In Part 1 of this series on vegetables, I shared some quick and easy ways to get more vegetables into your kid's diet. Sometimes, especially with a picky eater, you may need to plan a little more to get your kid eating a vegetable I knew that was the situation when I wanted to serve spaghetti squash as a main part of our dinner a few weeks ago. This is a non preferred food for both of my kiddos. Well, Sam will usually try it, but I really wanted him to eat it, a full serving of it. So, I had to put my therapist hat on (it is usually on anyways) and think about kid's issues with veggies. Here is my thought process...
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
A lot of parents find their way to Your Kid's Table because, simply put, they want their kid to eat a larger variety of food. I get a lot of questions about vegetables and meat, in particular. Many kids struggle with these two food groups. In this post, I'm going to talk about some easy ways to get more vegetables into your kids diet, but look for more in depth strategies and recipes in part 2. I will cover meat in the near future, as well.
I'm going to spare you the details on why veggies are such an important part of your kid's diet - most of you already know that. I'm also going to admit up front that this is an area that we are always working on in my house. Isaac, my 2 year old picky eater, only eats raw carrots readily. However, last week he happily ate spaghetti squash (I'll share how I managed that in part 2), which is usually something he totally avoids. My point is, there is hope!
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
This topic is long over due around here. Many parents consider one or more of their kids to be a so called "picky eater". But what does that really mean? If you scroll the comments on this blog, you will see a whole spectrum of picky eaters, from parents looking for advice for a child that is refusing several vegetables, to one that is gagging at the site of food. Do they all fall into the same category? Hardly. Moreover, a few well-intentioned, but vastly incorrect comments about how parents need to just give their kids some tough love when it comes to eating. That may work for some kids that fall on the picky eating spectrum, but for others it could be disastrous - leading to a feeding tube. That may sound dramatic, and although it is unlikely, it is possible. So how does a parent know when they need to be concerned? When does picky eating go too far?
Monday, September 30, 2013
I am very excited that Your Kid's Table is hosting its very first giveaway! Last month I reviewed a fantastic little gadget, FunBites, see that post here. FunBites gave me another shape to try out, triangles, for some inspiring Halloween foods, as always full disclosure. In addition to a great coupon that can be used directly on their site for 20% your entire order, they are also going to give one of you a free triangle FunBites to make all of your own fun Halloween foods! The coupon and details for entering are at the end of this post.
As an occupational therapist, I really love FunBites- as I mentioned in my review, I actually sought them out. I'm so impressed with this mom that designed this tool for her "picky" eater. I saw an add on another website and immediately thought, "Oh, what is that? It will be perfect for the kids I work with!" To briefly re-cap, kids with difficulty chewing or textures can handle small regularly shaped pieces of food better than large irregular pieces. It not only gives them a sense of comfort, but is physically easier for them to eat. Plus, it is fun!
It was great to have both the triangle and square to work with, it definitely allowed for some more creativity. The triangle worked just as well as the square, but had different sized triangles. I did cut up some actual sandwiches this time and I had to really rock and push to get it to cut through all of the layers, especially the roast beef and ham. I quickly had to use a knife to completely separate a few meaty strands that were still stuck, which wasn't a big deal.
I have to admit coming up with some Halloween themed foods was quite challenging for me. I usually don't get in to making elaborate themes and as you can see, mine are fairly simple. I honestly can't believe some of the foods I see people pinning, the time and amount of ingredients is overwhelming to me. But, if it is fun for you and your little one appreciates it, then that's great. Once I figured out what I was going to do, it was really easy and my older son loved it, like I said, I kept it simple. I was careful to use only a few ingredients and you'll see that I repeated them in both Halloween scenes. Obviously, I didn't want to waste the food, but it was beneficial for my kids to have repeated exposure to non preferred foods.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
I am a pediatric occupational therapist, but the bulk of my experience has been in Pennsylvania's Early Intervention program. Do you know what early intervention (EI) is? I hope so, but I know that many of you don't. I want to rectify that because if you are living in the United States and have a child under the age of 5 you may qualify for these free services. Each state's rules and guidelines are a little different, my state is known for their excellent services, but others aren't so much. One thing each state does have in common is that if your child is 0-3 and has a delay in any area of development, a qualified and licensed speech, physical, or occupational therapist will come to your home to work with you and your child. In our state we also have developmental therapists, which usually have backgrounds in education or development, as well as vision/hearing therapists and social workers. That is pretty awesome, right? Your child has a need, which may be minor, and the state sends someone to your home to help. You don't even have to drive anywhere! If your child is 3-5, it may not be too late for EI, but the model is a little different. I'll elaborate more on that briefly.
Okay, so let me back up a little here. Before you get services set up in your home, you will have a developmental screening completed. A therapist(s) will come to your home and basically "play" with your kiddo. This play will be targeted to specific skills as they evaluate if your child is meeting typical milestones for their age. This evaluation or screening is formal though, therapists are following specific tested guidelines. Of course, there is a lot of leeway here, therapists know better than anyone that development varies from child to child. The therapist evaluating will likely ask you a lot of questions as well, to fully understand your concerns and the needs of your child. They will score the evaluation and let you know the results and their recommendations If therapy is recommended, it will be up to you as the parent to continue with services, there is no pressure. Sometimes the screening is completed and your child doesn't qualify. That is a very quick overview of EI! Now, onto some FAQ's!
Thursday, August 22, 2013
A few weeks ago I noticed some pins on Pinterest about FunBites. I had never heard of the nifty little contraption and went right over to their website. I was immediately drawn to it as an occupational therapist, I'll elaborate more on that in a minute. So I sent off an email asking if I could review one, within a week I had my own square FunBites (my admission that I did receive it free for this post)! I haven't been disappointed. FunBites has two parts, the first being the slicer that rocks back and forth to actually cut the food. The second part is an insert that helps to push any stuck pieces out of the cavity. Click here for a video demo. By the way, it is easy to clean, is BPA free, goes right into the dishwasher, and cuts through a variety of textures. We have used ours on apple, watermelon, meat, and cheese. Please note that this post does contain affiliate links to FunBites, see the coupon code at the end.
First, I wanted to share with you why I was drawn to FunBites. Obviously, a simple tool like this is awesome for babies and toddlers that need all of their food cut up. My kids are pretty much out of that stage, but there are still some things I need to dice for safety and their preference. More importantly, I was thinking of all those picky eaters and problem feeders out there. There are two reasons why Fun Bites can help picky eaters:
Thursday, August 8, 2013
This Triple Berry Cherry Sorbet recipe is made with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries. Sam, who is 3.5 will eat lots of strawberries and with some effort he will try the others. Isaac just turned 2 and will eat strawberries, try but spit out blueberries, lick raspberries, and refuse cherries. Needless to say, it was a good idea to get them interacting with the food when the pressure of eating it is off.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
One of the most common questions I get asked is... "How can I teach my child to feed themselves?" I was pretty motivated to teach my own kids because that meant I could sit back and enjoy my own meal again... well, mostly. It is also a skill I have worked on, a lot, with kids of all ages and abilities. In this post, which is long over due, I am going to cover it all. I will tell you how to get your kid finger feeding, using a spoon, and a fork, all of which happen at different developmental periods. Plus, I'll give you age guidelines, notice my word choice, when we are talking milestones. There is always a lot of variability as each child is unique. Of course, I will share with you my favorite beginner utensils, too! So, let's get started...
Hopefully your child has started or will start feeding themselves those little melt-able puffs right off their tray around 8 months. Initially, you will notice that they grasp for their food with their whole hand in a raking motion. They often get a bunch in their at once and will try to shove their whole hand into their mouth. This is a fairly ineffective method, but they manage. Slowly, they will begin to use multiple fingers to pick up more foods, which should evolve into a pincer grasp (see the top pic above or the one below) around 9 months old (but it could range from 7-11 months). This pincer grasp is important because is lays the foundation for future fine motor skills like writing. If you want more specifics on transitioning to table foods check out my two part series here and here.
How You Can Help Them!
First of all, make sure you are giving them opportunity. Let them try and try again, it is okay to let them struggle a little. That is how they learn! Give them things like puffs that are dry and big enough to pick up, but not so big they could choke. Most kids are motivated to eat and will figure out how to get it into their mouth. The problem sometimes arises with the pincer grasp. If they aren't isolating their finger and thumb, set aside some time at the beginning of their meal to give them one piece of food at a time. Try placing one singular puff on their tray first, without a boat load of puffs they may isolate those fingers for you. If they don't use the pincer grasp, hold it up in front of them, like my husband is demonstrating in picture to the right. Don't let go until you see them grabbing it with their index finger and thumb. Spend just a few minutes "practicing" at the beginning of the meal and then let them finish their meal normally so they don't get too frustrated. Likely, it won't be long before they have mastered this new skill!
Monday, June 10, 2013
With each new season comes unique opportunities for sensory play. At the start of each season I kind of have a mental bucket list of all the fun sensory things I want to expose the kids to (remember my fall sensory post?) Obviously, because of the warm temperatures summer offers, my bucket list can get pretty long!
Sensory play is so important because it helps kids learn about their environment and their own bodies. There is all kinds of neurological development going on when they interact with different textures or move their bodies in new ways. We also know that sensory play can ultimately induce more relaxation and improved attention because their little bodies (in most cases) are getting their needs met. If you are looking for some more details on sensory play and development, check out Sensory Basics here.
Most of you probably already know some simple sensory play ideas for summer between sandboxes, swimming pools, and playgrounds (all of which give loads of sensory input). But, don't stop there. Think nature hikes, finger painting, or body painting in bathing suits, you can literally hose them down!
Rachel from Babysitting gets even more creative with these next three suggestions in her guest post here today. I love all these ideas and they are definitely now on my summer bucket list (I guess I should actually write the list down), I can't wait for the kids to try them out!
Let us know what your favorite sensory play idea is for summer so we can keep those bucket lists growing! Without further adieu, I will hand it over to Rachel...
Monday, May 20, 2013
For many parents feeding their kids is a bit overwhelming, especially in the beginning. It's really straight forward when they are babies, right? Milk, then baby food. Simple. Things start to get a little tricky when real food is introduced and the bottles and baby food are weened away. Those babes turn into toddlers and the eating transition can be challenging. I'm not just talking about how to get them to start eating table foods, I've already covered that in another post (How to Transition Your Baby to Table Food). It's all the other things that come along with this transition like when, what, and where to feed them.... when and how do they feed themselves... how long should they sit in a high chair... etc. Okay, if you weren't overwhelmed already, I am probably overwhelming you now! Obviously, I am going to walk you through the most common mistakes parents seem to make and how you can avoid them to get your kid's eating started with a good foundation. They are mostly simple things that the Pediatrician doesn't have time to tell you or may not even know.