Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What Helps Constipation in Kids?

Constipation has been an issue in my house for last 3.5 years.  It is a huge thorn in my side and frustrates me often.  As an OT that specializes in feeding, I knew well about constipation and the affects it can have on a child's eating habits.  I know more than the basics to help with constipation, which I will share here, but in my case it wasn't enough. I had to dig deeper.  I am not a nutritionist and don't specialize in this per say, but wanted to share what I have learned so that it might help you.

To make a long story short, Sam, who is 4.5, began to have difficulty going regularly after transitioning to cow's milk from breast milk.  At its worst, he had sharp referral pain in his back, which was frightening.  At that time, we put him on Polyethylene Glycol (PEG for short, or Miralax as you likely know it) an over-the-counter stool softener.  He was on it daily until about 6 months ago when I started to realize he wasn't growing out of this.  I wasn't sure I wanted to keep him on it indefinitely and couldn't believe that much time had passed with daily use. Although the doctors assured me that it was totally safe, after more than 2 years I decided to do some of my own research - not sure why it took me that long. I was shocked to learn that although no major incidents or side effects have been reported, it has never been approved by the FDA for use in kids or for use on a long-term basis.  Miralax and I assume other stool softners are not absorbed into the body, but keep water with the bowel as it is being digested, thus freeing a child of constipation.

Please know that my intent here is not to attack Miralax, for some kids it is necessary and at times it has been a miracle for us. BUT - I couldn't help wondering, aren't there other solutions, especially when this is a long term problem?  So let's get to it...  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tips for Picky Eaters: {Serving Meals Family Style}

Want to get your picky eater eating healthy meals or even just more foods?  I know, the answer is obvious, but the solution isn't necessarily simple.  As I have written many posts that address the heavy burden of picky eaters/problem feeders, there are many strategies that can be helpful and many that are nearly necessary to make progress.  Today's tip, however, is simple and will be helpful no matter where you are in improving your kid's eating: Serve meals family style.  Years ago, when I took a feeding course called SOS approach to Feeding by Kay Toomey, this is one of the strategies they covered to improve eating. At the time, I didn't have kids of my own and although I believed them I was a bit concerned about how the families I worked with would receive this.  As I now know, meal time can be hectic and often the last thing anyone wants to do is make more dishes or take the time to get all the food on the table instead of just serving it from the stove. Please see the Article Index and Basic Strategies to Improve Eating in the menu bar for much more on picky eating.

Well, fortunately, they did sell me on it - I'll get to why in a few minutes - and I did recommend it to families, some of which followed through with success.  Lately, as I've been consulting with parents, it happened to be discussed in more detail and I was pleasantly surprised to see how big of an impact it had on some very selective eaters. Needless to say, I decided it was high time that this nugget of information got some billing of it's own because I may have underestimated the value of family style eating a bit. More importantly, I want all of you to have this as a tool to use to get your kids eating more foods.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sensory Diet Tool: {Senseez Review}

I am excited to share a fun and affordable sensory tool with you today- Senseez. I contacted them a few months ago about writing a review because as an occupational therapist it seemed like something that might help some of the families I work with. Particularly, kids with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, and/or sensory processing difficulties.  However, as an OT I know the powerful sensory input that vibration can give and may benefit an even wider group then the one I just listed. Senseez has also generously given a coupon to Your Kid's Table, which is at the end of this post. 

Full Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary Senseez for writing a non-biased review. I have not received any payments from Senseez for this post. All opinions are my own.

What is a Senseez?

Senseez is a durable vinyl pillow that vibrates with pressure from hugging it, sitting on it, or standing on it. It was developed by a mom and dad team that needed a portable vibrating pad to help their son sit and attend to activities longer- awesome, right?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Toddler/Preschooler Portion Sizes

Parent's frequently ask me how much their child needs to be eating. Parents get nervous that their child may not be getting the nutrition they need or enough calories to grow. As an OT, I follow some general guidelines, but am not an expert on nutrition.  I was thrilled when today's  guest blogger and soon-to-be-dietitian Amelia Sherry, of, agreed to help us out with a thorough and practical explanation. Amelia explains why—and how to support your kids’ natural know-how for perfecting portion sizes. Believe it or not, most toddlers know more about how much they should eat than any pediatrician or nutritionist.  

4 Keys to Perfecting Portion Sizes!

Throughout my pregnancy, there was one thing I really wanted to ace as a mom: Breastfeeding. To be sure I got it right, I read every book recommended to me, quizzed every mom brave enough to answer my questions, and even enrolled in a three-hour class (including demonstrations!) on the topic. If you asked me about breastfeeding the day before my daughter Isla was born, I would have arrogantly rattled off a dissertation on the holding positions, timing, and feeding techniques recommended for success. If you asked me about it in the minutes following her birth, I would have timidly realized that I knew nothing. A hands-on, crash-course lesson was coming my way though- and it wasn't a nurse, lactation, consultant, or pediatrician who taught it. It was Isla.

Like most new parents, in the moments following birth I was nothing but thunderstruck by the sight of my infant daughter. When the nurse handed her to me to the last thing on my mind was getting her into the recommended feeding position, never mind remembering exactly what that was. Fortunately, as I sat there gawking this tiny little stranger turned her face towards me, attached her mouth to my nipple, and very casually began to suckle. I was amazed by her intelligence: Less than a half-hour old and Isla knew she needed to feed—to nourish herself—better than any scientist who’d been studying the subject for years, and most definitely better than me. Today, at two and half years old, I’d argue that in some respects she still does.

Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Wean Baby From Bottle

Many of you have asked for this post over the last year or so.  While I have worked on this as an OT with the families I service, I haven't had to as a Momma. My kids avoided the bottle at all costs (they were breast fed for a year), which is a whole separate issue. Needless to say, getting rid of bottles in my house was no biggie.  However, I know all to well that I'm in the minority.  Kicking the bottle habit can be a source of stress for toddlers and their parents.  I'm going to approach this two different ways.  First, for those of you that are being proactive and are reading this before your baby is one year. Next, for those of you that are at your wits end because you didn't realize it would be such a nightmare struggle with your 18 month, 2.5 year, or worse - year old. If you are in the latter situation, read it all because those foundational strategies will still prove useful.

When is it Time to Wean?

The answer is very clear: By one year of age. However, it is reasonable to be working on it until 15 months of age. The most important reason for weaning by age one is tooth decay, if you want to read more about that see the American Dental Association's explanation.  In addition, toddlers should be moving onto more advanced skills like drinking from an open cup and straw, which help to strengthen the muscles for speech development.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How to Get Your Kid to Eat Meat

This is part 3 in a series of "How to Get Your Kids to Eat ________". The first two segments addressed veggies, click here to see what you missed.

Meat is tough for kids, literally! Parents often share their concerns with me about their child's difficulty eating meat and it is often perplexing to them why it is so difficult.  Try to sit in your child's booster seat for a moment, figuratively not literally... meat is often dry, on the blander side, and requires a lot of chewing.  When you think about it, it really isn't too surprising that kids often aren't motivated to eat it.  Of course, there are other protein sources such as cheese, yogurt, beans, tofu, etc, and if you're a family of vegetarians, that works great.  However, as a parent, if you are eating meat, it is a healthy expectation for your kids to eat it also.  My friend Katie from On the Banks of Squaw Creek has a post up today about guilt free meat eating that is very informative. (Yes, this is the same Katie that wrote a non-sponsored review of a feeding consultation I did for her two sons.) Please know vegans and vegetarians, I respect your principles.

As adults, we often eat things like chicken breast, turkey cutlets, pork loins, and beef roasts.  While I don't advocate totally cooking "kid's food" all the time for your family, having kids does change what we make for dinner.  The list I just mentioned are among the most difficult for toddlers to eat and often the least motivating for kids of all ages.  Of course, I want your family to enjoy these things or whatever meats your family typically prepares, but you may need to do a little ground work first. Let's move onto some specifics...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Getting Kids to Eat Veggies {Part 2}

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...

Monday, November 11, 2013

How to Get Your Kid to Eat Vegetables {Part 1}

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

When Has Picky Eating Gone Too Far?

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

FunBites Giveaway and Kids Halloween Fun Food

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.