make the fish with, at R8 for a pack of three sheets in assorted colours.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Parts-of-a-fish puzzle

As part of our fish theme this week, I made this fish felt puzzle for Sweetpea, based on the Montessori puzzles that teaches animal parts.

To make my own version, I covered a piece of cardboard (left over from the box my vacuum cleaner came in) with blue felt, using fabric glue. I then drew on the design with a black permanent marker.

I cut the parts of the fish from orange and red felt, and glued an A5-size manilla envelope to the back of the puzzle board to store the parts in.

The letters are from the Suczezz range of educational toys that I sell (the alphabet theme is R44. E-mail me if you would like to order some!) I have decided to start including letters more in our play. No pressure for Sweetpea to formally learn them, I just keep putting them out there and spelling things as we go along. She seems to learn best in this by-the-way manner: instead of sitting her down and teaching at her, I point things out in a casual way and she often surprises me with the things she picks up through observation.

We build this puzzle before we start any of our other fish themed activities every morning. The first time I showed her all the parts and where they go, and also named them for her. She then built it on her own, and I again repeated the correct name of each part as she did.

I leave the puzzle out for her in case she wants to return to it later in the day. Just this afternoon she sat building it at the kitchen counter, and I was impressed to see that she had also built the word fish, all on her own! (We are a bilingual family and I teach in my native Afrikaans, while my husband, an Australian, communicates only in English. PS: I showed Sweetpea the correct place for the dot on the 'i', but she insisted on keeping it right on top of the long part. Will be pointing out 'i's when we read our bedtime story tonight.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A very exotic bottle fish!

It has been my intention for ages now to organise our daily learning activities around a central theme. Maybe not necessarily a theme-of-the-week kind of thing, because some themes may require a longer period of time to cover and others less, but you get the idea. I feel this will help me to more intentionally prepare learning activities and crafts at the start of each week, and give a little more structure to what we are doing.

So, I was doing the dishes on Sunday afternoon and wondering about what our very first theme would be. I had just used the last of the dish washing liquid and the empty bottle was standing next to the sink while I worked. I try to recycle a lot of our household junk into craft materials for Sweetpea or simple homemade skills toys for ArrowBoy these days, and so I was also trying to come up with an idea for using this oddly shaped plastic bottle for a craft. I had been eyeballing it for a while, and when I turned it on its side, I thought it rather looked like a peculiar kind of ....FISH! Aha! And so the theme for this week was born!!

As soon as the rest of the Joyful Family went for naps, I started prepping for the week's actvities...but alas, then Sweetpea woke up really ill on Monday morning and has been feeling far too miserable for doing much more than sitting on Mama's lap. She did perk up for an hour or two this morning, though, so here is what we did:

On Sunday afternoon I pre-cut the fins from an empty oats box, and also used a craft knife to cut slits in the plastic bottle where the fins would go.

While the children were playing this morning, I set up our craft tray with everything we needed. I find that this is the key to doing successful crafts with toddlers: have everything in one place, ready to go!

Sweetpea LOVED pushing the strips of red cellophane into the bottle - it was a super fine motor activity, too!

Painting the fins.

Painting white glue around the neck of the bottle. We attached a strip of orange felt for the mouth, and the eyes are craft foam circles on which Sweetpea drew some pupils with a black marker. We stuck  it on with white glue.

Ta-daaa! Our beautifully exotic bottle fish!

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                                                               ;abc button

Monday, August 9, 2010

What a beautiful baby!

This darling little donkey foal was recently born on my sister and her husband's farm and I couldn't resist posting these photos to share the cuteness with you all. I think it looks like the little fellow is wearing a really fluffy hat!

My brother-in-law shared with us that donkeys make really good mothers and are very protective of their young. For this purpose they are kept on the farm: see, they are put out to graze with pregnant cows or cows with young calves, to protect the young calves from jackals. One kick from a protective donkey mama is enough to kill a jackal.

I think there's a beautiful and encouraging little lesson here for us mamas who have friends with very young babies, who might be feeling a little overwhelmed at times...As that new mommy tries to find her feet in this wonderful adventure that is motherhood, let's not be the jackals who critisize and attack. Instead, may we rally around the new mom and give her space to find her and her baby's own, unique rythm. Let us strive to be a blessing, always.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

LLLI | 10 Tips to Breastfeeding for a Year

What an amazing week it has been here at Joyful Mama's Place as we celebrated World Breastfeeding Week 2010!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment, and for the flood of e-mails from passionate, breastfeeding moms! In fact, these posts have been so popular that I will continue sharing on the topic once a week for the remainder of August.

Today's post is an article that appeared in New Beginnings, a publication of La Leche League International, in the January-February2006 edition. I found the article to be informative and very helpful, and although I support the World Health Organization's recommendation that babies should  ideally be breastfed until the age of two or beyond, this article will hopefully give new moms the neccessary encouragement to take the first steps towards establishing a good breastfeeding relationship with their baby. You can access more great articles on the Breastfeeding Answers page on the LLL website - just click here.

10 Tips to Breastfeed for a Year
by Christine Foster

   The recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical groups is clear—babies should be breastfed until at least their first birthday. But few mothers and babies make it that far. Although more than 70 percent of new mothers in the USA breastfeed just after birth, just 16 percent are still breastfeeding at one year (Ruowei et al. 2005). The reasons that so few make it to that goal are complex— a society that doesn't always support breastfeeding; alternatives that can seem easier during difficult times; a lack of education or understanding about the significant differences between the health of breastfed babies and bottle-fed babies. But most mothers who really want to can make it to a year, and beyond. This article provides some tips to help you get there.

1. Find Support

Although many mothers initiate breastfeeding after birth, it's still unusual for a new mother to have a lot of experience with seeing breastfeeding in action. The changes a new mother experiences after the birth of a baby are hard to anticipate and oftentimes surprising. The theoretical notion of planning to breastfeed can be radically different from caring for a real, live baby at the breast. For that reason, it's comforting to be around people who know about breastfeeding.

One of the easiest ways to find supportive people is to attend La Leche League meetings during your pregnancy. Experienced Leaders often note that mothers who are involved with LLL before the birth tend to have an easier time because they are more educated about the normal course of breastfeeding. Plus, if there are unexpected issues, mothers who have already attended meetings are often more comfortable calling a Leader they already know.

It can also be helpful to educate family and friends about your goal. When Unity Dienes, a Leader in New Hampshire, was expecting twins, she made sure that her husband, Klee, understood her goals by writing up a list of reasons why it was so important for their boys to get her milk. Unity's advance work meant that when they encountered challenges in those early weeks, she had his full support. "He was amazed at how many different reasons there were," she says.

2. Learn to Breastfeed in Public

Learning how to breastfeed in public can be a big challenge—especially in communities where breastfeeding isn't as common. Women who can't get comfortable breastfeeding in public generally find it harder to make it to a year or beyond. If she doesn't want to nurse in public, a mother would either need to limit her excursions or pump her milk for bottles. Either of those can be frustrating and can limit the breastfeeding relationship.

Some mothers find nursing clothing to be helpful when they need to nurse in public, while others find it just as easy to breastfeed discreetly by lifting their shirt from the bottom and making sure their baby covers all of the exposed skin. Many mothers gain confidence by practicing in comfortable environments —such as a La Leche League meeting—or by watching themselves in a mirror so they know what they look like to those who may be watching. Sometimes enlisting a friend to come along for early outings can make a mother more comfortable. "Even if someone can tell you are breastfeeding, it's not a big deal," says Unity. "Try to develop that mind set. You are feeding your baby. You are comforting your baby. That's what your breasts are for."

Often a mother will actually be encouraged in her breastfeeding relationship by strangers who see her breastfeeding. "I was very nervous about breastfeeding in public with my first baby," says Dawn Burke, a Leader in Georgia. Once, when her daughter was about eight months old and the pair was out at a farmers' market, her baby became desperate to breastfeed. Dawn found a secluded spot on a milk crate at the edge of the public/employee area and sat down to breastfeed. An older male employee approached and loudly praised her for breastfeeding. "It is good to see you nursing your baby!" Dawn remembers him saying. "I am from India," he continued, "and breastfeeding is very important there. You keep nursing your baby. It's very good!" Now, Dawn says, "I tell mothers at meetings to take support wherever they find it!"

3. Limit the Use of Bottles and Pacifiers

Some babies clearly do use bottles and pacifiers and manage to continue breastfeeding for at least a year. But, as stated in THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK, getting sucking needs met somewhere other than the breast is a risk factor for early weaning. Using artificial nipples during the early weeks can interfere with a baby's ability to breastfeed effectively.

La Leche League suggests limiting pacifier use in the early weeks, which can seem confusing to some mothers in light of the recent recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics that babies should sleep with pacifiers to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. LLL believes that the recommendation did not take basic breastfeeding management into account and could threaten the development of longer-term breastfeeding relationships. According to a statement issued by LLL:

Pacifiers are artificial substitutes for what the breast does naturally. Breastfed babies often nurse to sleep for naps and bedtime. The recommended pacifier usage could cause a reduction in milk supply due to reduced stimulation of the breasts and may affect breastfeeding duration.

In other words, if pacifiers are good for babies, why not use the best—the breast?

4. Find Ways to Involve Dad

One of the most common reasons new mothers give for pumping milk is that they want their baby's father to be able to give the baby a bottle. Frequent bottles, however, can lead to early weaning, so finding another way for daddy to connect with his baby can be crucial. In many families, bath time or an infant massage is a special daddy-baby bonding opportunity that offers skin-to-skin contact and comfort.

Cindy Howard, a Leader in California, recalls that her husband disliked giving their daughters bottles because his daughters seemed to behave as if they were getting second-best. When their youngest daughter, Gwen, was a baby, John connected with her by rubbing her feet to comfort her when his wife attended an early morning exercise class.

Jennifer Moquin, a Leader in Pennsylvania, let her husband, Anthony, take the late shift with their night owl baby. She would breastfeed the baby and then lie down to sleep a bit while daddy walked the baby around, played special songs to her, and showed her pictures on the wall. "She was mellow, but wide awake," Jennifer recalls. "It was always a really nice time for them."

5. Create a Daily Rhythm

Strict schedules can make it hard for a mother to respond to her own baby's cues. They can also lead to decreased milk supply, because milk is removed from a mother's breasts less often. It can be confusing for mothers to hear that babies are "supposed to" breastfeed eight to 12 times in a 24 hour period or that babies "should" breastfeed for 10 or 15 minutes on each breast when their baby is doing something different. According to THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK, "Length of feedings varies with the baby's personality and age. A baby's breastfeeding style also may change as he grows." Many mothers find it helpful to spend less time looking at the clock and counting the number of times their babies go to the breast. As long as your baby is gaining enough weight, simply watching his or her cues is enough.

For some mothers and babies, though, having some sort of predictability to the day is important. A mother can gradually provide some structure by giving her baby predictable cues. Having a specific order to the day—a time for baths, walks, or books, for example—can help the baby and the mother find a rhythm that works for them. Some babies will fall into a more regular breastfeeding pattern as they grow older. Others will continue to want to breastfeed frequently throughout the day.

6. Breastfeed for Comfort

Some mothers worry that offering the breast for comfort when baby is upset will create an inappropriate emotional connection with food. They worry that their child will turn to food for comfort, rather than eating to satisfy physical hunger. They might believe that it's better to try to separate food from emotions. If we are honest with ourselves, though, we will realize that all of us associate certain emotions with certain foods. Cindy Howard, who is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, gives the example of the traditional birthday cake. There is rarely much nutritional value in the cake. It's the emotional component of celebrating with others that matters.

When you offer the breast for comfort, you are encouraging your baby to turn to you for comfort instead of a non-human object. The human contact matters more than the milk. Plus, breastfeeding for comfort keeps your supply plentiful and reminds the baby that by breastfeeding he can help himself to feel good again.

7. Recognize the Signs of a Nursing Strike

Babies often have periods during which they seem more or less interested in breastfeeding, but it is very unusual for a baby to actually choose to wean before one year. It is not uncommon, however, for a mother to say her young baby is "weaning" when the baby is actually in the midst of a nursing strike or making a developmental leap that is distracting him from breastfeeding. According to THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK, the most typical age for a nursing strike is between three and eight months.

The key to avoiding weaning inadvertently is to recognize and deal appropriately with a nursing strike. Molly Remer, a Leader in Missouri, remembers that when her son, Lann, was five months old, he stopped breastfeeding during waking hours for a week due to having a cold. Apparently frustrated because he was congested and having trouble breathing while breastfeeding, Lann simply refused. Molly breastfed him while he slept and tried various tricks to get him back to the breast during the day. Breastfeeding while in motion worked best, so she walked and breastfed. Lann is now two years old and still breastfeeding regularly.

Another very typical time for something that can look like weaning, but isn't, is the second half of the first year as babies start to move and be more aware of their environment. Some are so distracted that they never stop to breastfeed. Some mothers find that offering to breastfeed more often, bringing a baby into a dark room to breastfeed, or taking advantage of nighttime nursing opportunities can get them through this stage. Frequently, when babies refuse to breastfeed, though, there is something else going on that has upset the babies' lives, such as an illness or teething or a big change in the family, such as a move. And, sometimes, rarely, babies will wean naturally before a year. The benefits of breastfeeding to a baby's health are so strong, however, that it is worth efforts to make sure that a baby is not simply going through a short-lived stage before stopping breastfeeding.

8. Handle One Day at a Time

Some mothers are planners: they want to decide how long they will breastfeed before their baby is even born. They think, "I don't really want to nurse a three-year-old, so I will wean now." Others may plan to breastfeed until a year or beyond, but may feel overwhelmed during the early days and fear that they can't possibly make it to their goal.

Instead of making a firm decision in advance, try taking it one day at a time. When your baby is a newborn the idea of breastfeeding an enormous 12-month-old can seem daunting. When you are helping her blow out her candles on her first birthday, your baby won't seem nearly so huge.

Ariel Valencia, a mother in California, has used the "one day at a time" approach to help her continue to give her son, Evren, only her milk. Ariel works outside the home and finds it difficult to pump enough milk for him while she is away. She sets two-week goals and has already made it to five months.

9. Don't View Breastfeeding as an "All-or-Nothing" Proposition

Occasionally mothers introduce formula—perhaps to cope with a supply deficit while they are working or because they choose not to pump milk when they are separated from their baby.

Julie Nelson, a mother in New York, introduced formula to her son, Nicholas, at nine months when she stopped being able to pump enough for him while she was at work. She continued to breastfeed during the evenings and on weekends and Nicholas continued to breastfeed through his first birthday.

10. Enjoy the Moment

Remember, it's okay to fall in love with breastfeeding. "It's going to be your heart, not your mind that makes you continue," says Unity Dienes. So prime your heart to love breastfeeding. Unity suggests that mothers:

Make sure breastfeeding doesn't hurt—you can't fall in love with something that hurts.

Avoid having anything in between you and your baby, including a nipple shield or a bottle with pumped milk. Whenever something is between you, it makes things more difficult.

Snuggle with your baby. Savor his sweet smell and his fuzzy head. Watch to see the milk your body made dripping out the corner of his mouth. Falling in love involves all the senses.

When a mother embraces breastfeeding, it becomes that much easier to breastfeed for a full year and beyond. That's the true "secret" to breastfeeding. If a mother enjoys breastfeeding or commits herself to it, it's likely that it will be easier for her to allow comfort nursing, figure out how to nurse in the presence of others, and get the support she needs.

This period in your baby's life is fleeting. As you adjust to this new experience, remember to take things as they come and try to enjoy the moment.

Mohrbacher, N. and Stock, J. THE BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK. Schaumburg, Illinois: La Leche League International, 2003.

Ruowei, L. et al. Breastfeeding rates in the United States by characteristics of the child, mother, or family: The 2002 national immunization survey. Pediatrics 2005; 115(1):e31-e37.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Welcome to day four of our World Breastfeeding Week 2010 celebrations here on Joyful Mama's Place!

Today's guest blogger is an amazing lady who is also a very precious friend of mine, and it is an absolute JOY to welcome her to my blog!

Linnie is the mother of eight beautiful children, two girls and six boys - so far! - and has all the right credentials for writing a blog post about nutrition for breastfeeding moms: she was trained as a dietician, her husband owns a successful health shop, and she is a breastfeeding mother who is single-minded about providing her family with nutritious food.

To learn more about Linnie and her beautiful family, be sure to visit her blog, Back to Ancient Ways.

Christo and Linnie's eight blessings!

I am the mother of 8 children and I breastfed each child for at least 15 months. Over the past 16years (my oldest turns 16 in two weeks) I’ve breastfed exactly 12 years (144 months), and non-stop since June 2005. What I’m sharing with you about nutrition while breastfeeding, nobody has taught me, neither did I read it in any book. It is knowledge I’ve acquired through many painful days and nights trying to comfort fussy and colicky babies.

Photo below: Three of Christo and Linnie's boys - look at those beautiful big eyes!

Contrary to what your pediatrician, dietitian (trust me on this one - I was a dietitian) or clinic sister will tell you, everything that you eat has an influence on your baby. Not only coffee, alcohol and maybe chocolates! Anything you eat or drink gets digested and absorbed into your breast milk. Baby drinks that and depending on if it is easily digested, unknown to the digestive system or too complex to be digested yet, you will have a content, uncomfortable or, in most cases, colicky baby!

There is a small spectrum of food available for breastfeeding mothers, and finding foods that are good for both baby and mother is by far the hardest part of breast feeding, and thus one of the main reasons why mothers stop breastfeeding their babies, against their knowledge that breast is best! It is important what condiments you use during cooking. The brand of a product i.e. Soya sauce, salt etc is extremely important, as some brands add ingredients that gives baby cramps very easily and mother a difficult night.

So what do I avoid during the first three months of a newborn baby? There are so many foods to avoid, it is easier for me to tell you what I’m allowed to eat, but I will still try.

1. I avoid all wheat. Even ‘organic wheat’. Organic wheat is still altered and now contains 21 genes in comparison to the original 7 genes of the God-made-wheat and thus the body doesn’t have the enzymes to digest it correctly. We bake our own bread from Spelt.

2. The next big no-no is, diary products. That includes milk, cream, cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt, etc., but butter is OK.

3. Food containing MSG make babies cry for hours! That means there are no soup powders, aromat or tinned food in my kitchen cupboards. I also avoid any commercial mayonnaise, chutney, soya sauce, tomato puree, tomato paste or tomato sauce.

4. Sugar is also a stumbling block on your way to an easy baby! Sugar is a mind-altering-drug and will make your baby more irritable. Be especially careful of breakfast cereals. During the first six months of a new baby I also avoid honey in my food. I’ve noticed it caused blocked noses and colic with some babies.

How does one know if there are wheat, diary, MSG or sugar in food? You start by reading the food labels!

5. The next thing we’ve noticed is the effect of pesticides and chemical treatment in fresh fruit and vegetables on Newborn babies. We currently only eat organic fruit and vegetables. If you are in the Western Cape Peninsula you can look into the Ethical Co-op for organic fruit and vegetables. Now, you may ask, what if you don’t have access to organic fruit and vegetables or cannot afford it? We have only had access to organic fruit for the past 4 months. Before this, I just avoided fruit during the first 3 to 6 months of my new baby and only ate certain vegetables. For fruit, I’ll have an organic apple, pear or peach. I avoid banana (as it causes constipation and mucus in babies) and citrus fruit. I’m careful of prunes, watermelon, grapes, strawberries, pawpaw and mango. For vegetables, I stay safe with butternut, sweet potato and squash. From all other vegetables - especially the onion family, cabbage family, beans and peas - I stay away.

6. For starch I only eat rice and stay away from potatoes. We make our own pasta with spelt flour (recipe below).

7. For protein I have eggs, lamb, mince (I make sure it is medium fat beef mince and contains nothing else than beef) and chicken. NO pork, beacon or any sausage. We buy all our meat products (lamb, chicken, mince, 'boerewors' - sausage, fillet) from the Boesmanland and they are totally organic! [You can order organic meat via Eirene health shop - Joyful Mama]

8. I also avoid any tea, especially rooibos tea![For our international readers, this is a herbal tea that is grown in the Cederberg mountains here in South Africa, and it is very popular throughout southern Africa]. Rooibos tea causes the intercellular cellular fluids to become very acidic, which caused me to take longer to recover from labour. Typical symptoms from being acidic is an aching body. I only have one or two organic, decaf cappuccino's, made with rice milk and a little brown sugar a week.

9. The golden rule is to prepare your food from scratch and throw out your microwave. You can read about microwave cooking here.

10. We also follow the blood group diet of Dr. Peter D’Adamo The blood group diet doesn’t only benefit your baby, it has the benefit of you getting back in shape in no time! I’m an O-blood type and eat meat with breakfast, lunch and supper. I eat butter and certainly don’t avoid fat. But I do avoid sugar! Contrary to what you may have been told or believe, it isn’t fat that make you fat, it is sugar and too much fruit! Michael is one month old and I’m only 3 kg from what I weighed before I fell pregnant. And that has been the case with every baby.

South African readers can order this book by clicking here.

By the same author:

Click here to order.

So what do I eat?

I eat as simple as possible, no fast foods, only food prepared from scratch in my kitchen. This way I know exactly what is in every meal.

I bake our own bread with spelt flour, an ancient wheat imported from Europe. It isn’t genetically modified and is grown organic. I have a Panasonic bread machine, which makes baking bread no big deal.

For salt I only use sea salt or Himalayan salt.

Available at health shops.

We love pasta and we make our own with spelt in the Kenwood Chef with the pasta accessories.

Whenever we need milk, we use rice milk powder.

2 baked eggs and spelt bread.
scrambled eggs (seasoned only with rice milk and sea salt) and spelt bread.
an egg omelet (egg, salt and water) with left over mince from supper and spelt bread
Carrot juice made in our Oscar Juicer.

I eat only St. Dalfour’s apricot jam on my spelt toast.

I avoid any form of sausage and bacon with breakfast.


We always try to have left over food from the previous night’s supper for lunch.

Spelt bread with chicken fillets (Sautee free range chicken fillets in a little butter, then add some water and cook with sea salt and 1 -2 fresh, organic tomatoes and fresh basil and thyme from my vegetable garden.)
Spelt bread with thin slices left over leg of lamb (see recipe under supper).
Spelt bread with cooked egg.


Always prepare from scratch!

Leg of lamb and rice cooked with sea salt. (Cover leg of lamb with fresh tomato puree, fresh basil and thyme - from your own vegetable garden or organic if possible and sea salt. Pour some water in bottom of oven pan, cover with foil. Bake for 3 hours at 180 degree C. Take foil off and bake until brown and crispy)


Lamb chops on rice baked with sea salt (Put lamb chops in oven pan, pour some water in bottom of oven pan, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour at 180 degree C. Take foil off after 1 hour, season with sea salt and bake for another 30 min. or until brown and crispy)


Mince on spelt pasta, with white sauce. (Mince - sautee in little butter. Add sea salt, fresh tomato puree, basil, thyme and rosemary and cook for about 20 minutes; Spelt pasta - enough for our family of 9 - 600g spelt flour, 4 beaten eggs, 5ml salt. Mix together for 1min on medium speed in Kenwood Mixer. Make pasta of choice with Kenwood accessories; )

White sauce made with 70g butter, 60g spelt, 10ml sea salt, 1l rice milk.


Chicken fillet burger. (Sautee free range chicken fillets in a little butter, add some water and cook with sea salt and 1 -2 fresh tomatoes; Spelt buns - dough made in Panasonic bread machine on Pizza method, shape round buns, put in oven - not pre-heated at 180 degrees C until light brown.)

For vegetables:
Butternut cubes in oven pan with butter and salt, baked at 180 degree C until soft and tender.


Squash cooked only in salt water, add butter cube after cooked.


Sweet potato baked in oven at 180 degree C.


Fresh carrot and pineapple salad (made by Josua with our Oscar juicer)


Fresh green salad (made by Heidi-Mari), lettuce, tomatoes and avocado - all organic, from our vegetable garden, except for avocado.

Supplements for the Breastfeeding Mother

We all know a mother who was advised by a clinic nurse or mother-in-law to give her baby extra bottle feeding, due to her ‘weak’ milk or insufficient milk. By taking a few essential supplements you can ensure STRONG and ENOUGH milk for your baby.

   As a breastfeeding mom, your baby takes a lot from you. This is natural and your body is made to handle it. With today’s stresses and generally depleted foods, it has become necessary to take a few supplements to your general diet. Again, your dietician, paediatrician, gynaecologist or GP is not trained to advise on these and other natural supplements. As far as their training goes, you get everything you need from the food you eat. The fact that modern day agricultural methods deplete foods of essential micro-nutrients is not part of their thinking.

[Note: These supplements can be bought from most good health shops, or visit Eirene Health Shop in Durbanville - Joyful Mama]
1. Start by taking a good multi-vitamin formula. I recommend High 5 from Viridian. One capsule with breakfast should be sufficient.

2. Take Omega SLO. I recommend this particular omega 3 as it contains alkoxyglycerols, a natural substance found in mother’s milk. This will strengthen your milk and aid baby’s development, as well as protecting and nourishing your own body.

3. Drink PLENTY filtered water, drink PLENTY filtered water, drink PLENTY filtered water, drink PLENTY filtered water – you get the picture? You also need to get minerals to aid all the processes in your and baby’s body. I recommend adding one coral calcium bag to every 1.5L of water. A breastfeeding mother can easily drink 4 liters of filtered water daily – to supply in the lactation needs of baby.

4. If you are taking the above but the stress of a new baby and life in general is getting you down, you may want to add Mindset to your supplementing regime. Mindset is 100% natural and safe for you and baby. Stress also makes it difficult for your body to produce enough milk. It supplies food to the brain, thus aids the body’s ability to regulate stress response, focus and sleeping patterns. Best taken away from your meals.

5. If you are doing everything I mentioned, but your milk supply is still struggling, try supplementing with Fenugreek capsules. This aids greatly in stimulating lactation. Avoid taking Eglonyl for lactation stimulation. Contrarily to your doctors advice, Eglonyl is a dangerous Schedule 5 mind-altering drug, that goes through your milk to baby and can adversely affect brain development.

As you can see, there isn’t a great variety in my diet and it does get boring after a month, but coping with a fussyy or colicky baby during the day, and even worse, at night, isn’t easy at all. It all depends on how desperate you are to have a contented baby!

With love



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