Moms, why are we always the last ones on our priority list?

By Allison Martineau, Sweetpea Nutrition

So I’ve been noticing something lately that has me concerned.  I do talks across the city on a range of nutrition related topics and the main focus generally includes ways to support women with their hormone health, help them recover from childbirth, improve their mood and deal with emotional eating.  I love talking about these things…buuuut…the conversation usually tangents away from these topics.

For smaller talks I always start each one by asking everyone what their biggest nutritional concern or question is and without fail 90% of the questions I get are about their BABY!  From picky eating to introducing solids, allergies, breastfeeding challenges…everything goes back to their little one. And I get it (and am happy to answer); we want what’s best for our kids and nutrition is super important for developing babes, however my frustration comes when you notice that moms are neglecting themselves entirely and won’t ask for help, even when I am asking them what THEY need.  When I probe deeper, inevitably I will see moms struggling with food (either over or under consumption), hormone imbalance or nutrient deficiencies and yet still don’t prioritize themselves.  It is NOT selfish to prioritize your well being…it is a NECESSITY as a new mom.  Worse off are those who don’t even know that their nutrition is off but suffer from fatigue, anxiety or digestive upset and don’t realize the connection between these symptoms and their diet.

Routine postpartum maternal care is almost non-existentand moms are unfortunately not getting the help they need as a result.  We are followed so closely during pregnancy and our babies have routine checkups at their doctor for the first year of life, but what about the moms?  Why are they left on their own after 6 weeks? What is relevant about ceasing care at that time?  Most physical recovery is still happening beyond that point, not to mention emotional and mental health, nutrient deficiencies that can develop and hormones that can become unbalanced within the first year after having your baby.  We need more support from our medical care providers AND we, as parents, need to learn to ask for help more.

Beyond that though, here are some things you can start to focus on:

Restorative movement – Let’s start moving our bodies in a way that feels good (not for punishment over something we ate or to lose weight but because the activity and movement boost our mood and make us strong enough to carry around that baby we just had).  Be gentle on your postpartum body and listen to it.  For me, running has always been my favourite activity, but after the birth of my third son I started getting hip pain every time I ran.  I tried to push through it but after awhile I sat back, listened to my body and found exercises that actually work WITH my new body, not against it.  For now, be ok with change. Swimming, yin or restorative yoga, gentle stretching and walking are some of my current favourites… but you do you!

Solid Nutrition – Having a healthful nutrient dense diet is so important not just for physical healing after childbirth but to also give us the energy we want each day to help us care for our tiny human(s).  We know when we eat crap we feel like crap, and it’s a vicious cycle.  Solid nutrition helps us stay healthy, strong, vibrant and happy.  Having said that, a few off days (or even weeks or months) will not damage everything and you can always start making changes today to help make yourself feel better. And remember this is not about restriction; this is about self awareness and fueling your body in a way that is in line with your preferences, goals, health conditions and lifestyle and that makes you feel great.  No one size fits all approach here.  Do what feels right for YOU.

Mindfulness practices – This can seem intimidating to some who are unfamiliar with it, but rest assured that you can make this area what you need it to be.  It doesn’t have to be an hour long meditation (unless that’s your jam), but really it’s more about tapping in to your body and how it feels.  A 3-5 minute meditation (deep breaths with your eyes closed) can be a good start and there are many apps out there that make it super simple. Journaling is also a helpful tool in my practice, with gratitude practices as one of my favourites.

Self care – Make time for yourself!  While massage and a day at the spa are the obvious self care options, it doesn’t always have to be so grand.  Some alone time, a long shower, a night out, learning to say no to stuff you don’t want to do…all self care.

Support other moms and support yourself. This may sound harsh but someone said this to me one time and it impacted me greatly (in a good way ….well maybe not at first) She said women act like martyrs and we need to stop.  At first I disagreed and went through the laundry list of things I need to get done in a day and why I have no time for myself but then realized that I NEEDED to make the time.  No one else was going to do it for me unless I asked.  So stop playing the martyr card and ask your partner, family, friends, caregiver for extra help so you can take the time you NEED!!

And remember this is not a race to implement all these changes; this is your life.  So include healthful practices that resonate with you and that bring you joy and above all else, enjoy the journey.

Feeling stuck?  Have questions about your health or nutrition? Let’s talk! Book a free 20 minute consult here.

Bio: Allison Martineau is a nutritionist with a reproductive health focus; working with women during fertility, pregnancy and new parenthood. Allison practices an evidence based counseling style and is passionate about using mindfulness and intuitive eating to help her clients. She has her Masters in Nutrition and Public Health, has over 10 years of experience and sees clients in her private practice, Sweetpea Nutrition. Allison lives in Toronto with her husband and three young boys.

Have a baby shower coming up? New parents tend to get so much ‘stuff’ that doesn’t actually end up being all that useful. Try to think outside the box (or registry), and make your gift something that will hopefully help make the transition to parenthood just a little bit easier for the mommy-to-be..

Here are just a few gift ideas – that she either didn’t know to ask for, or doesn’t want to just come right out and ask for:

Meal Delivery. Not having to think about what to make and prepare for dinner is huge. I’m not talking about getting ‘take-out’. I mean those meal delivery companies that lovingly prepare tasty, balanced and nutritious meals for your family, making it easy to eat well and enjoy healthy meals. It’s also awesome when guests sign up for a post baby meal train. When visiting the new baby, bring something for the parents to put in the freezer and heat up later. Don’t make mama feed you – just bring the food to her, and tell her its for them to eat another time.

Parenting Support Services.  Parents-to-be tend to focus a lot on the actual labour & delivery, but birth professionals will be there to assist and guide them through it. Afterwards, when its just parent(s) and baby, can be challenging (and most likely sleep deprived). Baby care professionals are available to help beyond the birth, and can take some of the pressure off, while parents get to know and figure out life with their new little bundle of joy (ie. postpartum doulas, night nurses, sleep consultants, lactation consultants, baby proofers, carseat installation, etc).

House Cleaning. Either by sourcing the actual cleaning service, or by offering to cover some costs towards whomever they have hired – Having someone else do the cleaning beyond the regular tidying, when parent’s are busy with a new baby, is super helpful.

12 Months and up. The majority of gifts from others will likely be somewhere in the 0-9 months range. I know, I know, when it’s so little and cute it’s damned near impossible to reach for the same item in the 12-18 or 18-24 month size. Baby’s drawers and closets will probably be OVER FLOWING with 0-3 mo items (and more than half of the stuff most likely won’t even make it on to baby before they outgrow it), and gifted clothing thins out A LOT after the first year. I’m not saying to go and get something that the child will use when they’re entering middle school – that would be crazy – but 12-24 months stuff is pretty easy to hold on to and store for the short amount of time before it’s utilized. *Also think about seasonality, and what time of year baby is going to be wearing the size you buy.

Gift Cards & Money. Gift cards to coffee shops / baby-friendly establishments / massage therapy / hair salon / spa treatments / Mommy Connections (Mom & Baby classes or CPR workshops) or other local program registrations / anything drive through / etc.. Basically thinking beyond gift cards for the baby stores, lets mama know that you’re thinking about her too. Babies (and life) costs money. Designated towards something specific, or to be used at the discretion of the parents – Nobody wants to come out and just ask for it, but money to put toward the baby’s future is generally well received.

NOTE: If you’re contemplating whether or not to get the baby a stuffed toy, the answer will almost always be “No, thank you!”


Guest blog post by: Vivian Yau, Smile Speech Therapy 

Before babies can even talk, they are communicating with you through many other ways. Here are some helpful tips for how to stimulate and support the development of your little communication partner at an early age.

Pay attention to and respond to your baby’s cries, sounds, facial expressions, body movements, and actions. Remember to get face-to-face with your baby so he or she can see your face and mouth and you can observe how they are responding.

IMG_1225Use “motherese” or infant-directed speech when talking to your young baby. That means using a higher pitch than normal, simplified words, and an exaggerated musical quality to your talking. Think of how complete strangers will come up to you and naturally lower themselves to your baby’s level and speak to your baby in that singsong manner: “You are such a cute baby! Look at that smile!”. Studies show that speaking to babies in this manner is better for getting your baby to pay attention to you and stay engaged and interested.

IMG_1224Take turns with your baby by copying his or her coos, sounds, and babbles. Pretty soon you will be having back and forth “conversations” with your little one and really showing them the power of speech.

Lastly, be aware of what to expect of your child’s communication skills at different ages to make sure he or she is on-track. An online checklist for communication milestones can be found at:

**For a free phone consultation about your child’s speech and language skills, call me at (416)488-7807 and mention Mommy Connections. I look forward to hearing from you!

image1Vivian Yau,
Speech-Language Pathologist and Clinical Director at Smile Speech Therapy


image1Vivian is a mother of 3 young boys with 14 years of experience helping children improve their speech and language skills. She is the founder of a new private practice called Smile Speech Therapy which provides in-home or in-clinic (Bayview/Eglinton) speech and language services to children in Toronto and the surrounding area. For more information, please visit

Guest Blog Post by: Jamie Benson, Wonderwear Modern Cloth Diaper Service

There is a lot to think about when it comes to baby showers. If you are hosting, there are the invitations and timing to consider. What theme and games would be fun? Food and drinks… should it be catered? Who will bring what? Party favors… check. Fortunately there are many excellent resources online to navigate through all these decisions. Check out as a good place to start.

green-and-blue-frog-diaper-cake-240x184If you are the mom-to-be, are you putting together a gift registry? What should be on that list? Common top 10 baby shower gift ideas include baby bath gear, baby monitor, baby bouncy seat, activity gym and baby carrier. Then there is the diaper cake. It’s cute, don’t get me wrong. But a disposable diaper cake steers new moms down the path of disposable diapers which costs more money than a diaper service while also being less healthy for the baby and much worse for the environment.

Few consider cloth diaper service gift certificates but they are a terrific idea! Add them to your registry or purchase for a friend as a unique and thoughtful gift.

At Wonderwear Cloth Diaper Delivery Service, we make it really easy to go this route. If you are the mom-to-be and want to add our service to your registry, you would typically sign up for service a month before your baby shower and we would then credit your account each time a gift certificate comes in. If it’s a surprise for someone, no problem! In this instance we set up a temporary account and then get the additional info from the new client after their shower.  We also provide personalized gift certificates for presentation purposes.


Purchasing Wonderwear gift certificates is easy. Just go to our online store, select the amount and check out! Some savvy new moms have 6 months of free service or more by the time they start with us.

So please consider skipping the diaper cake or make-it-yourself gift idea… and purchase a cloth diaper service gift certificate instead. We take all the work out of cloth diapering and come right to your door each week with an unlimited supply of hospital level sanitized cloth diapers. Now that’s a great gift!

imageJamie Benson,

Dad to 3 Terrific Young Boys | Brand Marketer | Concerned Citizen regarding Climate Change | Entrepreneur | Husband to Superstar Wifey


Guest Blog Post By: Kirsten, Coffee With Chloe’s Mom

Eating out with a baby can be tough, especially in Toronto where a lot of people seem to have opinions on the matter (e.g. babies should never ever be seen at restaurants). While I definitely agree that some places are better suited for adults-only, there are times when a mom needs to get out of the house and have a restaurant quality meal with some friends. It is good for the soul.

A couple of tips when dining out with little ones:

■ If you are going with a group, call ahead to see if you can make a reservation. Restaurants appreciate the heads-up when it is a group of moms coming by. Will also give you a chance to ask about highchairs and all the other stuff babies need 🙂
■ Try to go pre or post lunch rush as this will mean it is not as crowded.


And now in no particular order here are my top five lunchtime picks to go with babies in tow:

Pizzeria Libretto: (close to Pape subway station)
Pizzeria Libretto holds a special place in my heart as it was the first restaurant I ventured with Chloe. It felt amazing to eat at a place I used to go to before becoming a mom. I think I inhaled the entire pizza I ordered. The one downside here are the steps to get inside. Having done it many times, though, I haven’t found it too challenging with a stroller and the staff are always willing to help.

Combine Eatery: (close to Broadview subway station)
I seem to have had a lot of luck with finding mom-friendly restaurants on the Danforth. They have high-chairs, friendly staff and good food (the Baja fish tacos are the way to go!). When I’ve gone for lunch with friends the staff have been able to help us park our strollers in an area that is out of the way and they have also given us a big table at the back of the restaurant. This is great as it means a bit more privacy for breastfeeding moms.

Uncle Betty’s: (Yonge, north of Eglinton)
Uncle Betty’s is in my eyes the place to go if you have kids. My husband and I went there once before Chloe was born and it was a big mistake. If you aren’t a parent you probably aren’t looking for a restaurant that has kids running all over the place. Once you have kids it is another story. The food is decent, you can be as messy as you want and they are well-equipped to handle a group of moms. For larger mom groups, you can also contact them to see if you can book their downstairs private dining room (minimum food order applies).

Vero Trattoria: (Bayview & Millwood)
This Italian restaurant in Leaside is a bit of a hidden gem for moms. This is one of my picks because it is never too busy at lunchtime (or it hasn’t been when I’m there) and they’ve always been super welcoming.

Bareburger (close to Dundas subway station):
This place is an all-natural, organic and customizable burger place. It’s a great place to go after you’ve visited the hands-on centre for kids at the AGO. Only con is this part of the city is always super busy.

And finally on a completely random and somewhat related side note: To the people who complain about moms and babies taking up room at their local Starbucks, I have the following thing to say. If you are using Starbucks as your personal office space, you don’t have any right to complain about a group of moms taking up room on a weekday morning. We have just as much right to be there.

DSC_0155About Kirsten

Hi, Im Kirsten. A mom. A wife. A daughter. And someone who really loves to travel and hates mayonnaise. I also write a weekly newsletter called Coffee with Chloe’s mom and Instagram way too much.

Munchkin BRICA Extending Metal Gate:
Available exclusively for Babies R Us for $59.99

When I heard I was going to be reviewing a safety gate that was safe to use at the top of stairs, I was very excited to possibly install it at either my parents or sisters home (both have staircases that aren’t blocked off, a constant issue when we visit).
Unfortunately the mounting pieces were too wide to fit into the doorway at my sisters place (without having to remove the existing door stops, in place from a previous door), and then have to repair/repaint the door jamb. If it were my own home, I definitely would have made the necessary alterations to the doorway, for it to work.
Evernote Camera Roll 20150724 233834 (1)The bannister posts at my parents home also had an issue accommodating the generously sized mounting pieces. I would have needed to make modifications to the bannister first, by drilling and securing additional pieces of lumber, to create a larger surface area suitable for mounting the pieces. Again, if it were my own home I probably would have made the necessary alterations, but as it was not my place, I decided against it.
I found that in both situations, it would be beneficial if the mounting pieces were a bit slimmer / more compact. Never the less, that meant that I could swap out the gate I currently had installed at my own home, to try out this new Munchkin BRICA Extending Metal Gate (and very glad that I did! Their loss = my gain).
The gates width adjustment pieces were very straightforward and easy to assemble. There aren’t a lot of finicky pieces to be screwed on, so it has a nice clean look without visible adjustment holes & hardware, when everything is in place.
pTRUCA1-20570611_alternate3_dtIt is very easy to open and close with one hand, which is super convenient when you have a little one on your hip. The gate can swing in both directions, or be locked to only open one way (especially important for top of stairs, and to not to open outwards into small hallways).
I love that it has built in tilting mechanisms, so there isn’t additional pressure on the walls. The last gate I had was much more difficult to open and close, and one of the mounts was starting to come loose from all the additional pressure that was applied (another reason this safety gate upgrade was so welcome).
I didn’t do the final mounting of the gate myself, but my husband said he found it took a bit more time to decipher the instructions (as diagrams only), rather than if they also included written directions.
FullSizeRenderThe quick release setting is a big bonus, as it makes it possible to easily remove the gate when you choose to. It feels very sturdy, and I would be very comfortable with this gate installed at the top of a stairway, but for now it keeps my crazy toddler out of my little kitchen while I’m cooking 😉

Munchkin BRICA Extending Metal Gate: The barricade for the baby brigade.

pTRUCA1-20570611_alternate2_dtThe Extending Metal safety gate by Munchkin has no unsightly adjustment holes along the bars, and is equipped with a unique tilting spring mechanism to reduce stress on walls every time it’s used. The spring mechanism allows the gate to tilt open or close, which minimizes pressure applied on walls. Handy quick-release settings allow for quick and easy removal when needed, too. Safe for use anywhere in the home (especially in the stairway), this hardware-mounted baby gate stands 29″ tall and fits openings 28″-40″ wide.

Munchkin Safety Warning

Use only with locking mechanism securely engaged.

Never use with a child able to climb over or dislodge gate or enclosure.

To prevent serious injury or death, securely install gate or enclosure and use according to manufacturer’s instructions.


Guest blog post by: Jamie Benson, Wonderwear Modern Cloth Diaper Service


For your baby’s health
There are many chemicals found in disposable diapers that are troubling… to say the least! Baby bums can be very sensitive to the harmful chemicals in disposable diapers. Many times what we think is a simple diaper rash can actually be a reaction to the chemicals in disposable diapers. Sodium Polyacrylate is a super absorbent gel that shows up as little crystals on your baby’s skin. It has been found in urinary tracts of babies and causes severe diaper rashes. A similar substance used in tampons was pulled from the market in the 1980s due to increased risk of toxic shock syndrome. This chemical has been linked to respiratory problems and skin irritations.
A study published in the Archives of Environmental Health in 1999, found that disposable diapers release chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. VOCs are linked to toxic health effects over time and with a high level of exposure, including cancer and brain damage. The same researchers found that mice exposed to chemicals released by disposable diapers were more likely to have irritated airways than mice exposed to emissions from cloth diapers. These effects were increased during repeat exposures. The authors suggested that disposable diapers may cause “asthma-like” reactions.

Disposable diapers contain other harmful ingredients as well…
Dioxin is an extremely toxic by-product of paper bleaching. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic cancer-linked chemical.
Tributyl-tin is a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.
Dyes found in some disposables are known to damage the central nervous system, kidneys and liver.

What is also concerning is the fact that disposable diaper manufacturers are not forthcoming with information about what is in their product. If you visit the web sites of the popular disposable diaper manufacturers you will find little information about what exactly is in a disposable diaper. Instead you read information about why they are not compelled to make this information available to you…the consumer. This article is worth reading…

For the future of our planet
Deforestation adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the sum total of all cars and trucks on the world’s roads… and over 1 billion trees are cut down each year to produce disposable diapers. Cars and trucks account for about 14 percent of global carbon emissions, while most analysts attribute upwards of 15 percent to deforestation.
“Any realistic plan to reduce global warming pollution sufficiently—and in time—to avoid dangerous consequences must rely in part on preserving tropical forests,” reports Environmental Defense Fund.

imageHere are some other alarming facts…

– Canadians throw out 1.7 billion disposable diapers each year

– The raw materials required to keep one baby in disposable diapers for one year include more than 136 kg of wood, 23 kg of petroleum and 9 kg of chlorine

– Disposable diapers use 20 times more raw materials, 2 times more water and 3 times more energy to make than cloth diapers

– It takes up to 500 years for disposable diapers to decompose

– By using cloth diapers, you will prevent roughly 8,000 diapers from going to the landfill for 500 years!

How our cloth diaper delivery service works
SAVE a minimum of $1000 using Wonderwear vs Disposable Diapers.



imageJamie Benson,

Dad to 3 Terrific Young Boys | Brand Marketer | Concerned Citizen regarding Climate Change | Entrepreneur | Husband to Superstar Wifey

Guest blog post by: Dr. Kate McLaird & Dr. Nadine Khoury

Probiotics and the Developing Immune System

Recently, there has been immense interest in the medical research regarding probiotics and how they influence the health of the body. Apart from helping heal gastrointestinal complaints (including Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis, IBS and Celiac disease), probiotics have been shown to relieve anxiety and stress, lower blood pressure and also prevent antibiotic resistance to name a few. We are only beginning to understand the potential of our gut flora, and some of the most beneficial and promising research relates to newborns and how we can help optimize their health for their futures to come!

Probiotics and newborns: where is all begins…

The newborn gut is a perfect environment for microbes to live with food, moisture, and warmth. Its first inoculation of bacteria comes from the environment the baby is born into. It has been shown that vaginally delivered infants harbour bacteria resembling their own mother’s vaginal, rectal and skin microbiota which are Lactobacillus, Prevotella or Sneathia spp. dominant. To the same effect, infants born by C-section acquire bacteria similar to those found on the surface of the skin, such as Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium and Propionibacterium spp. as well as the hospital environmental microbiotia. The bacterial balance may also be influenced by antibiotic treatment as well as feeding choices (breastmilk, formula, food introduction, types of foods eaten)

The varying bacterial balances, have been shown in the literature, to influence the development of certain health conditions later in life. Children born by C-section, for example, have been shown to have a 2-fold higher prevalence of atopy (a tendency to develop allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, asthma and eczema) than those born by vaginal delivery. Furthermore, there is evidence that more than 50% of young children with severe atopic dermatitis will develop asthma and approximately 75% will develop allergic rhinitis. This suggests a possible correlation between the type of bacteria in the gut and the presence of atopy. Several studies have been conducted to prove this theory correct using probiotics.o

Probiotics are “live organisms” which when taken orally, provide significant benefit by rebalancing the good and bad gut microflora. The gut has 400 trillion good bacteria and is up to 3000 square feet in surface area (as an adult). The good bacteria in the gut are responsible for healthy post-natal development. There are estimated to be 10,000-40,000 strains of good bacteria required to support healthy development of the brain, immune system and detoxification pathways with the research continuing to discover more interconnections. The numbers and types of bacteria in the gut is ever-changing due to their fast division rate and is strongly affected by the food we consume. In one particularly large study (215 infants aged 6-12 months), a comparison between formula milk with probiotic supplementation and formula milk alone was made and a series of health markers were monitored closely. Infants who received formula with probiotics showed a 46% reduction in the incidence rate of GI infections, 27% reduction in the incidence rate of the common cold and a 30% reduction in the total number of infections at the end of study period when compared to infants who were only fed formula (Maldonado et al J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2012).

Another large trial (454 mother-baby pairs), the Swansea Baby – Allergy Prevention Trial, was conducted to investigate the effect of probiotic administration in the prevention of allergy development in infants over 6 months and following up after 2 years. The results showed a 57% reduction at 2 years. This study was the first of this kind to show supplementation of good microbiota, for only the first 6 months of life, can positively shift the developing immune system to acquire the microflora as its own ultimately creating long lasting health benefits into adulthood. This finding is groundbreaking, as when starting to supplement with probiotics as an adult, the health benefits only last with continual probiotic supplementation (as seen in the research thus far.

Cough and colds are the most common infections we experience – often being a matter of “when” rather than “if”. Commonly adults catch a virus 2-3 times per year and children 3-8 times per year and probiotics have been shown to profoundly alleviate several aspects of inevitable annual sickness. The PROCHILD study evaluated 57 children aged between 4 and 6 years in a pre-school setting for 6 months and monitored illness. Total number of days with cold symptoms (sneezing, sore throat, cough, runny/blocked nose) had a 51% reduction in the probiotic group! The frequency of occurrence of cold symptoms reduced by 33% in the group taking probiotics. Most importantly, there was a 30% reduction in absence from preschool in the children taking probiotics! (Garaiova I et al 2014 Eur J Clin Nutr, doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.174)

The increasingly recognized profound impact that the microbiome has on human health cannot be underestimated – with impacts on virtually all aspects of human physiology.
Optimizing your child’s gut bacterial balance can be one of the most important things you can do to provide a foundation for health into their future. It is encouraged to talk to a naturopathic doctor or another health care professional who is educated in the latest research to help guide probiotic supplementation based on individual health needs. We are only beginning to understand the potential of this manipulation of gut flora and it provides a huge level of promise for the future.

Botanical Medicine and the Developing Immune System

Herbal medicine has been used for centuries all over the world and contrary to some belief it can be very effective in supporting a newborn’s immune system in a very gentle and safe manner. The best way to prevent infection in an infant is to grow a healthy baby during pregnancy. A healthy baby is likely to have a well-functioning immune system with optimal resistance to illness. Good nutrition during pregnancy is one the most important factors in decreasing a baby’s susceptibility to infection.

An effective way to stimulate a newborn’s immune system as they fight off a general infection is the use of botanical herbs, which have the ability to do so in a safe and gentle way without taxing the body. Botanical herbs will decrease the duration and severity of symptoms during an infection while still allowing the normal immune response to take place without suppressing it.

The following is a brief description of two herbs that the literature has found to be effective when treating general infections in newborns:

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): mainly known for its use as an antidepressant, antimicrobial, sedative and anti-inflammatory. In addition, to it’s commonly recognized use as an antidepressant, St. John’s Wort is also known to be a sedative and restorative nervine with a potent calming effect. Its antimicrobial properties make it very effective in the treatment of upper respiratory and intestinal infections. This herb is also particularly useful in the presence of inflammation. It may also be used as an earache oil to treat the pain as well as the infection associated with ear conditions in infants.

Echinacea spp.: Well known for its immune stimulating effects, it is also a very potent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant. It can be very useful in treating upper respiratory tract infections as well as eye infections. As an alternative to providing this herb to the baby directly, a nursing mother can also take an Echinacea tincture some of which will pass through her breast milk to the baby. Echinacea decreases the duration of colds and reduces inflammation both internally and externally, and enhances overall resistance to illness. This herb is safe for young children as long as the dose is appropriate for their weight.
The previous descriptions of probiotics and botanicals are not meant to serve as a prescription, please see your Naturopathic Doctor to learn more about safety and dosages.

Dr. Kate Mclaird, ND & Dr. Nadine Khoury, ND.

Toronto Wellness Centre
12 Wellesley St. West
Toronto, ON
M4Y 1E7

Phone: 416-920-2722


Antibiotic resistance:
Plummer et al 2005, Int J Antimicrob Agents 26; 69-74

Anxiety: (Messaoudi et al 2011)
GI: ((Orel et al World J Gastroenterol 2014, Ghouri et al Clin Exp Gastroenterol 2014)
Blood pressure: (Khalesi et al, Hypertension 2014)
(Spergel JM et al, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2010; Spergel JM et al, J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003)

Atopy 2 fold (Pistiner et al, J Allergy Clin Immunol 2008)

Naturally Healthy Babies and Children (Aviva Jill Romm; Pownal, Vt.: Storey Books, 2000, 2003).

Medical Herbalism The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine (David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG; Healing Arts Press, 2003).

Reviewed by real-life mommy Leslie & her adorable 8 month old daugher Reggie

IMG_5411When Catherine messaged me about reviewing the Born Free Bottle Genius by Summer Infant, I jumped at the chance!  I had heard of these magical-baby-formula-making-devices from my neighbour who was also expecting last Summer.  Her eyes lit up when she spoke of this machine…I was green with envy…alas, this legendary machine was only available in the States. So my jealousy quickly faded, but I knew that I would have to have one of these machines one day!

Fast forward a few months, my baby girl is in my arms and I am diligently preparing her formula with her big brother at my feet…sterilize bottles, boil water, let it cool, pour water into sterilized bottles, measure out the formula, shake the bottle, warm the bottle, feed the babe and repeat.  So many steps and random formula powder dustings on the floor and counter due to mommy and daddy’s sleepy hands (Big brother likely had a dusting of formula powder on the top of his head too).

When the Bottle Genius joined the family last month, Reggie was 8 months old.  When it crossed the threshold into our home, it was like a ray of light and a promise of a new day in bottle preparation.
At first I was taken aback by the size of the box… I wondered is this just another appliance taking up precious real estate on our countertops?  Our small Toronto home has a small kitchen with 7 appliances already taking up residence on the small counter…four of them already baby related!

IMG_5632But when I unpacked the Bottle Genius I was pleasantly surprised by its modern design and the amount of counter space it actually occupied
(ie. Minimal counter space! It’s smaller than my single serve coffee maker! Oh and wait, we actually gained some counter space now that the Bottle Genius was here, we no longer need the bottle warmer or the can of formula or the pitcher of boiled water on the counter! This definitely was a plus!)

So for 2 days (okay, maybe 3 days) I stared at it every morning  while preparing my morning coffee with my single serve coffee maker…Right I have to reserve some time today to set it up…okay…I’ll do that today…so easy to say, but when you have 2 little ones it’s not so easy to action.

Finally at dinner one night, while the boy was eating all his vegetables (I wish) and watching a Lego tutorial on YouTube (please don’t judge me) and the baby girl was content in her play pen, I picked up the Instruction manual. IMG_5416  First thought, I need to hunker down and read this 15 page booklet of words…for me, reading anything lately has become too much of a commitment, so the task was daunting.  What a pleasant surprise when I flipped open the manual and found a QR code directing me to a video on how to use the Bottle Genius.  I watched the video that night after the kids went down. I will admit it was a bit intimidating. Click this, wash this, and add hydrogen peroxide!  But really, practically everything requires those steps and after multiple views (yup I glazed over a few sections of the video but luckily I could just repeat it!) and referring to the manual, in retrospect, the set up was a breeze.  All the info was easy to find and detailed which impressed me.  Since that night we have been using the bottle genius exclusively for all bottle prep.


I would definitely recommend the Bottle Genius, especially for new parents who are exclusively bottle-feeding their babies.  The thought of having this machine during the newborn stage, on my bedside table, and waking up to feed my baby at the press of a button in the middle of the night is, well, genius.  I wish I had this for both my kids when they were babies.  To the parents expecting a baby right now and plan to bottle feed YOU MUST BUY THIS and tell all your friends!

How Much Food Should My Child Be Eating? Guest blog post by: Aviva Allen, Kids Nutritionist 

As parents we all go through periods where we worry about how much our kids are eating. This is especially true when dealing with a child who is underweight or seems to have a small appetite. It is also true when dealing with a child who is overweight and sneaking food. Yet even when we are dealing with a child who has a perfectly healthy weight, parents will often still wonder if their child is eating enough or too much and how this will affect their future growth and eating habits.

While it is not our job as parents to determine how much our kids eat, there are ways in which we can support them in their eating.

Don’t interfere

Young children are very good at self-regulating if we let them. This means not interfering with their quantities by the use of pressure tactics. They are the only ones who know how much their bodies need. Even though at times they may eat more or less than they need, they will usually make up for this by making the necessary adjustments at other meals.

Planned meals and snacks

Planning scheduled meals and snacks is one of our feeding responsibilities. Your child should be allowed to eat as much as they want at each sit down meal or snack and will be better able to regulate their amounts compared to being allowed to graze throughout the day. Snacks do not need to be what we tend to think of as “snack foods”. Think of them more like small meals and ensure the same balance that you would at breakfast, lunch and dinner. We should be offering our kids 4-5 opportunities to eat throughout the day so that would mean 1-2 snacks.

Proper spacing between meals and snacks

Use snacks to support mealtime and space them out properly to ensure your child comes to the table hungry, but not too hungry. If you wait too long, some children will be cranky and more likely to have a meltdown at the table while others may overeat. If your meals and snacks are too close together, your child will be more likely to reject what is offered at the table or eat only a small amount. This often results in parental pressure to eat in the form of negotiations and bribery. Your child may legitimately not be hungry and teaching them to ignore their internal huger cues can lead to trouble down the road.

Ultimately it is not our role to determine the appropriate quantity for our children to eat. We provide healthy and balanced meals and snacks. We provide them with a positive mealtime environment. We provide them with structure. Then we need to take a step back and let them do their job. Sometimes they will eat too much, sometimes they will eat too little and sometimes they will not choose to eat from all of the important food/nutrition groups but we need to let them make these mistakes in their eating and then learn to make up for them.

For advice on nutrition and feeding that is specific to your child and your family, call/email or book online to set up an in-office, phone or Skype consultation.


62_aviva-blog - CopyAviva Allen is one of Toronto’s leading Kids’ Nutritionists specializing in helping parents deal with their picky eaters.  Inspired by her two young boys’ adventures in food, Aviva helps children and their families establish healthy eating habits through her nutritional counselling practice located in Midtown Toronto, as well as offering consultations via phone or Skype for those out of the area. Aviva is also the founder of Healthy Moms Toronto, helping connect like-minded moms throughout the GTA.


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