Nurture Parenting Magazine Issue #23

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the nutritional value of touch ANNE THISTLETON encouraging new foods CRYSTAL HARDSTAFF

baby led weaning GILL RAPLEY & TRACEY MURKETT parenting Q&A’s NAOMI ALDORT



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the team EDITOR Debbie Jay ADVERTISING Yasmin Edwards DESIGNER Stephanie Nancarrow SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Eve Lozada

Editor’s Letter

COVER PHOTOGRAPHER Rachel Gray Photography


Welcome to Issue 23 of Nurture Parenting Magazine.

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Australia-wide by Integrated Publication Solutions. Also available by subscription and digitally via Newsstands.


Nurture is printed on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper stock using only soy-based ink and is completely IPA free. The FSC Certification is the highest environmental standard for paper stocks which ensures traceability and verification of well-managed forest timber from the mill to you and is acid and chlorine-free.


Nurture is proudly published bi-monthly by Nurture Global Pty Ltd. Nurture Parenting Magazine has the right to accept or reject all editorial and advertising material. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, including scanning to post on digital media without the permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. All submissions will be regarded as for publication unless clearly marked with ‘not for publication.’ Submissions may be edited due to clarity or space. Where opinion is expressed, it is not necessarily the views of the publisher or editor. All information in this magazine is verified to the best of the author’s, and publisher’s ability and Nurture Global Pty Ltd does not accept responsibility for any loss arising from reliance on it. The information contained in this publication is not medical advice and should not be taken as such.

Well, first, can I say ‘wow’! We’ve been absolutely blown away by your response to our relaunch issue. The feedback has been wonderful to hear, the entire team worked hard on bringing you a beautiful, value-filled read, and ensuring that our advertising partners (most of them small Australian-owned business themselves) were able to showcase their products and services with maximum effect. From the content to the layout, it seems we nailed our brief, although someone asked if we had left any topics to cover in future issues! I am delighted to say that I think the calibre of articles in this issue is just as high as the previous issue. Issue 23 has the theme of ‘Sweet Nothings: nourishing our children’. The dictionary definition of nourishing is this: providing the things that are needed for health, growth, etc. Of course the first thing that comes to mind when we think of nourishing is nutrition, and we’ve covered that thoroughly in this issue, with articles on how to support our sensitive eaters (page 10), how our DNA affects the foods we want to eat, plus the foods we should be eating (page 8), and an investigation into another side of dairy (page 42) plus tips on starting your own organic veggie garden to get all the yummy foods going at home (page 70). Of course, nourishing is more than just nutrition, other forms of nourishment come in how we engage with our children (page 38), nourishing by touch (page 16), bonding through scent (page 30), and the nourishment of a good night’s sleep (page 52). Be sure to enter this editions epic Sharing Kindness Challenge (page 49), to win 3 amazing prizes from Danish by Design, Creative Cubby and Bunnie Caddie worth over $900. To close, I want to share an experience I had recently, that highlighted to me the importance of magazines like Nurture. I met a woman, who, upon finding out that I work for Nurture, was delighted to tell me of her experience with the magazine. Several years ago, due to give birth to her 3rd child, a friend gave her some copies of Nurture. She enjoyed reading them, including an article about what to do if a baby is born with the umbilical cord around the neck. Unbeknownst to her, her next labour would be much quicker than expected, and, as they were driving to the hospital, her husband had to pull over to assist her in giving birth. The baby was born before any other support could arrive, with the cord wrapped around its neck. Remembering the article she’d read recently, this mumma knew just what she needed to do to help her baby, and thankfully the baby was perfectly fine.

PO Box 2292 Burleigh Waters Business Centre QLD 4220. ABN 15 647 838 012

This experience reminded me that we never truly know the ripple effect of our actions, as we prepare each issue of the magazine, as our contributors submit their articles, we’ll never know just how many lives will be potentially impacted for the better through our collective efforts.

So, the next time you perform a random act of kindness, think of what the ripple effect could be.


PWQ C65063 2


& The Nurture Team


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Inside Issue 23


8 What You Eat & Your Genes

12 Tested on Humans

32 Babywearing

Lucia Rivas-Herry

10 Encouraging New Foods the Gentle Way

36 Daddy Talk

Crystal Hardstaff

49 Sharing Kindness

14 Nourish Your Children With Love

56 Australian Made

Dr. Maya Lloyd, Phd

16 The Nutritional Value of Touch

58 Your World is Bigger

66 Nurture Changemakers

Anne Thistleton

27 Co-Sleeping

68 Love of Learning

28 Baby Led Weaning

72 Roadtrip

Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett

74 Nurture Team Picks

30 A Different Way to Mother

78 Ask Naomi

Maddie Francis

34 Pyrrole Disorder

80 Subscribe

Beth Bonfiglio

38 Parenting Pit Stops

Rachel Bridge

40 Remembering Baby Days

Kate Bown

42 Milking the Truth

Beth Bonfiglio

44 Dissociation in Infants and Young Children

Peter Ernest Haiman, Ph.D.

46 Tapping Into a New Parenting Paradigm

Jo Drennan and Ilka Oster

50 Breastfeeding More Than Just Nutrition

Tamika Newman IBCLC


52 Sweet Dreams

Rachel Gray Photography @rachelgray___

Dan Hanson


54 Preserving Your Story

Jasmin Sleeman

64 The Story of Too Much Stuff

Sarah Wooden


70 5 Steps to Your Organic Garden

Megen Hibbins

76 The Mind-Altering Influence of Scent 6

Monica Shephard


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What You Eat & Your Genes WHY YOUR GENES HAVE YOU CRAVING HOT CHIPS! Words Lucia Rivas-Herry Photo Golden Sundays Photography Illustration Irina Fokina

According to the Australian Institute of health and welfare (AIHW), two of the top 8 chronic diseases affecting Australians are cardiovascular disease and diabetes and findings in their report Impact of overweight and obesity as a risk of factor for chronic conditions; Australian Burden of Disease Study found that there was strong evidence linking an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions when individuals were overweight or obese. With such alarming information on what is causing chronic illness in the population, the question arises: is it all a result of people not eating right or is it a combination of environment, diet and genetics? We often use the phrase “He or she has good genes”, or “it’s all in the genes” but is it? How much do genes on their own have an impact on our health? We all know that our genes are made up of DNA known as the genetic code, and each gene is made up of a double helix of two strands coded by nucleotides that consist of 4 letters; Agenine, Guanine, Cytosine and Thymine. Three nucleotides make a codon which are then strung along 8


in sequence instructed by the genetic code to make each strand of the double helix. Genes act as instructions to make proteins or to instruct the regulation of activity of other genes in the body. The position of a single nucleotide in our DNA and what happens to the nucleotide position during replication can cause slight changes in the gene, and this is termed Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP). This SNP can have no impact, can have a minor impact or can completely change the function of the gene. This is what makes us all unique despite having the same genes; it’s the slight nucleotide changes that can have huge impacts on our health. There are three strong emerging fields of science, nutrition, genetics and environment that are quickly becoming buzz words called “epigenetics”, “nutrigenomics” and “nutrigenetics”. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in our genome that occur without changes in the genetic code. Epigenetics refers to the turning on or off of our genes in response to our environment. Nutrigenomics is the study of using an individuals’ unique genetic information to understand their risk of developing certain diseases. Nutrigenomics can look at how nutrition can affect gene expression in metabolic pathways that can alter health

“The good news is, despite the stigma, you are not stuck with bad genes with no way out.” risks. Nutrigenetics studies the interaction between DNA changes and diet, and this allows the identification of susceptible individuals so they can take action in their lifestyle and diet to reduce disease risk. Thus nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics can be used to create individualised nutrition plans and lifestyle changes that help lower disease risk and improve overall health. So how does this apply to you when you can’t stop reaching for the hot chips or ice cream? Or are you someone who has tried every diet out there, tried every exercise program and still can’t shed the kilos? There are a number of gene polymorphisms that affect metabolism, energy efficiently, control satiety (ability to feel full) and metabolise fats and control cholesterol. The ADIPOQ gene instructs cells to make the hormone adiponectin which turns on pathways in breaking down fats and regulating glucose levels. The more adiponectin, the easier it is to lose weight and lower risk of obesity. Low adiponectin increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Gene polymorphisms in ADIPOQ can potentially result in a 20-40% reduction in adiponectin, making it harder to lose weight. Another gene involved in metabolic rate is the FTO gene, sometimes known as the “fatso” gene because it is associated with fat mass and obesity. The FTO gene has risk variants in the nucleotide polymorphisms that are associated with increased risk of BMI and predisposition to type 2 diabetes due to people having difficulty feeling full, tendencies to overeat and can cause individuals to have a preference for energydense/junk food. Studies have found polymorphisms in the FTO gene to be commonly identified with diabetes predisposition through the effect on body mass index. A study in 2007 found that 16% of adults who were homozygous (that is had two copies of the risk variant) weighed 3 kg more and had a 1.67 fold increased odds of obesity compared with those who didn’t inherit the risky variant of the gene. A meta-analysis study of this gene in 2011 found that those with the risky variant of this gene were able to decrease obesity odds by 27% if they maintained physical activity, thus proving that genetics plays a role but can be mitigated by the environment.

When it comes to fat metabolism, it is important to understand the link between saturated fats and genes. The main driver for cardiovascular disease risk is low HDL (good cholesterol) and high LDL (bad cholesterol). The predominant saturated fat gene that determines the balance of good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol and is a big driver for cardiovascular disease risk is the Apolipoprotein E (APO-E) gene and in particular the APO-E4 gene. There are three variants to this gene APO-E2, E3 and E4 and individuals can be a combination of two of the three variants. Approximately 10-30% of the population has one or two copies of the APO-E4 gene. Individuals with this gene have a reduced ability to metabolise saturated fats, and this affects weight and cardiovascular risk because this gene variant causes people to be sensitive to changes in fat intake. Studies in this gene and nutrigenomic testing, however, allows individuals to tailor their diet according to their variant. For example, individuals with APO-E3/34 combination have been found to have lower LDL and higher HDL when they keep fat to 20% or lower of dietary intake, increase proteins to 25% of dietary intake and obtain fats predominantly from animal sources, maintain a more plant-based diet with lots of fruit and vegetables while keeping exercise more cardio-based than strength-based. Furthermore, individuals with this gene combination do not benefit from moderate alcohol consumption, that is the red glass of wine, as it raises LDL cholesterol. Nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics, in combination with creating the right epigenetic environment, are quickly becoming the game changer when it comes to optimising nutrition for the individual. Nutrition can begin to be tailored according to a person’s unique set of genes and gene variants. This means you can finally stop trying the latest diet fad and secondguessing your diet and focus on what works for you and you only! Lucia is a nutritionist and engineer with a passion for all things microbiome and genetics. See references at:

Still don’t know why you crave the sugary foods or seek food for comfort? The DRD2 gene is responsible for dopamine transmission. Feeling depressed or low stimulates the food centres in the brain to increase dopamine. The risky variant of this gene causes an increased risk of overeating and addictive behaviours to balance dopamine to set of a cascade of quick feel-good chemicals. The SLCA2 gene is known as the sweet tooth gene because the risky variant of the gene causes an increased risk in individuals to consume more sugar to feel full due to the brains’ inability to detect when there is too much sugar in the blood. So what do you do if you do genetic testing and you find you have all the risky gene variants for over-eating, craving sugary foods and inability to feel full? The good news is, despite the stigma, you are not stuck with bad genes with no way out. Understanding your genetic predispositions means you can take action and be pro-active about your health choices. Choosing lower GI foods, snacking on fruit instead of ice cream, eating more vegetables to feel full and including protein with every meal goes a long way in switching these genes “off” but controlling your environment. This is where epigenetics plays a role! These genes are variable meaning they are there, but they won’t necessarily dictate your weight for the rest of your life. Understanding your uniqueness means you can tailor your lifestyle, your diet and food choices according to what works best for your genes. Most of all, knowing your gene predispositions means you understand YOU and it may mean you need to be kind and patient with your body because it will get there it just needs more help! And what about the cardiovascular disease risk, cholesterol risk and what if your genes still have you reaching for the hot chips? 9

Encouraging New Foods THE GENTLE WAY Words Crystal Hardstaff

Have you ever experienced challenges during mealtime with your child? This article will give you five simple steps to developing a healthier attitude towards food at mealtime in a way that embraces connecting with your child, and as a result, makes family mealtimes together a more positive experience for everyone. As a mother, I know how much pressure we put on ourselves to make sure our children are eating a wholesome and nutritious diet. It is an exciting time when our children are introduced to solids, especially when they seem happy to put almost anything into their mouths. We want mealtimes to be a positive experience as this will set our children up for success in a way that is free from pressure, stress, guilt, or shame. No more do we expect full plates to be licked clean, but rather we embrace supporting our children to listen to their bodies.

Make sure your expectations are realistic and age-appropriate. A lot of factors can go into why a child has more trouble during mealtime than others. Some reasons include sensory processing issues where children are overstimulated by new or certain textures and flavours. 3. Eat meals together as this gives your child the opportunity to watch you eat and enjoy the food. Role modelling at its best! Our children are always watching and mimicking us. Your child builds trust with you. Saying things like, ‘Mmm, this is so yummy’ can be the gentle encouragement they need to try something new. If they end up trying and not liking it, that’s ok! We don’t like everything we eat. As children, we probably didn’t like something that we do now. You can respond with, ‘That’s ok, you don’t like this yet. We will try again another time.’

The main phrase I use with parents is ‘Connection over correction’. What this means is that rather than enforce the behaviour we want from our children, what is more, effective is connecting with them first. By acknowledging how our children feel and meeting them where they are currently at, we can guide them in their development and encourage their natural sense of curiosity, which ultimately builds their self-esteem and helps to form a secure attachment.

4. Keep mealtimes relaxed and enjoyable for everyone. This means making sure you are calm, and your child is well-rested and in a good mood.

Five Simple Steps to Mealtime Success

5. Consistency is always key. Introduce the new food item amongst other options you know your child already enjoys.

Always come from a place of connection over correction. The aim here is to engage in discussions to promote a healthy relationship with food and of course, enjoying each other’s company.

1. Get your child in the kitchen! Encourage them to help you prepare meals, such as making the grocery list. For younger children, you can use pictures or books. Get your child to gather the shopping items and let them help you wash any fresh produce. You can buy age-appropriate Montessori inspired cutting utensils for toddlers and younger children, and have older children help measure out, pour and stir.

Including some favourites takes the pressure of your child and you. If that’s all they eat, then at least they have had something, and your child isn’t feeling stressed or hungry. Once you have success with a new food item, you can take this learning experience and apply it to next time.

Children love having a sense of control so getting them involved in the process is a healthy way to make them feel like they are contributing to the household and have a sense of ownership at mealtime.

Parenting has so many challenges, and by embracing a Gentle Parenting philosophy in all aspects of our lives, both parents and children can reap the rewards. This doesn’t mean we have to get it ‘perfect’ all the time, but finding harmony within ourselves and encouraging that in our children works holistically to better everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.

2. Go in with the goal to explore rather than the outcome of your child actually eating the food. If they are hesitant, encourage them to feel, smell, and look at it. Describe it and talk about it; some children even like learning about how or why it is good for their health.

Crystal provides online resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of parents and children.



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YOUR CHILDREN WITH LOVE Words Dr. Maya Lloyd, PhD Photo Rachel Gray Photography

Just as it is important to feed our children the right foods and teach them about healthy eating habits, it is equally important to fill their souls with love and teach them how to manage themselves and the different situations they might find themselves in. From infancy, our goal is to provide our babies with nutrition to give them the best chance of developing into healthy children. It is our purpose as parents to teach them about healthy foods, how to make the right food choices and to have treats and other less healthy options on occasions only. We hope that the values we instil in them over the years we teach them will help them develop into adults who make the right food choices and who will then pass these ideas onto their own children. And so the cycle continues. Well, this is the same with love. As parents, we need to develop a way of parenting in which our children feel loved and nurtured, where they feel heard and valued and where we communicate with them in a positive way which strengthens our relationship with them. If we can do this, 14


then we will have demonstrated and taught them skills that they will not only use with their own children but which they will use with everyone they come into contact with. Here are a few tips on how to achieve this: Be physically affectionate. The type and extent of affection you display toward your child will vary dependent on their age and size, but human touch is an important part of appropriate emotional development and growth for everyone. I’m sure we can all recall times when a hug has made us feel a little better. Physical touch is part of the human condition and not something that is unique to the human race as many species rely on touch as a means of protection, food and comfort. So it is a vital part of life. Physical affection goes that one step further by making someone feel loved and nurtured. Obtaining consent is important here, we’d never want to force affection on our children.

Listen to your child/ren. As an adult, it is very easy to flick off the things our children might say to us as trivial or unimportant. Maybe it’s about something that happened at school that day or a squabble with their sibling or even if they’re excited about the latest toy on the market. We might be too caught up with what is going on in our lives or what meeting we’ve got on at work to worry about. But children need to feel heard. Through their eyes, what they talk about is of great importance to them. So if you can stop for even a minute to listen to them and see the situation from their perspective, then this will go a long way to them feeling heard and valued. When children feel as though they matter enough to be listened to, this will help them develop a positive sense of self. In addition to listening, we also need to empathise with our children. It is not enough to just go “aha, aha, I’m listening”, really listen and show them you understand what they are telling you. For example, often, when we are upset, we may vent to our partner. Even though our partner may not be able to fix the situation at hand, the process of venting assists in easing the burden associated with the problem. So, when our children are upset, we may not be able to always fix things for them, but if we can show them that we understand their pain, then this can go a long way to helping them feel better, which will be resolution in itself. Furthermore, when we demonstrate the ideal behaviours of listening and showing empathy, we are in essence teaching our children how to listen and show empathy to others, skills which will stand them in good stead throughout their lives.

is 10 minutes at bedtime, make it a really good 10 minutes -reading, chatting about a topic of their interest or just having a kiss and cuddle. Finally, it is important to end the day well with your child feeling nurtured, listened to and loved. It is not worth carrying any resentment or anger from the day’s events over to the next day as they will just burden you all down. Connect with your child physically and emotionally to stay in tune with them and their world. The quality of the relationship that you have with your child is what they will use as the foundation for all relationships they have for the rest of their lives. From intimate relationships to friendships to work relationships, how you, as their parent, have treated them and made them feel through your parenting approach, is how they will treat others. The feelings that you generate in them through the quality of your relationship with them is what they, in turn, will send out to the rest of the world. Maya is a clinical psychologist in Brisbane who specialises in perinatal mental health, infant mental health, parenting and family therapy.

Try to connect with your child or each of your children daily. I know that in our busy lifestyles this can sometimes be hard, but if you stop and focus on the day to day interactions with your child/ren how much quality is there in them? Are you yelling at each other over the sound of the TV or do you have each other’s undivided attention? Do you rush through the evening chores ecstatic to eventually get them to bed or do you try and be present in each moment, making the most of your time with them? It can be hard to find time in the busy day to spend quality time with each other. So even if the only time you have to spare

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TheNutritional VALUE OF TOUCH

Words Anne Thistleton Photo Ted & Li Photography

Touch is arguably the most important nourishment that all humans need for optimal growth, health and development. With adequate exercise, and a balanced diet, including the right amount of nutrients, we will follow normal developmental patterns, and thrive. If there is a lack of essential nutrients, our emotional and physical development will be impaired. Touch is equally as important as essential vitamins, minerals and proteins. As with diet and exercise, we all need a daily dose of touch. Human touching provides essential nutriment for all babies. Touch has been referred to as ‘the mother of the senses’ … perhaps because it is the earliest sensory system to develop. The word ‘touch’ has the longest entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, and can be defined as ‘the action, or an act of touching or feeling something with the hand, finger or other part of the body’. The operative word in the definition is feeling. Even though touch is not an emotion, its sensory elements stimulate the neural, glandular, muscular and mental changes which, in combination, we call an emotion. As such, touch is not only experienced as a simple physical modality, as sensation … but also affectively, as emotion. Touch is inextricably linked to how babies feel and how babies communicate. Every baby’s first sensory input in life, comes from the sense of touch they experience whilst still in the womb, and continues to be the primary means of learning about the world throughout infancy and well into childhood. Touch is more than critical for a baby’s optimal growth, development and health … it is essential to their survival. 16


THE CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF A BABY’S FIRST TOUCH: “The touch of the mother is the first event to write itself on the body” (philosopher Jacques Derrida). The way in which babies are touched - or not touched - in utero, during birth, and in the early hours, days, weeks, months and years of life, can have both an immediate and a long-lasting and dramatic impact on their physical health and emotional well-being. Touch – In Utero Touch is the first of the senses to develop in utero, and is the most developed sense at birth. In the womb, a baby’s needs are constantly met. There is continuity, protection, weightlessness, security, no hunger or thirst, a constant and ideal temperature, constant movement and rocking, and continuous tactile stimulation and feedback from the mother’s heart rate, respiration rate, and other physiological rhythms. A developing fetus receives something akin to a continuous massage during the entire nine months in the womb, from the constant movement of the amniotic fluid, and the constant contact with the mother’s internal organs. In the darkness, warmth and snugness of the womb, life for a fetus is almost perfect. All their needs are provided automatically, and without effort. After birth, this blissful set of circumstances will change at once, and the security of the womb will be left behind. Interactions with the outside world and all its challenges will commence. Touch - During Birth A baby’s most powerful experience of touch is birth itself. During birth, the prolonged contractions of the uterus push the baby through the

birth canal, providing an especially intense massage. It is this intense massage that activates the baby’s respiratory system, by releasing the lipoprotein substance that acts like a lubricant, and signals the lungs to function, so that the baby can breathe on its own. It also stimulates the peripheral nervous system and major organs, in preparation for the continuation of life outside the womb.

blood and inserting feeding tubes, leading to detrimental effects such as apnea (breathing cessation) and bradycardia (heart rate slowing). Unfortunately, for premature babies, all touch, including healing and gentle touch, got lumped into the same category as invasive, negative touch, even though gentle and healing touch has been shown to have positive effects.

At birth, babies are suddenly propelled into the cool air, amongst loud and frightening sounds, and the glare created by bright lights. This sudden frenzy of exposure to the outside world, assaults the newborn’s nervous system and brain, whilst rubber coated and unfamiliar hands probe, pull and intrude upon the newborn’s as yet, untouched body. Being born also means separation from mother, and babies must immediately adapt.

Spending time in incubators and in intensive care is extremely distressing for babies, both physically and psychologically. The sensory organs are overstimulated, from the bright lights and loud noises that surround the baby, to the painful touch the baby experiences due to infusions, injections, blood samples and the like. Babies lay motionless and isolated, predominantly without bodily contact and without safe, loving, gentle touch. When an infant is separated from its mother for long periods of time, the mother’s rhythmic patterns, which help support physical and psychological organisation, are absent. As a result, babies will initiate their own rhythmic patterns, such as body-rocking and thumb sucking, to help them feel more organised. These rhythmic patterns often continue throughout infancy.

The conditions experienced inside the womb, remain just as essential for life outside the womb. This is because the gestation (Latin for carrying) period of human babies does not end at birth. Collectively, the uterogestation (carrying in the uterus) and the exterogestation (carrying outside the uterus) lasts up until a child can crawl, which on average, is around 80 weeks or 560 days. Warmth, touch, rocking, being held … are basic and essential needs for every baby during exterogestation. Along with daily care and breastfeeding, newborns need loving attentiveness and gentle touch from their caregivers. For many babies, this stimulation and feedback in the outside world becomes either significantly reduced, or is almost non-existent. Touch - After Birth The way a mother and baby experience birth, and the experiences they have in the first few hours, weeks and months after birth, can have lasting effects on their relationship, and on the later development of the child. It is right after birth that the important process of attachment and bonding commences. Oftentimes, those first moments after birth are interrupted by the urge to act. We have lost the knack of waiting … and allowing things to happen. The transition from the womb to the outside world occurs far more smoothly when mother and baby remain in close touch. After birth, babies are bombarded with a mammoth variety of new sensory stimuli, and their success in adapting to the rapidly changing environment outside the womb, and their ability to cope with the rapidly changing demands of the outside world, will depend on their capacity to detect and interpret sensory stimulation. Maintaining a regular heartbeat and breathing; executing smooth, quiet body movements; controlling and preserving body temperature; and sustaining ease of digestion, are all physiologically demanding for a newborn. When babies are in close contact with their mother, their newly formed and immature systems are maintained at a regular tempo. When mothers and babies are not within close contact, babies must work doubly hard to maintain physiological coherence. For babies, one of the first contacts with the outside world, and arguably one of the most essential contacts, is with their mother’s breasts. Although newborn babies are mostly placed skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest immediately after birth, if left undisturbed for anywhere up to two hours, babies will naturally crawl from the pelvic region, all the way up to their mother’s breasts, and begin to breastfeed. As they root around for the nipple, they will massage their mother’s breasts with their hands. During this time, babies create repeated pulses of oxytocin (through sucking activity and the stimulation of the breasts by the baby’s hands), which are released into their mother’s system, stimulating both the ejection of milk and the dilation of blood vessels in the mother’s chest. Biological readiness can be interrupted by the use of analgesics and narcotics during the birth, and can affect the state of awareness of newborns. Babies of medicated mothers can struggle to seek out the breast after birth, and suck significantly slower and with less pressure than their non-medicated peers; all of which can contribute to a delayed start in breastfeeding. Touch Deprivation in Neonatal Intensive Care Units Babies who are born prematurely are often separated from their mothers for long periods of time. Most neonatal intensive care nurseries enforce minimal-touch or no-touch policies due to concerns that any stimulation could cause physiological disorganisation in sick, premature babies. This harsh practice evolved due to invasive touch, such as drawing

Under these highly stressful situations, where babies can neither resist nor flee, their bodies must continuously prepare for flight or flight by producing noradrenaline. Noradrenaline activates the hypothalamus, keeping it in an excited state. The cortisone that the body produces stops all movements and reactions, resulting in a pathological condition called ‘inhibition of action’. Babies give up, surrender, and remain apathetic, even when subjected to painful procedures, and do not even react by crying. It is this reaction that has historically led to the belief that newborns do not feel pain. Multiple studies show the positive effects that different kinds of sensitive touching can have on premature babies, including stroking, rocking, waterbeds and breathing bears. Researchers found that babies who were rocked gained more weight and were better able to track visual and auditory stimuli than their non-rocked twins and / or peers. Researchers from Stanford University Medical Centre found that providing waterbeds to premature babies in incubators, reduced apnea episodes. TOUCH - A BABY’S FIRST LANGUAGE: For babies, touch is their first language; and their experience of being in contact with their mother’s body, both in the womb and upon entering the outside world, constitutes their primary and basic means of communication. Mothers and Babies ‘Literally’ Communicate Through the Skin The first communications and first language for a baby is through continuous skin stimulation. A baby’s skin is the first organ to develop, and it envelops them entirely. By the time a human embryo is around two centimetres long and less than two months old, the skin is already highly developed. Over the entire nine months in utero, the fetus naturally receives continuous touch from both the amniotic fluid and from contact with the mother’s internal physiology. The sense of touch that babies experience in the womb is the first sensory input that they will experience in life. And this touch continues to be a baby’s primary means of experiencing the world, throughout infancy and well into childhood. To a newborn, who is yet to understand and communicate with spoken language, touch is talk! In utero, the skin of the fetus is continuously touched, stroked and stimulated. From the outside, pregnant women naturally touch and massage their baby. When babies push, mothers might playfully push back. Babies feel the motions of their mother’s hands as she rubs and soothes her belly. Over time, babies become familiar with their mother’s unique way of caressing them whilst in the womb. In this way, the mother and baby’s touch relationship is developing. Mothers are a Baby’s Natural Thermostat A mother’s body acts as the most efficient and effective thermostat for her baby. After giving birth, a mother’s skin temperature is much warmer; and it can be up to two degrees higher than the rest of her body, especially on the area around her chest. This increased body temperature helps babies to maintain their body temperature more effectively, whilst breastfeeding or being soothed. When mothers bring their babies in to their breast, the infant’s abdomen (which contains little fat) instantly accepts heat from the mother’s chest and abdomen, and also loses it more slowly. 17

For premature babies, their thermoregulation is much better calibrated with skin-to-skin contact than it is in an incubator. In a Swedish study, babies that were kept in skin-to-skin contact with their mother, stayed warmer and retained healthier blood glucose levels, than those babies who were kept (predominantly) in cots. Researchers concluded that keeping mothers and babies skin-to-skin not only preserves the newborn’s energy and accelerates metabolic adaptation, but also increases the overall well-being of the pair. Newborns are extremely vulnerable to heat loss, and this can be one of the many reasons they will cry so easily when sudden and sustained separations from maternal contact occur. Researcher and midwife Judith Fardig discovered that when babies are separated from their mothers, they lose a whole degree of body heat. According to developmental psychologist Sharon Heller PhD, it is likely that the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, during separation accounts for this. In other words, the newborn’s physiology reacts to separation as if it were in danger. Skin-to-Skin During labour and birth, babies are exposed to an enormous amount of stress. As a result, their stress levels are extremely high when they are born. As soon as a baby is reconnected with its mother’s body, through immediate skin-to-skin contact, the changes to which the baby had been forced to adapt to during the labour and birthing process, are now minimised. The sensory nerves in the newborn’s skin become activated by the warmth and touch of their mother’s breasts and abdomen, and the activity of the fight-flight system begins to decrease as the activity of the calm and connection system increases. When this position is maintained, infants are kept warm, their heart rate and respiration remains regular, they have adequate oxygenation, they sleep more deeply, they have more alert inactivity, and they cry less. This is the power of a mother’s touch. For all babies, this skin-to-skin contact is their earliest experience of co-regulation outside the womb. A lack of skin-to-skin contact can profoundly impact their early development, and can last a lifetime. If a baby’s stress chemistry remains compromised, their immune system does not function well, and they experience greater difficulty regulating both their physiological and emotional responses. When babies have an opportunity to reliably access and maintain this early experience of co-regulation, they will continue to develop more capacity to notice cues regarding their own experience of regulation, such as settling, the feeling of being well-fed, a sense of safety, and so forth. Skin-to-skin contact is also an essential element of bonding, breastfeeding, boosting weight gain and growth rates, and increasing the stability of hormone levels. It also helps promote physiological changes that improve sleep and support better overall regulation in both baby and caregiver. A study by Dr Lee Stalk showed that infants who were held on their mother’s left side gained more weight, cried less, had fewer respiratory and gastrointestinal difficulties, and had deeper, more regular breathing. This maternal preference is speculated to be because babies need to continue to hear their mother’s heartbeat outside of the womb. When a mother and baby are separated during the birth or newborn period, and do not experience being placed skin-to-skin immediately after birth, or a mother’s experience of primary responsibility for the continuous care of their newborn is compromised, this can result in a mother’s less overall satisfaction with her newborn, less time looking at her infant’s face, and less time interacting with her baby. Babies whose early contact is compromised tend to cry more and smile less at their mothers. For some babies, skin-to-skin contact can feel threatening or over-stimulating, and they will pull away from being touched in this way. This protective reaction can lead to new mothers making inaccurate assumptions about themselves, their newborn and their relationship. Significantly slower paced, less overwhelming, more delicate, deeply connecting touch will help babies to gradually become more accustomed to being handled and supported through skin-to-skin contact. Over time, the more skin-to-skin contact a baby is able to receive and integrate, the more pronounced their capacity will be to recognise and accept comfort, encounter maternal soothing, and heal from physical and / or emotional pre, peri and postnatal stress or wounding.

Mouthing During the newborn period, almost all of an infant’s interactions are tactile. And in babies, touch sensitivity develops in a head to toe sequence. In the first five days, post birth, a newborn’s sensitivity to touch begins to increase; especially around the face, which in newborns, is highly innervated and sensitive to touch. When newborns feel pressure against their cheek, they reflexively root - turning their head and opening their mouth, in search of a nipple. Infants receive a lot of stimulation via the mouth. The muscles that babies use for suckling and mastication are ‘wired’ via the vagus system, and combined with skin-to-skin contact, are utilised to down-regulate their heart rate when soothing and calming are required. Within the first few hours after birth, newborns are able to socially engage in a sophisticated mouthing behaviour known as imitation. They can imitate a range of emotional facial expressions, simply by feeling the way their mouth is moving, as they watch a caregiver’s face, and try to move their mouths in the same way. Later in life, they will seek out similar social engagement, and share meals and hugs with their friends and family as a way of continuing to build and reinforce these ways of seeking early, soothing, supportive and social connections. During the first year of life, babies are almost constantly using their mouths and hands to touch and learn about their world. Almost everything goes in the mouth. Next to the hands, the mouth involves the largest part of the sensory and motor cortex in the brain. Sucking, and knowing the difference between how to suck on the breast, the bottle or the pacifier, requires considerable skill. Due to the complexity of these activities, it is considered that they may perhaps be wired in at a very early stage in prenatal development. It seems that some babies are such enthusiastic suckers whilst in utero, that they are born with abrasions on their delicate hands. And this enthusiasm often continues outside the womb, with babies showing interest beyond the breast, and sucking on a range of objects, with an assortment of shapes, textures and sizes. Mouthing is a healthy behaviour in young babies. It is usually accompanied by attentiveness, curiosity, contentment, digestion or deep restfulness. Some mouthing, such as constantly sucking or chewing on objects nervously; repeatedly placing fingers, fists or toys in the mouth; or continuously seeking out breastmilk, a bottle or a pacifier, can indicate emotional distress in babies. A number of studies show the positive effects of sucking during episodes of crying and fussing, which can be extremely disorganising and energy-consuming for babies. During invasive procedures, sucking on the breast or a pacifier can have a positive effect by reducing crying and reducing stress hormones. Even when being tube fed, premature newborns will gain more weight if they suck on a breast or pacifier during their tube feedings. TOUCH - A CRITICAL INGREDIENT IN INFANT BONDING: Being touched, caressed and massaged is vital nourishment for babies. The foundations of bonding between a mother and child are built much more on touch and stimulation of the sense organs, than on feeding or care. Babies need touch as much, if not more, than they need milk. In the 1950s, Harry Harlow PhD conducted a classic experiment on touching (with monkeys), which supported this notion. Harlow built one surrogate mother out of terry cloth and a second surrogate mother out of wire mesh. For some monkeys, the terry cloth mother provided milk, and the wire mother did not. For others, the wire mother provided milk and the terry cloth mother did not. The infant monkeys would typically hang onto the terry cloth mother and then lean over and sip milk off the wire mother. Harlow’s experiment showed that contact with a terry cloth mother was more important to the infant monkeys than a wire mother with a built in feeding bottle. In a later experiment, Stephen Suomi PhD (one of Harlow’s students), continued this research by separating mother and infant monkeys with plexi-glass. Although the infant monkeys were able to see, hear and smell the mother monkeys, they were not able to touch them. The infant monkeys did not thrive, and their immune systems broke down. Harlow and Suomi’s experiments showed that as well as having a hunger for food, babies also have a hunger for touch. When babies interact with the world, and with their caregiver, they arouse a reaction from those around them. The response from their



caregivers is called bonding behaviour. Instinctively and playfully, caregivers participate in the way they look at the baby, talk to the baby, smile and make funny faces and noises. They stroke, rock, and hold the baby. This bonding process cannot happen without the help of the senses. Our eyes show how we are feeling. Babies are dependent on the love, care and joy that they see in their caregiver’s eyes. The well-developed sense of smell in newborns helps them to identify their mother and find her breast. Interestingly, when there are strong smells in a room, babies will have difficulty finding the nipple. Babies react to the higher frequencies of a woman’s voice, and the deeper meaning that resounds in, and is expressed in, a female’s vocal tone. Breastfeeding enhances the connection between mother and baby as well as providing immunisation against certain illnesses. And the vestibular system helps babies to orient in space, as they are stimulated by rocking and rhythmical movement, to encourage and improve neurological development. Drs Klaus and Kennell, world renowned pediatricians, studied mothers who touched their nude babies for an hour during the first two hours after birth, and for five extra hours per day, during the first three days after birth. One month later, they found that mothers who had handled their infants more during the study, compared to mothers who had not taken part in the study, soothed their infants more, caressed and made eye contact more often during feedings, spent more time assisting the doctor during the one year medical examination, asked more questions and gave fewer commands to their children two years later, and had children who scored higher on IQ and language tests during the first five years of life. HOW MUCH TOUCH DO BABIES NEED FOR NORMAL DEVELOPMENT? If we were to put our western child-rearing practices to trial, what might they reveal? We really don’t know how much touch babies need for optimal development. And it would be unethical to experiment with babies to find out the precise cut-off point. But what we do know, is

what happens when we significantly, or even minimally, touch-starve babies. Research and studies undertaken with both humans and primates certainly reveal some interesting, as well as concerning surprises! We have likely all heard of those children who were brought up in orphanages and left alone for much of the day in cribs, without access to sufficient physical nurturing, via touch. The most publicised were the Romanian orphans, who lacked the appropriate tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive input, as well as the visual and auditory stimulation needed for normal development. Many developed intellectual impairment or features of autism. Those who survived for longer than eight months had higher levels of cortisol and lower levels of oxytocin and vasopressin (hormones affiliated with support for bonding and the regulation of emotions) in their body. These levels remained relatively similar as long as twelve years later. Of significant concern, is that there is less than a 20% difference in touch time between the typical American infant and the institutionally reared infants! A study by occupational therapist Stephanie Day observed how often a typical American infant (a baby between four and six months of age, born to middle class parents, breastfed, and described as a happy, contended child of a caring, loving mother) was touched. For around seven hours a day, these babies received tactile stimulation when they were fed, dressed, carried, held, played with and bathed. The tactile stimulation was received primarily from the mother. For around one and a half hours per day, these babies received vestibular stimulation, mostly when they were being held or carried. However, for twelve hours per day, these babies were alone; during both periods of sleeping and awake time. Other researchers in the United States, England and Holland have corroborated Day’s observations, confirming that the average western infant receives touch 25% of the day, or less. This amount of touching time is reduced to 16% by nine months of age, and in day-care centres. Developmental psychologist Tiffany Field PhD and her colleagues found that the average amount of touch time per day was around 14%. It was

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found that infants were actually held or carried for little more than two to three hours per day. At the University of Illinois, researchers studied touch deprivation by dividing infant monkeys into three groups. The control group behaved naturally, with a high degree of physical contact with their mothers. A second group were housed with a peer, and given normal interaction with their mothers, for only four hours a day. For the remaining twenty hours, they were separated from their mothers by a glass partition that permitted seeing, hearing and smelling their mothers, but no touching was allowed. A third group of infant monkeys was totally isolated, and could neither touch, see, hear, nor smell their mothers. Unsurprisingly, the control group did not develop any brain damage. However, as expected, the totally isolated group did. There was significant damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls motor co-ordination and influences learning and memory. What completely surprised the researchers was that the partially isolated group also experienced some brain damage. Even though the infant monkeys were in contact with their mothers for a full four hours per day (around 17% of their day), they still suffered damage in the cerebellum as well. The researchers concluded that only a relatively small amount of touch deprivation, in combination with reduced interaction, is sufficient enough to cause brain damage. Dermatologist and psychiatrist, Carolyn Koblenzer researches ‘the developmental significance of skin as an organ of perception, and the importance of appropriate tactile cutaneous stimulation within the context of the mother-child relationship, for healthy and physical development’. Koblenzer estimates that 30-75% of the skin patients that she sees have an emotional component to their disease. According to Sharon Heller PhD, this could be because the skin is the visible physical boundary of the self (over which a baby has little to no power and control), and is extremely sensitive to overwhelming or unwanted contact. It is also an immunological organ, with every type of immune cell presented in its grooves, making it an optimal medium for psychosomatic expression. Developmental psychologist Michael Meaney PhD compared older rats that were handled a lot during infancy, and older rats that were not. The rats that were handled a lot could learn and remember at levels similar to young rats. The rats that were not handled had trouble learning and remembering. The handled rats were also more capable of turning off the stress response. This type of research demonstrates that how babies are handled in infancy impacts either positively or negatively, on how they handle themselves later in life. Touch - An Essential Pathway Builder We know from decades of research that it’s nature, then nurture. Our genes provide each brain’s basic building materials, and it is the environment that builds it. This environment is built through trillions of brain-cell connections made by sight, sound, smell, movement and touch. Positive experiences with touch, enhance brain connections. A key ingredient in well-formed connections is myelin. Myelin is a fatty substance that coats axons like plastic insulation around an electrical wire. It also provides axons with the materials it needs to stay healthy. The role of myelin is to protect the nervous system and to enhance the transmission of impulses from the brain to the whole body. It also speeds up the processing of information. Skin stimulation speeds the myelination process, which enhances rapid neural-cell firing and improves brain-body communication even further. But, only the connections that are reinforced, over and over again, will remain. Babies are born with almost all the neurons they will ever have. However, they have relatively few synapses or connections between them, which are not yet complete. They are also born with very few myelinated axons, and therefore, do not have enough myelin sheathing to cover all of the nerves in the nervous system. It takes time for myelination to occur. During the second trimester gyri and sulci begin to appear on the surface of the fetus’s brain. Myelin begins to appear on the axons of some neurons. By the third trimester of pregnancy, a spurt in brain growth occurs, where a baby’s brain almost doubles in size. One of the reasons for this rapid growth is that the process of myelination is beginning. Myelination continues to occur rapidly during the first year of life. This process will also continue throughout childhood and adolescence.



The most rapid phase of myelination occurs during the first six months after birth, and the experiences babies have in the first six months of life will shape the development of the synaptic connections and the formation of their brains. Critical nerve cells in a baby’s brain, such as those needed for basic survival - breathing and controlling heartbeat - are already connected at birth. Much of the additional wiring of the brain takes place after birth. The neural pathways from the cortex to the spinal and cranial nerves are myelinated sufficiently at birth to enable an infant to signal a caregiver (by vocalising, grimacing, crying, etc) and to engage the social and nutrient aspects of their world (gazing, smiling, sucking, etc); though not enough to be able to see well, or do much with their hands, other than grasping and tapping at objects. These neural pathways can take years to fully develop. The natural, sensory stimulation of touch speeds up the process. During the first six months of life, babies are extremely dependent on their caregivers for many of the more nuanced functions of the ventral vagus system. The ventral vagal system runs upward from the diaphragm area to the brain stem, and crosses over nerves in the lungs, neck, throat and eyes, overseeing a vast array of crucial bodily functions, including control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate. It is also involved with most aspects of social connection, social cues and what some might refer to as ‘heart to heart’ contact, influencing behaviour such as eating, speaking, singing, smiling, kissing, breastfeeding and eye contact. Its role is to send messages to the brain that all is well, and that one can relax. Prolonged stress will impair the development of the ventral vagal system. A baby’s incomplete and unmyelinated vagal system continues to grow in the first few months of life, with a rapid developmental increase in the total number of myelinated vagal fibres from 24 weeks through to adolescence. The greatest increase occurs from 30-32 weeks of gestational age, through to approximately six months of age. The more myelinated vagal fibres a baby develops, the more capacity a baby will have for spontaneous social engagement, to express better autonomic regulation, and to experience less sensitivity to overstimulation. Increasing myelination, allows infants to experience more! When the myelination of the vagus is compromised, babies and young children will display more primitive defense strategies such as fight or flight mobilisation (for example heartbeat spikes, sweating, feeling more mobilised, anxiety, fear, anger, digestion slowing down as blood rushes to the muscles, blood vessel constriction to the intestines and dilation to the muscles that are needed to run or fight, striking out, frantic leg movements, tense muscles, trembling, clammy hands, a painfully knotted stomach, a dry mouth, fists clenched, puffing up to look bigger or stronger), increased physiological and emotional overwhelm (for example panic, fatigue, withdrawal, grief, sadness, difficulty eating, difficulty sleeping, inconsolable crying), and shutdown behaviours (for example eyes may look fixed and spaced out, gaze aversion, decreased heart rate and blood pressure, throwing up, spontaneous urination, defecating, slower breathing, constriction around the throat, loss of body awareness, limp limbs, body posture such as collapsing and curling into a ball, a decreased ability to process cognitively, difficulty waking up and then once awake - irritable and difficult to soothe). The status of a baby’s vagal myelination is critical in terms of effectively engaging and disengaging with caregivers, and exploring social reciprocity as a process through which to regulate their physiology and behaviour. When babies feel safe in their environment, their bodily state is regulated in a more efficient manner to promote growth and restoration. This occurs through the influence of the myelinated motor pathways that serve to foster calm behavioural states, slow the heart rate, inhibit the fight-or-flight mechanism of the sympathetic nervous system, dampen the stress response system of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and reduce inflammation by modulating immune reactions. Touch and Co-Regulation Touch has such strong effects on a baby’s body because, when they are touched, the stimulation is rapidly transmitted to their brain, which in turn, regulates their body. Infants are primed to co-regulate through a caregiver’s loving presence, attunement, soothing and stimulation via their tactile and somatic systems. Touch is an essential form of human communication that parents and caregivers can offer babies, as a way to support this. The early interactions that infants have with parents and caregivers form a set of templates in their response system about

safety, threat, and soothing - including perceptions around whether or not someone is safe and pleasurable, or unreliable and dangerous. It is these early interactions and perceptions that will design and construct the first neural platforms for relationships, which will play out during the remainder of a baby’s life. At birth, a baby’s stress-response networks are actively organising and taking shape. Their stress-response system signals distress in relation to hunger, thirst, cold or threat. When a parent or caregiver responds to a baby’s distress, such as with feeding and soothing, they can begin to move towards homeostasis, which stimulates and supports survival. The parent or caretaker becomes the highly dependent baby’s much needed external stress regulator. Through this co-regulation process, babies learn that not only does their parent or caregiver affect them, but that they also have an impact on their parent or caregiver, and the capacity to actively influence their environment and those who share their environment. The earliest experiences of this will come from subtle somatic cues, which will include tactile responses, as well as encountering their caregiver’s somatic responses, such as heart rate and breathing changes, or changes in muscle tone. Having regular and reliable access to this early experience of co-regulation helps babies to more effectively develop their own individual ability to notice cues regarding their own experience of regulation. This includes being able to calm and settle with more ease, to notice the pleasure of feeling well-fed, to internalise a sense of safety, and so on. The foundational development of the autonomic nervous system occurs during the early developmental phases of a baby’s life. Without adequate stimulation, soothing, and the attentive responsiveness of their caregivers, early development is likely to suffer. Early, affirming experiences of safe, sensitive, healthy and healing touch, as well as physical and emotional connection with caregivers, provides babies with some of the most vital architecture for self-regulation and resilience, as well as the capacity to develop empathy, and deepen their ability

to understand the social cues of those around them. Interoception: An Infant’s Sixth Sense The external senses are not the only source of stimulation that directs a baby’s behaviour, thoughts and emotions. The sensations a baby experiences from inside the body, strongly influences their behaviour in the world, such as their need for sleep, food and warmth. Although babies can respond to touch on the outside of their body, there is also a vast amount of sensory information being monitored and conveyed to the brain from countless sensors located inside their body. It is this information that drives much of a baby’s behaviour. This behaviour, then provides cues to a baby’s caregiver. The prompt responsiveness of the caregiver provides comfort to the baby, and a reduction in uncomfortable or overwhelming bodily sensations. A baby’s ability to sense their internal states and bodily processes (through interoceptors located on the heart, stomach, liver and other organs inside the body cavity) is essential to their survival. Interoception is the process of being able to notice our internal state. It includes how we perceive and regulate our physiological processes such as heart rate, our digestive process, the sensations of the skin, and any and all other sensations within the body. We use all of this information to take action, make meaning, make predictions and make judgements about who we are and how we are (for example, whether we are feeling hungry, safe, connected and loved). Dr Stephen Porges, a leading expert in developmental psychophysiology and developmental behavioural neuroscience, talks about interoception in babies as an ‘infant’s sixth sense’, and assigns it a critical role in their survival. The infant’s sixth sense refers to the baby’s awareness (both conscious and unconscious) of what is happening inside their body. If a baby is unable to accurately perceive whether or not they are hungry or thirsty, if they need to sleep, if they are too warm or too cold, then it will become increasingly challenging to find ways to communicate their needs or distress to their caregivers. This can result in caregivers being unable to decipher or determine a baby’s needs, and consequently, may


prevent them from responding at all, or responding with only a limited degree of accuracy. For the baby, this may result in an increase in infant distress, and elicit a feeling that safety, responsiveness and connection will be unreliable, deficient or absent.

TOUCH - A BIOLOGICAL NECESSITY: Touch is biologically necessary. It is essential for our growth and development. Not only for the process of bonding, but also for social behaviour, psychological development and bodily functions and growth.

A baby’s day-to-day experiences inform their perceptions and how they evaluate internally sourced information. Interoception provides babies with a significant amount of the information they will use to form their experience of self, and their view of self in relation to others. It also provides a large portion of their own internal communication, that is used to determine whether or not they feel safe or unsafe, and whether or not an external event or person is threatening or pleasurable. For this reason, it is essential that infants and small children develop an accurate interoceptive language for communicating their most basic needs. This interoceptive language cannot develop of its own accord. It requires a specific context that includes regular feedback from their social system, in order to be able to attune to reliable points of reference. Touch helps babies to develop these interoceptive abilities.

Touch and the Limbic System and Sensory Nerve Cells A baby’s skin delivers a continual stream of information to the central nervous system, about the body’s immediate environment. When a baby’s skin is touched, the sensation is relayed to the central nervous system, which then initiates physiological and emotional responses. All sensory perceptions - from the eyes, ears, skin, smell and taste organs - are transferred to the brain and then the limbic system, via afferent nerves. Afferent nerves are nerves that are responsible for sensing stimulus from the periphery to the spinal cord, and from there to the brain. Once there, the stimulus received from the sensory organs are evaluated as feelings. The limbic system determines the way in which babies react to stimulation (the outside world is perceived as either pleasant or unpleasant). It retains and controls emotions, memory and arousal, and strongly influences a baby’s well-being.

Holding Holds Babies Together In western society, babies spend a significant amount of time alone in bassinets, cots, bouncers, rockers, car seats, prams, and the like. In a vastly different experience, the Kalahari San hunter-gatherer’s infants are carried for over 90% of daylight hours. Among the Efe huntergatherer tribes in Africa, mothers touch and hold their babies about 50% of the time. Western infants are carried for approximately two to three hours a day, in the first few months of life; and even less as older infants. According to developmental psychologist Ed Tronick PhD and his colleagues, mothers spend about 60% of this interaction time touching their infants, with the largest portion of that time spent rhythmically stroking and holding their babies. The same studies on depressed mothers showed that their babies were carried less, and poked and jabbed more frequently, causing infants to fuss and turn away. The benefits to being carried are built into a baby’s natural sensory repertoire, which begins in the womb, where the amniotic fluid is swished against the fetus’s skin, and the mother’s movements press the walls of the womb against the fetus. Once born, the baby experiences being pulled into the folds of its mother’s body, recreating the similar pressure against their skin that occurred in utero. Babies feel the rhythmical movement of their mother’s body, hear their mother’s voice and heartbeat, and identify the unique scent of her body. This is where they feel most secure. When babies are carried upright, it heightens their visual alertness, helps their back and neck muscles to develop, and promotes their ability to walk much earlier than their peers. Being held close and upright, also helps babies stay calmer and cry less than babies who are not carried regularly. According to a study by Dr Ron Barr from McGill University in Canada, additional time spent carrying infants resulted in 43% less crying time, with the peak crying time (around six weeks of age) disappearing altogether. One of the primary reasons that newborns cry, is that they lack the neuromuscular maturity required to control their limbs against gravity. When they are unable to control the chaotic movement in their arms and legs, they become frightened and disturbed, and so they start to cry. This crying results in more flailing, which then feeds into a succession of further crying and further uncontrollable, chaotic movements. If this cyclic activity occurs around sleep time, it can keep on awakening the baby. If it occurs during a baby’s awake time, it can prevent them from assimilating and accommodating their surrounding world, and as a result, the baby will remain fussy. If it occurs at bath time, where many parents are unaware of an infant’s needs for physical containment, it can cause an infant to squirm and flail in a frantic attempt to secure a sense of grounding. If it occurs whilst a baby is on their back, or in a pram, it can feel extremely disorganising, and would explain the frequency of their sudden crying jags. Until their limbs feel organised and still, no amount of rocking, lulling sounds or sucking on a pacifier will calm them. The quickest and easiest way to contain an infant’s limbs, and keep their random movements to a minimum, is to pick them up! Bringing them in close to a caregiver’s body restores the feeling of comfort that the womb provided. This natural way of offering containment also eliminates the baby’s struggle to maintain and fight gravity. According to Sharon Heller PhD, this is why ‘holding holds babies together’!



Certain sensory nerve cells, known as C tactile (CT) afferents, exist in the hairy skin of humans and mammals. These nerve cells are stimulated by gentle pressure on the skin, and are connected to areas of the brain that are known to be activated by and respond preferentially to touch, at a speed and pressure similar to that of gentle, loving strokes. Recent research by neuroscientist Francis McGlone PhD, and his colleagues from Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, suggests the critical importance of C tactile (CT) afferents in mediating social behaviours, and conveying a more emotional quality of touch. When babies experience external sensory input by having their skin stroked, their brains are also receiving sensory input from internal parts of the body (interoception), which when combined, elicits a unique sense of body ownership, and facilitates a more embodied sense of ‘self’. A baby’s sense of self lies in the medial prefrontal cortex, which is often referred to as the observing brain. When a caregiver and a baby engage in mutual eye gazing, a caregiver looks at the baby in a way that tells them, not with words, but with feelings, that they are understood. Through this attuned communication, a baby’s brain is wired in such a way that they then begin to recognise themselves both literally and figuratively as ‘seen’. The mutual gaze between caregiver and baby also supports the development of a restrained amygdala, which can more effectively accommodate the regulation of intense emotions in the face of overwhelming distress. The growing understanding of CT afferents helps to explain how gentle stroking by a caregiver remains among the most powerful of all emotional social signals to a baby. Touch and Physical Growth Touch can act like a master switch for human growth hormone. Conversely, deprivation of touch, shuts the switch off. Touch sends messages to the pituitary gland to release growth hormone from the hypothalamus, which is located in the limbic system. The physical benefits of touching babies include: healthy growth and development; an increase of growth hormone from the pituitary gland; stimulation of the vagus nerve - one branch of which leads to the gastro-intestinal tract, where it facilitates the release of food absorption hormones such as insulin and glucose; improved circulation in a not quite fully developed circulatory system; promoting the flow of waste-removing lymphatic fluid; muscle relaxation and joint flexibility - as a baby’s muscles relax, it will allow for a freer and wider range of physical movements and mobility; cleansing the skin, helping to remove dead skin cells, eliminating toxins, and secreting sebum (a natural oil that aids the skin’s elasticity and resilience and resistance to infections). Limiting touch can significantly impact upon growth. Dr Saul Schanberg, from the Duke University Medical School, has conducted many studies on touch deprivation with mother rats and their pups. Schanberg noticed that rat pups who were deprived of any contact with their mothers, would experience a significant decline in growth hormone and ornithine decarboxylase (ODC), which resulted in a weakened immune system. Returning the rat pups to their mothers reversed the decline. A series of experiments ruled out contributing factors such as nutrition, body temperature and maternal pheromones. He remained puzzled as to what was causing the decline, and he and his colleagues hypothesised that it had to be something to do with how the mother rat was interacting with her pups. Observing the mother rat and her

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Photo Jasmin Sleeman pups, day and night, one of the researchers was able to figure out exactly what was happening. He returned to the separated rat pups in the lab, with a little paint brush in his hand. He proceeded to dip the paint brush into water and ‘lick’ the pups deprived of their mothers, by stroking the brush on them in a regular, even rhythm - which reversed the effects of the maternal deprivation. Touch (through licking) had been the missing link!

matures with time and growth. The oesophageal sphincter, a valve that prevents food from the stomach returning into the oesophagus, is still developing in babies, making spitting up and reflux a common digestive issue. The nerve that serves the greatest part of the gastrointestinal system is called the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is 90% sensory in function and carries impulses from the body’s periphery and interior to the central nervous system. It is activated by pleasant touch.

Touch and Social / Emotional Development Touch is also our most social sense. Although seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting can all be done alone, touching typically implies the presence of or interaction with another person. When babies receive loving touch, it helps them to develop a felt sense (based on physical sensations, that encompass the internal and external landscapes of their bodies) of which areas are most sensitive and need relaxing or more support.

Touch improves digestion. It is possible to suggest that the digestive system is like an inward continuation of the skin. Just as the outside of the body is stimulated by touching, the inside of the body is stimulated by eating. We can almost think of eating as an internal massage. Babies who receive extra touch show enhanced secretion of digestive hormones, and have more efficiently functioning digestive systems.

The social / emotional benefits of touching babies include: introducing a unique level of confidence and trust in early parent-child relationships; reducing the circulation of cortisol (a stress hormone in the bloodstream) if done regularly; stimulating the release of the body’s natural opiates - endorphins - which help to moderate pain; promoting attachment through maintaining deep eye contact, kissing, caressing and vocalising; and easing tense muscles, which in turn, calms emotions. Touch and Brain Growth Stimulation of the senses, especially touch, is crucial to help a baby’s brain make all the connections it needs. Early experiences of touch will determine the degree and quality of brain development in babies. Studies show that babies who receive extra touch, display enhanced neurological development. The first six months of life are an extremely sensitive period for neurological growth, with the greatest neurological development occurring during this time. The effect of tactile stimulation on neurological development includes: more complexity of the dendrites; an increasing of the myelin sheath; less production of the stress hormone adrenaline; and improved endocrine function. This early neurological development lays the foundations for the rest of a baby’s life. Touch and the Digestive System Newborns have an immature digestive system, which evolves and 24


Touch and the Endocrine System The endocrine system is a network of glands in the body (pineal, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal) that make the hormones that help cells talk to each other. They are responsible for almost every cell and organ in the body, as well as functions such as metabolism, growth and development. Our endocrine system is influenced by our levels of well-being and stress. Touch, including gentle stroking, can heighten pituitary / adrenal reactions, to such an extent that babies can become calmer, healthier, more balanced, and develop ‘thicker skins’ against stress - both physically and psychologically. Touch and the Exocrine System Skin sensitivity, and stimulation of the skin, is the most important of all the sensory systems to overall development. The skin is the largest, oldest and most sensitive sense organ in the body. We are covered in and protected by our skin. Physically, the skin comprises approximately 18% of our body. Its critical function is that of holding in our organs. It also protects our bodies from dehydration, physical injury, toxic substances, and ultraviolet radiation; enables us to regulate our body temperature, as well as our water and salt metabolism, through sweating; and helps to prevent disease by releasing immune hormones. The sebaceous glands help to lubricate the skin. And, as a sense organ, the skin is

critical for perceiving and processing the meaning of different touch stimuli. Despite these, and its many other extraordinary functions, the skin is one of the most neglected body organs. And touch, and its stimulation of the skin, is one of the least researched of the senses. Touch and the Immune System The skin has an immunologic function, and touch deprivation affects the immune system. One way in which touch might influence immune function, is by lowering arousal levels and their accompanying stress hormones that dampen the immune system. Immune function has been found to improve in people who receive deep-pressure touch. Researcher Stephen Suomi PhD conducted a number of immune studies with monkeys, to test the relationship between physical contact, and the body’s ability to respond to an immunological challenge. The outcome was a direct relationship between the amount of contact and the amount of grooming an infant monkey received in the first six months of life, and its ability to produce antibodies in response to an antibody challenge at one year of age. In several studies that followed, monkeys who were separated from their mothers were found to have a suppressed immune response, including less natural killer cell activity. Studies by Tiffany Field PhD, from the Touch Research Institute, show that preschool children who were separated from their mothers, experienced more frequent illnesses, particularly constipation, diarrhea, and upper respiratory infections. In another study, when mothers were taught to massage the backs of their ten-week old infants, giving them extra tactile stimulation, the opposite effects were noted. These infants experienced fewer colds and fewer episodes of diarrhea approximately four months later. A compromised immune system can be an outcome of sleep disturbances, which can be caused by touch deprivation. Dr Martin Reite, and his colleagues at the University of Colorado Medical Centre, found that infant bonnet monkeys, who were separated from their mothers for a period of two weeks, experienced both sleep disturbances and a suppressed immune system, but later returned to normal after the infant bonnet monkeys were reunited with their mothers. The infant bonnet monkeys who were separated from their mothers also showed depressed behaviour, including huddling in corners and changes in body temperature, heart rate, brain waves, and sleep patterns. Some of these symptoms persisted even after having been reunited with their mothers. Touch - Can Improve Sleep The skin is in a constant state of readiness to receive messages - it is always on! And when in close proximity, sensory exchanges, such as heat, sound, smell, movement and touch, between mothers and babies are continuously occurring. At night, a sensory rich sleeping environment provides a range of social, physiological and psychological benefits for babies, by responding to and returning sensory stimuli whilst asleep. These sensory exchanges induce important and essential physiological changes in a baby’s arousal patterns, body temperature and sleep architecture (the basic structural organisation of normal sleep). When mothers and babies sleep in close proximity, they exhibit synchronised (mutual) arousals; the frequency and duration of breastfeeding increases; mothers and babies assume a higher percentage of face-to-face positions (which facilitates the continual transfer of the stress reducing hormone oxytocin, sustained body temperature regulation, and the baby’s uninterrupted access to both the nutritive and non-nutritive benefits of the breast - including the baby’s ability to inhale its mother’s CO2, small amounts of which are known to stimulate more rhythmic breathing in mammals); and the frequency of maternal protective interventions, such as visual monitoring, breastfeeding and physical management increases. Sensory enriched, nocturnal touch has such strong effects on babies because the stimulation is rapidly transmitted to the brain, which in turn, regulates their bodies. Touch deprivation can severely impact a baby’s sleep. When babies are separated from their mothers they can take longer to fall asleep and they can wake more frequently during the night. Babies who receive extra nocturnal touch become better organised, fuss less, and have more capacity to interact with and relate to their caregivers during the day.

Touch - In Childhood and Adolescence As children get older, any soothing stimulation that their parents may have offered, or any of the self-stimulation rhythms that may have developed during infancy, are quickly replaced by peer play (the rough and tumble that you see at the preschool stage, and through contact sports that are introduced around primary and secondary school age). By the time children reach high school, they are only receiving about half the amount of touch they did in their primary school years, and the touching is also very different - it involves more shoulder to shoulder and elbow to elbow contact, rather than hand to hand contact. Parents may notice their adolescent replacing contact through touch with peer back rubs, applying lots of makeup, and taking extremely long showers! TOUCH - A POWERFUL FORM OF HEALING: When a lack of touch and attention, or trauma and / or bonding ruptures occur during crucial times of development, if left without repair, it can have more serious consequences, and can take longer to heal, than deprivation or trauma that is experienced later in life. The deprivation, and physical and emotional injuries that babies experience, can influence their behaviour, which in turn, can lead to the development of long term behavioural patterns. Either in their early developmental years, or later in life, these memories of difficult experiences can be triggered in certain circumstances, and can begin to control behaviour. Parents may experience their baby or young child reacting to seemingly ordinary situations as if they were the original distressing experience. For example, babies who have experienced invasive procedures, primarily in the chest and abdomen regions, can develop an extreme adverse reaction to being touched there, and may assess and respond to the now harmless contact or touch, as if they are in real danger. Touch can be a powerful form of healing for babies whose early experiences included a disruption in their encountering of safe, appropriate touch. Fortunately, research shows that our human brain remains plastic throughout life, which means that it is possible to repair most of the neurological, physiological, psychological and relational ruptures, injury and trauma that can occur. Experiences such as premature birth, impaired growth, medical trauma, sleeping problems, etcetera, can all benefit from the vulnerability and malleability of a baby’s immature nervous system, which offers the opportunity to encourage the provision of enjoyable experiences, loving attention, gentle bodily contact and regular tactile stimulation, through greater regulation and reparative touch … which can leave as much of a lasting impression as negative experiences. TOUCH - A POWERFUL FREQUENCY AND FORMULA IN EVERY PARENT AND CAREGIVER’S FINGERTIPS! Babies thrive when their parents and caregivers engage with them through responsive touch. And every parent’s fingers contain an incredibly powerful frequency and formula, which helps them to connect with their whole baby, to read their baby’s body language, and to learn from their cues. Touch not only fulfills a baby’s need for physical contact; it can also help both mothers and fathers to feel closer to their baby, and to express emotional affection in ways that they otherwise would not have; in particular, as a supportive and healing tool to tune into and reconnect with babies after separation and trauma. Any time parents slide, steady or stroke their fingers on or over their baby, they are not only laying the foundations for further physical, emotional and intellectual development; they are laying the foundations through which they may come to truly know their baby and their baby’s world, and the means by which their baby will come to truly know them and their world … which will last a lifetime. Anne offers therapeutically sound, trauma informed, attachment based, child centered, process oriented, somatic, sleep support for babies, toddlers and young children. Anne is also a somatic psychotherapist, birth trauma therapist and play therapist, based in Brisbane, Australia. See references at:


Keeping Children Safe Naturally It is now more important than ever to practice good hygiene to keep your family safe. The advice from health experts is to wash your hands regularly and to use hand sanitiser when soap and water is not available. However, some hand sanitisers do pose a health risk, and it is important parents and caregivers are aware of their options. There are natural and organic sanitisers available that provide protection, are safe for babies and children and do not have any negative consequences. Issues with alcohol-based hand sanitisers The NSW Health Department issued a warning in 2020, after a spike in reports of young children swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitisers. Senior Poisons Specialist Genevieve Adamo said even a small amount of alcohol can be harmful to young children. Alcohol poisoning in children can cause confusion, vomiting, drowsiness, respiratory arrest, coma and even death. Parents and caregivers are urged to keep alcohol-based hand sanitisers out of reach of children. Avoid bright and colourful containers that may attract young children and packaging that may be mistaken for a drink. Dermatologists are reporting an increase in children with skin conditions from using alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Alcohol is drying on the skin because it strips the barrier of essential proteins and lipids, resulting in irritation and dryness. Issues with alcohol-free sanitisers that contain chemicals Some hand sanitisers are promoted as alcohol-free, but many contain chemicals such as benzalkonium chloride or hydrogen peroxide. These

chemicals are toxic and can cause skin irritation. The Work Safe Australia website warns businesses involved in supplying hand sanitisers that their ingredients, such as ethanol and isopropanol, can cause severe eye irritation. “Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidiser and is corrosive to the skin and eyes,” the website said. The benefits of all-natural sanitisers There are all-natural hand sanitisers that are safe for babies and children; however, it’s important to ensure they have been scientifically tested to kill 99.9% of germs. A new organic sanitiser developed and made in Australia, Invisi Shield kills a wide range of pathogens, is non-toxic and is suitable for sensitive skin. The company announced to the Australian Securities Exchange recently that their independent testing on their SE formula kills 99.99% of the COVID 19 surrogate virus. The ability of alcohol-based products to kill bacteria ends once the product has dried on the skin. Invisi Shield offers longer longer-term protection after application, which reduces cross-contamination and does not need to be re-applied as often. The products we consume and put on our skin should be beneficial – there should not be any trade-offs. Products should promote over-all wellness and not just a quick fix. While alcohol and chemicals may have been the traditional products used in killing germs, there are now safer, natural alternatives to do this and to help keep your family protected.

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Co-Sleeping Photo Wander & Solas

We surveyed Nurture readers and contributors to find out their favourite part of co-sleeping Amie-Jane, Growing Kind ‘My favourite thing about co sleeping is when my 3 years old wakes in the middle of the night. I glance over and see her eyes open slowly. She checks I’m there, her arm reaches out to touch me, and then she smiles whilst half asleep. She knows she is safe. Then she peacefully falls back to sleep. No tears, no wake ups, no rocking or patting.’ Jacquie, The Brave Space ‘Love listening to their little breaths.’ Katie Rainbird ‘The stand-out part of co-sleeping for me, was the amount of sleep I got, even with a newborn and a toddler; compared to the amount of sleep I had gotten with my first baby (whom I had in a cot). It was the thing I’d remarked upon the most. I’d tell everyone: I’m getting more sleep with two than I did with one!’ Maha Al Musa, Embody Birth ‘Knowing they are safe and close. It’s about the senses, touch: body warmth, taste: easy breastfeeding, hear: listen to them breathe, see: looking at them safe and close, smell: olfactory for bonding.’ Conny, Seeds Early Learning ‘Snuggles.’

Jo, Duo Pillow ‘Knowing my kids feel safe and secure being close to me and in some way I also feel that comfort.’ Crystal, The Gentle Counsellor ‘There are so many things I love about bedsharing! It makes it so much easier to meet my childs needs by breastfeeding through thirst, hunger and comfort, whilst still getting some sleep myself. After returning to work it was also a nice way to get in some extra cuddles after missing each other all day When I suffered with anxiety, it was a simple way to make sure my child was near and safe.’ Kate, Boronia Baby ‘No need for hot water bottles!’ Brooke, Brooke-Maree Babywearing ‘It kept my anxiety at bay because they were right there next to me, safe and close all night long. That felt right to me.’ Naomi, Gentle Traditions ‘My favourite thing about co-sleeping was the transferring of all that my son was feeling or needed through that close and extended physical contact, I knew it was helping him to be close.’



Words Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett Photo Golden Sundays Photography

part 2 of 4 Part 1 of our series explained the idea behind baby-led weaning (also known as BLW or baby-led solids) and why it makes sense. In Part 2, Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, share their tips on how to introduce your baby to solid foods using this approach. THINKING AHEAD If you are thinking about introducing solids to your baby soon, you’ll probably have all sorts of questions. You may have already decided on baby-led weaning, perhaps based on the rationale explored in our previous article, or maybe because you’ve seen other babies start solid food like this, and been struck by how natural and instinctive it is. Either way, you’re sold. So, what can you do ahead to prepare? Some of the preparation for introducing solids, for example, choosing 28


a highchair and buying bibs, is something you’ll probably do anyway, whether you’re planning to spoon-feed or do BLW, although some of the priorities may be slightly different (see below). But the key difference with BLW is that it’s about sharing your own food with your baby, rather than specially prepared or bought ‘baby food’. This means your meals need to be healthy, so it’s a good idea to take a look at what you usually eat and see if there’s anything you need to change. How much of your food is highly processed? How much salt do you use in cooking? You may want to experiment with new recipes in advance, or try cutting out added salt and sugar from your old favourites (don’t worry – you can still add them to your own food at the table!). Thinking in advance about the mess is also a good idea. You’ll probably need a splash-mat or a large tablecloth for the floor – something that

can be cleaned easily, so dropped pieces of food can be handed back to your baby. A simple, moulded plastic or wooden highchair will be easier to clean than a cushioned one, while the type that go right up to the table will allow her to eat off the same surface as you and feel really included. As for bibs, those with sleeves cover clothes well, but may get in the way as she reaches for food. Many parents find it easier to let their baby explore food wearing just a nappy, and make sure bath time follows the meal! WHEN TO START? Six months is the recommended minimum age for babies to have solid foods, and most babies don’t need anything other than breastmilk or formula until this age. But this recommendation is only a guide. Lots of babies aren’t ready to eat solid food until seven or eight months, or even later, while some may be ready a week or so before six months. So, how can you tell when to start? The simplest way is to let your baby show you when he’s ready, by grabbing some food and taking it to his mouth. This won’t happen until he is developmentally able, and can sit upright (perhaps with a little support around his hips) and reach out to grab things without slumping or toppling over – usually at around six months. However, there’s no reason why you can’t have him on your knee while you eat long before this. He will enjoy being included and experiencing the sights, sounds and smells associated with food even though he isn’t yet ready to start exploring it for himself. Once your baby does start to reach out for food, it’s important to understand that, for him, this isn’t really about wanting or needing to eat – it’s about learning. To begin with, he may simply touch the food, or he may pick it up and examine it. He may bring it to his mouth and lick or munch on it. He may even bite off a piece, though it will probably fall out of his mouth again. But he probably won’t swallow anything for a week or two – or longer. This is perfectly normal. In fact, providing your baby with the opportunity to learn what different foods look, smell, feel and taste like is more important, in the early days, than whether or not he eats anything. It’s also hugely valuable for him to have the chance to practise biting and chewing skills before he needs the additional nutrients contained in solid food. HOW DO WE START? A good way to start BLW is simply to sit your baby on your knee or in a highchair while you’re eating. That way she can join in as soon as she’s ready. It’s important that she isn’t tired, grumpy or hungry when you do this, or she’s likely to get frustrated – just as she would with a new toy, so be sure to offer a breastfeed beforehand. You can include her in as many of your mealtimes as you want because she won’t actually eat anything until her body is ready to cope with it. Eventually, you’ll want to fix things so that your meals don’t clash with her nap times, but in the beginning, it doesn’t matter if she sometimes shares your lunch and sometimes your dinner. Baby-led weaning is about sharing healthy family meals with your baby, and offering, not giving. Just as with spoon-feeding, there are some foods that babies shouldn’t have, such as salty and processed foods, foods with added sugar, and certain types of fish, so check with your health care provider. In general, though, you can offer her pretty much any nutritious food, just so long as you can make it into shapes and sizes that she can pick up and munch on easily. Bowls and plates can be distracting, so many parents opt to offer pieces of food on a clean table top or highchair tray. Remember, you’re not expecting your baby to eat the food, but she needs to be able to look at it, move it around, and hold it to her mouth. At six months, she can’t get at things that are enclosed in her fist, so she needs the food to be in sticks or strips about 5cm (2in) long, so she can wrap her hand around them and still have a bit sticking out.

are great for gnawing; softer, crumblier breads are easier to chew if they’re toasted. Leaving some skin on slippery fruits, such as avocado, melon, kiwi or banana, can make them easier to grip. It’s important to offer a source of iron every day. The iron in meat is the most easily absorbed, but eggs, pulses (such as beans and lentils) and leafy green vegetables contain good amounts, too. There’s no need to persuade your baby to eat these foods – just make sure they’re available. The key is variety. Offering her the chance to try as many different foods as possible (including some spicy flavours) will broaden her palate and give her the best chance of getting all the nutrients she needs. Don’t worry if your baby decides to binge on one or two foods for a few days every now and then, or to eat nothing at all for several days. This is normal, and her intake will even out over time, provided the choice is there. Remember that her milk feeds are her main source of nutrition until she’s a year old, so continue to offer breast or bottle feeds whenever she asks. As with solid food, she’ll let you know how much she wants. That way you can be confident she’s getting all the nourishment she needs while she’s discovering what solid food has to offer. KEEPING YOUR BABY SAFE Research shows that babies are no more at risk of choking when they feed themselves than when they are spoon-fed. Many babies gag when they first start putting food into their mouth, and some cough occasionally, but these are normal safety reflexes and are part of learning to eat. True choking is what happens when these reflexes are bypassed. It’s very rare, but there are some important rules to follow to help avoid the possibility. Note that most of these apply to spoon-feeding, too:


Never leave your baby alone with food.


Make sure he’s sitting upright to eat, not leaning back or slumped to one side or forwards. If necessary, provide some support around his hips.


Allow him to concentrate on what he’s doing and take his time; don’t distract him by persuading him to eat or hurrying him.


Only your baby should put food into his mouth. (Watch out for ‘helpful’ siblings!) By the time he has developed his ‘pincer grip’, and can pick up peas or small blueberries and get them inside his mouth, he’ll also have the chewing skills to match.


Avoid obvious choking risks, such as small, round foods, and hard foods, such as nuts. Make carrots into sticks, not circles, and cut small fruits, such as cherry tomatoes and grapes, in half lengthwise. Meat should have skin, bones and gristle removed. Very crisp apple should be softened first in a microwave. Nuts should be avoided unless ground or in paste form.

Trusting your baby to eat what he needs when he needs it, and allowing him the time and freedom to explore at mealtimes, means you can be confident that his skills will develop in his own time and his transition to solid foods will happen gradually and naturally, making mealtimes truly enjoyable for all the family. Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett are the co-authors of Baby-led Weaning: Helping your baby to love good food.

Many root vegetables and fruits can easily be cut into stick or wedge shapes while others, such as broccoli, asparagus and green beans, are easy to manage as they are. Hard vegetables should be steamed or roasted, so they’re soft but not soggy; others, such as cucumber, can be offered raw. Meat can be slow-cooked, so it’s really tender, and offered as thick chunks or strips. Or it can be made into sausage-shaped meatballs or patties. Chicken can be torn into strips or presented as a drumstick. Eggs can be offered hard-boiled, scrambled or as omelettes. Flatbreads 29

A Different Way to Mother REMAINING BONDED THROUGH SCENT EVEN WHEN APART Words & Photos Maddie Francis

EVERY MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE On Mother's Day 2016, I was 30 weeks pregnant when my son stopped all fetal movements. I went to the hospital, and all checks showed he was fine, including a scan, but I was still sure something was not right. I was told to give it a week or so before coming back, but I didn’t wait and went back the next morning, and this time the tests showed what I already knew, something was very wrong. My husband was told to get to the hospital ASAP, and they injected me with steroids for the baby's lungs and magnesium for his brain, but before they could have any effect, he was born just a few hours later, silent and terrifyingly still. There were none of the beautiful newborn moments of elation and relief that we’d had with our firstborn with skin to skin cuddles, first breastfeed and/or photos being taken. Instead, I was terrified he would die and saw him for mere seconds before he was taken away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for life-saving interventions. By the time I saw him again in the NICU, he had been placed on a ventilator, had numerous tubes/wires/cables going in and out his skinny little body and bubble wrap covered him. Ashton spent the next 6.5 weeks in the NICU and it the most traumatic thing we have ever experienced. Being separated from your newborn is the most unnatural feeling in the world. Every instinct in you is screaming to go to them, to hold them, to comfort them, feed them, but none of this is possible when your baby arrives too early and/or unwell. Every night I had to leave Ashton behind to go home, and every time it broke my heart. It was a week before I could even hold him for the first time.

One small comfort though was our use of Snuggies (little flat blanket squares with a soft animal head) that kept us bonded through scent even when we couldn’t be together. In the NICU we would place Ashton’s on or under him in his isolette cot (with the hospital's permission), and I took mine to bed with me, and we'd swap them over in the mornings. I got very upset if I woke up and had lost track of it in the bedsheets and 30


would throw the bedding back and put the lights on to find it, that’s how much it meant to me. As the Smithsonian Mag reports the ‘universal baby smell does not occur by chance but rather is a carefully concocted perfume of biological manipulation, evolved to trigger maternal bonding’ So, although he may not have been with me, I remained connected to Ashton and he to me around the clock through scent. It wasn't the "normal" way to bond, but it was ours, and we embraced it. In the early NICU weeks, I was pumping breastmilk around the clock for Ashton as premature breastmilk is even more important than normal for baby to receive as it has ‘more protein, more of an enzyme called lysozyme’, which attacks certain bacteria and helps protect (the) baby from infections’, as well as ‘more fat and less lactose because premature babies find lactose hard to digest' Pumping at home without your baby beside you, without their little cries or smell to trigger your letdown is extra hard though, so when the alarm would wake me to pump every few hours through the night, I would smell Ashton’s Snuggie to help with my letdown. I had no idea at the time that scent bonding is actually something other NICUs actively encourage with evidence showing it improves not only the NICU baby’s stats but also the mother’s nerves and milk supply too. I had just done it naturally because it soothed both of us and helped me express. SETTING UP NICU CHEER Our first Christmas after having Ashton, I could not stop thinking about NICU families with their little ones in hospital over the festive season, and I wanted to give them something to let them know they're not alone and to cheer them up, so the idea for NICU Cheer was born. The following year I put the call out on Facebook, hoping to collect enough to put together a hamper each for the family and staff rooms at our NICU. However, I was inundated with so many donated items that I was able to do individual gift-bags for every cot in our NICU (61 cots in total) as well 18 other hampers, fruit bowls and boxes of goodies for the hospital. Fast-forward a few years and NICU Cheer has continued to grow and expand, and we now deliver to five major NICUs right across Melbourne. In 2020 we had planned our first ever Mother's Day and Father's Day deliveries; however, Covid-19 cancelled our Mother’s Day Plans, but luckily by September we were given clearance by the hospitals to deliver our first ever Father’s Day bags Each of our NICU Cheer bags include organic premature and fullsize baby clothing, organic skincare and bath care products for the parents and the babies, NICU specific milestone cards, snacks, herbal teas and more. They have quadrupled in size since our first year, and companies big and small now donate goods directly to us, and we have a gift registry that the public can purchase items from to go into the bags. I was always looking for that little something extra to go into the bags though to help mothers and babies’ bond as Ashton and I did, but couldn’t include a set of Snuggies in each bag as the costs are prohibitive as we do not receive official funding or grants. When preparing our Mother’s Day bags last year, I revisited the idea though and stumbled upon the information about scent bonding cloths and how they are used in NICUs.

SCENT BONDING The concept is simple, just as Ashton and I did with our Snuggies the NICU mother and child are each given a piece of soft cloth to wear/ lie on for a few hours, and then they swap them so they can remain bonded through scent. At Rush University where they use them, they state that 'after birth, the sense of smell continues to develop, and it is one of the senses that helps the infant recognise the mother…so having the mum’s familiar scent can really help ease an infant’s stress and discomfort’ and ‘being able to smell their baby also brings a sense of calm’ to the mothers. Nurses in the ‘NICU have seen first-hand how a fussing baby will calm down when a doll with the parent’s scent is tucked nearby’ and ‘the baby's heart rate will come down, and oxygen levels will go up’ said Roxanne Cole, the nurse educator in the NICU at Peace Health hospitals who also use them. This was something we also saw happen with Ashton when his Snuggie was placed with him in his cot, it really was remarkable. To add these to our bags, I knew I would need help, so I put the call out on social media in February for volunteers to sew and donate heartshaped cloths. The response was overwhelming, and we have received thousands of hearts and since September 2020 we have already donated 2000 hearts + another 500 are ready to go out later this year too. They have many different names around the world "Loveys, Cuddle Hearts, Scent Blankets" etc., but we call ours Snuggle Hearts. We now hope to include a set of Snuggle Hearts in each and every NICU Cheer giftbag to pass on the gift of bonding through scent that kept Ashton, and I connected throughout our entire NICU journey and beyond and hopefully bring some cheer to the long and hard NICU days. Maddie started NICU Cheer to spread joy to NICU families and let them know they're not alone after having her son 10 weeks early and finding out not only how traumatising a premature birth is, but also how isolating the ensuing weeks in the NICU can be.

A snuggle heart in action with mum Khaira and baby Harris. Interested in sewing Snuggle Hearts for us? Join us in our Facebook Group: NICU Cheer Snuggle Hearts xo

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Words Kellie Rakich Photo Chekoh

For many parents keen on wanting to wear their newborn baby, a stretchy wrap seems to be the most popular style of carrier when starting out. I know that for myself, I started with a stretchy wrap before exploring the other styles, and this was over 11 years ago now. So much has changed over that time with many new brands and styles on the market. But what makes them so great for a newborn, and how do you get your head around all that fabric? Stretchy wraps are undoubtedly a perfect baby carrier for newborns and smaller babies. It is a long piece of material that is around 5 meters long and made from a combination of cotton and some kind of elastic fibres like elastane and spandex. The fabric is soft and mouldable, which makes it an ideal carrier for all body types with the additional snuggly and cosiness.

were in their mother’s womb. Because of this, and due to the nature of the stretchy material, stretchy wraps are perfect for newborn and very young babies, but some brands, like the Boba wrap, may last you until your baby is approximately 18 months (or 35 lbs in weight). A stretchy wrap can have great benefits for the person wearing it too: It’s a long piece of material, so it fits everyone without the need to adjust straps every time you pass it from one person to another (mum or dad to one another or to another caregiver, for example); It is designed to distribute the weight of the baby across your back and both your shoulders, so it should feel very comfortable, and it shouldn’t hurt. Once it’s on it feels amazing! When your baby is in it, it almost feels like you’re wearing an extra top… with the great advantage that your top comes with a baby inside! And your baby feels secure too, as they’re wrapped in 3 layers of material!

Benefits of a stretchy wrap »

Being close to the parent or carer;


Being held upright – this is great for helping those babies that may suffer from a bit of wind or reflux.


Comfort from the movement of the parent or caregiver is very relaxing.

Whilst they’re a bit tricky to put on if you’re out and about and outdoors (the material will touch the ground when you’re putting it on, so you don’t want to put it on while standing on a muddy pavement!), they’re perfect to put on indoors and slip the baby in to go out with. If you have a car journey ahead of you, for example, you could put the wrap on before you go out, get in the car, and once you are parked up, take your baby out of the car seat and slip them into the wrap. And off you go!

Stretchy wraps, being just a long piece of material, help us to mould the material perfectly around the baby so that the baby experiences that sensation of being snuggled up next to you like in a constant, cosy hug. They feel held and touched all round like they were while they

A few things to consider when wanting to wear your newborn or smaller baby in a stretchy wrap is the heat. As this style of carrying your baby requires three layers of fabric, it is important to be aware of overheating. Environmental conditions, as well as the heat your body and your











babies body, is producing need to be considered. If choosing to wear in summer, it’s a good idea to just pop your baby in a nappy and wear with minimal layers, try and stay in the air conditioning too. At the end of the day, if it’s just too hot to wear and everyone is cranky from the heat, it’s ok to not wear your baby. Finally, always check on your baby! Of course, like with any other carrier or sling, we recommend that you always follow the TICKS safety guidelines for babywearing: »

T for tight. Ensure that the sling or carrier helps you keep your baby as close as possible to your chest. This will be most comfortable and safe for both you and your baby.


I for in view at all times. As you look down at your baby, you should be able to see your baby’s face straight away.


C for close enough to kiss. Your baby’s head should be as close to your chin as is comfortable.


K for keep the chin off the chest, to ensure that breathing is not compromised.


S for supported back. Your baby should be held comfortably close to your chest so that their back is supported in a natural position.

Remember… You can’t carry your baby on your back in a stretchy wrap; Be extra mindful of not overheating your baby while in the wrap – once your baby is safely wrapped in, they have three layers of material already snuggled around them, so you don’t need to put too many clothes on them. Even in winter, a light jacket and a hat may be sufficient to keep them warm. Australia has some amazing brands that can meet your needs and looks. We love Chekoh as its light and thin for summer. HOW TO: 1. Place the centre of the wrap on your chest. 2. Bring the pass diagonally across your back and over your shoulder (avoid twisting). 3. Repeat for the other side. 4. Feed the shoulder straps down the inside of the chest pass. Make sure each strap is firm and not loose. 5. Cross the straps over and bring them around your waist, remembering to keep them tight. Cross the straps over behind your back at waist height. 6. Tie the straps off at the front or wherever you find comfortable 7. Hold your baby up on your shoulder in the burping positioning. Use one hand to feed through one shoulder strap and guide your babies leg through. Make sure the fabric is sitting knee to knee and spread that pass.


8. Repeat for the other side. 9. Gather the chest pass and bring up the nape of the neck. For a more guided tutorial, Chekoh and other online retailers of Stretchy wraps, have step by step video tutorials. You can also check out wrap you in Love or Brooke Maree - Babywearing Educator. Kellie supports all Parents and caregivers to wear their baby safely whilst advocating all aspects of natural parenting.


Pyrrole Disorder


Our urine tells us a lot about what’s going on inside our bodies, but did you know it can also contain early warning signs about mental health too? We all know about the common ‘pee signs’ that indicate physical problems like dehydration (dark yellow urine) or an infection (pink or red urine), but our urine can also point to the possibility of behavioural, emotional and mental health issues. These include autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, ADD, depression, oxidative stress and bipolar disorder - but the trick is to know how and where to look for these hidden signs. I’m referring to a condition called pyrrole disorder (also known as krytopyrroluria or pyroluria) which has been linked to early signs of mental health issues and learning and behavioural problems. Yet despite the research and despite the fact that between 10-15% of the population is said to have pyrrole disorder, not many medical doctors acknowledge the condition and actively test for it - and that means children could be at risk unnecessarily.



WHAT IS PYRROLE DISORDER? Pyrrole disorder is a chemical imbalance in the blood that results in dramatic deficiencies in zinc and vitamin B6. In most cases, the condition is genetic, but it can also be acquired through environmental and emotional stressors. When someone has pyroluria, their bodies produce abnormally high numbers of molecules called pyrroles (hydroxyhaemopyrrolin-2-one or HPLs) as a by-product of hemoglobin synthesis (the molecule that carries oxygen in your blood). These excess HPLs have a strong affinity to vitamin B6 and zinc, and they bind irreversibly with them before being excreted in urine - thereby robbing a person’s body of these vital nutrients. To a lesser degree, other nutrients such as gamma-linolenic acid, niacinamide, biotin, manganese and other B-vitamins are also excreted with the pyrrole/zinc/B6 complex.

WHY CAN PYRROLE DISORDER BE PROBLEMATIC? Zinc is essential for hundreds of processes in the body, including for normal physiological functions, protein synthesis, healing, effective immune function, digestion, neurotransmitter activation, memory, physical growth, blood sugar control and DNA replication. Our bodies need the combination of zinc and Vitamin B6 to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin (our ‘happy’ hormone), melatonin (our sleep hormone), GAB (our relaxation hormone) as well as for the production of steroid hormones such as cortisol (our anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy and stress hormone). According to experts, depleted levels of these essential nutrients can trigger many different metabolic imbalances and can be linked to a wide range of emotional and mental health challenges including anxiety, depression and learning and behavioural disorders. I find it really interesting that many children who have been diagnosed with behavioural and learning disorders such as ADHD and those on the autism spectrum have pyroluria. That’s not to say that pyroluria is specific to autism spectrum disorder and nor does the condition cause autism, but research findings suggest that it contributes to the retention of toxins and heavy metals found in children with autism. SO WHAT SHOULD PARENTS DO? As we know so well, early intervention is absolutely crucial in so many aspects of positive parenting, and so from both a healthy body and mind perspective, it’s never too soon to check out your child’s urine. Mental health is a growing priority on the national agenda, and when we consider that suicide is the number one cause of death for young adults between the ages of 14 and 44, it’s never been more important to be ultra-aware of what’s going on. Testing for pyroluria could literally be a lifesaver. However, if you suspect your child may have the condition, the most important thing to remember is that you need to consult a qualified doctor or experienced naturopath BEFORE taking any action. Zinc can be toxic in high doses, and any supplementation regime should always be tailored to suit the individual. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PYROLURIA: As a feeding therapist, I’m constantly helping parents look for signs of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in their children. One of the most common red flags for a zinc deficiency (and therefore a strong sign that someone may have pyroluria) is white spots on fingernails. Other symptoms can include a lack of appetite, a diminished sense of taste and smell, behavioural and sleep disturbances, hyperactivity, increased food and environmental allergies and diarrhoea. When someone is deficient in B6, they may get skin rashes, experience dry and cracked lips and feel tired and lethargic. Mood swings, irritability, poor stress control, anxiety, a strong and violent temper and a weakened immunity are some of the many other signs of a B6 deficiency. IS THERE A TEST FOR PYROLURIA? You’ll probably find it difficult to locate a GP in your area who actively investigates for pyroluria, so I encourage you to join online public health groups via Facebook and other channels to get hold of all the right information and resources for a way forward. There is a definitive diagnostic test called a Urinary Pyrroles Test which should only be done under the expert guidance of a naturopath, integrative GP or other health professional so that the correct protocols are followed for an accurate diagnosis. Even though home testing kits are readily available online, I really don’t recommend going down this path as many variables can affect the results. WHAT IS COPPER TOXICITY? Although copper is an essential mineral to have in the body, not all copper is safe and only offers a benefit when it’s at a healthy balance in the body. Copper is stored in the liver and the secondary location being the brain, when it accumulates in excessive amounts energy turns to fatigue and exhaustion, and cognitive clarity turns to brain fog. Could this be the reason you haven’t been able to shift the ‘baby brain’ since giving birth?

I thought it important to add this because if you recognise that you may have had long term unrecognised symptoms of pyrroles, you are quite likely to have excessive amounts of copper due to there being a deficiency in zinc. Zinc is what’s needed to balance and detox copper but must be administered carefully to avoid often significant adverse reactions and overbalancing in favour of excessive zinc. Other nutrients, such as manganese, are also required to release stored copper. A deficiency of ceruloplasmin is strongly associated with copper toxicity because in order for the body to use copper, it must be bound to a transport protein (ceruloplasmin). If left free and unbound, copper becomes a powerful free radical, resulting in oxidative stress, cell and tissue destruction, neurological degeneration, and a list of health-related issues. Copper toxicity is one of the most widespread yet misunderstood epidemics of our time and is a major factor in many of today’s most prevalent conditions. It is a growing health epidemic, yet silent in large part due to over-reliance on testing blood status. Blood tests can often come back normal due to the excess being stored in the liver and brain. The only true way to get an accurate reading of copper is to have a liver biopsy. Pyrrolia is not the only cause of C.T, and probably not the most common. Here are other factors that may have contributed to C.T: Estrogen based birth control pill, Copper IUD, copper sulphate in food supply, vegan/vegetarian diets (found in proteins such as nuts, beans, seeds and grains) copper piping for drinking water and copper cookware. If reading this article, you have a suspicion of having an undiagnosed case of pyrrolia, it’s important to know that any copper toxicity you had during pregnancy will be passed through the placenta. High copper in babies is a serious concern today and very common. This could mean that your child may have also been born with high copper and low zinc levels. If you are a mother or mother-to-be, another benefit of lowering your excess copper is a much-reduced chance of post-partum depression, morning sickness and problems in your babies. These include a lower risk of birth defects, delayed development, ADD, ADHD, autism, ear infections and many other common childhood problems. TELL ME ABOUT THE TREATMENT: There aren’t any pharmaceutical drugs specifically for pyrrole disorder and nor can the condition be cured, but targeted, lifelong treatment with supplements such as Zinc and Vitamin B6 can result in a significant improvement in symptoms. Zinc picolinate is the best form of zinc as it is more easily absorbed by the body, but unfortunately, it’s not readily available in liquid form. But if young children have difficulty swallowing capsules, you can always get a special cream which allows the zinc and other nutrients to be absorbed through the skin. Pyroluria isn’t something that can be ‘fixed’ simply by adapting your diet - although as a child feeding professional, I cannot stress enough the importance of healthy eating to support a healthy body and mind. The only way to manage the condition is through a carefully managed zinc and B6 supplementation plan, which is directed by a health practitioner and which takes into account the individual’s unique situation. Remember, too much zinc can be toxic, and the wrong form of supplementation can be ineffective, so it’s really important to get professional guidance. I believe there should be a greater focus on investigating for pyroluria, especially given the escalating prevalence of children being diagnosed with learning and behavioural challenges. Are some of these children being medicated improperly or unnecessarily? Are there better ways to alleviate symptoms? We need to investigate all possible solutions to help our precious children reach their full potential. Beth Bonfiglio, founder of Little Fusspot, helps people all over the world with mealtimes that are less than peaceful, bringing the core fundamentals of many different professions together to make a onestop-shop for all types of fussy eaters.


Daddy Talk

MY JOURNEY INTO GENTLE PARENTING Words Andrew Martin Photos Rachel Gray Photography

If you had first asked me what gentle parenting was, I would have looked at you with confusion, wondering if you had spoken to me in a completely different language. The truth was I had a common misconception of what being a gentle parent was. I was raised in a single-parent household, that was ruled by my mother’s iron fist. When she met my stepfather, that changed into an abusive household. I fought my way through my childhood every single step of the way. I often looked down on softer kids because they never struggled. This mixed with a contempt that I developed as I became an adult and saw a glaringly obvious perception that children were spoilt brats that lacked discipline. As a child, I was often quite prone to emotional outbursts, mixed with rage and sadness. Being constantly told “what the hell is wrong with you!” and “why are you crying?” This led me to become emotionally closed off to retreat from the world. I even joined the Australian Army as an Infantry Soldier, coming from a family that was steeped in military history and convicts from the second fleet. Further closing off my emotional responses to situations. What I discovered when I met my wife Simone was something completely different from what I thought gentle parenting was. As we travelled



further down the relationship road, new conversations and topics were opened to me, including gentle parenting. Having a son from a previous marriage and already being a parent, I was slightly offended by the suggestion that we raise any of our children as “weak or gentle, unable to survive in a world I had seen the worst of”. I didn’t yet understand that this was far from the case. Simone and I had to agree 100% on how we would raise our children before committing to having them. Non-negotiables were gentle parenting, Steiner and nature-based play, homeschooling, practicing traditional eastern health care and medication and eating a whole foods organic diet. Having been diagnosed with PTSD from my Army service, I became more and more interested with the concept of what a “gentle parent” actually was, how the interaction and more importantly how the bond between the father and child would be different. How the psyche of a child develops and grows when the concept of gentle parenting was used, as opposed to the more “mainstream and disciplined” practice I was used to. With Simone’s help, I started to research what exactly a gentle parent

does when they are confronted with different situations. With the knowledge that I was gaining from my own personal development and understanding of how the brain works, I have come to understand just how vastly different the mind of a child works in comparison to our own. What I truly discovered was that nothing prepares you for being a gentle parent.

killing those amazing instinctual abilities. Allowing these traits to flourish and thrive, to find balance in giving the child a certain amount of control in the direction they were heading. We found this through being very clear with how we communicated with Floss, being careful to include her in what we were doing, having two or three outfits for her to choose from, and redirecting her attention when she would become frustrated.

It is instinctual. An opening of your heart to a person you have been chosen to guide and support through the most crucial years of their life. Supporting the laying of foundation stones for the person they will become. Teaching acceptance and patience, the power of human touch and comfort to someone in a powerfully confused state. A toddler in the midst of a tantrum has no cognitive ability to reason; the tantrum is purely an emotional release that requires you to open your heart, raise your vibration of love and support, being the lighthouse in the storm, guiding them home to safe harbour. It is the most rewarding thing in the world. And while a toddler tantrum in the middle of the shopping centre is a hard thing to handle, not because they are having a tantrum, but because we fear how others will judge our parenting style. It is this notion that it is “about us” that we must let go of. There is only one thing that deserves 100% of our attention at that point in time, and that is our amazing and beautiful little child that now, more than ever, needs our emotional and physical support, through something that is just as unsettling to them as it is to us. So then how do we interact with our children on a day to day basis as a gentle parent without being felt like we are being “taken for a ride”. Children are highly motivated when they want something and will go about achieving their own goals with a determination that is amazing to watch, grow and develop.

It forced us to pay attention to our daughter in ways that I had never done with my boy. Learning the nuances in behaviour, what were her triggers and then helping her to navigate those, instead of removing the trigger. Supporting her to work through the emotions. Teaching her the importance of clear communication by talking to her as if she was already an adult. Understanding that “cry it out” can have a negative impact and lead to abandonment and trust issues. That the two most important people in their entire world, mum and dad, were not there when they needed them the most. There is a reason why, deep down, cry it out makes you instinctively move towards the room, to comfort and soothe, protect and nourish. This further reinforcing our decision to not practice cry it out in our household. Instead, we helped her to understand that her bed is a safe, happy place, full of comfort and love. Due to this, our daughter is a great sleeper, and it truly showed that they can learn very healthy sleep habits through gentle prompts and guidance. I’ve become truly grateful that we have adopted this style of parenting; it’s allowed me to build an amazingly deep and loving connection with our daughter. Andrew is a Dad, Veteran and Freelance Digital Marketer.

This was the most challenging aspect of gentle parenting I had come up against. How to effectively guide and discipline (not punish) without

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Parenting Pit Stops


Seeing our children happy…the ultimate goal and gift in this journey we know as parenting. What truly elicits and brings joy in a child. Is it the latest toy? A funny cartoon? A new activity? What we know about nurturing emotional wellness in children is that it comes from a place of emotional security. A place of feeling safe to explore and enjoy the world, knowing that there is that special someone waiting and watching. Celebrating our successes and catching our falls. This place is connection, relationship and attachment. This place for our children begins with us. So, in a world that continues to celebrate busyness, and pull us in a direction of constant distraction…how do we ensure that we are fulfilling and nurturing the attachment needs of our children? Our modern way of living is continuously pulling us towards a life that is busier, fuller, and more fast-paced. As a result, more and more expectations, pressures and demands are placed upon us. It’s the reality that parents are pulled in many directions, now more so than ever. And so, it’s important to acknowledge, that, with no illmeaning intentions, parents are often pulled away from time spent intentionally engaging with our children in a way that meets their core emotional needs. Social researchers have even termed the experience of busy modern life, use of devices, as ‘continuous partial attention’. Meaning, parents are constantly present in their children’s lives physically, but they are less emotionally attuned. I guess suggesting that a lot of the time, we aren’t looking up, engaging with our environment and the people in it, our children. It’s important to reflect that it is not often parents’ intentions to parent in a way that takes away from the quality of the parent-child connection, but is it pertinent to know its impacts, nonetheless. Our lives are made up of tiny moments of connection, each one contributing to a much larger picture, attachment. And it’s through these tiny moments that we can choose to connect with intention and heart. Attachment…what is it really all about?? Attachment parenting has been lumped into a collection of ‘social parenting styles’ and is often lumped in amongst styles such as helicopter parenting, lawnmower parenting and authoritative parenting. The term ‘Attachment Parent’ often comes with the misleading behavioural description of a style of parenting that must include baby wearing, co-sleeping and breastfeeding. Another common misconception is that an ‘attachment parent’ is a ‘YES’ parent, a parent who has very lax boundaries.



Attachment parenting is far from a fad. Decades of research have shown that a child who has a secure attachment with a primary caregiver, fosters the growth of a happier and healthier child across multiple developmental domains. Through a secure attachment, our children can feel safe and cared for in the tough internal experiences that we all share. Having a secure attachment with your child is more potent and vital than the meeting of their basic needs such as food, shelter and education. More and more research is being released, which gives evidence to the often viewed ‘fad’ of attachment parenting. Research, as well as experience, shows us that by focusing our parenting on building, fostering and supporting a strong connection with our children, magic really does happen. One of the well-respected guru’s of child psychology, Dr Daniel Siegal educates us on the neuroscience behind this idea. With the take-home message, before trying to correct or ‘manage’ a child’s behaviour, we first need to CONNECT with where they are at emotionally. And the rationale isn’t because this is the most nurturing and empathetic way to relate to children (even though it is), it’s because that’s how our brain is wired. If we are emotionally in a place where we are not ok (upset, angry, annoyed, frustrated, worried…) our brain’s physiology is not in the right space to ‘think’ clearly, make good decisions, or compromise, or do any of those other high order functions. So, if children feel safe within a trusting, warm, predictable, caregiver relationship, they are likely to reach a state of calm, more quickly, knowing that their parent can respond with understanding and kindness, helping them to work through their big feelings. If they feel a strong connection with their parent, if they know they are loved, if they know they are important, if they know their parent ‘gets them’ or is at least doing their best to understand them, they are more likely to cooperate, communicate and thrive. To achieve this bolstered attachment through connection, you will be happy to hear, that it’s the simple things that truly are the most important to our children. It’s their connection and relationship with us that offers them a way to truly experience the world, others and themselves in a wonderful way. And that connection can be found in the tiny everyday things we do. When we smile at our children and truly watch what they do, it shows them they are important and loved. When we offer them our time, it shows them they are worthy of it. When we offer them our understanding, it shows them that they are ok. When we are with them, it gives them the confidence to go out and explore the world.

I often use the metaphor of the ‘pit stop’ a moment of pause as you race around the speed track, as reference to ‘points of connection’. The track entails the daily tasks, movements, duties, roles and responsibilities it takes to raise a child (the feeding, the toileting, the changing, the playing, the talking, the cleaning, the tidying…and the list goes on). The pit stops, the stop signs, the traffic lights, the intersections, the giveaway signs…these are the pauses, the critical points of a path that are essential. These are the parts I am referring to as ‘points of connection’. For our children, these ‘points of connection’ are the moments that matter, the moments that determine, how they feel, and therefore how they experience the world. For us, as parents, these are the opportunities, gifted to us, to connect with our children. The natural pauses of the day, the ones that we often zoom through without stopping. These pit stops and points of connection are the moments which naturally open up wonderful opportunities for connection, relationship and interaction…they don’t require you to change your routine, introduce new strategies, or trial a different way of parenting…all they do is offer you a moment to pause, to look up, to connect a moment of intentionality in how we relate to our children. Often these ‘points of connection’ are the moments we move through quickly, absent-minded, busily…I find myself pushing back against the urge to get busy engaging in adult-focused tasks during some of these moments… because well, let’s face it, when your child is still/busy occupied, it’s an easy exit. The moments that I’m talking about are… » Meal Time …are you washing the dishes? Or have you taken the opportunity to stop, to sit at your child’s level, engaging in eye


and out? Or are you sometimes sitting by the bath, singing songs and delighting in your child’s play. »

Dress Time…are you dressing in a hurry, thinking ten steps ahead, hurrying your child along? Or are you sometimes talking mindfully as you move, engaging your child in the process.


Travel Time…do you mindlessly and automatically put your child in their seat as they resist and oppose? Or do you look them in the eye, talking them through what is going to happen next. Do you use the drive time to make calls, mentally tick of that checklist, think about the shopping that needs to be attended to? Or do you sometimes engage in sing-alongs and games of eye spy.


Play Time…when your child is happily playing, independently (say what?!?!), do you get busy… tackle the washing, open up the laptop, scroll through social media? Or do you sometimes sit close by and watch reflecting on what you are seeing, request to join the play, or offer comments of delight and encouragement.

Developing daily practices to strengthen connection with your child is a wonderful way to build on connection between child and parent. 1. Aim for multiple spontaneous gestures of gentle physical touch each day 2. Infuse moments of playfulness into the everyday routines 3. Turn off or put down technology, to ensure presence 4. Connect and engage before transitions

contact, talking about the day ahead, or the day past, or the shapes and colours of the food.

5. Make time for one on one time

Bath Time…are you frantically tidying the bathroom, running in

7. Listen and empathize

6. Welcome emotion, in all its forms

8. Slow down and savour the moment 9. Bedtime snuggle and chat And finally, being mindful of the need to ‘balance’ tense or conflictual interactions (which are inevitable) with positive nurturing interactions is the key to remaining emotionally connected to your child. Of course, it would be unrealistic to think that we parents take up every opportunity to connect with our child, over, other adult demands placed upon us…what I’m merely suggesting is, sometimes, making it a conscious decision, and intentional action, not an automatic way of being could help us steer away from falling into a world of distraction and disconnection. Parenting is a tough gig, the toughest of all if you ask me… and there should be no unrealistic expectation that we get it right all of the time. Some days, meeting the basic physical and emotional needs of our children is ‘good enough’. But, if we are going to make conscious effort, this is where our attention needs to be streamed… nurturing our child’s growth and development through connection, relationship and attachment. Rachel is a perinatal child and family psychologist. Rachel has launched a new business, Mama Base Illawarra, a holistic practice that supports parents through pregnancy, postpartum and parenthood. Rachel has also recently published her first therapeutic children’s book, titled ‘The Puzzle Of Us’ with Little Steps Publishing.


Remembering BABY DAYS

Words & Photos Kate Bown

We celebrated Arthur’s second birthday last October. He is the littlest of our tribe of three. And I marvel at how quickly time has travelled, the milestones we have reached and tantrums endured. How my dimpled-sweet babe slithers and writhes, booms and clangs. How I was his everything, and now fire, pancakes and a little-green-digger fill his heart. How baby days are fleeting. But as my belly swells with our fourth child, I remember baby days. Regurgitated milk down my bra and honey poo-explosions. Swaying hips and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My body bedraggled with exhaustion. Days directed by the rhythms of another. Cuddles pure and intoxicating. The wonder of new life.

To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, a time to die; And I’ll add: A time to nurture, a time to give selflessly. A season for raising young children, the season I am living.

And I remember when we had three children under three. When we were out-numbered and out-of-control. Chasing little-feet helter-skelter through chaos and pandemonium. A toddler unravelling toilet paper, another tunnelling underneath a mountain-of-washing. While the baby is finally asleep. Evenings thick with tears - some my own, and bedtime tricks. A relentless flow of washing and cooking. Days messy, beautiful and tender.

On Saturday, I finally relax. All-five-of-us wear our pyjamas until lunchtime, harvest tomatoes from our patch, and build pirate ships with chairs and blankets. I relish our freedom. Our bubble of family goodness and unconditional love, insulated from the world beyond. Restaurants, politicians and social-media’ apps’ come and go while we dance to The Lion King soundtrack and eat cornflakes for afternoon-tea. Nothing seems to matter. Perhaps the underground of baby days won’t be too different to life with three young children.

At school drop-off, I whisper to a friend that I am thirty-weeks pregnant. She beams and wishes me good luck for the ‘baby countdown’. I shiver with trepidation; baby days are just-around-the-corner. And suddenly it feels like my time is running out. And I want to shout, “Hold on, I’m not ready”. There are baby-clothes to unpack, renovations to finish, scrapbooks to paste, garden-beds to plant, books to read, time to spend with my children, birthdays to organise.

A week later, we drive our van to the most southerly point of Tasmania accessible by road, Cockle Creek, for a family holiday and to celebrate Sidney’s fourth birthday. Perhaps our last holiday as a family-of-five before baby days are upon us. It’s peaceful here, nestled within the folds of Researche Bay. The water laps gently on the beach, the grand mountains of the Southern Ranges rise up in the distance, and the wild Southern Ocean frolics just-around the corner.

That evening I lie in bed waiting for sleep to come. My body cocooned in a nest of pillows. My mind smothered by lists of things-to-do and those forgotten: pelvic-floor-exercises and the knitting project I started two-years-ago. Pregnancy feels squishy fourth-time around. I wonder how much longer I can do it all.

The children scamper nude along the beach. Lottie carries a bucket full of cockle shells; the boys carry apples. An elderly woman counts, “One, two, three”, as they race past. Her eyes scan the arc of my belly. “You’re a busy lady”, she gestures. “Braver than me, I only had two”, she adds. I give her a friendly smile. But wonder if she might be right. Friends advise that three is a crowd and four children become pairs of harmony. Time will tell. Fortunately, we have always dreamed of a big family. And I hope four children will make us complete.

I pick up the book on my bedside table, Wild Words by Nicole Gulotta. On the third page, I discover a little piece of wisdom: ‘A woman’s life is lived in seasons’. I pause, rearrange my medley of cushions, and allow this new perspective to settle within. There is something comforting about a life lived in seasons. Perhaps it is the knowledge that seasons change. That the winter of one’s life eventually gives birth to spring. And the season of raising young children is not forever. Or perhaps it is the knowledge that each season brings challenges, opportunities and rewards. Winter’s dark moods are a time for snuggles and stories by the fire. And the challenges of raising young children are fractured by moments of magic and tenderness. Thinking about a life lived in seasons whisks me away to my Grandfather’s funeral two winters ago and the beautiful prose of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. This was the poem I read to my family with a toddler tugging at my skirt and a baby crying in the chilly air. It begins: 40


The next day the sky is grey and moody. The clouds huddle like a thick woollen blanket. We walk along the coast to Fishermans Point. The children search for starfish and hat-shells while Anders snorkels for abalone amongst the bull-kelp. I keep one eye on him and one on the children while I stretch my legs in front of me. My right leg aches. A compression stocking hides knotted-veins and a blood-blue ankle. The sacrifices of growing, carrying and nurturing new life. But despite the challenges, pregnancy feels like a wondrous adventure. And a baby is the sweetest reward. As we rock-hop back to Cockle Creek, our backpacks laden with soggy wet-suits and salty treasures, I feel grateful for my good health and mobility. Many pregnant women are not as fortunate. And I remember

the advice of my pilates instructor four-months ago: “No walking on soft sand, standing on one-leg or vacuum cleaning”. I giggle at her ridiculous prescription. I could do without the vacuuming perhaps, but uneven-ground is everywhere in nature. And right now I want to enjoy playing with my family in the wild. My aching back and swollen legs will have to wait until tomorrow. Besides, the discomforts of latepregnancy are almost upon me. And it feels like a last chance to be adventurous before I sink into the cushions of the couch and waddle around in slip-on shoes.

in those first gruelling months and stretches of sleepless insanity. Baby days are easier together. Though I admit, it wasn’t until after my third baby was born that I learnt to ask for help.

We stop for a rest at Adams Point, where I am glad to let go of my backpack. I round up the children for a family photo. Anders holds the shutter on his phone and then they are gone, racing with the breeze, clambering over rocks and climbing fallen trees. For a few moments, I am alone, looking out across the bay. My thoughts return to the life within my belly and to motherhood fourth-time around. Will I feel more confident, I wonder. I know I have learnt much in my six-years of parenting. A trial of worry, despair, and mistakes has birthed a ‘go with the flow’ parenting style. An approach I wish I had discovered as a first-time mum.

Back at home, the children and I snuggle up for a bedtime story. My eyes grow heavy. I am so tired. Sidney brings me a cup of milk for ‘the baby in my tummy’, Lottie covers me with a blanket, and Arthur pats my hair. And in this tender moment, before pillows crash and milk spills, everything is wonderful.

I have experienced the magic of the first two-years. The early smiles, steps all-by-themselves, and first words. Heart-melting achievements that come from loving human bonds. That arrive after a storm of crying, irritability and sleeplessness. I have learnt the importance of date-nights, and adventure escapes with my husband. Of nurturing a relationship separate from parenting and washing-up. And of setting aside a little time each week just-for-me. Adventure, writing and drinking tea have been my saviours. And I know parents need a ‘village of support’, especially

We celebrate Sidney’s fourth birthday at Cockle Creek. We eat pancakes drenched in maple syrup for breakfast and hunt for treasure behind the beach. Later we explore a cave, collect cockle-shells in the rain, and devour a double-layer chocolate cake. Birthdays are so much fun. Days for making precious memories. And for remembering baby days long past.

Baby days are exhausting and extraordinary, perhaps a little terrifying. But they remind us to laugh openly, love generously, and to play wildly. To see the magic and beauty around us. Kate is a mother of four, wife, adventurer and teacher who lives on the foothills of kunanyi / Mt Wellington in Tasmania. She loves drinking tea, family adventures, cooking for her tribe, and snuggling her pet cockatoo. In the quiet spaces of family life, she likes to write stories about her adventures.


Milking The Truth Words Beth Bonfiglio

Dear dairy.... it’s not easy to say all of this, but you need to know the truth Do you know that giving your child dairy products could be causing some serious side-effects? The ‘dangers of dairy’ is a topic that most health professionals avoid and which many parents are unaware of, but as a paediatric nutritionist and concerned parent, I feel compelled to share my experiences. Of course, everyone has the freedom of choice and makes their own lifestyle decisions, but isn’t it better to be informed by science rather than to simply follow tradition? Ultimately, my view on the dangers of dairy comprises a combination of researched facts, my own personal experience and the myriad children (and their relieved parents) whose lives I have seen changed for the better because they made big changes to their diets. The fact is our eating habits have long been influenced by industry bodies which have their own agendas. We’re told we should follow the Healthy Eating Pyramid in order to get the right types and proportions of foods into our bodies, but in reality, this guide is being reinforced by industries pushing their own agendas rather than by science. We’re told that dairy is a daily ‘must-have’ and cows milk is touted as nature’s perfect food and an important component in helping to maintain and grow strong, healthy bones. But times have changed, and we know so much more now. It’s time to question the ‘milky way’. Let’s rethink our dietary choices - and particularly our choices about dairy - and let’s use the growing body of evidence, understanding and experiences to make independent, responsible decisions. We should be looking at whether science actually supports dairy’s prominent position on the pyramid. Perhaps it’s time we realised that it’s the perfect food for cows, but not for humans. Actually, we’re the only species on earth that drinks the milk of another species... and that fact alone should prompt us to really start questioning dairy! WHY MY VIEWS ON DAIRY HAVE CHANGED: In my work as a clinical nutritionist and feeding therapist, I help parents with a multidirectional approach to their child’s picky eating and feeding problems, and a few years ago, I started noticing a pattern of symptoms. I saw so many babies who were unsettled and in obvious discomfort. There were plenty of babies who brought up every time they had a bottle. There were toddlers who were constipated or who had diarrhoea. I noticed frequent ear infections and constant runny noses. Littlies who struggled to gain weight. And the more I started to question our traditional feeding choices, the more answers I found. In this article, I’ll take a look at why cows’ milk is so hard to digest, what



the signs and symptoms of a milk allergy are and I’ll examine the link between milk allergies in babies and gastroesophageal reflux. I’ll also cover some of the nutrient deficiencies caused by dairy intake and the importance of including fat-soluble vitamins in our child’s diet. One of the most important things I learnt is that that cow’s milk is hard to digest. Our bodies are simply not geared up for dairy products. And when you consider that 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant - it all makes sense. The bacteria and enzymes in a newborn’s tummy are best-suited to breast milk, but not all mothers can - or choose to - nurse their babies. Sometimes our feeding options are dictated by choice, other times by circumstances, but our decisions are always motivated by our desire to do the right thing for our children. That said, we have a daunting amount of information at our fingertips and views can be conflicting, and I truly understand that that can sometimes make us feel uncertain and confused. Many studies have been done which compare breastfed and formula-fed babies and the general conclusion is that breastfed babies encounter fewer digestive issues and less severe illnesses. I know that breastfeeding isn’t possible for everyone for a variety of reasons, but if you are concerned about any symptoms of a dairy allergy when transitioning your baby to formula, it’s really important to consult a professional. You may even consider taking your little one to an immunologist. Milk-based infant formulas are very high in casein - a protein found in cows’ milk which turns into clots or curds in the stomach - which makes them harder to digest. Although some infant formulas are hydrolysed and therefore easier to digest, we need to be aware of the added vegetable oils, sweeteners, synthetic vitamins, minerals and iron that have not been scientifically proven to be bioavailable and which aren’t easily absorbed by a baby’s body. For the first nine months of an infant’s life, their body produces lactase - the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose (the sugar found in milk and other dairy products). Thereafter, as solids are introduced into a baby’s diet, which require a more complex array of gut enzymes, the production of lactase slowly diminishes. Remember, help is always at hand. I know that caring for your little one is your highest priority, and if you have any concerns, you should look to a trusted, experienced professional for guidance. HOW DO WE KNOW THERE’S A LINK BETWEEN ACID REFLUX AND COW’S MILK ALLERGIES? In babies, a milk allergy is an overreaction to the proteins in cows’ milk and is either referred to as Milk Protein Intolerance (MPI) or Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA). It’s not the same as a lactose-intolerance which is a non-immune adverse reaction.

Wherever you look, you’ll find a growing body of evidence which links cow’s milk allergy (CMA) to gastroesophageal reflux (GER). A recent study even concluded that the frequency of the association between these two common problems should induce paediatricians to screen for possible CMA in all infants less than a year old who have GER. SIGNS YOUR CHILD MAY HAVE A COWS’ MILK ALLERGY: When someone is allergic to food, it’s important to note that their response can range from the hypersensitive (a possible life-threatening anaphylactoid reaction) to a much milder intolerance - and the timing and duration of these reactions can vary widely. Some people may be affected immediately; others may react after a few minutes of digestion while some others may have a delayed response which can potentially last a whole day. I believe that early detection is key. Putting in the effort to diagnose a milk allergy will not only mean quicker solutions, but it can also help you avoid longer-term feeding issues when your child is older. Trust me on this. I have met so many mums over the years who eliminated dairy from their child’s diet because their little ones were constantly fussing and unsettled (I know because I’m one of them!) - and who were amazed at the outcome. The symptoms are so common that I find it hard to understand why the medical community doesn’t consider a milk allergy as a first line of investigation. SOME OF THE LONGER-TERM SYMPTOMS INCLUDE: »

Slow weight gain. Food allergy reactions are one of many different factors which can contribute to a baby’s failure to thrive as they can cause problems with digesting or absorbing nutrients.


Breathing problems. Excess mucous in the chest and nasal area, frequent symptoms of a cold, a persistent cough, frequent chest, ear and tonsil infections can also be symptoms of a milk allergy.


Stools. Loose stools with a green colour are one of the biggest indicators of a milk allergy, affecting over 50% of all confirmed cases. Your baby may also have diarrhoea or be constipated (especially after they’ve started on solids because of the undigested milk protein). Mucous and blood in the stool are other signs of an inflammation in the gut.


Reflux. All babies have some sort of reflux, but if they’re constantly spitting up, vomiting forcefully, choking or gagging, arching during a feed, very gassy and in obvious discomfort after a feed, then you should investigate for reflux associated with a milk allergy.


Skin problems. CMA can be associated with skin issues like eczema, nappy rash, dry skin and hives.

The renowned Sydney dentist, Dr Steven Lin, makes some very interesting points about the importance of fat-soluble Vitamins A, D and K2 and you should check out his website to learn more about boosting your child’s nutrient uptake through diet. He says that overloading the body with calcium without eating certain foods that are rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2, is just pointless. It’s like bringing a truckload of bricks to a building site to construct a house but not having the right materials, mixers and manpower to put it all together. Without the appropriate vitamins, calcium is illabsorbed by the body and takes iron and other trace minerals with it when it’s excreted. I truly understand that when it comes to nutrition, we’re bombarded with such a variety and volume of information and advice that it can be hard to drown out the ‘noise’. I also understand that making changes to your family’s eating habits can be pretty challenging, and it’s not easy to go against society’s norms. But I also know there are serious issues associated with too much dairy in our diets and that the health problems associated with milk allergies are real and widespread. As the experts keep telling us though, the good news is that we CAN change lives by changing our lifestyles and I have plenty of evidence in my professional and personal experience to show that it can be done! Beth Bonfiglio, founder of Little Fusspot, helps people all over the world with mealtimes that are less than peaceful, bringing the core fundamentals of many different professions together to make a onestop-shop for all types of fussy eaters.

IRON DEFICIENCY AND MILK: Many people don’t realise that milk can inhibit iron absorption in children over six months old. When an infant is fed cows’ milk, deficiencies can arise because the excess casein protein and calcium is excreted in their urine along with all-important iron which hasn’t yet had time to synthesise. HOW TO AVOID ONGOING DIGESTIVE ISSUES CAUSED BY DAIRY: Over the past seven years in my clinic, I’ve seen that a reliance on dairy as a life source is one of the biggest - and most common - feeding problems. Not many people are aware of the side-effects of dairy - nor are they aware that many of their child’s symptoms result from a milk allergy. In my experience, making the switch to almond milk and real foods once children are a year old is a complete game-changer. Calcium is vital too, and you can get plenty of nutrients from calciumrich foods like dark, leafy greens, sardines, tinned salmon (with soft bones), grass-fed cheese, butter, beans, lentils and sesame tahini. By including lots of fat-soluble vitamins with things like eggs, almonds, sweet potatoes, canned tuna, carrots, liver, steak, gouda cheese and grass-fed cheese and butter, you also boost the body’s efficiency in taking up calcium.


Dissociation in Infants AND YOUNG CHILDREN

A summary of the research on its causes and results Words Peter Ernest Haiman, Ph.D.

Throughout the United States, family courts are not provided accurate, relevant information about the neurological, psychological and social developmental needs of children from birth to seven years of age. Family courts have, for many years, focused on the needs of the adult parents in cases of separation, visitation rights, custody and divorce, while failing to address “the best interests of the young child.” As a result, decisions made by family courts have created trauma for the child. Research has demonstrated that these family court decisions and resulting early childhood traumas have created both immediate and enduring problems for the child and later adult.

These include emotional instability, inefficient stress tolerance, memory impairment, psychosomatic disorders, and dissociative disturbances (Schore, 2001, 2002, 2012).

The following excerpts were assembled from research studies by Peter Ernest Haiman, Ph.D. They were not written by him. The reference for each study cited is listed at the back of this paper.

Dissociation is a consequence of a ‘psychological shock’ (Meares, 1999, p. 1853). When psychological shock and the predisposition to dissociation occur early in life, the pattern for pathological dissociation throughout life is created.

For many years, there has been a prevalent belief that most young children are able to accommodate variations in the quality of early care without deviation from normal developmental progress, and that infants and children show great behavioural and developmental resilience in the face of adverse life experiences. This belief overlooks documented dramatic increases in childhood psychopathology, including bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism. Each of these conditions has been shown to result from right brain deficits, which can be directly caused by early childhood trauma.

Longitudinal attachment studies have demonstrated an association between traumatic childhood events and proneness to dissociation in adolescence and adulthood (Ogawa et al., 1997). The most significant consequence of early relational trauma is the child’s failure to develop the capacity for emotional self-regulation (Toth & Cicchetti, 1998). The child (maturing adolescent, and later adult) will not be able to regulate their own emotional expression, emotional intensity and the duration of it (Van der Kolk & Fisler, 1994).

These epidemiological data, as well as current attachment and developmental neurobiological research, seriously challenge the concept of universal resilience in young children as too simplistic, if not just wrong (Lanius et al., 2010; Schore, 2003 and 2012; Szajnberg, Goldenberg, & Hatari, 2010). It is now accepted that early childhood neglect and/or abuse specifically alter limbic system maturation, producing neurobiological alterations that act as a biological substrate for a variety of psychiatric consequences. 44


Dissociation is the psychological and biological response to human trauma. A traumatic event can involve a single experience, or enduring repeated events, that completely overwhelm the person’s ability to cope or to integrate the sensations and emotions involved in that experience. Dissociation is an altered state of consciousness in reaction to overwhelming psychological trauma (Loewenstein,1996, p. 312).

Studies have contributed to our knowledge of the physiological impact of psychological trauma (DeBellis et al., 2000; Foote, 1999; Southall, Plunkett, Banks, Falkov, & Samuels, 1997). These clinical research studies have looked at the long-term consequences of traumatic experiences on the nervous system. The brain continues to develop throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. During the first five to seven years of life, a relationship exists between the quality of the relationship between the young child and the primary caregiver, and the youngster’s physical brain growth. Childhood trauma—for example, separation

from the primary maternal caregiver—distorts the optimal growth of neurologic brain patterns. It especially interferes with the part of the frontal cortex that controls and regulates emotion throughout the life cycle. A secure attachment relationship between the child and the primary maternal caregiver is necessary for this growth and development. Tronick (2004) suggests that infants who have a history of frequent breaks of the emotional attachment bond with the primary caregiver exhibit an “extremely pathological state” of emotional apathy. Such infants ultimately adopt a communication style of “stay away, don’t connect.” The child’s dissociation involves numbing, avoidance, compliance, and restricted affect. The child becomes inhibited and strives to avoid attention in order to become “unseen” (Schore, 1994, 2001b). The stressed youngster passively disengages from the world in order “to conserve energies … to foster survival by the risky posture of feigning death, to allow healing of wounds and restitution of depleted resources by immobility” (Powles, 1992). When early trauma is experienced by the child as “psychic catastrophe” (Bion, 1962), then dissociation is a “detachment from an unbearable situation” (Mollon, 1996), “the escape when there is no escape” (Putnam, 1997), “a last resort defensive strategy” (Dixon, 1998). Dissociative response is significantly different from other infant and toddler behaviour and mis-behaviour. Each of the following examples reflects an infant or toddler’s lack of having a secure attachment with their primary caregiver. The behaviour reflects an infant’s or toddler’s emotional shock at having a secure relationship with their primary caregiver broken. As a result, the child exhibits one or more dissociative behaviours. The purpose of the dissociation is to escape from intense emotional pain -- to escape from feeling the painful loss of one’s primary attachment parent and the excruciating loss of the predictable, secure parent-child relationship.

hemisphere is dominant not only for regulation of emotions, but also for attention (Raz, 2004) and pain processing (Symonds et al., 2006). Thus, the right brain strategy of dissociation represents the ultimate defence for blocking emotional pain. Trauma victims who lack the cognitive and emotional structures to immediately assimilate the experience use the state of consciousness known as dissociation to escape from the full psychological impact of the event (Schore, 1993). The symptoms of dissociation reflect a structural impairment of the right brain’s regulatory system and its accompanying deficiencies of emotional regulation. The clinical principle that dissociation is harmful to long-term functioning (Bremner & Brett, 1997) is directly observed in many research studies of developing young children. The development of psychiatric disorders in childhood, adolescence and adulthood, according to research, derives from enduring disorganized insecure attachment imposed upon the young child (Hesse & Main, 1999; Main, 1996). Emotional dysregulation and right hemisphere dysfunction play a prominent role in all psychiatric disorders (Cutting, 1992; Taylor et al., 1997). In summary, developmental psychologists have demonstrated a strong link between early attachment trauma and dissociation (Ogawa et al., 1997; Carlson, Yates, & Sroufe, 2008; Dutra, Bianchi, Lyons-Ruth, & Siegel, 2008). The overwhelming stress of maltreatment in childhood is associated with adverse influences on brain development (De Bellis, 1999). Early abuse and neglect have immediate impact on the developing right brain during a critical growth period. These traumas produce an immature right brain that has a limited capacity to regulate intense emotional states. Early trauma is the origin of an enduring predisposition to pathological dissociation and emotional disorders throughout life.

Following are a few examples of early childhood behavioural manifestations of dissociation:

Basic research in neuroscience and neuropsychiatry firmly supports the following principles:


Loss of postural control



Self-comforting behaviour (petting other children, needing a security toy)

“Early adverse developmental experiences leave behind a permanent physiological reactivity in limbic areas of the brain” (Post, Weiss, & Leverich, 1994).


Reduced curiosity and play



Avoidance of talking


Avoidance of interpersonal relationships and friendships with former adult friends

Emotional and social deprivation interfere with the normal development of the synaptic brain architecture and lead to “neurological scars” which underlie “subsequent behavioural and cognitive deficits” (Poeggel & Braun, 1996; Poeggel et al., 1999).


Disengagement from the attachment figure, and angry at her, yet more needful of her



Conserves energy and becomes immobile

“Early traumatic experiences result in an increased sensitivity to the effects of stress later in life and render an individual vulnerable to stress-related psychiatric disorders” (Graham et al., 1999).


Has a frozen or an absent facial expression


Avoids eye contact and seems beyond reach


Fails to demonstrate emotional self-regulation, intensity and duration (gets angry easily and cries easily, becomes frightened at familiar sounds, and cries out for attachment mother (began at overnight with father)).

Children who have lost a secure primary attachment or suffered breaks in their secure primary attachment relationship develop emotional apathy. To the child, social intimacy is deemed to be dangerous because the child fears such a relationship will unlock threatening and violent emotions (Allen et al, 1998). During the first years of life when the right brain is growing (Trevarthen, 1996) and dominant (Chiron et al., 1997), adverse influences on brain development particularly impact the right brain (Allman et al., 2005). During this time, states of the infant brain become long-term traits (Perry et al., 1995). As a result, early relational trauma and dissociation will be imprinted and embedded into the core structure of the developing right brain. Evidence shows that early relational trauma is particularly expressed in right hemisphere deficits.

DEFINITIONS Epidemiology: The study of the incidence, prevalence and causes of disease. Frontal Cortex: The largest of the brain’s lobes, it is sensitive to incoming stimuli and the features of each one. Deficits in its function are associated with impairment in personality changes, schizophrenia, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (Buchsbaum, 2004). Limbic System: Brain structures associated with emotions. Dr. Peter Ernest Haiman is a forensic psychologist, working with divorcing mothers with young children and their attorneys in family courts throughout the United States and Canada. See references at:

Childhood trauma also affects memory, learning, social development, and the ability to empathize (Schore, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2002). The right



Words Jo Drennan and Ilka Oster Photo Jasmin Sleeman

We immerse ourselves in conscious parenting blogs, podcasts and videos and any other information we can get our hands-on, and it’s really helpful to have all this knowledge. We’re listening to the likes of Dr Shefali Tsabary, Dr Vanessa Lapointe and Janet Lansbury. We’re absorbing all they are saying and picturing ourselves behaving differently with our kids in future.

lets out a chilling shriek. Mary looks up to see her 5-year-old Jack, tearing Phoebe’s favourite toy out of her grasp. Logically Mary knows it’s best to remain calm, but Phoebe’s shrieks get louder and louder. All the conscious parenting content Mary has devoured over the last six months flashes before her eyes. In less than a millisecond, her heart begins to race, her blood pressure is going up, her thoughts are scrambled, and she’s about to do something that later she’ll feel extremely guilty about!

We may feel alone, like the black sheep of the family. There seems to be very few people who are willing to talk about this new parenting paradigm on a deep level. We notice it can even offend or upset people close to us.

Right here, right now, Mary feels like she has no control, and she feels powerless to stop herself. Right here, right now, the conscious parenting responses seem impossible to implement! She unconsciously engages in the battle.

We’re learning that it’s not about changing the child in front of us; it’s all about changing ourselves by healing and integrating the wounded child inside of us. We’re realising it takes huge courage and we’re up for it, yet we question if it’s really possible.

Reflecting on this incident later, Mary wonders if she is going crazy. She’s thinking about all the time and effort she has put into learning to be a better parent. She is questioning her reactions, why they happen so quickly, have such emotional intensity and seem to come out of nowhere. She feels frustrated that calm, peaceful, win-win responses seem out of her reach at times.

One day while Mary is reading Nature magazine, her 3-year-old Phoebe, 46


To understand the speed, intensity and seemingly automatic nature of Mary’s reactions, we begin by learning about the mind and its connection to the limbic system. Together their primary role is to keep us safe (for example: run from a sabre tooth tiger).

Choice 3 (Awareness with Tools for Empowerment)

Imagine your mind is a giant library. It is filled with every picture, sound, thought, and emotion that you have ever experienced. Those linked to experiences with high emotional intensity are always accessed first.

Positive about changing her response in the future

When Mary heard Pheobe’s shrieks, her reaction happened because the mind was doing the very thing it’s designed to do. In less than 0.007 of a second Mary’s mind library is finding the links to her memories of chilling shrieks, siblings taking things from one another and anything she perceives Pheobe is feeling, such as frustration, disap-pointment, anger and sadness.


Anyone who has been in the throes of a reaction like Mary’s knows that it feels like you are out of control. It feels like there really is a sabre tooth tiger ready to pounce on you and your 0.007 second limbic reaction is to run or freeze or fight. The problem is that many of the stories stored in our mind library are old and outdated and have been playing for a very long time without our conscious awareness. The good news is Jack and Pheobe have just helped Mary bring an unresolved memory into the present moment. Let’s look at three possible choices for Mary when reflecting on her reactions. Choice 1 (Unconscious - Disempowering) Feeling: Angry at her son Frustrated it’s her fault her children can’t get along Hopeless Thinking: My kids need help I have no control At a loss how to make things better Seeing herself as: Powerless Bad mother Unable to resolve challenges that arise Choice 2 (Awareness with Disempowerment) Feeling: Guilty for her reaction Disappointed in herself Frustrated with inability to help them change their behaviour Thinking: I can do this better It doesn’t have to be this hard There are easier ways Seeing herself as: Evolving and growing Wanting to be a better parent Mother who is open to learning

Feeling: Empowered

Grateful for the opportunity her children provided

I’m growing and making positive change I’m confident of responding differently next time I’m becoming more calm and in control of my reactions/responses Seeing herself as: Self-confident and loving Powerful Accepting Mary courageously makes this choice, and here is how she begins to change her life. SO, WHAT’S NEXT? Our community of parents learn meridian tapping to use in the heat of the moment. We find this the most useful and practical tool for busy parents. All you need is access to one hand and the willingness to use this tool when you are reacting in ways you do not want to continue. You may be wondering if Tapping has been scientifically proven to make a psychological difference. The following scientific research backs up what we have found to be true through our experiences using Tapping with clients. A randomised controlled study examined psychological trauma symptom improvement in 49 veterans with PTSD, using EFT Tapping. After just 6 hours of EFT Tapping Sessions, the veterans had significantly reduced psychological distress and PTSD symptom levels. In addition, 90% of the veterans no longer met PTSD clinical criteria. The results are consistent with that of other published reports showing EFT’s efficacy in treating PTSD and its positive long-term effects. Randomized Controlled Trial Abstract. Another series of studies and reports were done using EEGs to measure brain-wave changes after Tapping was performed (Diepold and Goldstein, 2009). Prior to Tapping, when recalling a traumatic memory, the subjects exhibited chaotic brain-waves. After Tapping, when re-visiting the painful memory, their brains exhibited normal brain-waves. In an EEG study involving people who experienced traumatic car accidents, their results showed they felt calmer due to decreased hyper-arousal in their right frontal cortex, after tapping (Swingle, Pulos, and Swingle. 2004). David Feinstein, PhD., a clinical psychologist and pioneer in tapping research, references the Harvard University Medical School research that explored the physiological results of stimulating certain acupuncture points. When certain acupoints are stimulated and activated, they have a calming effect on the amygdala, a critical part of the brain’s limbic system. That is important because the amygdala is a key player in the emotional brain. The above studies indicate that tapping on the meridian points improves brain function. So! Are you ready to improve your brain function using Tapping, when you next feel bothered by something? How to Aim at our reactions and Tap on Ourselves STEP 1: Aim at the problem Notice how we know we have a problem. What bothers us? We don’t need to know what the emotions or feelings are, just notice 47

how we know they’re there and ask the following questions. What do we feel? Where in our body do we feel it? What do we see or hear? What are we overthinking?

STEP 3: Peace Grab our wrist with the other hand, take a deep breath, blow it out, and say “peace” – and go to a peaceful memory for a few moments. STEP 4: Check Go back to our problem and take notice of how it has changed. Ask the following questions.

STEP 2: Tap Use two fingers to tap the following points, while focusing on the feeling of our fingers on our skin:

Do we feel different?

1. Between our eyebrows

Is the sound or visual of the problem different?

2. Beside our eye (temple) 3. Under our eye (cheekbone) 4. Just below our collarbone While we are tapping, say the following: Let it go

Is the intensity of the feeling different? Are we still analysing or overthinking?

STEP 5: Repeat Repeat steps two to four until the feelings, visuals, sounds, smells, tastes or thoughts have changed to what we want eg: peace, calm, and happiness. Happy Tapping.

It’s in the past, it’s safe to let it go

Ilka and Jo empower parents to fully embrace their biggest, brightest, boldest selves so they can fully embrace their children for who it is they are at every stage of their lives.

Note: It doesn’t matter which side we tap – we can do either side or both if we like. It is important to completely switch our awareness and focus away from what’s bothering us when we are tapping. theawakenedparentcommunitywithilkaandjo

To do this, focus on the following as you tap: » Sound of our fingers tapping

See references at:

It’s safe to let it go


Feeling of our fingers on our face


Watch our fingers moving




SHARING KINDNESS CALENDAR Kindness created by Kids – for Kids and families, schools and communities! We believe that by getting our kids involved in being the creators of the kindness that they share, they are much more likely to embrace kindness as a daily habit, all year long!

WE NEED YOUR HELP! To develop the Sharing Kindness Calendar created by kids themselves. For your contribution to be featured – get your family involved and tell us your favourite Act of Kindness!

My Favourite Act of Kindness IS:

Why? Kindness is teachable, contagious and lasts a lifetime! When kids understand why they are doing something, they’re more likely to make it part of their belief system.


This is important to me because:

1st Prize – A beautiful Childhome Grey Moses Basket package from Danish by Design. Includes mattress, Rocking Stand and Jersey Insert to provide a cosy, safe place for newborns to rest. VALUE $420 2nd Prize – An innovative new

Clever Cubby designed by a mum of 2 here in Australia. It’s more than just a cubby with over 27 storage spaces. It’s the perfect size for any playroom or kids bedroom. VALUE $370

3rd Prize – A stylish yet functional Bunnie Caddie to keep everything you need at arms reach. Luxury blankets and soft toys create the perfect gift from Bunnie Caddie VALUE $135




Submit your favourite Act of Kindness at


Follow us on Instagram: @sharing_kindness_ and @nurtureparentingmagazine + @clevercubby + @danish_by_design + @bunniecaddie


Find our contest post and tag a friend!

Psst. For each Act of Kindness suggestion that you post on your social media and tag us – you get an EXTRA entry. For full T&Cs and announcement date:


MORE THAN JUST NUTRITION Words Tamika Newman IBCLC Photo Jasmin Sleeman

Have you ever watched a bird building a nest? Whilst indulging in some rare quiet time recently, I watched in amazement as one of our feathered locals starting meticulously selecting sticks and other material and flying back and forth to a high point in one of the tall towering gum trees in my back yard constructing the perfect place to raise their young - a safe haven where the Mum will hatch her eggs and feed her young until they are strong enough to venture a little further. As parents, we too have a strong desire to love and protect at all costs and a responsibility to prepare our babies for the road ahead. To truly survive and be well equipped for the future, our kids should be physically healthy, but also feel connected, supported and secure enough in their own skin to take on the big wide and very complex world. 50


Whilst the topic of breastfeeding can instigate a flood of opinions, advice, endless debates, do’s and don’ts and so on, it is no secret that breast milk ticks all boxes nutritionally, but rarely do you hear about the emotional benefits. Breastfeeding is not just about the milk or the transfer of nutrients; it truly is so much more than that. The act of breastfeeding provides nourishment in many, many ways. Did you know that when an infant or child latches onto the breast, both bodies release a cocktail of hormones that create a calming, almost euphoric feeling and help regulate the parasympathetic nervous system? Some experts believe that this system is the key to good health as it is

associated with relaxation, digestion, and regeneration. Our breathing, heart rate and body temperature are regulated by this system. The act of breastfeeding is such a special parenting tool as it not only helps to calm the central nervous system of the infant or child, but it does the same for the Mum too! I love nothing more than watching breastfeeding magic transform hungry or distressed babies into calm and relaxed little miracles of nature. Soon after latching the crying stops and their little eyes roll towards the sky as their tiny bodies relax and let out a sigh of relief as they return to the centre of their ‘safe’ space. At this time, the Mum’s body also breathes a sigh of relief and is flooded with the love hormone of oxytocin. At this time, children feel completely safe and secure – nothing comes close to the emotional security that comes from breastfeeding. Science suggests that breastfeeding helps children to thrive and survive. It supports the underdeveloped infant immune systems by providing them with the source of maternal antibodies to help them fight infection and provides essential nutrients for the early development and growth of their brains and bodies. Breast milk is a powerful living substance that contains live cells, including stem cells. Just one tiny teaspoon of breast milk contains 3 million ‘live’ cell antibodies. For the baby, this means the less chance of having common colds, asthma, ear infections, upper respiratory infections and developing childhood cancers, obesity, diabetes. And the good news for Mums is that making milk and breastfeeding is a superpower. It decreases the chance of reproductive cancers, osteoporosis and diabetes and aids in the healing and recovery for the body from the pregnancy and birth of the child. The perfect nutritional meal for a human infant, breastmilk is tailor-made specifically to the individual needs of your baby. At birth, nipples excrete a scent that mirrors your baby’s amniotic fluid to help your little one find its way to the milk bar – how cool is that? And Mother’s milk is uniquely constructed and changes constantly to satisfy the needs of the baby at each feed. The composition of milk is determined by age of baby, whether the child is male or female and changes as the child grows. Breastmilk even contains higher levels of melatonin to help baby fall asleep faster and to learn the circadian rhythms to differentiate between day and night. Feeding babies at the breast strengthens the bond between mothers and their babies. During this time, they are in the perfect position to focus solely on their Mother’s face, content and secure their safe and happy haven.

“The act of breastfeeding provides nourishment in many, many ways.”

Even though it is biologically normal for the human species to breastfeed, it most definitely doesn’t come instinctively. Women learn to breastfeed by observing other women breastfeeding. Sadly, in the western world today, many women have never seen a baby breastfeed, and some have not even held a babe in their arms before they give birth. The process can be daunting for new Mums when they are at their most vulnerable. They say it takes a village to raise a child, yet many parents I work with say that they feel overwhelmed and confused about what is best for their bub, with so much conflicting advice. In a world where we communicate more, yet talk less, parents often feel unsupported and alone at the time when they need it most. It’s not all doom and gloom though and doesn’t need to be difficult. Whilst current birthing practices, a lack of education during the prenatal period and in some cases health care providers with limited knowledge of how to manage feeding complications contribute to the chaos, there is expert help available to navigate any hurdles new Mum’s may encounter on their breastfeeding journey. Future articles in this series will cover planning for breastfeeding, establishing breastfeeding and overcoming breastfeeding difficulties. Tamika is a highly experienced RN/Midwife and IBCLC, who is passionate about working ‘with’ women to reach their breastfeeding goals.

fun facts about breastfeeding » Feeding (and breast milk) does not have an expiry date. » It burns 500 – 600 calories each day! » Breastmilk is hormonally controlled to a preset level for the first three months - after that, it works on a demand and supply system. » The human body has the ability to produce up to 8 times what one baby needs. » Breasts produce colostrum from around 16 weeks of pregnancy, and this only changes to mature milk after the placenta has been birthed. » The amount of feeding during the first 72 hours of life, lays down milk-making receptors in breast tissue. The more receptors – the more milk which is why women can successfully breastfeed twins and triplets.

These moments have a life-long effect on our children. Research suggests that the bond between Mum and bub directly impacts the feelings of safety and confidence as the child develops. Breastfeeding provides the capacity for a safe home base when your toddler is starting to explore the world. Long term benefits may include a stronger sense of wellbeing and security, enhanced social skills, emotional stability, self-reliance, and the ability to show a willingness to relate and nurture relationships with others. These foundations that come from a secure attachment lead to improved emotional regulation, relationship management and mental health even through to adulthood. Whilst not common practice in the westernised world, from an evolutionary perspective – it is common for human infants to feed well beyond infancy and more into childhood years. 51


Sleep is such an important part of our overall health and well-being. Regardless of our age, great sleep is the foundation of health. Proper sleep enables us to have better brain function, to heal well, and to grow properly. Growth hormone is largely released during sleep. Adults who don’t get good sleep tend to feel tired, have low energy and feel irritable and grumpy. Poor sleep in children often looks quite different. Children tend to be very ‘wired’. They may be hyperactive and may be so sleep deprived that they just can’t pay attention to anybody. This can often be confused and misdiagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, otherwise known as ADHD. Regardless of your age, it’s important to go through the proper sleep cycles, which includes getting good REM sleep. REM sleep is required for short-term memory, and so if you are a child who does not get good REM sleep, it is likely that you will not remember what your teacher told you yesterday. As a result, you are less likely to thrive in our society. In a world of ever-increasing basic costs, sound academic performance to get a good, stable, reasonably paid job is becoming more important than ever. Even if you’re the next entrepreneur who is going to thrive ‘outside of the system’, the chances of you using your imagination to create the ‘next big thing’ is diminished if you are simply not sleeping well. So, what is good sleep? What does it look like, and what has breathing got to do with it? Good sleep is not just sleeping for sufficient time. There is a huge misunderstanding around sleep with many people thinking that if you get eight hours sleep, then you are sleeping well. This is far from the truth. It would be better to have excellent quality sleep for say six hours than to have poor quality sleep for 10 hours. So good sleep is a combination of both good quality and sufficient quantity. The quantity and the frequency of sleep required varies according to the age of the child. Infants will usually sleep for shorter time spans several times a day and night, much to the dismay of the sleep-deprived parents who are caring for them. This is because they are growing rapidly, and they need to eat often. They have small stomachs which cannot hold large quantities of food, so need a frequent food intake plus frequent sleep, as both their brain and their body have huge metabolic requirements for energy. On the other end of the scale, teenagers will usually sleep for longer periods of time and often stay sleeping into the late morning. Teenagers are also growing rapidly, but they can hold larger volumes of food to sustain their growth needs. One thing that is relatively consistent across all ages is what good quality sleep looks like, except for a few subtle variations in age (the respiratory rate of young infants is far greater than children or adults for example). So, what does great sleep look like? If you observe someone having a great quality sleep, you’ll usually see that they look very calm and relaxed. Their mouth will be closed, which means that they are breathing through their nose, and their breathing will be consistent, and not erratic. There will not be any loud noises or snorts, and certainly, no gasping for air or ominous breath holds beyond a few seconds. Their breathing will be very quiet and of a consistent and calm rhythm. When we go to sleep, our breathing and our heart rate should actually slow down compared to when we are awake. However, for many 52


people who breathe dysfunctionally (day and night), when they finally get to sleep their breathing can become extremely laboured, erratic and fast, often followed by long pauses in the breath. This is breathing dysfunction at play, and the poor night-time breathing pattern is merely a reflection of a poor daytime breathing pattern. Good daytime breathing habits will usually translate to good night-time breathing habits. So, it’s important that regardless of our age, we learn to have good day time breathing habits, which includes quiet, exclusive nasal breathing at rest and during light exercise. Not only does the nose warm, filter, and humidify the air before it enters our respiratory system, it also helps to control the volume of air that we breathe. And that’s the next thing I want to talk about – the importance of breathing a normal volume of air in relation to good oxygenation of the body. Sleep is the body’s time to rest, grow and heal. It’s essential that the entire body gets well oxygenated during sleep. This is where there are many misconceptions around breathing. Many people think that to get more oxygen; we actually have to breathe more air. This could not be further from the truth. The reality is we need oxygen to be delivered from our blood to our cells and tissues. There is little point in having lots of oxygen in the blood if it is not being effectively delivered to every cell and tissue in the body. The best way to achieve this oxygen transfer from the blood to the cells and tissues is by maintaining an adequate level of carbon dioxide in the blood by breathing normally. This is because of a phenomenon known as the Bohr Effect. The Bohr Effect describes the way in which haemoglobin (which is the protein that carries oxygen in our blood) is affected by varying levels of carbon dioxide. At the lungs, carbon dioxide concentrations are low, and in these circumstances, haemoglobin is excellent at attaching oxygen molecules. However, where the cells and tissues are, the concentration of carbon dioxide is much greater due to metabolism. At greater carbon dioxide concentrations, haemoglobin releases oxygen. So, what we need to do is to maintain the right balance of carbon dioxide in our blood, in order to enable haemoglobin to more effectively deliver the oxygen as required to the different cells of the body. By breathing normally, we are able to strike an ideal balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen. If we habitually breathe a larger than normal volume of air, we will usually habitually carry a lower concentration of carbon dioxide in our blood. This means that we will not be very good at delivering oxygen. Of course, our cells will still get some oxygen, but they will not get as much oxygen as somebody who is breathing well. To demonstrate this effect practically, I want you to imagine blowing up a balloon for a party. Think about what happens if you blow the balloon up too quickly. What symptoms do you get in your body? Most people will feel a little bit dizzy. Now think about how much air you are inhaling. You are taking in lots of air at this moment in time, so your body is getting plenty of oxygen. The problem is that you are breathing out a lot of carbon dioxide. You are breathing a bigger volume than your body needs, and your blood carbon dioxide concentration is falling dramatically. This means that the cells in your body are not being welloxygenated because of the Bohr Effect. The dizziness symptom is your brains’ way of communicating with you, asking you to stop breathing in this way. Of course, if you ignore this symptom, eventually you will pass out, and then your breathing rate

will slow down, resulting in a helpful rise in carbon dioxide. So eventually your brain will become oxygenated again since haemoglobin will now release oxygen. The dizziness and the passing out is your body’s way of trying to correct the carbon dioxide deficiency. This is called homeostasis, and it’s the body’s way of making sure that all of the checks and balances are in order.

The take-home message here is that great sleep involves breathing well and getting good quality and quantity of sleep. All people need restful sleep in order to function well in the world. However, if you’re a child, you need it to grow properly and pass your exams in school, so it’s imperative that you start to get good sleep now, as you will never have this time again.

So, what’s all of this got to do with sleep? Well if you have ever lay next to somebody who is snoring, you will probably know that it seems like they are breathing a big volume of air, much like trying to blow up a balloon for a party. So, if we are snoring or mouth breathing while asleep; usually the body is not being well oxygenated. In fact, if you were awake, you would probably feel dizzy if snoring for extended periods of time!

Here are my top 3 tips for sleeping well:

In my experience as a breathing educator for almost ten years I can honestly say that the vast majority of people who have a history of snoring, also have poor daytime breathing habits and breathe a bigger volume of air, both while awake and at night. Sometimes this can be seen very easily, and other times it’s not so easy to spot. For example, if the mouth is open habitually at rest, then it is highly likely that they are breathing too much air. Other times, the breathing dysfunction looks a little bit more subtle and can be simply just upper chest breathing at rest as opposed to diaphragm breathing at rest. The good news is that people who are breathing too much air all day, or all night can retrain their breathing habits to some extent. It is often the case that their breathing mechanisms have become out of balance and have over time, become too sensitive to rises in carbon dioxide. So, in simple terms, their brain is asking them to breathe more to keep their carbon dioxide levels low. By doing certain breathing exercises, they can consciously relearn to tolerate normal levels of carbon dioxide again, and eventually change their unconscious breathing patterns. Then, while they are asleep, the brain is better able to control the breathing to maintain a normal volume and achieve good oxygenation. It’s all about their brain’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide, which can be improved using a phenomena called neuroplasticity.

Say-Aloe-To-Sleep-Magazine-Ad.indd 1

1. Breathe well, and if you don’t, find a breathing educator. If you suspect a blocked airway see an ENT specialist. 2. Turn off the TV and the screen technology when it gets dark. Read a book, or play a board game instead. Light excites the nervous system and fools the body into thinking it is daytime. 3. Do not eat or drink within an hour of bedtime. You are asking your body to digest and not to sleep. Digestion requires effort, and so your drive to breathe a bigger volume of air will go up, resulting in poor quality sleep. Dan helps children and adults to live healthier, happier lives by optimising oral function and breathing. NB: Dan Hanson is also a dentist who has limited his practice to treatment of soft tissue dysfunction. However, his work as a Buteyko Breathing Educator is kept separate from his dental work. He does not perform breathing consultations in any dental practices to ensure he stays within the scope of a dentist.

30/03/2021 9:42:12 PM




Preserving Your Story Words & Photo Jasmin Sleeman

It’s the morning of your child’s birthday. You have your camera ready to document their little face as they see their presents neatly wrapped and bundled under a balloon and then as they open each one and delight in the surprise.

But, we deserve to be remembered too. When our children grow up and look back through their albums, it’s so important that we’re in those photos, reminding them how fiercely we loved them. If something was to happen to us tomorrow, photos are our legacy.

School is out, and the workday is done, and your children and partner are playing in the backyard. Their faces are beaming, and their giggles can be heard for miles, so you run inside to fetch your camera and capture the magic unfolding before you.

So, mamas, pass the camera to your partner, ask a bystander to take a family photo for you, and book a professional photo session annually. If lack of self-confidence is holding you back, know that you will always be beautiful in your children’s eyes. If you feel like you’ve got nothing to wear, know that your children will probably laugh at what you were wearing regardless because fashion is forever changing. If you can’t justify the spend, know that these memories are priceless – you are preserving your family story for decades to come - and most photographers offer payment plans to help your budget. If your partner cringes at the thought of a professional photo session, know that there is a photographer out there for everyone – choose someone you get the feeling you’ll all have fun with (we have a lot of fun at my sessions!) – or book a motherhood session for you and your babes.

The weekend has arrived, and you’re all dressed in your Sunday best ready for a day of adventures. You line everyone up for a quick photo before you go and proceed to snap away as your day unfolds. You decide it’s time to decorate your wall, or perhaps your mother-inlaw asks you for a family photo for her collection and you realise the last time you were in the frame with your family was when your children were babies. This is something I hear all too often, in fact, the story about the motherin-law asking for a family photo and discovering that the most recent one on file is from eighteen months ago is my own. As mothers, we’re always the ones behind the lens, capturing our children’s childhood and the special moments in our family life.

Whatever it is that is holding you back, let it go. You will never, ever regret the photos you took, but I can guarantee you will regret the ones you didn’t. It’s time for us to get in the frame, mamas. Our story matters, and it needs to be preserved. Jasmin is a heart-fuelled photographer dedicated to preserving your story through photos that make you feel.

Caring and Sincere Single Lady seeks a little help from an egg donor ‘Angel’.

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australian made SUPPORT LOCAL


BEEGOOD WAX WRAPS BeeGood Wax Wraps are the perfect replacement for plastic wrap in your everyday life; just wrap, wash and reuse. When making healthy lunches and snacks for your family, seal in the freshness with our beeswax wraps. Being fridge and freezer friendly you can even prepare well ahead for those busy school and kindy mornings. As a natural sustainable food storage system, our Australian made BeeGood Wax Wraps will keep your food FRESHER for LONGER saving you money and creating less waste. RRP $7.00 For Sustainable Living and Giving and to see our complete range of BeeGood Wax Wraps visit:

Bubba Chew started over seven years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. I loved to wear necklaces, but experiences with other babies showed me that babies loved jewellery too, especially to teethe and pull on. I wanted to find a safer solution, and Bubba Chew was born. Since then, Bubba Chew has been featured on Channel 10's The Living Room scoring a 'hot' with the audience! We've had celebrities purchasing our necklaces, have been mentioned in loads of magazines, and we have now sold over 30,000 necklaces and teethers to our lovely customers all over the world. Bubba Chew is extremely proud to be 100% Australian family-owned and operated. All of our jewellery is designed right here in Australia, and we proudly advocate safe teething products through accountability, awareness and responsible marketing practices.

It contains a powerful combination of Australian beeswax and Australian Active Manuka Honey with added Manuka oil, Chamomile oil, Helichrysum oil and infusions of Australian Natives, Kakadu plum and Quandong. It is certified toxic free and has been given the clean and pure stamp of approval by Native Oils Australia quality assurance. Beetanicals Bee Soothed Balm is a must-have for all families!

RRP $29.95 50g

Bush Bites are wholesome snacks made by mum, backed by dietitians, and loved by kids. We believe that it’s not only important to find the best plant-based ingredients that are nutritious for your health and tasty for your happiness, but also good for the earth and its environment. When it comes to children’s snacks, we don’t cut corners. That’s why Bush Bites was the Gold winner of the 2020 Roar Award for Best Children’s Product.


Beetanicals Bee Soothed Balm is an awardwinning multi-purpose balm that is highly effective in soothing a range of skin issues. Suitable for all ages from 3+ months and often referred to as a “magic balm”.

RRP $16.95




With every bite, you can see the wholesome ingredients, taste the difference and feel nature’s intentions. Let’s look after our mind and body, bite by bite, with these super healthy on-the-go snacks. Choose from Vegan, Vegetarian, or Nut-free (school lunchbox friendly) bites. RRP $24.00 per box of 8 ($3.00 per bar) 20% Off: Use code NURTURE20 (One use per customer)


BUBBA ORGANICS Discover Bubba Organics - the Earth’s favourite little baby care co. – creating pure, natural and gentle baby skincare essentials that mums can trust and babies love. Proudly Aussie Made, Bubba Organics is the feelgood family brand that cares for precious little bodies - and our precious planet, too. Using only the finest 100% natural ingredients, every beautiful product is safe and nourishing for fragile and extrasensitive skin. With a soothing Aloe vera base and no added water or nasties, the eco award-winning Bubba Organics range includes hair & bath washes, moisture lotions, bottom creams and a gorgeous belly & baby oil, all created to soothe, calm and nourish delicate skin – naturally.

Handcrafted in Melbourne, nostalgic nature play comes in the form of artisan, Flower Presses. Extend the life of native blooms (or weeds) by preserving them among the sheets and create keepsakes of art and memories. Available in a choice of sizes, each printed with simple Australian Native bloom designs by artist Daniella Germaine; the wattle is our favourite. Suitable for grown-ups and kids alike. Find them alongside our careful curation of ethically made baby and kids clothes, eco crayons, gift seeds and more at Wünder & Co. Priced from $46.00 with the option to add a selection of Australian gift seeds.

KILLAPILLA The Healthiest Pillow on the Planet Killapilla takes you away to a simpler time when all natural and organic were just how things were. Developed by a Chiropractor and his wife to be non-toxic and safe for the entire family. Filled with Australian wool and covered in GOTS Certified Organic cotton fabric, they have designed a pillow that is spinally correct and customisable for maximum comfort. Responsibly packaged to be plastic free. Hand crafted in Queensland. The Killapilla is Australia’s ONLY All Natural, Organic, and Spinally Correct Pillow. Free Shipping Australia wide. RRP $295.00 Save 15% use coupon code NURTURE15


CLEVER CUBBY Being a mum of 2, I was totally over my furniture being used as the kid’s cubby house on a daily basis and I’m a total sucker for storage so I wanted to design a practical, fun storage and play solution that was also pretty to look at, and so the Clever Cubby was born. Made from 9mm Plywood, requiring no fastenings or tools, the Clever Cubby can be set up in your home in under 10 minutes. With over 30 storage spaces and endless play opportunities how can you go wrong? RRP $370.00 delivered Australia Wide

A mum, a daughter and a niece/cousin. In March 2020, we were an IT consultant in Europe, a business analyst in Brisbane and a school teacher in Warrnambool. With no international travel and home lockdowns, there was time to think about ‘tomorrow’. And for this creative family, the future was the common desire to create beautiful clothing for our littlest people. PrimmyDenis was born and launched in June 2020. Our pieces are individually handmade in our homes from carefully selected materials ensuring that they are 100% beautiful, super comfortable and everlasting and can be shared with many little loves to come. RRP $45.00

It is the best feeling when there is nothing artificial, nothing synthetic, chemical or preservative in the products cleansing the personal and beautiful parts of our bodies. Just wholesome, natural ingredients that you can easily trust.” These gifts of bubbles and cleanliness sprung from the protective desires of a mother who only wanted to use high-quality natural products, free from toxins and chemicals, for her children. We are The Australian Olive Oil Soap handcrafted Castile olive oil soap with 100% Australian olive oil using the traditional cold process method – gentle to baby and sensitive skin. RRP $12.00 100g 15% off with code: Nurture21

Your World is Bigger TALES FROM A TRAVELLING DOCTOR Words & Photo Dr.Robert M Biter, MD

As a travelling doctor in the Solomon Islands, I have often been called upon to reach deep into my medical training to address a variety of health and surgical issues for men, women, children and babies who often times travelled many hours across this South Pacific terrain for care. I had barely finished treating a woman with a hypertensive crisis and resulting stroke, when the nurses called for me. “Doctor Robert! A baby is coming!” As an experienced obstetrician gynaecologist dedicated to gentle birth and the empowerment of families during pregnancy, I rushed to the woman’s side ready to reassure her through the intensity of her labour pains. I was prepared to calmly guide her through a quiet, safe and loving birth. What I encountered as I pushed aside the faded blue drape, however, surprised even this doctor who has supported thousands of births. Sitting quietly on the edge of the hospital stretcher was a beautiful indigenous woman dressed in bright colours and greeting me with a smile so large that her ears actually wiggled. I smiled back and asked her permission to perform an exam. The nurses were correct, this baby was indeed ready to be born. As we prepared the room, dimmed the lights and started to play the special ‘birth playlist’ I had compiled on my phone for these occasions, I couldn’t help but to ask aloud, mostly to myself, ‘How is she smiling so much? I mean the baby is right there!’ Because she spoke more Pidgin English than some of the other patients who lived in the deep bush villages with languages all their own, she understood my question and she answered it without a second of hesitation. She looked directly into my eyes and said, ‘Smile or no smile, the pain comes.’ And again, I became the student, learning so many lessons from the patients who entrust me with their health, the private details of their personal and family histories and the most intimate moments of their lives.



After a few pushes, I watched in awe as this incredibly wise mother reached down to pull her baby out of her own body and lift her gently to her breast with an instinct that looked exactly like love. I heard her whisper, ‘Welcome home baby girlie. Me pikinini (my child)’. I immediately became embarrassed when I also heard her asking the nurses my name, realising, that I had only introduced myself as a doctor. She looked puzzled when one nurse replied, “Robert,” so another nurse then said, “Rob.” After a few moments, this new mother, with an even wider smile, lifted her baby, still attached to her placenta with a strong thick umbilical cord, and introduced her to us. “This is baby Robrosia.” It was only the second time during my life when a baby was named after me, and the first time that the baby and I didn’t share the same gender. I was deeply touched and surprised how the name Robrosia, a decidedly unique blend of my name and a favourite American fruit salad, Ambrosia, served at virtually every summer family reunion, seemed perfect for this sweet baby girl. As they snuggled one another and Robrosia slowly found her mother’s nipples already glistening with droplets of milk, I quickly excused myself and walked into the warmth of the afternoon sun. It started to softly rain as I sat on the steps of the rural hospital and watched the soft clouds surrounding the distant mountains draped with lush tropical greenery. I was lost somewhere between those mountains and the contemplation of many births throughout the years, mostly from the other side of the world, when he suddenly appeared. “Doctor Robert, come.” It took his repeating that request a few times until I arrived back in the present moment and recognised him from our interactions in the hospital during one of my saddest days in the Solomon Islands. He had carried his lifeless 14-year-old brother into the hospital after dragging him from the river. There was nothing I could do to cause his

brother, Xavier, to open his eyes, shielded by the most beautiful long eyelashes. All the science and technological progress couldn’t change the reality of a dead little boy with shorts still wet from the river and glistening skin without a trace of trauma to explain his departure. I merely called him by his name as I cleaned the water and discharge and dirt from his mouth and nose with a small bulb syringe usually reserved for babies entering the world. I told him that his brothers would carry him home where his family and friends could visit him. When his brother almost pleaded a third time, “Doctor Robert, come,” I followed. The rains had increased the beautiful green foliage surrounding us as we walked, but also created large pockets of mud and puddles of water in our path. I carefully negotiated them to avoid stepping knee deep into water or losing a sandal in the thick piles of mud, but Xavier’s brother merely walked right through them. He continued his direct path without any attempts to avoid what others may have perceived as obstacles or uncomfortable experiences of soggy clothing or the squishing of mud between toes. He simply walked through them. I was simultaneously contemplating our differences as we walked the same path and wondering where he was leading me. Soon we arrived at a humble house, and a woman appeared in the doorway holding a yellow plastic bag filled with fruit. Her son turned to me and said, “Me Mum. Five corner fruit.” We recognised one another although we couldn’t communicate in words. I was the doctor who was kind to Xavier, and she was the mother who lost her son. After she handed me the bag, I opened it to recognise the exotic star fruit inside that would have cost at least $50.00 at some fancy grocery store in the United States. I placed my hand over my heart then touched her right shoulder before she disappeared back into the house. Our interaction had ended, and I began to walk alone back to the hospital. The juxtaposition of life and death for many health care providers becomes an almost overlooked reality, but on this day, the reality of two mothers’ journeys of which I had become both the participant and observer held a significance not easily ignored. Love and loss, birth

and death shape us, break us and eventually heal us in ways that no human created medicine could ever begin to accomplish. Whether as doctors or parents, those experiencing joys and challenges or those of us observing them, we find our strengths and our commonalities when we approach our lives willing to be present at every moment. When we smile despite pain, find ourselves willing to walk through the occasional puddle and when we remain loving in our griefs and failures is when we discover our higher selves. When we can best parent and impart our deepest knowledge to the next generations. As a travelling doctor, many have remarked to me that our world is so small, that even within the monkey forests of Bali or the jungles of Mexico, that it is not uncommon to discover a fellow traveller who knew of your home town, cheered for the same football team or perhaps were friends with friends of some of your friends. And yet, on deeper levels, these connections and experiences, I believe, teach us that our worlds are actually bigger, that our ability to adapt and adjust and grow becomes greater the more we are willing to travel past our comfort zones. As we share our journeys, whether through writing or discussions or other means of expression, we also invite others along for companionship and learning. We include them in this big world. When your heart is broken into pieces, when that world you knew shatters around you, when a baby is born, when someone you thought that you could never live without is gone forever, when you lose and when you win, when you truly experience a different culture, when the pages of National Geographic become your daily reality and when you feel that you will not survive this or get over that, or even want to, but you do... Your World is Bigger. Robert M. Biter, MD is a holistic Obstetrician and Gynecologist, founder of the worldwide nonprofit Seaside Giving and CEO of Dando A Luz Birthing Centers

YOU CAN’T TURN BACK TIME – BUT YOU CAN START HERE! Give your kids a head start, with this easy solution to maths – they will love! Make it fun, hands-on, interesting, and nurture their natural curiosity to develop a lasting LOVE of maths. 59

CARING FOR YOUR BODY NATURALLY By Elda Kingston - Founder, Fresca Natural I don’t think any woman is prepared for becoming a mother. Every baby is as unique as each of our experiences from birth and the days beyond. Even if you’re a lucky mum to have a healthy baby who is a great sleeper, the one thing we all lose is time for ourselves. We are on-call 24/7, and if you’re like me, my mummy-button doesn’t have an ‘off ‘ switch! We tune into our children like never before. But this is also the time where we need to tune into ourselves. We need to nurture our mind, bodies and soul and find precious minutes in our days that, no matter how brief, anoint us with self-love. After my babies, no sleep, and fast approaching the naughty forties, my health journey really began. I never imagined that I would one day start a business where I could share safe, natural and consciously made products that I had made for myself and now be able to educate and teach my own children about nutrition that isn’t only about food. It was the inspiration of my girlfriends that lead me to pursue my vision for safe and natural body products. I wanted to capture my Croatian/ Italian essence. I wanted to become a storyteller of my mother’s own people and how they used plants of their land to nurture, heal and celebrate life. Listening to my mother’s memories, I couldn’t believe the remedies they used in their village. I got busy reading, researching and testing my own curiosity into the healing world of plants, oils and food. I struggled with my health after my children. Hair loss from imbalanced hormones, stress, poor sleep and no time to heal internally from scars during birth and of course, my skin suffered because of lack of sleep, aging, and no time for me, all the while worrying about being a good mum.

One thing I really noticed was how much my hair started to thin. I thought things would eventually get back to normal, but as I got older, it got thinner. It wasn’t until I went to put up my hair that there wasn’t much to play with. It was a crushing moment for me. Hair loss can be caused by many things, including physical and environmental stressors on our body. The chemicals in our shampoos, bleaching and colouring hair all give off odours that skin is exposed to. I started learning about flavonoids in foods and anti-oxidant benefits from fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables and generally cutting out chemicals and processed food from my diet. This was the inspiration to keep diving into further research about traditional and natural remedies that my mother experienced as a child with her grandmother. I am very pleased to say that I have a complete 3-In-One kit now for hair, skin and perspiration. It’s all I use on my own body. I combined my oils, their properties and synergistic effects for our face, hair and armpits. My deodorants are made from food-grade ingredients and blended with pure essential oils. I was very humbled to recently win best skincare serum in Australia for non-toxic and ethical formulation for my Hydraskin Elixir, and with my new hair tonic drops, I am excited about the future for women’s hair and scalp health. I shared the most beautiful journeys with women to help them with their hair issues. We achieved hair results beyond our expectations. It’s my wish to offer you these products because I’d like you to begin your own natural care journey too.

Get yourself an every-body bundle for a limited time! All-in-one Face, Hair, Deodorant bundle for busy mums who want to nuture themselves naturally.

Your body bundle includes 3-In-ONE Hydraskin Elixir Facial Serum 30ml Verihair Hair and Scalp Care (3 months supply) BONUS FREE Citrus Fresh Natural Deodorant Free Shipping Worldwide Use CODE: NURTUREYOU at checkout. BUNDLE RRP: $294.50 (SAVE $95.50) Order direct through our website.

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Two Aussie nurses plan to disrupt the baby wipe industry with their new ‘Baby Bum Shower’ Founded by twin sisters, Jess & Samantha who were determined to find an easy to use, environmentally friendly solution to wasteful single-use wipes The Baby Bum Shower was born out of necessity when Jess was faced with the need to clean her nieces very dirty nappy in the back of a car, the lightbulb moment happened... there had to be an easy and more hygienic and safe way to clean nappies! Faced with a very dirty bottom and 100s of wipes, that just weren’t cutting it, Jess was determined to find a better way! That’s when the Baby Bum Shower was born. Since its creation the Baby Bum Shower has always been centred around ease of use, with your family’s hygiene in mind. The Baby Bum Shower has been years in the making. We went from strength to strength with our prototypes, and could not be prouder of what we have accomplished, a practical and easy solution to dirty hands, feet, and bottoms. As registered nurses and parents ourselves we saw that there were many ways our hygiene standards, could improve. We wanted to include soap and water in the cleaning process, finding that ‘hand washing reduces diarrhoea episodes by 30%. Poor hygiene both in the cleaning process of changing nappies and long term hygiene habits directly contribute to these 62


statistics’ - Ejemot-Nwadiaro et al. We have all been caught out one time or another at a picnic spot or carpark with no public toilets in sight, and after those dreaded explosions (yes you know the ones), hand washing is ESSENTIAL.... If you think about it, it makes for common sense to include WATER! They do in hospital, so why not do it every day for our babies as well. When it comes to nappy wipes and alcohol hand gels there could be potential irritants involved not to mention that hand gels do not remove residue...which we can all agree is an important part of the process. Because sometimes you and more often than not, you really just need water. For us the Baby Bum Shower was created to allow all families to have the best hygiene standards wherever they are in their busy routine, and to keep their little one safe from harsh irritants, poor hygiene standards, and create a greener world for their future. We could not be prouder of our brain child, and sharing it with you all, our community has us grinning from ear to ear!

Visit us at or @babybumshower to see how you can JOIN our family today, and SAVE your babies bottom, and protect OUR environment for OUR children’s future.

Simply Squeeze to spray

Holds up to 10 Nappy Changes Worth of Water & Soap

Sensitive Skin Friendly

Ergonomic Portable Design


The Story of Too Much Stuff HOW TO DITCH THE OVERWHELM Words Sarah Wooden Photo Golden Sundays Photography

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a mother, right from a very young age. I knew parenting would be both challenging and rewarding. But I don’t think anyone prepared me for the weight and the pressure that comes with being a mother in this age of social media, big houses and consumerism that is in overdrive! Every single day we are exposed to messages that tell us that we are not enough without ‘this’ product. Or that we will never be happy until we have ‘this’ item. Again, and again we are shown images of perfect homes styled like a magazine cover or doing craft with smiling faces and a magically tidy backdrop. I was less than three years into motherhood when this pressure caught up with me and flattened me like I don’t even have words to describe. It felt like the entire weight of our home settled on my shoulders when I walked in the door and all the ‘stuff’ we owned closed in on me like that scene in Star Wars when they get stuck in the rubbish compactor. Try as I might, I just couldn’t keep up with all the cleaning, sorting, organising, washing, cooking, shopping, repairing, sewing and tidying while trying to parent, craft, read, play and mother like I wanted to. I felt broken. I honestly felt like a complete failure as a mother and as a housewife. This was the trigger for us deciding to cull a whole lot of stuff and downsize significantly! I am so glad that we made that choice! My home is far from consistently tidy – play is messy! And honestly, I’m always learning, listening and improving too! But stepping into minimalism and intentional living helped us say YES to the things that added value to our lives and say no to the things that just didn’t. Interestingly psychology research demonstrates that kids thrive with minimalism too! When given fewer toys, kids tend to engage with their toys better and even play independently for longer periods! Having too many toys triggers overwhelm – much like when you need to pick one dress to wear from 50 – the choice can just seem too hard and its easier to back out rather than play creatively and engage. Applying minimalism as a family is better for the parents, better for the kids and better for the amount of space needed to store all the ‘stuff’! 64


THE KITCHEN The first thing we did as a family was to reduce the crockery and cutlery in the kitchen to just one set per person. We also looked through the kitchen for appliances or tools that were not used or were surplus to our needs. Those choices alone reduced the time I spent cleaning the kitchen every day to a fraction of the time. ‘MT WASHMORE’ Then we tackled the amount of washing I was needing to do, by reducing the volume of linen and clothes we kept in circulation. I found the key to linen was thinking about our climate and how hard it is to dry sheets. We opted to keep one set of cotton sheets, one set of flannel sheets and a spare bottom sheet in case of accidents. This has worked brilliantly! We also keep most of the blankets on the bed and just fold down the extras we don’t need in summer (or utilising under bed storage is another great option to keep cupboards free). I’ve also found cotton Turkish towels has meant we can cut down how many towels we need as they dry quickly! We now only keep one towel per person, 1 for a spare, and a few old ones in the laundry for cleaning up spills. CLOTHING Clothes is an ongoing process as kids (and adults) grow, are gifted clothes or fall in love with new additions walking through a second-hand store. So, we go through clothes 2-4 times year to pull out anything that doesn’t fit or is damaged beyond wear. Then I use a capsule wardrobe template as a guide as we pick what to keep out and what to put away. It helps if I offer the little one’s choices in the process: “Can you pick your favourite three leggings?” “Which pair of jeans would you like to keep?” “Which dress could we give to another child?” Providing these style of choices means I have still been able to guide

the volume of clothes, but they have had power and involvement in choosing what that wardrobe looks like. THE TOYBOX

When it came to managing toys, the first thing we did was to take away anything battery operated. I also chose to take away cheap and clunky plastic items. When choosing toys to keep, I looked up STEM activities and ensured that we kept things that assisted those learning patterns. We always have stacking blocks for balancing and fine motor. Connecting blocks allow for engineering patterns and design. Paper and pencils encourage art. A small selection of storybooks (supplemented with regular library visits) built language skills. A couple of wooden puzzles encourage analytical thinking and problem-solving. And some dress-ups, dolls, vehicles and animals encourage all sorts of open-ended play. These toys don’t have to take up very much room. In fact, in the two years, we lived in a Tiny House on wheels these toys mostly fit onto two IKEA picture shelves, one spice rack, one plastic tub under the couch and one shoebox for blocks! When I look to change up the toys, I take care to consciously look for ethical and/or locally made items. I mostly watch the second-hand groups for timber and fabric items looking to be selective in what I bring into our home. This doesn’t have to be an area of financial pressure for you to add to your family. You get to decide what are the priorities for your family.

It’s such a blessing when we can invest in long term item! It’s not always easy though to be perfectly intentional about what comes into the house (hello 15 silicone wrist bands my kids were adorned with while supporting Daddy at a local event, thankfully these can be used to turn glass jars into coffee cups among other things). However, the more we practice being intentional and thinking consciously about our purchases, the less appeal the 100’s of ‘buy me’s that we see every day have over our family! Minimalism, Intentional Living and Conscious Consumerism are tools that have helped take the pressure off me as a mother, enable the kids to play more independently and guided us as we stepped into alignment with our values. We don’t need to use those tools perfectly, or even hold them all the time though. We choose to release the ideals and standards that we are exposed to and use the tools we have to create spaces and routines that feel right for us as we grow. Sarah Wooden of MecoBlue Tiny living is a mumma of two, DIY Tiny House Builder+Dweller, writer, mentor and advocate for all things sustainable.

Looking second-hand isn’t just something that I apply to toys either. I want to see resources used wisely and be mindful of how precious they are! So, we try to consider if X item will truly be of value or add joy to our family. If we decide it is a purchase, we want to follow through with we first look second-hand and then we seek out what ethical, sustainable or local options there might be that fit within financial reach of our family.




Beetanicals As a family of third-generation beekeepers with two small children, the Stanley’s story is a serendipitous one. The Beetanicals journey began in 2015 when founders Tanya and Warren Stanley’s first son Cooper was born. As a bub, Cooper had very sensitive skin and suffered from a dry skin condition. A search for natural, toxinfree products to soothe, nourish and protect his skin proved unsuccessful, so these keen and dedicated parents decided to make their own.

ChamonixRain Organics From an early age, ChamonixRain Organics founder Michelle Williamson developed a lifelong obsession with healthy living and a strong appreciation of the benefits that come from using the ingredients that nature has provided us - to nurture our bodies both inside and out. Michelle grew up in a family where her mother made her own natural skincare and cleaning products, and her grandparents grew their own organic fruits and vegetables, both on farms and in their backyard. It was always her dream to use her knowledge and love of these ingredients, to then develop her own vegan-friendly, plant-based Natural skincare brand. Michelle’s dream then became a reality shortly after she became a parent herself. After searching for premium quality natural baby skincare products, both in the UK (where she had her first child) and then here in Australia (where she had her second child)— she found the market lacking in options. As a result, Michelle developed her very own range of natural baby skincare products, free from soap, SLS, parabens, petrochemicals, formaldehyde and synthetic fragrances. Not only do they smell amazing, but they also leave the skin feeling beautifully soft and nourished. A key ingredient in the range is Coconut Oil, which is her absolute go-to ingredient for beauty, cooking, skincare, haircare & even make-up removal. This magic oil is a rich source of Vitamins, Fatty Acids, and antioxidants which deeply moisturise, hydrate, and condition the skin. Today, the ChamonixRain Organics range includes vegan friendly products for the entire family - with some very exciting announcements and new products being released very soon!! Watch this space!

Being a long-time lover of bees, the Stanleys were well aware of the wonderful antibacterial and nurturing benefits of beeswax. A natural emollient and humectant, beeswax draws moisture to the skin, allows it to breathe and seals it in a protective barrier. The product they had had been searching for was right before their eyes! A subsequent family holiday caravanning through central Australia exposed Tanya and Warren to some of the amazing powers of Australian native super foods. And so, in conjunction with an experienced formulator and world expert in aromatherapy and essential oil safety, the first batch of Beetanicals balms were created. The Beetanicals skincare range is endorsed by Native Oils Australia as ‘Clean & Pure’, which guarantees global industry standards for quality, purity and cleanliness from paddock to jar. Since then, the Stanleys have built their business around kindness. Kindness for local farmers and indigenous communities; with the majority of Beetanicals ingredients grown in Australia. Kindness for our furry friends; all of their products are tested on family and friends (not animals) and their bees are never harmed in the harvesting process. And last but not least, kindness for our skin; through their commitment to provide natural, safe, effective and transparent products for fellow Australian families. To date Beetanicals has taken home 23 awards, reinforcing the genuine effectiveness of their natural products that continue to support more and more families across the country.

Children’s Books Daily Megan Daley is an early childhood teacher turned teacher librarian with a passion for nurturing a love of language, words and story from birth. Her website Children’s Books Daily, is a one stop shop for all things reading related and she speaks across the country at early childhood conferences and early education centres to parents/caregivers and educators. A regular presenter on ABC radio, Megan spends much time talking about how free play and immersing children in language in all forms – stories and songs and nursery rhymes – as well as creating a culture of reading in your home, encourages self-awareness, kindness and empathy, reduces stress and opens up new worlds and ways of thinking. She firmly believes that a child’s love of books begins with loved adults taking the time to read with them and cuddling up and reading with a child allows them to form powerful associations between books and moments of happiness, love and closeness. For Megan, play and story and intrinsically linked. She says: “My favourite memories of my own childhood are of playing with my huge circle of family friends. Playing was just what we did – it was an organic part of our lives. Our parents never agonised over our choices of games or thought about creating ‘meaningful learning experiences’. Everyone seemed to accept that free play was a natural and essential part of childhood. But of course we were learning through our play, as we constructed cubbyhouses and imaginary worlds inspired or enhanced by the books we were read. I cannot stress enough how play and literacy development go hand-in-hand. It is well documented in early literacy development research that parents and educators need to value play as an important and valid part in literacy development as children engage with and respond to stories, create their own stories, and learn about themselves and their world.” Megan’s book, ‘Raising Readers’ (2019, UQP) is a gentle guide for parents and educators to help foster a love of reading in children from birth and beyond. An award-winning teacher librarian, Megan unpacks twenty years of experience in children’s literature in this personable and accessible guide, enhanced with up-to-date research, lots of book recommendations for children from birth to the tween and teen years and firsthand accounts from well-known Australian children’s authors. Photograph Credit: Ruby Olive

Breastmilk Jewellery Like a lot of families who have been through, going through, or may go through in the future, devastating loss of a child, I was determined to hold onto any memory of our little boy. I felt the need to keep everything physical I had of him, right down to the wrist band from the hospital that was on my arm. These things, in a way, proved his existence to me, and everyone else, and in a way, I felt as though by keeping these things with me, he was still earthside with me in some way. Then, I came across keepsake Jewellery for loss. It intrigued me straight away, I really wanted to have something that I could hold close to me and take with me everywhere, but the thought of sending my precious inclusions abroad scared the hell out of me, so, I decided, I would make my own keepsake. I proudly shared my craft with my friends online; they saw magic and meaning in the piece and shared it with their own friends. Pretty soon, I had orders coming in that were referred to me by word of mouth, then I realised, wow! I think this is what my calling is. I felt as though my son, in some way of fate, had given me something to comfort me. Although making these pieces for other mothers who were celebrating the life of their child the majority of the time, it was a little tough on my heart strings at the start. That soon turned into a comfort, and pretty soon I was so engrossed with the want to heal, connect and celebrate every family’s successes and feel like I had made a difference in their lives. And so Breastmilk Jewellery was born. You can now book a call to speak to Cindy in person, this can be done by visiting the website. Please only book an appointment if you are wishing to place a new order or have questions about the process. All current order inquiries can be sent through via email or FB message. For all custom order requests of gold and diamonds or unique designs, you can contact Jenny, our in house jeweller, at




A gentle guide for parents and educators to help foster a love of reading in children from birth and beyond. Award-winning teacher librarian Megan Daley unpacks twenty years of experience in children’s literature in this personable and accessible guide, enhanced with up-todate research and firsthand accounts from well-known Australian children’s authors. Megan says, ‘creating “a culture of reading in your home encourages self-awareness, kindness and empathy, reduces stress and opens up new worlds and ways of thinking.’ Easy to follow, practical, and bursting with great book recommendations, activity ideas and more, Raising Readers is essential reading. RRP $21.90


My Milk Will Go, Our Love Will Grow is a children’s book written to help mothers talk to young children about weaning from breastfeeding. Using simple words, rhyme, and relatable illustrations, this book helps children gain an understanding of the transition while addressing day and nighttime weaning. It acknowledges feelings while reassuring children that emotional needs will still be met, and that love and nurturing will always continue. It is a sweet keepsake to represent the beautiful breastfeeding relationship. This book was written by Jessica Elder, mother of four and clinical social worker. It can be purchased internationally, online, through Amazon.

TOTLI AUSTRALIA Totli is changing the way children play with their clever range of Montessori-inspired toys. Designed by an Australian Teacher and Mum to nurture children’s natural creativity, curiosity, learning, and development through play. Founder of Totli, Lauren, says, ‘Totli was inspired by a love for learning and bringing children back to basics. We’re on a mission to help parents create enriching experiences for their children in an easy and meaningful way.' Totli’s range of playthings are ethically crafted from natural and organic materials. If you’re looking for sustainable toys that promote less toys, more joy, be sure to check out Totli for the perfect Christmas gift inspiration. RRP $89.00

RRP $22.30


NUNA This fully-featured compact stroller is perfect for city living or jet-setting travellers. Stroll in style with the TRIV™ in a sleek ebonycolourwith luxe leatherette accents, while baby strolls in comfort thanks to on-the-go recline, adjustable calf support, and spring suspension technology.

The TRIV features a ring adapter that folds with the frame, and it’s travel system ready-simply attachtheNuna KLIK™ plus capsule to the ring adapter. For a quick trip to the store or getting across town, TRIV is a natural city dweller that packs up quickly with a one-hand fold and stands on its own. Available exclusively from Baby Bunting. RRP $899.00 AUD

HAPPY GO DUCKY At Happy Go Ducky, our mission has and always will be to remain plastic-free! We love sourcing hard to find, natural handmade toys that are non-toxic and sustainable from boutique brands all over Europe. All of our packing materials are also recycled, recyclable and bio-degradable. We're a small family-owned business located in Sydney, Australia, and our passion is sourcing unique, traditional, and one of a kind children's toys that will be loved, cherished and passed on when the time comes.

Visit our online store and find the perfect keepsake gift for this Christmas! "Amazing quality and service as always! I’ve purchased a number of times from Happy Go Ducky and I have never been disappointed. The quality of all their toys are amazing! This Dump Truck is just as stunning as a dump truck can get! Beautiful wooden pieces to be played with and treasured forever and passed on for generations!" RRP Starting From $26.00




WHATSiE is the modular play couch that parents and kids can’t get enough of! Designed by a local Sydney Mum to be comfortable, stylish, and fit right into the modern home while still being incredibly versatile for play.

Many parents struggle to find baby playmats that look stylish in their homes.

The concept of Bear Timber came about during one of the most challenging times the world has encountered - Covid-19. As an early childhood teacher, I was eager to extend my knowledge and educational experiences to other families through providing sustainable and ecofriendly resources that promoted and encouraged play-based and openended learning.

Founder of WHATSiE, Lisa says, “Having two boys with boundless energy and incredible imaginations during the 2020 lockdowns, I needed something that steered them away from screens and into active, creative play as much as possible. That’s how the WHATSiE was born.” The WHATSiE play couch is available in ten colour palettes, with exciting new add ons coming soon! Visit their website to shop now. RRP $399.00

Lillefolk makes Scandinavian designed playmats in neutral colours that look like beautiful, real rugs. The playmats are non-toxic (PVC and BPA free), can be wiped clean (they’re waterproof) and easy to pack away and store when not in use. Now you can have a stylish family home that’s also safe and nurturing for your little ones for everything from eating to painting! Lillefolk has you covered. RRP $129.00 Free delivery Australia wide

Our one of a kind wooden tool puzzle has been designed and created in Tasmania, Australia with the little building enthusiast in mind. The large, chunky pieces are easy for toddlers and young children to grasp and manipulate. With Christmas just around the corner, our educational resources make the perfect gift. RRP $74.50


5 Steps

TO YOUR ORGANIC GARDEN Words Megen Hibbins Photos Julie Tinson

Organic gardening at home may sound like a challenge, but how hard is it really. One of the things that most people think is that organic gardening is an expensive and time-consuming project. This comes partly from the expensive products in the supermarkets that lead us to believe that. Nothing is really as time-consuming as shopping, and let’s face it nothing tastes quite so good as something from your own garden. With prices of fruits and veggies always on the rise and the chemical cocktail in most of the food we buy, organic gardening, whether in a pot, raised bed, backyard or balcony is an exciting and tasty option for us all. I have collated my top 5 tips for starting an organic garden at home. 1. Select your site When we pick a spot for our pots or newly dug garden we really would like to have around 6-8 hours of sunlight. This helps the garden to photosynthesise (collect the best light for production) the best and produce lovely healthy leaves and fruits. If you’re planning on growing leafy greens, then it is okay to have some part shade as they don’t mind less sunlight but try for a minimum of 3-4 hours where possible. Try and keep your newly dug garden away from big trees though as they tend to steal essential nutrients and water from your lovely plants. 2. Soil is your best friend Soil filled with nutrients is one of the major points to a successful organic garden. If your soil isn’t the best, this is where grabbing a bag of good quality soil improver form your local garden centre is helpful. If you’re using pots, then a good potting mix is a great starting point. Raised garden beds are best with a 50/50 mix of quality garden soil and compost/soil improver mix.



3. Perfect plants for your garden Selecting the perfect plants for your garden is one of the most important things for your new garden. Your plants should be chosen for your tastes as well as the area that you’re making into the garden. For example, tomato can become quite large, they also are prolific producers, so planting a lot of them may put pressure on the small leafy greens, that are one time grow and eat. Vine fruits are another one to be careful of, yes home-grown watermelon and pumpkins may sound amazing (they are incredible), but if space is an issue steer clear of these as they tend to ramble on. As a general rule, I like to have a couple of lettuce. Make sure to cover these as your local caterpillar will enjoy them as much as you. A tomato plant, some sugar snaps, maybe a bunch of spinach (these are great as cut and come again) and a few herbs as companion plants. 4. Water wisely and keep the mulch and feed coming... One of the things that I brought when I first started gardening was a water meter; these are inexpensive and available at most garden centres. This little device told me if I had over watered or under watered, which was a plant saver. However, if you don’t want to get one of these, digging a little into the soil to see how moist the soil is a great way to check moisture depth. Mulch, this helps to keep weeds at bay, reduce water evaporation on those hot days and also as it breaks down it releases nutrients into the soil. Find a good organic fertiliser, I use chook and cow manure, but there are several products for the organic gardener that will work well. 5. Pest control... This is a big issue; however, the best method I have found is coverage. Don’t wait to place bug protection over your newly planted babies the bugs want; they will see those juicy, tender leaves as an all you can eat salad bar and want to head right on over. You can pick up a bug protection from your local garden centre that will happily live over your patch. You lift it when you want to pick or play, but otherwise just water straight through it. There are many beneficial bugs, but white-moth (these are your leaf lovers) are not one of them, and neither is fruit fly. So, cover your babies to avoid the need of pesticides or disappointment.

Enjoying the fruits of your labour... You have dug, planted, watered, and waited... Now comes the fun part.... Picking and eating your homegrown, organic produce. Taste that freshness, how amazing is that. You have done it once, enjoyed it and are now ready to add more for the next season.. Welcome to the wonderful tastes and smells of the organic garden that you have made. Megen is a free-spirited mother of five, homeschooler of four, an Organic Farmer, wife of a beekeeper and lives totally off the grid in North East NSW.


road trip BACK TO YOU

Us & The Earth

Lily Rose Indulgence

Bunnie Caddie

We all know that self care is crucial as a Mum, both pre and post the arrival of our bundle of joy.

Finding that perfect gift can be a daunting task.

Sleek, stylish and functional, Bunnie Caddie is reinventing organisational baby products for the modern family. Bunnie Caddie’s range of luxury baby products are designed to complement your home’s interior decor aesthetic while still being suitable for the outdoors.

Why not be kind to yourself, whilst being kind to the most important mother of all … Mother Earth. With a 20 piece ‘Eco Beauty Box’ you can pamper yourself and prevent loads of single use plastics from going to landfill. This kit contains all you need for conscious beauty care. Included is a gorgeous green frosted glass and bamboo set, a sisal glove for exfoliating, a soap saver bag and hemp facial rounds for reusable washing - all 100% biodegradable. Keep those teeth sparkling with our home compostable bamboo toothbrush. A trio of all natural konjac sponges and a divine crystal roller bottle, perfect for creating your own toxic-free perfumes! A lovely range of Eco Gift Boxes on site. RRP $85.00 Free shipping Aus Wide.



Lily Rose Indulgence offers a special kind of gift, on our property in the quaint township of Dayboro we grow all the botanical & herbs which we infuse in a variety of natural oils that are used in our products that are sold in beautifully presented gift packs delivered Australia wide. Lily Rose Indulgence is an Australian Made small business with a strong ethos on sustainability & low environmental impact, while providing natural luxury products that look feel and smell great. Our packs send a special message to the receiver to take time out for self-care and renewal as part of our busy lives. Browse our site for pre-packed, or build your own gift packs to receive 15% off for a limited time only. Use code Nurture15 at check out. From RRP $35.00 @lilyroseindulgence

Bunnie Caddie’s philosophy centres around creating more time for you to enjoy with your beautiful bunnies by way of considerate products that are not only appealing to the eye, but also portable for modern parents ‘on the go’ lifestyle. Bunnie Caddie promotes a sense of clarity and calm within the home, allowing you to enjoy those precious moments with your family even more and have everything you need at arms reach. Free Shipping for Australian orders when purchasing two or more Bunnie Caddies. Use code NURTURE15 to receive 15% off storewide, limited time only. RRP $120.00

Embalm Skincare

The Mindful Gift

Milky Mumma

We’ve seen how much you do to keep your kids, your career, and your household going. And that probably means you’re putting yourself last.

If you don’t love and take care of yourself, how can you love and take care of your tribe? As a single mum of 2, that is my mantra! We all have a story and no matter what, we show up every day trying our best. My story made me want to make a difference for myself, my children and the planet they are inheriting.

Introducing the organic & delicious Milky Mumma plant-based range of smoothies & snacks to support your breastfeeding journey. These pre-mix powders can be used in baking, enjoyed over ice or that coffee fix without the caffeine.

With so much on your plate every day, stress can easily take a toll on your skin. Stress lines, puffy eyes, dark circles, and an overall dull complexion manifest. Embalm Skincare is a multi-award winning, 100% natural, Australian made skincare range and perfect for busy mums who don’t have the time nor patience for complicated, lengthy skincare routines.

Being so passionate about eco-friendly and natural products, I felt empowered to showcase and share so many of the amazing Australian products that I have discovered during my eco journey, and that is how The Mindful Gift was born.

Our Absolute Essentials Pack offers busy mums a simple, 5-minute skincare routine that puts you first.

With so much noise, so much pressure, we all need a little escape. I invite you to pause and treat yourself, or someone you love, to something truly special. Go mama you deserve this!

We make it easy for you to care for your skin, help you to look and feel amazing AND to sneak in a little bit of self-care!

RRP $112.00 (with free shipping)

Embalm Skincare Absolute Essentials Pack. RRP $89.95 Use code NURTURE for 10% off for a limited time only.

Use code nurture for 20% off for a limited time only.

“These are chocolate nut bars of goodness. Threw these bad boys in my nappy bag and have been very easy for a snack on the go. Very balanced sweetness, not overpowering and just easy. Every mum needs an easy snack to get her going! I will be buying again, thank you Milky Mumma.” Rachel Raceview Qld Formulated by Enrolled Nurse, Certified Birth & Postpartum Doula & Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner, Milky Mumma is a nutrient & antioxidant-rich blend of wholefoods for your peace of mind. To order visit, then search Milky Mumma. Save 15% on all orders, with FREE SHIPPING for a limited time only.





Night Ollie The Night Ollie alarm stops bedwetting at night within weeks. Our friendly character brings comfort and builds confidence. The sound & vibration alarm plus large mat surface increases success. Non intrusive to the child’s body. Suitable for children 7+ Deep sleeps & teens Pediatrician Approved, Australian designed. Dependable. Effective. Trusted. Proven. Sustainable. Safe. RRP $385.00


Lion & Lady

NEW Ergobaby Carrier Omni Breeze – Our most breathable carrier! Rated #1 in Airflow. When you’re wearing your baby, the key to comfort is breathability. New Omni™ Breeze uses SoftFlex™ Mesh to maximise airflow, keeping you and your baby comfortable and dry all day.

Everyone can be a change maker, an eco-warrior, and it’s never too early to start. Lion & Lady gives you the security & adaptability of a bottle that is easy to clean and easy to heat, while being sustainable and eco friendly. RRP $29.95

RRP $369.00

My Little Gumnut My Little Gumnut is passionate about creating eco-friendly products for Mum and Baby. Our Reusable Cloth Nappies have been specifically designed and created with simplicity but effectiveness in mind. Our Cloth Nappies are environmentally friendly, cost effective and easy to use, all while providing efficiency for you and comfort for your baby.

Danish by Design The Bednest was developed by midwives and has all the right features for safe co-sleeping with your baby. Bednest is beautifully crafted from beech wood and has a fully height adjustable stand and breathable mesh sides. It is easily put up or down in less than 2 minutes without using tools.

RRP $18.95

RRP $499.95 incl mattress

Baby Bum Shower The Baby Bum Shower is your BABY BIDET, a small, hand-held device that delivers soap (pH neutral) and water or just WATER, whenever it’s needed. It is activated by a simple squeeze of the bottle making it simple and easy to use in the messiest of situations. It also provides handwashing when out and about at the park or petting zoo. RRP $39.95

The Diet Compass When journalist Bas Kast collapsed with chest pains, he feared he had ruined his health forever with a junk-food diet. So he set out to uncover the essentials of diet and longevity. The result is this practical, science-based guide to eating well and living longer. RRP $32.99

Bundl Australia Bundl Australia specialise in timeless, natural and organic infant products that are superior in quality and long-lasting. All blankets are made from 100% certified organic cotton and come in a number of classic styles and weights to suit all tastes and seasons. From RRP $69.00

Kizmo My Routine Chart. An eco-friendly Weekly planner and Daily Routine Chart made from locally sourced timber. Empower your children to navigate their way through each day, and accomplish their daily activities.

Wriggly Toes

Safe and Fun Organic Kids Bedding that lights up little faces. Each character is accompanied by a unique bedtime story to read to your little ones. Lovingly made with 100% Organic Cotton.

Comes with 48 various tiles and 2 customisable tiles to suit every family’s needs. Designed and Made in Australia. RRP $170.00

RRP $139.00

Tommee Tippee Grobags From newborn naptime to toddling off to bed, Tommee Tippee select sleepbags are made from super soft, bamboo-rich fabric and our signature ALOEKIND™ lining, a unique cotton-blend infused with naturally soothing Aloe Vera, that’s soft and gentle on baby’s skin and perfect for a comfortable night’s sleep. Should your little one need changing during the night, there’s easy two-way zip access to help you deal with those night-time nappy changes without disturbing baby.


From RRP $79.95

Little Fusspot Take back control of mealtimes while encouraging your child to explore through their sensory world of look, smell, touch and taste. It’s the only guide you need for dealing with picky eaters. RRP $14.95

This fully-featured compact stroller is perfect for city living or jet-setting travellers. Stroll in style with the TRIV™ in a sleek ebony colour with luxe leatherette accents. Plus, keep baby happy thanks to it’s cleverly designed seat that can face both ways and easily fold both ways. Available exclusively from Baby Bunting.

Go Mama

RRP $899.00

The Ultra collection of leggings from this maternity activewear brand are a game changer for pregnancy and post-partum support. Luxuriously soft fabric, 100% squat proof, and the musthave mum hack: deep secure pockets on each side. Available in three different lengths, these are the ultimate addition to your maternity wardrobe. RRP $59.99

Little Piglet Our Pop-in swim nappy is made using a special soft and flexible laminate with a stain resistant outer layer to keep your nappy looking great and soft fleece inside to keep little ones cosy in the water. Our unique seal-to-skin binding at the legs and waist means gives you peace of mind that any little accidents will be safely contained inside and the new drawstring waist helps to maintain a better fit between sizes, so you are free to enjoy your splash together! RRP: $22.95 Use code NURTURE15 for 15% off all products.

Math’s Australia Give your kids a fun, hands-on, introduction to maths that will nurture their natural curiosity and help develop a lasting LOVE of maths. The Primer Complete Set has all the hands-on tools proven to build solid foundations so that kids can launch into their maths learning journey with absolute ease. RRP $359 +GST



Words Monica Shephard Photo Brigitte Tohm

The sense of smell and our memories of scents be they conscious or unconscious is our most primitive sense. For good reason too, we have evolved to literally smell danger. The olfactory threat perception that is our ability to smell trouble is part of the olfactory cortex stores where we store sensory threat codes related to smells as acquired associative representations formed via life experiences thereby enabling coding of these threat cues directly related to certain smells. We can smell when a fire is starting, the proximity of other humans and animals and this historically would have been lifesaving however in today’s world the smell of a meal could ignite certain unwarranted feelings of unease or harm without us necessarily being fully aware of the influence present. Where the research gets exciting is when we use it in reverse, using smell to bring about positive physiological changes that influence neural pathways and modulatory systems to be conditioned to uplifting feelings.

that the part of the brain responsible is the amygdala which plays a key role in emotion processing and is highly associated with the nature of olfactory cortical processing. There is hope then for learning-induced brain plasticity that is the ability of the brain to change as brain cells last for life and are notoriously difficult to change, in the amygdala and the olfactory cortex. In addition, as aversive learning becomes consolidated in the amygdala, the associative olfactory cortex may undergo long term changes resulting in modified neural response patterns that underpin threats potentially accounting for an alternative mechanism that is lying underneath the pathophysiology of anxiety and depression. Aversive learning is usually achieved using an unpleasant stimulus to help change a behaviour, but with pure essential oils, a pleasant stimulus can be used to help refocus on a positive behaviour making the experience more pleasurable.

So how can it be possible for something as simple as smell to be able to affect our emotions, therefore our mood and behaviour? Neuroscience research over the past few decades has reached a strong consensus

The most profound and effective way to use scent to influence mood disorders is with the use of Therapeutic Grade essential oils. Essential oils represent the soul essence of a plant and carry its life force energy



“Essential oils represent the soul essence of a plant.” matrix. The aroma of the oil reaches and influences the deepest most primitive human instincts and emotions. Your logical brain is not involved in your process of smell; you feel aromatic scents. Your brain doesn’t filter or interpret scent, and because of the unique ability of scent to reach beneath the surface of your conditioned mind, it can be used to re-train your brain and establish new meta-programs. You start by focusing on a positive feeling and then taking one drop of the oil in your palms, rubbing the palms together and taking five deep inhalations. Meditation can be an ideal time to do this, but it needs to initially be repeated more than once during a day. It takes repeated use of your oil daily for 1-3 days, and it can take a combination of different oils that are largely still going to be chosen on personal preference. Once this practice has been achieved for the desired time, you can then simply place the oil in a diffuser for occasional use. Grounding, calming choices for when anxious feelings arise include Frankincense and Neroli and uplifting choices for low mood include Orange and Peppermint.

So, you don’t need to be an aromatherapist to gain a new tool in your toolbox to help promote lasting effects on mood right from childhood to helping with the daily demands of adulthood. Consistency is key here as it will take more than one attempt at creating a new pathway but considering how long it takes to create new habits, using smell to create neuropathways that help us to concentrate and function, it is a relatively easy and likely worthwhile process. Get sniffing. Monica is a naturopath and nutritionist who specialises in mental health and particularly how we can continue to support ourselves with complementary medicine strategies.

Another clear representation of how smell can have profound benefits on the long-term brain changes is with infants who are known for having poor memory, and an infantile is not able to remember significant events until much later in life. At this stage of life, we are all already excellent learners and are easily influenced by experience making this is the perfect time to create olfactory classical conditioning that is beneficial to long term mindset. It can be as simple as having an essential oil diffuser in play areas or having diluted essential oils applied during baby massage. Oils that are safe for babies include Lavender, Chamomile and Mandarin. Odours readily become associated with emotions and can thereby influence behaviour even with young children. Lavender can be placed near a baby’s nose when upset and Chamomile is soothing for digestive troubles.





START YOUR LEGACY empowered health + wellness choices

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ask naomi resolving food issues

With Naomi Aldort Author of Raising THE STRUGGLE Our Children, RaisingTAKING Ourselves. new cover.qxd


6:50 PM

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— Pe g g y O ' M a r a E d i t o r a n d P u b l i s h e r, M o t h e r i n g m a g a z i n e

Naomi Aldort reminds us that we really can trust our children and our natural instinct to love them unconditionally. Not only that, she shows us how, with clarity and consistency. Her formula for parenting truly is a SALVE for the soul in troubled times. — John Breeding, Ph.D. A Psychiatrist and Author of The Wildest Colts Make the Best Horses

Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves is a book long overdue and should be on the must read list of all new moms and dads. This book could carry a subtitle: “Saving the Emotional Lives of Our Children and The Future of Humanity…” As Naomi states: “Love must be unconditional for a child to stay in integrity with his own authentic self.” — Ja m e s W. Pr e s c o t t , P h . D . Institute of Humanistic Science

Naomi Aldort is a miracle worker. I know; I am married to her. — Harvey Aldort

Naomi Aldort, Ph.D., is a parenting and

PA R E N T I N G / S E L F - H E L P

family counselor, writer and public

in parenting

c h i l d re l a t i o n s h i p s f r o m re a c t i o n a n d s t r u g g l e t o f re e d o m , p ow e r a n d j oy

the world.

US: $18.00

CN: $24.00








magazines around


My 6-year-old eats too little, while his older sister cannot stop eating. Why? What can I do? In my experience children are naturally inclined to eat enough and well. Therefore, when a child seems off-balance, I suspect they are not having the foods that they actually need.

They have no way of knowing that they need something else, so they adapt to what you offer them. This does not mean that you or anyone are not providing healthy food, only that whatever it is you offer, doesn’t seem to match the child’s specific nutritional needs. One family who came to see me for coaching included a child who ate bread with peanut butter and jam all day every day and nothing else. By the end of the intensive family retreat, the child was eating a variety of healthy foods. His energy and sleep became so much better, and he was generally much happier and didn’t need food all the time because what he ate nourished his body. Then, there was another family who’s youngest of three just didn’t eat much. It turned out that almost nothing that was offered met his needs and he didn’t like anything. They ate a healthy organic diet, lots of salads and juices and small amounts of meat and eggs. The mother said that he loved the meat and could eat only that, but she kept giving vegetables, thinking that it was a healthier necessity. After the sessions, she learnt to let the child choose. He ended up eating hardly any vegetables and mostly eggs, raw cheeses and meat, and some berries and nuts. Within a short time, his appetite was normal, and the circles under his eyes vanished. He looked healthier, slept much better and stopped having any allergies in the spring and fall. Similarly, one of my three children detested all vegetables as a child. He was the healthiest of the three. The quantities and variety of vegetables we have today is not natural, and some of the healthiest societies never had such quantities. Don’t get me wrong; I think plant food is great, especially raw. But are large quantities a necessity for every child? I trust the child and provide whole, organic food that the child loves to eat. I hope these examples are helpful. Your two children are responding to what you offer in two personal ways. The one who is overeating unhealthfully has possibly developed an addiction to carbs and is never satisfied for long because it lacks the nutrition he needs. The child who is not eating enough only needs you to find out what real whole foods he actually needs and let him have those. By real foods, I mean foods that do not need processing or cooking in order to be eaten. You can cook them, but they can also be eaten as 78

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speaker. Her advice



Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves operates on the radical premise that neither child nor parent must dominate. Aldort offers specific suggestions for relinquishing control in favor of authenticity. Lots of help for those who want to give up scolding, threatening and punishing. Her SALVE “formula” alone is worth the price of the book.


“A healthy appetite comes with time outdoors and physical activity.” they are. That, to me, is a good sign of it being human food. If I have to go through a song and dance of processing, then it is probably not best for us humans. In addition to offering real foods (ideally grains and beans free), having addictive carbs like chips, bread and pasta, makes it hard for the child to wean from depending on those. You can eliminate them or replace them with grain-free items and gradually eliminate them. Some parents like the gradual approach, fearing their children’s upset. Other families just pretend they moved to another culture and change their diet overnight for the whole family. One family of five reported that such abrupt transition was surprisingly easy. They moved from a regular American diet to organic raw paleo, overnight. Half a year later, they came for coaching with me at my home, and the children seemed like they didn't even know other foods existed. They loved eating and got excited about things like raw fish, tomato and cucumber. A word on ideology: I was vegan until my firstborn was 7. He did not look healthy. He had rings under his eyes and some allergies in spring. His temperament also seemed unbalanced. I took him to a naturopath for a blood test. The results show that, like most children (and many adults too), his body was not assimilating protein and other essential nutrients from plant foods. Just because the nutrient is in the food does not mean the body assimilates it. My son was malnourished. I was told by the vegetarian naturopath that my child must eat red meat. I cringed. He saw my negative reaction and said, “In three days, you will see a new child.”

Obviously, love was much stronger than my ideology and feeling about being vegan. I fed him some red meat daily, and in three days he was calmer, with pink cheeks and no rings under his eyes. Later it was obvious that the allergies had diminished too. This humbled me. I later learned that being vegan cannot save the planet and that cows that roam freely and move, actually save the planet. It is commercial animal products that do that harm, and so do the vegan processed foods. But that is another giant subject. For now, your job is first to care for your children in the most organic, local, and whole way you can. Finally: A healthy appetite comes with time outdoors and physical activity. Modern life is very confusing to the biological body. Make sure your children see the sun and move freely a lot. Offer nutritionally dense and unprocessed foods that their body needs (not addicted to) and let me know how they are doing. Naomi Aldort is the author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, published in 19 languages. To book private video sessions, workshops, webclasses, watch videos and articles, visit Naomi’s website. Naomi Aldort


Do you have a parenting question for Naomi? Send us an email! If Naomi answers your question in the next edition of Nurture, you’ll win a $100 voucher to spend on any of Naomi’s MP3 library. Find answers to parents’ questions to listen to at your convenience. Naomi Aldort, author of RAISING OUR CHILDREN, RAISING OURSELVES, also offers CDs, Web Classes, Family Retreats, a Free Newsletter, Workshops and private parenting guidance by phone or skype. To learn more, visit and don’t forget to submit your question for Naomi.


SAY GOODMORNING TO DRY NIGHTS Night Ollie was developed to solve bedwetting in a sensible and accessible way. The simple approach gifts every family with the freedom to experience life beyond bedwetting. Founder Linda Sullivan has taken her 30 years of experience as a paediatric nurse and transformed it into a solution for families who are quietly calling out for an answer. The trusted and proven treatment of bedwetting supports the growth and wellbeing of every child. The alarm and mat is a natural solution that is safe, sustainable and effective in stopping bedwetting forever. The result empowers families to embrace the calm that evenings can bring while ensuring the child is secure, comfortable and confident. WHAT IS BEDWETTING (NOCTURNAL ENURESIS)? Bedwetting describes a child over the age of 6.5 years which shows no control over their bladder overnight. Primary nocturnal enuresis is a child who has never been dry at night while secondary enuresis is a child who was dry for a period of approximately six months before starting to wet the bed again. For these children, bedwetting is the inability to rouse from their sleep overnight which can be an inherited trait. There is a 40% chance of a child wetting the bed in general, which rises to 80% chance if both parents wet the bed as children.



All over the globe, children and teens suffer from bedwetting at night. This can lead to many negative feelings for both the parents and child. Parents are often left angry, frustrated, and confused because of the stigma, embarrassment and lack of understanding of what bedwetting is. While every situation is different many parents delay seeking help because they hope it will stop on its own. If your child is 7 years and over and displays motivation to stop bedwetting, then Night Ollie is the perfect solution.

The Night Ollie alarm and mat is designed to condition your child’s sleepy brain to wake up and go to the toilet if your child starts to wet the bed. In time, your child is conditioned to wake when his or her bladder is full (before wetting begins), or learns to sleep through the night without wetting the bed.

“Together we can make a difference and raise awareness to help free families and remove the stigma” COMMON BEDWETTING MYTHS It is little wonder that parents are often confused with the amount of misleading information about bedwetting. Some common and unhelpful myths centre around the child having an emotional disorder or they’re lazy, have a medical problem, they drink too much before bed or perhaps they’re stressed. They may also suggest it’s the parent’s fault. None of this is true. They wet the bed as they cannot wake from sleep at night. Night Ollie is here for you to support and provide the pathway to stop bedwetting at night for children and teens.

Join the many happy families experiencing the freedom of good morning to dry nights! @nightollie

TESTIMONIALS “Thanks to Night Ollie, our 10-year-old girl is confidently having her first ever sleep-over without embarrassment and anxiety.” “I strongly recommend the NightOllie alarm system. My 9-year-old stopped bedwetting in 2 weeks. I wish we did it years ago.”

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