Q&A: Pre-Thanksgiving Extravaganza
Before we get into today, I wanted to start with an apology. Yesterday, I posted some data from a survey on time to pregnancy. This survey was a small part of a larger project, and this piece focused on a subset of people who — by definition of the survey — had on average an easier time conceiving and conceived without fertility treatments. I heard from a lot of you after yesterday’s post, with the feedback that it made you feel erased and more alone, not less. It’s clear to me that the way this post was written was not inclusive of many of your experiences.
I’m truly sorry. I hope you know that making you feel unseen is never my intention. This post was a miss, and one I will learn from. I have also added an update to the top of yesterday’s post in order to clarify this going forward.
It’s a pre-Thanksgiving Q&A. I’m adding bonus questions, since I’ll be taking next Friday off. First, we’ve got some questions about how to navigate Thanksgiving dinner food. Then, for paid subscribers, I’ll address more questions about drafty bedrooms, how long RSV is contagious for, and a bit on learning reading.
Honey in a turkey brine—okay for babies under 1?
Yes. The main concern people raise with honey is botulism. As I talk about more in Cribsheet, it’s not clear in the data whether this link is really there. The recommendation began after some possible case reports emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. But since then, infant botulism rates really have not fallen. This makes the link questionable at best. Honey in a brine is also a very low exposure, which makes any tiny risk even more vanishingly small.
Eight weeks pregnant: Can I safely eat Thanksgiving dinner? We haven’t told our family we are pregnant, but I want to ensure I’m eating safely regardless of where we spend the holiday.
—First-Trimester Nervous Nelly
Congratulations! Thanksgiving is, blessedly, not a meal with many forbidden pregnancy foods. If the turkey is undercooked, avoid it (but this goes for everyone, not just pregnant). A note that deli turkey is a food that people raise concerns about, but a roasted Thanksgiving turkey is not the same thing.
Unfortunately, nine weeks is about the nausea peak, so you may not feel like eating (or be able to really hide that you’re pregnant…). Have fun!
Herbs and spices while breastfeeding? What is up with people saying “avoid sage (for example) and other spices this Thanksgiving”?
—Data-seeking BFing mom
The reason people say this is that there are a set of, basically, old wives’ tales about sage and other herbs (peppermint, oregano, lemon balm) being used to decrease milk supply. By extension, if you did not want to decrease milk supply, you would want to avoid these.
However, and I cannot emphasize this enough, there is no evidence that herbs actually have this effect. One source I found noted that sage is used in some cultures to increase milk supply.
In addition, even when people suggest that sage could decrease milk supply, they are talking about a lot of it — like, drinking sage tea or adding sage oil to your food in a systematic way. Eating some sage-and-chestnut stuffing would not do it. And, again, there is no evidence to suggest that any of these approaches would have any impact.
In conclusion: enjoy your (fully herbed and spiced) meal.
Our daughter will turn six months old the day after Thanksgiving! What fun, simple ideas do you have for a first taste of solids?
—Time for Turkey?
I’ve written in much longer form before about starting solids. There are a few data-based principles, but the most important thing is you need to develop your own plan.There are many good first foods and approaches, which is freeing and also sometimes confusing.
Thanksgiving foods are not traditional first foods, but I like this question because it illustrates that there is no strong reason they could not be. The caution is that something like turkey may not be a great first food because the texture and need to chew is so different from what your baby is used to.
Very soft potatoes could work — including sweet potatoes — or very, very overcooked broccoli. Broadly: I’d err toward a vegetable that is somewhat overcooked to be very soft.