You can’t eat that!

In my postpartum doula practice and talking to friends with newborns, I frequently hear about how mothers have stopped eating certain foods they enjoy because they heard that the food is behind their baby’s gas or crankiness.  A well meaning mother, friend, or Yahoo! answerer has told them so, and have even sworn that it was that way with all the babies they’ve known. I think it’s a really sad thing that this poor advice is passed around so much because it just makes breastfeeding harder and possibly less successful by restricting a woman’s choices and causing unwarranted anxiety.  And it just has no basis in fact.

I hear from mothers who have stopped eating lentils, or all foods in the cabbage family, or are suffering trying to figure out how to go a year or more with no onions or garlic, or even (YIKES!) have been told not to eat chocolate or some other food.  Most of this is just, well, bunk that probably has either to do with faulty reasoning or cultural bias, but certainly not anything biological.  That is not to say that there isn’t a small percentage of babies out there with true allergies (like to cow milk) or sensitivities (like to caffeine), but most moms with most babies can eat what they like while breastfeeding without worry about causing the baby problems.

First, let’s looking at the most common group of foods moms tell me about, the “gassy” foods.  These include foods like onions, beans, and other vegetables that cause adults gas.  Put simply, that cannot give your baby gas when you eat them.  Not even if you get gas from them.  The reason is simple; they give you gas because they gas causing substance is indigestible to humans.  All these foods contain indigestible sugar called raffinose.  It’s the raffinose that causes your gas.  Your body does not digest or breakdown raffinose, and does not absorb it into the bloodstream.  Instead, it sticks around in your intestine and is broken down by bacteria.  The bacteria produce gas as a byproduct of their digestion of the raffinose.  If you don’t digest it, it doesn’t get into your bloodstream and doesn’t get into your breastmilk.  It’s as simple as that.  It doesn’t matter what the folk wisdom or lady next door has said, it’s not physically possible that these “gassy” foods give your baby gas. Go back to enjoying their flavor and nutrition.

So what is giving the baby gas, and why are many babies so fussy right after mom has eaten a dinner of beans and onions?  Let’s take these as two separate questions.

Why are babies so gassy?

Healthy babies have gas for several reasons.  First, their immature digestive systems aren’t organized very well.  They swallow a lot of air, particularly when crying and eating.  Swallowed air is gas and causes the symptoms of gas.  Another issue in the immature gut that causes gas is that the baby’s intestines may not be colonized by all the bacteria older children and adults have that aid in digestion.   This will happen in time.  Long intestinal transit time can also cause gas.  Some breastfed babies starting at 6-8 weeks of age do as long as a week between bowel movements.  This is normal, but food sitting in the gut that long has more time of ferment and produce gas.  Lastly, you might notice that little babies seem to struggle to pass their gas, and that is seems really difficult and distressing for them.  Think for a second about what it takes for an adult to pass gas.  You have to coordinate two seemingly opposing muscular tasks to do it comfortably: push the gas out while relaxing the anal sphincter.  Babies just are not practiced at doing that, so it is not easy to do!  All of these factors work together to make a baby have uncomfortable gas.

There are some less healthy reasons for gas in babies as well.  Thrush can make a baby gassy because their may be undergoing yeast fermentation in their tummies.  Another abnormal reason for gas in newborns is milk oversupply issues, in which the baby has frothy green poop.  Lastly are true food allergies.  True allergies, however, also come with other symptoms like rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and nasal congestion.  If you ever think that your child has a problem more serious than normal infant gas, please talk to your pediatrician or lactation consultant.

So what about all the gas, fussiness, and crying after mom has eaten a big dinner of beans, broccoli, and brussels sprouts?  No, it’s still not from the food.  It’s timing, and it may or may not have anything to do with digestion.  What may be happening is a normal developmental stage that can be managed by parents.

It is normal for infant to go through a period between 2 weeks and about 3 months of age in which they cry for extended periods and for no apparent reason.  This normal crying tends to happen in the late afternoon or early evening.  The peak of this phase is at about 6 weeks, and the boughts of crying can last for a few hours almost every day.  This normal crying can be managed by parents in ways that can help parents feel empowered and help with early bonding between the child and her caretakers.

What does this have to do with gas and food?  As we mentioned, babies swallow air when crying.  That swallowed air during the crying period may contribute to evening and night time gas.  And guess what else?  It happens in the evening, so this gas and fussiness coincides with your dinner.

So that’s it.  Eat the “gassy” foods you want while you’re breastfeeding.  You might enjoy them and they’re full of vitamins and other nutrients that are good for you.  They are not causing your baby’s gas because they can’t.  Newborns get gas for a lot of reasons.  If your baby is getting gas after your dinner, don’t worry. It’s coincidence; not your food.  Don’t make breastfeeding more difficult on yourself than it has to be.

 

We don’t have a name for that.

We call a child whose parents have died and orphan.  A man whose wife has died is known as a widower; a woman who has outlived her husband is know as a widow.  There’s no word for me, nor for my husband.

About two and a half years ago, our first son, Baruch, died at birth.  I gave birth to a 7 pound, 11 ounce baby boy, who, except for an unexpected, unusual, and sudden problem was expected to be normal and perfectly healthy.  I don’t know what color his eyes were nor what his voice sounded like.  He passed away and I never got to see him alive.  When I did see him, I was handed a clean, neatly wrapped and dressed baby who looked as if he were just alseep.

We named him Baruch, Hebrew for “a blessing.”  He looked perfect, but he couldn’t come home with us.  Twelve hours after the birth, my husband and I left the hospital and went to our house that we’d prepared for the homecoming of our baby.

People tried hard to be nice.  Actually, people were very nice.  Some came to pay condolence calls; some were better at it than others.  My freezer overflowed with food cooked by ladies from our synagogue.  We got some nice cards, and a few people donated money to charities in Baruch’s name.  One Catholic friend had a Mass said for him.  I thought that was very thoughtful, probably the most thoughtful thing anyone did.

That friend, a very pious man of a very different religion than ours did something that acknowledged that we’d lost a member of our family, a little person with a soul.  Not everyone treated or regarded our loss that way.  For example, our rabbi kept the funeral “private.”  Usually, if a someone in our community lost an older child, a sibling, or a parent, the whole congregation would have gotten phone calls about the family’s loss.  That didn’t happen with us.  The whole loss was kept as secret as possible and I didn’t have the emotional wherewithal at the time to object.  Still, about 30 people came to Baruch’s funeral, even my 96 year old grandfather from Chicago who had himself buried two of his own three children.  The cemetery wouldn’t bury Baruch for two weeks, even if burial withing 24 hour is mandated in our faith.  It seems other people were more important, and my little son kept getting bumped because he wasn’t really regarded as a full fledged person who deserved a timely burial.  Or because we weren’t regarded as full fledged bereaved parents.  I prefer to regard it as the latter for my own sanity.

Nowadays, all these months later, people are still pretty uncomfortable when we talk about him, especially when we call Baruch by his name.  With the exception of the cemetery, I can understand why people have a problem when they see our family’s loss up close.  They don’t know what to call what happened to my family so the loss of our baby seems less real to them than the loss of another relative would.  However, I do acknowledge good intentions in people’s denial and discomfort.  They don’t like to think that something so terrible and so out of human control can happen to people, and they’d like to spare us the pain of reminding us of our loss.  This is not to mention how disconnected from death our culture has become, and how skeeved out people are about it.   They’re just doing what our culture tells them is right.  The real problem behind all this discomfort are our culture values when it comes to baby loss.  Perhaps it’s a holdover from an earlier time when people had more children and lost more children.  Maybe it’s a result of how we’ve minimized and even pathologized grief in our culture. I don’t really know how we’ve gotten here, but I can tell you that the result is that baby loss is seen as just something really sad that happens sometimes and that is best not spoken, or even thought about.

I’ve been trying to think for two months now of some poignant way of concluding this blog post, to give it a satisfying ending with some kind of message to take away.  The truth is that I don’t have one.  What I have is sympathy for any parents reading this who have lost a child.  It’s a pain that doesn’t end and doesn’t have a conclusion or end point.  Just a lost future that no words can name.

 

 

To The View: You miss the point

ABC’s morning talk show, The View, bills itself as a ” a team of dynamic women of different ages, experiences and backgrounds discussing the most exciting events of the day. ” The hosts are intelligent and well spoken women who are well respected in entertainment and journalism.  So how, in the last few weeks, did they totally manage to misunderstand such normal and widespread women’s experiences as breastfeeding and mothering?

I’m talking about their discussion of the Time cover and their interview with Dr. Sears.

Whoopi and Barbara, Joy, Elizabeth, and Sherri:  Ladies, you’ve missed the point.  Attachment parenting isn’t about guilt, and breastfeeding is normal.  To those of us who practice attachment parenting, it’s about goals and values.  Our goals are to raise compassionate children with healthy bonding skills, and we know that some of our practices also promote better health in our kids.  It’s not that other mothers don’t have those intentions as well; we have just made a conscious choice about a specific set of practices and principles to guide us in the difficult journey that is parenting.  None of us is a perfect mother, but what we’re doing is keeping the eye on the prize.

 

Review: BabyKicks Basic and Premium Pocket Diapers

BabyKicks, a cloth diaper company located here in Maryland, specializes in diapers and accessories made from a blend of natural hemp and organic cotton.  In the last few weeks, they have launched two new One Size pocket diapers, the Premium Pocket Diaper and the Basic Pocket Diaper.  Both are available in both snap and Velcro and feature soakers featuring inserts that contain their signature fabric blend.

So, when we heard about this we wondered, “What’s good about BabyKicks diapers?” and “What’s the difference between the two diapers?”  Let’s look.

First, let’s examine what BabyKicks does with their diapers that make them great and unique.  These both are pocket diapers with rise adjusting snaps, a wicking fleece layer, elastic gussets, an umbilical cord snap-down, and an absorbent soaker, just as you’d expect on this class of diaper.  What BabyKicks does that’s special has to do with price, fabric, closures, and the location of the pocket.

The Premium has an MSRP of $21.50, less than many quality OS pocket diapers.  The Basic has the very affordable MSRP of $15.99.  (Remember, Bringing Home Baby sells at MSRP, the lowest price available on most brands of diapers)  With the price of good quality cloth diapers sometimes pushing $25, BabyKicks has done a great job of keeping cloth diapering, which should be an economical choice, more affordable.

In our house, we love hemp. These two diapers have the typical PUL cover, but they use hemp in the soaker.  Why hemp?  Many cloth diapering families think hemp is more absorbent than synthetic fabics, which makes it great for overnight.  Natural fabrics are also more resistant to the stinkies, and are becoming more popular for use in pocket diaper inserts.

People tend to have pretty strong feelings about closures.  BabyKicks is offering both snaps and a Velcro closure.  One the snap versions of these diapers, there is an umbilical cord snap that also doubles and a closure for securing a soiled diaper in your wetbag.  Personally am all about the Velcro closure on a diaper.  BabyKicks has a great Velcro closure with a smoother surface that holds well, but is less prone to catching lint and fraying that some of the others in our stash.  Love it!

The best thing BabyKicks dose with pocket diapers?  The pocket opening is in the FRONT!  Let’s be real. Sometimes when the opening is in the back, the poop gets in there.  That means grabbing poop when you pull out the insert for the wash.  Yuck. Anyway, these diapers have the pocket in the front.  I’d much rather touch the wet of an insert than getting poopy fingers.

So, what’s the difference aside from price?  There are a few features that differ:

Lining:

  • The Basic has a fast wicking microfleece lining.
  • The Premium has an all natural bamboo lining so only natural fibers touch your baby.

Insert:

  • The Basic has a combination liner with two layers of microfiber on one side to pull moisture away quickly and two layers of super absorbent hemp on the other.  We use a similar combination of soakers for overnight and think this is great.
  • The premium has a one size Joey Bunz hemp insert with a separate stay dry  liner.  Again, this combines a wicking layer with a nice big portion of hemp for fast absorption of a lot of liquid.

We love these diapers, and think you will, too.  Bringing Home Baby still has a lot in stock in 6 fun colors, so pick one (or five!) up with us today.  We offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more and have other special offers with purchases.  Check out the website for details.  

 

How We Became Mothers Birth Story Contest

Let’s celebrate the day we became mothers by sharing our birth stories!  Every woman’s birth experience is her own triumph.  We can inspire each other and future moms by telling our stories of how we birthed our children.  Empower other women to feel comfortable with their birth choices by sharing how you faced this life changing and affirming event.  All experiences are welcome: home births, hospital births, C-sections, births on the side of the highway. They all got us to where we are today, with our families planning our Mother’s Day celebrations.  Send us the story of bringing your first baby into the world or your eighth.  Please email your story to customerservice@bringinghomebaby.biz and include “Birth Story Contest” in the subject line.

Here are the rules:

1)  Submissions are due by 9pm EDT on May 5, 2012.

2) All submissions must be in English and 500 words or less.  I have to read them all, so please be understanding.

3) Five entries will be selected solely by Bringing Home Baby for publishing.  Submission constitutes prior consent for Bringing Home Baby to publish and use the stories on our website, blog, or other media and in the contest. Entries will be judged mainly on writing style and interest.  Your story does not have to be dramatic to win, but should be a well written story that speaks to birthing women.

4) Finalists will be published by the opening of business on Monday, May 7, 2012.  Final judging will take place by popular poll on one of Bringing Home Baby’s publishing platforms. Bringing Home Baby has final say in the results.  The First Place winner’s first name and last initial will be announced via Facebook and contacted via email on Mother’s Day, May 13.

5) US residents only, please.  Sorry about this, but many of my products cannot be shipped out of the US.

6) Prizes include: One first place winner receives a $50 gift certificate to Bringing Home Baby.  Four second place winners receive a $15 gift certificate to Bringing Home Baby.  Odds of winning depend on number of entries received.

7) Entrants are bound by all applicable laws and these rules for entry.  The decisions of the judge are final.  Winners are responsible for any tax or shipping incurred by use of their prize.  Bringing Home Baby is not responsible for any human or technological error in transmission of entries.

 

The Little Guy’s birth story

Our little guy was born around 6am with the dawn breaking through the window at the local military hospital.  As much by circumstance as by design, he came into the world very gently and experienced only his parents’ loving touch for the first hour or more of his life.  It was one of those fleeting and few ecstatically happy moments of my life that I’ll cherish forever.

My pregnancy with Saul was fraught with worry. The worry wasn’t over his health or mine; it was because his brother died suddenly and unexpectedly just before birth. We, and our doctors, wanted very badly to prevent something similar from happening again, so my pregnancy was closely monitored.  Everything was going well, and in the third trimester I had non-stress tests and ultrasounds twice a week.  Well past 32 weeks, we saw a phenomenon that may have contributed to our son’s death.  Saul was flipping between vertex and breech on an almost daily basis.

That was a problem. I freaked out at the thought of having another baby get tangled up in his umbilical cord. The high risk specialist was also concerned. As we entered the 37th week, we decided that I’d come in, the baby’s position would be evaluated, a external version would be performed if indicated, and labor would be induced.

E and I both wanted a natural birth. We’d gone to Bradley classes during my first pregnancy and hired a doula.  I didn’t get the natural birth I wanted with either child, but both were born vaginally.  In the case of Saul, I really wanted to avoid a Ceasarian, so this plan seemed my best shot at 1) preventing cord entanglement, 2) preventing a C in a week or two should the baby finally settle that way, and 3) prevent me from coming to the hospital in labor with an unexpectedly breech baby.

So early the morning before the little guy was born, we packed up and went to the hospital. It was hopping!  It was the day after Memorial Day, and it seemed like all the military women and wives in the DC area had been holding their babies in all weekend.  The baby’s position was checked, and he was found to be breech. Version it was. We were checked into a room where we waited. And waited. And waited. Until the afternoon. Yuck. Finally our doctor came in to do and ultrasound ahead of the version and the check for the baby’s lung maturity.  He’d flipped again!  He was head down and ready to go. Then the doctor took some amniotic fluid to check his lung maturity.  After a short time, the baby was declared “done” enough to be born.  The drugs began.

Labor induction sucks. It hurts a lot, and the contractions come fast.  I hated it. It went on for about 9 hours without much progress.  But 2am or so, I was sooo tired.  And not sleeping.  And having back labor that did not let up.  And did I mention that with induction, they are after you constantly for monitoring, coming in every 10 or 15 minutes to move the monitor or look at your blood pressure or something.  Ugh.  I couldn’t concentrate on my relaxation techniques E and I had practiced together long enough for them to give me any relief. With the difficulty we had with the monitor, I couldn’t move. I was exhausted and opted for the epidural. If labor induction sucks, getting an epidural, at least for me, is a nightmare. It took five pokes to get it in. Believe me, this is not a decision I took lightly nor will take lightly in the future. But once it was working, I was able to get some relief.  And the baby was doing fine.

We kept the dosage of the pitocin and epidural as low as possible to get the job done. This was good, because my labor picked up as soon as I was able to relax. I was still able to feel everything going on, and was able to doze between contractions. Some time before 6 am, I could hear myself making the involuntary growly noises I remembered from transition in my first labor and that my doula had told us where a sign the end was near.  I woke up and told my doula that I felt like the baby was really low. She seemed to agree that pushing appeared close.

Our doula got the nurse and the doctor, and I was checked.  I also asked them to turn all drugs off for the rest of the time.  I wanted to regain sensation for pushing and have natural contractions.

They told me that I’d totally labored the baby down, and that he was only about an inch from the world. Instinctively, I reached down and felt his head, asking if he was okay.  He was.  My baby was almost here, and he was strong and healthy!  I started crying and shaking with joy as people set up the bed and did whatever they do to get ready.

The doctor asked me to try to push, to make sure I knew how. Of course I did, I’d done this before. I told her I did not want to push until I had the involuntary urge. Our birth plan asked for no coached pushing, delayed cord clamping, skin to skin contact immediately after birth, and prompt facilitation of breastfeeding. She asked me to give it a shot anyway, so I have a half hearted little grunt, and she told me I’d do fine. Not that I needed her to say so.

At the 6am hour, six women were giving birth on the deck and five doctors to go around. The doctor told me she thought I had a while to go. Considering that I pushed for something like 12 minutes with my first baby who was over a pound larger and unable to help, I expressed that I thought that things would go fast when they got going. She left to attend to another person, leaving E, a young nurse, and our highly skilled and experienced doula with us. My urge to push came on fairly quickly.

After one or two pushes, the baby’s head crowned. Now here’s the funny part. The nurse shouted not to push and that she doesn’t catch! It was then that my doula stepped in, and with the next she caught (not “delivered”) Saul.  He was born. It took 7 minutes. I had no tears and not even a skid mark. It was so much easier than the first time, that I was in shock and disbelief.

I was also in shock and disbelief that my child was born and was alive! He was fine. I was fine. He was on my tummy and crying gently.  His birth was so gentle, and he was with his mommy right away, so no frantic screaming. Just a beautiful baby boy in his parents’ arms.  No one was there or needed to cut his cord or take him for procedures, so we got to hold him. After the initial shock wore off, I put my little guy to the breast, he latched on right away.

A little while later, the doctor came in and was a bit surprised at the scene, but to us everything was perfect.

 

Limiting Lavender

On our website, we point out that some of our baby skin care products are lavender and tea tree oil free.  Perhaps this needs an explanation.  My aim is not to dissuade people from buying lavender, especially since I carry a number of products containing it, but to present information that might help people make more informed choices about baby products.  The Amazing E (who works in the medical field) and I have chosen to limit the amount of exposure our children have to these two ingredients.  I was quite skeptical at first, but E persuaded me with some research he did into these two plants and the way they can mimic human hormones.  Given the levels of hormones and hormone-like chemicals that we’re exposed to from many environmental sources, and that children may be affected by them, as evidenced by increasingly early puberty in girls and hormonal issues in young boys, we’ve decided to use the most naturally based products we can with our children and to limit lavender and tea tree oil in those products.  Especially in products for daily use.

In recent years, scientists have documented changes in the normal sexual development of children.  Increasingly early puberty in girls, now at least a year on average earlier than a generation ago, has been well documented. It is thought that one of the several factors causing it is environmental exposure.  It is also thought that abnormal breast tissue seen in young boys may also be a result of exposure to estrogen like chemicals.  There are many other reasons why these changes are happening, like increased obesity and premature birth, but environmental exposure is something that parents can take direct and quick steps to limit.

There are several potential environmental sources of compounds that either mimic human sex hormones (like estrogen) or can disrupt the normal levels in the body.  While there isn’t yet always proof that these substances can cause abnormal development of a child’s body, evidence is mounting, and it seems to stand to reason that caution is warranted.  BPA has been in the news in recent years as a chemical that poses risk to babies, and therefore many companies are stopping using it in children’s products.  The problem with BPA  is that it seems to cause abnormal development of the sexual organs and reproductive function in animals.  The method of action appears to be disruption of estrogen synthesis, which both boys and girls need at certain levels to develop normally.  However, BPA is not the only compound our children are exposed to that can artificially alter the balance of sex hormones in their developing bodies.  Estrogen and estrogen like products can also be found in food and in cosmetic products.

Our food, even when we think we’re eating healthy, can be a source of exposure to hormones and hormone like chemicals.  The EU has banned the use of several hormones for growth promotion in farm animals.  Beef imports from the US have sometimes been banned because we DO use them in our beef.  Some farmers in the US also use Recombinant bST (RbST) to promote milk production in dairy cows.  The FDA and USDA say that these things are safe, but some people disagree.  I, for one, have noticed a change for the better since I switched to organic dairy several years ago.  Soy, while good for adults in healthy quantities, may not be such a good choice for babies and children.  Soy isoflavones mimic estrogen.  That’s why they’re in women’s supplements.  They act in the body like estrogen.  Therefore, there is concern that soy isoflavones could produce early puberty and other hormonal issues in children.  Other sources of potential estrogen mimicking products common in natural products are found in lavender and tea tree oils.

According to the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, lavender and tea tree oils can mimic estrogen and block the action of male hormones with regular long term use.  It’s concerning enough for them that they recommend limiting the use of these oils for people with tumors that need estrogen to grow, so as to not give them any extra fuel.  Other studies have linked the growth of breast tissue in boys to the use of these two plant oils.  Some concern, especially when combined with all the other environmental sources for artificial introduction of hormones into little bodies, seems warranted to me.

Now, the effects of lavender and tea tree oil may not be that serious when compared to other compounds like BPA.  Lavender is naturally occurring and a fairly gentle product.  It can also be a very useful and beneficial (not to mention non-pharmaceutical) way to help your child relax.  Given that other estrogen-mimicking and disrupting ingredients are in all kinds of products, we just want to make choices that limit our children’s total exposure to things that produce these effects.  Like any remedy, I think weighing potential harm and benefit is warranted with lavender and tea tree oil, especially in boys.  Sometimes we do give the baby a lavender bath when he’s having a hard day.  But I like to look for some products for daily use that don’t have it.  Basically, we like to treat it like any product that can have an effect on the body’s health.

 

 

Book review from an AP mom: Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik

The book popped onto my Kindle just at the right time.  I’d pre-ordered Mayim Bialik’s book, Beyond the Sling, as soon as I’d heard about it’s upcoming publication.  I frequently read her column on Kveller, and am familiar with her pro-attatchment parenting and breastfeeding advocacy.  Naturally, I added the book to my queue and was eager to read it.  It helped my family keep from making a big mistake.

The Amazing E and I committed to an attachment parenting lifestyle while we were expecting our first son back in 2009/2010.  We’re very well educated and did our research, and decided that the principles rang true to us despite the difficulties AP can pose.   It didn’t work out that we could put our decision into practice with our first son, but recommitted when the second little guy was born.  So, for nine months now we’ve been enjoying the benefits of AP and struggling through some of the challenges.  Especially the sleeping.  The little guy is what Dr. Sears calls a “high needs” baby.  He doesn’t sleep well and needs a lot of attention at night.  All night.  Every night.  After 9 month’s we’re frustrated and sleep deprived, and recently asked our pediatrician for help at a well baby appointment.

The appointment went less then wonderfully.  When we explained that we never sleep trained our baby, that we bedshare part of the night, and that I still practice unrestricted breastfeeding with my child, we were informed, that we were stunting his development and would hurt his brain.  No kidding.  In the car on the way home, my husband and I discussed buying some books about sleep training and had them delivered from Amazon the next day.  And then Mayim’s book arrived in my Kindle.

I started reading it right away, and enjoyed it.  Her writing style is non-judgmental and very conversational.  The latter quality makes it a very fast read.  Mayim’s book mainly advocates trusting one’s intuition about child care, hence the non-judgmental tone.  I found her scientific explanation of the benefits of Attachment Parenting fulfilling, her descriptions of her breastfeeding and night parenting practices familiar, and her experiences of practicing gentle disciple enlightening. She is clearly an AP parent, however, and I think the book was written with the AP parent in mind.  Others not familiar with concepts like Elimination Communication, bed sharing, and other more controversial points of attachment parenting might balk at the frankness of her passion for those practices.  We, however, did not.

The book did have a few weaknesses in focusing too much or not enough on certain subject matter so as to limit its potential audience.  As I mentioned before, it does seem to be written with the AP parent in mind.  While the concept of intuition based parenting could appeal to many families in this age of way too much parenting advice, the book focused on practices that many families would see as really out there, thereby making it a limited resource for them.  Separately, she talked in a very limited way about vaccination.  Without getting into a thing about vaccination, which she clearly also wanted to avoid, I am suspicious conflating the vaccination issue with attachment parenting and wish it had not been mentioned at all.  Lastly, I wanted more, yes, even more about the nerdy science stuff.  More objective information about the benefits of AP and intuitive parenting mixed in with her experience, I think, would have made the book a more useful tool.  All this said, I think that the book is very attractive to parents already leading an AP lifestyle.

For us, Beyond the Sling was incredibly helpful.  We were really starting to doubt ourselves and our parenting choices.  I was beginning to wonder if my choices about parenting my high needs son were backfiring and was starting to blame myself for who he is.  My doubts were making it very hard to follow my mother’s intuition about what my son needs, and I almost was talked into something I didn’t otherwise think was right for him.  Mayim’s book reminded me that my intuition is one of the most valuable parenting tools I have, and renewed my courage to follow it.

The search for a healthy cow’s milk substitute in the age of arsenic

It’s me.  I know it’s just my own feelings on the matter, but I don’t want to give my baby bottles (or cups) of cow milk until he’s completely weaned from breastfeeding.  Giving the little guy milk from another animal while he’s still drinking my milk seems weird to me.  It’s going to be a fight with our pediatrician, who wants to see the little guy weaned and on whole cow’s milk by a year old.  Not that I know why or even care why she thinks the child needs to be weaned at a year if he doesn’t want to be, but the urging began at his 9 month checkup the other day.  The pediatrician is not the reason we want something for his bottle.  Our little guy is a charmer during the day, but very high needs at night.  I stopped pumping months ago because of issues with fragility of my skin that were previously discussed. We need a solution so I can have a break sometimes at night, and The Amazing E can nurse him down.

This has sent us on a hunt for information about the most nutritious “milk” on the market that is also not formula.   Given that I have always nursed the little guy on demand, we are not worried about needing to replace the nutrition of breastfeeding.  We just want a nutritious drink for the occasional bottle to tide him over when I can’t nurse him.  Our criteria were a calorie rich drink with low sugar, a good balance of fats, and protein with a complete profile of essential amino acids.  The ideal beverage should taste good to the baby and to the rest of the family.  we’re also concerned about the news lately warning parents of the dangers of arsenic in grain milks. We investigated soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, and hemp milk.  I should note that I have no interest in the brands or products listed here, and have not received anything for this information.

Soy milk

We looked at leading brand of organic plain soy milk.  This product has 90 colories per 8 ounce serving with 4.5g of fat, 2g of sugars, and 9g of protein.  So far so good.  The calories content is good, has low sugar, and a lot of protein.  About as mush protein as cow’s milk, and the highest level of protein of the products we investigated.  The soybean has a ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acid ratio of 1:7A ratio of 1 is ideal, but the Western diet generally has a ratio of 1:15 or more.    It is not vitamin fortified, however, and soy is known to sometimes contain enzyme inhibitors that can inhibit absorption of minerals.  It also tasted, well, meh.

Almond milk

I think almond milk is delicious; but my son did not like it.  I enjoy it on it’s own as a low calorie treat.  We looked at a brand of organic plain almond milk. It has 60 calories per serving, 25g fat, and 1g of protein.  The Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio is 1:4, and it has a fairly good amino acid profile.  Almond milk seems to be a good source of several vitamins and minerals.   However, it’s just very lean and low in calories for us to consider it to be a good choice for the baby.  And it tends to be a little chunky, making it hard to go through the bottle.

Oat milk

Oat milk is tasty for the whole family and high in calories, but it’s very sweet.  The brand we’ve bought has 140 calories per serving, 2.5 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein.  It’s fortified, so it has plenty of vitamin A, calcium, vitamin D, iron, and riboflavin.  But it has 19g of sugar, which is why the calorie content is so high.  From the ingredient list, however, the sugar appears to come from the oats rather than brown rice syrup.  The nutritional profiles of the quality of the fats, proteins, and amino acids were difficult to find.

Rice milk

We ended up not giving the baby rice milk to be on the safe side. For more information, see below.

Hemp milk

First, hemp milk contains no THC.  The hemp milk we considered was vanilla flavored.  My husband and son found the plain palatable, but I did not.  We agreed that everyone liked the vanilla.  This product has 160 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein.  It does have 16g of sugar, the second highest.  The ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is 1:3.  Awesome.  It also has an excellent amino acid profile that is more complete than soy, meat, dairy, or eggs.  The label also says it’s high in several vitamins and minerals.  Our biggest concern with this one was the use of brown rice syrup as a sweetener.

Conclusion

We chose hemp milk for our son.  It’s not the best tasting to me, but he just loves it.  And it is very calorie dense, has very good fats and proteins, and a good amount of other nutrients.

A word about arsenic

Grain milks, as opposed to nut milks, have the potential to contain arsenic.  This would include rice milk, oat milk, and nut milks containing brown rice syrup.  Lately, there has been concern in the media about the arsenic levels in rice and rice products, particularly when given to babies.  The levels are not so high as to produce acute poisoning, but chronic exposure might be a concern.  The arsenic is not an additive or industrial adulteration.  It’s naturally occurring.  The reason why rice and other grain products contain arsenic is that the grains’ plants take up silicon from the soil.  It is thought that the silicon helps give the plants structureArsenic and silicon are chemically similar, so some arsenic gets selected by the plant along with the silicon.  So any grain products probably have some arsenic, it’s a matter of how much.  Rice seems to be particularly good at taking up arsenic, hence the concern.

 

 

 

 

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/02/147781035/high-levels-of-arsenic-found-in-rice