Introducing your baby to solids can be a daunting process, as nutritionist, naturopath and mother Annaliese Jones can no doubt attest to. Annaliese is particularly passionate about nourishing babies from their first bites. The first foods we give our children and habits we set up for them will hugely benefit your child in the future.
I caught up with Annaliese to find out more about the importance of nutrition for children, healthy eating ideas and her approach to motherhood.
Why is nutrition so important in the early years?
I’m so passionate about childhood nutrition because the foundation you create in these early years can make such a difference to their future health. Strong bones and teeth rely on years of good mineral intake, calm minds and good concentration comes from keeping additives, preservatives and sugar low, while optimal vitamins and antioxidants can protect against chronic illness’s years down the track. I could go on and on!!
What is your personal approach to introducing solids?
Personally I did what I recommend in the clinic. Starting with vegetables, keeping grains mostly out of their diets till 1year old, and not delaying some of the more allergenic foods like egg and nuts (unless of course there is reason to avoid these, such as family history). This is a little different to some of the mainstream advice, but I find it works better for wee ones digestion, allergies and general health.
Food should be fun. Can you tell us about mealtime in your house?
Ari is a total foodie! So meal times are all about him getting involved in the decision making (not always wise), the preparation and the critique! He eats a boiled egg and gluten free toast for breakfast which I put in his room so he can eat it when he wakes up. This started when he was about 3.5years old. He’s very independent when it comes to food and totally relishes each and every meal. Then I make him some almond porridge when I get up too. Lunch is always a hot meal if we are at home and then leftovers on kindy days. It’s pretty basic during the week such as rice, veggies and protein. I think he may be the only kid who has to eat his lunch with a spoon at kindy but he loves it! There is always a treat like a homemade biscuit, a piece of fruit and a carrot stick too. I was probably a bit restrictive with portions and treats to start with and I think that may have set up a bit of a struggle between us. I try to be more relaxed these days because essentially he eats an amazing diet and I don’t want him to be overthinking food.
How do you juggle your work commitments with being a mother?
Over the past 4.5 years I’ve felt differently about this question. At one point, when Ari was having a few stuttering issues I felt a lot of guilt about the time I dedicated to my work. I absolutely love my job and at times it’s all encompassing. Maybe I wasn’t spending enough time with my son? Looking back as he is close to starting school now I can see we have been lucky to have a perfect balance of mummy and Ari time versus social time for him and rewarding work time for myself. It has been right for us anyway. I think every child and woman is different and you just need to find the right balance for your family.
On a purely practical note I managed to juggle work and family commitments by getting help! I got a clinic assistant when I had Ari so I didn’t have to do all the administration side of the business. I got an invoicing system and online booking system. I did, and still do batch cooking for his dinners so after work I don’t have to cook from scratch. And setting boundaries about work encroaching on ‘mummy days’ helps. That’s still a work in progress if I’m honest!
What are your tips for time management?
It’s amazing how your time becomes so much more precious to you when you have a child. Some practical tips are:
Be clear about your focus for the day (connecting with your child, clearing all your flagged emails, batch cooking for the week ahead). 1-2 focus points is enough I reckon!
Keep expectations low! Especially when they are young. Gone is my to-do list with 15 things on it for the day.
I love the pomodoro technique of working on tasks in 25min blocks.
Morning routine – I find I’m a lot clearer on intentions and therefore more efficient when I do 10mins breathing and 10mins meditation or journal writing each morning.
What has been the hardest and best part of motherhood for you?
The hardest and most surprising part is the way your children are little mirrors of you. I sometimes hear Ari say something in a way that upsets me and suddenly realize he learnt that from me. They are little sponges in the best way, and I’m working on being the best version of myself so he can absorb some of that!