Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Drinking During Pregnancy


A woman's nutrition has the most direct influence on the developing foetus, while her genetics and that of the man contribute to the making of the baby. Her body provides the environment for the growth and development of the new human being. Prior to pregnancy, a woman has a unique opportunity to prepare herself physically, mentally and emotionally for many changes to come.
  One out of ten pregnant women drinks alcohol at one point during her pregnancy and  1 out of 50 drinks frequently. Alcohol freely crosses the placenta and deprives the foetus of both oxygen and nutrients. It causes damage in two ways; directly by intoxication and indirectly, by malnutrition. Its consumption during this period endangers the foetus by causing irreversible and physical retardation of the foetus-fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and in severe end; foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Tragically, children with FAS never fully recover.

   How much is safe?

The problem with drinking alcohol during your pregnancy is that there is no amount that has been proven to be safe. In other words, a pregnant woman never drinks alone. She shares each glass of wine, each beer, each cocktail equally with her baby. But it takes the fetus twice as long as the mother to eliminate the alcohol from its system. Some women may drink alcohol during pregnancy and have babies who seem healthy. It’s also difficult to predict the impact of drinking on any given pregnancy because some women have higher levels of the enzyme that breaks down alcohol. Some may have very little alcohol during pregnancy and have babies with serious health conditions. Every pregnancy is different. Alcohol may hurt one baby more than another. The best way to keep your baby safe from problems caused by alcohol during pregnancy is not to drink alcohol when you’re pregnant.

Risks of Drinking While Pregnant

The reason no amount is considered safe during pregnancy is because of the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome. This can cause miscarriage, low birth weight, premature births, many birth defects which is a range of physical, cognitive, developmental and emotional problems. These effects will continue to impact the baby after they are born and as they grow.

When is the Damage Done?

The type of abnormality depends on the developmental events occurring at the time of alcohol exposure. During the first trimester, developing organs such as heart, brain, and kidneys may be malformed. During the second trimester, the risk of spontaneous abortion increases. During the third trimester, body and brain may be retarded.

Drinking can make you have any of these problems:
  • Low birthweight (also called LBW). This is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.
  • Miscarriage. This is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Premature birth. This is when your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies may have serious health problems at birth and later in life. 
  • Birth defects, like heart defects, hearing problems or vision problems. Birth defects are health conditions that are present at birth. It changes the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works.
  • Brain damage and problems with growth and development.
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (also called FASDs). Children with FASDs may have a range of problems, including intellectual and developmental disabilities. These are problems with how the brain works that can cause a person to have trouble in learning, communicating, taking care of himself or getting along with others. They also may have problems or delays in physical development. FASDs usually last a lifetime. Binge drinking during pregnancy increases your chances of having a baby with FASDs. Binge drinking is when you drink four or more drinks in 2 to 3 hours.

Tips To Avoid Alcohol During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a natural stage of life and shouldn’t stop you from socialising. But if you are in a situation where drinking is involved, a good alternative is to have a non-alcoholic drink you enjoy. You might also find it helpful to say:
  • I have a big day/early meeting tomorrow so no thanks;
  • No, thank you, I’m not drinking tonight;
  • No, thank you, I have to drive;
  • I’m not feeling the best so would rather not, thanks.
  • If you’re used to drinking at home, perhaps at the end of the day to relax, you might consider alternatives like taking a bath, going for a walk or reading a book.
  • Get rid of all the alcohol in your home.
  • If you're pregnant or even thinking about getting pregnant, don’t drink alcohol. 
  • Stay away from situations or places where you usually drink, like parties or bars. 
  • Alcohol can cause problems for your baby at any time in pregnancy, even before you know you’re pregnant.  

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Essential Nutrients To Feed Your Baby After The First 6 Months


Undernutrition is estimated to be associated with 2.7 million child deaths annually or 45% of all child deaths.  Globally in 2016, 155 million children under 5 were estimated to be stunted (too short for age), 52 million were estimated to be wasted (too thin for height), and 41 million were overweight or obese. The first 2 years of a child’s life are particularly important, as optimal nutrition during this period lowers morbidity and mortality, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and fosters better development overall. Few children receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods; in many countries less than a fourth of infants 6–23 months of age meet the criteria of dietary diversity and feeding frequency that are appropriate for their age.
   The single best indicator of a child's nutritional status is growth, particularly weight gain in short run and length (height) in the long run. Improving their diets leads to improved growth. Eating a poor diet as an infant or a child hampers the cell division that occurs at this critical stage. Consuming an adequate diet later usually won't compensate for lost growth as the hormonal and other conditions needed for growth will not likely be present.

Nutrients critical for growth

The baby's weight doubles in the first 4 to 6 months and triples within the first year. Such rapid growth requires a lot nourishment and sleep. After the first year, growth is slower; it takes 5 years to double the weight seen at 1 year. In most cases especially in third placed countries, when a child is weaned from breast milk, they are fed a high carbohydrate, low-protein diet. This diet supports some growth but does not allow children to attain their full genetic potential. To guide your food choices for your baby, focus on the following vitamins and minerals in addition to all of the nutrients your baby is continuing to get from breastmilk, formula or both. Make sure to choose foods that are appropriate for their age and stage, as well as for your baby’s oral motor skill level. 

1. Iron: During their first 4-6 months, babies will have a sufficient store of iron, built up during their days in-utero. After those 4-6 months, those stores become depleted. Luckily breast milk and iron-fortified formulas supply iron, but it probably won't be enough, especially when solid foods are not introduced. Most easily absorbed iron are from animal sources which include meat, and eggs. It can also be obtained from plant sources, like spinach and other greens, broccoli, beans, soybean, whole grains, dates and iron-fortified infant cereals. 
N:B When iron-rich plant foods is eaten along with foods containing vitamin C, the iron absorption is improved. Fresh fruits and veggies like peppers, papayas, mango, strawberries, broccolis are great Vitamin C rich first foods for the baby.

2. Proteins: Proteins are literally a part of every cell in their body - working hard to build, maintain and repair body tissues hence, its importance for their growth and development. That means baby needs to acquire them from food. Luckily, there's just the right amount of protein in breast milk and iron-fortified formula, and when solids are introduced, there are plenty of rich sources one can try; such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy. Baby also gets protein from non-animal sources such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, as well as some fruits and vegetables. 
N:B: Make sure your baby gets protein from a variety of sources.

3. Zinc. Zinc is an important mineral that plays a key role in maintaining immune function and also, needed for baby's growth and development as it's required for making proteins and DNA. Babies who are deficient in zinc can have increased susceptibility to infections and growth impairment. Found in beef, lamb, turkey, shrimp, pumpkin, nuts(cashew nut), sesame seeds, spinach and yogurt.

4. Calcium: Calcium helps in strengthening of teeth and bones. It also makes sure that bones become strong enough to avoid any fracture when your baby starts running and playing. More often the requirements are met through breast milk as well as the formula milk. Foods like cheese, orange juice, oatmeal and yoghurt are excellent sources.

5. Omega3'S: The benefits of omega 3 for adults are very well known, but it works for the younger ones too. They are not only essential for immunity, vision and brain development, but are also necessary for developing cognitive skills in babies. DHA and EPA are the essential omega 3 fatty acids, which our bodies cannot produce. Hence, it is very important to include them in the diet. Breast Milk is the richest source of DHA, the brainy fat. Adding avocado, cooked egg yolk/chicken, fish like salmon, or powdered flax seeds  from 6 months and powdered walnut from 1 year is a great way of adding Omega 3 to baby's diet. 

6. Vitamins: All Vitamins are essential for the baby's overall growth and development. Fat-soluble vitamin like Vitamin A is great for baby's skin, eyes and for building baby's immunity. Dairy, eggs, and colored fruits and veggies are great sources of this vitamin. Vitamin D is great for bone mineralization and for immunity.  Water-soluble vitamins, like, B vitamins, are the true energy boosting nutrients that keep baby active and alert. Whole grains like oats and cereals are all great sources of many B vitamins. Introduce baby to a variety of grains but one at a time. 

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Benefits of African Pear(Ube)

It is the late season of this sweet, fibrous, fleshy and buttery pear of the West African mainly found in the South Eastern part of Nigeria popularly known as Ube.  They are rich in important flavonoids, vitamins, and dietary fiber .the antioxidant vitamin (vitamin C) which helps to fight the free radicals in the body. It is pink or grey in colour when unripe but turns dark purple when ripped; It has a butter-like nature when roasted or dipped in hot water and is enjoyed by all. It is mainly eaten alone, with roasted or cooked corn, can also be mashed into baby's food.

Boosts Immune System

Immune boosting property in African bush pear comes from vitamin C and essential minerals that act as antioxidants that helps to strengthen immunity and improve the infection-fighting ability of the immune systems.

Reduces Constipation

Local pear contains soluble fiber which gives it the ability to aid a normal bowel movement and  reduce constipation. This fibre contains pectin, cellulose and lignin that resist the action of the digestive enzyme. 

Promotes Healthy Bones And Teeth

It contains some important minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. These minerals have key roles to play in the skeletal system, in maintaining bone health, muscle contraction, immune system and blood clotting in both adults and children.

Helps to Maintain a Healthy skin

Ube also helps to improve the texture of your skin by making it smoother and reducing wrinkles as a result of its rich amount of vitamin C which works to fend off cell damage from free radicals even more than othrer fruits like oranges and lemons, They are also Allergy-Free Fruits

Good for the heart

Local pear also contains a lot of soluble fibre which  reduces absorption of cholesterol and bile acid from the small intestines, thereby reducing blood cholesterol level.

Rich in vitamin B5

It is rich in vitamin B5 which is very essential in the body. This vitamin is responsible for hormone stimulation, amazing skin care, healthy heart and hair, boost one’s immune system and stamina. Along with all these benefits, vitamin B5 helps to increase the body’s metabolic rate which can be crucial to weight loss, relieve stress, boost haemoglobin generation, prevent arthritis and even heal wounds.

Good For Pregnancy

As surprising as it may sound, local pear is a pregnancy super fruit. It contains natural folic acid which is very good in pregnancy supplement as it helps to prevent deficiencies in baby's brain and spinal cord.


It is healthy for patients suffering from diabetes and cancer because of it high loads of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It is also very good for the body and does not have any side effect as it is a hypo-allergenic fruit, hence it is  recommended for infants and toddlers as a snack or mashed into their meals.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Introduction to baby's first solids

The decision about what, when and how to introduce solid foods to babies have always being a great call for concern for new moms and old time moms alike which is often influenced by their cultural factors.
They often face; 
when to introduce solids
what foods should be introduced and in what order
what texture the foods should be.

While it is advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) to exclusive breastfeeding of infants to around six months of age to provide optimal nutrition and health benefits. This delay is informed by the understanding that:

  • An infant’s nutritional needs can be met by breast or formula milk until this age but not beyond (eg the iron requirements of children older than six months must be provided by solid foods like egg yolk, liver etc).

  • Breastfeeding reduces diarrhoeal disease in children, which is particularly vital in developing economies for improving child survival

  • Most children will be developmentally ready to accept solid foods by six months of age (that is; most children will be able to sit and have the tongue and head control needed to facilitate eating).

Signs that your baby is hungry and ready to start eating solid foods 

  • Getting excited when they see you getting their food ready
  • Leaning towards you while they are sitting in the highchair
  • Opening their mouth as you’re about to feed them.
  • Loses the tongue thrust reflex that automatically pushes food out of his mouth.
  • Still seems hungry even after getting a full day's portion of milk (eight to 10 breastfeedings or about 32 ounces of formula
Weaning From Breast-Feeding

When you choose to wean your baby, introduce either infant formula or cow's milk, depending on your baby's age. If your baby is under 12 months of age, wean from breast milk to iron-fortified infant formula. If your baby is 12 months or older, whole cow milk is appropriate.

Examples of appropriate complementary foods listed by age:


  • Mashed banana, avocado or peeled cooked beans
  • Cooked and pureed carrots, peas or sweet potato
  • Ground, cooked, single-grain cereal (like rice, maize, acha(hungry rice), millet etc) or infant cereal with breast milk or formula
  • Pureed mango
  • Yoghurt
  • Cooked and pureed meat or poultry
  • Mashed egg yolk
  • Peanut butter (groundnut paste) pureed with water

9 -12months:
  • Sliced and quartered bananas or small pieces of other soft fruits
  • A variety of cooked vegetables cut into small pieces, such as squash and green beans
  • Whole cooked beans
  • Well-cooked, minced or finely chopped meat, poultry or fish

12 months:

  • Small pieces of fruit
  • Small pieces of cooked vegetables
  • Soft, shredded meat, poultry or fish
  • Mixed food dishes the family is eating in appropriately sized pieces


Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Dear mum, cut yourself some slack

Image result for lynette scavo memes mum
Lynette Scavo of the Desperate Housewives series often comes to mind whenever I think of the challenges of motherhood. I also often wonder how some mums like Bree in the same series seem to get it all together.

A mother often finds out that her to-do-list for the day is hardly completed each day and wonder as much as she can, she finds it difficult to figure out what exactly took up the hours. This is especially the case when a mother has a baby, and perhaps a toddler. Working-mums often think Stay-At-Home mums (SAHMs) usually have the entire day to themselves while in reality,  they are often busy round the clock especially during working hours. Working mums often find it easier to cut themselves some slack but not so for SAHMs.

The increasing use of social media which gives many people the opportunity to showcase their picture-perfect lives adds even more weight on the shoulders of mums, leading some mums to believe they are not doing well as mothers.

Dear mother, cut yourself some slack. The most important things in motherhood include your sanity and your kids' well-being. Ticking off all the boxes in your to-do-list is not a priority. Having a spick and span home is beautiful but not always realistic especially when you have toddlers in the home.

Remind yourself each day you are unable to finish all your tasks that you are an awesome mum. Babies and other children do not care about to-do-lists. If you ever have to choose between rocking or tucking into bed your child and cleaning up the house,  please choose the former. Showing them love and giving them attention rank higher than a spick and span home.  Whenever you feel tired and unable to finish the day's chores, give yourself a break.

Bottomline: Be the best mother and homemaker you can be, never compare your motherhood challenges to that of another, never see someone else's as standard. Whenever you see that mother who like Bree seems to get all her motherhood acts together, wish her well and remind yourself that your struggles aren't the same. You do not have to be a perfect mother, just be the best mother you can be and take it one step at a time. Sometimes it is okay to offer children junk food; sometimes it's okay to just offer them biscuits and tea for breakfast; sometimes it is okay to ignore the toys and clothes scattered all over the house.  At the end of the day the memories that linger are neither the spick and span house nor the days you have all your acts together; the memories that linger are the heartfelt smiles, the first steps, the day something frightened them and they ran into the safety of your arms, the day you wiped off the blood gushing from the cuts they sustained, the days you told them bedtime stories and the stories you told, the day you winked at them or laughed at their silly jokes or pranks, the day they screamed at the top of their lungs as the merry-go-round moved.  The memories that linger often never get made because mummy was busy trying to be the perfect mum with a spick and span home. 

Children grow very fast. In what seems to be the blink of an eye, your baby becomes an adult. Focus more on making memories your children will always cherish and less on being a perfect mum. If a spick and span home seems to elude you now, calm down, someday sooner than you expect, you will long for the noise and seeming chaos that once characterized your home as you stare at your spick and span home almost empty except for you and your significant other. 

Monday, 9 April 2018

Mango puree for babies

It is the mango season and why would our little ones be denied the joy mango seasons bring? Mangos are loaded with vitamins A and C, contain carotenoids, folate, iron, potassium and several other minerals. Except a child is allergic or intolerant to mango, I doubt if there is any reason to deny a child who has started complementary feeding the sheer joy mango brings. Who doesn't remember licking mangos as a child and having the liquid drip up to one's elbows, and having mango fibers stuck between one's teeth?

Like almost all seasonal fruits in Nigeria, there is a period of excess when mangoes are very cheap in the market and often thrown away, then followed by a long period when the only reminder one gets of mangos are mango trees. Like all fruits too, there are myths surrounding taking a lot of mangoes like 'mangoes cause intestinal worms' or 'mangoes cause dysentery' both of which are unfounded. Mango in itself neither causes worms nor dysentery, but licking unwashed mangoes can cause diseases because of the microorganisms the fruit may have been exposed to during handling. Hence it is better to only choose mangoes without breaks in their skin and to wash them in salted water before licking. 
Needless to say, when preparing any food for babies, every utensil to be used as well as the hands of the food handler should be properly washed. When choosing fruits or any food to be prepared for babies, blemish-free and if possible organic ones should be chosen to reduce the risk of contamination. Homemade foods are usually recommended over commercially-processed foods for babies. 

According to Nutritionists, mango puree can be given to babies above 6 months of age. 
Procedure for preparing mango puree.
  1. Choose a ripe but firm mango without breaks on the skin. A break on the skin of a mango increases the chances that the mango could be contaminated.  
  2. Wash the fruit in clean, salted water
  3. Using a clean knife, cut the mango along the sides of the seed to separate the flesh from the seed. Remove as much flesh as you can from the seed
  4. Peel the skin off the flesh and cut the flesh into smaller sizes to enable ease of blending (or mashing). Doing steps 3 and 4 as described is a more hygienic way to handle the mango as compared to peeling off the skin first before cutting off the flesh. The recommended method ensures the handler's hands have as little contact with the mango flesh as possible.   
  5. Blend the mango flesh. Unlike with most fruit purees, blending mangoes gives a far better result than mashing as mangoes can be quite fibrous. Blending ensures most, if not all of the fibrous materials in mango flesh is pureed.
  6. Your mango puree is ready
Mango puree can be frozen in the freezer for future use, that is if you have no concerns about electricity supply like most Nigerians do.  
Fruit purees can be warmed before presentation to a baby by using a water bath method of cooking; place a pot of hot water on a stove and put the plate containing the puree in the water to warm it. Do not let the water level reach the top of the plate else the water could enter the puree when it boils which could make your puree watery. Do not use a plastic plate to warm the puree to avoid chemicals leaching into the puree. Ceramics or stainless steel plates are better. 

Pictorial representation of the procedure
Image may contain: fruit and food
A mango specie commonly called "opioro" in South-Eastern Nigeria
The mango used for preparing the puree in this article

Flesh sliced off the seed

Skin removed from the flesh and flesh diced into smaller bits to make for easy pureeing
End result

Ready for freezing

Recommended articles
Homemade baby meal ideas. 

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Fruit of the week: Avocado


Avocado can be found year-round in Nigeria but at certain seasons of the year, like now, the green-shaped, fleshy body fruit that could be described as ' pear-shaped' or 'egg-shaped'  is aplenty in the Nigerian market and thus relatively cheap. Unlike other fruits that consist primarily of carbs, avocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fats and other nutrients, making avocados beneficial for the heart. When compared to similar fatty foods like butter, avocado contains low levels of cholesterol, is a low-calorie food, and does not lead to increased weight gain. 

Below are some of the things we found out about avocado that we wish to share with Nigerian mothers. 
  1. Avocado is a great source of minerals and vitamins. It also contains phytochemicals that help in protecting the eyes as they are said to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. 
  2. Avocados are weight-loss friendly as they are good sources of fiber: Fiber is an indigestible plant matter that helps increase the satiety value of food which eventually reduces one's desire to eat more thereby contributing to weight loss. They also help prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract and lower the risk of colon cancer. 
  3. Avocados are said to be rich in folate as 100g of the fleshy fruit contains about  20% of the RDA of Folate making it beneficial for pregnant women. Folate reduces the risk of miscarriage and neural tube defects in unborn babies. 
  4. Avocado has been described by nutritionists as "a great first food for babies". Avocado is a great nutrient-dense food full of healthy monounsaturated fats and nearly 20 minerals and vitamins. Its texture and creaminess make it acceptable to many babies. Avocado can be mashed/pureed with different fruits to make wonderful baby foods.

Mashed/pureed avocado; a great first food for babies
See Avocado and egg puree and other baby meal ideas for suggestions on healthy and nutritious foods you can offer your baby