Infant nutrition with Charlotte Stirling-Reed

4 November 2019

Journal

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Over the summer, Nave had the chance to catch up with Charlotte Stirling-Reed of SR Nutrition. Charlotte is a Registered Public Health Nutritionist focusing mainly on maternal, infant and toddler nutrition.

Charlotte’s career has had a broad scope so far. You may have read about her in Harper’s or the Huffington Post, or maybe even seen her on Instagram. If you’re not familiar with Charlotte, a little background for you…

Following her graduation with a first class degree in Human Biology and Nutrition and her Masters in Nutrition, Charlotte started off working at the NHS as an Early Start Community Nutritionist. She went on from there to working with local authorities, training health care professionals at a national level and is now working with some of the UK’s biggest food industry brands and the media, alongside SR Nutrition and her latest venture Little Foodie. A busy lady, that’s for sure! 

We caught up with Charlotte to ask about all the things us pregnant ladies and mums worry about on the regular: weaning, work-life balance, sugar consumption, birth and more.

Straight to the nitty-gritty! Do you remember how you felt about birth and the prospect of giving birth before you had your baby? Did you speak with mum or friends about their experiences while you were pregnant?

I spoke with friends about their recent experiences, not so much family as I think a lot of parents forget the birthing experience quite quickly. I was nervous, but always had the idea that so many people do it and so it is achievable. That really helped me in the run-up. I was also two weeks early, so I think I was lucky that I didn’t have time to think it over too much – it just happened!

How have you found being a working mum,? Has it inspired you, changed your course, or given you a different work-life balance?

I’ve definitely found it a challenge. I didn’t realise before my baby came how hard it would be to find work-life balance, especially once baby gets active and sleeps less during the day. I definitely feel like I’m less able to do everything I want with work now, and have to prioritise and focus a little more than I did before. I also find I know my limits, so sometimes have to say no or pass work on, which I would have really struggled to do in the past.

Working in nutrition, your little one must be the healthiest bubba out there! Do you have any hard lines or strict policies on treats, sugar, dairy, wheat?

Hmmm, that’s a tricky one. I have done a lot of research on infant and toddler nutrition, and I know that the first 1,000 days of life (from conception until around a baby’s 2nd birthday) are incredibly important for baby’s long term health and development of eating patterns. So my idea is not to offer much in the way of added sugar before then. With the rest of the diet, it’s all about variety and trying to get my little one used to eating all the good and delicious foods that I enjoy, too. 

A couple of things I always try to stick to include:

  • Letting him guide me with his appetite and always listening to cues of hunger and fullness. 
  • Eating with him and taking the pressure off him at mealtimes. If he doesn’t feel like eating much on some days, that’s fine. I feel it’s these kind of behaviours that are more important for him at this stage. Developing positive relationships with food is key, and it starts from day one of weaning. 

Go at baby’s own pace.

How did you approach weaning and what would you advise to first-time mums who are getting to this stage?

I was super excited to get feeding my son. I had talked to parents for years about this subject and was finally giving it a go myself. I often had to sit back and remind myself of the advice I would give to other parents though, such as try to relax and enjoy it; go at baby’s own pace; role model and avoid any kind of forcing or coaxing behaviour if baby doesn’t want to eat at any mealtimes.

I also started with green foods first, as I know that the research points to this being a good idea to develop baby’s palate in the very first days. If people are interested, they can read more about giving the Green Stuff First.

One for the postpartum mums. Obviously, the body has been through a huge shift during pregnancy, labour and now sustaining another human, if you’re breastfeeding. What nutrients and foods are essential for this phase for mum?

Ultimately, it’s essential to fuel yourself – you can so easily forget to do this when your head is all over the place post birth. But keeping hydrated with regular sips of water is key, and try to get into a habit of sitting down with some water every time you feed baby. Try to stick to regular meals and snacks throughout the day, too. You will need the energy, especially if you’re breastfeeding.

Look at having a real balance of foods with plenty of nutrients and choose things that are easy to snack on, like fruit and veg, oat cakes, peanut butter, porridge, hummus dips, as well.

Find out more

Charlotte works with private clients on one-to-ones, corporate clients, media appearances and more. If you’d like to get in touch you can email her info@​srnutrition.​co.​uk.