Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reminder--Nestle Boycott Week--October 26 to November 1, 2009

This year Nestlé-Free Week will take place from 26 October - 1 November.


Monitoring around the world by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) finds that Nestlé is the worst of the companies when it comes to breaking international standards for the marketing of baby foods adopted by the World Health Assembly.

According to UNICEF: "Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute."

Sign up if you will be supporting/promoting Nestlé-Free Week

This encompasses Halloween in some countries, which Nestlé is increasingly trying to exploit in the UK.

You can find background information on the boycott of Nestlé over its baby milk pushing in our Nestlé-Free Zone. Plus resources for promoting the boycott. For example, you will find code for adding the Nestlé-Free Zone logo to your website or blog, with a link back for other to do the same. See:


The ongoing boycott focuses on Nestlé's flagship product, Nescafé coffee. We list all products from which Nestlé profits, so if you don't normally avoid the whole lot, why not do so during this week? You may surprise yourself with how many alternative products are out there.

If you find that your friends and colleagues say they would boycott, but.... then challenge them to do so at least for this week.

You can go directly to our boycott list (which has a UK focus, but with information on where to check for other countries) at:

We would welcome other poster designs specifically for the week, so feel free to send them to me at

You can also find items for promoting the boycott in our online Virtual Shop at:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Crying It Out Causes Brain Damage

Research suggests that allowing a baby to "cry it out" causes brain damage.

by Dr. Stephen Juan

Experts warn that allowing a baby to "cry it out" causes extreme distress to the baby. And such extreme distress in a newborn has been found to block the full development of certain areas of the brain and causes the brain to produce extra amounts of cortisol, which can be harmful.

According to a University of Pittsburgh study by Dr. DeBellis and seven colleagues, published in Biological Psychiatry in 2004, children who suffer early trauma generally develop smaller brains.

A Harvard University study by Dr. Teicher and five colleagues, also published in Biological Psychiatry, claims that the brain areas affected by severe distress are the limbic system, the left hemisphere, and the corpus callosum. Additional areas that may be involved are the hippocampus and the orbitofrontal cortex.

The Science of Parenting (2006) by Dr. Margot Sunderland points out some of the brain damaging effects that can occur if parents fail to properly nurture a baby -- and that includes forcing them to "cry it out." Dr. Sunderland, who is the director of education and training at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London, draws upon work in neuroscience to come to her conclusions and recommendations about parenting practice.

In the first parenting book to link parent behavior with infant brain development, Dr. Sunderland describes how the infant brain is still being "sculpted" after birth. Parents have a major role in this brain "sculpting" process.

Dr. Sunderland argues that it is crucial that parents meet the reasonable emotional needs of the infant. This is helped along by providing a continuously emotionally nurturant environment for the infant.

Allowing a baby to “cry it out” when they are upset will probably be regarded as child abuse by future generations.


For more on 'sleep training,' 'crying it out' (CIO) and 'controlled crying', see:


*The No-Cry Sleep Solution
*The Baby Sleep Book
*Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering
*The Baby Bond
*Natural Family Living
*The Baby Book
*The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost
*Baby Matters
*Attachment Parenting: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding & Nurturing Your Baby
*Primal Health: Understanding the Critical Period Between Conception and the First Birthday
*The Attachment Connection: Parenting A Secure & Confident Child
*Attachment Parenting: Instinctive Care for Your Baby & Young Child
*Mothering Magazine

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dr. Sears: A Word About Bottle Feeding

Let me be clear—there is no real substitute for breast milk. It is simply the best food for your baby. It provides all the nourishment they require and builds immunities protecting your baby against developing certain infections to which they will be exposed. Now that I’ve said that, I know some of my patients decide to bottle-feed. If you do please discuss this with your health care professional, and investigate all of the formula alternatives.

Bottle-feeding Index
How Formulas Are Made
Comparison of Formula and Breastmilk
Choosing Formulas
Soy Formula?
Follow-Up Formulas
Comparing Formulas
Lactose-Free Formula
Hypoallergenic Formula
How Much and How Often to Feed
Safe Formula-Feeding Tips
Bottlefeeding Tips
Choosing Nipples
Switching from Formula to Cow's Milk
Bottlefeeding Questions of the day

Using human milk as the nutritional standard, formula manufacturers follow a basic recipe that includes proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. They combine various ingredients so that the nutrients in artificial baby milks follow the same rough proportions as human milk. The big difference between formulas is the different sources of these elements – cow's milk, soybeans, or something else. Most formulas are cow's-milk based, meaning that the basic nutritional building blocks of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are taken from this nutritional base. Cow's milk contains most of the nutrients necessary for adequate infant nutrition, although not in quite the proper proportions. Soybeans are also a ready source of certain nutrients necessary for human nutrition. Formula manufacturers start with the basic nutritional elements in cow's or soy milk and add ingredients until the mixture approximates human milk as closely as possible. They adjust levels of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat and add vitamins and minerals.

To be fair, formula companies have produced milk for babies which, at least on paper, seems to resemble the real thing. Formula is definitely better than it used to be. But on close inspection, what the factories make doesn't quite measure up to what mom makes. It is nearly impossible for artificial baby milk manufacturers to make a milk with nutrients even close to what mothers' bodies can make. And these companies' primary goal is to make a profit, so marketing and manufacturing issues influence what finally gets into the can.

One of our concerns is that even though formula-fed infants appear to grow normally, are they really thriving? Thriving means more than just getting bigger. It means developing to the child's fullest physical, emotional, and intellectual potential. We just don't know about all the long-term effects of tampering with Mother Nature – though we do know that there are significant health differences between formula-fed and breastfed infants. Human milk is a live substance containing live white blood cells and immune-fighting substances, and is a dynamic, changing nutritional source, which daily (sometimes hourly) adjusts to meet the individual needs of a growing baby. Formulas are nothing more than a collection of dead nutrients. They do not contain living white cells, digestive enzymes, or immune factors. In terms of human history, they are a new experiment.

Even though the Infant Formula Act passed by Congress in 1985 mandates the Food and Drug Administration to see that formulas contain all the nutrients that babies need, we don't really know everything there is to know about what babies need. The good news is that formula companies are constantly updating their recipe in order to keep up with new research into infant nutrition. The bad news is that each change in formula is really just a new experiment.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mummy bloggers spit the dummy over Nestle's spoilt milk

Hell hath no fury like a mummy blogger scorned - a lesson quickly learnt by Nestle this week after its attempt to buy bloggers' affections backfired spectacularly.

Nestle has become one of the world's most boycotted companies following international outrage by campaigners who claim that it is marketing baby milk formula as a substitute for breastfeeding to people in the developing world, who are often unable to mix it with clean drinking water.

Critics say the practice is killing children, while Nestle insists it does not encourage formulas over breast milk and that mothers should have the right to choose how to feed their babies.

Seeking to turn the tide of public opinion in its favour and save a brand that has been savaged by the power of social media activism, the company invited 20 of the most influential parenting bloggers to its US headquarters for a two-day all-expenses-paid meeting with Nestle's chief executive officer.

The event, putting Nestle's side of the story, ran from September 30 until October 1 and the company even sent free steaks to the women's homes, purportedly to feed the men of the house while the mummy bloggers were on the Nestle junket.

The bloggers were expected to write - presumably positive - posts from the event and Nestle set up a Twitter tag, "#nestlefamily", to aggregate their tweets. But as soon as the anti-Nestle activists discovered the tag, they stormed Twitter and the blogs with vitriol, overriding Nestle's attempt to massage the message.

"Advertising formula and providing free samples to women in developing countries could be likened to advertising free c-sections with a dirty knife and untrained medical staff," wrote the author of a blog called PhD in Parenting.

Now, more people than ever know about the anti-Nestle campaign as the protests spread virally. Thousands of people have joined more than 160 Facebook groups dedicated to boycotting Nestle.

"Data trends indicate that what began as a social media public relations experiment tapped into a large amount of dissatisfaction among influential audiences relating to Nestle's alleged corporate practices and ethical behaviour," said SR7, an Australian company employed by brands to monitor their reputations on social networking sites.

Anti-Nestle campaigners, including Baby Milk Action and the International Baby Food Action Network, claim Nestle's aggressive marketing in the developing world is leading to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants.

They claim bottle-fed babies are up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea in areas with unsafe drinking water.

UNICEF says about 1.5 million child deaths a year in the developing world are attributable to poor breastfeeding practices.

Nestle boycotts have been conducted since the 1970s but, with the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, protesters from around the world can easily rally together and spread their message far and wide.

"The Nestle Family initiative again reinforces the power of social media and networks in shaping the outcomes of campaigns on these platforms," SR7 said.

At the end of this month, citizens' groups in more than 100 countries will hold their annual "Nestle-Free Week", with campaigners ramping up their online and street protests. It coincides with Halloween, a very lucrative event for the confectionary producer.

Responding to the #nestlefamily Twitter storm, Nestle Australia's corporate affairs manager, Fran Hernon, said the reactions were biased and "predictable".

"This just goes to show that the blogosphere is a tough place to try to have a rational argument!," she wrote in an emailed statement.

"The event at Nestle USA was held to introduce our company to a number of bloggers. It was very successful, which of course absolutely infuriated the small, biased, vocal group whose anti-Nestle opinions are so entrenched that no matter what we do, they will twist it to present us in the worst possible light."

Nestle has created a website,, which it uses to respond to many of the criticisms and to hit back at its detractors.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009
Sleeping With Baby: Breastfeeding, Night Waking & Protection from SIDS
Mothering, Issue 141

by Peggy O'Mara

One of the biggest crises of confidence that new mothers face has to do with sleep. Mothers feel responsible for their babies' sleep. Others ask mothers if their babies are sleeping through the night, as if this is something the mothers can control. Mothers lie to one another about whether or not their infants sleep through the night. And everyone lies about not bringing their babies into bed with them.

We lie because our society has unrealistic expectations of babies, and therefore we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves as mothers. Our expectations for babies' sleep simply do not coincide with babies' actual capabilities, or with the normal behavior of our species.

It is normal for human beings to wake during the night. We each awake several times a night, but don't remember that we have. It is normal for human infants, especially, to wake at night. During their early weeks, they sleep during the day and are awake for periods during the night. It takes about two months for their day-night cycle to regulate itself. From two to four months, infant sleep is more predictable, with longer stretches of night sleep. Parents are tempted during this time to say that their babies sleep through the night, and they fully expect that they should be. This is often false hope.

New brain activities—manifested in sitting up, standing, creeping, and crawling, as well as in the eruption of new teeth—conspire to make the period from five to nine months a time of increased night-waking. Baby becomes more aware of others during this time, and may have separation anxiety and nighttime fears.

The pattern of increased brain activity, new growth and stimulation, eruption of baby teeth, and the maturation of the immune system is mostly complete by two years of age. While many parents with one-year-olds who are not sleeping through the night think that their baby has a sleep problem, it is actually not until between two and three years of age that a child regularly sleeps through the night. This does not mean that the two-year-old wakes as much as the newborn, but only that sleep is a process as well as a state.

There is nothing we can do to change this, nothing we can do to make our babies sleep through the night. We sometimes think that introducing solid food will help our babies sleep, but starting solids too early can hurt them. One study found that feeding babies rice cereal before four months was a risk factor for the development of diabetes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not starting solids before six months; the World Health Organization suggests waiting even longer.

Even if we wait to start solids, it is not a good idea to start with rice cereal, although it is very popular. Rice cereal doesn't make babies sleep through the night. In fact, it has a high glycemic index and may raise the baby's levels of blood sugar and insulin. It is not as rich in nutrients or flavor as other foods, such as vegetables and fruits. If food actually did make babies sleep, rice cereal would not be a good choice; as a starch, it is digested quickly. The cereal became popular decades ago to complement formula feeding because it could be more easily fortified with iron.

While we cannot make our babies sleep, we can provide them with regular bedtime routines. I always nursed my babies to sleep in a rocking chair. Baths, quiet time, reading stories, soft light, and a slow pace help prepare children—and adults, for that matter—for sleep. These routines help us to relax.

It is also important that older children have time during the day to run and play, as a lack of exercise can make them wakeful. On the other hand, children who are overstimulated can also take time getting to sleep. We all need a period of unwinding from a busy day, and the transition from waking to sleep requires sensitive pacing.

Most of us, though, can figure out the baths and the bedtime stories. It's the night waking when our children are babies that drives us wild. It drives us wild because we're up in the night and don't want to be. It also drives us wild because it's a dark secret to admit that our babies wake at night.

Over 30 years ago, I sat in a room with a bunch of other new moms and bemoaned the fact that my baby was waking up during the night. I thought I was weird. All of a sudden, it occurred to me to ask the other mothers how many of their babies were waking at night. Nearly all of them raised their hands. We all breathed a great collective sigh of relief. It was not our fault. It is just the way babies are.

After observing my four babies, it is clear to me that teething is a major culprit in night waking. My babies' night waking dramatically decreased after their two-year molars came in, often at about 18 months. There can be other reasons for night waking, and it's always helpful to try to figure out if there is anything out of the ordinary in the baby's life that might contribute to wakefulness. If not, one simply has to live with it.

We have set a cruelly unrealistic standard for infant sleep. We expect babies to conform to our adult world, and we justify coercing them when they don't.

I know it's been a long time since my children were babies, and I no longer feel in my bones the ache of missed sleep, but I found it easier to handle sleep interruptions once I came to accept night waking as normal. I recently received an e-mail advertising the services of a doctor who specializes in sleep training. "Sleep training" implies that we can, and therefore probably should, control our babies' sleep habits. But is sleep a "habit"? Good sleeping habits are one thing, and they do indeed help children sleep better—but sleep itself is a need, and therefore out of our control.

Yet we parents are not only expected to control our children's sleep, we are told where our babies are to sleep. Defying centuries of ancestral wisdom and common practice, today's medical experts raise doubts in young parents about the safety of sleeping with their babies. This advice flies in the face of the fact that most of the world's parents sleep with their babies and always have. It's the way of our species. The assumption that one needs a separate room and a separate bed to safely raise a baby is elitist. There's nothing inherently wrong with these things, but they don't have a monopoly on safe sleep.

Human babies are born helpless and have the longest period of dependency of any species. We are not comfortable with this because our culture equates dependency with weakness. It is, in fact, a healthy dependency that guarantees independence. I don't think I am the only mother who has observed that her most dependent babies turned into her most independent children. As with sleep, independence is not something we can teach our children. It is something they develop.

But what is a parent to do with all of the mixed messages regarding sleep and babies? One doctor recommends swaddling babies all night long. And yet, observation of babies self-attaching to the breast shows them using their arms to locate the breast and to move toward it. Babies also move their arms to lower their body temperature, which is important—overheating can be a contributing factor in SIDS.

Another doctor recommends that parents refuse to comfort a baby who wakes at night. He suggests standing outside the door of the baby's room to listen to her cry it out. I can't imagine any other circumstances in which one would be so deliberately unresponsive to a loved one's suffering. When the baby finally falls asleep out of exhaustion, it is not because she has learned how to sleep. It is because she has given up on others.

Convincing international research supports a parent's instinct to sleep with her baby. Cosleeping seems to have a corrective effect on the infant's respiration. The baby breathes more regularly when in skin contact with the mother. For this reason, too, cosleeping is protective against SIDS. One researcher even found that cosleeping was not only safe, it was twice as safe as not cosleeping.

And yet, the gold standard for infant sleep is an approved crib. According to controversial research conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year 60 babies die in adult beds—but most of these babies are alone. On the other hand, 900 babies die each year in cribs, and in the last 25 years there have been 36 recalls of cribs. Does this mean that cribs are unsafe? No. It means that babies sometimes die at night.

It is cruel to suggest to parents that they could be lethal to their own children, and that the only solution is to buy a new crib, which many parents can't even afford. In fact, new products are recalled just as often as old ones. The fact that a product is new does not mean that it has been safety tested, because safety testing is not required. It may mean that it meets current mandatory standards, but if it is a new type of product, there may be no standards yet set for it. This is true even in the juvenile products market.

Common sense tells us that night waking is not a pathological abnormality but a temporary disturbance. It decreases as baby teeth come in and the immune system matures. Here are some ideas that can help:

Accept night waking as normal.
Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Don't turn on the light or change diapers when the baby wake at night to nurse.
Don't count how many times you're awake at night.
Don't look at the clock in the middle of the night.
Nap on weekends, or whenever you can get help with the baby.
Carry on.