Scaremongering at its best (worst?!)

Nothing causes panic like targeting the fears of parents. We’re geared to protect our young, and when they are threatened… we stand up and roar, or scoop our babe’s into arms and shield them away.

So it’s absolutely no surprise that the media articles garnering major attention this week have created a hive of buzzing amongst parents…. the baby formula powder 1080 scare, and Pete Evan’s new baby food recipe book.

In NZ, someone has threatened to contaminate baby formula as a protest over the use of 1080. While this is somewhat alarming, the Government withheld information over this threat for months.

As a result, shops took action, moving formula to behind the counter, using more security around the baby aisle. As calls to Plunketline died down, parents became more reassured that the powder was safe.

It is inconceivable that someone could actually think it would be ok to hurt children in this way.

It has also threatened our fragile dairy industry and could have had disastrous effects on the economy.

There are risks to all ways of feeding baby. I do believe that parents have been lulled into a false sense of security with giving their baby formula, forgetting that there are serious risks of using it.

However, not only does it exist hugely in our society, it does have its place. I have heard many valid reasons of why a mum cant feed her baby.

Piripoho Aotearoa stated this on their Facebook page yesterday:

**1080 SCARE**
There is a risk to every infant feeding decision, be it breastfeeding, donor breastmilk or formula. I feel that the threats have been made at the very people in our society who we should be supporting, and am shocked and disgusted.

Screened, donated breastmilk is a fantastic option for those who do not breastfeed their child. Assisting parents to source donated breastmilk from screened donors is a service which we provide at no charge. However if you have concerns relating to formula or donor breastmilk, you are invited to get in touch- ask us questions, or just vent about what is now going on in your families and minds.

Piripoho Aotearoa’s concern is the health and emotional wellbeing of families of young children, and we really feel for the families who have recently felt powerless as a result of this scare. Formula feeding is not a stress-free path to have to take, and I find the threats utterly reprehensible

Over in Australia, popular celebrity chef Pete Evans is under attack for publishing a recipe for homemade infant formula in his new cookbook (coauthored with two other writers).

The article states:

The Weekly online has learned publishers Pan Macmillan have held back release of Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way – following intervention by a consortium of health organisations that expressed grave concerns over the book’s DIY baby milk formula, based on liver and bone broth.

“In my view, there’s a very real possibility that a baby may die if this book goes ahead,” Professor Heather Yeatman, president of the Public Health Association of Australia, has toldThe Weekly online.

“Especially if [the DIY formula] was the only food a parent was feeding their infant, it’s a very real risk. And [I consider that] the baby’s growth and development could be impaired.””

What makes me laugh (cynically) is this:

“Under the Paleo diet, all grains, dairy and pulses are banned. While adults can choose to follow such a diet, Prof Yeatman says it isn’t fair to subject a baby to what she characterises as an unproven set of beliefs.

“That’s the really troubling thing: the infant is totally at the whim of their parents when it comes to feeding,” she says. “If the wrong decision is made, they may be seriously affected.””

Everything that we do for our children is subjecting them to our beliefs… and I’m not talking about taking them to church. Some put their children in disposable nappies, which is said to increase the temperature of the genital area. Some formula feed despite WHO reccomendations to breastfeed. Some put their children into childcare, take them to the public pools, vaccinate, play in the rain, play with food…..

The book states: “All kids deserve the best start in life, and that means adopting a healthy lifestyle right from preconception, through pregnancy and breastfeeding, and into first foods.
“This book is a wealth of information on everything from where to source the best and freshest ingredients to how to make your own natural health remedies and how to rid your home of toxins. All recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free and devoid of refined sugar, and instead favour ingredients that are organic, unprocessed and sustainably produced.”

Heaven forbid we embrace real food, right?

“Rather than shaming one another it’s time to surrender to the fact that nobody has all of the answers. That many alternative therapies are the basis of modern medicine. That advocating for healthy living isn’t quackery – it’s the foundation of wellness. If we don’t start here, we’re doomed! That without progression, trial, error and mistakes we wouldn’t be here. That alternative therapies play a huge role. That modern medicine saves lives. That modern medicine does not have all the answers and that alternative therapies may, in some instances, come with far less side effects to achieve a better outcome. Imagine! All of us working together to make a collective difference. This can be a reality. All that needs to happen is that we stop trying to outdo each other. Acknowledge the difference we are ALL making towards saving lives.

It isn’t a competition. It’s not a race. Nobody has all of the answers and that we all have a beautiful, important role in moving ourselves towards health, together.”


At the end of the day, I think we need to remember firstly how important breastfeeding is. As a nation, we must make it a priority to support mothers to breastfeed in the first year of a child’s life.

Secondly, we mustn’t forget how much of our food is at the mercy of others. Remember the big scare of yasinia food poisoning last year, and how for a week it was thought to come from bagged lettuce? Remember apples being recalled over fears of illness?

Finally, a healthy whole food, real food diet is essential, that is what kids need. Why are we letting the media attack a chef who is trying to promote healthy eating, while the fast food giants use toys to ply our kids and half the food in the supermarket is made from numbers/chemicals?

And we really must, as united parents, stop letting the media force us into pitting against each other. Instead of asking the big questions above, each time a feeding issue comes up in the media, it turns in a breast/formula debate.

I dont have the solutions, but I do think we need to be considering this.

Let us not forget how fortunate we are to have good healthy food available to us – what an amazing resource we have compared to so many less fortunate 😦



Ashlee is a busy mama on a journey of natural living with her family. She writes at

For infant formula:

From NZ Herald:

What to do

* Parents with any concerns could call Plunketline on 0800 933 922 or Healthline on 0800
611 116 for advice.

* The Ministry of Health said anyone who suspected tampering could contact 0800 723665 to report suspected tampering.

* Anybody who suspected their formula had been tampered with could also take it to their nearest police station.

* If cans or bottles of formula had tears, rips, holes, punctures or noticeable bulges, it was possible the product inside had been tampered with.

* Visit for more advice on how to check packaging for signs of tampering, and for information about government’s response.

* Police said those who had information about the threats should call the Operation Concord team on 0800 723 665, or the independent group Crimestoppers on 08000
555 111.

When Spilling Becomes a Problem (Part I)

Throughout my whole pregnancy, I was so excited to meet my precious little boy that I thought of little else. I was about to become a Mum and impending motherhood was going to be filled with tender newborn snuggles, time spent breastfeeding my bundle and changing dirty diapers. And let’s not forget walking the hall getting my babe to sleep and then watching him sleep. I probably wasn’t being very realistic, but what first time mother has a sound and true knowledge of what being a Mum is like.

What I’d failed to factor in was all the things that could go awry. My perfect baby boy arrived 3 weeks before his due date and was a tiny 5lb 2oz. He was hungry. He fed, and fed and fed. Then spewed, and spewed and spewed, then hit repeat.

It shouldn’t have surprised me really. I was a ‘spilly’ baby who failed to gain weight and was eventually diagnosed with reflux and failure to thrive. So it was no shocker that my baby was a ‘spilly’ baby. But how much spill is too much? When does being a ‘spilly’ baby become a reflux baby?

These questions were all answered in time, but it took an agonizing 8 weeks to get the answers we searched for. I asked the lactation consultant while we were still in hospital if there was a chance Connor could have reflux as even in his first days of life, whenever he spilled, he would become increasingly unsettled. I was fobbed off. “Babies don’t develop reflux until at least 2-3 weeks of age. Stop being paranoid.” I mentioned that I had been a reflux baby and also diagnosed as failure to thrive but it mattered to them little.

After 6 days in hospital with my boy, we were finally released into the world and we got to take him home! The day we all wish for but also dread. No nurses with a wealth of knowledge, no cleaners to whisk away the spilled over sheets and blankets and bring back fresh ones. No meals delivered to your bedside (not that hospital meals are anything to be excited about!).

We took our baby home, delighted to be together as a family for the first time. AND in our own home. The first few days went relatively smoothly. There was some spilling, some tears (mine and Connor’s), but we carried on. And then he stopped sleeping. My two week old newborn would have to be fed to sleep, would wake and cry as soon as you removed him from the breast and would take another hour to settle. In the end, by 4 weeks old he would be awake anywhere from 1-5 hours then sleep 4-6 hours and repeat. I asked about reflux again. This time, my midwife. She assured me she doubted it was reflux, but if I was concerned, to take him to see the Doctor for their opinion.

The doctor wasn’t a huge help. We were given a prescription for baby gaviscon, but advised not to give it to our boy until he was at least 6 weeks old and then only to be given sparingly. I gave him his first dose the very next day. What do you know, it settled him slightly and the spilling reduced! A week later, it was no longer working and we were back where we started. By this stage, we’d been referred to Plunket for sleep advice.

We’d also stopped trying to put Connor in his bassinet after trying all the other tricks of the trade (raising the head end of the bassinet, warming the sheets before putting him in, swaddling tightly. You name it, we’d tried it), we’d given up. Every time we laid him on his back, a screaming match would ensue. The only place he would sleep semi-comfortably was my chest – the one place he would sleep was also the one place I was being told in no uncertain terms he should not be sleeping. So against all advice, to save our sanity and get some sleep, we started bedsharing, something we had never, ever intended to do.

Connor was now bringing up almost all of every feed, and feeding pretty much 24/7. The only place he was content, I wouldn’t call it happy, was at the breast. I felt homebound. I missed family events, I stayed in. The only place I went was coffee group. Connor would scream for the entire 20 minute drive to the rooms, then feed and promptly crash out for the 3 hours we were there. It was my only respite, the only place I felt able to take my screaming baby where I received no judgement. Family told us that the way Connor cried wasn’t normal, and now they tell us that they should have done more, but in the moment, it’s about getting through.

At times, I wondered if it was all in my head, but my instincts told me it wasn’t. My boy was in pain. He would scream, and I mean scream, like I’ve never heard a baby scream. If he was asleep on me and transferred to someone else’s chest, he would wake within minutes and scream. My husband was working 10 hour days then coming home and doing all the housework, the washing, cooking dinner. Everything. While I sat on the lazy boy with the baby screaming at my breast, arching his back, or bringing up his feed. It was an endless cycle. A vicious cycle. He’d been back to the doctors twice and while we’d been referred to the Pediatricians, when I asked how long the referral would take the answer was 6-8 WEEKS! I promptly followed up with “Well what do I do in the meantime?”

“Hang in there.” REALLY? Seriously? You’re telling the new mama on tenterhooks to “Hang in there!”?!

Taken at the hospital after 10 hours of being awake and crying

And then the next day he cried for 13 hours. Yep, you read that right. 13 hours straight. My 8 week old baby boy, screamed his little heart out for 13 long, exhausting, horrific hours. I put him to the breast and he would arch his back in pain and flail about. I put him on my shoulder and he would scream in my ear. I handed him to my husband with tears in my eyes. “I can’t do this anymore.” And so we took him to ED. We were at wits end. We’d tried everything. We couldn’t keep going the way we were. It was impossible.

Starting our babes on food!

This weekend’s article in the paper (and I am yet to get a pic) is on starting solids.

I’ve found this is quite a grey area because there is so much wrong and dated information out there. When I had my first baby, it was recommended to start solids at 4 months. Just one year later, with baby two, it was moved to 6 months. There are grandmothers saying they started their babies on solids at 6 weeks, those who advise putting baby rice into baby bottles, and so many stories and so much information that a new parent would be spinning with confusion!!!

When sucking on the spoon no longer satisfies, perhaps it’s time to go through this checklist:

*Firstly, is your baby six months old?
*Has he lost the natural tongue reflex that pushes everything out that is put into his mouth?
*Can she sit up with less help?
*Can he pick up objects and bring them to his mouth?

Delaying all foods other than breastmilk, until 6 months old, is important for many reasons. It gives baby greater protection from illness, and decreases the risk of food allergies. It gives the digestive system time to mature, helps mum maintain her milk supply, and protects baby from iron deficiency. It also makes the start to solids much easier when baby is ready. Waiting protects baby’s gut. Absolutely do the best for your baby and wait until 6 months!!!

Once you are ready to start, get ready! This actually involves very little work and cost at all, depending on the food you choose. Consider that food is what keeps us going, a healthy diet keeps us well, so your baby will be healthier and will learn better if they are given good food.

Mashing ripe banana or avocado into a bowl with a fork is easy and cheap! Use breastmilk to thin if desired. Choose a time when your baby is happy and also after their normal milk feed. Your baby will only take one to two teaspoons for their first few feeds, but they will enjoy the new taste and sucking on the spoon once you’ve finished!

Avoid rice cereal and other starches, which are processed, hard to digest for a baby, and can upset the gut. Go on – Google why rice cereal is NOT a good first food for babies.

Instead, choose fruits and vegetables such as peeled, steamed and pureed carrots, pumpkin, apples, pears. Skip the fancy baby bowls and spoons, and instead invest in organic and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Start with one food at a time, giving your baby time to enjoy and process each one and time for you to identify any possible allergies. Reactions may include colic, ear infections, breathing difficulties, runny nose, skin rashes, diarrhea or nappy rash. Once you are satisfied with the fruit and vegetables, add steamed chicken, plain cooked mince, potatoes, kumara, broccoli. Always offer solids after baby’s normal milk feed.

After 9 months, you can start introducing wheat, dairy (yoghurt and cheese), egg, pork and fish, however wait until at least 1 year before adding cow’s milk. Avoid all added salt and sugar. If you buy baby food, choose brands that are not packed with fillers (like water and thickeners).

Make your own baby food and then freeze it in ice cubes. Once frozen, store in containers or freezer bags so you can easily defrost several cubes when you need them (one apple cube and one nectarine cube for lunch!) You can also buy freezable and washable baby food pouches now – great for being on the go!

For many following the traditional route of starting solids, the puree becomes mash, which becomes mash with lumps, and so on until the baby can pick up or be fed whole foods in their natural state. However, for those following Baby Led Weaning (BLW), baby starts with those whole foods. Steamed carrot sticks, chicken drums (with that terrible skinny bone removed!) , chopped banana – from the time of starting solids, baby eats what the family does. Check out for more! Using purees means baby learns to swallow before chewing, while baby led weaning teaches baby to chew and then swallow. Babies have a natural gag reflex to protect them from choking, and understanding this and knowing what to do in a real emergency situation can give you the confidence to pursue BLW. The two children I did BLW with have always eaten well and never went through the fussy stage like the two I didn’t do it with! It’s great to allow your baby to discover different foods and certainly easier to offer family meals than making heaps of baby food (or worse, spending a small fortune on jarred/pouch food!)

As for allergies and reactions – talk your health practitioner on this one. When I first started solids, it was recommended not to give nuts and other high allergen foods until after the age of 1 or 3! More recently, it was recommended to give baby peanut butter and other such foods from 6 months or so because delaying could CAUSE the allergy. It really is quite confusing!!! So if you have concerns in this area, it would be best to talk to your doctor. Personally I never started a new food on the weekend just in case there was a reaction!!!!! (There never has been!)

The worst reactions to food I’ve seen in my littlies is from pineapple and other acidic foods, which burnt baby’s bum dreadfully. Otherwise… they love their food! Sushi, mild curries and seafood are all favourites with my children now!!

Good luck!!! Be sure to ‘like’ Ministry of Lunchboxes for great snack and meal ideas 🙂

Breastfeeding Woes

I have been hit with a double whammy – mastitis and thrush on my boobs. This is extremely painful and does not make for a pleasant weekend 😦



Note that this post features some photos and you may wish to turn the monitor away from your preschoolers if you wish to avoid those fun questions!



I suspected the thrush a day two days ago. My nipple was extremely sore, starting to peel, and sending shooting pains through my breast at feeding time. I am still feeding quite often (no less than 8 times a day LOL).

It was also red. I half expected it to bleed, such was the pain. If you are experiencing this, and you find that adjusting the latch does not help, you may need to seek some medical support.

Now the fun part of this is that you could reasonable expect to see thrush in your baby’s mouth. Your baby may have white spots on the inside of his cheeks or a white fluffy tongue (or no symptoms at all).

You can see a very red, sore looking nipple here.








Treatment involves an antifungal cream that goes on after feeds and also treats baby.
Remember when you get your treatment that your baby will be sucking this. My doctor gave me something that I felt was inappropriate for my baby to be sucking so I dug out the antifungal cream I have used before (yes, I’ve had it before!).

I had thrush when i first started feeding baby one, King Tut. My midwife couldnt understand why I was crying in pain and it hugely affected my breastfeeding journey, ending it after just several short weeks. Thrush can be treated so if you think this is you – please get some help and move over it! It can give your baby a sore mouth so treat both of you.

Anyway, so I’m dealing with this on Thursday and then on Friday morning it got worse. In just one feed – there was shooting pain, and then the boob was very very sore – and I knew what was happening. I did up my bra, pulled down my top and realised what was wrong. Breast infection – mastitis. One call to the doctor.

I try and avoid antibiotics and drugs, and use natural alternatives if possible. But mastitis is one that I just dont muck around with, so I went straight to the doctor before the next feed to ask for antibiotics.






Now with the mastitis, you can see the redness on the side of the boob, close to the nipple (it looks spotty in the photo). Also in mere hours, the breast hardened and got lumpy. Usually following this you feel sick, with flu symptoms – hot/cold chills, exhaustion, body aches, and a high temp. It is nasty – previously I have had it and thought I was going to die!

I had three mastitis episodes with each of babies one and two. Then I got a new midwife and she suggested lethicin and ester C taken together. I did this for the first 3 – 4 months after the births of babies 3 and 4 and didnt get a single breast infection – it works! Today I dug out these two products (available from health shops) and am taking them too.

Of course when you’re taking antibiotics, you need to sort the good bacteria in your tum (and you should when you get thrush too). So I’m chowing down the Inner Health and yoghurt. You should also cut back on yeast and sugar, which I believe feed the yeast infection.

So wish me luck. Each feed time is extremely painful (toe-curling!) so it might be another long night. I’ve spent most of the day on the couch resting and I’m really over it!!!!!!!!!!!!