Babytastes Blog

Welcome to the Babytastes Blog where we will keep you up-to-date with food and nutritional advice.  Please feel free to comment on the blogs by clicking the topics to the right.

19 December 2012

Take it easy over Christmas

Posted in Blog

No one wants to feel deprived at Christmas or New Year as part of the fun is eating treats, going to a bbq, party, or picnic. Temptation is all around; snacks, lollies, and cool drinks are everywhere you go, but before long, that is all you and your family have eaten over the festive period.

It is common to find if you and the children have been overdoing the sweet snacks, you become very tired and often cranky. High sugar foods give a quick spurt of energy but lethargy soon follows and children often whinge and become restless.

Everything is good in moderation!

We can still enjoy ourselves, as healthy food doesn’t have to mean boring. If hosting a meal or taking a plate, just making a few simple changes can certainly help our waistlines.

Of course, sweets and sausages rolls are a big drawcard for children, but homemade, healthier versions can be just as appealing. A fruit kebab with marshmallows is very inviting, for instance.

(Recipes: party-time food pg 204 Toddlertastes)

Babies and children often become overwhelmed during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. With some planning, all the family can enjoy themselves.

Where possible, try to keep to the same sleep times. Visiting family and friends can be very tiring and overwhelming, especially if babies and toddlers are passed around. Look for your child’s tired signs and try to settle them down for a nap or at least create a quiet space for them so they can have a short break.

Toddlers often manage small frequent meals rather than sitting down to eat a large one. On hot days, ensure they drink plenty of water as they can become quite dehydrated, especially if playing outside.

We wish you all a happy Christmas and best wishes for 2013!

12 December 2012


Posted in Blog

Each culture has their own lullabies that have been sung to infants for generations. Singing lullabies has stood the test of time as they have a calming effect on the baby. They mimic the mother’s voice and inflection of her accent, and have simple bar rhythms, are melodic and repetitive.

Babies start to hear their mothers’ voices from 24 weeks gestation. Once born, babies’ brains respond when they hear their mothers singing. Neuro-imaging of a baby’s brain shows that both sides of the brain are developed and utilised when being sung a lullaby. Listening to soothing music releases endorphins in the brain, which helps babies to relax.

Babies are very responsive to music when it is sung to them, more so than just listening to recorded music. They learn to reciprocate language with their mothers and will mimic the same structure of the lullabies from a very early age.

So, don’t worry if you don’t have the best voice in the world, your baby won’t care, they just want to be sung to. The perennial favourites work well; rocka-bye-baby, silent night, and twinkle twinkle little star.

05 December 2012

Check Before You Buy

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This year’s Choice magazine “Shonky” awards highlights Nature’s Way Kids Smart Natural Medicine range, which includes remedies for colds, flu, hay fever, runny nose, pain and fever, and for calming kids down. Apparently, the company has already been reprimanded by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for making unsubstantiated claims. However, the same products are still readily available.

The main concern is potentially serious symptoms of childhood diseases may be masked when inappropriate remedies are given.

Dr Ken Harvey, a public health campaigner points out, “Symptoms like ‘restlessness, anxiety, irritability and agitation’ the ‘Calm’ claims to treat, can be the symptoms of potentially serious childhood infectious diseases…………. a parent may postpone seeking more appropriate medical advice to the child’s detriment.”

The claims have been referred to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) for investigation.

Another concern regarding complementary medicines raised by the not-for-profit Consumers Health Forum, is only two percent of the complementary medicines consumed by the public are tested safe by the Therapeutic Goods Administration .

The forum's chief executive, Carol Bennett, called for labels on all complementary medicines to state they are not tested before they are approved for sale.

Refer to the Consumers Health Forum website for further information on appropriate labelling on complementary medicines.

29 November 2012

Take Care

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Teething can be disruptive and there is no doubt it makes babies uncomfortable and miserable.

There are many products on the market to provide relief for babies at this time.

In recent years, teething necklaces made of Baltic amber beads have gained in popularity. It is claimed therapeutic oils (succinic acid) are released and absorbed into the baby’s skin helping to reduce inflammation and drooling associated with teething. Whether it works or not, what is of most concern is these beads pose a choking risk.

If you are using these for your babies, the Australian Consumer Commission has given safety guidelines to parents currently using the necklaces. Consumers using this product are advised to:

• always supervise the infant when wearing the necklace or bracelet
• remove the necklace or bracelet when the infant is unattended, even if it is only for a   short period of time
• remove the necklace or bracelet while the infant sleeps at day or night
• not allow the infant to mouth or chew the necklace or bracelet
• consider using alternate forms of pain relief
• seek medical advice if you have concerns about your child’s health and wellbeing

Babies love sucking on cold objects to help sooth their inflamed gums. Mesh dummies, (as shown in photo) filled with frozen or very cold fruit or vegetables are a safe alternative to use.

18 November 2012

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

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18-24 November 2012

“Despite the large number of women affected, many remain unidentified and untreated, even though effective treatments are available. These are compelling reasons for action, as untreated PND can have long-term consequences.”

Many first-time mothers and fathers are not fully prepared for the change a baby may bring to their lifestyle. Their expectations of the birth experience may be very different from the actual birth. Sometimes, parents have difficulty adapting to their new roles. Parents quickly learn that babies have very little routine in the early days. For those who have been accustomed to being organised and having every thing “ship-shape”, this can be the cause of much anxiety. Family support is not always readily available, or the fathers are working away, leaving mums feeling isolated. Mothers often try to be “super mums”, juggling all the burdens of motherhood and families, believing they can do it all. They are often reluctant to ask for help.

Parenting cannot be compared to any other job as it is both physically and emotionally taxing. In the early days, priorities should be reassessed. New mums and dads need to take care of themselves, as they need both physical and emotional energy to care for their new baby. “Time out” is important, so try to accept any offers of help.

Mums, just rest, read a magazine, have a HOT drink, chat on the phone, or paint your nails while baby is sleeping. Hide the ironing! It does not need to be a long time, but quality time is important and you will feel refreshed when you have pampered yourself for a while. So, next time you are shopping, pick your nail polish colour and plan that self-care time.

If you are feeling at all sad, teary, anxious or panicky, tired and miserable, and feel you are not coping, talk to your partner and family. Also, dads shouldn’t be forgotten as five per cent of men will be diagnosed with postnatal depression in Australia this year, so tell them how you are feeling and please seek help from your GP or Child Health Nurse, or contact Beyondblue.

For more information go to:

National Perinatal Helpline on 1300 726 306

14 November 2012


Posted in Blog

Just a few simple changes to your food choices can make a positive impact on your, and your family’s, well being. Good nutrition during childhood is essential for normal growth, development, current, and future health.

It isn’t just adults who are overweight. The national average for the prevalence of overweight or obese children is 25.3%!!!

Healthy food doesn’t mean boring or expensive. The cost comparison of a less healthy breakfast cereal, which is high in sugar and salt, cost $2.50 more than wheat biscuits. The saving to your family’s health far outweighs the dollar figure. Eating oats or weetbix® topped with seasonal fruit is a great start to the day. Research has shown having a breakfast with foods from at least 3 different food groups boosts mental health wellbeing, as well as being of nutritional benefit.

Drinking tap water instead of sugary drinks, such as juice, soft or sports drinks is a simple swap. Frequent drinking of sugary drinks is a risk factor to early childhood tooth decay.

Instead of commercial muesli bars, choose dried fruit with cubes of cheese, or homemade pikelets instead of biscuits or doughnuts.

Try making your own baked beans, or peanut butter, to reduce sugar and salt intake.

Homemade pizzas, hamburgers, or chicken nuggets are tasty and a far healthier option than those from fast food outlets and your children will enjoy decorating the pizzas!

Morning and afternoon snacks are a very good way of ensuring your toddler eats a variety of foods. When preparing or buying snacks, try to identify which nutrients your child will gain by eating them. Often, the processed store-bought foods are packed with sugar, salt, fat, and additives.

Fibre intake is increased by choosing wholemeal breads, pasta, brown rice, quinoa or couscous or eating wholemeal crackers.

Refer to table below for some suggestions.

Instead of:

Swap to:

White rice

Basmati rice

White bread

Sour dough

White sugar

Low GI sugar

Café scone

Fruit toast

Rice bubbles

Puffed rice

Flavoured rice crackers

Corn or rice cakes

Muesli bars

Handful of dried fruit + cheese

Packet of chips

Air popped corn in snap lock bag

Tiny teddy biscuits

Handful 5 grain mini wheats

Potato chips

Sweet potato wedges

07 November 2012

How much do you eat?

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Last week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released their results of a national health survey of 50,000 people. Unfortunately, here in Western Australia about two thirds of us are overweight. In addition, the results indicated that we drink and smoke more than the national average.

The national average for the prevalence of overweight or obese children is 25.3%!!!

Another worrying statistic revealed that in WA, over 90% of the population are not eating the recommended serves* of fruit and vegetables. If the parents aren’t eating enough of these foods, how are their children going to do it?

Present recommended daily serves for adults (19- 50 years, not breastfeeding or pregnant):

Fruit: 2 serves a day

Vegetables: 5 serves

Protein and nuts: 1 serve a day

Dairy: 2 serves a day

Wholegrains: 4 serves a day

These guidelines are under review by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Recommended daily serves for 2-3 yr olds:

Vegetables: 2½ serves

Fruit: 1 serve

Cereals/ grains:   4 serves

Dairy:1½ serves

Lean meat/ poultry/ nuts/ legumes/ eggs: 1 serve

A 1-2 yr old only requires ½ a serve of fruit daily and between 2-3 serves of vegetables. The recommended serves for other foods are the same as for 2-3yr olds.

*1 serve =



Cooked vegetables or legumes

½ cup (75g)

Salad vegetables

1 cup


1 small potato


1 medium piece (150g)

Fruit, diced or canned

1 cup


2 slices (60g), 1 medium bread roll

Rice, pasta, noodles

1 cup cooked

Breakfast cereal

1⅓ cups


1 cup (250ml) fresh


2 slices (40g)


1 small tub (200g)

Meat or chicken

65- 100g cooked, e.g.,
½ cup of mince/ 2 small chops/ 2 slices of roast meat

Fish fillet

80-120g cooked


2 small eggs,


½ cup cooked


⅓ cup

Sesame seeds

¼ cup

Often a portion size is the equivalent to what can be held in the palm of your hand.

Go to page 32-47 in the Toddlertastes book for more information.

31 October 2012


Posted in Blog

Halloween is an observance that is becoming more widespread in Australia.

We may just think of Halloween as “trick or treating” and dressing up in scary clothes, but it originates from an ancient Celtic festival. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in Ireland, United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes and lit bonfires.

As Christianity spread across Europe, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the Celtic traditions. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.

Halloween became very popular in America with the influx of European migrants, in the 1800’s especially the Irish. It is now a national holiday in America.

The Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating probably dates back to the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During these festivities, poor people would beg for food and families would give them cakes called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the families’ dead relatives. Eventually, it was children who began to visit the houses in their neighbourhoods; they were given ale, food, and money. This was referred to as “going a-souling”.

Trick-or-treating, going from house to house in search of sweets, and other goodies, has been a popular Halloween tradition in the United States and other countries for about 100 years.

Every Halloween carved pumpkins are used for “jack-o’-lanterns.” The practice of decorating the pumpkin comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack.

As a food, pumpkins are a very nutritious vegetable. They are low in calories, fat, and sodium, and high in fibre. They are a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, E, potassium, protein, and iron.

Have a look at the pumpkin scone recipes in Toddlertastes, and pumpkin risotto and pumpkin ricotta sauce in Babytastes.

24 October 2012

Water, water, water

Posted in Blog

As the weather begins to warm up, sometimes there is pressure to buy fruit drinks to store in the fridge or to buy some when out. Before you succumb to the demands, think about what is actually in the fruit drinks, or missing from them.

100% juices definitely contain vitamins A and C, but often don’t have the fibre of fresh fruit.

Some fruit popper drinks or cordials have a low percentage of fruit and are loaded with sugar. Some brands can have the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of sugar in a 250ml pack. Along with the high sugar content, they may also have added artificial colouring. These drinks are like soft drinks: sugar-sweetened, energy-dense, and nutrient-poor.

If buying fruit drinks, choose the ones with no added sugar.

Findings from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, published earlier in the year, highlighted that most consumption of “sugary drinks,” ranging from fruit drinks to carbonated ones, were consumed at home.

The data was drawn from the 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey, a representative random sample of 4,834 Australian children aged 2 to 16 years.

"Less than 17 per cent of sugary drinks were sourced from the school canteen or a fast food outlet, despite these sources being the focus of many public health recommendations.

These findings suggest that health messages should target supermarkets as the key source of the sugary drinks."

15 October 2012

Anti-Poverty Week

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As I pondered the merits of buying a white or stainless steel fridge today, I thought about how superficial this was in comparison to the many that worry about being able to buy enough food for their family or being able to pay bills. I am fortunate having never been in that situation, but over a million Australians are, and more than a billion people worldwide are dreadfully poor.

In Anti-Poverty Week, YOU can help fight poverty and hardship! The main aims of this week are to:

  • Strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and hardship around the world, and in Australia.
  • Encourage research, discussion, and action to address these problems, including action by individuals, communities, organisations, and governments.

Everyone is encouraged to help reduce poverty and hardship by organising an activity during the Week, or taking part in an activity organised by others.

There are many activities happening throughout the State. For details go to:


10 October 2012


Posted in Blog

From salad dressings to roasting, there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to cooking oils.

The supermarket shelves are crammed with many different types of oil from olive oil to sesame. As each oil has its own specific uses, it is important to use the right oil for the right recipe.

Oils derived from plants, nuts or seeds contain less saturated fat than animal fats such as butter and lard, and more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which can actively lower your “bad” cholesterol. These oils have a similar calorie/ kilojoule and total fat content but differ in the types of fat they contain. Each oil has a different ‘smoke point’, which is the temperature when the fats start to break down. When the ‘smoke point’ is reached the quality of the oil, flavour, and some nutritional benefits will change.

Here is a guide to some of the more popular oils found in the pantry:


It is always best to buy locally produced olive oil, as it should be fresher than imported brands.

Products labelled simply “olive oil” tend to be a blend of extra virgin and refined olive oil, and they can be heated to a higher temperature making them suitable for grilling, roasting, or baking.


This oil is more refined and is richer in anti-oxidants. It has a low smoke point so does not heat well. This oil is great for salad dressings or dips. Tastes great on bread instead of butter.


The ‘Light’ refers to flavour and colour not fat content. It has the same smoke point as olive oil.


This has one of the highest ‘smoke points’, so excellent for frying. Foods cooked in this oil absorb less of the oil, so a healthy option when roasting foods.


This is made from pressed sunflower seeds and is low in saturated fats. It has a mild flavour and a high ‘smoke point’ so suitable for stir-frying and sautéing.


This oil has quite a nutty flavour, as the seeds are toasted before being pressed. It is often used in Asian dishes. It does have a low ‘smoke point’ so not good for frying but adds flavour to marinades.

Other oils include grape seed and corn, both have a high ‘smoke point’ so good all rounders.

It is best to store oils in a cool, dark place, as they deteriorate when exposed to light, heat, and oxygen.

01 October 2012

Walktober is Australia's walking month.

Posted in Blog

This year's challenge is to walk to the moon, 385000 kms.
Go to

Walking  is often described as the perfect exercise. Ancient  Greek physician, Hippocrates, stated, "Walking is man's best medicine." He was right , as regular walking can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and lower cholesterol levels. Walking can make you feel less stressed, especially if walking in pleasant surroundings.
To gain most health benefit from walking , the pace should increase your heart rate slightly and make you breathe a little faster  than normal. Try  to walk for at least 30 minutes and 3 or 4 times weekly.

Any opportunity to walk will be of benefit, a quick stroll during a lunch break, or take the stairs and not the lift. Why not park further away from your destination? Of course, children love to exercise, good for their minds and body.

26 September 2012

Cooking for children in the 1930's

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While sifting through many old books, I came across a book written in 1936, Cookery Illustrated and Household Management. I was interested in the chapter, cooking for children.The following is a brief excerpt, which is remarkably not much different from what is written in books today:

Once a child has been weaned, and the milk diet gradually changed to a mixed diet, the sooner he is taught to taste different foods, the better. If children were taught to eat a variety of foods from the time they began to take  solids, not only would there be every chance of their maintaining a balanced menu throughout life, but there would be fewer people with food prejudices.

Edited by Elizabeth Craig  1936

19 September 2012

What cows milk to choose?

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Running out of milk and dropping into the nearest shop to pick some up used to be a simple exercise of grabbing a bottle.  But now there are so many different types of milk on offer it has become overwhelming to choose.

Here is a run down of the types of fresh milk available.

Full fat milk has a creamy taste and has between 3.2%- 4% milk fats.  This milk may be marketed under the name: full cream milk, whole milk, regular milk, original milk (which contains a mixture of both milk proteins called beta-casein A1 60% and A2 40%)  or A2 milk (comes from cows that produce only A2 protein). Full fat is recommended for children up to 2 years.

Reduced Fat milk contains around 2% milk fats and may have added protein or calcium.  Look for labels such as ‘reduced fat milk’, ‘new 2% fat’ milk in Victoria and Tasmania or Smarter White Milk. Reduced fat milk is recommended for children over 2 years.

Low fat milk contains 1.5% milk fat or less and is higher in calcium than the full fat variety. Look for HiLo, Light milk, Lite milk, A2 light milk, Light Start, Rev, Trim, Physical or Light white.  Low fat milk is recommended for children over 2 years.

Fortified/Modified milk this may be full fat, reduced fat or low fat milk that has been enriched with other nutrients like extra calcium, iron, protein, vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, and plant sterols. Look for names like Kids, Boost, heart active, heart plus, calcium plus or junior milk. Reduced fat children varieties suitable for children over 2 years.

Skim milk contains no more than 0.15% fat.  Often has milk solids added to improve the taste. Look for names like skim milk, tone or no fat milk. Not recommended for children under 5 years.

Lactose free or reduced milk is suitable for people who suffer from lactose intolerance.  The sugar naturally found in milk, lactose, has been partial or fully removed. Look for names stating ‘lactose free’, Zymil.

Buttermilk milk made from reduced fat or skim milk and culture of lactic acid bacteria. Used mainly in cooking.


The latest marketing from the dairy manufacturers is Permeate free milk.

All milk is made up fat, milk proteins, sugar, water and vitamins and minerals.

In the manufacture of milk products they go through a process of ultra-filtration which separates all these ingredients.   The milk-sugar (lactose), vitamins and minerals which filter through are given the term permeate. This permeate was then added back into milk products to dilute the protein level. Dairy manufactures are now stating on their products that the milk is Permeate free.

Whichever milk is chosen, try to include it into the 3 serves a day of dairy:

1 glass (250ml) of milk
1 tub (200g) of yoghurt 
2 slices (40g) of cheese