Category Archives: Feeding

These foods are a choking hazard, do not give them to your children

It is reported that around 2,600 choking accidents in the UK each year involve children under four years of age. That’s over 7 children per day, everyday. It is likely that this statistic is considerably lower than factual incidents due to the amount of choking incidents that go unreported. Children choke on small toys and on food that is too big and too difficult dislodge. A study in the journal of the American Medical Association 30 years ago concluded a child every five to six days chokes to death on a food. This study has not been repeated but Smith, who conducted the study says says “I have no reason to think those numbers have changed because there haven’t been major changes in surveillance or protection.” Here is our guide on the food you should avoid giving your children and the things you can do to make them a little safer if you are going to give them.

Peanuts are often avoided anyway due to the risk of an allergic reaction, however, they also pose a choking risk; it is possible they may block the lower airway so should be completely avoided.

Chewing gum
According to the international chewing gum association, Chewing gum can be a choking hazard. The gum base, which is a component of the gum that makes it stretchy and tough, is more difficult to swallow than ordinary foods. Older children should always spit gum out to prevent choking and also prevent a build up of gum in the rectum (if large amounts have been swallowed).

Popped, half popped or not popped at all, popcorn is a choking hazard and should be avoided. It doesn’t dissolve, is jagged in shape and is hard to dislodge if stuck, your child’s trachea (windpipe) is the size of a drinking straw – imagine trying to suck air through a straw with a piece of popcorn wedged on the end if it. Due to popcorn being so lightweight, there is also a risk that it can be ‘sucked’ down accidentally by your child, this could result in choking (as stated) or the popcorn sitting on one of your child’s lungs (this is likely to cause an infection if not medically removed).

For the same reasons as popcorn; chips are hard and light so difficult to dislodge and easily swallowed accidentally (before chewing).

Round slices of hotdogs or sausages
Whether cut into a round shape or eating whole, the shape forms a perfect ‘plug’ over the trachea and is very difficult to remove. If you are giving your child sausages and hotdogs you should always cut them length ways as well as chop long ways.

Carrot sticks or baby carrots
All vegetables should be steamed (preferably) or boiled, grated or chopped into thin matchstick shapes before giving to your child. This makes them softer, easier to chew, easier to cough up if swallowed accidentally and less likely to cause a choking incident.

Tough meat and meat with gristle and bone
It is heavy and can easily slip to the back of your child’s throat. You should remove all fat, gristle and bones and chop into small pieces. You can further mitigate the risk by slow cooking, mincing or shredding.

Hard candy
An 8 year study between 2001 and 2009 reported more than 16,100 children aged 14 and younger visited the A&E because they were choking on hard candy. It is the number one food for causing choking incidents in children and should be completely avoided.

Whole grapes
Don’t be fooled by their nutritional value. Grapes are a huge choking risk. Whole grapes should be completely avoided for as long as you can and cut up grapes (you should cut into quarters as a minimum) only given once you are confident your child can sit up properly and chew foods well. Babies should not be given grapes at all ; even when they are cut up they can still result in a choking episode if not chewed properly.

Cherry tomatoes
Avoid cherry tomatoes as you would grapes. The size and texture are similar and the outcome of not chewing (or not being being able to chew) properly will be the same.

Large pieces of raw fruits and vegetables
Raw fruit and vegetables can be very hard and difficult for your child to chew, particularly if his/her molars (back teeth) haven’t cone through yet. You could cook them slightly to soften them or grate them (such as carrots and apples). Soft pears and bananas don’t need to be avoided but you should, of course, never leave your child unsupervised when eating.

Every precaution should be taken to avoid choking episodes, if you are using the baby led weaning technique you should still take the above precautions as these are the highest risk foods. There is never a substitute for supervising your child when eating and it is recommended you learn basic first aid for children. Encourage your child to sit up whilst eating and never allow them to play as this will also increase the risk. If you have any questions, please ask.

Should I wake my newborn for a feed?

Waking a newborn baby in the middle of the night may seem a little crazy, however, for a short while, you will need to do this. Here’s why:
Babies lose around 10% of their birth weight soon after being born, so even just a few days after being born (and of course being weighed for the first time), his weight will be below his centile. This is usually the case for around 2 weeks. Until your little one is back up to the weight he should be (according to the centile graph), he should go no longer than 4 hours between feeds and you should wake him up if necessary – newborns need anything from 8 to 12 feeds a day. You may also need to wake your newborn from daytime naps if they tend to exceed 3 hours. Once this period is over and your child has regained the lost weight and gained weight appropriately (therefore following the correct centile), it is then time to look at establishing a better day/night routine to encourage your baby to sleep for longer periods during the night. As well as the obvious health benefits to your child as stated above, feeding your little one regularly also helps you to establish your milk supply if breastfeeding, it is also important to note that crying is a late sign of hunger. In terms of recognising early signs of hunger, you may find my post on hunger cues and what they mean helpful.

To establish breastfeeding and minimise the risk of breastfeeding complications, I would recommend feeding at least every 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours during the night for the first 2-3 weeks. The chances are your breastfed baby will wake for feeds anyway but good to know where you stand if she decides she wants to give you a little rest! If you are bottle feeding you should still wake your newborn for a feed until she is following her centile and always follow the instructions on how much formula milk to give (always check instructions on the packet).

I hope you have found this post informative and helpful, as always, your comments are warmly welcomed.

How to burp a baby

If your baby looks uncomfortable, in pain (such as grimacing or crying) or has stopped feeding unexpectedly and won’t re-start, it could be that she has wind and needs a little helping hand in getting rid of the gas. There are a few ways you can do this, you will probably find that one position is more affective than the others.

4 Ways to burp your your baby

  • Over your shoulder: Firstly, place a muslin or something similar over your shoulder, lift your baby so his head is resting on your shoulder, support his head and neck so he doesn’t fall backwards, gently pat his back (very softly) or rub patiently in a circular motion. There is no need to bounce or rock your baby at all. In fact, standing still is much better! Once your little one burps, look him in the eyes and give him a big smile and a kiss.
  • Sitting upright: You need to be seated comfortably for this position. Sit your baby on your lap and support his head and neck so he is leaning forwards slightly, with your other hand gently rub his back in circular motions, the pressure on his tummy from being seated and your gentle rubbing of his back will encourage any trapped air to make its way out.
  • Over your lap: Some babies find it easier to burp when lying flat. An easy, safe way of doing this is to lie your little one on your lap, ensure her head is supported and gently pay her back it rub in a circular motion. You may find she lifts her head when burping, again, plenty of smiles and kisses are always well received after a big burp.
  • Across your forearm (newborns only): This is a fantastic position if your newborn seems particularly uncomfortable or if she suffers from colic. Slowly and carefully place your newborn onto your forearm with her head in the palm of your hand. Her legs and arms should be free to dangle and her stomach should be flat against your arm. Place your free hand on her back to ensure she is safe and won’t slip off. If you are doing this for the first time, it may be safer to try it whilst sitting on a bed. There is no need to pat or rub whilst in this position, don’t do it if your baby is too heavy, too big or too wriggly for you!
  • A little tip; If you feel your baby is uncomfortable but am unable to burp him, it may be that he needs to release some air/gas from the other end. Try lying him flat on his back and gently bending his knees up towards his tummy, hold them there for a few seconds and bring then back down again. After doing this a few times you can also try rubbing his tummy in a clockwise, circular motion, this helps the digestive system and can help to alleviate minor constipation issues.

    Hunger cues and what they mean

    Hunger cues are easy to spot if you know what you are looking for, your baby is much more likely to feed well if he is fed at the early stage of feeling hungry rather than the late stage, this is because the hungrier he gets the more likely he is to be irritable or upset and he may not have a full feed because of it.

    Stage one – Early signs your baby is getting hungry

  • Opening and closing her mouth
  • Licking her lips or smacking them
  • Sucking on her fingers, hands, toys, lips etc. (this is a reliable cue up to around 6-8 weeks)
  • Stage two – Signs your baby really needs feeding

  • He is ‘rooting’ on the chest or arm of the person holding him
  • He is fidgeting more than usual
  • He is trying to position himself for feeding (ie lying back or pulling you closer)
  • He is repeatedly banging his arms or head against you
  • His breaths are shorter and faster
  • Stage three – You have left it too late

  • She is frantically moving her head from side to side
  • She is crying and is inconsolable
  • Feeding on demand is the best way to ensure your newborn never has hunger pains and never has to cry for her food. By spotting the early signs, or if not, the later signs (stage two), you are not only keeping your baby well nourished but boosting his confidence by letting him know he is able to influence the people around him to tend to his most basic of needs.

    How to Store Breastmilk

    There are strict guidelines on how to store breast milk as the amount of time it “keeps” for is dependant upon the temperature of the area in which it is being stored. Here are the guidelines:

    How long can I store expressed breast milk?

    • Store at room temperature: must be used within 6 hours.
    • Store in a fridge: under 4 degrees celcius – lasts for 5 days. Between 5-10 degrees celcius(or if you are not sure) – lasts for 3 days.
    • Store in a freezer: Lasts for 6 months (must be -18 degrees celcius and have been frozen immediately after expressing).
    • Store in ice compartment of a fridge: Lasts up to two weeks.

    You should bear in mind that a fridge that is in constant use will not remain at a steady temperature. It may be worth purchasing a fridge thermometer. These BPA free bags (bisphenol-A) for extra safety when feeding your baby are a great buy. Fantastic for storing your expressed milk for up to 24 hours in a fridge or up to 3 months in a freezer! The bags are pre-sterilised with an easy seal top and a section at the top to write the date, time and name using an ordinary ball point pen ensuring your milk is always stored safely and kept in date. Buy here.

    How should I defrost frozen breast milk?

    breast milk storage bags 25 packIdeally you should defrost the frozen breast milk in the fridge. Once it has defrosted you should use it immediately and never refreeze it. If you need to urgently defrost some frozen breast milk then you can run it under cool, then warm running water. If the milk smells sour, you should never use it.

    How should I heat up expressed breast milk?

    You could always try giving your baby expressed breast milk straight from the fridge, it would make things a lot more convenient. If she refuses it at this temperature, you can warm it a liitle by placing the bottle in a bowl of luke warm water, this should at least remove the chill. Never use the microwave to heat up or defrost your baby’s milk as this can cause hot spots that will burn your baby’s mouth.

    And that is how to store breast milk.