Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tricking the Picky Eater

I come from a family of very picky eaters. There were many nights where my three younger sisters would rather have gone without food for a night than try something new. My parents were always trying to encourage us to try a little bite of that new food item on our plate because as they said, "It won't kill you". My sisters, of course, thought otherwise. You could always count on one of them to be sitting at the table long after dinner was over, refusing to eat what was on her plate. I'm sure many other families experience similar situations in their own homes. Many of you might be asking yourselves how do I get that stubborn child of mine to try something that isn't macaroni and cheese or pizza?

Here are some tips to not only get your picky eaters eating, but to get any child eating healthy.

1. Be a Good Role Model- Many little kids want to do exactly as their parents do, and a child's eating habits are directly related to the eating habits of her parents. If you want your child to eat his broccoli, make sure to eat yours too!

2. Involve Your Children- When you are not in a hurry, take your children shopping with you so that they can explore new foods at the grocery store and ask questions. Also, let your kids help in the kitchen because they will most likely be more invested in their food if they helped create/cook it.

3. Start Early- Expose your child to healthy foods at a young age because their food preferences will remain with them throughout their life.

4. Make One Meal for the Whole Family- Do not make a separate meal for adults and children. If you make two meals, the kids will not branch out and try new foods.

5. Sensory Activities- Some children may not like a food because of the texture. If your child gets more involved with sensory activities, she can familiarize herself with new textures. Check out our sensory activities board on Pinterest for some fun ideas.

6. Be Sneaky- It's okay to sneak extra fruits and veggies into your child's favorite foods! Check out this website for some great, easy recipes

7. Avoid Frequent Snacking- Let your child have two small snacks during the day, but do not allow him to graze throughout the day. If he snacks all day or has a snack too close to dinner, he won't be hungry for the meal.

8. Make Mealtime Fun- For younger children, you can arrange food into fun pictures or patterns on the plate, let your child use a fun utensil such as a toothpick, use cookie cutters to cut food into fun shapes, or use this fun idea and have muffin tin meals. Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity.
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9. Keep Introducing New Foods- A child may have to see a certain food on his plate 8-10 times before she actually wants to try it let alone like it. Don't force your child to eat the food, but keep having the food on the plate so that when she is ready it's there for her to try.

10. Most importantly, stay positive and don't give up! If your child does not want to eat something right now just move on and try again. Be supportive of your child, and when he does finally eat the new food, give him praise and acknowledgment.

As a little kid, one of my favorite books (and episodes of Arthur) was D.W. the Picky Eater. D.W. hates so many different types of foods, especially vegetables! She is so picky, that her parents stop taking her out to restaurants.On her grandmother's birthday, though, the whole family goes out to eat at a nice restaurant, and D.W. orders a pie. She loves the pie only to find out it is made with lots and lots of spinach. You can watch the episode with your children here.

Check out this link to find more tips to help with picky eaters as well as some kid friendly recipes. There are so many different tips and tricks for helping children eat health foods.

What are some tips that you have found useful in helping your picky eaters?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Read Me a Story

Do you remember sitting on a loved one's lap listening to a story?  Whether it was at home or at school, I've always enjoyed listening to others read me a story.      

When should you start reading to your child?
Right away! Some even suggest reading to your child while they are still in the womb.  Of course little babies will not understand all the words, but there are great benefits from doing so. 

Reading with your young child:
  • Creates a bond between parent and child
  • Familiarizes the baby with words, sounds, pictures
  • Builds the child's vocabulary
  • Encourages imagination
  • Stimulates an interest in sounds and enhances listening skills
  • Improves communication skills
  • Helps children enjoy reading later in life
I know a family where all of the children have started reading books before attending kindergarten.  How do they do it? One of the reasons is that reading is a huge part of their family.  When the children were very young, their parents constantly read to them, and soon the older siblings took on the role of reading to the younger ones.  

Here are some suggestions on how to improve your reading time with your baby:
  • Read short stories (babies don't have very long attention spans)
  • Simplify the story (you don't have to read word for word, but can keep it simple, using fewer words)
  • Be enthusiastic (fluctuate your voice and show some emotion)
  • Use board books to decrease book damage (most babies love to touch)
  • Make your own books or stories using photo albums or pictures of the family
  • Read books with bright colors and lots of pictures
For more information and additional suggestions visit: Scholastic, AAP News, or the Baby Center.

Be the one to read to your children.  It takes time and patience, but these few minutes spent reading with your baby can make all the difference.
What are some of your favorite books to read to your children?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

All About Ear Infections

Flu season is fast approaching and ear infections can come with it. Ear infections are caused by viruses such as the common cold or the flu and are common in many infants and babies. Inflammation builds in the fluids of the middle ear and can cause a lot of discomfort. While most infections will go away within 7 days, some need to be treated by antibiotics. It can be overwhelming to deal with the discomfort that your child may experience when they have an ear infection.

Here are some common signs/symptoms that can help you determine whether to take your child to the doctor:

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    • Headache
    • Fever of 100 F or higher
    • Loss of appetite
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Ear pain when lying down
    • Tugging or pulling at ears
    • More irritable than usual
    • Loss of balance
    • Drainage from fluid or ear

It is recommended by the Mayo Clinic to see a doctor if: symptoms have lasted more than a day, ear pain is severe, your infant or toddler is sleepless or irritable after a cold or other upper respiratory infection or you observe discharge or fluid, pus or bloody discharge from the ear.

Although ear infections are common in babies and toddlers, there are things you can do to prevent them from happening:

  • Breastfeeding your baby provides increased natural immunity.
  • Boost his or her immunity by feeding him or her fruits, veggies and seafood. These have been shown to improve babies developing immune systems.
  • Keep allergens at bay: irritants can cause fluid to build in the middle ear and nasal passages.
  • Don't smoke around your baby.
  • Limit pacifier use-especially if baby is older than 6 months. Several studies have shown correlations between the frequency of pacifier use and ear infections.

More tips can be found here.
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The good news is that over time your child's ears will continue to develop and it becomes more difficult for fluid and germs to build up in the middle ear. This along with a more mature immune system will greatly reduce the frequency of ear infections.

What tips do you have for looking after little ones with ear infections or during times of sickness? Share your ideas of helping your child feel comfortable.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Don't Let the Bugs Bite this Flu and Cold Season!

As the weather is getting colder, it also means that flu and cold season is upon us. It can be a very difficult task for parents to keep their children healthy during the fall and winter, especially when children are exposed to germs at school every day. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee your child will not get sick (especially since the immune system in young children is growing stronger through exposure to new illnesses). While it is almost inevitable that most children will get a common cold or two, there are several simple things that you can do to help fight off germs and keep your child as healthy as you can this fall and winter. 

1. Have your child get a FLU SHOT! This is the number one thing that you can do to help prevent your child from contracting the flu. Even if your child does get sick, having the flu vaccine can help keep the symptoms more mild and shorten the illness. Click here to find a place near you when you can get the flu vaccine as well as look at flu activity in your local area. 

2. Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands!! Though this is the age old advice for preventing sickness, it is the most simple and effective solution to killing germs. Have your children wash their hands as often as they can (especially before eating, after using the restroom, and after being in a public place). Teach children to use warm water and soap and scrub for 15-20 seconds (have them sing "Happy Birthday" to themselves two times while they wash). 

3. Teach your children "The Three No's." No touching eyes, nose, or mouth! This can be very difficult (especially in young children) but cold and flu viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. Instead, have your child dab at his eye or itch his nose with a tissue or clean sleeve. 

4. Keep the surfaces in your home clean. The flu virus can live up to 8 hours on surfaces (counters, toys, handles, tables, etc.). Use hot soapy water or a disinfectant/cleaning product to these areas in your home clean. 

5. Stop sharing. Though it is important for young children to learn how to share, rethink the sharing policy when it comes to food and drink. One of the top ways that infections spread is through contact with food or drink. 

6. Make sure your child is getting the right amount of ZZZ's. A child is almost twice as likely to develop a cold or flu if they are sleep deprived. How much sleep should your child be getting? The CDC recommends that newborns get 16-18 hours a day, preschool aged children get 11-12 hours a day, and school aged children at least 10 hours a day. 

7. Have children eat a balanced and healthy diet. Foods that contain Vitamin C and E help support the immune system. Foods high in Vitamin E include: sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds, peanuts, and avocados; foods high in Vitamin C include: oranges/orange juice, peppers, berries, broccoli, and leafy greens. Taking vitamins and eating foods with probiotics such as yogurt can also help support the immune system. 

8. If your child does get sick, keep her comfortable and have her take it easy. Have your child get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Also, make time to snuggle; when children get sick they need extra TLC so give her plenty of hugs! If you are wondering if your child is too sick for school click here.  

What are some ways that you help prevent your children from getting sick? Share your tips in the comments below. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mother Nature's Playground

It’s Autumn-time! It's my favorite time of year! Although fleeting here in Utah, I love the cool, crisp air, the scent of falling leaves, and the bursts of color in the mountains that Autumn brings.

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The other day I was at a family hot dog roast for my Grandma’s birthday. All of the little kids kept coming up to their parents with armfuls of acorns and colorful leaves from my aunt’s trees. I remember that when I was little, I loved collecting “treasures” during the fall and going on nature walks. With the change in seasons, there are lots of “new” things to look at, which makes an autumn nature walk an intriguing activity for both younger and older kids. Getting out of town to do a nature walk can be fun, but they can still be great even in your own backyard! 

Below are some ideas of things to think about when preparing to do a nature walk with your kids:

1. Have a checklist. Make sure it is appropriate to the age of the child, and to the items you might see in the location you are going. You can either make your own, or download one from the internet (just search “checklist for a nature walk”).

2. Decide if you will have the kids gather the items they see, take pictures of them, draw them, etc…

3. Don’t forget to bring a box or bucket to carry the treasures in if they will be bringing them home. For young kids just learning colors, you can get an empty egg carton, glue a differently-colored piece of paper in each hole, and have kids find items that match.

4. If you do have kids collect items, think of fun, creative ways to display their treasures when you return. They can be put in a clear jar, glued to a paper, or even just stored in a plastic bag.

5. Binoculars and magnifying glasses can make the adventure even more exciting!
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6. You can also bring crayons, pencils, and a sketchpad for kids to draw what they find.

7. For older kids, books to identify plants, animals, and birds may be fun.

8. Bring a camera to photograph animal or insect species your children can later identify.

9. Depending on where you are going, you may want to talk with your kids about being quiet while on your nature walk… especially if you want to see animals.

10. While on the nature walk, don’t forget to stop and take time to use other senses… listening, smelling, touching, etc…

11. Take time to look under rocks for lizards and insects, look at the shape of a leaf, and inspect the details of a flower.

12. Use the opportunity to teach developmentally appropriate lessons to your kids – shapes, colors, numbers, etc…

13. Some more great ideas can be found on these websites:

Have fun on your nature walk! Please comment below if you have other suggestions.