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Julia Simmonds – Itchy Baby Co Interview

 

Julia Simmonds is a mother to the gorgeous Christian and Sofia, a registered pharmacist and founder of Itchy Baby Co.  Itchy Baby Co produce natural products for parents of children who suffer from eczema and sensitive skin.

I recently interviewed Julia to find out more about herself and her fantastic products.

Fun question to start with!  What did you have for breakfast this morning?

This morning, like every morning, I felt my way to my coffee machine and drew a very long black. Made the kids breakfast and then blended a spinach, banana, ginger, cinnamon and oat smoothie. I really like this for breakfast because I can sip it on the go.

Why did you create Itchy Baby Co?

Itchy baby co. was born from a really dark place. I was struggling to manage my little boy Christian’s eczema and desperate to try anything which would give him some relief physically and me some relief emotionally. Finally I stumbled across the wonder of colloidal oatmeal and it grew from there.

What was the turning point in your son’s recovery?

I would love to say it was only using natural itchy baby co. products and the sticking to our bathtime and moisturising routine every day, and no doubt this has been a huge part of it. Other changes I have made is trying to keep what we eat and any products used in our home as natural, organic, unprocessed and chemical free as possible.

What’s your opinion on the link between food allergies/intolerances and eczema?

With eczema we are always looking for something which can bring our little ones relief, and eliminating certain foods from your child’s diet is really tempting. In some children with severe eczema taking away certain foods from their diet can help manage their eczema. It’s important to remember that foods can be a trigger for eczema but eating a particular food does not cause eczema. So, taking away a food from your child’s diet might improve their skin, but will not cure their eczema.

What’s your advice to parents whose children have eczema?

Stay strong. You are doing the best you can. Not everything you do will get results and often it’s a combination of different things you try which can help your child.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

Moisturising, moisturising, bath time and then more moisturising. In between that I spend time connecting with parents who are living with the challenge of managing their child’s eczema by email, facebook, insta and writing my blog. On really special days I’m testing new itchy baby co. products on my Christian and Sofia and many of their friends.

How do you try and keep a healthy, balanced life?

Mentally I always try to look ahead and keep focused on my mission to help young families struggling with eczema. Physically I keep an exercise mat in my home office and try to make regular contact with it. Emotionally I cuddle my children as often as they’ll let me.

 

(please note I receive no commission from any sales of this product, I just highly rate it!)

 

Itchy Baby Co Interview. Julia Simmonds is a mother (and registered pharmacist) to a child who had severe eczema so she created a product to help ease his condition.

Lifestyle

Interview: Skye Abrahams of Packed

Packed Lunch

Founded by Mum of three boys Skye Abrahams, Packed is a Melbourne business supplying real food lunchboxes to children in pre-school to grade 3.

Launching in February, Packed only uses the best quality local produce and organic wherever possible.  A new menu is prepared each term based on seasonal ingredients and no additives, preservatives or refined sugar are ever used.

I caught up with Skye recently to find out more about herself and Packed.

How did the idea for Packed come about?

Packed has come about as a combination of a life-long passion for health and food, and noticing a gap in the market for truly healthy, sustainable lunchboxes. Packed will target Melbourne schools that either don’t have a tuckshop, or only have unhealthy options. I hear many parents complaining about the greasy corner milkbar without a single gluten free option and not a vegetable in sight. Parents deserve a day or two off the lunchbox treadmill, and the quality of their children’s lunches shouldn’t have to suffer in order to achieve this.

Will you be offering special dietary requirement options?

Yes! All our lunches are refined sugar free and free from additives including preservatives, colours and flavours. We also have plenty of gluten and dairy free options available.

Skye Abrahams

Skye Abrahams

What does “sustainability” mean to Packed and why should parents care?

I really didn’t want to create a take away option that put a further strain on the environment. We’re early days at Packed, so we’re currently operating using Greenmark compostable packaging, but the plan is to operate using a fleet of stainless steel lunchboxes that we collect and wash each day from school (watch this space!). Parents are more time poor than ever before, with many families having both parents working. It’s easy to see why readily packaged foods are so popular. I want to provide a convenient option that eliminates packaging entirely. Many schools are promoting “nude food”, so it’s great to be able to supply a lunch that is in line with this philosophy.

What’s your approach to feeding a growing family?

In a nutshell: Just eat real food. I have overcome some serious fussy eating in our family (think plain carbs only). I find consistently offering a broad, healthy, colourful spread of food and discussing the benefits of various food with the children has really helped broaden their palate. We also talk about the detrimental affects too much sugar and “fake food” full of numbers can have on our body. I notice behavioural side effects following high amounts of sugar and especially artificial colours, so I always use that as an opportunity to talk about how that food made them feel. I don’t like to demonise any food, so I try not to get too uptight about what the boys might eat at a party or a friend’s house, but educating them on the benefits of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins and having these foods at the centre of their diet is my mandate.Guac

What’s your boys favourite lunch?

They all have different favourites! The older two love fresh fruit, especially berries. I craved raspberries during pregnancy and it’s easy to see where that came from! I caught one of them trading pocket money for the youngest’s left over egg and lettuce sandwich, so that is evidently a current fave! My youngest loves a hot meal, so in the cooler months I send leftovers in a thermos for him. I’m hoping to be out at schools with a pot of warm soup as part of our “Packed” lunch service in the winter months!

What’s the one food you couldn’t live without?

Another tricky one! I’m going to say avocado. How good are avocados?! Fortunately, all three of my boys like avocado, so that is a super easy lunch if I’m short on time. So full of vitamins and healthy fats to fill them up. I remember travelling overseas when my youngest had just started solids. Not wanting to rely on packet food, but not having access to a kitchen, bubs enjoyed many a mashed avo, mashed banana, natural yoghurt, or squashed peach!

To find out more about Packed click here

 

Skye's Simple Guacamole

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe haas avocados
  • 1 lime, peeled
  • 1/4 red onion (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • Pinch of sea salt or Himalayan salt

Instructions

1

Thermomix or food processor:

2

Add all ingredients & mix 5 secs speed 5.

3

Top with chopped coriander if you're a fan

4

Otherwise mash avos with a fork, juice lime & stir through the rest

5

Serve with tacos, or as an after school snack with veggie sticks

Lifestyle

Well Nourished – Georgia Harding Interview

Well Nourished

I would like to give a very warm welcome to the lovely Georgia Harding from Well Nourished.  Georgia is a Naturopath with over 20 years experience living in sunny Queensland with her two  lovely children and husband.

As a background, I stumbled across Georgia, via her Well Nourished Lunchbox Facebook group (which has amassed a huge following!) and swiftly purchased her Well Nourished Lunchbox e-book which has now become a firm favourite in our household.

Fun question to start with! What was the last book you read?

Con Iggulden Conqueror Series – a series of five books that basically tell the life story of Genghis Khan, they were brilliant. The most fascinating part for me is learning how the Mongols survived trekking the harshest climate consuming mostly milk (from their horses and goats), dried meat and root vegetables (while they lasted) and when desperate, they nicked an artery and drank the blood of their mares. Even the heaviest reads come back to food for me – ha ha!

What was your inspiration for starting Well Nourished?

Definitely my kids. I really wanted to help families to feed their kids well. The predictions for the long term health and wellbeing of this generation is pretty dire. Starting my website was my way of sharing my experience as a Naturopath and my passion for making whole foods utterly delicious to make a difference.

How have your own health problems shaped the way you eat?

I’ve always eaten pretty well, I was very lucky to be raised by a very health conscious mum. I’ve been seriously ill twice in my lifetime and I suppose this has actually forced me to look beyond food to heal. On both occasions stress, unresolved grief and pushing myself beyond reasonable limits contributed a lot to my health decline. Eating well comes very naturally, I love cooking – but managing my stress, putting myself first occasionally is a work in progress!

Has your philosophy on food changed since having children?

I suppose I’ve been forced to loosen up a bit. I found with my first child I was very strict around food which was okay when she was little but when she began school and socialising with other kids I had to back of a lot in order for her to develop a healthy relationship with food. Kids are human, it’s normal for them to want what others have so I feed my family very well when I’m in charge, but at parties and sleep overs, they make their own choices (with my guidance and ongoing food education of course). When they don’t make good choices, we talk about how they feel and now my daughter is 12 (and has gorged herself on junk plenty of times) she is now very aware of how food makes her feel and I’m so proud of how she is able to make very healthy choices these days. Paves the way for her being able to self regulate as an adult.

What top 3 tips would you give to families looking to transition to a more wholesome way of eating?

  1. Start slowly, choose one meal or food group and focus on that. Fill your pantry and fridge with mostly whole foods so there is less temptation to choose processed meals and snacks.
  2. Talk to your kids (and spouse) about the importance of making changes and how eating whole food helps their body and brain to be stronger, smarter etc;
  3. Get them involved, ask for their feedback and support. Encourage them to help you when shopping and cooking – kids who feel they have had some involvement in their meal are way more likely to eat it.  

What advice would you give to parents whose children have food intolerances/allergies but are going through a fussy eating stage?

All kids will go through a fussy stage at some point. It’s important to never give in to it and substitute a healthy whole food with nutritionally void food (because ‘something is better than nothing’). I understand that it is tough, but in my experience preventing food fussiness is easier than reversing it and if you give in once, your kids learn that they choose (where as you choose what and when, they choose how much). I have a whole library of information and strategies written on this topic which I’m hoping to release this year.

What’s your go-to family meal?

We eat such a varied diet – the upside of having a compulsively creative cook in charge!! If I’m feeling lazy though it will be some kind of simply cooked protein and a big salad.

What exciting things have you got lined up in 2017?

My website is in the process of being rebranded and rebuilt. I’m also developing an online library (of mostly podcasts) to help busy parents to raise food loving kids (and banish food fussiness). I’ve teamed up with a fabulous psychotherapist to share this fabulous info with loads of actionable strategies to really get kids eating and loving whole foods like my own do. Also a small pictorial cookbook of easy, whole food recipes that even little kids can cook from. Busy year!!

Take 10% off ‘The Well Nourished Lunchbox’ eBook until the end of February with the code ‘NEWYEAR’ at checkout (normally $24.95). 

Please note as an affiliate of Well Nourished I will receive a small commission from the sale of each e-book that is made via my website.  This helps to cover some of the running costs with maintaining my blog and also go towards some of Gracie’s medical expenses.  

Three-ingredient-chocolate-brownie1-980x600

THREE INGREDIENT BROWNIE

Print Recipe
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 medium sized, very ripe bananas (2 cups approx.)*
  • 250g (1 cup) nut butter (any kind you like, such as peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter etc;)
  • 60g (½ cup) cacao powder (you can use less if you prefer a less intense chocolate flavour)

Instructions

1

Preheat your oven to 180℃ and line a small brownie tin with baking paper.

2

Mix all of the ingredients together in a powerful blender or food processor (Thermomix, 15sec, speed 5).

3

Pour into the lined tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm to touch.

4

Allow to cool and slice into squares. These can be frozen for up to a month.

Notes

*The more ripe the bananas, the sweeter these will be. As there are no other sweeteners ripe bananas are a must.

Lifestyle

Petit Kiddo Interview

Petit Kiddo

As a parent whose child suffers from eczema and sensitive skin, I’m always looking for products that fit the bill.  Although Gracie’s eczema has virtually cleared she is prone to terrible nappy rashes so I was very excited last year to stumble across Petit Kiddo.

Petit Kiddo is a natural alternative to baby wipes which has been created by two French born, Bondi friends, Canelle and Morgan who have six kids in total between them.

I thought it was only apt that I interviewed the two ladies to find out more about them and their fab product.

Fun question to start with! What book are you reading at the moment?

Canelle: I’ve just opened “Les Chaussures Italiennes” by Henning Mankell a thriller. But the more I read it, the more I realise that I’ve read this book already, probably 2 or 3 years ago. This is the first time I done this, I can’t remember any of it except that I’ve read it though! I like to read in French my mother tongue but used to read in English when I was living in France.

Morgan:  I am currently reading a trilogy written by Italian author Elena Ferrante. A book depicting wonderfully the life of 2 girls in the Napoli of the 1950’s till today.  I always read in French because for me, reading is a time for evasion and should not require any effort!

With six children between you, how do you try and achieve a balanced life?

Canelle: So we have 3 children each, I “only” take care of mine and their many friends and activities. We have absolutely no family around but we have lots of friends here for support but they all have kids and busy lives. We miss the mix of generations that we could have had if we were living where our families live, you know, the elderly, the youngest etc….We do it all.

Launching a business doesn’t make it easy. Let’s be honest, it’s a juggling act, pretty much unbalanced for me…it is getting better, my youngest is 4 and every week is getting a tiny bit more easier.

Morgan:  My first is 10 and youngest 6 so it got easier compared to when I was still in nappy days. It is all about being flexible in the working hours, evenings and days. I am also relying a lot on my husband. And the kids helps when need be to!

How did Petit Kiddo come about?

Canelle: I had this idea of doing a local version of this very specific French Baby Bum Cleanser Liniment when my first bub was born, 10 years ago. Then, 2 others babies were added to the fam bam, we moved around a bit, changed jobs etc….so it was on the back burner.

Canelle and Morgan

Canelle & Morgan at Bondi Markets

Then my youngest was growing older, I was still thinking about this idea and I didn’t enjoy the job I had. I talked about it with Morgan when we met for a holiday in southern France 3 years ago. Back then, she was living in Italy with her family.

I started it on my own, super interesting, overwhelming and challenging. After 6 months I realised I would do better with a partner. I wanted someone I knew well and someone who knew the product as well as I did. Morgan joined in, we worked on Skype for months and then she relocated to Sydney!

MorganWhen Canelle proposed to join in, I was excited to jump on board with an idea and a project I always believed in. I was also interested in the challenge of developing a business, and even more to develop a product that I believed will make the difference to carers and parents in Australia.

What is the difference between Petit Kiddo and using baby wipes?  

Canelle: Well, wipes will clean your baby’s bum. That’s it, then comes, the nappy cream, and sometimes even powder. Depending on the brand you are using, wipes can really irritate your baby’s skin because of their ingredients; some will also irritate it because they leave the skin too wet.

Our Baby Bum Cleanser Liniment will cleanse your baby’s bum very thoroughly, but will also moisturise it and protect it from the next wee/poo that will happen very shortly after. It is based on an ancient French recipe and specially formulated to balance the pH of the skin. It is a 3 in 1 product. The more you use it the better the skin is.

Morgan:  Firstly it is an all natural product that is really healthy for your baby skin. Most wipes irritate the skin and require in addition a moisturiser or baby barrier.

The beauty of Petit Kiddo baby bum cleanser is that it relies within the fact that you only need one product and a support ( cotton or washcloths). It does it all.  

Finally it is a product in line with today’s awareness towards the place we live in and need to respect: the earth and our environment. Using petit kiddo is helping reduce pollution unlike wipes.

What’s your favourite go to family meal?

Canelle: We have 2 at the moment: Tacos, I prepared a big batch of meat/veggies kind of chili pot and then freeze some for the following week. My kids love it as they can do it “themselves”. They add avocado, chopped fresh tomatoes, grated cheese, I love it as I can hide heaps of veggies in the dish. Dumplings: When we are brave and have time we make some – I found a great recipe on the Red Tent’s website – but we mainly get the frozen pack from Harris Farm 😉  My 10 year is starting to enjoy cooking, so she searches through cookbooks.

Morgan:  Having lived the past 4 years in Rome, pasta is definitely our favourite dish. Arguments go around the amatriciana or the carbonara …Otherwise homemade crepes and risotto of chicken and zucchinis.

If you’d like to find out more information about Petit Kiddo head to their website

Lifestyle

Beginnings

Us

As there’s only so much you can write on Instagram, I wanted to finally introduce ourselves properly and where our journey began.

I’ve actually written this piece so many times (and in my head!), it’s actually quite emotional and therapeutic in some ways to share our story and journey so far.

So here we go…..

I had an amazing pregnancy with Gracie, no complications apart from needing to have my thyroid levels monitored as I have Hashimotos autoimmune disease – thankfully my then functioning thyroid liked being pregnant and my levels were always within range.

Unfortunately nothing could have prepared me for the horrific labour, delivery and year afterwards, to say it was probably the hardest time I’ve experienced physically and emotionally is an understatement.

Because of the serious medical complications I suffered from, and the time it took to get diagnosed and treated, I never produced enough breast-milk (yes I tried everything including natural alternatives, medication and lactation consultant to no avail). Therefore Gracie was mixed fed up until 7 months old and then exclusively formula fed until 12 months.

Up until then there were no signs or symptoms from what we could tell that she had any issues at all.  However all this changed when we transitioned her to cows milk…

At first it was her skin, she started to break out in bright red eczema patches in a few places and then more and more popped up, all over her body.  I took Grace to our local GP who initially said she would “grow out” of the eczema and that her skin “wasn’t bad enough” to warrant being referred on, much to my frustration!  A couple of weeks later I returned as nothing had changed and this time the Dr suggested that I could do a stop giving Grace fresh cow’s milk and to give her toddler formula for a few weeks to see if it made a difference.

As I was desperate at that point, I stupidly tried for a couple of weeks.  It didn’t make much difference to her skin but I feel this is when I started to notice she was becoming constipated.

After being fobbed off, getting no-where and poor Gracie’s situation getting worst I started to do my own research.   I was able to locate a holistic paediatrician who kicked-started getting her on the right path and my huge learning curve on gut health.

Unfortunately we got to the point where Gracie’s progress started to plateau and as time past I became increasingly frustrated and decided to start researching again to find someone/a way to get her issues resolved.

As I started my search for another doctor to get us back on track, I decided to get Grace tested for food intolerances.  She had previously had a range of blood tests done (allergy, vitamin deficiencies, FBC etc) and nothing of consequence had showed up – much to my frustration to get answers!

Within a week we got the results back – to my horror over 30 foods had a reading from slight to strong reaction.  As we thought, Cow’s Milk came top of the list, however more surprisingly rice came up with quite a high reading.  At this point Grace had been gluten-free for quite sometime and the majority of gluten-free products are made with rice flour – finally it was starting to make sense why we couldn’t get on top of her getting better.

Around the sametime I happened to stumble across a post on a Facebook Mothers’ group about a fantastic Integrative Paediatrician, I couldn’t make the appointment quick enough.

The Doctor worked like no other I had ever come across.  She told us that we needed to immediately stop all forms of dairy and basically all the other foods that had shown up in the results, it all needed to be eliminated to help her gut heal.

We were told that she had Leaky Gut Syndrome and that dairy was most likely the root cause of it.

As well as cutting out all these foods, we would need to give Grace a variety of different supplements to assist in building her gut flora up again, reduce the inflammation and to get her bowels functioning again as they were currently in a very sluggish state.

So where are we today?

Grace’s eczema has virtually disappeared and her skin texture has completely changed, her allergy shiners under her eyes have gone! Her gut is a million times better than it was and she no longer longer suffers from constant tummy discomfort and cries when she needs to poo (my poor baby!).

We still have some way to go, but for now we are thankful we are on the right track.  Some weeks it’s one step forward and two steps back but this is our journey and I know we will get there to heal Gracie’s gut.