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Child & Baby Nutrition Advice from Sophie, Founder of Mamamade

Child & Baby Nutrition Advice from Sophie, Founder of Mamamade

Having a baby for the first time is the start of a huge learning curve, especially when it comes to food and nutrition. When should I start weaning? What should I feed by baby? Is by baby getting enough nutrition? I'm sure all Mumma's can agree, it's challenging and can be super tiring too. We've had a chat with Sophie, founder of Mamamade to discuss all child & baby nutrition and learn about how their yummy organic meals can be a lifesaver for new parents. Read on to learn more about Sophie's inspiring brand or watch the Instagram Live Here.

Pssst! We also have an exclusive discount for you, get 15% off with the code AVERYROW15 when you spend over £24.

"Mamamade came to life when I started introducing solids to my daughter Liba. I wanted her to have the very best - everything home-cooked, organic, plant-based, flavourful and healthy - but the reality was that I struggled to keep up with the pace of mealtimes on top of milk feeds. I was desperate for help that didn't include breaking open the seal of a store-bought puree. Just a bit of help for those times I was out of creativity, out of time, but not willing to compromise on her health and development. So I set to work creating a product to help parents like me. Think of us as your support system - whatever your family might look like - recognising that when it comes to nutrition, wellbeing and beyond, there's no one-size-fits-all." 

What would your advice be on how to begin baby weaning?
When it comes to those first days and weeks of solids, it's just about getting your child to learn a bit more about food and getting them used to these very complex skills around eating, which is chewing, learning to move food around your mouth and ultimately swallowing.

Essentially you want to be giving a lot of variety and trusting to your baby to work through different textures. That's a lot of what baby led weaning promotes, but you can certainly have like an amazing journey by going with purees and spoon feeding.

Anything like vegetables, fruits, grains are all amazing things to start with. And sometimes with the things that you think they're going to love, like a pear or something really sweet, they actually might just really love broccoli, avocado or something you wouldn't expect. You just never know.

How do you know when your baby is ready for weaning?⁠ 
There's really three main ways to see that your baby is ready. And often you'll see these signs together around six months. If your baby is sitting up independently, even with some support, it means they've freed up their hands to be able to then pick things up and bring it to their mouth.

When your baby is a newborn, they have the reflex to start pushing their tongue out against it. Around six months, they're going to lose that reflex. So you want to be seeing all of these in combinations.There's certain things that also happen developmentally around this age. They may be waking up more, they may be a very hungry baby or they may be chewing their fists and toys a lot. But those aren't necessarily the signs that they are ready for weaning, it really is the developmental signs that we're looking for. Can they handle this skill that they're going to be learning, which is learning to chew, feed themselves and swallow that whole food that they've chewed down. So it can be very tempting sometimes to start weaning earlier! 

Weaning is definitely a complex learning journey, so trust your gut on it and people do often find that if you do leave it that bit longer it actually is a slightly smoother process because your baby is just that bit readier.

When would you introduce more interesting flavours like herbs and spices – does it help with fussiness later on?
From the earliest days, you can definitely start introducing aromatics and spices. It's a nice way to make foods a bit more interesting for the baby. With weaning it's so important to give that variety, so that your baby understands that spectrum of flavour. Then when they enter toddlerhood and start insisting they don't like a certain food which they have had previously, you can try different ways to experiment with it and eventually they should come back to it.

Do 100% vegan diets offer enough nutrition for a baby?
Our approach with choosing to be a plant-based company was really focusing on sustainability and helping parents with egg and dairy allergies. You can absolutely offer a completely balanced diet for children. It's not something I would necessarily jump into. I think it's really important to do your research and make sure you're getting the right supplements.

The way we see it, it's less about being vegan and more about how we're offering that variety with lots of different plant-based sources of proteins and vegetables. I think it was just a challenge that we saw, like how can we create these meals that are nutritionally very dense, use a lot of plants, are allergen friendly, and we also know are as sustainable as they can be. We definitely also give advice around introducing meat and how to do it. I don't want anyone to feel pressurised to raise a vegan baby if it doesn't feel natural to them at all.

Are there any foods that are harder to digest, and should be left to introduce later?
So when we think about foods and why we wouldn't offer them, the main risks we're looking for are health and safety and choking risks. Things that might make your baby sick, like undercooked shellfish or honey which can risk botulism. These are foods that I would definitely wait until over one.

And then foods that are choking risks, so foods that are not well prepared, like whole nuts you wouldn't offer to a baby, peas or chickpeas that haven't been squished down. It's just a matter of thinking, is my baby going to get sick from it and could my baby choke from it? And if it's either one of those two, then either ask for advice from us or from other people about how to offer it or offer them a bit later in the journey when your little one is a bit bigger.

Do you have any advice on making cost effective, but really nutritious foods for children?
Definitely. We actually did a really good live on this back on our page with our nutritionist, Jenna. Her favourite food she recommended were oats. Making an oatmeal, either savoury or you can add a bit of cinnamon or vanilla essence in it. They are an amazing, nutritious food.

Also lentils. I love lentils! We use them a lot and they're relatively inexpensive. You can buy huge bags of them for almost nothing. Even frozen peas are a good source of vitamin C, they can help with iron absorption and they have some protein in them as well. So, these foods might feel a bit sad, but freezer aisle foods are actually really nutritious for babies. 

Bowls of pasta are also really nutritious, even with some good grass-fed butter or olive oil on it, is a great meal. I think that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as parents to create meals that maybe look as amazing as we might get for ourselves, but it's certainly very easy to offer nutritious meals that beyond that freezer aisle fish finger pizza rotation and that are relatively inexpensive to make. The main thing is you don't need to overthink it too much. 

Do you have any advice on gluten-free alternatives?
Most of Mamamade meals are gluten-free, so we really support a gluten free diet. We use gluten free pasta as a base, which I believe is the Duds Farm. Oats, rice, quinoa and buckwheat are all gluten free and really good bases. So there's lots of alternatives out there and I think all but three of our meals are completely gluten-free. 

What's the best way to encourage little ones to eat more fruit and vegetables and be less fussy around these foods?
I've got a lot of thoughts on fussiness and just to reassure anyone, if your baby is around one, they're going to start to get fussy around something! I don't know any one with a one-year-old that hasn't experienced some level of fussiness at some stage.

With babies, there's lots of different reasons why they might get fussy at the table. It can be their teething or they could be unwell. The main thing that I would say that works for most children is not to put that much pressure on them actually eating it. So if it's a food that they might find a bit trickier, like broccoli or spinach, put a very small amount on their plate because toddlers can be easily overwhelmed in a different way than they would as babies.

And you know, this is a long game that we're playing. This could take a while. It's not necessarily overnight shifts, but the more that they see it and the more that they realise that this is a food that is going to be part of their diet, the more likely they will start to eat it again. Of course, you can do things like, pureeing it up or incorporating it into sauces to encourage it further.  

Also getting them involved in the kitchen and the cooking process can also help them gain that confidence around those foods. But, I would say the main thing is not to stress too much. It's really normal and the less big of a deal we make of it the more likely they are to come back to it when they're feeling ready.  

To learn more about Mamamade and their inspiring brand, watch our Instagram Live here.  

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