If your New Year's resolutions include more cooking, consider me your biggest cheerleader. In support of your efforts, here are my tips:
Everyone has a different tolerance for sharing food. Considering this is one aspect in helping your family develop healthy eating habits.
An article by Dr. Jennifer Verdolin in Psychology Today highlights how even oxytocin (the hormone we inherently associate with fuzzy feelings) plays a role in our comfort level with sharing food. When we have bonds with individuals (via the help of oxytocin) we are more apt to share. Alternatively, oxytocin can amplify negative feelings discouraging us from extending any kind of olive tree.
I find myself on both ends of the spectrum in regards to sharing my plate with my toddler. On the one hand, we have a deep bond and I want him to be satisfied and happy. On the other hand, if my entire plate continues to be emptied by someone other than me, then I feel like I am competing for food (cue in those negative feelings Dr. Verdolin was talking about).
Allowing my toddler to "cross plate lines" is doing a disservice to everyone in my family. My toddler's manners take a hit, I am hungry and resentful, and my husband is just plain confused. Stick to the basics, and assemble a full meal that can be enjoyed by any member of your family.
A couple other things to consider when it comes to plate sharing:
I have a love-hate relationship with my pantry. On the one hand, it neatly stores dry ingredients and kitchen equipment. On the other hand, it houses things like crackers and peanut butter - two of my toddler's favorite things. Despite my efforts to have set meal times and to deliver fully assembled, beautiful meals he still asks for a "nack" from the pantry. How is this possible? If you are experiencing something similar, reinforce the good habits you've already set. Go a step further and consider the structure of your pantry. Check out the diagram below.
Sometimes meals should be covered by someone other than mom. Whether it's because she's super busy, out of town or it's a special occasion - a sub has to fill in. Beyond limiting the chaos, these tips will help connect you (the sub) with your family in ways that will pay out tenfold later on.
One word...juice. Okay, so maybe juice isn't the only food that can be linked to diarrhea, but it allows for an easy explanation of why your toddler might be experiencing some less than desirable diapers that oftentimes lead to diaper rash.
The real culprit is the excess sugar in juice. Certain sugars (especially sorbitol and fructose) cause the large intestine to pull in excess amounts of water leading to softened stool. Some fruits and fruit juices particularly high in sugar include:
The takeaway then? Watch out for sugar in general. While birthday parties and the like are fun, it seems like we can find almost anything to celebrate and the treats abound. While it might make our jobs a little more challenging in the moment, keeping treats as things we get only occasionally can really pay off in the long run.
We have a case of diaper rash at our house right now. Check out our day journey in trying out a natural remedy.
1. Fredericks J. (2015). Why is sugar bad for diarrhea? LiveStrong.com. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/487473-why-is-sugar-bad-for-diarrhea/
2. Mathis CEG. (2001). Finding the best drinkwhen your child has diarrhea. WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20010821/finding-best-drink-when-your-child-has-diarrhea
3. Homemade Baby Food Recipes. Diaper Rash and Baby Food -Foods to Avoid and Tips to Help Baby Feel Better!
Retrieved from http://homemade-baby-food-recipes.com/diaper-rash-and-baby-food-which-foods-should-you-avoid/
BabyGearLab has an impressive breakdown on all things water bottle. Check it out here.
Mullen M., Shield JE. Water: How much do kids need? Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eatright.org. Published May 03, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/sports-and-performance/hydrate-right/water-go-with-the-flow.
Things to consider when preparing toddler foods:
Print this Hand Washing Maze for a pre-dinner activity one day this week.
1. USDA. ChooseMyPlate. Preschoolers Food Safety. Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers-food-safety
2. USDA. 10 Tips-Food Safety Tips. (pdf document) ChooseMyplate.. Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/tentips/10Tips-FoodSafetyTips.pdf
3. Nutrition411.com. Food Texture Issues in Children: Sensory Integration. September 2013. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nutrition411.com/content/food-texture-issues-children-sensory-integration-0
4. Kids Health. About Food Allergies. Nemours. Retrieved from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/food-allergies.html
5. University of Michigan Health System. Choking Prevention. YourChild Development & Behavior Resources. Retrieved from http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/choking.htm
6. J Am Diet Assoc. 1985 May;85(5):577-82, 585.Sensory development in children: research in taste and olfaction.Lawless H.
First and foremost, an appealing meal is complete. Placing a fully assembled plate in front of your child is key. The benefits are endless, especially since we have MyPlate as a guide for building healthy meals.
Fully assembled plates:
Whatever you do, don't forget to make the meal, and then put away individual ingredients and "side" items (such as crackers, chips, etc.). This helps eliminate potential distraction, and allows focus on healthy mealtime habits.
1. PBSParent. https://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource001979_Rep2914.pdf
2. University of New Hampshire, U.S. Department of Agriculture and NH counties cooperating. Adapted from the UConn/URI Senior Nutrition Awareness Project Materials. Revised 7/11 https://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource001979_Rep2914.pdf
Having set mealtimes helps by removing some of the guess work you have to do when interacting with your toddler. As children grow their appetite levels change, and they develop things like "food jags" (periods when previously liked foods are rejected). Both of these cases are frustrating, but temporary as part of normal childhood development. Understanding that instances like these are common is the first step in easing mealtime pains.
Establishing a routine allows:
1. Mahan, L. Kathleen., Escott-Stump, Sylvia., Raymond, Janice L.Krause, Marie V. (Eds.) (2013) Krause's food & the nutrition care process /St. Louis, Mo. : Elsevier/Saunders
2. Extract from Putting Children First, the magazine of the National Childcare Accreditation Council Issue 32 December 2009 (Pages 18-19).
3. Shiled JE, Mullen M. When should my kids scack. Frbruary 2014. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/when-should-my-kids-snack
4. Appetite. 2014 Aug;79:18-24. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.03.030. Epub 2014 Apr Involving children in meal preparation. Effects on food intake.van der Horst K1, Ferrage A2, Rytz A2.
One ounce of grains could be 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of cold cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal.
Protein choices might look something like 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds.
1. The Nemours Foundation. Nutrition guide for toddlers.
2. USDA. Healthy Eating for Preschoolers - Daily Food Plan.
3. USDA. MyPlate.
Let's be real...feeding toddlers can be frustrating. Beyond this, ensuring our kids get nourishing food can be down right mind-boggling. If you're to the point where you're starting to pull out your hair, here are a few simple, yet helpful tips you can implement now.
He also might go a step further and say "I want snack from there" as he points to the pantry where those pesky little gold fish live. I tell him that it is lunch time and that the plate in front of him is his lunch. I make myself clear.
And then I wait...most often it takes about ten full minutes for him to try the plate. The behavior within that ten minute period can be fairly easy to handle or downright exhausting. I just vocalize what's happening and then sometimes do the dishes to let him know that he'll need to sort through the dilemma in front of him alone for a few minutes.
No lie...he always eats the plate I make.
1. Van Kleef E, Van Trijp JCM, Van Den Borne JJGC, Zondervan C. Successful Development of Satiety Enhancing Food Products: Towards a Multidisciplinary Agenda of Research Challenges. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2012;52(7):611-628. doi:10.1080/10408398.2010.504901.
2. Harris G. Positive mealtimes with toddlers - responsive feeding and distraction. University of Birmingham.
Registered Dietitian, Austinite, Mom with a 2-yr old, Dog lover