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Serenity Scoop


7 min read
If you've ever had a teething baby, you know that teething sucks. Babies are crabby and fussy, their sleep gets disrupted, they may refuse to eat, and they may even have a slight fever. While teething can be uncomfortable or downright painful for some babies, there are ways to help ease your baby's teething pain. However, since babies can be teething for quite a long time - well into toddlerhood - we like to focus on natural remedies for teething rather than always relying on medication. What is Teething? Teething is a process whereby an infant's first teeth erupt through the gums. Babies usually begin teething around six months but timing can vary from child to child. Babies may experience discomfort and pain during teething as their gums are stretched and new teeth break through. But babies can't tell us what's bothering them with words, so keep an eye out for these common teething symptoms. Signs and symptoms of teething Red and swollen gumsSensitive red gums are a telltale sign of teething. Baby may have inflamed gums for weeks before a tooth actually breaks through. DroolingDrooling (more than usual) is common in teething babies. Get some cloth bibs so that you aren't changing outfits multiple times a day. Facial rash from droolingExcessive drooling can cause baby's chin and neck to become chapped, and a rash may develop from the irritation. Keeping baby's chin as dry as possible can help. We like Pipette Baby Balm to keep the chin dry and moisturized and Boiron Calendula cream to help if a rash or irritation does develop.  Decreased appetiteWhen babies are having teething pain they may not want to eat as they normally would. A decreased appetite is totally normal, and they may also seek comfort and want to breastfeed more frequently. Chewing on solid objects around them, and fingersSome babies find relief from teething pain by biting down on hard objects or on their own fingers (more than usual). You might notice your baby picking up random objects from around the house to bite on (remote controls seem to be a favorite!), or they might start to gnaw on their own crib or your shoulder when you carry them. Breastfeeding moms may also get a bite when nursing. If this happens, gently break your baby's latch and say "ouch" so that they get the message. Crankiness and irritabilityTeething can be painful, and so most babies do experience some crankiness and irritability as they try to manage their discomfort. Practice patience and try to empathize with your little one while trying some of the natural teething remedies listed below. 27 Home Remedies Ideas for Teething Babies  There are a number of ways to help your baby relieve teething pain, from special teething products to certain foods. We've grouped them into five groups: natural remedies, oils, and extracts; teething jewelry; food for teething babies; toys and items for teething; medicines for teething.  You'll find that one teething remedy might soothe a baby one day and not the next, so keep this list handy and cycle through it as needed! Natural remedies, oils, and extracts Cold foods/liquidsCold or frozen foods can help to soothe sore gums. If baby is eating solid foods, try to serve cold foods to offer some relief for baby's gums. Here are some other ideas that might help: Ice cubesMessy, but simple, ice cubes are cold and also offer some hydration. Wrap ice cubes and other frozen foods in a dishcloth to make them easier for baby to hold. Serenity KidS POUCHES frozen in A mesh feeding strainer or popsicle moldSerenity Kids pouches provide great nutrition alongside teething relief when they are frozen. This is especially helpful if your baby is refusing to eat due to teething pain. Chilled spoonSomething as simple as a chilled spoon (measuring spoons work well) can provide baby some relief. Frozen cubes of chamomile teaChamomile tea is great to soothe sore gums. Just brew and then freeze in an ice cube tray or popsicle mold Frozen washclothJust get a damp clean washcloth, freeze it, and let baby chew! PopsiclesMake sure that these are made from Serenity Kids baby food, breastmilk, bone broth, electrolytes (our fav is LMNT) or water, NOT juice or anything sweetened. It's super easy to make your own popsicles! This is our favorite mess-free popsicle mold.  Frozen cubes of breast milkNutritious and soothing, breast milk is a great teething remedy. just freeze some in an ice cube tray or popsicle mold and let baby chew and teeth on it. fair warning, it can get a bit messy. Frozen bone brothBone broth that is frozen in ice cube trays or a popsicle mold is a great and nourishing teething remedy. Raw frozen liverMay sound gross, but liver is really great for babies! The Weston Price Foundation recommends freezing liver for 14 days to reduce the risk of pathogens and parasites, and of course making sure that you know and trust the source. Grass-fed beef liver or organic chicken liver will have the highest nutrition. BreastfeedingBreastfeeding is one of the best natural remedies for teething as it provides baby with physical comfort and also nutrition. This is particularly helpful for babies who are refusing solid foods due to their teeth and gums hurting. Licorice rootLicorice root is one of the herbal remedies for teething. Licorice root sticks are great since baby can get relief from chewing on the stick while also benefiting from licorice root’s cooling and numbing properties.  Catnip teaCatnip tea doesn't have much scientific evidence behind it, but has quite a bit of anecdotal support. Catnip is said to calm irritable babies and help them rest. Massage gums with your fingerMassaging baby's gums can help ease the discomfort and relieve built up tension where a tooth is coming in. Massage gently, in small circular motions, and watch for any reactions to painful or sensitive areas in their mouths.You can also gently clean your baby’s mouth and gums during this time. You can use clean, moistened gauze and gently massage your baby’s gums while wiping them down and making sure they’re clean after feedings or before bed. RosehipRosehip has been shown to contain anti-inflammatory properties which can help a baby who is teething. As a bonus, it is also a source of vitamin C and antioxidants which can support immunity. Cloves essential oilClove oil acts as a natural anesthetic and has been shown to work as well as benzocaine at relieving pain. It naturally numbs baby's gums. Earthley Teeth Tamer is a great way to give baby clove oil. Chamomile productsChamomile is one of the more popular natural teething remedies. It helps relax and soothe irritability. We particularly liked this one and this one. Teething jewelryWhile there isn’t much research on teething jewelry, many families swear by it to help with managing teething symptoms. Amber jewelry Amber teething necklaces are typically made from baltic amber and many parents report that they work to help alleviate teething symptoms. They can be a choking hazard when around the neck, so use one that easily comes unclasped, or wrap them around baby's ankle when they are sleeping. Silicone teething jewelryThere are some great necklaces that parents can wear so that baby can chew on them while being held (it's better than your shoulder!). Allspice necklaceMake sure the clasp comes apart easily so it isn't a choking hazard or safety risk. Foods with rough texture for teething babiesBabies can get fussy when it comes to eating while they are teething. If their teeth and gums are sore, it can be uncomfortable to eat! Here are some foods that might feel good for baby to eat. Frozen wafflesYou can make your own waffles with healthy ingredients like eggs, almond flour, and cassava flour, adding our pouches for extra flavor and nutrition. We also like Birch Benders Paleo waffles as a good store-bought option. Teething biscuitsMany parents turn to teething biscuits for babies to gnaw on. However, they're typically sweetened and made of rice, which we don't recommend. Beef jerkyWe recommend jerky made with grass-fed beef and has no sugar added. We like Paleovalley and Chomps. Toys and items for teethingYou might notice that anything and everything is up for grabs for baby to chew when teething. Here are some items designed for baby to use for some relief! Wearable teething glovesSince babies often teethe on their own hands, wearable teething gloves are a great outlet for pain relief. They slip over baby's hands and include a silicone tip that is generally textured so that baby can chew on it. Teething spoonA simple metal teaspoon or measuring spoon is hard and cold to provide baby with some relief. Stick it in the fridge to get it cold! Teething toothbrushA silicone toothbrush is a great sensory toy and teether that also helps to get baby acclimated to using a toothbrush. Frozen teething toysFrozen teething toys such as teething rings can provide a cold numbing sensation that babies can chew on for additional relief. This one was Della’s favorite! Very similar to a teething ring. Medicines for teething babiesTeething gels and drops can provide some pain relief by offering a numbing sensation. Boiron Camilia drops are easy to drop into the mouth, while gels need to be rubbed on in a circular motion for immediate (but temporary) relief.  When to Consult a Doctor?   There are some symptoms that are often attributed to teething that are actually not associated with teething. The following symptoms are not caused by teething and may require medical attention:  FeverA slightly elevated temperature is normal, but a fever above 100.4 is likely not due to teething. Persistent diarrheaTeething can cause slightly runnier stools, but not persistent diarrhea. Loss of appetiteA decreased appetite is normal, but if your baby is completely refusing all breastmilk, formula, and solids, there is likely something else bothering them. Inconsolable cryingFussiness is normal, but a baby that cannot be consoled is not just from teething. Conclusion    Teething can be a tough phase for babies and new parents, but the good news is that there are a number of natural anti-inflammatory remedies that are both safe and effective to help ease teething pain and sore gums.
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2 min read
Fall! Finally! Relief from the heat, cozy sweaters and blankets, and ALL the pumpkin spice things. Fall is one of my favorite seasons, so I’m sharing a few of my favorite fall things with you all: Food and drink Chocolate LMNT: Chocolate hydration might seem strange, but trust me on this one. Add it to your coffee or use it to make a healthy and hydrating hot chocolate. Or if you’re still burning up in south Texas like me, try it chilled mixed with Toasted Marshmallow Nutpod for a salty smores drink.  Pumpkin Cinnamon Puffs: Grain-free puffs are the perfect poppable snack for kids AND adults! (PS. try our trail mix recipe made with these puffs!) Birch Benders Pumpkin Spice Paleo pancake mix: This grain-free autumnal pancake mix makes a healthy morning super simple. For some added nutrition with little extra effort, try adding in our Organic Squashes pouch! Nutpods Pumpkin Spice creamer: First, I love all things Nutpod, and this one sticks out because it’s only available seasonally. Made with coconut cream and almonds, and no added sugar, it’s a fally-inspired addition to my coffee. Personal care Mary Ruth's Unscented Hand Cream: Along with the cooler temps comes dry and chapped skin. I always have hand lotion around, and this one has no crappy ingredients! Necessaire body wash: My favorite fancy body wash! The natural eucalyptus, bergamot, and sandalwood scents have strong fall vibes. Eminence Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Peel: I know, I know... who has time for a face mask, right?! But stack a mask + a bath + YouTube meditation (maybe this one?) for some quick but effective mama self-care. This one makes my skin look and feel amazing. Farmacy Coconut Gel Mask: Turning on the heat can make your skin feel dull and dry. This mask is infused with coconut water to be super hydrating and makes your skin instantly brighter. Scents Revive’s Pumpkin Spice Latte essential oil blend: The smells of fall cannot be beat. This clean essential oil is a standby in my diffuser all fall long. Pumpkin Spice Girl Candle: I mix it up between diffusing essential oils and burning candles. This pumpkin spice scent is amazing and has no synthetic fragrances or other gross fillers. Immune Support Elderberry syrup: With fall comes cold and flu season. As a daily protector for boosting the immune response, we love Seattle Elderberry. They have incredible ingredient sourcing, and they even have a maple syrup sweetened option! Immune F(x) from People's RX: When we feel something hit in our family, Immune FX is the first thing in our toolkit. It includes the powerful adaptogen andrographis paniculata. Andrographis exhibits antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and immunostimulating properties and is used in traditional medicine to treat infectious diseases and fevers.  Doterra On Guard oil: Another thing in our immune support toolkit - Doterra’s On Guard oil is a blend of herbs with natural antiviral and antibacterial properties.  So there it is. My favorite things from my favorite season. Let me know what you think if you try any of these, and I’d love to hear your own in the comments below! XO,   
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12 min read
When I was pregnant and preparing to breastfeed my first baby, I turned to my inner nutrition nerd to dive into all of the research on breast milk nutrition. Since I kept hearing that breast milk was the perfect food for baby, I wondered if that meant that its composition didn’t change based on what I ate or what supplements I took. Nope. Breast milk’s nutritional composition changes based on a mother’s diet and nutrient stores. And yes, it can be deficient in nutrients. So of course I had all the intentions of making the most nourishing meals postpartum. Then I had a baby. Ha. I felt like I was hit by a truck. There was no way I was roasting vegetables and sauteing salmon. More like trying to tell my husband how to hard boil an egg so that I could eat one handed while I was nap-trapped by my baby.  Yes, Breastfeeding is a beautiful way to bond with and nourish your baby, but it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. Nourishing your body during this postpartum period is important for both you and baby, but trying to sort out what you really need can be overwhelming.  So here’s a summary - what nutrients you and baby actually need, how to get them, and how best to supplement if the perfect plate can’t always happen! Full disclosure. This is a long and nerdy blog. If you’re a nerdy mom like me, you’ll love it. If long and nerdy sounds overwhelming, skim through the key nutrients and head to the last paragraph of each section which talks about which foods have that nutrient. And of COURSE, please don’t let the pressure of perfection or the threat of mom guilt add stress and anxiety to your life. Know that no matter what, you are providing your baby with an amazing start! Can You Boost Your Breast Milk? Of course, breast milk is always a superfood for baby, containing immune-boosting antibodies, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) to support the infant microbiome, easy-to-digest proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, folate, and many trace minerals. But the levels of many other micronutrients will vary according to the composition of mama’s food and supplement intake. To be clear, this is NOT to suggest that you should ever stop breastfeeding for fear that your quality isn’t enough! It is to empower you with information on how you can boost nutrient content if you want to. So what foods and nutrients are ideal to eat to optimize your milk quality during this time? Is there an ideal balance of certain foods? Let’s take a look. How to Optimize Breast Milk Quality In short, optimizing breast milk quality relies on maximizing nutrient density of the nutrients baby needs most. Nutrient density refers to the amount of key nutrients that are in the foods and supplements you consume. For example, a snack of two hard boiled eggs contains choline, B vitamins, vitamin A, protein, and fat. A snack of some crackers or chips is devoid of pretty much any nutrition at all. A note on supplementation As a quick disclaimer before we get into the discussion, I want to note that food is generally the best first line of defense to get the nutrients you need. However, when it comes to some of the most nutritionally demanding phases of your life (pregnancy and breastfeeding), supplements can be incredibly supportive to make sure that you and your baby are getting what you need. Plus, it can be pretty overwhelming to try to check a bunch of nutrient boxes each day with a newborn or baby. I typically say to do your best with food and supplement the rest. But while breastfeeding, I always recommend you continue your prenatal vitamin while breastfeeding, and ideally for 2-3 months after weaning. Nutrients to Optimize Breast Milk Quality There are several key nutrients that your body needs while breastfeeding, but some of them will be in your breast milk in sufficient amounts regardless of your intake, while others will vary significantly with diet. As the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in 2018, “Failure to provide these key nutrients during this critical period of brain development may result in lifelong deficits in brain function despite subsequent nutrient repletion.” Since the goal is to optimize milk quality, we’ll focus on discussing the key nutrients you need for healthy milk that vary with diet – in other words, the ones you can control. The following sections list each nutrient, why baby needs it, and how you can get it. Fat Fat is needed for baby’s neurological development and also supports blood sugar balance in mama. While the quantity of fat in your milk doesn’t vary much with diet, the quality and type of fat that appears in your breast milk does. Yes, the type of fat you consume is actually reflected in your milk, and that’s why it’s worthy of discussion! High quality fats provide important fatty acids for neurological development and a number of other important functions within the body, while low quality fats are inflammatory and detrimental to health. Including a good quality fat in every meal and snack will benefit both you and baby. It will help keep your blood sugar balanced which can help stabilize your mood and energy and keep you full. It also supplies good fats to your milk for your little one! Ideal sources of healthy fats include nuts and seeds and their butters (e.g., almonds, walnuts, flax, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp), coconut and olive oils, avocado, and grass-fed butter or ghee (if tolerated). It also includes fats from animals that are responsibly raised, like eggs from pasture-raised chicken, fatty fish from sustainable and wild-caught sources, and fat from grass-fed cows and pasture-raised pigs and chickens. Fats to limit or avoid include industrial seed or vegetable oils (e.g., soybean, canola, corn, safflower), fried foods, margarine, trans fat or anything with “hydrogenated” on the label. DHA DHA is one of the omega-3 fatty acids and is absolutely critical to baby’s brain development and neural and visual development as well as mama’s mental health. At birth, a baby’s brain is only about 25% developed. It will double in size in the first year of life. This process is heavily dependent on adequate nutrition, including sufficient DHA. You can read more on the importance of DHA for baby’s brain here (and once solids are introduced, the SK salmon pouch is a great way for baby to get it!). There’s no way around it – you need to consume DHA in order to have DHA in your breast milk for baby. Plus, mama needs some DHA for her own health too. It is essential for brain health no matter your age, and several studies have linked low levels of DHA to postpartum depression and DHA supplementation to reduced risk of postpartum depression. Good sources of DHA include salmon, sardines, mackerel, and some algae. If you aren’t a fan of fish, or if cooking up fish a few times each week postpartum just isn’t happening, a supplement is needed. Make sure the company you purchase from tests for heavy metals and other toxins.  It’s worth noting that while some plant foods like flax seed are marketed as high in omega-3s, they are not reliable sources of DHA. Flax contains a different fatty acid, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) and its conversion to DHA is incredibly poor in humans (research estimates that less than 10% gets converted). However, if you avoid fish at all costs, there are good quality plant based (algae) DHA supplements (fish actually get their DHA from eating algae).   Research suggests breast milk concentrations of DHA reach a “saturation” level at maternal intake of 500 -1,000 mg/day. Amounts beyond this are not harmful and can still support your own health, but may not provide added benefit to your breastmilk. B Vitamins The B vitamins, especially vitamin B12, are needed for baby’s brain development, nerve development, and development of gross motor skills. Due to high demands during both pregnancy and lactation, vitamin B12 is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies affecting pregnant and nursing women. Because vitamin B12 is vital for brain development and ensuring that your baby’s nerves get a protective coating of myelin, failure to get enough in the first year of life has been linked to irreversible neurological damage in up to 50% of infants who face deficiency (even after improving B12 status with supplementation). Studies have shown that mothers who don’t get enough only provide an estimated 16% of their baby’s vitamin B12 requirements. Animal foods like beef liver, beef, clams, tuna, salmon, yogurt, milk, cheese, and eggs are rich sources of B vitamins, including B12. Because of this, vegan and vegetarian mamas are more commonly deficient. Fortunately, almost all prenatal vitamins contain vitamin B12, but look for one with the adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin forms. These are the two active coenzyme forms that are readily usable by the body.  It’s also worth noting that many experts believe that the RDA for vitamin B12 is set quite low, and as a water-soluble vitamin it is uncommon to have too much. Therefore, supplementing is generally a smart and safe way to ensure you meet the needs of both you and baby. Choline Choline is an underdog in the nutrition world – especially the prenatal and postpartum nutrition world. It simply doesn’t get the glory it deserves given how critical it is to mama and baby’s health. Choline is essential for a baby’s brain development. In fact, research shows that higher choline levels in breast milk correlate with better infant recognition memory.  The tricky thing about choline is that needs are extremely high during lactation (550mg per day is recommended) but it is found in limited sources in foods. Certain animal foods are the richest sources. Eggs have about 140mg each while beef liver has about 350mg in a 3 oz. serving. Beef has about 75-100mg per serving, and cod contains 70mg per serving. Other sources that contain less than 50mg per serving include wheat germ, kidney beans, quinoa, milk, yogurt, brussels sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, and peanuts. However, based on the sources listed, you can see that it is difficult to get the full 550mg needed each day unless you’re eating 4 eggs daily, or quite a bit of beef or beef liver. You can also turn to a supplement for support, but if you’re looking to your prenatal vitamin to supply your needs, chances are, it’ll fall short. Incredibly, about 95% of prenatal vitamins don’t contain adequate choline. You can also get a standalone choline supplement. Choline bitartrate is a common and well-absorbed form. Pure Synergy makes a vegan choline supplement. Finally, you can feel comfortable going above and beyond the 550mg recommended daily. In fact, research has shown that up to 930mg per day in pregnancy and lactation may provide additional benefit. Vitamin A Vitamin A is needed for infant growth, immune system health, and brain and vision development. In fact, in the first 6 months of life, babies receive 60 times the amount of vitamin A that they received during the entire 9 months of pregnancy. Vitamin A is available in 2 forms: Retinol: This is the active form found exclusively in animal fats. While fears around animal fat have caused some to limit these foods and therefore vitamin A intake in the diet, the reality is that these fears are largely unfounded, and babies need retinol in breast milk for proper development. Good sources of retinol include liver and other organ meats (including cod liver oil), butter or ghee, lard, tallow, and some seafood. Of course, the quality of the animal matters when it comes to the quality of fat and protein they produce – go for grass-fed and pastured animals. Beta carotene: This form is found in plants and must be converted by the body into the active form. Unfortunately, this conversion is inefficient and cannot be exclusively relied on for vitamin A needs. Beta carotene is generally found in orange-colored vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots. These are nourishing foods and healthy carbohydrate sources, so they are great additions to your diet, they just can’t be relied on for vitamin A needs. You can also get your active vitamin A/retinol through a supplement if needed. But be sure to check your prenatal. It should list vitamin A as retinyl palmitate, not just beta-carotene. Vitamin D Vitamin D is needed for baby’s immunity, and bone and tooth formation. It is also important for mama’s own immunity, bone health, and emotional health. Vitamin D is limited in foods. Mushrooms have a small amount, but the best source is sunlight. Since it can be tough for mama and to get enough sun exposure (especially without risking too much UV exposure), supplements are used often. Vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies, and when mama doesn’t get enough, she’s compromising not only her own health, but the nutrition content of her breast milk as well. Mama should supplement with 6,400 IU of vitamin D3 daily to provide enough vitamin D for both herself and her baby. Look for a supplement that includes both vitamin D3 and K2. Of course, if you are already deficient, you’d need to supplement at a higher level to make up for the deficit while also supplying your baby. Your provider can test your levels, or you can get an inexpensive home test. You can also supplement baby directly with infant vitamin D3 drops, just place a drop on your nipple before breastfeeding. Vitamin C Vitamin C is needed to help build baby’s immunity. It also provides baby with key antioxidants and supports antibody production. Vitamin C also supports mama’s immunity and is necessary for collagen production. Collagen is a key component of postpartum recovery as it supports tissue repair as well as hair and skin health. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts. Iodine Iodine is needed for baby’s brain development, overall growth, and immunity. It is also critical to thyroid health for both mama & baby. It might not be one you think much about, but iodine is essential and postpartum thyroiditis is common, even if mama never had thyroid issues before or during pregnancy. In fact, up to 23% of all new mamas experience thyroid dysfunction postpartum. Postpartum thyroiditis can be hard to identify without testing as symptoms mimic many common complaints during this time - extreme fatigue, depression, hair loss, difficulty losing weight, and trouble producing sufficient breast milk. If you are experiencing any of these issues, feel empowered to ask your provider for a full thyroid panel test – you and your baby are worth knowing and addressing it! Good sources of iodine include seafood, seaweed, eggs, and dairy. While many people used to get their iodine from iodized salt, sea salts and Himalayan pink salt has taken the place of traditional table salt. If your diet consists of largely whole unprocessed foods (that’s a good thing!) and you aren’t consuming many foods naturally rich in iodine, you might find yourself (and your baby) deficient. A Note on Hydration While the nutrients in food are critical to healthy breast milk, it’s also important to hydrate. Breast milk is approximately 87% water, and if you have 30 ounces leaving your body each day, that’s at least 30 ounces that needs to be replenished. However, the amount needed to stay hydrated will vary day-to-day based on your food, environment, activity, etc. Signs that you may need to increase fluid include headaches, dark urine, and hard stools. However, drinking large amounts of plain water can sometimes dilute some of the electrolytes in your body like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Adding in natural sources of electrolytes like coconut water, or a high-quality supplement (I like LMNT) can help restore this balance. A Note on Calories Did you know that your calorie needs are actually higher when you breastfeed than during pregnancy? It’s true, but it’s also important to remember that not all calories are created equal. Whole, unprocessed foods help your body achieve the high nutrient needs you have to supply nourishing breast milk, whereas processed foods and refined carbohydrates.  In general, you’ll need an extra 500 calories daily while breastfeeding your little one. This estimate assumes you are removing 780mL or 26oz/day, which is fairly typical for an exclusively breastfeeding mama. For reference, it takes approximately 67 calories to produce 100mL or 20 calories to produce one ounce of breast milk. So, if you are nursing an older infant or toddler less, this number will decrease along with output. Many mamas feel an increase in appetite when breastfeeding, but others find it difficult to find the time to prepare food while dealing with the demands of a newborn. Do your best to respond to your hunger cues with quick and easy nutrient dense snacks and meals, remembering that breastfeeding, especially in the first several months, is a season to continue nourishing your body and your baby. Nourish for two Breastfeeding is nutritionally demanding, but the benefits of optimizing your nutrition will pay off in your own health and baby’s health for years to come.  And since it’s so important, I’ll say it again: don’t let the pressure of perfection or the threat of mom guilt add stress and anxiety to your life. Know that no matter what, you are providing your baby with an amazing start. In other words, the ideal balance for breastfeeding is to strike a healthy balance between nutrient density in the foods you choose and supplementation for when the realities of postpartum life prevent you from being prepared at all hours of the day with an ideal meal or snack. And don’t hesitate to ask for support - there are lots of great ways your partner can help! Hungry for more tips on nourishing yourself while breastfeeding? Check out this blog post! Bio Hillary Bennetts is a nutritionist and business consultant focusing on health for mamas and babies through the prenatal, postpartum, and infant/toddler stages. In addition to nutrition consulting she provides business consulting and content creation for companies in the health and wellness industry. Hillary spent almost a decade in corporate consulting before shifting gears to combine her lifelong passion for health and wellness with her business background and nutrition education.  Hillary holds a Bachelors in Economics from Washington and Jefferson College, an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and is certified as a Holistic Nutritionist through Bauman College. She lives in Colorado with her husband and two sons. 
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7 min read
The anticipation of a new baby can be overwhelming and even cause a little anxiety for first time dads. And for good reason. A baby is a big change for a family! So we're here to give dads-to-be some practical tips for the postpartum and newborn phases. While this phase is hard, we hope this new dad's survival guide will leave you feeling empowered and confident that it can be pretty awesome too. Do Research on Pregnancy, Birth, and Newborns  Bottom line: don't go in blind. When it comes to babies (and postpartum mamas), winging it isn't a great approach. Yes, you'll want to research baby gear, focusing on functionality and safety, all while you consider what's necessary and what's not—and decide how to spend your money (where does it make sense for you to invest a little and where can you save with sales and second hand?). But you'll also want to research the process. What actually happens in a woman's body after she gives birth? What do newborn babies need? What are different ways to soothe baby? How can you support your partner (hint: here are 10 tips!). Find some good books on these topics (we like XYZ) or enroll in a local or online birth class designed for dads. The infant mental health journal (IMHJ) is great resource for dads who like to geek out on all things infant development. Not exactly light reading, but very meaningful and well researched reading! The publication shares peer-reviewed research articles, literature reviews, program descriptions/evaluations, clinical studies, and book reviews that focus on infant social-emotional development, neurobiological correlates of emotional development, caregiver-infant interactions, contextual and cultural influences on infant and family development, and all conditions that place infants and/or their families at risk for less than optimal development. Discuss Responsibilities, Feeding Schedules, and How to Choose a Pediatrician When it comes to newborns and kids (okay, really relationships in general), communication is key. Have open conversations around expectations, schedules, policies around visitors, and each partner's needs and wants. Another big topic to discuss before the baby arrives is how to choose the best pediatrician.  Make sure to also discuss how you can support each other. For example, if you plan to have a breastfed baby, you can be supportive during the night by getting up, changing the baby, and bringing baby to mama. Dads can also help by keeping mama fed with nutritious meals to help her recover and give her the energy she needs to care for the baby. For more tips, check out our blog, How Dads Can Help Nursing Moms. Preparing for Labor and Delivery For any new dad, it will be essential to know how to be prepared for labor and delivery. Although mamas obviously do the heavy lifting (and pushing) to deliver the baby, dads are key to supporting mama both physically and emotionally when they need it most. The best way to prepare for during labor and delivery is to take a class with your partner. Classes are typically offered locally by hospitals, birth centers, doulas, and more. You can also connect with other dads to hear their stories and experiences and learn from their advice.  In addition, plan to do a tour of your hospital or birth center (do this even if planning a home birth - you never know if you'll end up in the nearest hospital in order to keep baby safe. You can also work together as a couple to make a birth plan. It's helpful to talk through the different preferences and decisions that come with labor and delivery, and it's important to be on the same page beforehand so you can both communicate your plan to your birth team. Finally, consider hiring a doula. Doulas are amazingly supportive to both mom and dad, and when labor gets long or intense, you'll both need support. Changing Diapers, Giving Baby a Bath, and How To Comfort a Crying Baby All new dads have questions about what skills they might need when the new baby arrives and what tools they might need for baby care. Things like how to change a dirty diaper, how to give the baby a bath, and how to comfort a crying baby. You might also wonder about things like what to pack in a diaper bag, and how to swaddle a baby (or even, what the heck is a swaddle?!) For this, the best way to learn is by taking a class. Many hospitals, birth centers, and parenting centers offer such classes, but if you can't find one locally, you can find a course online or even just through free videos on YouTube. The Time to Maintain or Develop Healthy Habits is Now Being a first time dad will take a lot out of you, so it's helpful to start the journey with an established set of healthy habits. We're talking about things like sleep habits, making time for movement and mindfulness, and feeding yourself with healthy whole foods). Realistically, you won't be able to stick to all of your existing habits in the same way, but its much easier to modify your existing healthy habits when baby comes than it is to try to establish brand new habits. Mama and baby are going to need your support, and you can't pour from an empty cup, so think about how you will be able to take care of yourself. How will you get rest (can you nap when baby naps?), how you will grocery shop and plan meals (research grocery delivery and find healthy easy recipes or meal delivery options in your area now!), how will you move and stay grounded (can you put baby in a carrier and go for a walk with a podcast?). Once the baby arrives, it'll be harder to maintain or develop healthy habits, so anticipate the new limitations you'll face and brainstorm how to overcome them.   Creating Bonds Generally, new dads wonder about how to create bonds with their babies. Although establishing a bond with your baby might take a little while, new dads can engage in some activities to spend quality time with their babies and foster that bond. Here are some ideas:  1. Skin-to-skin contact Research shows that skin-to-skin contact between a father and his baby helps to support connection and bonding, just as it does for mama and baby. 2. Baby massages Baby massage can support a close bond, while also alleviating fussiness, gas, or constipation. You can find tons of content online about how to do baby massages, or you can ask your pediatrician or the nurse or midwife who is caring for your baby after birth. The International Association for Infant Massage has instructional resources as well as a directory to find an infant massage class in your area. 3. Calming the baby Baby crying is inevitable. So when baby is upset, you can help strengthen your bond by being their source of comfort and calm. The Happiest Baby is famous for its "5 S" tips on how to calm babies. 4. Reading It might seem like baby is too young to hear books, but that isn't true! A happy baby can benefit from your closeness and becoming familiar with the sound of your voice. 5. Bottle feeding If baby is formula fed (or if mama is pumping) dad can also help with feeding. Maintain good eye contact with baby to help strengthen your bond. 6. Safe Rough play Atlanta-based pediatrician, Dr. Jennifer Shu, says, "When done safely, rough play can give your older baby or toddler a sense of freedom and movement, help them learn what their body can do, promote balance and coordination, and foster trust. Check out our blog and video on Safe Rough Play for Babies. Have a New Dad Survival Kit Also, new dads commonly wonder what tools and other important things they might need to make new fatherhood a bit easier. Here are our essentials. 1. Teething Toys Teething can start pretty early and giving baby a toy to ease their discomfort can help a ton! 2. Baby Wrap/Carrier Babies love to feel close, just as they did in the womb. Wraps and carriers let baby stay close while also allowing you some flexibility, mobility, and bonding time. 3. Read-Aloud Board Book Books are great for bonding and connection. 4. Wet wipes Babies are messy. And sticky. Wet wipes will become your BFF. Of course, opt for wipes without nasty chemicals or fragrances. 5. Ear Plugs or noise-canceling headphones  If you're trading off on baby wakings or even daytime care when baby is fussy, ear plugs or noise canceling headphones can be a lifesaver. 6. Spit up cloths Did we mention that babies are messy? Spit-up happens, be prepared with baskets of clothes all around the house, especially near areas where baby is fed. 7. Pacifiers  If you choose to offer a pacifier, make sure to buy a bunch and keep them everywhere. They can be a lifesaver! 8. Wet bag  If (or when!) baby has a blowout or major spit up incident, you'll want a place to put the dirty clothes. 9. Change of clothes In line with the wet bag, when baby messes up their outfit, you'll need something else to put them in! 10. Diapers Might seem obvious, but remember to restock your diaper bag after you've been out! 11. Sense of Humor Babies can be hard and things that were once simple (like going out to eat) can be a big challenge with a baby. Keep things light and maintain a sense of humor about it all. You'll make mistakes, you'll learn lessons. It's all part of the journey. Conclusions  Becoming a dad is exhilarating, exhausting, rewarding, and humbling, all at the same time. We hope this guide helps, and we hope you know that no matter how you choose to prepare and parent, you're a great dad! For much more advice on all things fatherhood, check out our wealth of content from the perspective of Serenity Kids Cofounder, Joe Carr. 10 Things a Dad Can Do To Help a Postpartum Mom How to be a Rockstar Pregnant Dad How Fatherhood Made Me Grow Up Death of the Crunchy Dad Lessons Learned 9 months into Fatherhood. Marriage Advice for Postpartum Parents: How to get through the Fourth Trimester and Beyond The bottom line from Joe is, “If you find yourself stressing out or judging yourself harshly, just remember that raising a healthy, loving, conscious human will make powerful change in the world. And that’s good enough.” 
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First things first, picky eating in kids is NOT unusual. In fact, being a picky eater is a common phase that most kids go through, and actually, it is developmentally normal for your kid to want to resist and test limits. Being a picky eater is one way that little ones may attempt to exert their independence. While it can be super frustrating for parents, take comfort in knowing that it does not necessarily mean that your kid will be a picky eater forever. We're diving into what picky eating looks like (in case you need some solidarity!) and how to encourage children to try new foods without putting too much pressure on them. Research shows that pressure to eat or "clean their plate" can actually be counterproductive, but there are other ways! We'll also share a bunch of the most amazing healthy snacks for picky eaters and answer some common questions we get. What You Need to Know About Picky Eating Behavior in Children Picky eating is common, but it can be super annoying to experience and hard to understand why it happens, especially when your baby started out eating anything you put in front of them! Some experts believe that picky eating may be due to a combination of factors, including early life experiences, parents' (sometimes unconscious) behaviors or attitudes toward food, and the need for toddlers to exert their independence. Early life experiences, such as being pressured (even subtly) to eat certain foods or having negative associations with certain foods, can also contribute to picky eating behavior. In addition, sensory food aversions are common and can contribute to picky eating behavior. As a parent, you certainly can't prevent all picky eating, but you can take steps to introduce a wide variety of flavors during the “flavor window”. Exposing your little one to lots of different savory and bitter flavors like meat, veggies, fats, spices, and herbs during the key flavor window from 6 to 18 months can help expand their palate for years to come and help manage future picky eater tendencies. Tips to Encourage and Model the Behavior of Your Children Toward Food It's important to remember that your little one is watching you and how you behave around food. Here are some tips to encourage and model children’s behavior toward food. Intentionally modeling a healthy attitude toward food can help prevent your little one from becoming a picky eater.  Invite your children to try new things and taste various food Try to make new foods fun by eating them as a family and inviting your child to join. Share how you like to eat a new food, by saying something like, "I really like asparagus grilled since it gets nice and crispy and has so much flavor!" Ask for your child’s help picking meats, fruits, veggies, and snacks when you go grocery shopping Make your little one part of the process of preparing foods by involving them in different aspects of food preparation. Take your child to the grocery store and ask for their help in choosing meats, fruits, veggies, and other healthy snacks (tip: stay in the perimeter and avoid the inner aisles that are full of processed food that is marketed to kids!). Have a conversation with your children about their food preferences If your child doesn't want to eat something, try asking some friendly and open ended questions. For example, you might ask if they don't like how it looks, how it is cut, or how they struggle to get it stabbed on their fork. When you show your child that you are open to modifying the food to make it more appealing (say, by cutting pieces smaller, or using toothpicks to eat it), it helps build trust. This can help your child feel like you're on the same team on their eating journey. Offer new foods alongside "safe" familiar or preferred food Offering a new food with "safe" familiar food can make the new food feel less overwhelming since your kid knows that there is something on their plate that they can fall back on. Even if your little one only touches or plays with the new food, the interaction is good and can lead to a taste down the road. Just keep putting it on the plate and be patient (see our next tip!). Be patient! If your child refuses a food one day, try again! It can take up to 8-18 introductions for your child to accept a new food, so keep trying!  Don’t offer dessert as a reward for eating, or withhold dessert as a punishment. It's hard to do since many of us were brought up this way, but don't glorify dessert! Don't make it an option only if your kid cleaned their plate, or threaten to withhold it if they don't eat their veggies. Either offer it or don't and don't make it contingent on what else they ate. Remember, you can decide how much to serve, and when to serve it. If dessert has become a battle, some parents try serving a small portion of it alongside the meal. When that is gone, the child can choose to eat other things on their plate or to be done eating. Or another approach is to remove desert entirely for a week or two until the child stops expecting it after every meal, then it can be reintroduced as an occasional surprise. Just be prepared to handle their big feelings about this while holding firm to the boundary.  Try to maintain an attitude of levity and trust around food. Kids can sense if you’re stressed or worried about them eating, which can interfere with their natural relationship with food. It's often when you learn to let go a little that things fall into place. Our cofounder Joe was struggling with deep unconscious fears he had around how much his daughter Della ate or didn’t eat, and after he did a somatic healing session to lessen those fears there was an immediate improvement in Della’s eating!   Try a change of context Rather than sit at the dinner table, try having a picnic in the living room or backyard with a new food or two. Sometimes a change of context and a fun meal make your kid a bit more open to trying new things. Many parents report that their kids try new things on vacation or while with other kids for this reason! 33 Healthy Snack Ideas for Picky Eaters  When you have a picky eater, it can be tempting to want to go with what you know they'll eat. You know you can avoid a meltdown by giving them the packaged food or sweet treat they're begging for. But healthy snacks for picky eaters don't have to be boring. Healthy snacks can be tasty snacks! Here are 33 healthy snacks for picky eaters. We've grouped them into five categories: meats, veggies, dairy, and other grain-free items (like healthy fats. We focus on whole foods as much as possible (but we do include some healthy packaged snacks) and foods with no added sugar, grains or industrial seed oils. These are some of our own favorite healthy snacks - we hope you enjoy them! Meats/Eggs We know many kids refuse to eat meat, but we've listed a number of different form factors to try out. If one doesn't work, try it again, or try another form. Meat sticks There are a number of solid options that use high-quality meat like The New Primal Snack Mates, Paleovalley beef and turkey sticks, and Singing Pastures Roam Sticks. Wild Zora meat and veggie bars also include veggies in a portable snack, the texture is great for little mouths too. Sausage links We like Applegate, but just be sure to find some made with high-quality meat! Boiled eggs Make your own (we love doing it in the instant pot!) with pasture-raised eggs. Vital Farms also sells already boiled eggs. Sliced deli meat Della prefers fresh sliced meats from the counter, but Applegate makes excellent lunch meats as well Chicken or Turkey cubes EPIC pork rindsA portable protein that feels like a fun snack! Carnivore CrispsYou’ll be surprised at how good these are and at how much your toddler can love liver! Serenity Kids meat and/or bone broth pouches Our grab and go squeeze baby food pouches with meat and bone broth were designed to make parenthood easier, packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for growing babies and toddlers! Veggies and Fruits We know raw veggies or fresh vegetables won't always happen for picky eaters, so here are a few vegetables that introduce different preparation (and therefore different textures). Try pairing raw veggies with fiber and fat-filled dips like hummus, guacamole, or seed or nut butter for balanced healthy snacks. Celery sticks Carrot sticks  Sliced cucumbers Roasted peas Cherry tomatoes Sweet potato chipsYou can make your own at home by thinly slicing sweet potatoes, tossing them in a bit of olive or avocado oil, and baking until crispy, or buying them from Jackson’s Honest or Thrive Market.  Veggie chipsRhythm Superfoods kale chips and beet chips make some crunchy and satisfying healthy snacks for picky eaters. SmoothiesA great place to sneak in leafy greens alongside some berries, nut or seed butter, and protein like grass fed collagen. HummusLook for one with simple ingredients and no inflammatory oils (just chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and spices) Serenity Kids veggie pouchesPortable veggies + healthy fats. This is the ultimate in healthy snacks! Fruits Fresh fruitAdd nut butter and "sprinkles" (hemp, chia, or flax seed). Freeze-dried fruitLike berries from Natierra Superfoods are crunchy but still maintain great nutrients, if your little one won't tolerate fresh fruit. Dairy If eating cheese and dairy is tolerated, we suggest choosing products made from grass-fed milk. Cheese cubes, string cheese, or shredded cheese Cottage cheese Yogurt (ideally full fat and no added sugar). We also love dairy-free yogurts by Cocoyo, Culina, and Cocojune Other grain-free options  Olives Della loves pitted green or black olives straight out of the jar!  Quesadillas made with grain free siete tortillas or Egglife Egg White Wraps.  Energy bitesYou can make your own pretty quickly in the food processor or by hand using nuts, seeds, and some dried fruit. We’ve got a great recipe here - and kids are great helpers! Seaweed snacks:We love that the Gimme Organic brand is made with olive oil, not seed oils! Grain-free crackersLike Hu or Greater Goods Grain-free granolaLots of great recipes out there. Or Purely Elizabeth and Paleonola make great options full of nuts and seeds with no grains or refined sugar. Lesser Evil SnacksThe grain-free egg power curls and veggie sticks use good fats and pack a little protein and veggies into your snack. Nut butter packetsYoung kids find it fun to squeeze these right out of the packet! We like the ones from Artisana Organics and Super Fat (just choose brands without added sugar seed oils, or other unnecessary stuff that isn’t nuts and seeds. Grain-free PuffsSerenity Kids' puffs are actually nutritious puffs are amazing healthy snacks for picky eaters. FAQ Got questions about picky eaters, healthy snacks, or snack time? We've got answers. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions: How many snacks should my children eat each day?There isn't a perfect number of healthy snacks to serve each day, but do try to make snack time consistent. Offering one healthy snack between meals is appropriate, as long as it doesn't interfere with meal time. Is snacking healthy for my children?The word snack can have a negative connotation. But snacks can be healthy! A healthy snack ideally includes a balance of protein, fat, and fiber.   How long after a meal should my children have snacks?You want to be sure that your little one still has room and attention for healthy meals. Offering snacks too soon after a meal may make them hold back eating at meal time and just wait for their favorite snacks, knowing that snack time is near. Conclusion Remember, picky eaters are common. Picky eating is a phase that many little ones go through as part of normal development, but there are steps you can take to help minimize picky eating habits. Try some of our favorite healthy snacks for picky eaters - and remember, if your little one doesn't like it at first - try it again another day. You might be surprised what multiple exposures to the same foods can do. Craving more healthy snacks, check out this blog and this blog! Ready to stock up on some of our faves? Shop now!
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