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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).

Another similar option is the Keekaroo

For the budget-friendly high chair, try the Ikea Antilop for $20 (+$5 for a tray)

I used a standard Graco high chair. I like the large tray with a lip, making it slightly more difficult for your child to swipe food on the floor!

Under High-Chair Mess

Plastic Computer Mat for under the high chair. Easy to wipe off. You can also get these at an office supply store, like Staples.

Other options include a drop cloth or plastic table cloth, that you can shake outside after the meal.

Or a dog

Place Mats

If you’re using a high chair that pulls right up to the table, you may want some kind of place mat:

Happy Mat Sections make a cute face. I have this and it doesn’t suction to my wood table, but apparently will stick to other surfaces, so your child can’t “swipe” food on the floor.

Or you could try some simple Suction Bowls

Bibs

A naked baby works great!

I like Peak Pea bibs. They are leather and clean nicely and have a lip to catch food.

full-body bib is another good option : this is messy stuff!

Starter Spoons

Nubby Toothbrushes are good starter “toys” for your baby to mouth on. They can also be used to “dip” into yogurt, mashed potatoes or oatmeal for your baby to get a bit of a taste, like a spoon.

When your baby is ready to start using a spoon, these spoons are soft and shallow

Also great starter spoons to “dip” are the Num-Num Pre-Spoon GOOtensils.

Food Storage

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!).

Cups

Occupational Therapists recommend using open cups as much as possible for babies

. Messy, yes!

The Doidy cup is angled, with handles.

Another good choice is the The Munchkin 360 cup which is also spout-less

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.

Want to know more about getting started with Babyled Weaning? Register for my free webinar “How to Get Started with Babyled Weaning!”

The post Best Tools for Babyled Weaning appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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Ditch the usual meaty lasagna, be adventerous and give this tasty vegetarian lasagna a try.  Even your meat-lover friends will like it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbs. minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste/tomato sauce
  • 2 pkgs. firm tofu (12 oz/350g. each)
  • 1 pkg. lasagna noodles (16 oz.)
  • 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach (10 oz/280g.), thawed and drained
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (8 oz./227g)
  • 4 cans stewed tomatoes (14.5 oz. each)
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Prepare the sauce: Heat theolive oil. Sauté the onions until they are soft. Add the garlic.
  2. Place the parsley, basil, tomatoes and tomato paste in the saucepan. Stir well and wait for the sauce to simmer. Add salt and pepper.
  3. While cooking the sauce, boil the lasagna noodles. Drain and rinse well.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  5. Put the tofu in a large bowl. Add drained spinach. Mash into a crumble-like texture.
  6. Assemble the lasagna: Spread the tomato sauce in a casserole pan. Arrange a layer of lasagna noodles and sprinkle pieces of tofu mixture on the noodles. Repeat the same process for the tomato sauce, noodles and tofu until you make three layers. Sprinkle with grated cheese to make it perfectly moist and flavorful.
  7. Cover the casserole with foil. Bake the lasagna for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

 *If you would like to make this vegan, leave out the cheese on top, and sub the cream cheese for a vegan cream cheese spread.

Author Bio: Callum is the head of content at Mexican Shred Blend. They are an Australian based dairy product manufacturer that specialise in the B2B market. When he is not creating content online, he’s in the kitchen experimenting with different flavours and food combinations.

The post Vegetarian Lasagna appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.

5. Desserts and sweets can have nutritional value! Such as fruit, yogurt, ice cream, or this Chocolate Peanut butter & Banana Frozen Yogurt Bark from the Alberta Milk website.

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.

The post How to manage kids and sweets appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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“My baby is six months or older doesn’t sit unsupported, so I’m not feeding him solids yet.” I hear this over and over in my Babyled Weaning Facebook Group. There’s seems to be this myth out there that baby needs to sit on his own independently for a minute, two minutes, maybe five minutes – before starting baby led weaning or self feeding. I’m not sure where this came from. Even Gill Rapley, the creator of the term “Baby led Weaning” has an article on her website and she explicitly states there’s NO “60- second rule”.

Two of my own babies didn’t sit fully unsupported on their own for any length of time until they were eight, maybe closer to nine months. But certainly they were able to self feed before this age. I’ve also confirmed this with the Occupational Therapist that I work with: baby does not need to sit unsupported on their own before starting solids.

They do, however, need to be able to sit with support. Your baby does need to have enough strength in their trunk or body and their neck. So that when they are seated supported in a highchair, they can lean forward to grasp food and get it to the mouth without needing their arms for balance. And they need to be able to lean forward and spit food out, if needed. If they don’t have the strength to lean forward and they’re just in reclining mode, that can be a choking hazard.

So what could the “support” be, if you find the highchair isn’t supportive enough for your baby and they’re leaning to one side? You can roll up towels and place them either on either side of your baby or one side of them, even under their bum if they’re not high enough. The highchair tray or table should come to between about their nipple and their belly button. And their feet should be supported as well, to help them to be able to self-feed.

So even if your baby has just turned six months and they can’t sit fully unsupported, they should have enough physical strength to self-feed. If that’s supported, that’s okay. If they don’t yet even have that strength, then they may not be quite ready, and it’s okay to start with purees as well.

Beyond physical strenghth, what are some other signs babies are ready to start solids?

  1. Age: around six months of age, most babies are ready to start solids. These recommendations come from Health Canada, Dietitians of Canada and the World Health Organization. Some doctors are still saying four to six months, of so I hear. But in general, they’re just not up-to-date on the current guidelines, which are around six months of age.
  2. Your baby should also have some interest in eating. Usually around five months, they become interested in putting everything in their mouth. Including toys and their hands. That’s actually preparing them to start solids and feed themselves. If your baby’s really eager to eat, but not quite six months yet, you can sit them at the table with you during meals. Give them something to chew on, even if it’s just a plastic spoon. They get practice moving that around in their mouth and decrease their gag reflex so they are more prepared to eat.

Often I hear: “My baby’s really big. I need to start solids early.” Or “My baby’s really small. I need to start solids early.” Really neither of those are good excuses, on their own, to start solids. Your milk is more nutrient dense than any of the starter foods your baby will be eating anyways.

There are a few reasons why you may need to start solids early, on recommendation of your doctor. Such as reflux. But in that case, you’d likely be starting with purees.

If you want more information about how to start your baby on solids, especially using baby led weaning, you can hop over to my Facebook group at www.BLWCommunity.com.

The post When can my Baby Start Solids with Babyled Weaning? appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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Are you one of the 1 out of 10 women who struggles with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

Symptoms can include irregular and heavy periods, excess facial hair, thinning hair on your head, acne, difficulty sleeping and troubles getting pregnant. Some women don’t realize they have PCOS until they have difficulty conceiving. It’s one of the main causes of infertility.

PCOS is associated with high insulin levels in the body (the hormone that helps us use carbohydrate). This can lead to weight gain and craving carbs. Treatment can include medications, such as metformin to manage high insulin levels.

Weight loss is touted as the way to manage PCOS via diet. The photo below was the only stock image I could find related to PCOS, and is heavily weight/diet focused! Yet women with PCOS have extreme difficulty losing weight. And to be fair – most people who lose weight in general gain it back (and often more!) anyways.

Regardless of weight loss, focusing on low-glycemic index carbohydrates, and adequate protein intake may be beneficial. But also challenging, if all you crave is carbs (thanks to the extra insulin). Supplements such as vitamin D, folic acid, omega-3 fats, certain types of inositol, chromium also help some women with PCOS.

Sarah is a consulting dietitian with First Step Nutrition. She specializes in PCOS. Having the condition herself, gives her insight into the real daily challenges women with PCOS experience, making her the perfect dietitian to be your guide.

Sarah’s experience with PCOS also includes research looking into the effects of nutrition intervention and PCOS outcomes. Through this study, and working with clients, she’s seen the burden of the impossible task of trying to follow a prescribed diet, when your body is experiencing intensified cravings and huge resistance to even the smallest weight loss. These diets cause more harm than good, for both your physical and mental health.

If you’re ready to work with an expert who ‘gets it,’ to navigate a sustainable holistic approach to managing PCOS, get in touch!

The post Eating for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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Disclosure: I am happy to bring you this sponsored post today, thanks to Alberta Milk. All thoughts are my own!

“What should I do if my child doesn’t eat dinner?” As a dietitian working with young families, this is a very common question.

Should you be worried that your child isn’t eating enough? Bribe him with dessert, so he finishes dinner? And should you still give her a bedtime snack if  she doesn’t eat dinner? I’ll answer all of those questions for you here!

Why don’t kids eat dinner?

First of all, know that you’re not alone if your child often doesn’t eat dinner. Dinner is the most challenging meal of the day for most young children, for a few reasons:

  • They’re tired by the end of the day.
  • Your child is excited to be home after daycare or school. Or because mom or dad are home from work!
  • Your child is not hungry, because they’re full of snacks.
  • Or maybe they’re not hungry because they have eaten enough during breakfast and lunch for their little body!

Appetite goes up and down in young kids. Some days they seem to subsist on thin air and other days they can out-eat an adult. Your child is the only one that knows whether they are hungry. And it’s a good thing to listen to their appetite. Let them!

So, should you worry if your child consistently doesn’t eat dinner? No. Don’t judge their nutrition or food intake on a meal-by-meal basis. Or even day-by-day. Over the course of a week, most young kids will take in enough of a variety of foods to meet their needs.

And yes, you can still offer your child a bedtime snack. If there’s 1.5-2 hours or more between dinner and bedtime, I would encourage it. If not, then they likely don’t need a snack, and will just eat more at breakfast the next day. But don’t make the snack contingent on whether they ate dinner or not. And snack doesn’t have to be the earlier-refused dinner either. Unless they truly weren’t hungry at dinner and wouldn’t mind eating it now for a snack! Just make sure to offer two food groups per snack (such as greek yogurt and fruit) and it can be a great chance to get in some extra nutrition.

What to do to make dinner easier to eat

While we never want to force or pressure our little ones to eat, there are a few things that might help them come to the table with an appetite, and take more interest in the food:

  1. “Close the kitchen” for 2 hours before dinner. Water is ok.  If your child is super hangry, and really can’t wait until dinner, offer sliced veggies. This is an ok to get in more veggies, and they’re not too filling.
  2. No pressuring, bribing or making your child eat 3 bites at dinner. Research shows they will actually eat less, the more pressure you put on them. This makes sense. I wouldn’t want to eat if someone was trying to force me either. Stress hormones go up – and nobody wins this battle!
  3. Don’t be a short-order cook. Which means making a favourite food that you know your will eat, after they’ve refused the dinner you offered. This quickly turns into the child that only eats fries and chicken fingers. Because they know they can get it!
  4. Make it fun! As a busy parent, I know it’s not often we have time to make meals more “fun.” But even fun names like “super-sight carrots” or “trees and cheese” will get kids more excited about food.
  5. Serve family-style meals. If your child has the chance to add what they choose to their plate, they have ownership in the decision and often are more interested in trying the food. Dishes like Tacos are a perfect example of this – your child can choose what goes into their own taco!

These “Monster Mouth Tacos” from the Alberta Milk website are the perfect fun & family-style food. Visit albertamilk.com for this recipe and other many others!

The post What to do when your child doesn’t eat dinner appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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I had a chance to chat with Julie from Parenting Power recently. They have a ton of great resources for parents – something I think we could all use a little help with!

Julie was kind enough to share the article below, with some awesome tips for listening & helping your child through their feelings. Take a read, and let me know what you think.

Just When You Thought It was Safe…

They come at you from left field! Just when you thought that everything was going smoothly, your daughter is in tears or screaming at you about something you can’t understand – because she is screaming! As a parent, it is so hard to know how to react to these feelings. Sometimes, your child can tell you what he is feeling but often, children show their feelings through behaviour instead of vocabulary. Having a plan can definitely give us a parenting advantage.

Model Good Listening

It is easier for all of us to talk about something that is troubling us if we feel that someone is really listening. Often when our children start to tell us how they are feeling we are doing the laundry or making dinner and although we say we are listening, we don’t show that we are listening. It’s kind of like Stop Drop and Roll – we have to Stop, Look and Close our mouths to listen.

If we can’t stop what we are doing, then we need to say, “It sounds like you have something important to tell me, I want to be able to listen carefully. I will be done this chore in 10 minutes and then I can give you my full attention.”

When we do listen carefully, it creates a supportive environment that may help our children to find their own solution to the problem. It also teaches our children to stop, look and listen to us when we are telling them something important.

We don’t have to fix it – sometimes we can’t

We don’t want our children to suffer. Because of this, when our children do tell us that they are feeling hurt or sad we often deny their feelings. We say,” Oh, it’s not so bad” or “You should be happy”. When we tell someone to push away bad feelings, it often leaves that person even more upset.

Instead of fixing the problem, we can help the child to label the feeling and respond with a head nod or a hug. Try not to ask too many questions or to give them advice. At this point they just want to be heard.

I wish I could…

Once the feelings have been labeled, you can respond with “I wish I could”. For example, your child is frustrated because everyone else seems to be better at soccer than she is. After acknowledging the feeling and listening, you might say, “I wish I could make you the best soccer player in the world. I wish you could score a goal every time you tried. That would be a wonderful thing.” This tends to diffuse the emotion and helps the child to feel understood. One of our clients now says,” I am so sad it is raining today. I wanted to go to the park too. Well, I can’t control the weather, let’s go down stairs and build a tent to play in.” Her children know that she understands how they are feeling.

At Parenting Power, we to say, ACT don’t YAK. DO NOT go into an elaborate explanation about why. This is not the time for that discussion.

Feelings, YES; Misbehaviour, NO

If our children are expressing their feelings through unacceptable behaviour, then we need to accept the feelings and follow through with an appropriate consequence to stop the behaviour. We might say,” Wow, it looks like you are really angry. Hitting is not allowed in our family, you need to spend some time on your own and cool down.” We would then remove the child or ourselves (and siblings) from the situation.

Teach Strategies

Parenting Power can teach you tools to teach your preschooler to use when angry, sad or frustrated. Different ideas work for different children and what works may change as your child grows older. Wondering about strategies for your child? Contact us at admin@parentingpower.ca

Start Early

If strategies are modeled for children when they are very young, they tend to understand that there is something they can do when they are having negative feelings. As they grow, they may start to develop their own strategies. But, it is never too late to teach appropriate ways of communicating and acting on their feelings.

This article is reprinted with permission from Julie Freedman Smith and Gail Bell of Parenting Power. They create Parenting Power: Parents who believe they have Real life parenting tools to raise the healthy, capable, interdependent people the world needs. www.parentingpower.ca

403.281.2524 www.3parentingsecrets.com

The post Parenting through Kid’s Emotions appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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Disclosure: I am happy to bring you this sponsored post today, thanks to Alberta Milk. All thoughts are my own.

Are you worried that your child doesn’t get enough protein? If you’re the parent of a young child, this is a common concern. Especially if you have a selective eater with a small appetite (which is most toddlers & preschoolers!).

In this blog, I’ll discuss why your child needs protein, how much they need, where to get it and share a protein-rich breakfast recipe.

Why is protein important?

Protein is the building block of the entire body. Muscles, organs and the immune system all need protein.

It also helps to keep us feeling full, so it’s good to offer protein at each meal and snack.

How much protein does my child need?

To figure out how much protein your child needs, take their weight in pounds and divide by two. For example, a 40 pound child needs about 20 grams of protein per day.

For children of average weight, this works out to about 13 grams of protein per day for 1-3 year olds. And 19 grams per day for a 4-8 year old.

What does this look like in terms of food and meal choices? Read on:

Amount of Protein in Foods

Beef, 1 oz (1/3 of the size of a deck of cards) = 7g

Chicken, 1 oz = 9g

Eggs, 1 = 6g

Cooked Lentils, 1/4 cup = 4.5g

Hemp hearts, 1 Tbsp = 3g

Peanut butter, 2 Tbsp = 7g

Cow’s Milk, 1 cup = 8g

Cottage Cheese, 1/2 cup = 11.5g

Greek Yogurt, 70g (1 individual  container) = 17g

Cheese, 30g/1oz = 7g

Example Day of Food

I’ve broken down a sample day of 3 meals and 2 snacks for a young child, with estimates of protein.

If your kiddo ate all of this food, he’d be getting over 50g of protein. If he chooses to eat half, he’d get 25g. Which is still more than adequate for an up to 8 year old!

As you can see, protein in not all that hard to find. If your child drinks 2 cups of milk, then they’re getting 16g of protein right there. Which more than meets the requirements for a 1-3 year old.

Protein Power Pancakes

So while your little one is likely getting enough protein, there are still benefits of offering it at each meal.  This ensures your child gets the minerals that come along with high protein foods. For example beyond protein, meat also contains zinc and iron. And dairy contains magnesium, calcium, Vitamin A and potassium.

Protein is also great to offer at each meal to keep your child satisfied for longer. If you’re looking for protein-rich recipes, head over to the Alberta Milk website.

I found these Protein Power Pancakes on the Alberta Milk website here. Each pancake contains 9g of protein, and they are whole grain. One batch lasted us for 4 breakfasts, with the leftovers quickly popped in the toaster to warm in the morning!

The post Protein for Kids appeared first on First Step Nutrition.

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