How to Raise a Healthy Baby

What mom doesn’t want to raise a healthy baby?
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It would be tough to find one! We all want our kids to grow up healthy, but where do you start? Many mothers, especially first timers just don’t know. With so much conflicting information in magazines, on the web, in books, and from doctors – how do you know what is healthy?

Truth is, many things that were once healthy, say two hundred years ago, no longer are. As the example with produce. At one point all produce was grown organically. Parents did not have to worry about pesticides, chemicals, and genetic modification. In today’s world parents have to go out of their way to educate themselves on what is healthy. Fortunately there are many resources available. Here are some basics on raising a healthy baby (and healthy family!) that will at least get you started.

Health Before Birth: If you want a healthy baby, it starts with a healthy you! It is not about just being in shape, it is about providing nutrients that are essential for the growth in the womb. Sorry girls, but you can’t eat whatever and hope that your prenatal vitamin covers the rest. While food based vitamins can fill in some gaps, you are better off getting these nutrients from real food and having them easily absorb in your body. One of the best resources I have found on real, nourishing nutrition is the Weston A. Price Foundation. In short, it will show you how to eat as your great grandparents did. Will you be able to eat a 100% traditional diet? Unlikely in today’s world. But it will at least send you on the right path.

Compile Your Resources: It isn’t easy to navigate through all the information available for a healthy lifestyle. I will share with you just five websites that will cover pretty much any topic regarding children’s health, keep you up to date on new developments that affect your family, and help you connect with like minded moms. The websites I highly recommend are the Weston A. Price Foundation mentioned above, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Healthy Child Healthy World(HCHW), Mothering, and Local Harvest. The first will have you covered in terms of nutrition, though the site is a bit hard to navigate – all the info is there (especially helpful are the videos). If you prefer this valuable information in print and geared to parents, I recommend reading Healing Our Children: Sacred Wisdom for Preconception, Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting. EWG will help you filter out anything toxic in your home with the help of the Skin Deep Database, as well as keep you informed on any toxins added to our food supply and legislation regarding those. HCHW is an organization geared specifically at parents who want to create a child friendly, chemical free environment. Mothering is great for quickly finding answers to your questions from other moms, their forums are a great place for the next tip – finding allies (there are many ultra crunchy cloth diapering, attachment parenting, organic eating moms there, but just as many simply searching for small steps to make their families healthier). Local Harvest is a great site that will help you find fresh foods from local farms near you, often cheaper than the pesticide ridden counterparts from your grocery store.

Find Allies: Parenting was never meant to be done alone, you’ll be miserable if you try. If you do not have a support system that is local to you or if your friends/relatives aren’t on board with healthy living, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Mothering is a good place to start and there are many relevant mom groups at CafeMom where you can find like minded companionship and support. I also find it nice to connect with other bloggers, I love reading The Healthy Home Economist. Although Sarah Pope has a large fan base and she doesn’t really know me, I always find myself nodding my head whenever I get a new article from her in my inbox. It feels like she is a good friend looking out for the health of my family, she also answers comments timely!

Eat Organic As Much as Possible: It’s no secret that mass produced food is made with copious amounts of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and chemical additives. Although even organic production isn’t always perfect, it is still better. There are a lot of fine points regarding buying local versus organic. Growing your own is best, but let’s face it, most moms do not have that extra time and energy. For produce, the least you can do is stick to the EWG’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list.

Learn to Cook: Simple fact, you need to know how to cook to eat healthy. Unless you’re rich enough to hire a private chef. Even prepackaged organic meals at your local Whole ~~Paycheck~~ Foods aren’t all that healthy and often contain hidden ingredients. You need fresh! For inspiration, I love Simple Bites, their recipes are always just that – simple. I take their recipes, add some healthy fats (olive, avocado, coconut, butter) and voila! Oh, and Pinterest of course. My Recipes to Make board is getting full. If all you eat is ready made meals and junk food, you may want to start with The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien, an easy, worthwhile read for anyone completely new to healthy eating.

Get Your Fats Straight: The last twenty years have really flip flopped on advice about fat. Fat is not bad for you, that is a myth cleverly marketed to us. Good fats do not make you fat, they make you lean! Your brain needs fat to function. Man made fats, margarine, processed oils, and fat substitutes are the things that will make you fat and unhealthy. Having a healthy baby without eating healthy full fat foods is near impossible. Babies need fat to develop properly. By eating a low fat diet during pregnancy you are setting your baby up for future health problems. There are numerous studies regarding this if you’re willing to search. Trust me, I already have.

Revise Your Cleaning Routine: Get rid of toxic chemicals under your sink, those should not be anywhere around people, let alone children. Not only do you contaminate surfaces that your kids touch (and lick!), your family breathes in all the toxic, cancer causing particles. Replace with oh so inexpensive, simple homemade cleaners with tips from Janelle.

Embrace the Outdoors: Fresh air and sunshine, the classic prescription for everything! Children (and you) need this as much as possible. If you live in a warm climate, no excuse being stuck indoors. We are here in chilly New England and still manage to get out a few times a week. Sunshine will give you a healthy dose of vitamin D, an essential nutrient for the immune system.

So, this isn’t the easiest thing you have ever done. Raising healthy kids is not easy, but worth it. For the most part, these tips are common sense, it is our society that makes it so complicated. Just take it one step at a time and remember that it is a process, you don’t have to change over night – we didn’t! Everyday is just part of a long, exciting journey.

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