I’ve had people tell me they gained weight because they ate what they were feeding their children. What exactly are these people feeding their children?
The answer lurks in the children’s menu options at most restaurants. Typical fare includes a burger, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, or a hot dog. Does anyone else find this mix of brown, beige, orange and yellow food a bit boring and processed? Sure, they can each have a (small) place in a child’s food repertoire, but they hardly represent a balanced diet.
I’ve never dealt with a picky eater, food allergies, or a two-year-old going through a phase where she won’t eat anything but bananas. I’m not judging; I’m just putting it out there that parents play a large role in shaping a child’s food habits. It’s important not to project our own likes/dislikes on to them when making selections, or to assume they won’t enjoy vegetables like they will fruit.
Somehow, we’ve been programmed to think babies can only be served bland food, and they will only want sweet options. In reality, they often want whatever we’re having, so be a good role model, or fake it to make it.
When you go to the store, select a variety of options recognizing that babies are developing their palates from a blank slate. When you go out, ask for a side of something healthy, rather than ordering your little one something from the limited children’s menu. If you need something steamed longer so it’s softer or prepared without seasoning, just ask. Most restaurants are very accommodating.
I know I can order an adult entrée that includes salmon and potatoes, request a side of avocado, and share that with my son. It’s exciting for him because he gets to share with mommy, and I know he’s getting lots of good nutrition from it. Nutrition is a fun way to learn colors, too, seeing as how we should all eat a rainbow.
My 9-month-old has already enjoyed all of the following foods, and I’m sure I’m leaving some out:
- Greek Yogurt
- Sweet potato
- Butternut squash
- Beans of many kinds
- Cottage Cheese
- Coconut Milk
- Green Beans
- Chia seeds
- Almond butter
I hope you read this as me suggesting fun options and ways to make food fun for your child. As I’ve said before, I consider myself very knowledgeable and able to advise on nutritional habits, but I’ve only got nine months in the saddle as a parent.
My son isn’t going to eat only perfect, healthy options all the time, but I want to teach him healthy food is just as fun as less healthy options, and there’s a necessary balance.
I’m always looking for new recipes to offer him, so please share your own fun family food options!
With all the buzz about going gluten-free, clients are always asking me if they should cut it out of their diets. I’m not a doctor or an expert on the effects of gluten, but I’ll share my answer in hopes that it can help those of you wondering the same thing.
What is gluten?
Gluten is the protein content in wheat. For a visual, it’s what makes dough gooey and stretchy.
Why do some people need to avoid it?
Celiac disease is the true, diagnosed intolerance to gluten. Anyone with celiac disease has to cut out gluten because it attacks their bodies.
There is a large amount of research suggesting harmful effects of gluten on the body, both mentally and physically; however, just as not everyone is allergic to peanuts, not everyone responds negatively to gluten.
Think of gluten as you think of dairy. There are reasons some people should not have dairy, and the reasons differ in severity. Some people will have a life-threatening allergic reaction, some are lactose intolerant so their stomachs will be upset by it, and some people have problem skin due to dairy. Then, there’s the whole slew of people who can eat all the dairy they want with no ill effects.
How do I know if I need to cut it out?
Assess how you feel eating your current diet that contains gluten. If you feel well, have energy, don’t experience digestion issues and can concentrate easily, you’re doing fine and should keep up whatever you’re doing. If you can’t tick all those boxes, do a trial removal and see if any of them fall into place.
Things to consider:
Going gluten-free is not a fad diet to get you skinny, and gluten-free foods aren’t magically free of fat and calories; only gluten.
As with anything, too much of a something is not good, but if you don’t experience any ill effects, removal of it entirely isn’t necessary either.
Do your research, but also do a self-check. If you don’t have a negative response to gluten, eat it in moderation, just like everything else.
As we approach Aidan’s 1st birthday, I’m at odds with one of my favorite indulgences…cake.
Up to now, he’s had sugar once. I’m not counting trace amounts in things he may have tasted or natural sugars; I’m counting the one time we let him have a tiny taste of a shave ice, and he proceeded to spit up clear liquid 3x over the course of an hour. We took it as him exhibiting sugar-rejection.
Anyway, after steering clear of sugar for a year, how do you introduce cake, in all its sugarific glory, in one big dose? I wouldn’t go from a caffeine detox to drinking a jug of coffee, which seems kind of similar, but I want him to get to try “the good stuff,” too.
I know I could make him a sugar-free cake, but wouldn’t that start us down the road of having the kid who brings his own cupcake to other kid’s parties forever?
I have a confession to make. The only part of our day that’s always the same is Aidan’s bedtime routine. Around 6pm every night we begin our solid foods – bath – nurse – story – sleep plan, and he’s down by 7pm. He knows what to expect, and he goes down easy.
Having such a smooth nightly routine made me want to try to make his entire day like that, but it just doesn’t work that way for us. Here’s why:
- Our day doesn’t start at the same time each morning.
- Our day isn’t the same every day.
- Aidan isn’t hungry and sleepy at the same intervals each day.
For awhile, I felt frustrated and thought we should have it all figured out, but then I considered the following:
- He’s happy, healthy and thriving.
- He’s flexible. He can eat/play/nap in my arms, at the beach, in the car, in a restaurant, etc.
- He isn’t fussy.
- He’s in such a busy, developmental time in life that the minute we think we have a schedule going, it changes again.
I’ve decided , since I’m home with him, we can just go with the flow for now. If someone else needs to know what to expect, I tell them he needs to eat every 3-4 hours, he eats solids 3x a day – around normal meal times, and he rubs his eyes when he’s tired – typically after he’s been up 2-3 hours. So, I guess we have a loose routine, but I don’t know the exact times until that day, or, occasionally, until it’s happening. I figure, I’m not hungry and sleepy at the exact time each day, and I’d be frustrated if I was hungry but told I wasn’t allowed to eat for another hour because of my schedule.
Funny, I must’ve raised my dog the same way. He goes out when I let him out, and he’s free-fed, so he doesn’t have a schedule either. Although, when he boards or stays with friends, he learns to eat when food is offered, and go to the bathroom when the opportunity is presented. I guess I hope my son turns out as well as my dog has!
Overall, I’m a fan of schedules, lists, and all other manner of planning. (Read: control freak!) As Aidan gets older, I will continue to look for patterns until one sticks, but, for now, I’m going to focus on the fact that he’s happy and healthy, and take a break from trying so hard to get on a schedule. We have our things we need to work on, such as sleeping through the night and not associating nursing with sleep, but I know we’ll get there…in baby steps.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, I asked several other mommies how to set up my nursery, and they all looked at me like I had asked the silliest question ever.
The question does seem a little silly to me now that I’m a mom because I know how all the “tools” work and where they should be kept; however, when I was pregnant, it was no different to me than asking me to set up a workshop for a mechanic. I was told to purchase all kinds of stuff I’d never used before, and, not knowing it’s purpose, I didn’t know if it needed to be within reach, or stowed away for random, special occasions.
In hopes that I’m not the only person to ever ask this question, I’m going to do my best to answer it. I still recall how hard it was to get my brain to function while I was pregnant, so I’m going to make it really easy. Obviously, there is room for personalization and flexibility. I’m not trying to be a nursery design star, I’m just covering what you need handy, without any fluff or fancy additions.
Here are the basics for setting up your nursery:
- You’ll need some sort of crib, with a mattress, a mattress wetness protector of some sort, and a sheet.
- Small bins slide easily under the crib to hold extra sheets and blankets. You’ll want these nearby so you can set the baby on the changing table while you change a wet/dirty sheet, without having to leave the room to go to the linen closet.
- You’ll also need a changing table, with a changing pad, and pad covers.
- Within reach of the changing table you need diapers, wipes, diaper and wipe disposal bins, hand sanitizer, onesies/swaddles/wearable blankets, diaper cream, lotion, and cloth wipes/burp cloths. As with the mattress sheets, you’ll want fresh, clean pad covers handy so you can move the baby to the crib for a quick change should there be a poop explosion. (There will be a poop explosion.)
- Optional items: monitor, mobile, lamp, decorations, hamper, etc.
I have a tiny nursery. It holds a crib, a changing table (with shelves underneath), a tall lamp, and some corner shelving with books, q-tips, etc. That’s it, and it works fine. Any baby clothes that aren’t kept in a bin are kept in the guest room because they aren’t items that need to be within reach at a moment’s notice.
Speaking of baby clothes, you don’t need to have every item washed and ready to go for baby’s arrival. Have a few outfits, onesies and swaddles ready to go, but set the others aside for now. Do laundry as you need more clothes, and keep the tags on items you don’t end up using in case you choose to return/re-gift/donate them. My doula actually suggested taking pictures of baby in clothes with tags hidden if we wanted to show a gifter that it was worn. We didn’t go that route, but it’s not a bad idea!
I hope this helps you mommies-to-be get ready for baby!