Tips on Pumping Milk While Traveling

title

After a year of lying low from out-of-town work purposely because of my breastfeeding daughter, I was back on the road like rock star and the airways a la flight attendant in a series of business travels and fieldwork since March this year. BUT it didn’t mean I have already stopped breastfeeding and expressing milk for my Little Princess. In fact, I still do and have been doing for 25 months now.

As a breastfeeding mom who is committed to provide the best milk for my daughter for as long as I can and for as long as my child wants, I still continue to express milk for my supply not to dry up. Also, there are times when I still experience a little engorgement when I fail to pump for long hours and I don’t want this to lead once again to plugged ducts and milk blisters.  But at 25 months of breastfeeding, I only get to express 4-6oz a day but this amount goes a long way in strengthening the immune system of my Little Princess and protecting her from diseases so I’m not yet putting a dot on this beautiful journey of breastfeeding of ours.

However, I’m not going to talk about and bore you with my ride to extended breastfeeding. Instead, I want to share some tips about pumping or expressing milk while on travel, whether for business or for leisure, that I learned from my past business trips. The keyword is strategy. Because I had to be away from my daughter for a couple of days, I needed to think of ways on how I would be able to pump and store my milk in order to maintain my supply.

And here are some strategies in preparing for out-of-town trips for breastfeeding/breastpumping moms, working or non-working, who will be away from their precious little ones for quite a while:

1. Prepare all the essential things that you will need and make sure they are complete. Make a checklist if needed.

So what needs to be in your bag or luggage? Essentially:

a. Breastpump (of course, if you don’t hand express). Tip: Better to put your flanges and breastkit parts in a Lock & Lock or any tight container not only to keep your breastkit clean and contact-free from bacteria but also to have a container that will serve as a “basin” in sterilizing your flanges, pump parts and bottles.


b. Cooler bag large enough to accommodate your expressed milk for the duration of your travel. I use this Igloo cooler bag which I got from SM Homeworld.

coolerbag

c. 5-6 pieces of ice packs or 1-2 sheets of Techni Ice Dry Ice. I’ve been using Nano Silver Ice Packs from Babymama.ph (for only P50/pc) everyday at work and it can sustain coolness up to 8 hours in my small Babymama cooler pouch. I also bought Techni Ice Dry Ice which can effectively contain coldness for longer hours. I ordered it online at the Techni Ice website.

d. Dishwashing liquid and sponge for washing your pump and bottles. Tips: Put the dishwashing liquid in a small bottle (like the shampoo bottles in hotels) to save space in your luggage and baggage allowance which you will need more of when bringing home your expressed breastmilk. Use a sponge cut into half (or about 2 inches in height) for easier washing of your bottles instead of bringing a bottle brush.

spongeandsoap1

e. Clean small towel to serve as your “tray” and “drying pan” for your washed breastpump and bottles. Unless you are staying in a suite, your hotel room mostly likely does not have a kitchen sink and the most efficient and hassle-free option for cleaning up pumping paraphernalia is through the bathroom lavatory. In which case, you wouldn’t want your clean pump and bottles to touch anything in the bathroom. Tip: When packing your things, keep the towel in a Ziplock bag to avoid having contact with any other “less clean” stuff.

towel

f. Ziplock bags.  Ziplocks are dual purpose:  for storing your pumped milk especially when you don’t have ref in your room and you will just request the front desk to put it in their ref, and as a space-saving container for breastpump parts and flanges and other stuff like clean towel.  Tip:  Prepare large ziplock bags for towels and bigger stuff and medium/small sized ones for storing expressed milk. 

ziplockbags

g. Small cooler bag or lunch bag with 2 frozen ice packs where you can put the breastmilk  you will express during your flight. This is actually optional especially if you will handcarry your large cooler bag but since I normally pack my large cooler bag inside my luggage and handcarry only my pump bag, I needed a small cooler bag. My pumping bag is what I bring everyday at work, minus the heavy pump which I already leave in the office. (READ:  What’s Inside My Koala Bag (aka Pump Bag)?)

h. Resealable breastmilk storage bags.  Bringing all your bottles can consume so much luggage space so it’s better to use breastmilk bags. One of the cheapest I found online is Jaco milk bags from LiquidGold Ph. I think I bought mine at P1000 for 125 pieces if I remember it right. The Jaco milk bags also have sturdy base that makes it less prone to spilling when transported. The number of milk bags to bring will depend on your output (amount per pumping session), number of times you will pump, and the number of days you will be away. When I travelled for 3 1/2 days, I was able to pump 4-6oz per session, 7-8 times per day so I brought around 30 pieces of milk bags though I wasn’t able to use everything as I used storage bottles during the last 1 1/2 days to save on the milk bags. Still, it’s better to bring more than less than what you will need. You wouldn’t want to end up “pumping and dumping”.

Left photo via Babymama.ph 

i. Nursing cover, poncho or scarf.  Your saving grace when pumping on the plane or during engorged, I-need-to-pump-right-here-right-now moments. I love the multi-way breastfeeding ponchos of IndigoBaby, Smartmum Online and Autumnz from Mamabella Nursing and Maternity Wear.

Sneaking a quick pump time while on break at our department Strategic Planning :) Action wonderfully captured by my office friend Raissa. ;)

Using my Smart Mum Online multi-way breastfeeding poncho. It has become my favorite because the fabric is soft and it provides enough coverage.

j. Marker and adhesive tape for labeling your breastmilk’s date and time of expression. Bring at least a marker but if you will also use storage bottles, make sure you also have a tape unless you want to affix permanent marking on your bottles. 😀  Tips: Bring a tape in a small portable dispenser so you can cut the tape anywhere. I use the 3M Scotch Donut dispenser — functional and cute! 🙂 In case you forget to bring a marker and a tape, like what happened to me in one of my business trips, use your eyeliner for labeling. It doesn’t easily wear off by itself but it can be easily wiped off with a tissue. 🙂

tapeandmarker

k. Alcohol. You are likely to pump or express milk anywhere (airport? plane? restaurant?) so this should come in handy. Bring the travel size (smallest one) to lessen your baggage weight.

l. A pack or roll of tissue. It’s a mortal sin for women not to bring tissue when on travel, for breastpumping moms too! Unless you want to use your own clothes or nursing cover to wipe off milk spillage, make sure you have tissue in your bag. Travel packs are more space saving than the rolled ones. But you can flatten a tissue roll by removing the rim. 🙂

2. Check if the hotel room you will be staying in has a refrigerator to store your pumped milk and freeze your ice packs.

Call or email your hotel customer service and find out if the room that you booked has a refrigerator. If none, you can take any of these options: 1.) depending on your hotel, request if you can have one in your room (more likely for a fee but this will be nothing compared to the convenience an accessible ref can give you! 🙂 ) or 2.) request the front desk to have your expressed milk stored in the hotel’s refrigerator as well as your ice packs in the freezer.

I, together with my officemates, extended our Boracay business trip last year and apparently, the room we transferred the last night of our trip did not have ref. So I asked the receptionist if they have a refrigerator and offered me to put one in our room for P200. Not bad for the convenience it gave me. :)

I, together with my officemates, extended our Boracay business trip last year and apparently, the room we transferred the last night of our trip did not have ref. So I asked the receptionist if they have a refrigerator and offered me to put one in our room for P200. Not bad for the convenience it gave me. 🙂

Tips: In the absence of an accessible ref in your room for nightime pumping, make sure you have at least 2 frozen ice packs with you to keep the expressed milk cold. Or you can also use the room aircon as your make-do ref by turning it a bit cold (around 20 degrees Celsius or colder) and putting your expressed milk where it can be directly hit by the cool air.

Milk storage tips:  if traveling for 7 days or less, you may just store your pumped milk in the refrigerator as breastmilk in ref temperature is good for 7 days. Just freeze them when you get back home if not yet for baby’s immediate consumption. For travel beyond 7 days, pumped milk may be stored in the ref for 7 days but make sure to transfer them to the freezer after or better yet, put them directly inside the freezer after pumping.

Apart from storing milk, the refrigerator can also be used to store used pump flanges and parts for the next pumping session (see Tip No. 5).

3. Plan your pumping schedule and stick to it as much as possible.

To avoid breast engorgement and to keep your milk supply up, you need to pump or express every 3-4 hours. This is easier if you are traveling for leisure as you can take control of your time. But if you are away for work with a tight schedule, it requires a bit of strategy and speed.

During my 3 1/2 day trip last year for a conference (and leisure on the side 🙂 ), the pumping schedule that I set was 6am, 9am, 12nn, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, 12am, 3am. I wasn’t able to follow this strictly because I needed to adjust based on the programme schedule of the conference but what I did was too quickly rush to my hotel room to express milk during the 15-20 minute breaks. Good thing our hotel was also the conference’s venue. Since I only use single pump (to save on washing my pump parts and because I’ve gotten used to that. READ: My Pumping-at-Work Strategies), and it takes 30 minutes for me to pump both my breasts, I hand expressed my other breast while pumping the other one. Voila! Done in 15 minutes. 🙂 You can also pump discreetly while the talks or discussions are ongoing by covering with a scarf or breastfeeding poncho. In fact, the easiest way to do this is via hand expression. 🙂

4. Learn how to hand express your breastmilk.

Hand expression makes the life of a breastpumping momma, moreso, a traveling breastpumping momma, a looooot easier. Imagine rushing to your hotel room to pump because you only have a 15-minute break from your conference or workshop. Or grumbling at the thought of assembling your pump and washing them after use. I know how hassle these scenarios could be but learning how to hand express will enable you to skip all these inconvenience completely or at some instances, at least. Like on the plane. Or during talks in conferences. Or while having your meal. Anywhere. Instead of assembling your pump, you can just scoot your breastfeeding cover and start expressing milk. Plus it won’t look to obvious that you are actually doing your thing. 🙂

expressingattheairport

On hindsight, I think I look better on this one. 😀 (Emma Watson’s photo borrowed from Sheva.com)

5. Store your used breastpump in a ziplock bag inside the refrigerator for use in your next pumping session.

This will save you a lot of time in cleaning your pump parts as you won’t need to wash and sterilize your pump every session. The cold ref temperature will prevent the milk on the pump from getting spoiled. If you want to maximize your time during your trip, you better do this because cleaning your pump and bottles can be very time-consuming. In fact, I also do this when I pump in the office. 🙂

6. Ensure you have accessible hot water for “sterilizing” your pump and bottles.

While you can store your used pump in the ref to save on sterilizing session, you still have to clean your pump on a daily basis. To do this, you will need of course, hot water. Some hotels, especially the more upscale ones, have everything ready in their rooms including an electric kettle. This is the ideal scenario but in case there is none available, you may request your hotel front desk to provide you hot water everytime you need it. You may also use the hot water in the bathroom especially if you are staying in a nice and clean hotel. I remember doing it in Singapore where water, even bathroom water, is potable. 🙂 Use your tight container or Lock & Lock as your sterilizer. 🙂

7. Wake up at least once in the middle of the night to pump to keep your milk supply up.

I know this can be very hard especially when you are extremely exhausted but for the love of your baby, do it. 🙂 It’s just like waking up in the middle of your deep sleep to pee, though may take a little longer. Or changing your little one’s nappies for the leadtime to be more realistic. 😉 Besides you can take a power nap while waiting for your pumping session to finish. Afterwhich you can just slide your flanges inside a ziplock bag and put inside the ref then go back to sleep. 🙂

8. Enjoy pumping and look at it as something that you love doing instead of a tiring, daunting task that you need to squeeze in your tight schedule.

It’s a bit of a challenge to pump round the clock while you are away from your baby but if you have a positive view about breastfeeding and expressing milk, you won’t realize you’re already filling in bags and bags of the most precious and golden pasalubong for your little one. This principle actually also applies on your everyday pumping routine at work and personally, it has helped me continue breastfeeding my baby girl for 25 months now. 🙂

Hope these tips help you, traveling breastfeeding moms! 🙂 Enjoy your trip and the pumping! 🙂

Advertisements

The Breastfeeding Club Breastfeeding 202 Class

My breastfeeding journey with both my kids taught me this important thing:  being properly informed about breastfeeding is very important to breastfeeding success. With the availability of infant formula in the market, it can be so easy for a mother who is not well-informed about the benefits of and expectations about breastfeeding to just open a can of formula, prepare a bottle and pop it to her crying baby.

That’s why breastfeeding seminars are initiated by different breastfeeding advocate groups to get the parents to breastfeed their children and not resort to formula feeding.  The Breastfeeding Club has organized one, the Breastfeeding 202 Class.

So, soon-to-be-parents, this is for you!  Be properly informed about breastfeeding through this Breastfeeding Class happening tomorrow, June 6, 2015 from 9am-11am. 🙂

Breastfeeding

What’s Inside My Koala Bag (aka Pump Bag)?

As a working breastfeeding momma, you would see me most of the time lugging 2 bags when I go out. With my default going-out, fashion-and-functional bag on my right shoulder and my navy blue a-little-big-for-my-size shoulder bag on the left, I always receive these curious questions from people around me probably suspecting I’m going to elope:  “Where are you going? Why are you carrying a lot of bags?”

To clear my name from the eloping suspicion, the 2 bags I bring with me have their respective purposes apart from making me look like a poor little girl who just stepped in the city for the first time. My “fashion-and-functional” bag carries all my personal essentials (wallet, make-up kit, perfume, umbrella, mobile phones of course! What else?) which I change to match my outfit. 😉 My second bag, the navy blue one which I will call my “koala” bag because it’s attached to me like a koala bear for a very obvious special reason, consists of my breastpumping essentials. Life is a riot if I forget to bring this bag!

pumpbag

My koala bag. We’ve been through a lot. 😀

My trustworthy koala bag is from Baby Couture. Yup, it’s a diaper bag which I turned into a pump bag. 🙂 I promise I searched every mall and online store I could ever find to look for the perfect pump bag that will be my “breastfriend” until now and I thankfully found this pretty at the Baby Couture shop in SM Megamall. It satisfied all my requirements: it’s navy blue and not pink (I hate pink!), simple, can be worn for office or casual clothes (of course, a must!), can match solid-color or printed clothes (another must. Haha!) and roomy enough to accommodate all my pumping stuff.

So what’s inside my koala bag?

1. My hospital grade Unimom Forte double breastpump

unimomforte2

My Unimom Forte in action at a mall breastfeeding station

I purchased this from Babymama.ph. It’s hospital grade so it’s heavy. Around 2kg. And I endured bringing this boombox este humongous and heavy but powerful motor pump everyday at work until I woke up one day and realized I was punishing myself too much. So I just left it in the office and bought a handy manual Spectra pump from Babymama.ph for my weekend use and for emergency cases where there is no electrical outlet. Like in movie houses. 🙂 Currently though, I no longer bring any breastpump. I just hand express.

2. My manual Spectra pump

cimilre-handy-plus-manual-pump

Image from Babymama.ph

During my pumping-using-breastpump days, I also kept my manual pump inside my bag. I used it as my “3rd pump” when expressing milk in the office and as my going-out pump like when I go on fieldwork. I also got this manual pump from Babymama.

3. Lock & Lock container carrying my pumps’ flanges

flanges

This tight container was a steal because I bought it half the price at the local mall and its size perfectly held all my 3 flanges plus their parts.

4. Storage bottles

storagebottles

I have 4 Unimom, 4 Evenflow, 1 Spectra and 1 Farlin bottles that I alternately use to store my pumped milk. I also have 2 Avent Via cups but I use mostly at home since it’s wide neck and won’t fit in my small cooler pouch. I store the bottles inside a Ziplock bag.

5. Small cooler pouch

coolerpouch

I love that this cooler bag also from Babymama is small enough to fit in my koala bag and how it can accommodate 4 5-ounce Unimom  and Evenflow storage bottles. 🙂

6. Ice packs

icepacks2

I have 4 pieces of these reusable Nano Silver ice packs which I also bought from Babymama for P50/piece and I use 2 packs alternately each day. Surprisingly, these ice packs can sustain coolness up to 8 hours. I also got some Techni Ice Dry Ice from Techni Ice Philippines for my travel last year and I use it as well inside my pouch (and hubby the other piece as cold compress! Dual purpose, huh?).

7. Nursing cover, poncho or scarf

Because it’s cold in our office and breastfeeding stations. Kidding. 🙂 I just pump at my desk so I need to be covered. I also pump anywhere so all the more I need to be covered. 🙂 I have an apron-like Next 9 nursing cover and nursing ponchos from IndigobabySmart Mum Online and Autumnz which I got from Mamabella Nursing and Maternity Wear.

8. A marker and an adhesive tape

tapeandmarker

Not for arts and crafts but for labeling my breastmilk’s date and time of expression. My 3M Scotch Donut dispenser is portable, functional and of course, cute. Haha! It’s partner is my Bic marker and they are inseperable. 😉

9. Kleenex tissues

Actually, any brand of tissue will do. I just like the pack designs of Kleenex. 😀 What’s this for? To wipe off milk spillage of course. 🙂

10. Alcohol

For disinfecting my hands before touching my pump paraphernalia especially when there is no available wash area where I will pump.

pumpbag2

The contents of my koala bag. Nursing cover not present in the group picture 😀

So there. But since I have already shifted to hand expression, you can no longer find the flanges inside my koala bag.

How about the other pumping mommas there? What’s inside your pump bags?

My Pumping-at-Work Strategies

I now believe that a mother can work and breastfeed her child for as long as she intends to.  Because I, for one, am a working mom who have been breastfeeding my Little Princess for almost 23 months now. See, it can be done! 🙂

How?

Let me start with these 2 important things that I believe helped me to continue to breastfeed my precious child even while I’m working:

  1. My personal desire to give the best nourishment to my child. I learned from my breastfeeding journey that a mother, working or not, should be armed with the determination and dedication to breastfeed in order for her to successfully breastfeed her child. This mindset is in fact extremely helpful when you are away from your child during the day to work. I also set a breastfeeding goal of at least 2 years to motivate me.
  2. Support of and understanding from my boss and colleagues. Pumping 4 times a day in the middle of tasks and meetings at work  is not a joke and I’m very thankful and blessed that my boss and colleagues support and understand my decision to provide the best milk for my daughter. I talked to them about the benefits of breastfeeding and how natural it is and I’m thankful that I never experienced any negative remark or reaction whenever I put on my breastfeeding gear in the office. I didn’t have any baggage of mocking or discrimination to deal with.

It had to begin with myself through proper mindsetting then gaining support from the people around me.  But of course, I also needed to strategize on how I could pump in the office with my work environment — I work a long 9.6 hours, I also go on fieldwork, we do not have a lactation room in our office and no accessible refrigerator as well. So I better think of ways on how I could make my breastpumping-in-the-office (or even out of office 😀 ) work and here are the “strategies” that I do given my work hours and work condition. 🙂

1. I follow a pumping schedule and stick to it as much as possible.

To maintain my milk supply, I need to express as frequent as possible following the supply and demand principle so I have to set a pumping schedule that would work for me. During the first 16 months of the Little Princess when my milk supply was still abundant, I pumped at  8:30am, 11:30am, 2:30pm and 5:30pm, expressing 4-5 ounces per session. My output decreased to around 3-4 ounces per session when the Little Princess got a bit older with her milk consumption also dwindling. Now at 23 months of breastfeeding, my pumping schedule has changed following the change in my supply given the Little Princess’ demand (she drinks less milk now, eats more solids). I pump at 10:00am, 1:00pm, 4:00pm, and 6:00pm. I skip a session at times, usually the 4pm, depending on my work schedule. My current output is a bountiful 1-2 ounces per session. 😀 But I haven’t given up yet! 😉

2. I adjust my pumping schedule depending on work demands. 

I couldn’t strictly adhere to my pumping schedule all the time because of meetings and other work-related activities so I work around my schedule. When I have a meeting that coincides with my pumping schedule, I pump 15-30 minutes before the said meeting. If it’s an informal discussion within our all-ladies department, I pump during our meeting. Thank God for my very understanding colleagues. 🙂

3. I pump at my office cubicle allowing me to multi-task. 

Because we do not have breastfeeding station yet in the office, my work cubicle serves as my pumping station. We have a separate room in our office where I can pump more privately but I prefer doing it at my desk because it’s more accessible and I can do some work while pumping like reading emails and reviewing reports. I just cover with a scarf or a nursing poncho then proceed with my thing (work and pumping 🙂 I’m multi-tasking!).  I think it also helped that we are all ladies in the department so I have gotten used to and have become comfortable with pumping while working and my colleagues seeing me all wrapped at my cube with a tiny apparatus attached to me. But I guess I wouldn’t mind too, even if we have male colleagues. 🙂

pumpingatwork3

My pumping gear on my pumping desk 🙂

4. I pump anywhere when needed.

At a barangay hall during fieldwork, in an FGD (focus group discussion) viewing room, in a meeting room, in a training room, at a restaurant, on the airplane. I pump anywhere that is clean and feasible when it’s time for me to pump. When we have fieldwork which is usual in my line of work as a market researcher, I sit down covered in one corner with my handy manual pump or just my bare hands to discreetly express milk. I also do it in dark FGD (focus group discussion) viewing rooms even with the big bosses around. 😀 I also express milk during project briefings at our vendor’s office and at restaurants during lunch meetings.  I’ve also done it on the plane while on business trip. 🙂 My little one’s need overides my self-consciousness because if I don’t have the courage to pump anywhere, I would just suffer with engorged breast that would lead to the decrease in my supply.

 

5. I learned how to hand express milk. 

Based on my experience, it’s much faster to express milk by hand than using a pump. I’m done in 5-10 minutes while it took me 30 minutes to fill a bottle with my pump. In fact, I have already kept my breastpump and shifted to hand expression for around 6 months now. Easier and faster. No need to refrigerate or sterilize flanges. Saves time and effort. It also made my pumping anywhere a lot easier and more discreet. 🙂 Also, hand expression reduces the risk of plugged ducts which I promise is one of the worst things that can happen to a breasfteeding mom. 😀 It’s just a little challenging at first when you don’t get the correct hand positioning and hit the pressure points but once you get the hang of it, it’s already a breeze. 🙂

pumpingatwork5

Hand expressed! 🙂

6. I useD three single breastpump to save on cleaning and sterilizing time.

Since I pump 4 times in the office, my Unimom Forte double breastpump functioned as a single pump for 2 separate pumping occasions, one of which I re-use for the third pumping session. For the 4th session, I used my manual Spectra pump which is my backup pump in case there is no electricity or electrical socket on where I will express milk.  All these cover for my 4-times-a-day pumping requirement without the need to sterilize each time I would pump.

7. I put my used breast flanges inside the refrigerator for re-use in the next pumping session to save on sterilization. 

This saved me a huge amount of time and effort back when I was still using my breastpump. The high temperature from the ref keeps the milk residues on the flanges from getting spoiled so it can be re-used. I just sealed the flanges inside my Lock & Lock container to avoid contamination and put it (or request to be put as we don’t have a ref in our office) in our nearby canteen ref then I would just pick it up when it was time for me to pump. A little hassle to go back and forth the canteen but at least it was just once a day. 😀

8. I store my pumped milk in my cooler pouch with ice packs.

We do not have an accessible refrigerator in our office and the nearest one is at the canteen and I find it inconvenient (and I’m too lazy! 😀 ) going to and fro the canteen and request the servers to keep my pumped milk every single time I pump (that was my system for a while until I got tired. And lazy. Haha! 😀 ).  So what I do now is just store my expressed milk at my cooler pouch with 2 frozen ice packs for the rest of the day until I go home. It doesn’t spoil, thankfully. 🙂

Pumping-at-work can be challenging but establishing a system and strategies that work for you and incorporating these in your daily work life coupled with a genuine motivation of giving the best food for your child actually makes it a joyful activity. Not daunting at all. 🙂

Tamang KAIN: Infant and Child Feeding and Nutrition

“My kid is a picky eater. How do I get him to eat nutritious food?”

“My child is not gaining weight. What should I do?”

“My breastmilk stash is slowly depleting. What do I feed my daughter?”

These are just a few of a mom’s child feeding dilemma and I also experience some of them. As a mom of a 3-years-and-9-month old pre-schooler boy and a 1-year-and-7-month old toddler girl, it’s always a struggle to get my children eat the right food.

My Big Boy loves rice so much that when he does not like the food served on the table, he could get through a meal with just rice, no viand. (Carbs overload, I know! I suppose he knows he needs it for his all-day kalikutan. Hehe!) He likes fish — fried, grilled, steamed, sinigang — and would sometimes finish the fish without eating the rice. His favorite is fish fillet. 🙂 He’s not so much of a fan of chicken, pork and beef and especially vegetables, which he always segregates on the side of his plate and calls “junkfood” when he is no longer in the mood to eat (that kid! :D). We just sneak in some meat or veggies in his spoon of rice so he would have an intake of other nutrients. He’s also not fond of hotdogs, unlike most kids I know, and would rather eat the marshmallows in a hotdog on a stick at a kiddie party. His mealtime usually takes 45 minutes to 1 hour! He wouldn’t chew his food and let them stay in his mouth for so long until I or his Daddy scolds him. Or he would get off his chair and play with his cars which of course, will get another scolding. And oh, like any other kids, he loves biscuits, cookies and chocolates!

My Little Princess, meanwhile, enjoys eating. We practice baby-led weaning (BLW) starting her 6th month when she could sit up unassisted and began showing interest in solid food. BLW is an approach of introducing solids to your baby with age-appropriate food that are soft-cooked or cut into slices (no purees/mashed food) by letting him/her feed himself/herself (Babyledweaning.comWholesome Babyfood). She started with steamed veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, sayote, carrots, and brocolli then fruits such as banana, mango, watermelon and papaya. Beginning 9 months, she eats whatever we have on the table and at around 14 months, she started using a spoon by herself. At the same time, she is still exclusively breastfeeding/drinking breastmilk, meaning no follow-on milk. However, when she reached toddlerhood, my breastmilk supply started to dwindle and my stash began to slowly run out. What would I feed my Little Princess then? Panic attack! Plus, for some reason, there was a point when she would just eat 2 or 3 spoons then play with her food and throw them on the floor.

To address feeding concerns like what I experience with my kids, the Facebook breastfeeding support group I’m a member of, the Breastfeeding Pinays, holds a monthly or every-other-month seminar, called the “Tamang KAIN”, on proper infant and child nutrition which goes hand-in-hand with breastfeeding. I’m blessed to be able to secure a slot on the session held last October 11 at Citadel Inn Makati. The talk was conducted by Velvet Escario-Roxas, a breastfeeding expert, head of the breastfeeding-advocate NGO Arugaan and founder of Breastfeeding Pinays. I know it’s been almost 2 months since the event but I find the seminar very informative not to share. I really learned a lot on how to properly feed our little ones.

tamangkain

The Tamang KAIN Seminar was initiated by the Breastfeeding Pinays in partnership with KAYA, Velvet Birth and Arugaan.

For the benefit of moms or dads who may be going through any feeding dilemma with their children or soon-to-be moms/dads, let me share what I’ve learned during the Tamang KAIN seminar.

BREASTFEEDING AND COMPLEMENTARY FEEDING

  • Babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. Nothing should given to them except breastmilk/breastfeeding — no water, tea, juice, am, vitamins, pacifier or any other food because breastmilk provides all the nutritional needs of the baby for the first 6 months of his life. Contrary to the common notion, infants 0-6 months should NOT be given water but breastmilk alone as breastmilk is composed of 80% water. When giving medicine, use breastmilk instead of water.

ebf

  • After 6 months, complementary feeding can be offered to babies  in addition to breastmilk. Solid food is given to complement breastfeeding and not to replace or substitute mother’s milk or breastmilk.
  • Amount of solids to give to your child depends on his age.  As the baby grows older, he consumes more solid food than breastmilk.
  • Babies can regulate their natural caloric intake so there is no need to give them too much milk.  Small frequent feeding of 2oz is what is recommended.
  • “Follow-on milk is NOT NECESSARY” for children as breastmilk contains all the essential nutrients needed for baby’s growth and development which are not present in formula milk.
  • A mother’s milk will always be enough for baby no matter how much breastmilk she produces, coupled with the right complementary solid food.
  • Artificial vitamins are not needed for as long as baby is breastfeeding and eats proper nutritious complementary food.
  • Food and Early Child Care and Development (ECCD) are inter-related.  For children to develop, they should be encouraged to explore and experience their surroundings and get exposed to different textures of the things around them.  The hands, feet and mouth have the same senses and the texture that the child feels through his hands and feet sends signals to his brain on the texture of the different food.

PROPER EATING HABITS

  • Do NOT force feed the child.  Let the child consume the food that he can as children have the ability to control their food intake according to what their bodies need.
  • Mealtime should be FUN.  Encourage a pleasant eating environment — avoid yelling and being too strict during mealtime. Avoid pleading or bribing the child to eat or finish his food.
  • Encourage INTERACTIVE feeding. Mealtime is family time.  Stay with the child when eating and do not leave him as this brings an opportunity for the child to learn the proper eating behavior. Encourage communication and interaction on the dining table to foster family relationship. No mobile phones, gadgets or tablets during mealtime.
  • Allow baby to experience eating by HIMSELF. Do not spoon-feed baby. Give him finger food or a teaspoon and plate for him to learn how to put food in his mouth by himself.
  • Turn off the TV during mealtime. Do not let a child eat with the television on. It serves as a distraction and the child loses his focus on his food.
  • Parents should be the one to decide on what food the child will eat.  The child eats what the parents eat so prepare nutritious food. Do not ask the child what food they want to eat as this may encourage a picky eater. Teach the child to eat what is served on the table.
  • Give small, frequent meals to the child.

SMALL AND FREQUENT FEEDING

  • Babies explore their surroundings to develop and grow and their energy gets used up from all the exploratory activities that they do like crawling, walking or running around, climbing up and down the chairs or stairs. So they need to eat more frequently to fulfill their energy needs for the all their activities.
  • Babies do not need to consume big meals that is believed to last long given their energy requirements. What is essential is for them to have their fill every now and then for their continuously active bodies.
  • A baby’s stomach is just about the size of an egg so it is important to give them just the right amount of food and not overfeed them. For example, you may offer a baby around 5 teaspoons of mashed or cut-into-pieces viand (with or without rice) for a mealtime. After an hour, add another 5 teaspoons.
  • How often should the small frequent feeding be done? Every after 1 to 2 hours (maximum). But if a new type of food will be introduced to a child, a leadtime of 3 hours before feeding should be followed so that he will accept the new food more than when he is not too hungry.
  • What food do you offer to baby every 1 to 2 hours? It can be the same as the previous meal or a variety of food as long as it is nutritious. It can be a rice meal, a viand, cooked or steamed vegetables or fruits. Besides, even adults wouldn’t want to eat the same food all the time.
  • Until what age should the child be given small frequent meals?  For as long as he wants. A child can regulate his caloric intake and his food consumption will adjust according to his caloric needs.
  • If a child wants to eat more, offer him  more. An empty bowl or plate is an indication that a baby wants to further eat so put more food on her bowl or plate.
  • When a baby is sick or just healed from sickness, increase breastfeeding or make it more frequent than the usual to supply baby’s energy needs as his appetite for solid food is still low and his tastebud is bland.

PROPER FOOD TO OFFER TO OUR CHILDREN

  • Complementary food to be given to our children should be age appropriate, rich in nutrients, easy to prepare, can be grown around us or can be bought from the market or talipapa and affordable.
  • Do not put thin/watery food in a bottle. This will not help baby recognize texture of food. It might also cause baby to consume more than what he should or need that may lead to indigestion and sleeplessness at night.
  • Baby’s first food should be indigenous food that are natural, fresh and safe.  Do not give children chips and softdrinks which contains artificial flavoring and chemicals that are not good and safe for a child’s health.
  • Do not offer food with preservatives and food colors that may lead to certain diseases.
  • Commercial baby food such as cereals are also not good for children as they are too sweet, too salty, heavily processed and lacks nutrients.

I want to share also some breastfeeding and child feeding facts I learned from the seminar:

  1. Babies who are pre-mature by 6 weeks should be introduced to solids by his 8th month to maximize the nutrients obtained from breastfeeding.
  2. Breastfeeding is a child’s “first school” as he learns the sense of touch between him and his mother.
  3. When breastfeeding, the act of moving from the left ot the right breast brings balance to baby’s brain.
  4. The hindmilk in breastmilk is rich in fats that is good for brain development.
  5. Breastmilk production peaks at 12MN to 4AM as prolactin goes up while sleeping.
  6. Illness among children peaks between 1 and 3 years old so don’t stop breastfeeding.
  7. The greener the leaves, the higher it is in iron and calcium.
  8. Do not give peanuts to babies until 9 months old.
  9. Cow’s milk is a phlegm former that causes continuous cough and colds. Hazelnut, soy or almond milk are better options for children.
  10. Baby’s weight gain begins to slow down after 6 months based on the growth curve.

I had a lot of light-bulb moments during this seminar and I felt enlightened on how we should feed our children. Some of our feeding practices were really challenged — force feeding, pleading and bribing for our child particularly the Big Boy to finish his food and a heavy instead of happy dining atmosphere because the Big Boy doesn’t want to eat and I’ve learned the proper way to make feeding more enjoyable for my child and less stressful for us. I was also able to take deep breath upon learning that my breastmilk, no matter how much (or little), is always enough for the Little Princess and there is no need for us to give her “supplementary” milk, but complementary healthy food instead.

We’re still in the process of applying all these learning and I hope that we will be able to practice the “tamang kain” in our home. 🙂 I hope also that the moms who would stumble upon this post will learn as much as I did. 🙂

P.S.  While I shared my learnings during the seminar on this post, I still encourage parents to attend the Tamang K.A.I.N. Seminar because I promise, there’s a whole lot more facts and information that can be learned during the discussion. Join Breastfeeding Pinays on Facebook  and check out the seminar schedules. 🙂