Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Updates on Rachel - new meal plan

I spent a few days last week researching into toddler nutrition and this week, we've embarked on a new strategy for Rachel's meals.

Rachel has been wonderful with solids - very interested and very open-minded. She does refuse certain foods, but only after she's given them a try. I've reduced her milk feeds and, since a few months ago, I have not been expressing breastmilk during the workday. She latches on when we are together and, when we are not together during the workday, she doesn't get any milk. I don't provide her nanny with any milk, whether breastmilk or formula.

Last week, her nanny asked if I could buy formula for Rachel's stage. She said that Rachel is hungry between meals and she has been giving Rachel a bottle of Ryan's formula, which is not appropriate for Rachel's age.

I had some thoughts on this, which prompted me to delve deeper and research further and, in this post, I'll share some of my conclusions.

First, the bottle. It is recommended that children progress from the bottle/nipple to the cup from one year onwards. The goal is to reduce reliance on the bottle and on sucking and to encourage more reliance on solids and chewing.

Some parents may choose to make the transition gradually by using a sippy cup in between. I did come across some articles saying that sippy cups do not promote good oral hygiene but I think that can be countered with brushing your child's teeth regularly.

Next, the milk. What I understand from my various discussions with Dr Ngiam and my own research is that milk is not a must. If milk is part of your toddler's diet, it should not be the main part after your child turns one. In Dr Ngiam's words, milk should be like coffee and tea - just a beverage. At this stage we should be looking to nutrient-packed solids for our child's dietary needs.

The general recommendation, mostly from Western sources, is to start weaning the child off milk during the period between one and two years old. The rationale is that this is an important window to get the children to eat solids and chew their food. If their diet still consists mainly of milk when they are between two and four, there is a risk that they will prefer to stick to milk and become picky with food. I found this to have proved true in Ryan's case. Before he turned two, I could still offer him chicken rice and fried rice; now he only takes white rice.

Having made such progress, it did not make sense to "go backwards" and put Rachel on formula milk. I did not want to start a habit which we would eventually have to wean her off of. I note that the culture in Singapore seems to be to rely on milk for as long as possible and to wean the child off it when he/she is much older. I guess Rachel crossed the finish line ahead of most of her Singapore peers and presented her nanny with a novel situation which makes her nanny a little concerned and uneasy.

So, should we give Rachel any milk at all? Well, milk is still a rich source of certain nutrients - Ryan is as healthy as can be. Plus I knew that her nanny would be more at ease to have something to offer Rachel between meals.

Since I was looking into it, I decided to check up the nutritional pros and cons of different types of milk (formula milk, fresh milk, goat's milk, non-dairy milk). In the end, I decided on almond milk and I managed to pick up some organic unsweetened almond milk (original) from Pacific Foods. I will ask Rachel's nanny to serve it in a sippy/training cup, and only if she feels that she has no other option.

I should say that I'm not against dairy products for Rachel. Rachel takes a helping of whole milk yoghurt every morning, and she gets an extra helping if she's hungry in the afternoon.

I should also point out that almond milk is not perfect because it has very little protein and fat. Our little ones do need protein to grow and fat is absolutely crucial to build up their amazing brains. Sources of protein and healthy fat (other than milk) include oily fish (such as tuna and salmon), eggs, soy, meat, peanut butter, tofu and avocados. The recommendations for toddlers around Rachel's age is to consume 30 to 40 per cent of their daily calories from fat. A little sidenote - never restrict your toddler's calories or dietary fat please! Dieting is an absolute no-no at this stage!

So, in order to reassure Rachel's nanny that it is possible to survive without formula milk, we spent the weekend shopping for all sorts of food and snacks. Yesterday, I brought everything to her nanny and discussed the strategy with her. I initially held back the almond milk but her nanny mentioned that having some warm milk in her tummy does help babydoll to sleep and she does not need a bottle every day; there are days that she goes without. So, I passed her the almond milk as well, together with a new sippy cup.

Actually, it isn't a big change for Rachel's nanny as Rachel does get a good variety of nutrients at her nanny's; her nanny even buys salmon for her, and all sorts of meats and fish. Main meals are fine; it's the snack times that her nanny needs options for. (Children around Rachel's age need three main meals and two snacks in between.)

At home, it's going to make a lot more of a difference. Prior to this, for Rachel's meals, I had a vague guideline that she should get some carbohydrates, some protein, some fibre, some fruits, etc. Doing so much research has made me a lot more aware of exactly what nutrients Rachel should be getting and how much every day/week, so I'm going to put that knowledge to work from now on!


Anonymous said...

My nephew who is 4 this year skipped the bottle and sippy cup and was 'cup-fed' BM from 4 months old whenever his mummy was not around. I believe with a little assistance, Rachel is already capable of sipping from a regular cup.

Anonymous said...

It is a whole new idea to skip formula milk during the day at any caregiver's place and on milk (bm) at night. Your PD gives a different perspective from what other PDs mention with respect to milk is a must for calcium needs.
Have you considered full cream fresh/UHT milk?
Sippy Cup vs Straw Cup - any difference on dental hygiene?

Pinkie Pirate said...

Hi Anonymous, yes we are giving her opportunities to drink from a regular cup at home. The sippy cup is for her nanny only, and only as a temporary measure until she can master the cup. Thanks for your input!

Pinkie Pirate said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for your comments on milk! I've set out my two cents' worth in this post - http://bubble-belly.blogspot.sg/2013/10/ask-and-answer.html

Quando si desiderio su una stella said...

Where do you get whole milk yoghurt? Many of those baby yoghurt in the supermarts are flavoured artificially and I'm not comfortable with that. Have only given babe organic yoghurt from ion but she doesn't like the taste. Care to share? :) thanks in advance!

Pinkie Pirate said...

Hi, Rachel takes a few brands of yoghurt, she/we are not too particular. If you are looking for whole milk yoghurt with no added sweeteners, there are a number that you can try - yobaby, yotoddler, vaalia, Rachel's (yes, there is a brand called Rachel's), etc. We buy our yoghurt mainly from Cold Storage.

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