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 (6)

Wednesday
May212014

How Do I Introduce Baby Food? Think Variety.

When I talk to pediatricians I tell them the same thing I'm about to tell you: The most important thing parents can do when they're introducing solids is think about VARIETY.

Yes, I tell pediatricians to change how they advise parents. I say, skip the go-slow, introduce-one-food-and-wait-three-days approach.

The go-slow approach DOESN'T prevent allergies, but it does teach a style of eating that is counterproductive.

Read one of my favorite studies in Early Vegetable Variety: The French Advantage.

Exposure to a variety of vegetables, rather than repeated exposure to a single vegetables, not only encourages acceptance of new vegetables, it also encourages acceptance of other new foods.

That's because, teaching kids to eat a variety of foods teaches them a mindset: I eat different foods from meal-to-meal and from day-to-day.

(In contrast, the go-slow approach teaches a different mindset: It's normal to eat the same foods from meal-to-meal and from day-to-day.)

Here's the study: 30 infants, all being introduced to vegetables for the first time.

The infants were all between 4 and 6 months old, divided into two groups.

  • One group was given carrots every day for for 10 days. This was the Single Exposure Group.
  • One group was given a rotation of parsnip, zucchini and sweet potato for 10 days. This was the Variety Group.
  • On the 11th day, all the babies were given peas.

Who ate more peas? The Variety Group.

Actually, it turns out that for babies weaned before 6 months old, it didn't seem to matter whether they were in the single exposure group or the variety group.

However, if the babies were around 6 months old, being in the variety group had a BIG effect.

Notice that color is one element of variety incorporated into the Variety Group.

Rotating the color of foods has been found to be one of the most effective patterns for exposure to variety.

So don't get "stuck" in the same-color-food rut!

Here's the takeaway: Once babies are about 6 months old, variety really matters. And there's no downside.

Even though variety didn't have a big effect on new vegetable consumption for young babies, variety did matter for older babies. And since all young babies turn into older babies, it makes sense to introduce variety from the get-go.

There is NO downside to introducing variety early...especially if we're talking fruits and vegetables which are not highly allergenic. But even if they were, read Peanuts, Eggs and Shellfish Before Age One.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Coulthard, H., G. Harris, and A. Fogel. 2014. “Exposure to Vegetable Variety in Infants Weaned At Different Ages.” Appetite 78C: 89-94.

Wednesday
Apr172013

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!

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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. ~

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Source: 

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

Tuesday
Mar062012

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.~ 

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Source on lying: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2005681,00.html#ixzz1oM1vO6tA