3 09, 2015

Feeding Young Children; 5 Tips that Make Meals Pleasant

September 3rd, 2015|Categories: Feeding Tips, Guest Post|

Feeding Young Children

Thank you to Alisha Grogan, MOT OTR/L and creator of Your Kid’s Table for writing this guest post today. Alisha provides us with some extremely effective tips for feeding young children that will help to eliminate the stress around mealtimes, while encouraging good eating habits. Be sure to explore the rest of her website for valuable tips, meal suggestions, help with picky eating and more!

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Kid’s don’t come with a manual”, which implies parents have to determine the best way to proceed in teaching and disciplining children. While I fully support a parent’s intuition and instincts, there are a few areas parent’s often would like some guidance on, one of which is feeding young children. For some families, feeding their children can be very difficult and stressful if a picky eater or problem feeder is involved. While those situations can be quite difficult, they can be helped a lot by implementing some mealtime guidelines, or even avoided all together if they are put in place with babies and toddlers. No matter what the situation is in your home, these tips will help you and your child enjoy meals and experiment with new or non-preferred foods.


Set up a Schedule

Spacing meals apart is critical to your child being a good eater, I really can’t stress how important it is. In a way that makes sense for your family, you will want to create a schedule that starts with your child eating approximately 30 minutes after waking. Then, 2.5-3 hours later, have your next meal. Depending on your individual circumstances and preferences, this may be snack or lunch. By counting from the start of one meal to the start of the next, continue this same time interval throughout the day until bed. This usually results in three main meals and 1-2 snacks. Allow nothing but water in between these times, serving milk or juice as part of the meal. This will optimize your child’s appetite and create a desire to eat when it is meal time.


Keep the High Chair


I know the big high chairs can be cumbersome in kitchens and the trays are annoying to keep cleaning, but these seats and their ability to confine, ahem, I mean keep your child safe, are the best bet for a while. Babies have learned to associate eating with this chair and toddlers are notoriously distracted. If you try to have them eat at their own little table or at a big table before the age of 2.5, you are most likely going to be in a constant struggle just to keep them sitting at the table and their eating habits will surely suffer. There is nothing wrong with feeding young children in a high chair or booster seat with a strap until they are 3 or beyond. If you never stray from this, they won’t ever know the difference, sitting in a high chair or booster is all they have ever know. Once you let them kneel on a big chair or don’t strap them into the booster, it could be very difficult to return to the original set up.


Once you do move to strap-free eating situation, lay the ground rules quickly about staying seated. If you child insists on getting down, meal time is over for them. Make sure they understand this and follow through.


Avoid Constant Snacking


It has become quite commonplace to feed kids snacks throughout the day. We hand them crackers or cookies in grocery stores, doctors offices, cars, parties, and even church to keep them quiet. It doesn’t always stop there. In the beginning it can be hard to find a schedule for eating that works and leaving food out all the time can seem logical, or meal times become stressful and schedules are abandoned because it seems easier. It may be easier in the short term, but in the long run it will become more difficult to get good eating habits established. When kids are given snacks endlessly, the message sent is that we don’t need to sit and eat together (yes, even if it is just a snack) and that we can eat whenever we want. I think it is important to teach kids to respect meal time so they can develop healthy eating habits for life. Constant snacking totally defeats this, and snacking will likely sabotage the next meal because they don’t have an appetite.


In my day job as an occupational therapist, I see huge changes in a child’s eating when the family moves to structured, spaced out meals. At home, I also see a dramatic difference in my kid’s eating when they have snacked too frequently.


Forget the Toys

No toys, phones, tablets, or computers at the table might seem obvious to some of you, especially parents with babies that aren’t really trying to pull this stunt yet. I assure you there will be a day when your toddler is insistent and will ultimately throw a tantrum just to have the truck or doll at the table with them. In the moment, it is very easy to give in because you are exhausted and don’t have the battle in you. However, this is a battle worth fighting, even though that toy or tablet may be keeping them in their chair it will mostly distract them from actually eating. Sometimes it helps to place the toy in a spot where a child can see it (sometimes that makes it worse!). Either way, once your kiddo knows that you mean business about no toys coming to the table, they will stop trying.


*If your child is receiving feeding therapy, some therapeutic strategies employ the use of toys at meals.


Eat Together


Eat with your kids, often when babies start out on baby food they are on their own schedule and we focus just on feeding them at their own meal time. This should be short lived, if ever a scenario at all. If possible, it is a great habit and benefit to the baby to eat meals together. As they start to eat multiple times a day and begin table foods, try to find a way to have your eating schedules coincide. Serving your kids solo means them missing out on a variety of social interactions, as well as the powerful tool of modeling. Our children want to emulate us, for better or worse, and while we all know that they observe everything that we are doing, we often forget to apply that to eating. They notice that the broccoli is on our plate and what we like to eat. Not to oversimplify, but If your kid never sees you eating the broccoli, they might not eat it either.


Alisha Grogan, MOT OTR/L is the creator of Your Kid’s Table and a mom to three young boys. She is a pediatric occupational therapist that specializes in feeding difficulties such as picky eating/problem feeding and difficulty transitioning to table foods. She works in her Pittsburgh community and offers private consultations via skype, phone, and email to parents both nationally and internationally. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.




11 02, 2015

Constipation with Introducing Solid Foods to Babies

February 11th, 2015|Categories: Feeding Tips, Guest Post|

Constipation with Introducing Solid Foods to Babies

 (*This guest blog post is written by Kristen Yarker, Register Dietician and Child-Feeding Expert.)

Moms and Dads often have questions about bowel movements when they start introducing their baby to solid foods.

The first point to know is that yes, their diapers will get smellier. It’s not a myth. Sorry.

And, it’s not only the smell that will change. It’s normal for the frequency and consistency to change too. Here’s what to expect. What’s considered constipation. And, what you can do about it.

What to Expect

When introducing your baby to solid foods, what you’re putting in one end is changing. So do expect that what comes out the other end to change too.

When a baby is exclusively breastfed or formula fed it’s normal for them to have bowel movements once or several times a day.

Solid foods require more digestion. So it’s normal for babies to have less frequent bowel movements as you introduce solid foods. Once a day and skipping days are both normal.

What is Constipation?

Constipation is when your baby’s stools are crumbly and dry and your baby is experiencing difficulty having a bowel movement.

4 Food-Related Ways to Help Get Things Moving Again

Unfortunately there aren’t guaranteed, gold-standard, food-related ways to get things moving smoothly again.

Here are 4 tips that may work:

1. Look back 48-72 Hours. Did you introduce a new food within the last 48-72 hours? Your baby’s constipation may be a sign of sensitivity to that food. Stop giving that food and see if your baby’s constipation clears up.

2. Iron Supplements. Are you giving your baby iron drops? Or, has your baby increased the amount of iron-fortified baby cereal that they’re eating? If you’re providing drops, speak with your healthcare provider about possibly lowering the dosage. If it’s an increased amount of iron-fortified baby cereal, offer less cereal (or none) and offer other foods instead for a few days to see if things get moving again.

3. Try apples, pears and prunes. These all contain a type of fibre that helps draw water into the stool, bulking it up and moistening it to help with movement. Prunes are quite powerful so I don’t recommend continued use every day. Bulking (fibre) powders aren’t designed for babies and aren’t recommended.

4. Water. Your baby is likely meeting their fluid needs through breastfeeding or formula. But use this time to introduce how to drink water from a lidless cup. It’s a skill they’ll need anyways. And, a bit more water may help get things moving again.

If these don’t work to get things moving again, connect with your healthcare provider. They may recommend some other interventions.

Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD

Child-Feeding Expert

Helping Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky)



Twitter: @kristenyarker

Pinterest: kristenyarker

16 12, 2014

How to Handle Child Nutrition Critics

December 16th, 2014|Categories: Feeding Tips, Guest Post|

How to Handle Child Nutrition Critics

This article comes to us from guest blogger and child-feeding expert; Kristen Yarker .

In my world of being a child-feeding and nutrition expert, I’m asked questions by parents all day, every day. Trust me, I’ve heard it all! But there’s one question that causes me to have a sad heart. It’s when parents ask me how to handle the parenting and food critics. In other words, how to get others on-board with supporting your picky eater to try new food.


For example, here’s what this Mom in the Baby Sleep 101 community asked:


My in-laws just left and I got “the look” when we didn’t try to force [son’s name] to eat or to sneak food in. My Mother-in-Law just kept saying “there are ways to get food in, sneak it in. You have to sneak it in, or just give him whatever he wants”.


Why does this question cause me so much distress?


One reason is that I know how worrying, frustrating, and guilt-inducing it is when kids are being picky eaters. Having a child refuse to eat the food you make for them strikes a deep nerve. Parents, especially Moms, confess to me that it makes them feel like a failure as a mother. When they reach out to me they’re being incredibly brave. They’re admitting that things aren’t going well. And, they’re seeking help. While they know that I’m an expert, it takes trust to make the changes that I recommend – to change routines and create new family rules. What these parents need is support; not for those who matter most to them to question their decisions. To hear that they aren’t being supported during this difficult time breaks my heart.


The other reason that I’m stressed when people ask me this question is that I don’t have a clear path to improvement. I’m an expert in child-feeding – not extended family relations. What I can do is share with you three strategies that clients have found to be successful:


  1. Family heart-to-heart. Do you have a family where you can openly discuss your feelings? If so, create a time to sit down (without the kids in earshot) to discuss the situation. Acknowledge that the other person’s parenting choices worked for them. But, that you’re choosing this method. And, it would mean a lot to you to receive their support.
  2. Use the Expert. Feel free to blame it on me – I can take it! A number of clients have shared my website, book, and/or weekly emails with their critics to convince them that these methods have value. Sometimes it opens up critics’ minds to know that these techniques come from an expert.
  3. Water off a duck’s back. To paraphrase Danielle LaPort (whose wisdom I enjoy): “Wide open heart. Big f@#king fence.” In other words, not everyone is able to be supportive of you. Whole heartedly love those whom you choose. And keep the others on the far side of the fence. Unfortunately we can’t control others’ behaviour. We need to accept them for who they are. Thank them for their concern for your child (because they’re likely acting out of the best of intentions and love for your child). And then let it go. Yes, this may mean that there is one set of rules when the kids are at grandma’s house and a different set of rules at home. Don’t worry. Kids are smart – they’ll figure it out.



Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD

Child-Feeding Expert

Helping Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without being forceful or sneaky)




Twitter: @kristenyarker

Pinterest: kristenyarker


23 10, 2014

Our Story: One Mom’s Sleep Training Journey

October 23rd, 2014|Categories: Guest Post|

Guest post by Christie Paterson

In the Beginning

When I first learned I was going to be a mom I never knew helping a child learn to sleep would be such a difficult road.

Our son was born not sleeping.

As a newborn we were lucky if he slept 4 hours in a 24 hour period. After months of colic we knew he had a sleep issue and had no idea how to help him. He was so chronically overtired that it would take hours of screaming

and bopping

and nursing

and walking

to finally get him to sleep out of sheer exhaustion only to have him wake up in 20 minutes screaming still tired.

The Breaking Point

We knew we needed to do something but had no idea what. I read countless sleep books about sleep training, we left him to cry himself to sleep, we had a sleep sheep, we got blackout blinds for his room and started a very early bedtime at 6pm. After the colic subsided, we started to see some improvement with his night sleep. He still woke through the night several times but we left him and were consistent with our training.

By 10 months, he was still very cranky, naps were a constant fight for a 20 minute nap only to have him wake up screaming and still tired. Our whole family was exhausted and emotionally drained. As I would soon  be returning to work, I knew we needed professional help. That is when I enlisted the help of Baby Sleep 101.

The Plan and Emotional Support

I learned that I was doing many things right but still nursing him to sleep and allowing him to become overtired resulting in a chronic sleep debt from birth that he needed to catch up on. With the help of Baby Sleep 101 I was given a custom made schedule to match Logan’s circadian rhythm. I didn’t see progress right away and was very disheartened when a month later we were still struggling. But with my sleep plan I was able to receive the guidance and emotional support to continue. Six weeks into our sleep plan the changes started happening and I couldn’t help but cry. Logan started falling asleep without crying and for longer periods. These small leaps kept happening until we were where we are today and I could not be happier or more grateful.

Where We Are Today

Logan is now a happy healthy 14 month old who has 2 consistent naps a day each about an hour and a half and sleeps 11-12 hours through the night.The biggest surprise is his attitude. He wakes up and happily talks and plays in his crib. If it wasn’t for my baby monitor I would not even know he was awake!

He has learned his routine so well that he actually goes to his room when it gets close to nap time and loves his nap and bedtime cuddles that he used to fight so ferociously. I never would have guessed we would be where we are today.

We are finally a well rested family.

All of us!

Thank you Baby Sleep 101 for your guidance, compassion and support in helping our family to get the sleep we need and for helping us give Logan the tools to sleep for the rest of his life! We are so proud of our hard work and could not have done this without you!

16 09, 2014

When Should I Introduce Dairy to my Baby?

September 16th, 2014|Categories: Guest Post|

When Should I Introduce Dairy to my Baby?

This article comes to us from guest blogger and child-feeding expert; Kristen Yarker from kristenyarker.com. She provides us with another commonly asked question about food and sleep. You can read Kristen’s previous guest blog articles, “Will Starting Solids Help Your Baby Sleep Better” here and “How to Stop Your Toddler’s Food-Related Stalling Tactics” here and ” Are Snacks at Bedtime a Good Idea?” here.

On our recent Facebook chat, several parents asked me about when they can introduce cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese, etc to their babies.

The recent recommendation from Health Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, and the Breastfeeding Committee of Canada is*:

“If parents and caregivers are introducing cow milk…delay until 9 – 12 months of
age…limiting cow milk intake to no more than 750mL (3 cups) per day.”

But first let me explain the reason behind the recommendations because I think that it will help you understand what to feed your baby. It’s not that there is something in dairy that’s unsafe for babies. The recommendation is related to iron. Iron is important for babies’ growth and in particular their brain development. There are 3 ways that dairy foods can be a concern with respect to iron:

1. Dairy foods aren’t a source of iron.

2. Many babies love drinking cow’s milk and eating other dairy foods. Thus, the dairy foods can crowd out iron-rich foods.

3. Dairy foods can interfere with babies’ absorption of iron.

So the recommendation was created to provide advice on how to include cow’s milk in a way that doesn’t interfere with babies’ need for iron. It’s above 3 cups per day that we start to see the negative effects of cows’ milk on eating iron-rich foods and iron’s absorption. This can result in iron deficiency.

Here are my responses to related questions that I’m frequently asked:

Question: Does this mean that I need to wait until 9 – 12 months to give my baby cheese and yogurt? What about foods that contain cow’s milk?

Answer: No. Any time from about 6 months onwards, feel free to introduce small amounts of yogurt and (pasteurized) cheese amongst the wide variety of foods that you’re introducing to your baby. Just don’t make yogurt or cheese a food that you’re giving large amounts of, day after day. Make them a ‘sometimes’ food, not a ‘frequent’ food. The same goes for other foods that use cow’s milk as an ingredient, such as sauces and dips.

Q: 9 – 12 months is a big age range, should I wait until 9 months or 12 months?

A: The reason behind the age range is that you want your baby to be regularly eating a good amount of solid foods multiple times a day before you introduce cows’ milk. Like learning any new skill, some babies master eating solids quicker and some take longer to actually get any significant amount of food in them (as opposed to on their face and clothes, in their hair, and on the floor). If your baby is eating lots of solid foods (particularly iron-rich foods), feel free to start introducing small amounts of cows’ milk after 9 months. If your baby is slower to get the hang of eating solids (particularly iron-rich foods), wait until 12 months.

* http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/infant-nourisson/recom/recom-6-24-months-6-24-mois-eng.php

Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD

Child-Feeding Expert

Helping Moms and Dads support their picky eaters to try new foods on their own (without

being forceful or sneaky)



Twitter: @kristenyarker

Pinterest: kristenyarker