We chat to Olivia Bates, founder of Nourishing Bubs.
Nourishing Bubs was born through your expertise as a dietitian, experience caring for children and your pure love for whole foods.Can you tell us a little more on your background?
Absolutely. Like many young girls (and boys) I grew up babysitting from about 14 for some extra cash through school and then university. I have always adored little kids, be it in that newborn stage where they are much like little jelly beans, to watching them grow into little people with bright personalities. Babysitting and nannying was something I really enjoyed, so it was a great means of getting cash while I studied.
When I was at school, I actually wanted to be a pediatrician but also a chef, so I basically combined my love of food and medicine to become a dietitian. I then realized working in hospital was not quite my thing, as there are so many regulations that come with working in such a sterile and institutionalized environment. I really didn’t get to work with real food or use my creative side when it came to food. Consequently, straight out of uni, I actually ended up working for an almond milk start up. It was right as almond milk was gaining popularity and I was fortunate enough to get to play a role in everything from product development to labelling and marketing of the product. It was an incredible opportunity.
How did Nourishing Bubs come about launching?
While I was working for the almond milk company, Luz Almond, I always had this burning desire to do something in the infant space. This was partially related to my love for little humans but it was also because the growing popularity of health and nutrition, had meant every other person was now a nutritionist or a health blogger. The adult nutrition world had become really saturated and I just didn’t have the passion to compete in such a market. On the other hand, I had decided to do some extra study into infant nutrition and learned about introducing foods one at a time to watch for allergies and the type of foods to introduce. Being in the food industry already, I was constantly looking at food products, so I took a look at the options available for baby and was quite honestly quite disgusted to find ‘Chicken Casserole’ and ‘Beef Bourgignon’ in a shelf stable squeezy pack. We wouldn’t eat that so why on earth would we feed it to these precious little humans?I knew part of launching a business in this space, would be a lot of education for the consumer, but with my background as a dietitian and my passion for this area, I felt I was the person who could do it and it was a challenge I grabbed with both hands.
How important is nutrition in babies and starting healthy habits from a young age?
I absolutely cannot emphasise enough, the importance of creating healthy habits from a young age and I mean that very first mouthful. There is overwhelming evidence that supports healthy eating from the beginning to set healthy habits for life. And we are not even just referring to babies first foods, the evidence says that it is the first 1000 days that really shape a child’s eating habits. This 1000 days starts from the moment of conception and takes bub through to two years of life. Often when women find out they are pregnant, this triggers a change in them to improve their eating, in part related to the necessary dietary recommendations associated with pregnancy. However even if this isn’t the case, by laying the foundations when bub does start solids, they are hardwiring these healthy habits into their brains so that they can carry through to adulthood.
For women looking to overhaul their eating habits, what are your top three tips?
- Plan your meals:It has been said before but it really true – fail to plan and you plan to fail! If you dedicate a little bit of time, say on a Sunday, to do some meal prep, it can set you up for a healthy week. For example: Batch cook some roasted vegetables and quinoa then simply heap a bit of each into a container, add some feta or some lean protein from dinner the night before and you are good to go. I am also a huge fan of leftovers, so always make a little extra so you can enjoy it the next day.
- Keep a food diary.You don’t need to keep it long term but even short term it can really help to keep you accountable for what you are eating. You can then reflect on it at the end of the week or two week period and see where perhaps you are letting yourself slip. Is it that 3pm slump that has you diving for the biscuit jar every afternoon that might be negatively impacting your health goals? Or is it eating out every night of the week which leads to excessive alcohol consumption which adds kilojoules but also impacts your sleep?
- Set yourself achievable goals. Manageable micro-steps will result in longer term results rather than going cold turkey on all your favourite things. Overhauling your diet is not going to happen overnight but if you do it gradually, you are more likely to succeed. For example if you love fast food, start by halving the number of days you consume it. If you drink alcohol every night of the week, try having 2-3 alcohol free days. If you don’t eat green vegetables, try incorporating one each day, even if it is only a few mouthfuls and look for recipes which entice you to give it a go. Much like a baby starting on new foods, overhauling your diet requires re-wiring your brain to like healthy food so it requires repeated behaviours, over time to ultimately achieve the change.
For bubs, transitioning to solid foods can be a tricky one; can you share some of your top tips on how to introduce these foods into the diet?
- Introduce solids in a relaxed, positive and healthy manner. If a mother is feeling stressed or anxious, her baby naturally picks up these feelings from the bodies’ physical response to these emotional states. Bub’s body then naturally mimics these feelings and this can lead to negative associations with food.
- Offer vegetables before fruit– Babies have an innate craving for sweet foods so if you expose them to fruit before vegetables, you will be constantly fighting an uphill battle to get them to eat their veg. It is also important not to sweeten vegetables with fruit purees such as apple and pear as it gives baby a false appreciation of the real taste of veg and will likely result in rejection down the track when you offer the unsweetened version.
- Offer appropriate textured foods. When baby starts solids they have no or very few teeth so they need to be able to swallow the food with out chewing. Initially start with a smooth puree, with no lumps. Baby will very quickly progress to lumpier purees and eventually finger food but always ensure close supervision to prevent choking. It is important to ensure you do progress the texture and not keep baby on smooth purees for too long, as increased resistance from lumps plays a vital role in speech and mouth development.
- Be persistent and patient– as with anything in both adults and children alike, it takes time to become accustomed to new things so don’t expect your bub to love broccoli the first time you give it! You will need to try and try again. If after 3 attempts your bub is just not interested, move onto something else and then come back to it. Eventually with increased familiarity will hopefully come acceptance.
- Offer a wide variety of foods to expose your bub to a wide array of nutrients– this includes offering foods in different food groups as well as choosing different coloured foods in the same food.
You have the support of some amazing mum’s out there including Lisa Wipfli, Phoebe Burgess, and Sally Obermeder to name a few! What feedback have you received from these busy multi-tasking mums?
We have been so lucky to have so many high-profile mums out there try Nourishing Bubs and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. These mummas are increasingly health conscious but with their busy schedules, it leaves little time to prepare homemade food, especially purees which are so labour intensive. Adding to the fact I have created it from a dietitian background, rather than being a mum (I don’t actually have any children, which always surprises everyone) it also gives mums comfort that they are making a nutritious choice. Our Solid Starter Pack really ticks the boxes from a nutrition and convenience perspective and so when these power Mummas respond so positively, it really reinforces that we are achieving what we set out to. Furthermore, Mums ultimately want to hear from other mums so when these high-profile mums share their positive experience on social media, it really adds value and trust to our brand.
Where do you source all of your ingredients?
We are super passionate about supporting our Australian farmers and so are proud to use 100% Australian fruit and vegetables in all of our products. Besides, our produce really is some of the best in the world, so why would we ever want to get it from anywhere else!
Anything else you’d like to add?
We are very excited to be launching some new products at the beginning of 2020 so sign up to the newsletter and tune in! www.nourishingbubs.com