Monday, August 30, 2010

To Soy or Not to Soy...That is the Question

Glass of soy milk and soy beans.
There has been a lot of buzz about giving soy products and soy formula to babies.  I did a little bit of online research, because I too give my son tofu, soybeans, and small amounts of soy milk in his food.  It seems like this was really a hot button topic in the late 1990's and early 2000's because there is tons of conflicting info on the internet from that time.  From what I have read that the major long term issues of giving excessive amounts of soy products to babies, are thyroid and reproductive disorders.  Also there is rising concern over genetically engineered (GE) soybeans.  It is thought that megadoses of phytoestrogens in soy formula and genetically engineered soybeans have been implicated in the current trend toward increasingly premature sexual development in girls and delayed or retarded sexual development in boys.

This is an excerpt from 1999 post at bnet.  Check out the full story

In 1996, Dr. Kenneth Setchell of the Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati studied five leading brands of soy-based baby milk. He found the products contain the phytoestrogen level of several contraceptive pills every day, about six to 11 times the amount that alters the menstrual cycle.  

The Infant Formula Council (IFC) supports the Food and Drug Administration's view that GE [genetically engineered] soybeans are safe. However, the Center of Ethics and Toxics (CETOS), a nonprofit research organization, recently published research indicating a 200 to 300 percent increase in phytoestrogen levels of transgenic soybeans.  "There may be a big difference when you genetically modify plants from their original form," says CETOS' Mark Lappe. "The assumptions that the FDA and U.S. regulators have made exempting transgenic food from harm may be fallacious." 

Even if you're certain that your soy formula was produced from organic, non-GE sources, you're left with questions about safe dosage levels. Unfortunately, no standards exist. The FDA regards supplements and baby formulas as food, not drugs, and exempts them from extensive testing protocols. "Soy is used like water here and I think that's very scary," says Baumslag. "People are getting their information from drug and food companies rather than from careful research."
This information is certainly concerning, however this post is more than 10 years old.  I would be interesting to see what the regulations are now, and if the phytoestrogen levels are still that high?  Surprisingly there isn't a whole lot of recent literature on the web.  I was considering giving my son soy milk instead of cows milk when he turns one year, but honestly now I am reconsidering.  I have talked to a few moms who use rice milk and almond milk.  I have also heard of oat milk but don't know much about it...I'll keep you posted.  Would love to hear the opinion of anyone else who is interested in this topic!
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gone Bananas

I have been making Dylan muffins and serving them to him either for breakfast or as a afternoon snack.  I have to admit that I have been cheating a bit and using the Trader Joe's Banana Bread Mix as a base for my muffins.  I am not usually a big fan of box mixes but this one is so yummy!  I usually doctor up the mix by adding Gerber Oatmeal Cereal...or you can use whole oats.  I also add real bananas and raspberries.  

The Banana bread mix comes in a yellow box. It is called Trader Joe's Banana Bread Mix.  It is very simple to make. You will need two large eggs, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, and ¾ cup of water.  Add additional ingredients to taste.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the eggs, oil and water and blend well. Grease the pan, and then pour in the batter. Bake for about 40 minutes.

Now you can use fresh bananas but ripe bananas always make sweeter, moister muffins or bread.  My sister's tip is that if you have some bananas that are getting too ripe, but you are not ready to used them, place them in a Ziplock bag and stick them in the freezer.  They turn brownish-black, but when you are ready to use them just pull them out and let them defrost a bit.  You can peel them and mash them and add them to any muffin or bread recipe.  When I make a batch of muffins I put them in the freezer and pull them out one by one.  Just pop them in the microwave on level 10 for 10-15 seconds.  Enjoy!
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cyber Mommies

Within 3 days of going home from the hospital with Dylan I went to my first breastfeeding support group.  I remember going there and seeing all of the moms who had been participating for weeks and thinking "Wow...they look so confident...and really know what they are doing."  Well, 3 or 4 weeks passed and those moms graduated and we became the ones giving the advice to the newbies.  Its amazing how a little support in the beginning can make such a world of difference.  Knowing that you are not the only one with raging hormones or baby who is inconsolable...helps to get you through those difficult moments.  In the beginning, leaving the house required packing the ginormous diaper bag, the breastfeeding pillow, the breast pump, the stroller and amazes me that we ever left the house at all!  I remember one time we had gotten up early to be at the library for "baby time" and it literally took us 45 minutes to get out of the house.  When we got there the lady told me that we were 5 minutes late, so we would have to come back next week...after pleading with her to let us stay the group lasted all of 15 minutes.  I remember thinking that it wasn't even worth the effort.  It is certainly a lot easier to get out now, but leaving the house with a 10 month old poses its own challenges.

After seeing the benefits of connecting with other moms and hearing stories from moms who have been there before me, I wanted to start a support group of my own.  However, I didn't want to limit it to the moms in my neighborhood and I wanted to host the group at a time and place where they could devote their full attention to the topics.  I realized that the internet would be a perfect tool to connect moms and moms-to-be in the comfort of their own homes!  My goal is to provide a safe and respectful place for sharing ideas and stories related to parenthood...including but not limited to breastfeeding and baby food.  It will be a fun way to connect with friends and make some new ones!  If you would like to participate follow the instructions below. 

We will be having our first ever web chat mommy support group tomorrow night at 8 pm EST.  That's 5 pm for all of you on the West coast.  To log into the web chat go to

You will need to register and connect with your facebook or twitter account.   

The password for the room is mush  

Contact me if have any trouble setting this up.  You will need a camera and microphone to be able to participate.  This is just a trial run, but if there is a good attendance we will make it a weekly meet-up! Tomorrow we will be working out all of the "bugs" with the software...and discussing "Adjusting to Parenthood".   It will last about an hour...hope you can make it!

Friday, August 20, 2010

"More Pleeeze"

Last night I attended a mom's group and the topic was Signing with Your Hearing Baby.  It was AMAZING!  The instructor was Crystal Ashworth, and she is the owner of My Smart Hands With Crystal.  She showed us the video below of Laura Berg from Canada signing with her one year old daughter.  Crystal is a certified sign language instructor and has used sign with her own children.  She explained that the main benefits of signing with your baby include decreasing frustration, accelerating verbal speech development, improving cognitive skills, and facilitating parent-child bonding.  I have used basic signs for years with my pediatric clients and have started signing with my son.  He signs "more" and "milk" pretty consistently, but after attending this meeting and watching this video, I realized that I should be signing with him a lot more!  Crystal explained to the group some of the research that supports early signing with your hearing baby and it is really interesting!  And I know first hand that signing is beneficial for hearing babies with a variety of cognitive disabilities.
If you are in the Phoenix Area you should really check out her classes.

For more information visit her website at or email her at

If you are interested in finding out about classes in your area check out the main website at and search for a class in your area!

You have to watch this video! 

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finger Foodie

So we have successfully transitioned to the world of finger foods.  It is amazing how much easier meal time is now that my son can finger feed himself.  Tonight's dinner menu included raspberries, Swiss cheese pieces, avocado pieces, wheat bread and steamed sweet potato chucks.  I have been trying to give Dylan some variety and I have tried not to limit him by my likes and dislikes.  For example, I absolutely hate cottage cheese...the thought and smell of it makes me nauseous...Dylan loves it!  I put it on his tray and he will pick up every last cheese curd and basically lick the tray clean.

Nothing is set in stone when introducing finger foods to your little one.  Most babies start finger foods between 7 and 8 months, but some start as late as 10 months.  Believe it or not your baby does not need to have teeth to eat finger foods...however they should be able to "chew" the food with their gums.  All of the foods that I have been giving Dylan are soft and easy to mash in his mouth.  Here are some examples of Dylan's new food repertoire:

  • Quartered Blueberries
  • Ripe Banana Pieces
  • Ripe Kiwi Pieces
  • Watermelon Pieces
  • Cantaloupe Pieces
  • Quartered Grapes (Actually...quarters cut in half)
  • Tomato Pieces (Yes, tomatoes are fruits)
  • Ripe Fig Pieces
  • Steamed or Baked Sweet Potato Pieces
  • Steamed Zucchini Pieces
  • Steamed (Very Soft) Carrot Pieces
  • Steamed Green and Yellow Bean Pieces
  • Steamed Peas
  • Steamed or Baked Butternut Squash
  • Shredded Chicken or Turkey (boiled or slow cooked in the crock pot)
  • Flaked Grilled Salmon (watch for hard pieces and bones)
  • Wheat Pasta (cut into pea sized pieces)
  • Extra Firm Tofu
  • Wheat Bread (I remove the crust and give the soft inside part)
  • Wheat Bagels (I only give chunks of the soft inside)
  • Swiss, Cheddar, Colby Jack Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese (Yuck!)
Now that Dylan is eating finger foods...I thought it would be important to review what to do if he started to choke!  Watch the video below and be prepared to know what to do.  Hopefully we will never need it, but it is always good to be prepared!

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Baby Etiquette 101...This has nothing to do with baby food!

Again I pose the question, "Why do strangers think that it is okay to touch our children when we are out in the community?"  My husband says it is because I have a great, big FRIENDLY sign on my forehead.  And it probably doesn't help that my son has recently started waving at everyone he sees.  But regardless, that does not make it okay to go up to a complete stranger's infant, toddler, teenager...and touch them.  Case in point, I was grocery shopping last week at a store that I go to every week.  The cashiers and staff are always very friendly, but they are so touchy feeling when I bring Dylan.  This always makes me feel uncomfortable.  I am a bit of a germaphobe, and it seems like the minute they see him, they drop the raw chicken they are unpacking to come over and touch his hands and face!  I usually just try to keep moving along to avoid prolonged touching, but I am considering going to a different location.  So anyway, this week as I approached the self check out the cashier attempted to pick Dylan up out of the cart!  This is not okay!

So in the parking lot of this grocery store (on the same day) I was taking Dylan out of the car seat and a guy zips around the corner and tries to squeeze his car between me and the car in the next space over.  So I turn towards him and give him the "what the... look" and his car screeches to a halt.  I finish pulling Dylan out of the seat and the guy gives me the wave like "hurry up."  BTW at this point there are only three cars in the parking lot and a hundred empty spaces.  So anyway I see this guy in the store later and he says to me "You know, I was going to wait for you." And I was like, "Geeze thanks."  What I wanted to say was, "Thanks for not running over me and my baby, especially when you could have easily parked in any other spot in the lot!"

Okay last rant...a few months ago were at a friend's house with some friends and acquaintances.  A couple of people had asked me if it was okay to hold the baby.  So that is fine.  I started talking to a friend, and look up and someone I have never met is feeding my baby crackers and spinach artichoke dip.  Who does that?  I mean, luckily Dylan doesn't have any food allergies, but what if he did?  The best part is that someone later asked me if they could give Dylan some fruit....from their alcoholic drink!!!  These people obviously did not have kids, but come on use some common sense! 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

High Hormone Levels in Chinese Baby Formula...Very Scary!

Looks Harmless...Right?
August 9th the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that baby formula manufactured by Synutra International in China contains high levels of hormones causing babies to “prematurely develop breasts.”  The China Daily reports that in babies who were fed the formula, “the levels of hormones in three girls, ranging in age from 15 months to four years, exceeded those of the average adult woman."  Despite these findings the formula is still being sold (at discount prices) and Synutra claims that the product is safe.  It also claims that "no man-made 'hormones' or any illegal substances were added during production."  If that is the did this happen?

The former chairman of the dairy association in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, told the China Daily that the hormones could have entered the food chain when farmers reared the cattle.  "Since a regulation forbidding the use of hormones to cultivate livestock has yet to be drawn up in China, it would be lying to say nobody uses it."  

AFP recalls that, “Chinese dairy products were recalled worldwide in 2008 after it was revealed that melamine, a toxic chemical used to make plastics, was widely and illegally added to the products to give the appearance of higher protein.”  In the 2008 milk scandal, at least six children died and 300,000 were sickened from milk that contained dangerous levels of melamine. Synutra refers to this as the “the melamine incident.”

I can't believe that this kind of stuff happens...can you imagine what the long term effect of this is on all of those children?  The saddest part is that the product is still on the market and sold at discount prices.  This sets up a situation where the poorest people are purchasing and have the least resources to combat it's ill effects!  What a shame!  Oh, and the side effects have been reported in females, but the effects on baby boys is yet to be determined. 
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tis the Gift!

Breastfeeding symbolImage via Wikipedia
In honor of National Breastfeeding week (last week)...better late than never...I wanted to share some info on something that I never knew existed until I took the breastfeeding class before Dylan was born.  Breast milk donation and banking.  It may sound strange but human milk banks provide breast milk to hospitals around the country for babies who can not receive breast milk from their mothers.  Human breast milk is commonly prescribed...that's right babies who are premature, have allergies, feeding/formula intolerance, immunologic deficiencies, infectious diseases, or inborn errors of metabolism.

Breast milk banks work much in the same way blood banks work.  Donor milk is received and carefully screened for toxins and communicable diseases.  Donors must be non-smokers, not regularly consume any medication, not consume alcohol within the specified exclusion period.  The milk is processed and heat treated to kill any viruses or bacteria.  It is frozen and dispensed.

To become a milk donor contact the milk bank closest to you, and find out if you are eligible to donate. Even if there is not a milk bank in your city or state, many of the milk banks will still screen and accept you as a donor.  I think there is some paperwork and blood screening involved.  The milk bank will cover the cost of the blood test and the cost of shipping the milk. The minimum donation amount might be higher for a "shipping donor," but the extra effort to ship your milk to a non-profit milk bank is well worth your time when you consider the infants that will benefit.  Unfortunately I didn't donate with Dylan (even though at one point I had enough milk in my freezer for an entire army) because we were moving, but I certainly hope to donate the next time around!

Here are some links with more information on breast milk donation and banking:
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sweet Relief

My sweet little boy who would flash his gummy smile at anyone, has suddenly turned into a cranky, teething monster! It started about two weeks ago with the whining, drooling, and runny nose...not to mention the hands in the mouth constantly. It seems like he loves to "chew" on anything hard that he can scrape his teeth on. In a desperate attempt to help soothe his sore gums I have tried cold washcloths and cold teethers...they are only effective until his throws them from the highchair. I have also tried letting him gnaw on frozen bagels and popsicles. If using frozen bagels, make sure you use the large whole wheat bagels because the mini bagels break apart pretty easily and can become a choking hazard. If trying popsicles use the 100% fruit juice ones with no sugar added. Also be careful not to give the citrus flavors, because the acid is tough on baby's tummy.  You can make your own popsicles by mixing fruit juice and water and pouring the mixture into ice cube trays.  Dylan loves when I put his Danonino Yogurt in  the freezer and then spoon feed him the icy yogurt.

In my quest to ease Dylan's teething pain...I came across the suggestion to put frozen fruit or ice cubes in a mesh feeder. I love, love, love mesh feeders. Especially now that Dylan is venturing into the world of finger foods. You can put virtually anything in it, and your little one can just suck the food through the really limits the risk of choking. I have used it with frozen bananas, melons, grapes, and berries, and it really seems to help. Today Dylan enjoyed chewing on a cold corn was easy for him to hold and he liked the way it felt on his emerging teeth. I suggest removing the corn prior to giving the cob, just so they don't choke on anything they can bite off with those new pearly whites!

I have also been using Hyland's Teething pediatrician recommended them and they really help. They are all natural and no chemicals like with the Baby Orajel or Ambesol.

If your baby is an early teether and is not yet eating solid foods, you can freeze breast milk or formula in ice cube trays and put the cubes in the mesh feeder. You can also dip a pacifier in water and fill the nipple. Place in the freezer until the water in the nipple freezes. When your baby sucks on the pacifier, she will sooth her gums at the same time.

Check out the link below for an inventive solution for your teething baby...teething jewelry for mom.  Cool!