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 🙂

The Calm of a Lotus Birth

Lotus birth struck me for two reasons – it is supposed to create a more calming after-birth environment (think less guests, less moving around and alot more resting!) and is supposed to be better for baby (a calmer baby, baby gets all their blood, the stump heals quicker).

And so, after a little research and talking to my midwife, I chose to lotus birth for my fourth baby!

And what, pray tell, is a lotus birth, I hear you ask?

Lotus birth is where the placenta is birthed in the third stage of labour, and left attached to the baby – i.e the umbilical cord is not cut. It eventually dries and falls of on its own.

The benefits are huge. In short, lotus birth slows the whole birth and recovery process down, which has to be calming for mum and child. Baby will recieve all the blood that is in the placenta/cord. In a spiritual sense, there is an obvious link between the world of pregnancy and that of our physical world. This transition ensures quiet, and peace, and rest.

There is less stress on the baby (i.e being passed from great-aunt to grandparent and back again!) and they were in a calm environment  because you take time to be at home (you’re hardly going to lug the babe and placenta to the supermarket, are you?!?).

I enjoyed reading on this: “Lotus Birth slows things down.  This is most desirable.  The time after a birth is to 
be savoured.  It is like the time after making love, after the climax, a time of 
intimacy and integration.  A mother who has just birthed her baby, after nine 
months of pregnancy, benefits greatly from quiet and rest.  The birth experience 
requires integration.” (

Isnt that so true, how birth is likened to sex. Indeed, many a person has linked between the cramps of mensturation, the cramps of orgasm, the cramps of labour, and those aftercramps post-birth. That sex is a very private and intimate act between two people and birth should also be very private and intimate (read no bright lights and no strangers LOL).

As Sarah Buckley writes, “Lotus birth, the subject of this book, gives us a further chance to ‘slow the fire drill’ after birth, as Canadian birth attendant Gloria Lemay puts it, and allows our babies the full metaphysical, as well as physical, benefit of prolonged contact with the placenta. Lotus birth, like a good midwife, also secludes mother and baby in the early hours and days, ensuring rest and keeping visitors to a minimum.” (

And so….. based on this, I set out to prepare for a lotus birth!

Trusting your body and Mother Nature to have a baby just has to be better for both mum and child, doesnt it?

(And note, I am all for hospitals and obstetricians and everything. Without modern medicine, we would lose alot of mums and babies, without a doubt. But I feel strongly that the majority of births can be done naturally and should not be medically intervened.)

After a beautiful waterbirth at home with baby 3, I was keen to repeat this. Unfortunately I was suffering with horrific antenatal depression and this was preventing me from enjoying my pregnancy. I was terrified that I would not bond with the baby. When I stumbled across Lotus Birth, it seemed to fit ‘right’ and I truly believed it might help. This is all seemed to fit with what I wanted. I was keen to keep the baby to myself, I naturally dislike passing my new baby to anyone else and I also didn’t want an endless stream of visitors. I knew the ‘ick’ factor of the placenta would keep people away! I really felt like the Lotus Birth would help me get over the antenatal depression.

So I talked to my midwife, who hadn’t done it but knew about it. She was happy to support it. I gathered a natural wood basket with a calico liner, a muslin wrap, some long thick ribbon, and chucked the vege strainer into my birthing kit!

After our baby was born, the placenta was scooped up with the strainer and left to drain while we got out of the pool. It was then placed onto a cloth square and liberally salted. Literally, because the midwife in attendance had also never done it and none of us knew how much salt to use. So she put on at least a cup!! She also sprinkled over lots of dried rosemary, which is supposed to help with the drying process and keep the placenta cool. It was the middle of summer so we didn’t want it cooking or decomposing!

Lotus Birth, wrapping ribbon around the cord

The placenta was then wrapped in the cloth and placed into the basket.

After the birth, as my midwife was preparing to leave, she placed the umbilical cord clamp on the kitchen table. I heard her say, ‘in case she changes her mind’ to my support crew, who all adamantly agree I would have changed my mind by that night!

Ha! I am horrifically stubborn, even more so when you tell me what I will/will not do!!!
Later that day I used the ribbon to cover the  long umblicial cord by wrapping it around it. The cord was cold and it felt horrid when I brushed against it, so I was pleased to have it covered. I had chosen a black ribbon because I thought it would hide the blood, but there was no blood and I would use white next time.

I was determined to spend a few days in bed resting. Each side I swapped for feeding, I would carefully place the basket containing the placenta to the other side of me. It wasn’t a problem. I dressed and wrapped my baby with no problems. When I finally did get up, I placed the basket on Babe’s tummy while I carried him to the lounge.

A very peaceful baby, 'between worlds' and still attached to the cord.

Each day (or two, if I was tired!) I unwrapped the placenta, placed it on a clean cloth, resalted it, and then wrapped it again. Each soiled cloth I just chucked in the wash with everything else. The smell of birth hung around for a few days but by no means was it smelly or anything offensive. And this was the middle of summer! The rosemary was quite pleasant too.

My midwife was fascinated to see the placenta and cord change, and so was I! The cord eventually dried up to be clear, showing two little blood vessels inside. It was sooo interesting! It also got quite hard and stiff, which made it a little harder for me to get the baby in and out of his bed – I was using a hammcok which was quite high. But it was no big issues, I just had to take a couple of extra moments of care 🙂

Was he calmer? He was a very placid baby, and still is.

On the 6th day after his birth, the cord detached from his naval, exactly the same time he was born!
It did it the same way as if the cord has been clamped.
This is called, ‘lotus born’ – and I think that sounds very sweet!

I think it would have been sooner if I had let it air more, I was just so worried about him getting cold that I was scared to leave his tummy uncovered!! 

The dried placenta, which was quite firm, did not smell. The dried umbilical cord, which was clear and you could see two blood veins in it!

And so, the placenta was placed into the freezer to be buried at a later date, the baby was bundled up and later had his first immersion bath, the mama celebrated surviving the first week and you know what, I loved this baby wholly. Whether it was the lotus birth, or something else, I held that child close to me and you cant imagine the relief I felt that the depression and its associated feelings had gone.

Woop to a new package!

I got this package in the mail…. I was very excited!!

Inside was…. one of my (empty) tupperware containers, and a dozen ice-packs (those blue things you keep in the freezer!).

But I was absolutely bursting with anticipation when I opened a smaller box and found this:


That parcel is the result of placenta encapsulation!

Yup – I had one of my kids placenta’s encapsulated! Baby Tree Placenta Services did the honours and I have had joy in getting to know Kirsty who owns the business.

Why on earth would one want to encapsulate a placenta?
In short, eating your placenta (that is, the mother!) can help with post-partum bleeding, post-natal depression, bring in or increase milk supply, and increase energy levels – all things we worry about after having a baby!

Its not a new thing, in some cultures it has been done for years and certainly it is seen in the mammal/animal world.

The following is retrieved from an article by Jody Selander from

“Many people of the world have known the secret power of the placenta as a medicinal supplement. Among the Chinese and Vietnamese, it is a customary practice to prepare the placenta for consumption by the mother. The placenta is thought to be rich in nutrients that the mother needs to recover more readily from childbirth. In Italy, women have been known to eat parts of the placenta to help with lactation. Hungarian women bite the placenta to expedite the completion of labor. And knowledgeable midwives in this country have their birth mothers take bites of raw placenta to help stop hemorrhaging, due to its beneficial oxytocin content.? *And in western civilizations some women have found that you can dehydrate, grind, and put it into capsules to also reap the benefits.

There are a variety of potential benefits to placentophagy. For one, the placenta contains vitamins and minerals that may help fight depression symptoms, such as vitamin B6. For another, the placenta is considered rich in iron and protein, which would be useful to women recovering from childbirth, and a particular benefit to vegetarian women.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been using placenta medicinally for thousands of years. One of the well-known TCM uses for placenta, or Zî hé ch?, is to help with insufficient lactation.2 Interestingly enough, in 1954, researchers conducted a study on 210 women who were expected to have insufficient milk supply. They gave dried placenta to the women, and discovered that 86% of them had a positive increase in their milk production within a matter of days.3 It is exciting to see that some scientific research has validated TCM theories of the benefits of placenta. More recent research has discovered that placentophagia could enhance pain tolerance by increasing the opium-like substances activated during childbirth. This would obviously be beneficial during the postpartum healing process.

In my personal experience, women who have taken placenta capsules report positive results in an overwhelming number of cases. Some women have even reported feeling positive effects as quickly as the same afternoon of the day they began their first dose. Women who were already feeling “weepy”, or experiencing other early signs of the baby blues, have felt better within days. Although the current scientific research is exciting, we have barely begun to scratch the surface of the potential benefits of placentophagy. Considering that placenta is a completely natural substance, created by a woman’s own body, encapsulation of the placenta is definitely worth considering as part of a holistic postpartum recovery for every expectant woman.

More specifically, placenta pills may help to:

• Increase general energy
• Allow a quicker return to health after birth
• Increase production of breast milk
• Decrease likelihood of baby blues and postnatal depression
• Decrease likelihood of iron deficiency
• Decrease likelihood of insomnia or sleep disorders

The body is so individual and because of the powerful nature of this medicine other benefits are also likely but too numerous to mention. I believe that this practice is particularly beneficial to vegetarian mothers and those prone to post natal depression” (Jody Selander, 2006).

Sooo….. that leads me to mine. This placenta was in the freezer, it hadnt yet been buried because I was very very keen to make a print of it. I have seen prints such as this beautiful one from Birth Balance and I wanted one! I think it truely does look like a tree, representing the Tree of Life – this placenta is amazing!

Anyway, before this baby was born I had stocked up on a canvas, some beautiful paper, and of course paint! But after having the baby, I hardly had energy to be creating art and thus the placenta was frozen for me to do at a later date!

Time went on and then I heard about Baby Tree – and I was hooked! I sent the FROZEN placenta triple-wrapped (I didnt want any suprises for the Postie lady/man!) and encased in all those ice packs! It was a harrowing period waiting for Kirsty to email me to say it had arrived safely – we had a sudden heat wave and I was stressing about it melting!!!

The thing is that I heard about the placenta being either eaten raw (ewwww!) or cooked and used as normal meat (as in, yes, making a bolognaise or lasagne with it). Fascinating, I’ll admit, but still gross. And then I heard about encapsulating it – thus, all the ick factor for me was taken out!!!!!!! Swallowing a capsule is not gross! And swallowing THIS capsule is all NATURAL and not derived in a lab like many other supplements I take!!!

So Baby Tree Placenta Services posted me back the box I showed you above, along with this GORGEOUS print (and several others!!)








I asked Kirsty about the ‘ick’ factor and she said it really didnt bother her! She finds the placenta’s all different, and fascinating, and loves helping mothers.
While all this was going on, Baby Tree was featured on Close Up – and New Zealand became divided on whether eating placenta’s (and indeed, encapsulating them for others) was insane and assylum-worthy. I was disgusted by the narrow-minded-ness of some people in our country. But never mind, thats a whole other topic!

There are a growing number of ‘Placenta Specialists’ around the country, you can easily courier your frozen (or fresh!) placenta to one of these ladies for safe encapsulation!

I’m of the mind that…… its been around for centuries – longer? – and if the animals think its good………….! Also, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!!!!

So…. I now have my beautiful prints…. I have framed one and put it on the new sleep room wall!

And I have a glass jar with 133 little tablets……… I plan on taking them when baby starts to wean 🙂 I am certainly looking forward to the energy boost!!!!


Isnt this picture amazing? It’s from – and here is another amazing image from their blog:


WOW WOW WOW!!!!! That is the true TREE OF LIFE there!!

The placenta is truely amazing, it is the link between you and your baby (by the very obvious umbilical cord, of course!) and feeds your baby, elminates waste from your baby, and keeps everyone alive and happy!

It’s so interesting that the word placenta comes from the latin word for ‘cake’ (since it kinda looks like one ??!?!?!?!!?) – see our post tomorrow for more on placenta and eating!!!!!!!

Fancy stuff such as immunity, nutrition, waste, blood transfer etc all occur through the placenta. It is expelled after baby is born (and isnt that the strangest feeling!!!!)

I think it is a truely amazing organ, and have dedicated a week of posts about it – so welcome to Placenta Week here at THE MOTHERHOOD PROJECT!!!!