28 07, 2014

Can Certain Foods Keep My Child Awake at Night?

July 28th, 2014|Categories: Feeding Tips, Guest Post|Tags: , , , |

Can Certain Foods Keep My Child Awake at Night?

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.

 

A parent recently asked Joleen this question. Being a food-related question, she forwarded it on to me:

We gave our 2.5 year old daughter Frosted Mini-Wheats right before bed. She slept worse than usual. Did the snack keep her up at night?

In a nutshell: maybe.

Let me expand.

Mini-Wheats (original) have a fair amount of sugar in them – 10 grams in 21 pieces (that’s 2 ½ teaspoons of sugar). When scientific researchers investigate the effect of sugar on kids, they find no effect on their behaviour. However, many parents do find that giving their kids foods high in sugar is associated with “hyper” behaviour.

I don’t have a way to explain this gap.

What I do know is that each person is unique. Many of us have sensitivities to foods that the scientific community can’t explain. So, it could be that the sugar or something else in the cereal that interrupted this little girl’s sleep. Or, it could have been something completely unrelated.

With this in mind, I recommend being a bit of a scientist yourself with your kids – use your observation skills. If you’re finding that some nights your child goes to bed well and other nights are a struggle, do some record keeping. Take as detailed of notes as possible (yes, actually write it down) about everything that happened that day. Your child’s eating (both what they ate and at what times) is just one aspect of their day. Look for any patterns that arise.

Circling back to this parent’s original question, the cereal isn’t what I would suspect initially as the culprit for their child’s rough night. But I wouldn’t rule it out as a possibility. I’d consider it after ruling out all the other more likely possibilities.

 

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)

www.kristenyarker.com

www.facebook.com/KristenYarkerNutrition

Twitter: @kristenyarker

Pinterest: kristenyarker

Have you ever found that certain foods effect your child’s ability to either fall asleep or sleep solidly at night? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

8 07, 2014

Are Snacks at Bedtime a Good Idea?

July 8th, 2014|Categories: Feeding Tips, Guest Post|

Bedtime Snacks for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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 see her 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.

 

Bedtime snacks for toddlers and preschoolers are one of the most frequent topics that I’m asked about. Here’s what this parent asked:

My toddler/preschooler doesn’t sleep through the night and I think they’re hungry because they don’t eat well during the day. Is giving them a snack right before bed a good idea? If I don’t give it to them, they scream and cry.”

 Making A Decision

Either having or not having bedtime snacks in your family can be the right choice. But, you must make a choice. Often I see families only offering bedtime snacks when their picky eater doesn’t eat well at dinner. This is the ‘wrong choice’. It’s a ‘wrong choice’ because it tends to backfire – for two reasons:

First,  you’re inadvertently rewarding kids for not eating their dinner. Kids quickly figure out that if they don’t eat at dinner (where they usually are presented with more challenging foods), they can get a bedtime snack only a short while later that includes favourite foods.

Second, stalling bedtime. Many kids figure out that their other ‘reasons’ for not going to bed now – e.g. wanting to play, needing to go potty, etc don’t work because you can see through these supposed ‘needs’ and see what they truly are – delay tactics. But, for many parents, the one ‘need’ that they can’t see through is “I’m hungry”. Smart kids figure this out how particularly sensitive this button is to push – and they push it with glee.

Instead of falling for your clever child’s tactics, make a new family rule – choose either:

  1. There is always a bedtime snack
  2. There is never a bedtime snack

 Following Through

If you choose to never have bedtime snacks, kids will quickly learn that if they choose to not eat at dinner, they’ll need to wait until breakfast the next day to eat again.

If you choose that there is always a bedtime snack, make sure that there is at least 1 hour between dinner and bedtime snack. Offer foods from two to four foods groups. What foods groups you choose depends on what your child has eaten the rest of the day. Choose food groups of which your child hasn’t eaten much. For example, if your child ate lots of grain products and dairy/alternatives throughout the day, then choose to provide food from the meat/alternatives group and some fruit or veggies.

This way you are helping your child meet their nutrition needs throughout the day.

Vary The Choices

An important related point when choosing what foods to offer is to include a challenging food from time-to-time. As I mentioned previously, clever kids will catch on if challenging foods are only offered at dinner and favourite foods offered at bedtime snack. And they’ll choose to not eat at dinner, knowing that they’ll have favourite foods soon (the opposite behavior from what you want).

One last point – be sure to brush teeth after bedtime snack.

 

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)

www.kristenyarker.com

www.facebook.com/KristenYarkerNutrition

Do you feed your toddler  or preschooler a snack at bedtime? Share your experience in the comments below!

2 06, 2014

How to Stop Your Toddler’s Food-Related Stalling Tactics at Bedtime

June 2nd, 2014|Categories: Feeding Tips, Guest Post, Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep|

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 see her previous guest blog article, “Will Starting Solids Help Your Baby Sleep Better” here.

Today, Kristen answers the following;

“My toddler will only go to sleep after being given a bottle or milk/juice/water-does this mean they are still hungry? If I don’t give it to them, they scream and cry until I do.”

Using a beverage to transition a toddler to sleep is a habit that usually starts when they’re much younger babies. We do this because it works (it gets kids to fall asleep). However it’s a habit that does cause a couple of problems:

Tooth Decay

Putting babies to sleep with anything besides water leads to tooth decay. The natural sugars in cows’ milk, goats’ milk, breast milk, formula and juice cause tooth decay. And while it’s true that their baby teeth will fall out, the decay can cause damage to permanent (adult) teeth. We health professionals call it “baby bottle mouth”. A search on Google Images brings up all sorts of awful pictures. Trust me, you want to prevent this.

Picky Eating at Dinner and Poor Nutrition for Toddlers

Toddlers are clever. Many put together that they don’t have to try more challenging foods at dinner because just a short time later, they can fill their tummies with their bedtime milk or juice. This creates both picky eating behaviour at dinner and can cause children to have unbalanced eating habits and not get the nutrition that they need.

Many smart toddlers also learn that while other bedtime stall tactics like “one more story” or “I need to potty” don’t work, “I’m hungry” works like magic. They aren’t actually hungry, they’ve just learned to push your buttons to effectively delay going to bed.

The solution is twofold – one sleep-focused and one nutrition-related.

Sleep solution

Teach your child to transition to sleep without a beverage. Joleen teaches these solutions.

Nutrition solution

Provide 5 or 6 opportunities to eat each day (3 meals and 2 – 3 snacks). This may or may not include a bedtime snack. At each opportunity to eat, provide both familiar foods and challenging foods. Often kids only see challenging foods at dinnertime and get favourite foods at bedtime snack. This inadvertently fuels picky eating at dinner. Instead, offer foods from 2 or more food groups at snacks (including bedtime snack), offering a food that your child hasn’t tried before (this may be a new food or something that they’ve seen before but haven’t wanted to try). By providing 5 or 6 opportunities to eat each day your child will have enough opportunities to get the nutrition that they need during the daytime and they won’t be hungry at bedtime. Remember this as your toddler uses their (previously powerful) tactic of claiming hunger to prevent going to bed. Lastly, be sure to brush teeth after the last food/ bottle and before bedtime.

 

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)

 

www.kristenyarker.com

www.facebook.com/KristenYarkerNutrition

Twitter: @kristenyarker

Pinterest: kristenyarker

 

Do you have a toddler that refuses to go to sleep without food or drink? How did you solve the problem? Did you find this article helpful? Tell us in the comments below.

30 05, 2014

Tools In Your Pocket: Surviving the Toddler and Preschooler Years, Part 2

May 30th, 2014|Categories: Guest Post, Parenting Advice, Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep|Tags: , , |

Tools in Your Pocket

A practical guide to surviving the Toddler and Pre-school years, Part Two.

We pick up where we left off in Part One with a guest post written by Sharyn Timerman from The Early Years.  Here are some more “tools” for you to use when dealing with a toddler or preschooler:

Realistic Goals

  • Expecting a child to clean up the whole room will not ensure success. It is okay to come alongside her and do it together. A 2 year old will respond well to a simple request like this one: “Can you come down from the table by yourself or do you need help”. Many 2 year olds will come down by themselves and if they don’t, you simply say “I see you need some help” and you take them down. This certainly is a physical stage.

Validate Their Emotions

  • This takes away 50% of their “angst”. “I know you want a 4th cookie they are delicious.” It is okay that they express anger, you have still set the limit. Let them know that their feelings are important too. “You really want that toy, it is a fabulous toy but he was playing with it. You need to wait until it is your turn”.

Arouse Empathy

  • “Look at his face, he’s so sad because he wasn’t finished with that toy”. “Look at her arm where you hit her, it’s all red. See her face, she looks really sad, she’s crying”. “Look at my face, I’m so happy because you slept the whole night!” Showing a child how their behavior has an impact on the world around them is a powerful tool. Whether positive or negative, you will be teaching them about their own abilities to make a difference.

Focus on the Positive:

  • “Catch your child doing good”. This is essential and different from praise. Praise is when they’ve accomplished something that we clearly expect from them. We praise kids for good report cards, we praise them for swimming well, or for helping with the dishes. “Catching him doing good” means you will point out why he is special to you. “Your smile helps me have a better morning.” “You’re the kind of boy that eats so well at the table , it helps me cook better”. You are an amazing brother, when you gave her that picture, it made her feel really good”. It’s catching him in everyday moments, the small stuff .

Role Model

  • Role Model: Set a positive example. Be a “truth keeper” and respond to another’s distress the way you would want your child to respond. Showing is more effective than telling.

 

Many of us struggle from time to time when dealing with our toddler or preschooler’s behavior. But this list of tools can be an effective way to help communicate with our little ones in a way that is respectful to all people involved. A special thanks to Sharyn Timerman for writing this fantastic blog post for us!

About Sharyn

Sharyn Timerman is Founder and Owner of The Early Years Family Development Centre Inc. Created in 1996, Sharyn specializes in the understanding of Early childhood behaviors. She works with young children in the home, staff training in the daycare system, private counseling for parents, evening seminars for couples, and a variety of workshops known as “Tools in your pocket”. She is a facilitator for women’s groups.

Sharyn is a faculty member of the Family Sleep Institute providing continuing education in the understanding of developmental stages of young children. In August 2012, entering into a new partnership, “The Parenting Toolbox” was formed  providing more services to the community and beyond, reaching other parts of Canada and the United States. Sharyn received her degree in Early Childhood Education from Vanier College, Montreal, Quebec while raising 3 children with her husband.

Share Your Comments With Us!

Did you find this article helpful or do you have some of your own ‘tools’ that you find are effective and yet respectful? Share with us in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26 05, 2014

Tools in your Pocket: Surviving the Toddler and Preschooler Years

May 26th, 2014|Categories: Guest Post, Parenting Advice, Preschooler Sleep, Toddler Sleep|Tags: , , , |

This two part series was written by Sharyn Timerman from The Early Years. You can learn more about her at the end of this post.

Tools In Your Pocket

Your toddler may be moving very fast. Before you have a chance to clean up one spill, he/she is already climbing onto the table looking for more adventure.

Your 2 year old is climbing on the table, again! What makes that table so attractive and how can you get him to come down without yelling?

Your three year old is having a major tantrum because you have said no to “cookie no.4!” Do you give in? Do you fear the next outburst?

Your 4 year olds playroom looks like a major windstorm swept through your home. Are you daydreaming about the day you will not repeat yourself 10 times to “clean up that mess or else…”

What if you had just the perfect “Tool” that could magically change behaviors?

What are “Tools in your pocket?”

When a situation is out of control, the in-laws are watching with a critical eye or a variety of other scenarios ,“Tools in your pocket” simply means realistic, developmentally appropriate methods that have been proven to work. There is no pressure or time-limit. Parenting tools are for you to be used, you can keep them in your pocket, use them 20% of the time, 50%, or 80% and the more they are used, the more natural they become . Even 20% guarantees more success than not using them at all.

Workshops, internet sites, t.v. programs and parenting books, serve to plant ideas in our minds of what we can do. How does one possibly put those really great methods, those fantastic words into practice in the heat of the moment?

Here are a few guidelines and tools that you can be ready to use at any time:

Can and Can’t

When you tell a child what they cannot do, tell them what they can do. “The sand is not for throwing, you can put it in the bucket or you can run your truck through it but you cannot throw the sand.” “Hands are not for hitting, you can be angry, you can stamp your feet but you cannot hit”.

Clear Instructions

Understand what it is you have to do. Be ready, sometimes we need to feel desperate to make a change. If you want your 4 year old to clean up their toys, let them know what you expect. Sometimes it is overwhelming for them when surrounded by a big mess. Give them clear instruction: “You pick up the red and yellow lego and I will pick up the blue and green”.

Silence is Golden

Sometimes silence is a good thing. Don’t make empty threats. Better to do nothing than not follow through.

Follow Through

If you warn your toddler that if he throws the sand again he is coming out of the sandbox, you are setting him up to “fail”. Children need to see that you know what you are doing. They will certainly throw that sand again when told not to. Here’s what you can do: Give him the information he needs.” “Sand is not for throwing, you can put it in your bucket”. Then your little guy throws it again. You say “I see you’re having trouble remembering, today the sandbox is finished, you get to try again tomorrow”.

Consistency is Key

Be consistent, say what you mean, mean what you say . If you take him out of the sandbox, don’t be blackmailed by his screams. Just leave the sandbox and go home.

Logical consequences

The consequence needs to “match the crime”. That means coming up with something that teaches and does not shame. Consequences should be reasonable, fair and logical.

If a child writes on the wall with crayons, we don’t say, “No books at bedtime” or “Go sit on the stairs”. This may be unfruitful since there is no teaching going on. Instead we can say, “Here’s the sponge. Start cleaning and I will keep the crayons in a place where they won’t be used for the wall.” The good news is that you can always present them with the crayons a week later and let them know they can try again.

 

Stay tuned for Part Two!

About Sharyn

Sharyn Timerman is Founder and Owner of The Early Years Family Development Centre Inc. Created in 1996, Sharyn specializes in the understanding of Early childhood behaviors. She works with young children in the home, staff training in the daycare system, private counseling for parents, evening seminars for couples, and a variety of workshops known as “Tools in your pocket”. She is a facilitator for women’s groups.

Sharyn is a faculty member of the Family Sleep Institute providing continuing education in the understanding of developmental stages of young children. In August 2012, entering into a new partnership, “The Parenting Toolbox” was formed  providing more services to the community and beyond, reaching other parts of Canada and the United States. Sharyn received her degree in Early Childhood Education from Vanier College, Montreal, Quebec while raising 3 children with her husband.