Five Tips on Feeding Toddlers

Feeding toddlers doesn’t have to be nightmare.  At my office I talk to parents of toddlers all the time about the frustrations of feeding their picky, unpredictable and stubborn little ones. Here are a few points to keep in mind when feeding toddlers: 1)   TODDLERS DON’T NEED MUCH FOOD- In the first year of life the growth curve is very steep and parents get used to their kids gaining a lot of weight every time they visit the doctor.  After the first year, however, the growth curve flattens considerably.  Toddlers don’t grow as fast, so they don’t need a lot of food. Many parents expect that children at this age need a lot of food, and they get frustrated when their kids don’t meet their expectations.  If you lower your expectations you won’t be so disappointed when they turn your nose up at the food you offer! Since they are not eating much, make every calorie count towards offering the most nutrition. 2)   TODDLERS EAT UNPREDICTABLY- Remember that they don’t need much food.  They also don’t need food all the time .  I see so many kids snacking continously at home, in the car and at my office. This contant eating pattern sets up bad habits where kids are over-snacking.  Just make food available when you normally eat, and if they are not hungry, don’t force them to eat. If they eat a big breakfast and are not hungry for lunch that okay. Kids need to learn their own hunger cues and how to eat when they need food, not when other people tell them to eat. 3)   DON’T GET ON THE “JUICE...

What’s wrong with Water?

  One of the biggest contributors to the excessive amount of calories that American children consume is BEVERAGES. The average American teenager consumes in the neighborhood of 400 calories. That’s the equivalent of a four mile run! In my practice I give many of my overweight young patients a food journal to keep track of a week’s worth of eating. In talking to their families and reviewing their journals I often find that I can help them get back to a normal weight just by getting them off of sweetened beverages. Here are some of the beverages I see kids drinking excessively. Fruit juice and fruit drinks. These are loaded with calories and sugar. Even 100% juice is high in calories and low in nutrition. Consider than 8 oz. of apple juice has about 20 more calories than 8 oz of coke! What about eating an apple? It’s less calories and has fiber, which many kids diets are lacking. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children from age 6 months to 6 years get no more than 4-6 oz of juice per day. I see so many  toddlers and young children in my office with sippy cups full of strangely colored fruit drinks. Ultimately these extra calories can translate into extra weight and early tooth decay.  Sports Drinks.  I see many families overusing these drinks for their young athletes and letting them drink them regularly at home.  Most children are not sweating enough to require the calories and electrolytes in these drinks.  As an every day drink most sports drinks are high in calories and artificial dyes. I...

How to Make Homemade Yogurt (Video)

Many parents tell me their kids won’t drink a lot of milk.  They worry about calcium, and are not sure how to give their kids enough. Yogurt is a great way to do this, and making your own is super easy.  I use yogurt in smoothies, baked goods, as a side dish, as a substitute for mayonnaise when making chicken or tuna salad. Ever look at the ingredients on the average flavored yogurt?  A popular strawberry yogurt has the following ingredients : Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Low Fat Milk, Sugar, Strawberries, Modified Corn Starch, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Nonfat Milk, Kosher Gelatin, Citric Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural Flavor, Pectin, Colored with Carmine, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3.  The amount of sugar in one serving is about 5 teaspoons of sugar and over 60% of the calories come from sugar!!  When you make your own yogurt there are THREE ingredients.  Want to flavor it?  Use a little bit of honey, agave nectar or sugar and your favorite fruit. In order to make yogurt you will need a few things: 1) Saucepan 2) Candy thermometer (mine’s about $5- Polder 510 Glass Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer ) 3)Yogurt maker- these are very cheap.  The one I use is similar to this one, but made by Salton: Koolatron TCYM-07 Total Chef Yogurt Maker With Recipe Booklet INGREDIENTS 1) 4 cups milk ( I use 2% organic but you could use whole milk if you wanted a higher fat milk for babies) 2) 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder 3) 1/2 cup plain yogurt or yogurt starter. (Once you make a batch you can use 1/2 cup of...

Breakfast Ideas for Vegetarian Kids

This week Cara, our vegetarian nutritionist talks about breakfast. _______________________________________________________ I was really looking forward to writing a post about my perfect daughter and how she ate the plateful of scrambled eggs and toast I made her every morning. Evelyn did eat eggs…at one point…but now she swats them away as if they were poison. Alas, we had several great months of a high protein, high iron breakfast. (By the way, eggs are the perfect protein and contain just about every vitamin and mineral you need. They are a great addition to a vegetarian diet however, I suggest eggs of the organic variety). Here are the recent breakfast ideas I’ve come up with in the past few days that Evelyn will soon be taste testing. Soggy cereal- Soaking a whole-grain, fortified cereal in whole milk will provide all the micro-nutrients she needs, as well as fat and protein. At 14 months, she can’t handle the texture of dry cereal. Cream of Wheat- I LOVED this as a child. It is fortified with vitamins and minerals and we always recommend it for children who are anemic because it contains the daily allowance of iron. Yogurt- This has been my go-to breakfast in the past. Mixing pureed fruit into whole-milk, plain yogurt is a tasty and nutritious option that Evelyn enjoys. There are a ton of great breakfast resources out there. I find that not many of them address the early toddler age group though. I’d love to know what other moms are serving their infants/toddlers for breakfast and what moms are serving their big kids, as well! Please share your...

Cara Talks about Vegetarian Snacks for Baby

Cara Wright, mom, nutritionist and vegetarian, is also a medical student.  Her life is certainly busy! This week she talks about some of her favorite on-the-go snacks for her one-year old. ______________________________________________________________________________ Children love to snack. It’s a fact. Every day, I get at least one email about healthy snack options and they all seem to have the same suggestions. Well, I’d be lying if I said that every time Evelyn wants a snack I dice up some organic mango or whip up some ants on a log. The truth is I am incredibly busy and often need to grab a pre-packaged snack to throw into my bag (gasp, I know). I thought it would be helpful to list some of the go-to snacks I have in the cupboard. These are the products that a helicopter momma like myself feels comfortable giving to my vegetarian daughter when we are on the run.   Fresh fruit and veggies (I had to list them…) Revolution Foods Organic Fruit Mashups (Evelyn can now slurp the fruit puree right out of the package. When she was younger I squeezed a bit into a bowl and fed her. Throw a few in the refrigerator and they are super refreshing on a hot day). HappyTot Organic Superfoods (These come in a variety of fruit and veggie mixes with added “super grains”). HappyMunchies Baked Organic Cheese and Veggie Snack (Evelyn loves these wanna-be Cheetos. I have a feeling she eats a few too many of these while with the babysitter. The sodium content is my only concern but they still contain 60% less than other toddler...

Meat Substitutes for Vegetarians

This week our guest blogger, nutritionist, mom and vegetarian Cara Wright talks about meat substitutes for vegetarians. ___________________________________________________________________________ Luckily it is becoming easier and easier to find healthy, palatable, non-meat options in the grocery store. Just a few years ago the only meat-substitute I could find at the supermarket was water-logged tofu. Yesterday I was at the local Wal-Mart and was amazed to find VeggiePatch meatballs and hotdogs. Stores now have entire sections in the refrigerated and frozen food aisles for organic and non-meat products. Gone are the days of making tofu stirfry every night! Now you can experiment with a host of veggie products that are more appealing to everyone in the family. My one year-old daughter Evelyn is a big fan of the VeggiePatch brand of foods. We enjoy their chicken nuggets, meatballs, and broccoli bits. Even my husband, a declared meat lover, recommends the nuggets and corndogs! The “chicken” and “meat” are actually texturized vegetable protein and astonishingly have the exact taste and texture of real meat. Evelyn loves the meatballs cooked in a bit of Prego VeggieSmart pasta sauce which contains over a serving of vegetables in ½ cup. (We also like Prego HeartSmart and Rao’s pasta sauces). Tomato sauce and toddlers is a messy combination but I love seeing her gobble down a plate full of healthy protein and vegetables. Served with steamed carrots, cubes of cheese, and sliced grapes for dessert, this is a go-to meal that I can make in no time after a long day. I’m curious to know if other people have experimented with meat substitute. I am always excited...

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