Category Archives: Feeding Tips

Introducing Your Baby to a Sippy Cup

sippy cupA sippy cup is a plastic cup with a snap-on or screw-on lid that is used to transition a child from a bottle or breastfeeding to a regular cup. Sippy cups are available with a variety of spouts and with or without handles.

The right age to introduce a sippy cup varies from child to child. Some are ready at six months old, while others don’t start using a sippy cup until their first birthday. Most babies are ready between seven and nine months.

Start with a soft, nipple-like spout that will be familiar to your baby. Show your baby how to raise the sippy cup to his or her mouth and tilt it to drink, but don’t share a cup with your baby because that could spread bacteria. It may take some time for your baby to get used to using it properly. You can try a variety of kinds until you find a sippy cup that works well for your baby.

You can give your baby half of the formula in a bottle and the rest in a sippy cup. You can help your baby get used to the sippy cup by dipping the tip of the spout in breast milk or formula.

Touch the spout to the roof of your baby’s mouth to encourage your baby to suck. You can also put a bottle nipple (without a bottle) in your baby’s mouth and switch to a sippy cup after the baby starts to suck.

If your baby sucks on the spout but can’t get any liquid to come out, try removing the valve or cutting a slit in it. Some babies find it easier to drink from a straw than from a spout. You can put a very small amount of liquid in the sippy cup and teach your baby to drink without the lid, and then replace the lid.

Some babies will drink water, juice, or whole milk from a sippy cup, but not breast milk or formula. Babies can have small amounts of juice at six months, but they should not have cow’s milk until one year. Babies should have no more than 32 ounces of milk and a half cup of juice per day. If your child is thirsty at other times, fill the sippy cup with water.

You should not let your child take a sippy cup to bed or walk around drinking from it for long periods of time because that can contribute to tooth decay. A sippy cup may present a challenge when it comes time to wean your child, but there is less potential for tooth decay with a sippy cup than with a bottle.

Thoroughly wash the sippy cup, especially the lid and plastic stopper, between uses to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Some research has noted possible health problems associated with bisphenol A in bottles and sippy cups. Look for a sippy cup that is BPA-free. Don’t let your child drink from a sippy cup that is scratched or damaged because it can be contaminated with bacteria. If the cup contains BPA, some of it could be released.

Proper Nutrition for Toddlers

toddler eatingMaking sure toddlers get adequate nutrition is important as they transition from breast milk or formula to a varied diet. Here are some guidelines to help you make sure that your toddler is getting enough essential vitamins and nutrients.

Toddlers generally need about 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day. The exact amount will depend on your child’s activity level, age, and size. Use your judgment and monitor your toddler’s behavior for indications of when he or she has had enough to eat.

The MyPlate food guide provides recommendations for the food needs of toddlers. For a child 12 to 24 months old, follow the guidelines for a 2-year-old, but be aware that your child may not need that much food yet.

A 2-year-old needs three ounces of grains, while a 3-year-old needs four to five ounces. Half of that should be from whole grains. One ounce equals one slice of bread, one cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta, or cereal.

A 2-year-old should eat one cup of vegetables per day, and a 3-year-old should eat 1 ½ cups. Make sure vegetables are well-cooked and cut into small pieces.

Both 2- and 3-year-olds should eat one cup of fruit per day. For reference, a banana is one cup.

A 2- or 3-year-old should consume two cups of milk or other dairy products per day. One cup equals 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, two ounces of processed cheese, or one cup of yogurt.

A 2-year-old should eat two ounces of meat and beans every day, while a 3-year-old should eat three to four ounces. One ounce is equivalent to ¼ of cooked dry beans or one egg.

Toddlers should get 700 milligrams of calcium and 600 international units of vitamin D every day. You can meet the calcium requirement with two servings of dairy products, but your child may need vitamin D supplements. Discuss this with your pediatrician. Children 12 to 24 months old should drink whole milk for normal growth and brain development, unless there is concern about overweight or obesity or a family history of obesity, high cholesterol, or heart disease. In that case, your doctor may recommend 2% milk. After age 2, most children can drink 1% or non-fat milk.

If your child doesn’t like the taste of milk and is at least a year old, you can mix cow’s milk with breast milk or formula and gradually increase the amount of cow’s milk. If your child is unable to drink milk or eat dairy products for medical reasons, try other products, such as calcium-fortified soy beverages, juices, breads, and cereals; cooked dried beans; and dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, bok choy, and kale.

After they are weaned off iron-fortified formula and cereal, toddlers are at risk for iron deficiency, which can affect growth, learning, and behavior. Cow’s milk is low in iron and can reduce the absorption or lead to loss of iron. Limit your child to 16 to 24 ounces of milk per day, and serve iron-rich foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, enriched grains, beans, and tofu, with foods that contain vitamin C, such as tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, and strawberries, to improve absorption. Continue to give your child iron-fortified cereal until 18 to 24 months.

If you are concerned about your toddler’s nutrition, discuss it with your pediatrician. Never give your child a vitamin or mineral supplement without discussing it with your doctor.

Introducing Your Baby to Solid Food

baby eatingBabies can begin to eat solid foods between four and six months. Until that time, breast milk or formula will provide all the nutrition your baby needs.

You will know that you can start to introduce solid food when your baby is able to sit up well and hold up his or her head. Your baby should also stop trying to push food out with his or her tongue. Your baby may also begin to make chewing motions and seem hungry even after eight to 10 feedings per day of breast milk or formula. Your baby will probably begin to show interest in foods that you are eating. Most babies are ready to try solid foods when they have doubled their birth weight and are at least four months old.

When introducing solid foods, you should first give your baby breast milk or formula. Then give the baby pureed solid food, such as sweet potatoes, squash, applesauce, bananas, peaches, or pears, or a small amount of single-grain cereal mixed with enough breast milk or formula to make it semi-liquid. Use a soft-tipped plastic spoon, and begin with a small amount of food on the tip of the spoon. Do not add cereal to your baby’s bottle, because he or she may not realize that food is meant to be eaten with a spoon while sitting up. After your baby gets used to eating pureed or semi-liquid foods, you can progress to strained or mashed food, and then to small pieces of finger foods.

Introduce new foods one at a time, and wait at least three days to see if your baby has an allergic reaction before introducing a different food. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include diarrhea, vomiting, swelling in the face, wheezing, or a rash. Your pediatrician may recommend that you wait to introduce foods that have a greater likelihood of causing an allergic reaction, such as soy, dairy, eggs, wheat, fish, and nuts.

You do not need to introduce foods in any particular order. If your baby doesn’t seem interested in a particular food, wait a week and try again.

Begin feeding your baby solid food once a day, and give him or her time to get used to the spoon and swallowing food. You can gradually increase the amount of solid food and mix less breast milk or formula with the cereal. Feed your baby solid food once a day at first, then twice a day at six or seven months, and then three times a day at eight months. If your baby leans back in the chair, turns his or her head away from the food, plays with the spoon, or refuses to open his or her mouth, your baby has had enough to eat.

If you are feeding your baby jars of baby food, put some in a bowl and feed your baby from that. If you put the spoon in your baby’s mouth and dip it back in the jar, you will not be able to use the leftover food later. Throw away any jars of unused baby food within two days of opening them.

You can start feeding your baby in a car seat or bouncy seat and switch to a high chair when your baby is able to sit up on his or her own.

Your baby’s stools may smell different and become firmer after you introduce solid food. If your baby becomes constipated, avoid rice cereal, bananas, and applesauce and give other fruits and vegetables and oatmeal or barley cereal instead. You can also offer your baby two to four ounces of water in a sippy cup.

; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;”>You should still give your baby breast milk or formula until one year of age. Solid food cannot replace all of the vitamins, iron, and protein in breast milk or formula.

Study says Bottle-Feeding Doubles Obesity Risk for Babies

Bottle Feeding

A new study published in Pediatric obesity found that by babies who are formula fed are at higher risk of becoming obese by age two. Formula fed babies were found to be two and a half times more likely to be obese than babies who are breast fed during their first six months of life.

The study involved over 8,000 babies. Researchers also found that there were two other feeding patterns that increased the threat of early childhood obesity. Feeding your child solid foods before four months increased their risk by 40 percent, and putting them to bed with a bottle increased their risk by 30 percent.

Does formula make babies fat?

Research has shown that breast fed babies are less likely to become obese, all the reasons for this link are not known. Lead study author Ben Gibbs, Ph.D., said;

“While there are nutritional differences between formula and breast milk, there is also a cluster of unhealthy feeding behaviors that can go along with using formula, such as the expectation that the child should finish the bottle. It’s like insisting that kids clean their plate at mealtime, which teaches them to ignore their natural hunger signals.”

There are substances in break milk that help infants know when they are full. Babies will just stop nursing when they are full during breast feeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that you should exclusively breastfeed your child for the first six months.

Are you over-feeding your baby?

Many parents who feed their baby formula often make the mistake of constantly giving their baby a bottle at the first signs of fussiness. Many times the reason for their behavior is not hunger related. Your baby will turn their head away from the bottle or start chewing on the nipple instead of sucking when they are full. Pay attention for these signs if you formula feed your baby to avoid over-feeding them.

How to protect your baby from obesity

There are many things you can do to protect your child from becoming obese. Here are a few:

• Avoid feeding your baby solid foods before 6 months.
• When you do introduce solid foods, start with vegetables and cereal, and other foods that aren’t sweet.
• When they do start eating solid foods, stop feeding your baby when they start pushing the spoon away.
• Do not give your baby sugary drinks, they are the #1 cause of childhood obesity.
• Make sure your baby gets lots of opportunities to be active.

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Are your Kids Picky Eaters?

Picky eater

Many parents struggle to get their children to eat the foods that are good for them. So many kids are picky eaters and can become fussy when given foods they don’t like. If you want your children to not be picky eaters, you need to teach them to be adventurous eaters at a young age. Shy away from the traditional “kids menu” and introduce our children to different foods to increase their palate.

Put off introducing them to “fun foods” as long as you can

Young children do not have the ability to make conscious decisions on their owPB & Jn about what is good for them to eat. This is where the parents come in. Giving your kids “fun foods” like PB & J or macaroni & cheese will only train their palate to like these foods that you know they will love. If they are used to these foods and then you give them spinach, they will think “well, I don’t like this as much as the other food you gave me.” Now it will be impossible to get them to try anything new and different. Introduce vegetables and other healthy foods early on, so they can get used to eating them.

Have patience with them

Many parents get frustrated and have a short temper with their kids when they won’t eat certain foods. Instead of getting mad, let them take a break and come back to the food later. Don’t force the food on them because that will only make it more difficult to get them to eat it.

Don’t hide food in their food

Parents sometimes think the best way to get their children to eat foods they don’t like is to hide it inside foods they do like. By doing this, you are only enforcing the fact that they shouldn’t like it because you have to trick them into eating it. Instead, incorporate the less desirable food into the dish. You can chop it up and add it into a sauce or dish, but let them know it is there. You can say, “You know that spinach on your plate is in the lasagna that you love too.”

Involve them in food prep

One great way to get your kids to try more foods is to involve them into the Cooking with kidsfood prep. If you get them to help you prepare and cook the food, they will be more likely to want to try it. Instead of thinking that vegetables are yucky, they will want to try them because they helped prepare them. When you add the element of fun into it and you cook as a team, your children will feel a sense of pride and will want to eat it.

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How to Make Chalkboard Lids for Baby Food Jars

Chalkboard Jar Lids

As your child starts to get older they will stop using breast milk and formula and start eating solid foods. Many parents are making their only baby food and freezing it to save money and give their kids more natural foods. However, jarring your won baby food in bulk can make the contents hard to figure out and when you made it will be impossible to remember. Creating chalkboard lids for the jars is a creative way to keep track of the contents and when you made them.

Making chalkboard lids for your baby food is great whether you made the food yourself or purchased them at the store. You might have multiple children and one may have a food allergy. By having the ability to write the contents on the lid you will never give your child the wrong food. If you bought the baby food at the store, the chalkboard lid will give you the ability to write when you opened it, so you will never feed your children old food. Here is how you make the chalkboard lids:

Supplies:
• Chalkboard Spray Paint
• Baby food glass jars and lids
• Chalk Ink food-safe non-toxic washable markers
• Double sided tape
• cardboard box

Step One: Cut one side of the cardboard box to make a three-sided spraying booth. Place double sided tape on the bottom of the box and place the lids on top – this will keep them from blowing around while being sprayed.

Making Chalkboard Lids

Step Two: Carefully spray fine coats of chalkboard spray paint, building up layers as you go. **Be sure to avoid spraying the inside of the lids if one should flip over.**

Spraying Lids

Step Three: Write on the lids using the chalk ink marker. Hand wash the lids using a damp cloth when you wish to write something new on them. Over time the lids can chip a bit. Re-spray them as needed.

Chalkboard Lids

The chalkboard lids will save you money, save the environment by recycling, and provide clear labels for all of your children’s food.

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Arsenic in Baby Formula?

Arsenic rice syrup baby formulaFirst there were concerns about BPA in baby bottles. Then, worries shifted to fire retardant chemicals and other potential carcinogens in baby products. Now the focus has moved toward arsenic in baby formula.

Discussed in the Huffington Post, a Dartmouth College study found increased levels of arsenic in foods sweetened with rice syrup, baby formula being one of them. Rice syrup, in these instances, originates domestically. Rice is presently grown on land once reserved for cotton. As environmentally-conscious parents know, conventional cotton is sprayed with a laundry list of pesticides, with arsenic included. Although the cotton is since gone, the arsenic remains in the topsoil, allowing the rice crop to absorb it.

The USDA is presently conducting research for reducing levels of arsenic in domestic rice crops.

In response, the USA Rice Federation issued a statement, declaring the arsenic in their product contributes only a small amount to the total from a human’s diet. They go onto explain that arsenic is a naturally-occurring substance that has been in foods for years and that the type in rice is organic. Arsenic, they add, is in water meeting FDA standards but is inorganic – more harmful than the naturally-occurring compound.

When it comes to your baby, whose argument do you buy? The USA Rice Federation, who possibly is downplaying the effects of arsenic to save their product, or the Dartmouth College study, which could be creating unnecessary hysteria?

In terms of baby formula, the Huffington Post points out, most brands are not made with rice syrup. Baby’s Only Organic Dairy Toddler Formula and Baby’s Only Organic Soy Toddler Formula do, however. Nevertheless, a baby’s health shouldn’t be put at risk, and to avoid any products with rice syrup, organic or otherwise, read all ingredients before purchasing.

 

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California Close to Banning BPA in Baby Products

Baby bottlesCertain states have banned BPA from baby products completely, and California may be next. Legislation to ban BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups is approaching passing, and will be voted on next week. In California, this particular issue has been in the public eye since 2006, when San Francisco enacted an ordinance banning BPA from such baby products; the ordinance, however, was repealed a year later.

The proposed law, The Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act (AB1319) would require manufacturers of such baby products to use the least toxic BPA. At the same time, manufacturers of toys and plastic containers have been looking for alternatives to BPA.

But, what exactly is so bad about BPA? The chemical, which is found in baby products, plastics, and even cash register receipts, mimics estrogen in the body and is quickly metabolized. The chemical causes hormonal and behavioral issues, including early puberty, hyperactivity, breast and prostate cancers, infertility, and obesity. CEO and director of Healthy Child, Healthy World stated:

“Children are uniquely vulnerable to toxic exposures. They are typically exposed to more toxics per pound of body weight. Their immature systems are less capable of excreting the toxics. And, perhaps most importantly, they are still developing, so exposures that may have no impact on an adult can create a domino effect of biological disruption in a child.”

Babies are particularly vulnerable to the effects of BPA, but adults can be, too. Now that the effects of BPA on babies are receiving attention, adults also want BPA-free products.

Although bottles, cups, and toys are labeled “BPA-free,” finding baby products completely devoid of plastic eliminates exposure risks. For babies, as we have mentioned before, this can be glass or stainless steel bottles. Adults, additionally, can follow the same approach and look for cups, dishware, and food containers made without plastic of any kind.

Are Babies Getting Bigger?

Increased obesity should be a concern for everyone, but rather than address it in the teen or adult years, should you think about it in childhood? An article from FoxNews.com indicates that baby fat past the toddler years is cause for concern, particularly as the amount of children being born bigger and staying that size is increasing.

How do you gauge baby fat? Do not, as the Fox article mentions, ever put your baby on a diet. Fat is natural and helps with a child’s mental development. At the same time, however, do not ignore it. Instead, keep track of it. Some children are born larger and then slim down to an average size. Others end up staying large past two or three years of age, and at this point, a child has a greater chance of being overweight or obese.

The Fox article points out that, years earlier, only 15 percent of all babies born were above the 85 percentile in weight; now 30 percent are. 16 percent of six-month-olds, additionally, now fall above the 96 percentile; ideally, only five percent of babies should be there.

Obesity, however, is not a lifelong sentence and, even if your child becomes a heavy toddler, eating habits can change weight patterns. While, for adults, corn syrup has been blamed as a cause of rising obesity, sugary foods have a similar effect in children. Moderation, as dieters are often told, is important. Consuming too much leads to excess weight, but abstaining completely leads to cravings. What should you do as a parent about your child’s eating habits?

Again, moderation is important, and sugary foods – even ones seemingly healthy, like juice – need to be kept to a minimum. The Fox story suggests leaving out the sugary and fatty foods and, instead, going for vegetables – except for French fries – and other fiber-rich foods.

Can You Trust Green Baby Products?

Finding BPA-free products has been a concern for many parents. Children under three years of age shouldn’t be exposed to the chemical, and some states have outright banned it. But when you see a label with “BPA-free” on it, are you sure you’re getting a product with no traces of the chemical?

According to Environmental Leader, products with “green” labels aren’t always what they seem. This, in particular, applies to baby products which, in recent years, are labeled as “green,” “BPA-free,” and “phthalates-free.” Exposure to BPA and phthalates has been known to cause developmental disorders and other physical problems in children, and manufacturers of plastic products, such as cups and bottles, will mention that the product does not contain the chemical; phthalates, similarly, may be found in rubber products, such as mattresses.

The piece in the Environmental Leader titles this “greenwashing” and such products are easily spotted by labels that offer no proof, are vague, or are clearly inaccurate. Claims against such products gave gone up 577 percent for those labeled BPA-free and 2,550 percent for those labeled phthalates-free.

Although the FTC is apparently considering revising its standards for a “green” product, what is a parent to do when confronted with this issue? Do you take every green baby product at face value or do you investigate each?

Back in March, we listed some tips for finding BPA-free products. These included checking the recycling number on the bottom – 3 and 7 contain BPA – and finding alternative methods, such as steel.

Toys, on the other hand, can be more difficult. Although the child won’t drink directly from it, the toy has the potential to contain phthalates or BPA if made from rubber or plastic. Removing these chemicals from your child’s environment involves finding products and toys that do not contain hard or soft plastic.