5 Tips to Start Your Baby on a Healthy Feeding Journey

A certified aromatherapist and herbalist shares her secrets.

5 Tips to Start Your Baby on a Healthy Feeding Journey
*We’ve partnered with Inspired Start to help ease one of baby’s biggest milestones: first foods. When it comes to feeding your baby, there’s no one right way to do it. There’s so many “right” ways to do it, in fact, that the options can be overwhelming, especially for a first-time mom. Our favorite way to clear through the clutter? Find a mom you admire and ask her for some tips, then adapt them and make them your own. Libby Vlasic is one of those moms. She’s a certified aromatherapist and herbalist, and new mom of two, who not only preaches a healthy, organic lifestyle, but truly lives it with her 7-year-old son Miles and 8-month-old girl Story Elanora. We recently partnered with Inspired Start, the only baby food designed to introduce 8 common allergens, to share her story of how she’s building a healthy foundation for her baby when it comes to feeding. Here’s Libby’s best baby feeding tips for you to adapt and make your own: 1. Find feeding styles that work for your life. I am still breastfeeding story with my milk on demand. When she was a newborn, breastfeeding meant constant feedings regardless of the time of day. This was especially hard during the night. But, we adjusted and we’re on a roll. I do try to pump at least a bottle a day so that she can have a probiotic, which I have been doing since she was born. As she was a C-section baby, I want to make sure that I am doing what I can to support her microbiome. That being said, I know that’s my path and specific to the needs of my daughter. It may not be what works for everyone. You really have to find a balance that helps you feel empowered. 2. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Story was very interested in starting solids from 4 months of age. Being an herbalist, I’ve paid close attention to the changes in infant nutrition research that have been taking place over the last couple of years, even since Miles was Story’s age! Even knowing that I could introduce allergens like other solid foods, I was originally nervous about giving Story her first Inspired Start pouch that included peanut. However, I quickly realized that it was fine. Story absolutely loved it and I felt good about giving it to her. With Inspired Start, she has since tried eggs and even shellfish! 3. Ingredients matter. We try to eat home-cooked, organic meals as a family. I am incredibly conscious of what goes into our meals. While we do not eat land animals, seafood and dairy do make appearances. We attempt to buy direct from farmers at markets, join CSA’s, or grow our own foods at our home upstate New York when the season permits. Story loves bananas and avocados, but eats a whole range of foods. I love the diverse recipe options of Inspired Start - they have combos I have never before seen in baby food! 4. Get your food facts straight. I love social media so much and value the input from my mom community online, but I’m always cautious of everyone’s well-intentioned advice. There’s a lot of disinformation about feeding your baby out there; the fears about introducing allergens is just one example. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states that potentially allergenic foods can be introduced just like other solid foods, and yet so many parents believe they have to wait for more than a year, or longer! When in doubt, I always ask my pediatrician for advice, especially around feeding my baby. 5. Make your kids part of your conversation...even if they’re just babies. I am a caretaker of this planet, and this means teaching my children to treat this planet with respect and understanding, and to do all we can as a family to minimize harm and damage. My 7-year old has a profound understanding of food and where it should come from. He sees my husband and I growing foods like tomatoes, basil and grapes every year upstate, and both children have attended herbal or plant events with me where their exposure and further understanding can flourish. Just last week, Story was with me in Sedona, Arizona on an essential oil retreat of native Arizonian plants, while Miles last year attended a herbal conference with me in Massachusetts. It is my hope that by incorporating this knowledge into their daily life, my children will grow to pass the message on. After all food is powerful, and if we eat pure, healthy, real foods, we can affect our health for the better. Photography by Stylish & Hip Kids for Well Rounded.


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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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