5 Ways to Deal with Food Boundaries, Kids, and Relatives

by Carrie Saum
This post was made possible by our sister site, Our Stable Table.

Allergic reaction

My son, E, has a rare, severe food allergy called FPIES. (I’ve written about it here). Holidays and family gatherings are chock full of well-meaning parents and aunts and uncles and cousins who want to help us keep E safe, but just don’t always know how. Or remember how.

Last Fourth of July, Echo was a busy little guy. He explores and inspects everything. No speck of dust goes unnoticed by him. At the time, we struggled to keep him safe while he picked up every crumb from the floor. It terrified Lance and me. During this time, we visited my family in another state. We prepped them, lectured them, and conducted a family meeting within the first ten minutes of arrival. E needed us to help him be safe. Everyone agreed E’s safety was important and they would help.

My brother was watching TV in the living room a few minutes after our family meeting. He put a can of root beer down on the side table, not thinking about tiny baby hands that find everything they’re not supposed to have in mere nanoseconds. E raced over to the shiny can, grabbed it and pulled it down immediately, dousing himself in sticky caramel colored corn syrup. I freaked out. My brother felt terrible. We immediately hosed E down and scrubbed the soda off of him from head to toe. We held our breath for the next several hours to see if he would react to the corn syrup. (He didn’t.)

In spite of everyone’s best intentions and total agreement to make the holiday and visit safe for E, he still managed to find the chinks in our armor. He wasn’t being naughty, and my brother wasn’t being negligent. Its just part of navigating life and holidays with kids who require extra care.

In our case, this is really important and for some children, it is a life and death concern. But it doesn’t matter if your child has a full-blown allergy, slight sensitivity, or you just don’t want them eating certain things. This is your kid. Your boundaries are important, especially when you are making choices to keep your child safe or healthy.

Here are a few ways to bring a little sanity during to your holiday season, and navigate gatherings when your kid has a restricted diet or you’re just not ready for them to have certain foods introduced to their systems just yet.

1. Prepare. E-mail or text every friend and family member attending the holiday gathering a few days in advance. In clear and concise terms, share what your child needs to enjoy a safe holiday. For example, “Hi Loved Ones! Just a quick reminder that Buddy is allergic to Red Dye # 5, and throws up when he eats foods containing this dye. PLEASE DON’T FEED HIM ANYTHING AT ALL without my permission first, otherwise we could end up celebrating in the Emergency Room instead of around the table with you. If you want to know more about his allergy, please read (link), or give me a call. Thank you so much for helping us keep our guy safe! Also, it would be a huge help to us if you would be willing to keep an eye out for stray food ”.

2. Enlist help. When getting together with friends or family that may not be familiar with the guidelines you have for food when it comes to your child(ren), have a family meeting early in the gathering and ask them to be guardian angels. My eight year old niece, Sav, saw E reaching for the soda and alerted us to what was happening the second before it happened. She gave us a half-second head start, which is all we needed to ensure E didn’t get his fingers in his mouth. She appointed herself as his guardian angel and for the rest of the holiday weekend, she alerted us when he found a stray french fry and gently took it from him while explaining to him how it could hurt him if he ate it. Sav felt important and E had the added benefit of another person watching out for him. Plus, he followed her around like she hung the moon and they formed a very special bond.

3. Babywear. Wear your baby or toddler as much as possible. The easiest way to keep your kiddo safe is to keep them close. If they like being worn and are small enough, wear them. Trade off with your partner, or another trusted family member. I know it’s not ideal and many littles won’t love this for the duration. But even if it’s just for 30 minutes, it’s 30 minutes you don’t have to worry about their safety. It reduces your anxiety, which will reduce theirs in turn. You can also take that opportunity to scope out gathering for potential problems.

4. Be firm. Don’t be afraid of hurting people’s feelings. My sweet mom, (who would never intentionally do ANYTHING to harm her grandson), once gave E a coffee can to play with. She forgot to wash it out. He had the lid off and was shoulder deep in Folgers remnants before I could even process what he had. I instantly became upset with her, and although I regret the level of reaction now, I don’t regret reacting. I apologized to her later for my tone, but not for reacting. She can’t be cavalier with food, and although I never believed that was her intention, I was ready to stay somewhere else if it meant my son would be safe. I told her this with as much kindness and clarity as possible. I know it hurt her feelings, and it made me sad knowing I hurt her. But her feelings were secondary to my son’s health. Even people who love our kiddos don’t always connect with the vigilance required for FPIES and other allergies and health concerns. Although I never WANT to hurt anyone’s feelings, and typically find a kind way to state (or restate) boundaries, sometimes it happens and I try to work it out with the offended party pretty quickly.

5. Party later. Celebrate in your own way. When all else fails, stay vigilant during your festivities. Then crack open a bottle of wine or martini shaker when you get home after the kids are asleep. If you don’t drink, it’s no problem! You can still mix up a relaxing mocktail.   My favorite? Kombucha Christmas Cosmo. Don’t worry, you don’t have to come up with a recipe on your own, you can find this easy recipe and more at OurStableTable.com.

Carri Saum Bio Pic 2Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical fields. She has a background in paramedic medicine and spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet the health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. She has coached countless clients on topics such as nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and blogs regularly about healthy cooking and nourishing the whole family with The Leaky Boob’s sister site  OurStableTable.com and Facebook page. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
Share

Surviving Holiday Breastfeeding

by Star Rodriguez, IBCLC

 

Ho, ho, ho!  Merry Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice, readers!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!  There’s snow! (Unless you’re in a place that doesn’t have cold, snowy winters, in which case, can I spend mine with you?  Or mail you some snow, at least?  Like, maybe all of it?)  There’s cookies!  There’s a festive holiday air that we all love!

Oh, yeah, and if you’re a breastfeeding mom and baby, there’s some possible, holiday-related pitfalls.  In this article, I’ll address some of them.  Hopefully, some of these tips will help keep your holidays happy.

 

Help!  My baby is suddenly super fussy and nursing all the time!

So it’s the holidays, and you’re spending them with, well, pretty much everyone you’ve ever met.  Ladies with babies are extra popular at the holidays.  We all want to hold, kiss, snuggle, and love your babies…and then hand them back as soon as they are fussy.

With traveling, and new people, and being passed around, it is totally normal for your baby to get a little overstimulated and cry often.  When breastfed babies get upset, they enjoy nursing.  It’s comforting for them, and allows them to calm down, and settle.  And then they might fall asleep.  At the breast.  While you’re holding them.  And then they wake up the second you set them down.  And this cycle repeats for what seems like FOREVER.

This doesn’t mean you have to stay awake, half dead from sleep deprivation.  One of the easiest things to do in this case is let your baby fall asleep while nursing.  Then, keep cuddling your baby until your baby is in a nice, deep sleep.  It usually takes babies at least 10-15 minutes to get there.  After your baby is in that deep sleep, though, you can generally put them down and go sneak off for your own holiday enjoyment.  Or just go take a nap.  Whatever.

 

Help!  My baby seems to be nursing less!

Remember how we talked, up in the last few paragraphs, about everyone holding/kissing/snuggling your baby?  Well, sometimes, when babies are passed around, they get sort of distracted and stop thinking about eating.  If you’re wondering how that happens, remember the last time you were really, really busy.  Lots of stuff was going on.  Maybe you felt hungry once or twice, but as you got caught up in other things, you pushed it away and your hunger probably abated a little.

Well, that can happen with your baby, too.  Now, I’m not encouraging you to put this theory to the test by not feeding your child, but, at the holidays, it sometimes happens.  If you notice this has occurred, try to take your baby aside, somewhere quiet and less distracting, and nurse.  Be prepared for your baby to possibly cluster feed over the next night or day.  This is ok; it is your baby’s way of catching up after missed feedings.

In this particular case, the best defense is just making sure that you’re nursing your baby regularly at gatherings, though.

 

Help!  I’m nervous about breastfeeding in front of my family and friends!

Sometimes, you are the nervous one, who is worried about exposing yourself.  Sometimes you’re in a home that’s not incredibly breastfeeding-friendly.  Either way, this can make you feel very anxious about the holidays.

In this situation, there are many things you can do.  Some people just decide to not care, and nurse just the way they do at home.  Gathering up the confidence to do this often leads to a great experience for moms, and little to no negativity from the people surrounding them.  If you’re not sure that’s for you, try breastfeeding in front of a mirror and see how much really shows.  With your baby at the breast you may be more covered than you realized and after practicing in front of a mirror be ok with breastfeeding wherever you are.  However, not everyone will be comfortable with this, and that’s ok.

You can also use a cover or nurse in another room.  Covers have the advantage of not making you have to go away from where the action is.  Some babies don’t like them, though, and will pull them up so that they can see what is going on around them.  Some homes are warm, and the cover leads mom and baby to feel too hot.  Nursing in another room can reduce all of those negatives, but, again, you’re missing fraternizing with others, and that’s what the holidays are for.

I also, as with almost any nursing in public endeavor, recommend a cami under a regular shirt.  You pull the top shirt up, the bottom shirt down, and they cover pretty much everything, even your stomach.  See this video for how that can work.  Special breastfeeding tops make it easy too and and an Undercover Mama is a nice option as well.

You can also try making your holiday trips short, if possible.  Many moms can go to an event for 2-3 hours and just nurse before and afterwards.  That may allow you to get out without having to worry about nursing at all.

 

Help!  I have a sick relative insisting on handling my baby!

First of all, babies are not super delicate if they are healthy, full term newborns without any health issues.  As long as your relative washes their hands and uses sanitizer, doesn’t have something horrible like pertussis, and doesn’t get all up in your baby’s face, it will probably be fine.  Feel absolutely free to bring sanitizer with you and insist on its use if that makes you feel more comfortable.  This is your baby, and you can ask people to have good hygiene before touching.

However, not everyone is ok with letting any sick person handle their baby, or, maybe your baby is immune compromised in some way.  The best thing that I have found for this is, “I’m so sorry.  My pediatrician is concerned about me exposing (baby’s name) to germs right now.  Let me hold (baby) for you, and you can take a look at her.”

You can also wear your baby.  I’ve found that, when baby is strapped to your breasts, people are a lot less likely to get too close or to ask to hold or touch the baby.

 

Help!  I have a lot of traveling to do!

Holiday travel by car, for me, would involve ten hours of driving, so I feel your pain on driving with babies.  Air travel is usually easier; look for nonstop flights, nurse your baby during takeoff, and try to get nonstop flights when at all possible so that you can minimize your time on the plane.  Arrive early enough to get through TSA, and I highly recommend a baby carrier for traveling through the airport.  If you are bringing pumped milk, know the TSA guidelines for pumped milk.

If you are driving, think outside the box.  If it’s a long drive, can you drive most of it during the part of the day or night that your child sleeps most?  Can you bring a support person to help entertain the baby?  Can an older sibling help?  Take as many breaks as you need, and allot for them in the time that you are driving.

 

Help!  My relatives give unsolicited breastfeeding advice!

I get questions every year from people basically asking me how to tell their relatives to back off.  They hear things like, “Are you STILL nursing that baby?”  “I don’t know why you can’t give a bottle!” “We used to give babies rice cereal in a bottle and they slept much better than yours does!”

First, remember that this is your baby, and parenting decisions are up to you to make.  Other than that, people handle this very differently.  Some moms just let it go in one ear and out the other.  Remember, most of these people legitimately are about you and your baby and are probably just unfamiliar with current research.

Some people will come equipped with research showing that breastfeeding is acceptable and a good idea.  Many of my clients use snippets from the AAP or WHO – “The AAP recommends nursing until at least a year” or “The WHO recommends nursing until two years old,” can both be good.  A simple, “My pediatrician thinks this is a good idea for us,” can also be a really great way to shut down opposition.

It may make you feel better to argue, debate, or reply sarcastically (and I will admit that there have been many times that I have done just that) but it’s rarely a great solution.  Although, this particular example has always amused me.

If you can pull off sarcasm that well, absolutely do.

 

 

Help!  My relatives keep trying to sneak my baby food!

Make your expectations clear when you first get there if you think this will be an issue. “We are not doing solid foods yet.  My baby only gets breast milk.  Please do not feed our baby.”  You can also mention allergies: “We are concerned about allergic reactions in our baby, so we are starting solids gradually and in a very specific way.  Maybe instead of feeding the baby, you can change diapers/take her for a walk/rock him/et cetera.”  Giving people something else that they can do with the baby is often the easiest way to get them to stop stuffing things in his or her mouth.

 

__________________________________

 Star Rodriguiz, IBCLC, began her career helping women breastfeed as a breastfeeding peer counselor for a WIC in the Midwest.  Today she is a hospital based lactation consultant who also does private practice work through Lactastic Services.  She recently moved to the northern US with her two daughters and they are learning to cope with early October snowfalls (her Facebook page is here, go “like” for great support). 
Share

Bamboobies Holidays breastfeeding survival giveaway!

As part of our LIVE Facebook chat this week with TLB sponsor Bamboobies, Kerry Gilmartin has generously offered a giveaway just for The Leaky Boob readers.  I got to meet Kerry this past September (and her adorable little boy!), she’s such a lovely person with a passion for helping moms, I am so pleased to share this wonderful company with my readers.  Read on for Kerry’s holiday breastfeeding survival tips and to learn about the products she developed and materials she uses.

 

TLB:  How did you develop your products and why do you use the materials you use?

Kerry:  I’m a hippie at heart – and a very leaky boob! When I was breastfeeding my 2nd, it really bothered me that the only pads that wouldn’t leak through my shirt and so I started stuffing some bamboo velour fabric washable baby wipes into my shirt because they were so soft and absorbent. I wouldn’t have had the instinct to start a company making breast pads if it weren’t for the funny name I thought of one day – or the knowledge of great eco-fibers and waterproof materials being used by cloth diaper manufacturers.

I developed the unique nursing shawl when I was embarrassed by the attention the bright apron-style covers drew and not confident enough to just nurse in public without any cover.  I wanted something that was stylish and could be worn all the time and wound up using a woolen shawl I owned to nurse in quite a bit. When I wanted something more lightweight I developed our unique design with a couture designer friend and found the neat soy/organic cotton fabric was really well suited to it for breathability, wrinkle resistance and keeping it’s shape.

We make all of our products here in Colorado by women making a fair wage and we’re really happy about that too!

 

TLB:  What holiday breastfeeding tip do you have to share with the Leakies?  I think our nursing shawl is such an attractive and subtle thing that whether you’re traveling on the plane or sitting at a cocktail party, no one will know what you’re doing until you pull the baby out! It’s nice to have privacy for yourself and your baby and boobies – especially at such a hectic time of year.

Kerry:  Taking time out to get naps for you and baby when you’re traveling makes all the difference too – a little nurse and nap can be a cure for even the most annoying of crazy uncles/nosy aunts etc.

 

Kerry is giving away one set of therapy pillows – value $24.99.  Bamboob-ease therapy pillows ease pains of engorgement, clogged ducts and weaning – and even big kid bruises!  They’re super-soft bamboo fabric filled with flax seeds that can be warmed in the microwave or cooled in the freezer to provide comfort and therapy for all sorts of breast issues.

Kerry is also giving away one Bamboobies Cute Little Nursing Cover – value $44 – a novel new nursing cover that looks more like a stylish shawl than a traditional apron-style cover-up.  It comes in only solid colors so it’s more discrete – you called it ‘mom-wear with flair’ !  Useful during pregnancy as well as the next couple of years as a stylish shawl, it’s a flattering addition to a new mother’s wardrobe.  Made of organic cotton and soy fiber, it’s a cool eco-garment and lusciously soft too.

Bamboobies are made in regular (ultra-thin and leak-proof) and overnight (ultra-thick).  Nursing mothers love them bc they’re the softest and they don’t show through or leak through like other washable pads.  Made of organic cotton, bamboo and hemp, they’re eco, ultra-soft and they’re money-savers in the long run over disposables.  We’ll give away a multi-pack with 3 pair of regulars and one pair of overnights – value $30.

Total value is is just over $100!

 

All you have to do to be entered to win one of these fabulous prizes is to comment on this post and share what you’d like to win in this giveaway as well as your holiday breastfeeding survival tip.  For a second entry please visit Bamboobies site and come back with the link of what you’d treat yourself to this holiday season.  Please be sure to visit Bamboobies Facebook pageand thank them for sponsoring this chat and giveaway!  And so you don’t have to wait, take advantage of this code FaLaLa25 for 25% off at Bamboobies, the code is good through the end of this week so get yourself something for your stocking this holiday season.

 

This giveaway is open to USA and Canadian entries and closes December 15th, 2011.  Good luck!

 

The winners have been randomly selected, congratulations to…

Laney:

“My 2nd entry: I’d treat myself to the http://www.shop.buybamboobies.com/Nursing-Cover-3-Pair-Regular-Bamboobies-Gift-Box-GIFT.htm Thanks!”

Sherry:

“I would love to win the nursing cover. its so adorable and not as obvious as other covers. My survival tip is to just relax and do what you know is best, forget the rest! “

Amanda:

“I would love to win the nursing pads, as baby is due in January! With my first two babies we survived the holidays breastfeeding by trying not to stress. Stress just makes everything worse for Mom and baby, plus it is a lot harder to enjoy this wonderful time of year.”

Share