Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Milk...it does something...

The post below is complete, and now I'm sitting here trying to think of a creative, interesting way to open it. The more I sit here, the more I realize it is pointless to avoid the fact that this is a very technical post -- meant to be one of those that comes alongside another mom to help. Trying to open in a snazzy way is making me cranky (grin). So...I will just say that if you are looking for cute anecdotes about Gavin, stay tuned. In the meantime, please pass this on to a mom that may find it helpful.

Some of you may remember that we took Gavin off of all dairy in an attempt to reduce or eliminate his breathing issues. Well, it did seem to help with that and also with his sleeping! He went from getting up one or two brief times in the middle of the night (mostly for a re-plug of the pacifier) and also waking early (anywhere from a yucky time like 5 to an acceptable time like 6:30) to not waking at all in the middle of the night and most of the time having a normal wake time (between 6 and 7:30).

When we relayed our experience to his pediatrician, he seemed intrigued but not at all surprised. He said milk can negatively affect digestion, breathing and even the nervous system--any one of which could have been disrupting his sleep. We are thankful that our pediatrician intentionally integrates nutrition into his practice.

When jumping into this non-dairy adventure, I read everything I could about how to help him get enough nutrition without whole milk and found everything from "serve your baby a variety of healthy foods, and he/she will be fine" to recommended quantities of fat, protein, calcium and vitamin D and the best ways to get them. Of course, I jumped full in to the latter...bring on the calculations, checklists and overall obsessing!

Our family is far from perfect in this area, and as with everything, you should definitely check with an expert (disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer), but with all the hard work I've done and great resources I've found, I feel compelled to share.

First, I will share an Excel sheet I created to help me determine how much calcium, fat, and protein Gavin needs at each age. The spreadsheet also contains a list of the major foods we use to get him there with the amounts of each nutrient listed above according to Super Baby Food or the product package itself (if they differed, I used the product package). Second, I will share what a typical day of nutrition might look like for Gavin. I looked everywhere for an example like this and came up with nothing. Like I said, I come at this with no credentials, but I offer this as a starting place for your own researching and planning. Third, I will list my primary sources and how they helped.

Non-Dairy Nutrition Calculator for Children 1 to 3 Years Old
This calculator contains formulas based on nutritional recommendations for children 1 to 3 years old found in the book Super Baby Food. The book itself contains recommendations for children 0-12 months as well. Since this post is particularly for parents who want an alternative to whole milk for their children and since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children not drink whole milk before the age of 1 year, I have put only the calculations for that age group to keep things simple.

To download the chart for your own use, just click the link below. You will be taken to an online version of the chart in Google Docs. You cannot edit the chart online, but you can download it from Google Docs onto your computer to complete for your own child. Click here to go to Google Docs to download. (Go to the File Menu in the top left corner and click "download" as Excel or as Open Document.)

A typical day of nutrition for Gavin
At the time of this writing, Gavin is 20 months. Keep in mind that he loves and has always loved his food. So, yes, he does eat all of this happily. If your child resists new foods, remember that most kids must sample something 7-10 times before they develop a taste for it. The important thing is to keep offering it. They don't have to eat an entire serving -- just taste it. When we were introducing tahini to Gavin, we planned to mix it into his cereal. We started with a 1 teaspoon mixed in and he did grimace the first few times. Once he was used to that small amount, we slowly worked up to a tablespoon. He gobbles it down now.

With each meal or snack, we give Gavin almond milk fortified with calcium and other vitamins. It has twice as much calcium as cow's milk but it's not the primary source of his fat or protein, so I'm not insane about him getting a certain number of ounces, but he usually has about 12-15 ounces in a day.

Breakfast: Some kind of berries and another kind of fruit usually blueberries and mango or strawberries and peaches. Also, his beloved Cheerios(R).
Morning snack: 1/2 piece whole wheat bread (you'll need to check the ingredients if you are eliminating all dairy - some contain whey) with almond butter (about 1T), a small amount of blackstrap molasses and usually either crushed pineapple, sliced banana or applesauce to help the almond butter go down. Also, some kind of fruit cut into bite-sized pieces or applesauce if we're out and about.
Lunch: 1 egg (hardboiled or scrambled), Green veggie like kale or broccoli (about 2T), beans (about 2T), 1 small orange or 1/2 of a large one.
Afternoon snack: Earth's Best oatmeal or Dr. Sears multi-grain cereal (3T) with 1T tahini (raw) and 
1-1/2 T wheat germ mixed with coconut milk (about 3 oz or to the right consistency). We used to also give an orange veggie like carrots or sweet potatoes, but recently I increased the cereal and saved the orange veggie for dinner. Mostly to make it easier for me -- especially when we're out.
Dinner: Meat or fish (about 2 ounces), orange veggie like carrots or sweet potatoes or winter squash (about 2T), sometimes tomato (about 1T), avocado (1/6 of a small one), 1/2 piece of bread. Recently, I've been concerned about making sure he's getting enough healthy fats, so I let him dip his bread in olive oil with Italian herbs sprinkled in. He loves it, and it is super cute to watch him dip and listen to him try to say olive oil.

This is just an example. We certainly deviate in one way or another most days, and like I said, we are far from perfect, so I would love to hear your suggestions. Just leave a comment below.

Sources that were helpful to me
This post would not exist without the book Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. It covers nutrition for infants through toddlers, and even though I didn't start reading it until Gavin graduated from purees to finger foods, I cannot overstate its usefulness to me. My favorite features are:
  • A breakdown of how much of the major nutrients a child needs at each age.
  • A list of almost every fruit and vegetable you can think of and its primary nutrients and preparation tips.
  • A list of vitamins and minerals and the foods that are highest in them.
  • A list of super baby enhancers (things you can easily add to cereal or sandwiches to boost nutrition).
  • Nutrient table with baby-sized portions.
  • An example of what a-day-in-the-life of her baby's diet looked like (I looked everywhere for this online).
The Super Baby Food Diet is lacto-ovo-vegetarian (milk, eggs, veggies, grains). Gavin does eat a little meat, but no dairy, so I was not able to carbon-copy this diet for him, but the resources were a huge help in me piecing together our own thing. (The book does have a chapter on meat for those choosing that route and does not hate on meat-eaters.)

Another resource that was helpful to me was an article called, "Is Milk Really Good for Our Children?" With studies quoted from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, I found the information helpful. Just keep in mind, the list of calcium sources may or may not be listed in baby-sized portions.

For questions about foods not on my chart or in your other sources, you can use Self's Nutrition Data. Just make sure you are adjusting for baby-sized portions.

Final thoughts: If you have questions about this, I recommend you ask your pediatrician. If you have a question about the chart or our approach with Gavin, please ask it in the comment section below, and I will address it to the best of my ability.

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