Omega-3 is helping children struggling to read

A recent research from Oxford University finds that fish is essential for children struggling to read. Scientists at Oxford University gave 600mg omega-3 fatty acid pills to 362 children aged seven to nine daily for 16 weeks.

It’s not the oil fish only though, but the omega-3 in it, which could be found in non-fish oil, vegan supplements. The results showed that taking daily supplements of omega-3 DHA improved reading performance for the poorest readers (those in the lowest fifth of the normal range) and helped these children to catch up with their peer group. Children whose reading skills were in the worst performing 20 per cent improved their reading age by three weeks. Not only that, but parents also said their children had fewer behavioural problems when taking fish oil.

525_177x130Knowing that I felt quite lucky to be offered a chance to try a couple of the Veridian Nutrition’s products ViridiKid Organic Omega-3 Oil and ViridiKid Multivitamin & Mineral.

I’ve always being very conscious of the sugar my 6-year old daughter. I spent hours in choosing her breakfast cereals ensuring there is no or very little sugar; she never eats chocolate and so far she’s never had a fizzy drink in her life. I am not paranoid; I just want her to eat nutritious, healthy food and avoiding sugar is one of my rules.

So it was really great to find out that the Veridian Nutrition have developed these two kid’s products which are easy for children to take, but without any nasties, including sugar or aspartame.

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Leave a Comment September 19, 2014

Cold and flu-free kids this year, please

There is always a better (and safer) way to treat colds and flu in children than going on Calpol or antibiotics. I prefer to prevent it and to treat it naturally. First of all, try to boost your child’s natural body defense by good nutritious food and high quality supplements.

Super diet for super strong immunity. Food plays an extremely important role in fighting the colds and flu. To make sure your child would skip the flu, or even to prevent him from getting a cold, try to follow a diet, rich in vitamins and minerals. If you are still breastfeeding, make changes to your diet, too. Try to serve with every meal as much as possible fruits and vegetables, rich in Vitamin C (kiwi fruit, lemons oranges, peppers, potatoes, blueberries, mangoes), and Vitamin A (sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and butternut squash), as well as foods rich in zinc (turkey, red meat, oily fish, such as salmon, lentils, peas, and grains).

If your child doesn’t particularly enjoy citrus fruits and kiwis, you should aim for a good quality supplement of Vitamin C. Most of the vitamin drops in the pharmacy contain so many other chemicals and sugar, that you start wondering if it’s going to do more bad than good. I came across really good Vitamin C supplement, which is suitable for both adults and kids from one year old. It’s called Organic Acerola Vitamin C Powder by Viridian.

GetImageIt’s got a pleasant lemony taste which both my one- and six-year old kids loved. A perfectly natural source of vitamin C from the acerola cherry. Certified 100% organic by the Soil Association. Can be stirred into juice or added to a smoothie. Includes the naturally-occurring synergistic bioflavanoids rutin and hesperidin. Approximately 900mg vitamin C per teaspoon means a six-year old would need just a quarter of a teaspoon, and a one year old – even half of it. This makes the 50g bottle go along way, so it’s actually quite cost effective. Apart from fighting colds and flu, Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation in turn supporting normal cartilage, bone, gum, skin, teeth and blood vessel function. Vitamin C is really important for the normal function of the immune system and boosts kids’ (and adults’) energy levels.

Once your child has a cold or flu, try giving him smaller amounts of food more often. Offer highly nutritious foods such as bananas, mangos, avocados, egg yolks, yogurt, dried fruits, and a spoon of wheatgerm with their breakfast. Try to include garlic in your toddler’s diet or yours, if breastfeeding – garlic has antibacterial and natural antibiotic properties. For babies you could make a “garlic tea” by simply adding finely chopped garlic into boiling water, but don’t give it to your baby; it’s enough if he can smell it.
Keep in mind that milk is mucus formatting, so you may want to exclude milk and milk products (except for a small amount of yogurt) while the child has runny nose, but not longer than a couple of days. Babies under 1 year will still need their usual milk.

Massages*
Massages are excellent cold and flu treatment. By massaging gently your baby or toddler’s back and neck, you will sooth his muscles, and will ease his pain. Massaging his chests will help him if coughing and will warm up the whole body. You may use pure lard or lard mixed with calendula oil (75% lard and 25% calendula oil) when massaging, which will warm the body even more. As massage oil you could also use calendula oil (100ml) with 5 drops lavender oil (do not use more that 5 drops lavender oil for every 100ml calendula oil).

*This massage techniques are not appropriate if the child has a fever or a raised temperature.

The best natural first aid kit for colds and flu

Chamomile tea bags. With its delicious distinctive flavour, chamomile makes a tasty tea. Gentle enough for children, chamomile has mild sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It promotes relaxation, relieves indigestion and, when applied topically, soothes skin irritations.

Echinacea is a great immune remedy, suitable for children over 2 years old. Use it as herbal infusion or in a form of syrup for short periods only.

Thyme is a great herb for the respiratory infections. If your toddler has a sore throat or is coughing, make him a nice thyme tea around 30min before going to bed.

Vanilla extract. Rubbing a little bit on baby’s gums not only feels warm and calming. Vanilla is known as a soothing yet energizing agent that reduces anxiety and promotes feelings of well-being. Vanilla has long been used to cure stomach distress: a baby whose stomach is mildly upset may find vanilla soothing to the tummy as well as the nerves.

Propolis tincture. Bees create propolis by collecting a resinous sap from trees and then mixing it with wax back at the hive. Propolis has antibiotic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties. Taken orally, it acts against viruses, which antibiotics do not. In a glass container mix one part of propolis with 9 parts ethyl alcohol and leave it in dark place for 20days, shaking it daily. You can give it to you child to take it orally: one drop of the tincture for every child’s year, 3 times a day. For example if your child is 2 years old, hive hip 2 drops x 3 times a day. This will straighten his immune system and will fight bacteria. This may help runny or blocked nose, too. Mix 10 drops propolis tincture in 10ml sea salt water. Use it as nasal drops.

Sea salt. For toddlers you may try to soak their feet in warm water with a handful of sea salts for 10min just before going to bed, then put on socks, and put an additional blanket over him. Check him in 30 min – 1 hour as it will be probably sweating. But this is great, as the body will eliminate the toxins through the sweat. Just wake up your child to change his clothes, remove the additional blanket and wish him good night. You could also use sea salt water in a form of nasal drops, simply by mixing ¼ teaspoon in small 100ml-bottle with warm-like water, shake well, and place 1-2 drops in each nostrils using a dropper from your local pharmacy.

Leave a Comment September 19, 2014

Feeding my toddler on the go

My baby is… now officially a toddler. Which should make me happy, but it makes me a bit sad, actually. My baby is growing and she will soon start school, and then go to University, and get married, and… Oh, I know I am getting too far, but still.

So, now the little princess has turned one, her needs have changed, too. She is trying to feed herself from the plate, to drink from a drinking cup… Her cute little fingers grasp even the tiniest peas and somehow manage to put (most of them) in her mouth. So I was very happy when OXO sent me a few products from their OXO Tots range to try out.

OXO Tot Divided Feeding Dish

IMAG0305

The OXO Tot Divided Feeding Dish is essentially a plate with two sections, each with 4 ounce capacity, which is just perfect for my little one. It’s a lovely design, mine came in white and green, and it’s made of soft, comfortable non stick base and gripping area. I would often put some finger food in this plate to accompany the main meal, such as peas (yes, I’m sure you guessed my princess loves peas), steamed carrot slices, pepper slices, fresh chopped tomatoes… and she would feed herself with ease. As kids (as we all) are eating their food not just by tasting it, but also by ‘consuming’ its colours, my aim is to have one colour food in the left plate section, and another colour food – in the right one.

Dips in the first one and vegetables in the other one also pair very well. Some ideas are avocado mash with carrot sticks, humus with celery stick (if the child doesn’t have allergies to sesame seeds or celery, otherwise you could prepare homemade humus with chickpeas only and substitute the celery with cucumber sticks).

The feeding plate is contoured to fit comfortably in the hand while feeding. If you’re serving mashed food, the upper ‘ring’ of the plate provides a lip to scrape off excess food. Removable lid pops on to store excess food.

OXO Tot Twist Top Water Bottle

This lovely bottle is 300ml and comes in a few colours; I chose mine to be green again. It’s dishwasher safe, it’s BPA-free (as all their products from the range), and it’s also phthalate and PVC free.

IMAG0299The OXO Tot Twist Top Water Bottle is a fun and easy to use water bottle and it’s suitable for all types of drinks. I started using it for water and freshly squeezed orange juice. I’ve got a juice maker so the next juice combinations to try out would be: carrots and apples, carrots, beetroot and orange, and the green one: celery, pineapple and cucumbers. I might try some myself (obviously in a grown-up cup).

I noticed the recommended age for this bottle was from two years, but my little one is currently training to drink from the straw. The straw is soft, made from silicone, and it feels very comfortable. The twist system is very clever:  Just a twist of the non-slip lid reveals this soft straw, and another twist would keep it clean when not in use. There hasn’t been any leakage, which is another plus for me. No accidents, happy mum, right? The way the bottle is designed makes it very easy to use it, to clean it and to carry it with us for those lunches on the go.

OXO Tot On The Go Feeding Spoon

When talking about ‘out and about’, over the last few months I’ve been struggling to keep my daughter’s feeding spoons clean and had to always carry them in little plastic bags (not quite eco-friendly, I know). So I was very happy to receive a lovely on the go feeding spoons, the new addition to the OXO Tot family. My first reaction was ‘oh, isn’t it a bit too small?’ but once we tried it, it was the perfect size for my one-year old. In fact, the OXO Tot On The Go Feeding Spoon prevents feeding your child too much food at once due to its size and shape.

It comes complete with a travel case which makes it an excellent food aid for taking out. The feeding spoon has a protective food-grade silicone coating which is gentle on your baby’s gums (especially when they are teething like mine). The soft edges of the silicone can be used to scrape food from the food container (I use OXO Tot food containers, which are safe to use in the freezer and microwave). The contoured handle is comfortable to hold and angled for easy feeding. The travel case conveniently stores the OXO Tot On The Go Feeding Spoon for meals out and about and it’s compact size is ideal for all size of changing bags and handbags.

Definitely five starts for these OXO kids products from us. If you want to purchase these or other OXO Tot products, go to: www.oxouk.com

 

Leave a Comment September 19, 2014

Discover with Organix

When it’s time to wean your baby it’s not just about introducing solid foods, it’s also about having an adventure and helping your little one discover shape, texture and taste -  together they help build your baby’s confidence and enjoyment with food.

Weaning is an important milestone in your baby’s development, and to help mums and dads Organix has introduced a new discover campaign with the launch of an online hub at:  www.organix.com/discover.  I was sent a great Discover pack to try with my little one, including lots of useful information on how babies and kids discover shape, texture and taste along with a few food samples.

The Organix Discover section online is packed with advice and creative resources about feeding your baby, lots of top tips and activities on shape, texture and taste to inspire you, food ideas to help you take your little one on a food adventure, as well as food planners and videos – there’s even a quiz.

The weaning window, from around six to 12 months, provides the perfect opportunity for your baby to discover a variety of tastes, textures and shapes as it’s when your baby becomes naturally open to trying new foods.

Shape

discover-shape

Shapes make mealtimes interesting and fun and help little ones develop the skills they need to feed themselves.

Finger foods come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, just perfect for getting little fingers moving, gripping, grasping, picking up and discovering a range of foods. Offering baby such a wide variety of foods to play with not only helps improve hand eye co-ordination and motor skills, and helps them learn how to bite and chew, it also develops an awareness of their actions.  It’s a chance to discover a full sensory experience – to squeeze foods, change their shape and break down foods.

Did you know?

  •  Your little one can start discovering shape through finger foods when they can lift and support their head without help, sit supported, and reach out for foods.
  •  Feeding themselves gives your baby control, independence and the chance to recognise when they’re full.
  •  Your baby can still enjoy finger foods if they haven’t got teeth yet as they can ‘gum’ foods into small pieces.
  •  You can offer finger foods from all of the major food groups – protein, carbohydrate, dairy, fruit and vegetables.
  •  However, there are also some finger foods to avoid, such as hard and sticky foods that can cause choking, eg nuts, popcorn, marshmallows; and round foods whole, eg grapes or cherry tomatoes – of course you can cut them up into smaller pieces so they’re manageable and easier for baby to swallow.

Top Tips:

  •  Use food as an opportunity to interact with your baby – it’s a great way to introduce them to new words for shapes and foods.
  •  Cut family foods, such as pasta and meat, into small pieces, so baby can take part in the meal too.
  •  In the Organix mum and baby tasting session, mums said:
  • The way I present food is definitely something I’ll be thinking about now, making it into a picture and something a bit more fun”
  • “He really impressed me with how he was able to grasp things and put them into his mouth when they were so small ”

Texture
texture-activities

Discovering texture is important as we love food not just because it tastes great but because we like how it feels too.
Texture is more exciting than just lumps, and to prove the point Organix got a group of mums and dads to try a selection of foods whilst blindfolded.  One of the dads said: “You’ve had one of your senses taken away, it gets you to focus on the detail of food and makes it more intriguing, it’s like our little ones when it’s the first time they’ve tried anything – they’ve got it all going on!”

Frankie Phillips, Nutrition Advisor to Organix, recommends helping your baby discover as many textures as you can – juicy and fleshy, squishy, bouncy, melt in the mouth, grainy and bitty, crispy and crunchy, smooth and creamy, dry and crumbly.  For example, pieces of banana will let them safely experience different textures and foods breaking down in their mouths – banana pieces can be offered as early as six months.

Did you know?

  1. Your baby needs to learn to get to grips with new textures and this can take practice, so he may spit out a new texture.
  2. Your baby may move quickly from one texture to the next, or may take a little time to master it – everyone goes at their own pace so don’t worry.
  3. Even if your baby’s teeth aren’t through yet, foods can still be chewed by their strong gums.
  4. After starting with smooth purées, you can offer soft lumps and mashed foods as early as six months.
  5. Introducing lumpy foods takes more effort for your baby as they need to learn to use their tongue muscles and their jaw to chew and then swallow.
  6. When your baby no longer spits out soft lumps and seems confident eating lumpy food you can introduce chopped and minced foods.

Taste

discover-taste

Tasting new foods for the very first time is an incredible experience.  By adding interesting flavours to your baby’s diet you are encouraging them to become more familiar and open to trying new tastes as they grow older, which in turn will help inspire a lifelong love of good food.

In the Organix mum and baby tasting session, one mum said: “Little ones are more adventurous than you think.  We tried celeriac and kale and my little girl loved the grapefruit, I would try that at home now, yet before I would never have introduced it.”

Did you know?

  • It’s important to offer a wide range of sweet and savoury dishes.
  • Babies naturally prefer sweet flavours and all other tastes are learned.
  • Frankie Phillips, Nutrition Advisor to Organix, says it can take up to 14 attempts before a baby learns to like a new food, especially more challenging foods – so don’t worry if your little one refuses a food during their first few attempts.

Top Tips:

  • Don’t wait too long to start getting adventurous with taste – vary the menu.
  • Offering two courses is a great way to offer your baby a wide range of tastes.
  • Be brave and offer more challenging tastes, such as bitter and sour, eg. kiwi, oranges, pepper, spinach.
  • Try not to mask challenging tastes with easier ones, so allow your baby to enjoy the real taste of broccoli rather than perhaps mixing it with apple purée.
  • Rotating new foods with ones your baby already likes will give lots of chances to discover and enjoy more foods.

For more advice on weaning and great tips on how to discover shape, texture and taste visit www.organix.com/discover

Leave a Comment July 23, 2014

Safety First

My lovely little girl is nearly 11 months old (yes, I can’t believe it, and yes – it’s only a month left until I get back to work…) and she amazes me every day with a quirky new movement she has mastered overnight. She is curious to find out what’s hiding behind the sofa, what’s in the fireplace, or how quickly she could get down the stairs. You are probably getting the picture – it’s so much fun, but it’s also getting DANGEROUS.

Keeping my baby safe at home gets more challenging as she is becoming quite mobile. We know babies touch anything and put anything they can get their hands on in their mouth. So childproofing your home is essential to keeping your baby or toddler safe. Be prepared to childproof the nursery, bathroom, kitchen, fireplace – any area of your house that poses a threat to your little one.

Here are some things you can do to stop your baby being injured*:

  • Change your baby’s nappy on a changing mat on the floor.
  • Don’t leave your baby unattended on a bed, sofa or changing table, even for a second, as they could roll off.
  • Don’t put your baby in a bouncing cradle or baby car seat on a table or kitchen worktop as their wriggling could tip it over the edge.
  • Hold on to the handrail when carrying your baby up and down stairs in case you trip.
  • Watch where you’re putting your feet while carrying your baby. It’s easy to trip over something like a toy.
  • Use a five-point harness to secure your baby in a highchair or pram.

Once they learn to crawl, babies may try to climb onto things, such as sofas, which increases the risk of falling. So here is a list of some baby and toddler-proof essentials*.

Stair Gates

No need to stress the importance of installing a good quality stairs safety gates (ideally on both sides of the stairs) especially when the baby starts crawling. I came across a great one called KiddyGuard, which I have been offered to test by the UK distributor Cheeky Rascals.

gateI received a KiddyGuard Accent, which is suitable for doorways of up to 100cm (as mine). It comes in black or white and mine is in black, although the fabric is transparent and looks very stylish and sleek. It could be a great interior addition to both classic and modern-styled homes.

The first thing you’d notice is the unique design. It features a mesh screen which rolls out in a way very similar to that of a roller blind. The mesh screen rolls into an aluminium casing protecting it from dirt, wear and tear and ensures a smooth roll-out, every time.

You’d soon discover its many other benefits. I like the fact it’s easy to operate with one hand, meaning that if I hold my little one, it would take me a second to open or close the gate without any effort.

Only minimal space is needed, unlike most traditional safety gates. It essentially “disappears” when not in use. Its other benefits are:

  • No bars across the floor = No trip hazard
  • Easy to install , ONE handed operation
  • Automatic locking – red warning button pops up if gate is not clicked into place correctly

It’s 80cm tall and can withstand up to 100kg, so it would provide safety for both babies and small kids.

It’s easy to install as well. I’ve been advised by the distributor that If you will be attaching your KiddyGuard to a wall with a skirting board, you’ll need a piece of wood, equal to the width of the skirting board to fit between the top bracket of the KiddyGuard and the wall.

The product retails at £99 and is available to purchase at www.cheekyrascals.co.uk.

Glass safety film

Low-lying glass panels can be a hazard – if you have existing doors that aren’t made of safety glass, you can cover the glass with safety film, which is designed to contain any loose jagged shards should the glass break.

You can also use it on glass-top tables. If you are fitting new glass in your home – such as glass doors to your patio – you must use safety glass.

Door slam stoppers

These prevent doors from shutting on children’s fingers and also stop children from shutting themselves in a room – essential once babies start walking. Some types of stoppers prevent fingers from getting trapped in one side of the door but not the other, so the hinge side might be protected but the door can still close.

Alternatively, a doorstop can prevent the door from moving at all.

Drawer and cupboard catches

Drawer and cupboard catches are designed to only allow a cupboard or drawer to open a few centimetres, unless an adult releases the catch.

Drawer and cupboard catches are essential once your baby starts crawling and exploring to keep baby fingers safe from sharp objects such as knives or breakables such as crockery and glassware.

Children will eventually learn how to operate them, but in the meantime they can provide a degree of reassurance.

Radiator guard

These prevent your baby from burning themselves on a hot radiator. Try a DIY or homeware store.

Baby safe appliances

If you’re replacing a washing machine, oven, hob, dishwasher or other household appliance, look for models with baby safe precautions, such as child locks or buttons and levers that are located out of harm’s way. Make sure you get appliances with child safety features.

Bath mats

Water adds to the risk of accidents, especially when young children see the bath as a fun play area and will want to stand up and mess around.

A simple rubber bath mat will help prevent your baby from slipping in the bath. Add a bath mat to the base when your baby starts sitting up and is able to pull up without your support.

Baby monitors

Baby monitors shouldn’t be regarded as a safety device – they are more for convenience, so you can hear your baby crying if you are in another part of the house or in the garden.

However, baby monitors can alert you to potential hazards such as your baby climbing out of the cot or bed.

Socket covers

There is currently a question mark over whether using socket covers is a good idea, but RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents, does not consider it necessary to recommend the use of socket covers, nor does the Electrical Safety Council.

If you’re concerned, you might want to speak to a qualified electrician to seek further advice.

 

*The article refers to recommendations and safety guidelines from NHS and Which.co.uk.

Leave a Comment July 22, 2014

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