Jennifer House is a Registered Dietitian, mom of three and owner of First Step Nutrition in Calgary, Alberta. Jennifer works with moms to help them nourish their growing families with confidence! Whether it's dealing with mealtime struggles, starting Babyled Weaning or getting organized with meal planning.
What do you NEED to start your baby on solids? A high chair and food- that’s it really! I do get questions about the best cup, bib, spoons etc for Babyled Weaning a lot though. So here are (affiliate) links to some of my favourites!
Stokke Tripp Trapp high chairs are great, and pull right up to the table. You can get an infant attachment for a baby, and the chair can grow with your child. I have two, and adults frequently use them too (they hold up to 200 lbs).
Wean Green small snack pack of 4 glass cubes. Great to store leftovers or for on-the-go. The class containers are micro-wave, dishwasher and freezer safe. And they are thick tempered class that don’t break (believe me, we’ve tested them in our home!).
Occupational Therapists recommend using open cups as much as possible for babies
Small plastic shot glasses or small plastic Tupperware “tea set” cups work great too.
Books & Recipes
Of course I’m partial to my own book “The Parents’ Guide to Babyled Weaning”. Which also contains 125 recipes – 25 to get your baby started, and 125 recipes for the whole family! You can grab it in bookstores or on Amazon here.
It seems like kids have sweets thrown at them from everywhere these days. Get a haircut? Have a lollypop! Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, a birthday at school….come home with a loot bag full of candy!
So how do you manage treats and desserts for your kids at home? There seem to be two options, without something in between:
Free-for-all. Your child will likely fill up on cookies and candy all day and have no room for the healthy dinner you slaved over! They’ll likely be missing out on import ant nutrients. Plus, have a mouth-full of cavities!
Total sweet restriction. Attempt to have a “sugar-free” child, and it’s very possible that they will be the school-aged kid who eats 5 slices of birthday cake. And may horde chocolate bars under their bed. It’s similar to putting yourself on a diet. Total restriction = cravings = binges.
But I’m not advocating for the free-for all approach either. Somewhere there must be a balance between total free access and 100% restriction. But where do you find that balance? It’s tricky, and also depends on your child’s personality and family dynamics. Here are a few tips that should help you decide on your family’s rules for sweet-management:
Tips to manage sweet and desserts in your house:
1. Regularly include dessert or sweet foods. It doesn’t have to be daily, but it’s ok to have sweets a few times per week. This way, they don’t become the highly coveted “forbidden food.”
2. Does your child still get dessert if they don’t eat dinner? Yes! If you serve dessert after a meal, it should never be a bribe. If your child has to finish their veggies to get dessert for example, this is just telling them the veggies are gross. And puts the dessert up on a pedestal. Likely creating a sweet tooth, possibly for life!
3. When you offer dessert, serve it with the meal! Your child can choose to eat the dessert when they like, along with their dinner. For a while, your child will likely eat all of the dessert first. But when this becomes normal, they will go back and forth between the sweet and savory foods. Dessert is no big deal to them anymore, now that it’s no longer the bribe at the of the meal! Caveat: Unlike the rest of the foods at the meal (the child chooses how much to eat, and can have more if they want), dessert is limited to one portion per person.
4. Offer cookies (or other baking) and milk for snack. And let your child choose how many to eat! Sometimes it’s ok to learn lessons the hard way. Like the sick feeling after eating too much. But once this becomes normal and the child doesn’t feel restricted, they will naturally choose to eat less.
You can’t control your child forever, but it is good to have some boundaries in place. The goal of managing sweets and treats is to set your child up to have a healthy relationship with food. So they can forever enjoy a reasonable amount of sweets, without feeling guilty.
If there was something easy that you could do to provide your children with a more nutritious diet, lower their chances of developing an eating disorder and decrease their risk that they will be involved in violence or drug abuse, would you? Of course! And what is this “easy thing?” Eating together as a family!
Sure, it sounds easy. But throw in odd work schedules, kids activities every night of the week and teens that would rather hang out with their friends and it becomes more challenging!
Here are a few tips to make a family meal routine work for you, at least a few times per week:
It doesn’t have to be dinner! You can have breakfast or lunch together, if that fits with your schedule best.
It doesn’t have to be at home, or around the kitchen table. If you’re off to watch a kids baseball game, you can bring sandwiches or food in thermoses & throw down a picnic blanket.
Make meals distraction-free. I’m as addicted to my phone as anymore (maybe more-so!). But still have a hard NO PHONES AT THE TABLE rule. This applies to parents too.
Have conversation. My kids love sharing their “highs and lows” at dinner. You get a chance to catch up with everyone’s day, and kids learn to take turns listening.
Don’t make meals a fight. Especially if you have a picky eater. Forcing them to try the vegetable or eat three bites just stresses everyone out. We’re trying to keep the dinner table as peaceful as possible for everyone! Here are some more tips if you struggle with picky eaters.
Get kids involved in cooking, setting the table and tidying up. Kids take great pride in cooking up a dish for the family to try. Especially if your kids are older, they can have a night of the week to cook. This also provides them with a very important skill for when they’re off on their own.
Check out this pretty infographic for more motivation to eat with your family (note, this is not a sponsored blog):