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Dread going to the grocery store with your kids? 
We get it. We've never had a client say they love grocery shopping with kids. Perhaps you even enjoy going to the store by yourself, but the second your little angels come with you it's more stressful. We're here to help with some tips that make it a little bit less painful - and more fun - for everyone involved. (Seriously, it can actually be a little fun!)

Check out our Amazon Store for our favorite grocery shopping gear. 
Why take kids to the grocery store?
Some parents decide to get groceries delivered or pre-ordered, or they only grocery shop without kids. Do what works best for you! We LOVE grocery delivery and pickup - it's an AMAZING time and sanity saver.

We do recommend bringing kids to the grocery store every so often - even once every few months - to help familiarize them with the food they will eat. Grocery shopping is an important life skill, and sometimes involving kids in the process makes them more likely to try new foods. Plus, identifying foods at the store helps children learn colors, new words, practice sorting or categorization, and learn about manners and social cues while in public. (Eventually they'll help you with grocery shopping and putting food away - now that's something to look forward to!) 

In the end, do you. If you choose to - or have to - bring your kids to the store, check out our suggestions below. 
Make a plan.
Go to the store with a list. Have a plan for what you want to buy, whether it's written on a piece of paper or entered into an app or list on your phone. The faster you get in and out of the store, the less stressful it is for everyone. Plus, it will be easier to direct your "helper" toward what you need to buy if you actually know what you need to buy. Need help meal planning? Our Toddler Course is full of over 100 meal and snack ideas, plus a grocery list! 

Using WIC or SNAP (food assistance programs)? Talk to your local agency (where you receive benefits) about tips for grocery shopping given your state's rules. Many agencies have printouts and photos that help navigate the grocery store.
Set realistic expectations.
Kids don't do well when they're hungry or tired, so a grocery trip right before nap time or lunch may not go over well. An entire morning of shopping at multiple stores may be rough for a baby in a stroller/carrier or a busy toddler. If possible, take your kids to the store when they're not exhausted or starving, and keep the trip speedy. Try to consolidate your shopping into one store if possible.

Also, remember that small humans struggle to regulate their big, big emotions...it's almost guaranteed that if they have a meltdown that day it will be at the store. Actually, it's scientific fact, friends. If we see you there, we promise to throw you a smile and a word of encouragement! #solidarity 

​Sometimes you get lucky and they actually pass out at the store...
Keep them safe.
Grocery shopping with babies that can't sit up is rough because it's hard to figure out where to put them while you shop. We don't recommend putting their infant seat in the top of the cart (where kids eventually sit), as it can easily tip out - we've even seen this happen, and it's really scary. Some carts have now been designed with an reclining infant seat, and other parents use shopping hammocks (check out our Amazon Store) to keep younger babies safe. You can also put the entire infant seat in the bottom of the cart, but that leaves less space for groceries. 

Baby-wearing may be a great option for your family, as it keeps baby close and safe while allowing you use of your hands. Many carriers often convert from front to back so you can use them as your toddler gets bigger.

When shopping with older kids, ensure they're not hanging off the side of the cart. Even with plenty of groceries in the cart, a toddler or kid can tip the entire thing over - we've seen this too. The last thing you need with a cart full of groceries is a trip to the ER! 

Oh, and if the store has small carts for kids to push, a safety warning for you: 
WATCH.
YOUR.
ANKLES.
Bring snacks.
Grocery stores make many kids suddenly ravenous. (They may make you hungry, too!) Yes, it's ideal to eat when we all sit down together and while focused, but sometimes we need to make exceptions - especially when the toddler is trying to open every package in your cart.

Try to grab a meal or snack before you go so you're not making choices out of sheer starvation, but bring small snacks for your older baby or toddler in case hunger hits. Breast or bottle feed baby before you head into the store - they're guaranteed to get hungry the second your cart is full. If serving snacks while shopping, make sure your child is sitting upright and not walking around. Babies under 12 months don't technically need snacks, but snacks can be helpful for grocery trips. Freeze dried fruits or veggies, whole grain cereal and small crackers keep kids' hands busy without making a massive mess in the cart. We like the Snap and Shop for grocery snacks - check out our Amazon shop to check it out and look at other snack containers! 

Of course, samples at grocery stores can be hugely popular with young eaters! Just watch for hot temperatures and choking hazards.

Here's Megan's daughter Mia using the Snap and Shop with freeze dried strawberries:
Keep their hands busy.
A baby or toddler stuck in a cart will get very antsy without something to hold or manipulate in their hands. Bring favorite teething toys or developmental toys (see our Amazon shop for ideas) for your trip - bonus if your child hasn't yet seen it or if it only comes out while grocery shopping! 

We recommend avoiding devices while grocery shopping when possible. Your child will get more out of the experience if they're communicating and engaging with you. In the end, this becomes your choice - we just recommend avoiding it if you can! If you don't get in the habit of using an iPad or iPhone it's easier to remain unplugged.
Ask them to help.
As your child gets older they may be interested in helping with grocery shopping. This can be interesting if the store has mini carts - your child will go through a phase of "do it self" where they must push one of those suckers - but it can also help keep them engaged during a grocery trip. "Help" can be difficult and even annoying, but try to remember that your child simply wants to be just like you. They are watching your every move and want to do what you do. Try to adopt a playful attitude and know that things will not - and should not - go perfectly.

Depending on your child's age, you can hand them foods to *gently* drop in the cart or ask them to grab something on a low shelf. Older kids can select and bag produce or help you weigh foods. Offer them choices so they have some autonomy in what's purchased: "Do you want red apples or green apples?" "Which cereal - this one or that one?" ​

Older kids can also help get groceries out of the cart and onto the checkout belt, and once they're learning about numbers and addition/subtraction you can work on prices, counting money, etc. 
Talk through it.
Sometimes kids act out at the grocery store due to boredom or because they're no longer getting their parents' attention. Grocery shopping is a wonderful way to engage and be present with your child, no matter how young or old they are. Talk about names of foods, color options, sizes, how foods or packages feel, which choices you're making ("Let's get the bigger peanut butter because we go through it faster!"), where to put foods in the cart so they don't get squished, etc. A younger toddler learning new words will enjoy the challenge of trying out new sounds, and an older child may start to identify colors, shapes or even how to spell a food word.

We recommend avoiding labeling food as "healthy" versus "unhealthy," as we want kids to see food as neutral. If you want to talk about the properties of food, it's OK to discuss what foods do for us ("oranges help our bodies fight bugs when we're sick"), but just avoid making less "healthy" choices seem bad.

With that being said, get in the habit of saying no early. We can't buy everything we see - that's part of life. Your child will test you and will ask to purchase every. Single. Thing. Use language like, "We aren't getting that right now," "That's not on our list," "We aren't buying that because we already have x at home," etc. The more consistent you are with this, the easier grocery trips get as they get older. Of course, you can always offer them a choice so they get a say in what's purchased: "We aren't getting ice cream today, but do you want to pick out a new snack for after school?" 
Make it a game.
Yes - our kids eventually need to learn to self-regulate and entertain themselves when doing menial chores. However, if you notice that your child gets especially rambunctious or challenging at the grocery store, teach them that we can make anything fun or interesting.  It's also a great way to connect with your child on a day when you may not have much play time with them (because you're running errands)! 

Pretend one of your kiddo's favorite characters is hiding and you have to find them. Megan's daughters love pretending that their beloved villain - Ursula from The Little Mermaid - is going to find them if they don't get everything on the list, scavenger hunt-style. Try to identify one item of every color or shape in each aisle. Look for letters or unusual words - you can even see if they can identify an image or character on boxes as you walk down the aisles. Some Trader Joe's locations hide stuffed animals for kids to find, too. 

You don't have to be a Pinterest parent to have fun at the store - just put yourself in your kid's shoes and try to be a little more playful! The result is a more fun, memorable experience for everyone.
Focus on the end goal.
Tell your child what's happening next (kids thrive on understanding the routine), and have something fun for them at the end of the trip. Many stores hand out stickers at the cash register, or perhaps you have a fun little toy in the car for them to explore. After you put away groceries at home, maybe head to the park or read a new book from the library. Some kids do really well with an end-goal in mind - remind them that after we get groceries we're going to do something else.

Note: we recommend avoiding rewarding/bribing with food. Learn more in our Toddler Course.
Save your sanity.
Are you completely over the grocery store experience? Go easy on yourself and have someone else pick up your food, order it online for outside pickup, or have it delivered. Go easy on yourself, especially if you're in a challenging season with your kids. It will get more manageable as they get older, and one day you may even miss them while you shop! (Maybe...!)
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When serving veggies and fruits to babies, toddlers and young eaters - think color! 
We recently featured various veggies and fruits of all the colors of the rainbow in honor of St. Patrick's Day on our Instagram account. Our followers asked us to compile the charts into one printable document....so here it is!

A few things to keep in mind: 
  • We have divided the foods into babies and toddlers. If you take our online Infant Course you will learn how to feed your baby whole foods and strips of food safely and with confidence.
  • The serving suggestions provided are simply ideas and do not describe every way to serve these foods; they're just a few ideas to consider. We have over 100 food ideas in our Toddler Course
  • When oils or spices are mentioned, they're just to get you thinking about how to flavor veggies and fruits. There's nothing age specific about the oils or spices used; they are OK as of 6+ months. We recommend limiting salt in infancy, but herbs/spices are encouraged because they help babies and toddlers learn about new flavors. Our favorite oils include olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, butter and ghee.
  • Hard foods like apples and carrots are choking hazards. Make sure to modify these foods until your child is 4.
  • Some of these foods may not be available year-round. Choose seasonal produce when you can - they will be more tasty and more affordable. 
Scroll through to see the chart, and click the link below to download the PDF file.
offer_the_rainbow_printable.pdf
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Image via @bapronbaby @beckytran
Is breakfast a challenge in your home? Check out our free printable with 5 ideas you may not have tried yet, including modifications for kid with allergies! Click on the link below to download the PDF file, and don't forget to pin the image above!

Check out our Yogurt Buying Guide here. The full Inspiralized Beet and Oat Banana Muffin recipe can be found here.
feeding_littles_breakfasts_2019.pdf
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Baby Jack is the reason Feeding Littles exists. His mom Sarah introduced us a few years after he passed away at just 6 months of age from SMA. Read more about his tragic, beautiful story here.  

We wanted to create something tangible that families could display in their homes to honor and remember Jack's spirit as we approach the anniversary of his passing on December 23rd. We worked with Jess from Wildflowers for Mochas to create a phrase that captures what Jack means to all of us, and Jess in turn created this gorgeous graphic. (Jess also happens to be Sarah's best friend and knew and loved Jack personally.)

Below are the download links for 8x10 graphics in JPG and PDF format. Feel free to download it for display in your own space.

We wish you health and happiness this holiday season!
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Mateo, 9 months - @whitneysara08
Thanksgiving is a time to gather family and friends and share a delicious meal. You envision a table full of loved ones - or perhaps just your small family - and enjoying favorite dishes from recipes that have been passed down for generations.

Unfortunately, it's not always how Thanksgiving works. For parents with picky eaters, Thanksgiving may be stressful as you anticipate comments what family members will say about your kid's eating habits (and what they imply about your parenting). Perhaps you're doing Baby-led Weaning (infant self-feeding) and you worry that loved ones will not understand how your baby is eating. The sights and the aroma’s might be completely delicious to adults, but for many children, especially picky eaters or children with special needs or allergies, this special meal can cause stress to the whole family.

Remember, flexibility is important with all things, especially children and holidays. 

We've laid out some strategies for keeping Thanksgiving fun and low-stress with your BLW baby or selective toddler.
Tips for self-feeding babies. 
  1. Communicate with your partner. Make sure you're on the same page as your partner about how you'll handle your baby's food and when you plan to leave. Keep communication open.
  2. Communicate with your family and friends. Inform your fellow Thanksgiving diners that your baby feeds themselves before you sit down for the meal. This helps prevent any surprises once food has been served.  If you'd like, explain why you chose BLW (without judgement of what they may have done with their kids) and explain that many parents are now opting to go this route.
  3. Use us as your scapegoats. If you have taken our Infant course, explain that you got specific instruction from two feeding professionals. Tell them that it is normal for babies to gag while eating, and that gagging and choking are not the same thing.
  4. Keep it comfortable. Offer foods that feel most comfortable to you. Perhaps you just started BLW a few days ago. It's OK to offer baby mashed potatoes on loaded GOOtensils. 
  5. Thanksgiving dinner may not be the best place to start BLW for the first time.. Practice a few meals prior to the big day. 
  6. Decide if you want to include baby in the eating experience. While Thanksgiving is a wonderful memory to share with your baby and we'd hope you feel confident serving them holiday foods on this day, brand new eaters don't necessarily have to share in Thanksgiving if it stresses you out too much. The family dynamic or mealtime environment may not be ideal for your family this year.  This is especially applicable to families still navigating new foo allergies, or if dinner is served after your child's bedtime. No one solution is right for every family, and it's OK if your baby skips Thanksgiving food for any reason.  
  7. Protect your host's home. To minimize mess, make sure to put a towel or splash mat on the floor below your baby's eating chair (or your chair if they're on your lap). Don't forget a bib! Avoid serving baby's food on china or glassware.
Tips for selective eaters. 
  1. Host a Thanksgiving dress rehearsal. Serve a practice meal with your kids including many sights, aromas, and sounds of Thanksgiving Day. This can include family style portions, extra glassware, cloth napkins, and candles on the table. Have your child sit in a different chair, especially if you already know what kind of chair they might be sitting in on the big day.
  2. Communicate with your family and friends. Inform your fellow Thanksgiving diners that you have been working on picky eating strategies and will not be forcing your child to eat or bribing them with dessert. Make sure to talk about this away from the table and away from your child. Kindly ask them to let you handle mealtime dynamics instead of stepping in themselves. They simply want to help, but the strategies they have used on their kids may be contradictory toward your end goal.
  3. Taste test and dip! Kids love to learn to taste and dip into sauces.  You may want to bring special tasting cups or separated plate to allow the child to deconstruct their meal for an increase in eating on that day.
  4. Keep portion sizes tiny. Remember most children can get easily overwhelmed at Thanksgiving Day meals. We recommend using a tiny serving spoon to serve themselves less overwhelming portions - they can always have more. You may want to explain to the host that your child will eat better if Mom, Dad or another preferred person (like an older child who is a role model) plate your child's meal.
  5. Kid table...or not? Many families use the kid table for older kids (2 years+). Only kids sit at this table. This can go either way, and predicting your child’s participation can be tricky. Remember - keep the end goal in mind: to enjoy the day and be thankful for friends and family. It's OK for your child to fill up on bread with butter and pumpkin pie filling for one meal, we promise! 
  6. Focus on making memories. Allow your child to help in the meal preparation process or other decorating ideas for Thanksgiving . Kids can participate in many fun ways, including coloring or decorating name cards for the table or using stickers to decorate placemats. (Remember - heartfelt and kid-made can be better than "perfect.") Making a Thankful Tree is also fun! Each guest writes what they're thankful for on construction paper leaves, and older kids can help cut out these leaves with age-appropriate scissors. Some families do a Thankful Table Cloth and write what they're thankful for on the cloth itself. This is a great way to make positive memories with your child and start traditions for your family. It also takes the focus away from food if mealtime causes any stress. Your kids will look forward to these activities as they grow, and they will be fun keepsakes to look back on! 
  7. Set expectations low and stay in the moment.  Your child might be overwhelmed by so many things: experiencing new smells, the timing of the meal, their chair might not be perfect, there are way too many people talking at the same time, and the visual stimulus of candles, glassware, people and food on the table. It is a lot to take in, even for us parents! Keep your expectations low and enjoy the things you can control, like staying present with your family and having food on the table. The rest will all fall into place. Don’t expect your child to be a marvelous eater or sit there for the entire meal. Keep an eye on your child at the table and have a game plan with your partner for how to handle who gets up first with the child. Have one parent tend to your child while the other parent finishes dinner and then switch so each parent can have an adequate social engagement and meal as well.
  8. Serve something familiar with the meal. There's no need to make a special meal for your child barring medical or developmental issues, but make sure there's one familiar food your kiddo can fill up on if they don't want to eat the main dish. Bread with butter is a common "safe" food for toddlers. 
  9. Make sure your child doesn't get too hungry or too full before the meal. A hangry child is not a fun child, so offer a snack a few hours beforehand - kids don't appreciate or tolerate the "wait until the Thanksgiving meal so you're super starving" approach. They need regular meals and snacks on the big day. Conversely, appetizers can prevent your child from wanting to come to the table if they get too full. Remember, this won't be perfect. Do what you have to do to make the day pleasant.
  10. Bring Turkey Day activities. Check out Pinterest for fun crafts and Thanksgiving ideas. Involve the kids so they have enough to do while the dishes are cleaned and football is watched. Bring enough for all of the kids in attendance - this can make the day last a little longer! 
  11. Protect your host's home. To minimize mess, make sure to put a towel or splash mat on the floor if your child is prone to spilling or dropping food. Some toddlers do well with china and glassware, but Thanksgiving is not the time to start practicing with keepsake dishes. 
  12. If you are at someone else’s house have an exit strategy. Know when you anticipate leaving, and communicate throughout the day to check in. Holidays are different with little kids than they used to be, and sometimes plans change. It's OK! Things will get a little easier as they get older, but right now you're in a special season.​​
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Disclosure: some links below are affiliate links, which means (at no cost to you) we will make a small commission if you click through and make a purchase via Amazon. Check out our entire Amazon store here. We do not receive sponsorships by companies to promote specific products. 
What is good positioning, and why does it matter?
Selecting baby gear is one of the more overwhelming parts of parenthood. There are so many options available, and friends, family members, Facebook parenting groups, and Amazon reviews all pull you in different directions. How do you know what's best?

As a feeding specialist, I have a few favorite high chairs, but almost every high chair can be modified to help your baby or toddler be most successful at mealtime. You see, when we are well-positioned for any activity, we are more likely to stay and endure that activity longer. We really want our babies and toddlers to want to sit in their high chair and participate in eating, not get out right away because they're uncomfortable or unstable.

Most high chairs are created to be easy to clean or transport, but they don't actually promote great sitting dynamics. They may support a baby that doesn't have good independent sitting skills, but they don't lead to successful positioning long-term.

(For the record, before eating any food all babies - barring medical or developmental issues - should be sitting independently on the floor first, not just propped in a high chair. Read more here.)

Many of our Infant and Toddler Course clients have changed their child's high chair positioning and have noticed monumental improvement in eating - it really does matter! Watch the video below to learn more about why positioning is important, what ideal positioning actually is, and how to modify your child's chair to promote great stability and sitting dynamics. 
In summary, here are some important points about positioning:
  • No matter what high chair/booster you purchase, remember the body mechanics and stability principles in the video above. Make sure your child does not lean to either side. If they do, consider adding a rolled up pillow case. Remember, your baby should be sitting independently on the floor before you start food, but we don't expect them to have long sitting endurance in this positioning. Some additional support may help them feel comfortable. 
  • If your high chair is too big for the baby, add a small towel roll behind their back for added support and stability.
  • Ensure that your high chair or booster has a foot rest that reaches their feet. Most of the chairs we recommend below have an adjustable foot rest that reach many 6 month old's feet. If you need to modify the foot rest, use a tissue box, zip-lock bag box or pool noodle and adhere it to the chair using fun duct tape or double-sided Velcro.
  • If you child is leaning backwards in the chair, try to reposition your baby’s hips and get the baby to be leaning slightly forward into a “positive tilt” position, just like you would lean slightly forward when eating your food. This position is also known as an anterior tilt and places the trunk into an ideal upright position with the shoulders directly over the hips. In our business we say, “If you get the hips, you get the lips.”
  • Make certain that the tray of the high chair/booster is at the right height of your baby to reach the food, if the baby is still tall or long enough arms, consider adding a small towel beneath the baby to increase the reach skills until they can do it without the towel.
  • Many high chairs/boosters come with a recline feature. This is NOT a necessary feature, as we never want children to eat in a reclined position.
What other logistical and safety factors are important in selecting a high chair? 
  • Inspect the safety harness of your chair. Look for its ability to be cleaned, and if you are obtaining a gently used high chair/booster, be sure that the straps are intact. The use of the safety harness is the number one factor to ensure safety. Use the safety straps every time your baby is in the highchair.
  • Consider a chair that is easy to wipe down and clean. Food tends to get stuck in small crevices. 
  • Before purchasing a new high chair/booster, measure the height of your kitchen table, as some high chairs are pretty short. 
  • Bring the high chair/booster to the table and get your baby as close to the table as possible from the beginning. We want your child to feel part of the meal experience - not eating off in a corner. If you eat at a counter height table, consider a high chair that clips onto the side of a table like the Phil and Ted's Lobster. (If you use a clip-on chair, consider adding a foot rest by sliding a box or stool under baby's feet.) 
  • Does the high chair/booster have a removable and tray? This is a great feature because as your baby gets older you can slide her chair directly up to the table. This also eliminates the need to convert to a booster. Our favorite chairs that do this are the Stokke Tripp Trapp, the Keekaroo Right Height, the Abiie Beyond, or the Stokke Steps.
  • Struggling with mealtime behaviors in the high chair? Check out our Toddler Course
What are our favorite high chairs? 
As mentioned above, most chairs can be modified for good positioning, but I wanted to share our Foodie Judy-approved chairs so you know that the chair you buy promotes good sitting dynamics. When evaluating our favorite chairs, I considered positioning (including the ability for baby to have their hips in the preferred anterior - not posterior - pelvic tilt), ease of cleaning, adjustability, and general ergonomics. 
Top picks: 
Shown: Sadie, 15 months, in the Stokke Tripp Trapp
The following chairs are my absolute favorite high chairs because the foot rest can be brought up to reach most six-month-olds' feet, and the baby can easily lean forward in the (ideal) positive tilt position to reach food. These chairs are also super easy to clean, slide up to the table to avoid needing a booster, and come in multiple colors (bonus)! 
Other favorites:
The chairs listed below promote generally good sitting dynamics but may need to be modified with a foot rest until baby's legs are long enough.
A word about the IKEA high chair...
Many families love the IKEA ANTILOP high chair because it's inexpensive (around $23) and easy to clean. However, the seat on this chair is deep so baby is far away from the edge of the tray when their back is supported, and the tray is difficult to maneuver and remove. It's just too big for many babies. If you decide to use this chair we recommend adding rolled up towels around your baby (or using one of the support pillows IKEA sells) and using one of the hacks shown below to add a footrest. 

IKEA recently released the LANGUR high chair, which is a more ideal option because it has a foot rest (although it may not reach baby's feet), a better back rest, and a more user-friendly tray. 

Want to modify your IKEA chair (or other chair) to have a foot rest? Here are a few hacks from our followers! 
Put a small chair behind the ANTILOP to create a foot rest: 
Use an exercise band around the legs to create more stability in the feet: 
@ellarae16
If you are good with power tools, you may want to consider drilling holes in all four corners of an additional IKEA tray (sold for only $5) and sliding it up around the legs like this client did: 
@whit3714
@whit3714
What about booster seats? 
Booster chairs are meant to transition a toddler from a regular high chair to sitting at the right height with their family at the table. Ideally we want food no higher than your child's chest, so a booster allows a young eater to see their food when in a regular chair. Again, if you use some of the preferred chairs above, you probably don't need to purchase a booster seat. 

When is your child ready for a booster chair? Many toddlers get antsy in a high chair with a tray sometime around 18-24 months, but it may happen earlier or later. We recommend keeping your child in their chair as long as they are comfortable, but eventually most kids want to sit with you at the table. 

If you struggle with mealtime behavior, don't forget to check out our Toddler Course

Watch this video where I explain positioning in a booster:
What about propped sitting chairs or floor seats like the Bumbo?
The Bumbo and other floor seats or propped sitting chairs don't teach a baby to sit and put their hips in an unfavorable posterior tilt position. We recommend avoiding these chairs or using them sparingly, and we don't recommend them for feeding.
We hope this helped you know how to best position your baby or child in their high chair or booster!
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If you're peeked around our website or followed us on Instagram, you're well aware that we love Baby-led Weaning (Infant Self-Feeding). I (Megan) have been teaching it since 2013 to thousands of families in the Phoenix, Arizona area, and Judy and I released an online version of the course in 2017 utilizing feeding therapy and nutrition therapy techniques. Read what our clients are saying about our courses here

With that being said, BLW is not appropriate for all families. We are not here to judge or recommend only one type of infant feeding; our goal with this post is to provide a resource for friends and family members who may be confused about BLW or may want to learn about its benefits. If your child has any medical or developmental issues, be sure to speak with your pediatrician before going this route.

Click the link below for a PDF version of this downloadable! 
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Summer is coming to an end! For those of us in hot-weather climates, this is a welcome change...but we know many are trying to squeeze out every last drop of summer. This Labor Day Weekend we've partnered with some of our favorite dietitians and food bloggers to bring you some amazing popsicle recipes! Just combine ingredients (liquid on the bottom of the blender first is ideal), taste test to make sure it's to your liking, blend until smooth, and serve! 

Check out our amazing contributors! Thank you for helping us with these recipes (especially on such short notice...I {Megan} am kind of a spur-of-the-moment person when I have an idea)! Please check out their websites and instagram accounts, linked below.

Yummy Toddler Food - @yummytoddlerfood
Born to Eat Book - @borntoeatbook
Veggies and Virtue - @veggiesandvirtue
Kids Eat In Color - @kids.eat.in.color
Baby Bloom Nutrition - @babybloomnutr
Heather (Veggie Buds Club Blog) - @heather_kidskitchen
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We like to show examples of what I (Megan) pack for school lunch on our Instagram and Facebook pages. Recently I also showed our Instagram Stories viewers what my kids' lunchboxes look like when they get home. I hesitated to put it out there, as I feel like focusing on how much kids eat makes parents anxious at mealtimes.

What I didn't realize is how much parents stress about "food waste." In response, I made a series of videos that explained why it's OK for kids - and adults - to not finish their food, why plate waste is inherent in raising competent, intuitive eaters, and how to minimize waste.

I received so. many. responses. on those stories. You were all so supportive and found this message refreshing, and I'm thankful for the amazing dialogue that resulted from this series. I still don't think I've responded to all of the direct messages - I may never be able to - but I love how it got so many people talking and thinking about raising intuitive eaters.  Reframing wasted food and understanding why we can't force our kids to eat is an important topic, so I want to reiterate these important messages below. In case you're interested in seeing the videos as well, head to Instagram and clicking on our "IE" story highlight (see screenshot below). 

I am a trained Intuitive Eating Counselor - as well as a dietitian who has worked with chronic dieters for years - long before working in pediatrics - so this is an especially passionate topic for me!

Find our IE highlights on our Instagram page below:
The "clean plate" club.
Children are born intuitive eaters. They are built to self-regulate based upon their own individual hunger and fullness cues. They remain intuitive eaters until they are forced to eat more food and bypass their physiologic cues, or if they're not given enough food to be satisfied and they start over-focusing on food and bingeing. (Read more research about eating competence via the Ellyn Satter Institute here.)

You may remember dinnertime battles with your parents where you were forced to clean your plate. This was likely done out of love, responsibility and saving money, and doing what your parents thought was best. However, it may have taught you to eat more food than your body needed and stop listening to that "off switch" inherent within you. It may have also made you never want to eat that food you were forced to eat again. (I personally have this experience with raisins - my grandma forced me to eat them, and I will never eat them again!)

What happens when we don't know how to stop eating? We continue to eat more foods than our bodies need, and our body size might change. Food becomes both our biggest obsession and our most hated enemy. Most of my chronic dieting clients can remember a time when they were either overfed or underfed/restricted, and it eventually led to issues with appetite dysregulation, changes in metabolism, and even issues with their emotional health and sense of self-worth. I wonder what would have happened if they were simply allowed to eat what they were hungry for at meals and snacks.

It is imperative that we let our children learn about food in a positive, safe way and trust that they know how to eat enough. Yes, sometimes they don't eat at a meal and want a snack 10 minutes later. Perhaps they only eat one type of food or are very selective. Maybe it's hard to know if your child is eating enough. All of these topics (and much, much more) are covered in our toddler course - complete with realistic, professional strategies that help get your toddler's eating back on track.

This doesn't mean that we recommend grazing or having food constantly available. To help our children (and ourselves) have regular appetites and enough hunger to enjoy balanced meals, it's important to have regular meals and snacks with breaks in between where we don't eat. A child that grazes all day will not be hungry for a balanced meal, and mealtime behavior usually suffers as a result. Plus, food tastes so much better when we're hungry and the process is much more enjoyable! 
Most intuitive eaters do not finish their plate every time.
It is hard to estimate how much food your body needs on a given day. Our appetites change due to physical needs, illness and recovery, mental stress, medications, time of year and temperature (some of us eat less when it's hot), and changes in our metabolism. When we listen acutely to our body's signals of fullness, we oftentimes have to leave food on the plate.

Kids do too.

Children have wildly variable appetites. Some days they want all the food in the world; other days they hardly eat. This is normal, especially in toddlers and preschoolers. Annoying? Yes, but normal nonetheless. Just like ourselves, we can't expect our kids to finish their plates. Most of us, if we're really listening to these cues, leave some food behind too. When we eat, cleaning the plate shouldn't be the goal - eating until we're satisfied and nourished is what really matters, independent of quantity of food.
Overeating is wasteful too.
Yes, wasting food isn't great...but neither is eating more than your body needs and wasting years of your life undoing the effects of overeating. Think of the thousands of dollars people spend on diets, fancy gym memberships, and larger clothes in efforts to change their body size. (Clarification: I'm not saying that larger body sizes are bad or unhealthy, and in fact I'd strongly discourage you from going on a diet - it's just that this is what many people do when they're unhappy with their size.) My clients spend thousands of dollars and years of their life trying to figure out why they eat emotionally and seek comfort in food, or why they can't seem to stop eating even when their body says it's full.

Teaching your child to overeat or making yourself eat something your body doesn't need in order to "avoid waste" is even more wasteful than throwing away uneaten food. It can be very damaging to your overall emotional wellbeing and can make food a struggle for life. I'd rather deal with plate waste - see below - than set my children up for complicated food issues.

As one of our wonderful followers and longtime Feeding Littles clients Angie put it: "Yes, food waste sucks, but a poor relationship with food sucks even more."
The importance of variety.
Your child will eventually learn to eat the foods you serve him. Many kids take 20, 30, even 50 exposures of something before they willingly eat it, and sometimes they never warm up to a given food. That's normal, OK, and expected. Your response to those behaviors is what matters. When we get frustrated that our children aren't eating what we serve, we start to cater to their food preferences. The variety of food offered to them begins to dwindle, and suddenly they may only see 5-10 different foods in rotation. In response, they only learn how to eat from this short list of food.

Offering lots of variety is one critical way to help your child eventually eat all safe foods. The more you do this, the more they will expect different foods on the plate too. Perhaps they won't eat it this time, but maybe next time it's not so foreign. If we stop giving them a chance to learn about new foods, we inherently limit their palate. This leads to less nutritional balance, more frustrating mealtimes, and a sense that your child is missing out on a wide variety of foods available on this earth. 

How do we keep moving our kids in the right direction, toward eating lots of different foods (eventually)? Don't stop offering variety. Keep portions small - think the size of a tablespoon or a few pieces of food - so as to not overwhelm your child. We oftentimes overestimate how much food is "adequate" for kids anyway. For example, one portion of veggies for a one-year-old is just one tablespoon. ONE TABLESPOON. (Of course, they can have more than this, but isn't it nice to know that they're probably doing better than you think?)
The school lunch dilemma.
We can minimize plate waste at home by using family meal-style serving when possible, as your child will likely take very little of a food he doesn't want to eat. It also helps to serve small portions, making mealtime overwhelming.

However, what happens when your child goes to daycare, preschool or elementary school?

There are so many factors at play at lunchtime when kids eat with peers that affect how much (or how little) they eat:
  • Time of day (many lunch periods are at 10 am, when some kids aren't hungry!)
  • Socialization and distraction
  • Short lunch periods
  • Hunger or lack thereof
  • Peer pressure
  • Inability to open containers well or peel fruit, use silverware 
  • Anxiety or being overwhelmed about the lunchroom or school setting
  • Excitement about recess or subject after lunch
  • Pressure from adults

Maneuvering the lunchroom or preschool classroom is yet another transition that your child faces as he gets older, and like everything else, he may experience bumps in the road. Sometimes my kids come home with a fully eaten lunch; other times they touch nothing. Usually, their intake lies somewhere in between. They may also only eat from a few sections of their lunchbox.

What most of us want to do in order to ensure that our kids will eat is serve them only preferred foods, but again...this doesn't teach them to eat all foods in the long run and makes them pickier over time. If the end goal is an adventurous eater, this is actually counter-productive.

Furthermore, here's the kicker: I can't just serve them what I "know" they will eat because I can't guarantee they "will" eat anything anyway! My kids will pass on their favorite foods on any given day, probably based on one or two of the factors listed above. The only thing I can almost guarantee they will eat is chocolate chips, but there have been times when those come home untouched too (and I'm pretty sure teachers wouldn't be happy if kids just had chocolate chips as their whole lunch).

If I only send tiny amounts of food and obviously can't give them more since they're at school, they may not have enough to eat should they choose to only enjoy the cheese and {quartered) grapes. One grape and one tiny bite of cheese is great at home when I can offer more, but it probably won't keep them satisfied if that's what they choose to eat at school.
Can't I just make him eat his lunch as a snack?
This is tricky. If the food is still safe to eat (non-perishable food or the ice pack and perishable food are still cold), you may want to re-offer the food after your pick up your child only if they're interested in eating it. We strongly advise against re-serving meals or snacks in a punitive way ("No snack at snack time because you didn't eat your lunch"), as this leads to anxiety around food and is seen by your child as a punishment.

​Of course, use your judgement - many times I won't have a snack handy but my daughter is famished and all we have available to eat is her unfinished lunch. I'll ask her if she wants to open it up and eat what's leftover as a snack, and oftentimes she will say yes. It's not done as a consequence of her not eating - it's simply because she wasn't hungry or was too distracted but wants to try again.
OK then...how do you deal with waste?
I was asked many times if I personally eat the food left behind or if I save it for another meal. To both questions, the answer is almost always no (for a few reasons):
  1. I don't need to eat when I'm not hungry. I usually have meals and snacks planned for myself (and eat them with my kids when I can), and emptying their lunchboxes doesn't usually coincide with my hunger patterns.
  2. The food is likely unsafe. By the time I get home nothing is cold, and since we serve  fresh produce, dairy, and animal products it's not safe for me to eat the leftovers or keep them for later.
  3. I'm kind of grossed out by eating someone's half eaten food, especially from preschool or elementary schools...because germs.

Yes, I know that many people on this planet are hungry, and I don't take access to food for granted. I know how blessed my family is to have full tummies each night. Eating my kids' potentially unsafe leftovers when I'm not hungry is not the solution to our global food crisis. 

Here are ways you can deal with the waste (besides trashing the food):
  1. Use a composting service that will pick up your food and compost it weekly. Some cities or counties do this for free; other services charge a small fee. Oftentimes you can keep the soil or donate it to a farmer.
  2. Compost food at home. We're looking into this option, as according to our wonderful followers, there are many inexpensive composting bins at Home Depot and Lowe's.
  3. Feed leftover food to chickens! Our followers have told me all about how open-minded chickens are to scraps and leftovers.
  4. If you give any leftovers to your pets, please check out this list of foods that may be unsafe for pets.
  5. Repurpose or reuse the food in another meal or snack, only if it's safe (the food is non-perishable or has been consistently kept cold and touched by washed hands), and it's not used in a punitive way.

So, in summary...yes, food waste is annoying. However, in efforts to feed my children a variety of food and teach them to eventually become adventurous eaters, it's part of the process. Try to reframe your thinking about food waste and see it as "uneaten" food, not "wasted" food. Like many of the other things you will buy for your child and then get rid of, it's an investment in your child's learning, health, and future. Try to minimize waste by composting, repurposing, or wasting less food if you can, but remember that sometimes it's part of the process. 

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