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What's In a Gaze?

Posted by admin on March 27, 2013

What’s In a Gaze?


We bet you think your baby has gorgeous eyes and that you spent many hours gazing into them. Well, you may or may not be pleased to know that it isn’t a coincidence that you think that – there are developmental and psychological purposes behind it.
1. If you look at a model of a baby’s skull, you’ll notice that their eyes are initially much bigger in relation to the rest of the head. The eyes are initially the main tool that your baby uses to engage with the world. The first thing is that their large diameter enables your baby to absorb as much information as possible about their surroundings.
2. While absorbing information is obviously very important for survival, what’s even more important for survival is bonding, and your baby’s eyes are how they do it. Bonding ensures a baby’s survival, because it makes sure that their parent/carer will love them andwant to attend to their every need. Given that they can’t attend to any of their own needs at all, it’s basically priority number 1 that someone reliably and consistently wants to do this for them, even in the face of how very needy they are and how difficult that is for those caring for them. If you think about it, the amount that babies need their parents is constant and exhausting in SO many ways that there needs to be a foolproof biological mechanism that ensures their needs are met, even when their parent is exhausted, stressed and anxious.
Bonding is therefore the number one key to survival for your baby, and bonding is a two way process, with both of you playing your part in creating the bond that exists between you.
Your baby’s eyes are vital for the whole process. They can’t bond through any of the normal ways we bond as adults – by saying or doing nice things, by expressing how much they care, by being there for us, but they can bond with us by making sure we find them absolutely irresistible. Notice how your baby’s eyes are proportionally bigger than the rest of their facial features – this is to make them seem more attractive to adults (have you ever noticed how in animations, characters are usually drawn with bigger eyes so that they seem cuter? Have you noticed how puppies and kittens have bigger eyes than adult animals? The concept is the same there too, for their parents – and for us!). With their big baby eyes, you are more likely to be drawn to gazing into them and developing a deep bond with them. 
Even as adults, we experience intimacy by looking into someone’s eyes, so your baby’s eyes represent their main tool for creating intimacy quickly.
But it doesn’t end there. Once you’re finding them irresistible, they need to keep your (bonding) attention, and they way they do that is through gazing back at you. Your baby will gaze intently back at you because they are programmed to recognise and respond to faces from birth. We are born with relatively few cognitive processes that are hardwired into our brains, but face recognition is one of them - so that your face catches their attention, causing them to play their part in bonding by looking at (i.e. responding to your gaze). By engaging with you and gazing into your eyes at the same time that you’re drawn to doing the same with them, a reciprocal bond will form between you. Research showed us long ago that babies who are just 9 minutes old pay more attention to faces than other shapes[1] and that they engage with faces in a unique way. 
It’s also been shown that babies aged just two days can distinguish their mother’s face from a stranger’s face.[2]
If we’re talking cognitive development, your baby’s gaze is also very important there. The ability to gaze at something comes first. Then the ability to pay attention to something develops, which leads to the ability to actually focus, or concentrate on it. The bonding gaze between you and your baby is actually also a key tool in helping their cognitive development along, because from gazing at you, your baby learns to follow your gaze, so that you develop the ability jointly gaze at something together. When your baby follows where you look (e.g. at a toy or an object of interest) you’re teaching them how to focus on other objects and to pay attention to them, without even knowing it. You’re teaching them about the world. So the bond between you has even more of a developmental functions than simply to make sure they’re cared for. 
It also means that the more time you spend engaging with them, the more time you’ll spend ‘leading’ their gaze, ‘teaching’ them how to focus their attention on something in the outside world and become familiar with it.
In the outside world, babies are attracted to different colours and visual effects, all of which are designed to help particular areas of cognition to develop at different times. This also means that food needs to be visually exciting and interesting, so that your baby wants to engage with it (yeah, we were always going to get a food reference in there!). Beige foods, for example, are not visually exciting, and will not catch your baby’s attention. The things that do catch your baby’s attention are going to become familiar more quickly because your baby wants to explore them and therefore spends more time in contact with them. The looks that pass between you and other objects help things to catch their attention.
But even that’s not all. Having a joint gaze, and then focusing joint attention on something is extremely important for language development skills, like comprehension, language production and word learning. Social developmental skills, like learning how refer to other people and how to have normal relationships, also comes from joint attention. So you might think: what’s in a gaze? But the answer is…a LOT!
image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

[1] Goren, C.C., Sarty, M. and Wu, P.Y.K. (1975). Visual following and pattern discrimination of face-like stimuli by newborn infants. Pediatrics, 56, 544-549.
[2] Bushnell, I.W.R, Sai, F. and Mullin, J.T. (1989). Neonatal recognition of the mother’s face. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 7, 3-15.

We like to set our little ones a good example and encourage sharing. We don't mind you using any of the information, recipes and tips from our website, all we ask is that you credit us hard-working mummies here at Yummy Discoveries. 
Thank you x

Fish Pie Recipe

Posted by felicity on March 26, 2013

Preparation time: 50 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Feeds: 4
To serve:  Baby carrots, green beans and/or warm garlic bread
For the Fish Pie:
2 skinless and boneless white fish fillets (cod, haddock or plaice)
4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 leek, sliced
3 generous handfuls of chopped spring greens (or cabbage)
2 knobs of butter
2 tsp finely chopped parsley
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Splash of whole milk
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
For the Parsley Sauce:
25g butter
25g flour
3 heaped tsp of chopped fresh, parsley
300ml whole milk
Black pepper
1.      Pre heat the oven to 180°C
2.      Place the fish fillets onto a large piece of tin foil (big enough to wrap the fish in)
3.      Pop a knob of butter on each fillet then sprinkle with parsley, season with black pepper and as an optional extra squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the fillets 
4.      Wrap the fish loosely in the tin foil and place into the oven.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes
5.      Once the fish is cooked flake with a fork, whilst checking for any rogue bones, then set aside
6.      Meanwhile cook the vegetables;
7.      Heat a little butter in a frying pan and cook the leeks gently over a low heat until they are nice and soft.  Once cooked leave to one side
8.      Steam the potatoes for about 20 minutes and the chopped spring greens (or cabbage) for about 10
9.      Once the potatoes are cooked add a large knob of butter and a splash of whole milk and mash until you get a nice smooth consistency
10.  Stir in the cooked leeks and spring greens (or cabbage) into the mash
11.  Take an oven proof dish and place the mash around the sides of the dish leaving a well in the middle
12.  Take the flaked fish and place it into the well (ensure that the mash potato is higher than the fish so as to leave room for the eggs and sauce
13.  To hard boil the eggs; place the eggs into a small pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil
14.  Simmer gently for about 7 minutes
15.  Once cooked place the pan under cold running water for a minute or two (to stop the eggs from over cooking) 
16.  When the eggs are cool enough to touch, tap the eggs against a hard surface and peel the shells
17.  Slice the eggs
18.  Take the dish and place the eggs into the well, on top of the fish
19.  To make the parsley sauce melt the butter in a pan over a low heat then stir in the flour, making a roux
20.  Pour in a little of the milk and stir using a whisk
21.  Gradually pour in the remaining milk whilst continuously stirring
22.  Bring to boiling point then simmer for a couple of minutes
23.  Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh parsley and season with black pepper
24.  Take the sauce and pour over the eggs in the well of the dish
25.  Place the dish into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes until the top goes golden
Oops! We forgot to take a picture! We'll aim to get one up soon but if you happen to take a picture of the pie or of your little one enjoying it, we would love to have a copy! Thanks!
We like to set our little ones a good example and encourage sharing. We don't mind you using any of the information, recipes and tips from our website, all we ask is that you credit us hard-working mummies here at Yummy Discoveries. 
Thank you x

Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Posted by felicity on March 26, 2013


Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
For the Meatballs:
500g turkey mince
1 egg
4 tbsp porridge oats or breadcrumbs
2 tsp parmesan cheese (optional)
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp English mustard powder
½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
For the Sauce:
Glug or 2 of olive oil
1 onion
3-5 garlic cloves (crushed)
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
Ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
  1. Make the sauce by taking  a large pan with a lid and warm the oil, garlic and thyme
  2. Meanwhile, blitz the onion in a food processor and set aside 2tbsp in to a mixing bowl for the meatballs and tip the rest in to the pan for the sauce
  3. Now blitz the porridge oats or breadcrumbs in the food processor and add those to the mixing bowl too
  4. Cook the onion on a medium heat until soft, stirring regularly
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes and black pepper, turn the heat down and leave to simmer while you crack on with the meatballs
  6. To the mixing bowl which already has the onion and breadcrumbs/oat mixture in, add the mince, egg, parmesan (if using), thyme, English mustard powder and chilli flakes (if using)
  7. Squidge the mixture with your hands to mix and shape in to small balls
  8. Drop the meatballs in the sauce and leave to simmer for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through.


We like to set our little ones a good example and encourage sharing. We don't mind you using any of the information, recipes and tips from our website, all we ask is that you credit us hard-working mummies here at Yummy Discoveries. 
Thank you x

Spring Slow-cooker Lamb Recipe

Posted by felicity on March 26, 2013

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 8-10 hours
500g Diced Lamb (we used chump)
1 onion (chopped)
1 tin of plum tomatoes
2-4 garlic cloves (crushed)
2 tbsp plain flour
500ml chicken stock
Squidge of tomato puree
4-6 sprigs of fresh rosemary (essential – the dried stuff just doesn’t cut it)!
Ground Black Pepper
6 rashers of bacon (optional)



  1. Heat the oil on a medium-high heat in a large frying pan and add the lamb, stirring until it’s evenly browned
  2. Remove the lamb with a slotted spoon and pop it in the bowl of the slow cooker
  3. Add the bacon (if using), onion and garlic to the pan and cook for several minutes until the onion is soft
  4. Stir in the flour  and add the stock, plum tomatoes, tomato puree, rosemary and ground black pepper and bring to the boil
  5. Pour the mixture over the meat, pop the lid on and cook on low for 8-10 hours


This is yummy served with pasta, noodles or rice with a helping of veggies.
This recipe served 2 adults and a preschooler for dinner with enough left over for the preschooler’s meal which we served as a jacket potato filling.
We like to set our little ones a good example and encourage sharing. We don't mind you using any of the information, recipes and tips from our website, all we ask is that you credit us hard-working mummies here at Yummy Discoveries. 
Thank you x

Reflux and Weaning

Posted by felicity on February 21, 2013

Weaning a Baby With Reflux

Not much is written about reflux and weaning but that’s probably because a paediatric osteopath and child psychological therapist have never gotten together to sift through the research.


What is Reflux and Silent Reflux? 

Most babies suffering from reflux are diagnosed within the first few weeks of life. The symptoms of reflux vary but the most common one is discomfort when feeding. Your baby may arch their back, scream, refuse the breast or bottle and turn away.
When your baby drinks milk it travels down their oesophagus and in to their stomach where the acid gets released to start breaking it down. The diaphragm in your baby should contract and close the gateway between the stomach and oesophagus, preventing regurgitation of the contents. 
If the gate doesn’t close then the milk, now mixed with acid, bubbles up and burns the oesophagus causing pain and possibly vomiting. If your baby has the pain but doesn’t vomit they may be diagnosed with “silent reflux”.
The taste of the acid isn’t nice so your baby probably wants to feed again to wash it away – a comfort feed. But since the stomach is probably full already this has a negative effect and causes more vomiting as they have overeaten. You can probably see now  why weight gain / loss is never a good indicator of reflux since some babies avoid eating to avoid pain and others overeat to get rid of the acidic taste.
Jen’s Story: Jen came to see us with her 9 month old, Charlie, who was showing signs of fussy eating. She was at her wits-end and has been following the “controlled crying” method, allowing Charlie to “self-soothe”. From the case history it was clear Charlie was likely to be suffering from reflux. Osteopathic examination showed his diaphragm was restricted and unable to contract to fully close the stomach and following referral to a paediatrician an endoscopy was performed and the oesophagus was found to be ulcerated from the repeated acid burns.



Weaning a reflux baby early

Many parents choose to introduce their baby with reflux to solids a little earlier than other children. The reason being is gravity holds heavier food down more easily. If you picture the stomach as a drawstring bag and you drop a heavy tin inside then the bottom of the bag gets pulled down and the top comes together, closing the gateway.
Many people will tell you this goes against the ethos of baby-led-weaning since you should wait for your baby to show the signs they are ready before introducing solids. 
But, introducing solid food early is baby-led weaning since you are following your individual baby’s needs. If your baby has reflux and you feel they will benefit and your GP or health visitor sees no issue with weaning early then you go ahead and follow your parental instinct.
Never introduce solid food before 17 weeks, unless instructed to by a health professional

Serving food to a reflux baby

We have always said purees have their place and this is the same with a reflux baby. Serving up a variety of textures can be helpful so a combination of purees and chunky solid foods but still allowing your baby to self-feed. You may find yourself having to pre-load a spoon of puree and allow them to guide it in to their own mouth or they may be happy to slap their fingers in the puree and pop it in their mouth. Allowing your little one to play with the food, dip their fingers in mush and pick up a stick of something and pop it in their mouth is still possible with a reflux baby.
Here’s some general guidelines:
  • Relax. Remember that you and your child are attuned so any stress from you will automatically be picked up by your child. When your own child cries it resonates with you in a way different to any other person, that is the attunement, so any stress from you will be picked up by your little one
  • We always suggest sitting and eating with your baby for safety reasons as well as for ensuring your baby grows to see mealtimes as a pleasurable time where he gets to engage with mummy rather than being left whilst mummy washes up! However, with a reflux baby you need to be even more alert t spotting a particular food which might be causing pain so sit with your baby and enjoy mealtimes together
  • Forget about offering a “balanced diet” since nutrition to 9 months comes from milk feeds. From 9-12 months they will have got the hang of feeding and nutrition will begin to play a bigger role as the milk feeds reduce as more solids go down.
  • Reflux babies will gag in the same way as any other baby – read more on gagging here.
  • Babies with reflux tend to vomit more easily when they gag and so try to avoid serving a milk feed too close to the solid foods.

Solids before milk

When weaning, many people suggest serving a milk feed before a solid food so your baby doesn’t get fractious and hungry whilst tying to eat the solid food. With a reflux baby it can be best to reverse this and serve solid food before milk feed. The reason being is if we think again of the diaphragm as a bag, having the solid food in it to weigh the bag down before offering  milk feed can actually help reduce the reflux. On average, leaving an hour between a solid feed and a milk feed can be helpful

What foods should I serve a reflux baby?

A combination of purees and finger foods are ideal so they get the opportunity to choose, self-feed and try a combination of textures. Some examples include our Broccoli Bonananza and Cucumber Platter which all have sloppy foods and firm foods to keep it interesting and cater for different degrees of reflux.

What foods should I avoid with a reflux baby?

There are some “risky reflux foods” which are renowned for aggravating reflux. However, just because these foods are common reflux triggers doesn’t mean they are going to be a trigger in your baby.  Try introducing one “risky reflux food” at a time and see how they get on before deciding whether or not it is in your baby.
Risky reflux foods include:
  • Acidic Foods: such as apple, tomato, peppers, onions, berries, oranges, kiwi, grapefruit
  • Tomatoes: some babies can tolerate cooked and some can tolerate raw and some can tolerate none at all so you might need to experiment
  • Fruit Juices: Such as prune, pear and apple which are high in sorbitol
Some ideas for first foods for a baby with reflux are BroccoliBonanza and Cucumber Platter
We like to set our little ones a good example and encourage sharing. We don't mind you using any of the information, recipes and tips from our website, all we ask is that you credit us hard-working mummies here at Yummy Discoveries. 
Thank you x