It’s getting kids to eat what parents serve that causes so many problems.

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DINA ROSE, PhD is a sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert empowering parents to raise kids who eat right.

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Entries in Weaning (5)


Don't Wait to Introduce Fish for Dinner

Food and allergy advice: the times, they are a changin'.

  • Old Advice: Wait before introducing potentially allergenic foods because it will help reduce your child's chances of developing an allergy.
  • New Advice: Delaying may increase your child's chances of developing an allergy.

In other words, once you start weaning feel free to feed your kids peanuts, eggs, shellfish and other potentially allergenic foods. Read more: Peanuts, eggs, and Shellfish Before One.

Now, more evidence about the benefits of introducing fish...early on. It may prevent allergies from forming.

 The New York Times reports on a couple of studies:

  • Children who were introduced to fish between 6 and 12 months had a lower prevalence of asthmalike symptoms than children who were given fish after this window.
  • Children who were given fish twice a month from the age of 1 were 75% less likely to have allergy symptoms—rhinitis and exzema—at the age of 12.

Many parents I know are reluctant to introduce fish to young children.

I'm not sure whether that is because these parents are worried about allergies, or because they're worried their children won't like fish.

Here's an old post on how to interpret your weaning infant's reaction to new foods; it's something for you to "chew on" while I finish the book!


Most parents think introducing their infants to solid foods is difficult because their child may not like the taste, may not like the texture, and may not even know how to navigate the mushy messes down their throats.   

Weaning is tough work because there is so much change to your child's feeding and eating routine - his (so far) lifelong habits.

Here are 10 things your infant might say about weaning if he could:

1) My food used to always be the same – same taste, same texture, same smell. Now it changes from meal-to-meal. I never know what to expect.

2) I used to snuggle with Mommy while I ate but now I don’t.

3) I used to eat while lying down.  Now I have to sit up.

4) I used to decide how quickly or slowly to eat.  Now someone else picks the speed at which food is put into my mouth.

5) I used to take big sips or small sips of milk. Now someone else decides how much food is in each bite.

6) I used to have a soft nipple in my mouth.  Now there’s a hard spoon in there.

7) I used to eat whenever I was hungry.  Now Mommy often makes me wait for meal- or snack-time.

8) Mommy used to be the only one to feed me.  Now lots of different people take turns.

9) I used to decide how long meals lasted.  Now whoever feeds me decides.

10) I never could see what was going on in the room before.  Now I can check out all the action.

There’s a lot going on here as your child adjusts and develops new habits --  it's not just about the food.

What you can do.

  • If your child is having trouble transitioning to solids, look beyond the food to identify the cause (or causes).
  • Try reducing some of the change.  For instance, there’s no law against snuggling while feeding, even if it is solids.
  • Recognize that weaning is a process, both for you and for your child.  How well you cope matters too.
  • Remember, weaning will change from day-to-day because it is an interaction that is always in flux as you and your infant adjust your behavior in reaction to each other.
  • Don't get hung up on how much your child eats.  Sustenance from solids isn't the name-of-the-game right now.  Exposure to lots of different foods is.  
  • Also, don't get hung up on how much your child eats because, it turns out, parents aren't very good judges of that anyway.  Click for more on this topic.
  • Hang in there. Over time, change settles down and feeding improves.  Studies show a vast improvement in feeding within 6 weeks, but that before this time, anything goes.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~



van Dijk M, Hunnius S, & van Geert P (2009). Variability in eating behavior throughout the weaning period.Appetite, 52 (3), 766-70 PMID: 19501778


Kid Eats Q&A: How do I wean my baby from a bottle?

Who hasn’t thought about tricking their kids?

According to one psychology professor at the University of California San Diego, more than 80% of parents lie to their children to try to influence their emotions or behavior.

Parenting by lying.  (It’s not my term, the psychology professor coined it.)

I wouldn’t call what most parents do lying.  Lying denotes an almost-malicious motive. I am much more comfortable with the term tricking.  After all, we’re mostly talking about benign stuff like selling kids on youthful fantasies like the Tooth Fairy.  No harm no foul.

A lot of parents trick their kids to avoid a struggle.

That’s the idea behind hiding cauliflower in macaroni and cheese.  No fighting. No whining. No gagging.

And that’s the idea behind The Pacifier Fairy, too. You get what you want, what’s best for your child, and your child is none the wiser.

But that’s the problem: Your child is none the wiser.  I say, “don’t do it.”  Don’t trick your kid to avoid a struggle.  Isn’t wiser what you want?

Every time you trick your toddler you miss an opportunity to teach her something.

Should you trick your child into giving up her bottle?

Debbie writes:

My daughter is going to be 2 in a few weeks and is still very much addicted to the bottle. I didn't have this problem with my son. My son only had a nighttime bottle and got sick at 18 months.  We put Pedialyte in it. He hated it and refused the bottle. That was the end of that. Super easy. I'm thinking of putting something awful tasting in her bottle to see if that works!

I understand the temptation to trick your toddler, Debbie. I've got to say, though, that I’m a fan of being upfront with kids. It works best in the long run.  It's also respectful.

It doesn’t seem like giving up a bottle is a teachable moment, but it is.

For your daughter, learning to weigh your reasons for giving up the bottle against her reasons for keeping it is a big deal.  In fact, it is such a big deal that I would even say it counts as a life lesson.

I’ve written a lot lately about how to communicate effectively with your kids. 

And that’s what you’ve got to do to help your daughter give up her beloved bottle.

Of course, talking to kids about important stuff like bottles puts parents at a disadvantage.

Parents get the short end of the stick in this type of interaction: You’re talking logic while your toddlers are talking emotions. How do you counter, “But I love it,” or “But I want it,” or an emphatic declaration, “No!”?

The answer is straightforward.

  1. Lay out your reasons for wanting your daughter to give up her bottle. I'm sure you have some good ones. (But if you don't, perhaps you should reconsider.)
  2. Set some limits on drinking from the bottle: only at home, only in the morning and the evening, or only for milk. 

Then, either:

  1. Set a deadline for when the bottles go bye-bye.  Or
  2. Encourage your daughter to pick a deadline to let the bottles go bye-bye. And
  3. Help your daughter process her emotions.

Don't underestimate your daughter's ability to think this thing through.

She can do it. 

Giving up the bottle isn't a big issue to me; nobody ever went to college using one.  At least that's what I told myself when my munchkin was a bottle maniac. But I can understand wanting to wean your daughter.

There's loads of evidence that children respond to a firm, but flexible environment.  Read The Goldilocks Approach.

  • Set reasonable boundaries. 
  • Talk things through. 
  • Involve your children in the decision-making process. 

It'll teach your daughter some of the skills she'll need for a lifetime of healthy eating.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~ 


Source on lying:,8599,2005681,00.html#ixzz1oM1vO6tA


Don't Baby Your Babies. Let Them Take Their Lumps.

Texture, or more accurately, the way toddlers respond to texture, is one of the potential pitfalls parents face when transitioning infants to solids.

But avoiding texture is the wrong way to go.

In my last post I discussed how the French have an advantage in the vegetable department because they introduce their infants to a wide range of vegetables from a very early age.

The French strategy—both introducing lots of different vegetables and switching up which vegetables are offered from day-to-day—exposes infants to a wide range of flavors.  Read Early Vegetable Variety: The French Advantage.

But the French strategy does more: It also exposes infants to a wide range of textures.

Variety—in both taste and texture— isn't just the spice of life; it's the key to teaching your tots to eat right.

The more varied textures you expose your infants to the better they’ll eat.

Taste and texture have a symbiotic relationship.

  • Flavor variety leads to texture acceptance.
  • Texture variety leads to flavor acceptance.  

Think of taste and texture like a food relay race: You need to optimize both racers in order to get to the finish line fast.

Make it your goal to vary the taste and texture of the food you provide as often as you can—both from day-to-day and over the course of a single day.

Here’s the study:

  • Take a bunch of 12-month-old babies.
  • Cook up some carrots so they’re nice and soft.
  • Puree some of the carrots.
  • Chop some of the carrots.
  • Dish up the carrots (pureed on one day, chopped on another).
  • See who eats what.
  • Figure out why.

Some of what the researchers discovered was pretty obvious:

  • All the babies ate more carrots when they were pureed than when they were chopped.
  • Babies who had more teeth were more willing to eat the chopped carrots.

These findings fall under the category of, "We needed researchers to tell us that?"

Some of what the researchers discovered wasn’t so obvious. 

 Look at who consumed more of the chopped carrots:

  • Infants who were accustomed to eating a wide variety of foods.
  • Children who started early with mashed foods, and who had frequent exposures to chopped versions of different foods.
  • Children whose main meal on the day of the study was either chopped or lumpy, as opposed to pureed.

The researchers concluded: The more familiar infants are with different textures, especially with chopped foods, the more likely they are to eat (and like) chopped carrots.

The researchers also concluded that:

"Infants with more experiences with different textures seem to be more confident in handling more complex textures and are less likely to reject these foods."

Many parents are reluctant to give their infants chopped foods because they worry about their children choking.

And that’s a reasonable concern.  You don't have to compromise your feeding goals, however, to keep your kids alive. You can serve mashed, chopped and lumpy foods safely.

In this study, the researchers thoroughly cooked both the pureed and the chopped carrots, and the chopped pieces were about ¼ inch in size. This complies with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that to prevent choking parents leave bites no bigger than ½ inch in size. 

Other parents steer clear of challenging textures because their kids reject them.

But that's the wrong approach.  Repeatedly serving textures infants prefer reinforces their limited palates. It doesn't move them along.

Even if your child has a physical or development issue which makes tackling textures tough, you still have to introduce a variety of textures. Just see a professional. Read: What can you do about texture issues and My Child Only Eats Cheerios and Puffs: When to Seek Medical Help.

Kids who reject challenging textures need more exposure to them, not less, because they need to learn how to handle textures they find tough.

  • Make textural changes slowly.  Mix purees with mashes so they're half and half. Put teeny lumps into sauces. 
  • Serve small portion sizes so the challenge is doable.
  • Deliberately vary the textures you serve.  An easy way to do this is to vary the brands you buy (read How Brands Bite You in the Butt!) and vary the kinds of foods you serve (read Falafel for Breakfast).
  • If your child is having trouble, make smaller textural changes, but don't abandon your efforts.

The longer you wait to introduce lumpy, bumpy, and chopped up foods, the harder it becomes.

In another study, children who were introduced to lumpy foods before they were 6 months old:

  • Ate a wider variety of foods.
  • Moved on to family (or table) food more quickly.
  • Were less likely to be considered picky or difficult eaters.

The message is clear: stop babying your babies.

Instead, let them take their lumps.  It's only through exposure to textural variety that your kids will learn to eat a wide variety of foods. And that's the habit you want to teach your kids for a lifetime of healthy eating.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~



Blossfield, I., A. Collins, M. Kiely, and C. Delahunty. 2007. “Texture Preferences of 12-Month-Old Infants and the Role of Early Experiences.” Food Quality and Preference 18: 396-404.

Northstone, K., P. Emmett, F. Nethersole, and A. L. S. P. A. C. S. Team. 2001. “The Effect of Age of Introduction to Lumpy Solids on Foods Eaten and Reported Feeding Difficulties At 6 and 15 Months.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 14: 43-54.