Age 1 to 5 has been described as the “Age of Beige.”
Beige and bland - the color and taste of foods eaten by picky toddlers and preschoolers.
So, how can you win the Battle of the Plate with your toddler or preschooler? At Carolina Kids Pediatrics in Raleigh, our pediatricians offer these ideas for vanquishing your picky eater:
RULE #1: AVOID SHORT-ORDER COOKING. So, what can you do if your toddler rejects the pasta and broccoli you have just worked so hard to prepare? Do you fix the peanut butter and jelly sandwich (with the crust cut off) that you know they will eat? Don’t. Do you force your toddler to eat the food you just spent 30 minutes cooking? Again, don’t. Instead, force a smile, and say, “Not hungry? That’s OK, I’ll save your food for you in case you get hungry later.” Then, leave the food out - the top of a chair works well, as a toddler can change their mind, come back, and the food is available at eye level. Just remember to put the dog outside first, or he’ll think that food you left out on the chair is all for him!
RULE #2: SAYING “NO” TO EATING IS OK. By allowing young kids to say “no” to the meal we prepared, we are supporting their sense of autonomy. However, by not short-order cooking their favorite meal instead (or getting out the packaged snack foods), we avoid giving them more choices than they can handle. A child who gets chicken nuggets and fries every time they reject a meal will end up eating…nuggets and fries, and very little else. By providing a child access to the rejected meal until it’s time for another meal, we are insuring they don’t go hungry and can reconsider their choice when they do get hungry. The hardest part? Don’t suggest your child go back and eat it. Let them figure that part out themselves, and let it be their choice. Kids almost never lose weight or become malnourished when we allow them to say “no” to a meal this way.
RULE #3: ABANDON THE 3-MEAL-2-SNACK MYTH. Many toddlers and young children eat a mid-morning snack, a mid-afternoon snack, and even an after-dinner snack. Often these snacks are packages of processed food – cheese sticks, goldfish, crackers, etc. Remember that your toddler or preschooler may only need about 1200 calories a day – if they have 3 snacks with 300 calories each, it’s no wonder they don’t want to eat that nutritious meal we cook for them at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Skip the packaged snack foods. Instead, allow kids access to the previous unfinished meal if they get hungry before the next one – or just offer some sliced fresh fruits or veggies.
RULE #4: DUMP THE LIQUID SUGAR. Many young kids become juice-a- holics quickly if given the opportunity. Juices, sodas, and other sweetened drinks offer sugar and very little nutritional benefit – and they often fill kids up, which leads to the “hunger strike” at mealtimes. A cup of milk with each meal is great – but stick to water in between.
RULE #5: WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE GANDER. THIS MEANS YOU. The most powerful motivator for healthy eating habits is watching a parent or an older sibling eat well. Even if life gets too busy to swing family meals every night, make sure at least one adult is eating at least a small meal with your young child – and that you are eating the same thing. If you are planning a meal at a different time, just have a small plate of what your toddler is eating and take a few well-timed bites. It also takes the pressure off – there’s nothing that gets a toddler to reject food as much as an adult staring at them and not eating themselves.
RULE #6: TODDLERS ARE NOT SMALL ADULTS. We routinely over-estimate portion sizes for toddlers. Try the “palm of the hand” rule – a portion of food for a child should roughly equal the size of the palm of their hand – not your big, grownup hand. Use smaller plates for little people to remind yourself of this rule. And never ask kids to clean their plate. If they learn to eat to please you instead of eating until they are full, we risk excessive weight gain, and all the health risks that come with it. Remember that toddlers and preschoolers naturally have a lower body mass index than they do at any other time in life – it’s probably OK if you can see and count their ribs!
RULE #7: WE’RE HERE TO HELP. Although most young picky eaters can be well-managed with these rules, real health problems are out there also. If you think your child is underweight, has chronic abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea or constipation, or signs of food allergy, please contact your Raleigh pediatricians – contact us here at Carolina Kids Pediatrics by calling (919) 881-9009 or sending us a message through our patient portal.
For years, the pediatricians at Carolina Kids Pediatrics in Raleigh, NC have taught free prenatal education classes at Babies R Us locally. This week, we were saddened to hear that Babies R Us stores will be closing nationally. We will continue to look for ways to reach out to our community to provide prenatal education classes and resources for future parents.
What can you expect from a Prenatal Education Class?
We cover a range of topics, including what to expect as you initiate feeding (breast or formula), what to have at home, and what to expect in a newborn’s first few weeks of life. For a list of more prenatal education topics, check out the page:
Our lactation consultant, Jerrianne Webb, also joins our prenatal education class periodically to provide additional guidance on preparing for breastfeeding. Our prenatal education classes are held every 2 weeks at Carolina Kids Pediatrics in Raleigh, NC. A few other reminders about your prenatal care:
Take advantage of Prenatal Education opportunities and prenatal classes not just at Carolina Kids Pediatrics, but throughout the Raleigh area – remember that local hospitals also provide prenatal classes on various topics. If you are part of an organization which provides resources for new parents, we are always happy to provide community outreach education for parents!
Carolina Kids Pediatrics
Should a mother continue to breastfeed if she has been exposed to influenza?
What if she has tested positive for the flu, or has other children that have it? Should she temporarily wean the baby to protect him?
These questions have been frequently asked by many mothers of breastfeeding newborns over the last few weeks. As the lactation consultant at Carolina Kids Pediatrics in Raleigh, NC, I have been asked these questions several times in the last few days alone.
Breastfeeding mothers SHOULD continue to breastfeed even if they have influenza, or have been exposed to it. Breastfeeding protects the newborn from infections, as antibodies from the mother’s body are passed to the newborn through the milk. The flu virus, as with any virus, has an incubation period. This is the time before the onset of symptoms. Since breastfeeding mothers and babies share the same environment, the mother and baby are likely exposed to the virus at the same time. During this incubation period, the mother’s body begins to produce these protective antibodies for the baby. Breastfeeding (and handwashing!) is the best protection for the newborn.
In the case where a mother is receiving anti-viral medications, such as Tamiflu, breastfeeding is still not contraindicated. The mother should continue to breastfeed as desired.
Please do not hesitate to contact your pediatrician in Raleigh, NC, to discuss any concerns you have about flu symptoms, or breastfeeding.
You may call Carolina Kids Pediatrics at (919) 881-9009 to schedule an appointment with me. I’ll be glad to help with any of your breastfeeding concerns.
Jerrianne Webb, RN, IBCLC
For more information:
A new report released from the American Academy of Pediatrics this month addresses the topic of preventing the spread of infectious disease in organized sports. This is a hot topic for pediatricians in Raleigh who do lots of sports physicals, including those of us here at Carolina Kids Pediatrics.
The highlights of this report: Skin infections spread by direct contact with other athletes account for 10-15% of time lost from sports. At Carolina Kids Pediatrics, we see kids from around Raleigh for sports physicals on a regular basis who have acquired skin infections through direct contact with other athletes or contaminated sports equipment. A general rule we can review during sports physicals is never to share equipment, towels or clothing, and make sure that wrestling mats and protective sports equipment are cleaned regularly – a dilute bleach solution works quite well to kill many bacteria, viruses and fungi which cause skin infection. Some additional advice about common sports-related infections:
Every organized sports team, whether school-based or not, requires that children be cleared by their Raleigh pediatrician through a sports physical. When your child gets their sports physical at Carolina Kids Pediatrics, please talk to us not only about injury and concussion prevention, but also the prevention of infectious disease from sports participation.
For more information on these guidelines on preventing infections in sports, check out this article before you come in for this year’s sports physical:
Christian Nechyba, MD
Carolina Kids Pediatrics
Your Pediatrician in Raleigh, North Carolina
Perk up your ears, kids! Did you hear the good news about ear infections?
A new study of 615 kids showed that the rate of ear infections in kids under 3 years has dropped 3-fold over the past 10 years compared to the 1980's. This dramatic decrease in ear infections seems to be due to the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which your kids get at 2, 4, 6 and 15 months when they come to Carolina Kids Pediatrics. Pneumococcal bacteria used to be the most common cause of ear infections, but we didn't start immunizing against pneumococcus until the 1990s. Although the vaccine was primarily designed to prevent meningitis and blood stream infections (which it has done beautifully), this seems to be a nice side benefit of the pneumococcal vaccine.
Less ear infections not only means less pain, fever, and night fussing for the kids, it also means less doctor visits, antibiotic prescriptions and antibiotic resistance!
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