It's that time of the year again - the Feeding Littles Holiday Buying Guide is back! We have partnered with our favorite feeding and mama brands to offer exclusive discount codes to our followers that allow you to buy these products cheaper than you can find them anywhere else, even Amazon! Thank you for your support in 2018 - the Feeding Littles Community has grown to more than we could have ever imagined. Now sit back, relax, and start shopping!
NumNum Baby - 40% off entire site through 12/15/17
Use code: NUMNUM40
Age range: 6+ months for feeding, 3+ months for teething
NumNum GOOtensils are amazing self-feeding tools for babies! Dip them in applesauce, hummus, guacamole, yogurt, etc. and hand them to baby or place on the tray to promote self-feeding and utensil usage without the frustrations of regular spoons. We also love GOOtensils as teething toys that allow baby to bite using their back gums (where their molars will eventually come in).
Zoli - 20% off entire site through 12/15/17
Use code: LITTLES17
Age range: 3+ months
Zoli created the Bot cup, our all-time favorite first straw cup, but they have SO MANY cool feeding products! We love their Bunny Teether, Lunch Kit, larger straw water bottles, and feeding sets (including ceramic bowls, snack cups, etc.). We are so impressed with their amazing, functional products!
EZPZ - 20% off entire site through 12/31/17
Use code: ezpzfeedinglittles
Age range: 6+ months
EZPZ created the original, all-in-one placemat/plate that sticks to the table or high chair, and we adore using them with young eaters! The mini mat is especially perfect for meals out, as it easily fits in most diaper bags. We love that EZPZ products are easy to clean, visually appealing to kids, and a good way to make mealtime fun!
BapronBaby - 20% off entire site through 12/15/17 plus a FREE travel bag if you purchase 2 or more Baprons
Use code: feedinglittles
Age range: 6+ months
If you've followed us for a while, you'd know by know that we absolutely adore BapronBaby bibs! These bibs are waterproof, washable in the sink or washing machine, and perfectly fitting for babies 6 months through 3 years of age. They tie around the back instead of the neck for more comfort, and babies/toddlers love wearing them because they're not tight on the neck. They're also great for water play, cooking and arts and crafts! They are by far the best bib we've ever found. When you use code feedinglittles at Bapronbaby.com, a portion of the profit goes to The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation for SMA research and awareness.
Mabels Labels - 10% off entire site through 12/15/17
Use code: FEEDINGLITTLES10
Age range: birth+
Mabel's Labels are durable, waterproof peel-and-stick labels that are perfect for daycare gear, school lunch, camp, clothing, and much more! They're ultra-durable and look great even after hundreds of runs through the dishwasher. Customize with your design of choice and your child's name (or your name!) and feel more organized in the new year!
Jumping Jack - 15% off entire site through 12/11/17
Use code: FEEDINGLITTLES
Age range: birth+
Jumping Jack has a very special place in our hearts. Jack is a special boy who died of SMA at just 6 months of age. Judy was his feeding therapist. His wonderful mama Sarah created Jumping Jack in honor of him, and she introduced us (Judy and Megan) in 2014. Sarah is one of the strongest people we have ever met! Her apparel and headbands are all made in honor of sweet Jack and are super stylish. Read more about his story and SMA here.
In Jack's honor, a portion of our Feeding Littles course proceeds goes toward the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation.
Ark Therapeutic - 15% off entire site through 12/31/17
Use code: FEEDING15
Age range: 3+ months
Ark Therapeutic is a website beloved by therapists and parents alike, as they have many amazing therapy and feeding tools for kids of all ages! We especially love their amazing teething products, which help develop baby's jaw strength and teach them to chew with their back gums, as well as their Bear Bottle Kit for promoting straw usage (just squeeze the bear's tummy and the liquid comes up the straw!). Check out their super cute and festive Reindeer Chew!
Kiddiebites - 10% off through 12/31/17
Use code: TIFJW49K
Age range: 6+ months
Kiddiebites plates are flexible, stackable silicone plates (image above is shown from our Instagram account) that are loved by kids and adults alike! They are made in the U.S. and are microwavable, dishwasher safe, and nontoxic. They're essentially indestructible and wash beautifully - we use ours multiple times a week and they still look brand new! I especially like taking Kiddiebites plates to relatives' houses to use when toddler-safe plates are unavailable.
Little Partners - 15% off Original Learning Tower and Limited Edition Learning Tower through 12/31/17
Use code: FEED15
Age range: 12+ months
The Original Learning Tower is one of the best things you can buy for your kitchen. It allows your tyke to reach counter height to help with (safe) food prep, taste testing, or arts and crafts. It's extraordinarily sturdy and grows with your child, so children can use it as they get older. This Learning Tower is much sturdier than copycats and won't tip over - we absolutely love it!
Pick-Ease - 30% off entire site through 12/15/17; free shipping if you buy 2 or more packs
Use code: FeedingLittles
Age range: 12+ months
If you've taken our online toddler course, you know that young eaters love novelty and using fun tools while eating. Enter Pick-Ease, a safe toothpick with a big grip that's perfect for small hands and adds fun motor practice to each meal. Pick-Ease are dishwasher safe, durable, and will last through multiple kids (as they inevitably go through their oh-so-fun "food neophobia" phase). We love how cute and affordable they are!
Constructive Eating - 15% off entire site through 1/1/18 + free shipping!
Use code: feedinglittles15
Age range: 12+ months
Constructive Eating plates are another simple tool to help with picky eating, and they also encourage development of utensil skills. Their Construction Line and Garden Fairy Line include themed utensils that push, scoop and grab food, and the plates have special compartments for the utensils. When parents buy Constructive Eating products, they tell us they're always so impressed by the quality, and their kids dig right into their food!
Betgo Kids - 15% off Bentgo Kids Lunchboxes through 12/15/17
Use code: FEEDINGLITTLES15
Age range: 6+ months
If you keep up with our Instagram stories you'll know that Bentgo Kids is our preschool lunchbox of choice! We like how it keeps food insulated and cold (with a thin ice pack) the entire day and has the perfect size compartments for four different food items, plus a dip or dessert in the middle! (This really encourages us to pack more variety too!) They snap shut and don't leak, and they wash beautifully in the dishwasher. We have them in all 3 colors!
Feeding Littles - $15 off our Infant and Toddler feeding courses through 12/15/17
Use code: FEEDINGLITTLES15
Age range: Infant course is appropriate for new eaters (6ish months) or babies who haven't learned to self-feed up to 10-11 months; Toddler course is appropriate for 10 months - 5 years.
Get expert advice at a fraction of the price! Our Infant Feeding: the Baby-led Way online course teaches you how to do Baby-led Weaning (infant self-feeding) with your baby, or how to transition from spoon/puree feeding to self-feeding. Our Feeding Littles: Toddlers online course gives you the tools to prevent or reverse troublesome picky eating in young eaters and can be applied to older kiddos as well. For best results, take the courses before eating struggles develop and to set your child up for feeding success!
If you have signed up for our online toddler course course (specifically the step on Sugar, Candy and Desserts), you know that our approach to Halloween candy may be a bit different than you would expect for people concerned with healthy eating. Sure, candy is not a "health food," and we know that excess sugar in the diet is less than ideal. As with most things parenting-related, it's all about balance and seeing the big picture. We want our kids to have some exposure to sweets and treats so that they don't binge on them, because when we restrict our children's access to sweets they tend to overeat when they're not hungry and have weight regulation issues.
Halloween is a fun holiday that should be low stress for everyone - including parents who want what's best for their kiddos.
So, what's a health conscious mama (or daddy-o) to do? Do we just let our kids have unlimited access to candy? Not quite. Follow these guidelines to make Halloween a wonderful exploration of food and sweets.
1. Offer a filling, high-protein dinner and plenty of water before trick-or-treating. Hangry kiddos will have a tough time listening to their bodies around candy. Before you head out, offer a whole grain pasta dish with diced turkey and veggies, Pumpkin Chili (vegetarian if desired), or veggie pizza.
2. Decide if your kiddo is old enough for candy. Most babies aren't ready for many types of candy because it's difficult to chew, plus babies don't quite understand what they're missing. One- and two-year-olds may be very aware that they're receiving candy and may want to try it. As the parent, it's your choice whether or not to start exploring candy with your young toddler. (In our home we allow our kids to try Halloween candy once they're one year of age, but this is a decision you'll have to make.) If your child is going Trick-or-Treating, it may be difficult for them to understand why they can't eat the candy.
3. Once you get back home, sort it! Remove any choking hazards or candies that may be difficult to chew like taffy, gum, or hard candy for kids under 4. (Use this opportunity to put together a Mom or Dad Stash of your favorites! You know, for safety and all...)
4. Allow your child to sort, explore and eat as much candy as he wants when you get home. Try not to comment on how much he is eating or pressure him to stop. Also, avoid overexcitement about candy - remember, we want our kids to see all food as food, not "something special." Let him feel his own fullness and decide when to stop. If you haven't been doing this with your kiddos, they may test you and overeat - which may lead to a stomachache. Try not to take the "see, I told you so" route with them; rather, gently discuss what happened and explain that sometimes if we eat more than our belly is hungry for, it hurts. If you start this approach young, you will likely be very surprised by how little your little actually eats!
5. You provide, child decides. Decide how often you want to serve Halloween candy again for the next few weeks. This doesn't mean that your child gets candy whenever they ask for it - see more below.
When you do serve it, let your child decide how much to eat and avoid tying it to behaviors ("You must finish your vegetables to get candy" or "No candy if you don't clean up your toys"). Rather, serve it with or after meals without making a fuss about it. You can do it once, five times, with every meal, or never again - this is up to you. If you remain neutral about it, oftentimes children lose interest.
Important caveat: this does not mean that we offer candy with every meal and snack or whenever our kiddos ask for it. Remember, you provide food of your choice at regular meals - they decide how much to eat.
6. Keep it out of sight until you decide to serve it again. A child who sees the candy in plain view will ask for it often. Put it out of reach, and if your child asks to have some when you weren't planning to serve it, explain that "We aren't having candy right now. Maybe tomorrow."
Need more help with mealtime? Check out our video-based online course, which has helped thousands of parents raise happy eaters!
You probably know that you're supposed to involve your baby or young child in safe sensory play, but you may not understand the importance of sensory integration or how it relates to your child's feeding and general development.
In short, your child's sensory system dramatically impacts how he perceives the world, how he learns, and even how he eats. When it's functioning as expected, you may not even think about sensory processing. However, when sensory integration goes awry, it can affect many facets of your child's life.
We want to share with you some background regarding sensory integration so you can understand why your child may react to certain sensory inputs, how to best support your child's sensory system, and how to know if your child needs help with sensory processing.
Sensory integration/processing helps people “make sense” of the world around them.
Think of all the sensations you experience while dressing, bathing, walking or even driving a car to the airport.
Sensory Integration is the process of using our senses to:
We usually think of five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch (tactile), and smell.
We also receive information from our body position sense known as proprioception, and balance and movement sense known as vestibular sense.
Touch Sense - Tactile
The tactile sense gives us information from our skin, including inside and outside our mouths. Every time you touch something or you are touched, your skin provides you with detailed information; this comes from the tactile sense. It allows you to tell the difference between a friendly touch versus to the uncomfortable feeling of a bug biting you on the arm.
Think of a child licking ice cream from a cone as it drips down their arm. Does the child continue eating the ice cream and lick off the drips, or is the child bothered completely by the drips, drops the cone, and becomes very upset? This is the tactile system hard at work, it is either seen as pleasurable or averse. As you can imagine, when a child perceives certain tactile sensations as very averse, it can dramatically affect their success with feeding.
Body Position Sense - Proprioception
Proprioception is our body's position sense. Proprioception is the ability to know where a body part is without having to look, and it helps us know how much pressure we need to do certain things. We use this sense when we pick up a paper cup filled with water without spilling or holding it too tightly.
For example, have you ever watched your child pull a wheeling suitcase or push a play shopping cart around the house and then change the weight of the suitcase or cart? Her proprioception changes when she realizes she must push or pull the object harder. This sense is automatic and happens without much conscious thought, and it is a result of your proprioceptors hard at work within your joints. Pretty cool, right?
Movement/Gravity Sense - Vestibular
The vestibular system is our balance and movement sense. The vestibular sense allows us to move smoothly and balance while engaged in activities. We use this sense when riding a skateboard or sliding down a slide at the playground.
Watch a toddler as they practice their balance on uneven surfaces at the park. He may struggle at first, but it usually improves with each trial.
When Our Senses Unite
Integrating and processing information from the tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular systems, along with the other senses (sight, sounds, taste and smell), makes it possible to successfully participate in everyday activities.
For example, visualize a six-year-old boy holding a baseball bat and trying to hit at a T-ball.
The tactile (touch) sense helps him hold his bat correctly. Proprioception (body) sense helps him know his body is in the correct position. Vestibular (balance and movement) sense helps him stay upright while swinging the bat. His vision (sight) and hearing (sound) are also key to his success in the game.
Our bodies are truly amazing when they work as expected. However, what happens when things don’t work automatically?
Some kids struggle with sensory integration, which can affect their success with feeding. These behaviors may include:
If you notice any of the above behaviors, which may affect your child's home or school environment, talk to your healthcare provider. Ask to be scheduled for a full assessment that includes a Sensory Processing Evaluation. Therapists trained in Sensory Integration utilize a play-based, child-friendly approach.
Children improve their ability to process and organize sensory information in a setting where the child can engage in a variety of fun sensory experiences. Therapy can help kids simply be kids, playing alongside friends, and fully enjoying their young lives while learning to respond to a sensory-rich world.
Want to help support and develop your child's sensory system? Utilize the following activities on a regular basis, and make sure to never pressure a child to do something he's not ready for yet (e.g. touch a texture he's averse to).
We wish you fun and playfulness on your sensory development journey!
I have breastfed for over 52 months. Fifty. Two. Looking back, it flew by. I hardly remember nursing my first baby, and now I'm about to wean my second. In fact, her last day breastfeeding will be tomorrow, the day before I leave for a trip. She will have nursed (nearly) every day for the last 2 years.
Breastfeeding is one of the most emotionally-charged topics of motherhood. It is a joyous experience for some, an impossible one for others. Some women love it. Others hate it. Many women who were unable to breastfeed harbor guilt and hard feelings about the whole experience.
This is not a post about breastfeeding being better than bottle feeding or why everyone "should" breastfeed. I am a believer in feeding your baby in a way that works best for mom, baby and the whole family. As a mom, I have loved breastfeeding my babies and I feel lucky that I was able to do it, but as a dietitian I am well aware that breastfeeding just doesn't work for everyone, for a variety of reasons.
If thinking about breastfeeding hurts your heart, please know that I am sending you a virtual hug and that I am proud of you for figuring out what worked better for you and for baby. Sometimes feeding issues teach us the first of many hard parenting lessons - we are not always in control.
I want to share some of my personal thoughts and recommendations about breastfeeding, as my experience - like every mom's - is a bit unique. I hope that in reading this you learn something new, can relate to something you've experienced, or find healing in your own story. Of course, this post could be much, much longer than it is. I am not an IBCLC and I know many of these topics could be greatly expanded upon, so I hope you find the help and support you need if you're struggling.
Get educated. Breastfeeding seems easy - what do you need besides boobs and a baby, right? Most of us haven't grown up surrounded by breastfeeding. Many of us were not breastfed ourselves, so we don't have a tribe of women ready and able to teach us what to do. Both my mom and my mother-in-law breastfed, but this isn't always the case.
Some aspects of breastfeeding aren't logical, either. I've had clients who think that feeding a baby less often - when their breasts seem fuller - is the best way to get baby more milk, As you may know, feeding infrequently can hinder your milk supply because baby is removing less milk overall and not telling your body to produce even more.
Those first few days after birth are critical in establishing your milk supply and learning what breastfeeding is all about. Read about it before having baby, or better yet - take a class. Many hospitals, birthing centers, and breastfeeding support groups have breastfeeding education classes. If you're local to Phoenix, check out Modern Milk or Babymoon Inn to learn all about breastfeeding before baby arrives.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Feeding your baby in the early weeks and months is very overwhelming because it's 'round the clock. I felt like I went from an independent woman to a mom tethered to a baby, literally overnight. My babies never liked bottles, so it was even more overwhelming to be their only food source.
Take it one day at a time, mama. Make a goal of 1 week, then 2, then 1 month. If you can get to 6 weeks you've likely gotten over many breastfeeding humps.
Believe it or not, once you figure out breastfeeding, it can be much, much easier than pumping or bottle feeding. In fact, one reason why I continued to breastfeed into toddlerhood is because it was easier than weaning (true story). You don't need special equipment or gear when baby is with you. No washing or heating bottles, no cleaning, no worrying about sanitizing equipment.
Remember that this is a temporary time in your life. It will be all done before you know it (insert sobbing here).
Find an IBCLC, especially one trained in understanding tongue and lip ties. If you have issues breastfeeding, a consult with an IBCLC is the best money you can spend. Seriously. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants are God's gift to new moms, and many are even covered by insurance. WIC employs IBCLCs as well. If something seems wrong, trust your mama gut and get help. I promise you won't regret talking to a pro.
I could not have breastfed without the help from Amey Clark, and there are so many wonderful IBCLCs (including Stephanie Nguyen and Lori Isenstadt) who are willing and able to help you navigate this new world of feeding your baby.
Both of my babies were severely tongue and lip tied, and it takes a trained practitioner to identify and revise these ties. Make sure your providers know how to revise - or who to refer to for revision. If your provider doesn't "believe" in tongue ties and breastfeeding isn't going well, I strongly consider that you shop around for a second opinion.
Above all else, keep seeking help if you're not getting the support you need. There's someone out there who can help you make breastfeeding successful (or at least understand when it's time to switch to another feeding modality).
If you use a breastfeeding pillow, bring it on trips. It's so much easier to nurse a young baby with a pillow if that's what you're used to. I brought my Boppy everywhere when we traveled. It's helpful on the plane and is critical at your final destination. Plus, you can wash it when you get home!
If you don't respond to a traditional electric pump, try a manual pump or hand expressing. I was a breastfeeding unicorn in that I could never pump much milk but could hand express 5-8 ounces of milk at a time. (I had massive over-supply. Normal pump output when breastfeeding full-time is 0.5-2 oz between both breasts.) It was a little freakish. For some reason, I never did well with an electric pump. I have friends who did much better with manual pumps instead of an electric pump too. Don't get discouraged if pumping isn't working - try other options! Your IBCLC can help you with this.
Don't cover - or do. Basically, do what makes you feel comfortable. I always applauded moms who nursed without covers, but I personally didn't feel comfortable doing it with my uber-distracted babies (who whipped their heads around at any slight noise as they nursed). The cover actually kept them focused as they nursed.
I did master breastfeeding in the Ergo uncovered, and that was a great option while grocery shopping or traveling. I think the baby's height, mom's torso length, and mom's breast size all influence how well upright nursing in an Ergo or other carrier works, but it's worth a shot. (I even nursed in a carrier while teaching classes at Babymoon and Modern Milk - talk about redefining working mom, right!?)
Don't feel pressured to stop breastfeeding at age 1. (Above is my first baby nursing sometime in her second year of life. Gymnurstics.) Breast milk has an important role for toddlers too - it helps fill their nutritional gaps and can provide extra immune protection as they become more mobile (and more adventurous with what they touch). The World Health Organization actually recommends breastfeeding until at least age 2 - it's not uncommon for women across the world to breastfeed until 3 to 5 years of age.
Do what works best for you. My goal with both girls was 2, and with my first I was sad to stop at 28 months - I was 5 months pregnant and didn't want to tandem nurse! My second is only breastfeeding once a day but is pulling back hard as she nurses, which really hurts. That's one reason why she will be done about 2 weeks after her 2nd birthday.
Take pictures and videos of your baby breastfeeding. I know this seems silly, and you don't ever need to show these to anyone (although I think they're absolutely beautiful, so show me!), but I think breastfeeding photos are some of my most cherished keepsakes. I treasure the professional ones from Jenn Hydeman, and I also love the ones I took myself in those sweet, quiet moments.
Cherish your time with baby. Breastfeeding forced me to sit down, slow down, and focus on my sweet little infant (or toddler). Both girls have had fun routines and quirks around breastfeeding that I will never forget. My eldest loved saying, "Switch sides!" and I adored that my youngest would demand, "Light OFF!" and smile as she got ready for her naptime routine. I loved how breastfeeding seemed to solve all infant problems. I loved hearing my girls exhale a quivering sigh as they settled into their feeding rhythm, or make small coo's as they relaxed and started to fall asleep. I loved the lip shake they made as they stayed latched for comfort, or the sweet gummy smiles they gave me as milk poured out of their toothless mouths. The sound of a breastfeeding baby is magical. It literally makes my uterus hurt.
I don't know if I will miss breastfeeding as much as I will miss what it meant - peaceful time with my babies, where there was nothing more important in the world than being with them. I will always be grateful that my breastfeeding experience was a wonderful one (despite tongue/lip ties, clogged ducts, mastitis and thrush). I don't remember the hard parts - I remember the pure magic.
Remember that breastfeeding is successful only when it works for both mom and baby. There is much more to feeding and being a good mom than the type of milk baby gets. Give yourself grace to do what works for you and your baby, whatever that may be. I wish you joy and peace on your feeding journey. Never forget that you are an amazing mother, and your baby was perfectly designed to be yours!
One of the most common questions in our Feeding Littles Group on Facebook has to do with a baby's first birthday cake:
"What kind of healthy smash cake should I make for my baby? Do I need to do a low sugar cake?"
I always love reading the wide array of responses and seeing the smash cake photos that are inevitably posted. (True story: photos of babies eating are my favorite thing ever.)
What do Judy and I think about a baby's first smash cake? In honor of my daughter's second birthday this week, I wanted to share our thoughts. In short:
Do whatever causes you the least amount of stress. Seriously.
Not a baker? Buy something, don't make it. Super anxious about added sugar? Don't offer it (but make sure to read our thoughts on it below). Not into the idea of a smash cake in general? Do something different. Or do nothing at all.
Seriously, mama - this is meant to be fun. Don't let it stress you out.
You will have enough on your plate planning your baby's first birthday. Worrying about a smash cake only makes your life harder. Below are a few things to consider.
A little sugar will not hurt your baby or cause her to become a sugar fiend. Your baby already knows what sweetness tastes like and is predisposed to favor sweet flavors. Don't believe me? Taste breast milk or formula. Yup, your baby has been drinking sweet milk for a year now. (Yes, it's perfectly and healthy for her to have milk sugars and fruit sugars, and while they're probably "healthier" than added sugars from sucrose, honey and syrup, they're still technically sugars. Your baby's diet has not been "sugar free" up until now.)
It's very important for our kiddos to have a normal relationship with food and to know how to manage their food environment. Introducing baby to some added sugar on her first birthday will not ruin her taste for healthy food, I promise. Most babies who go to town on their cakes act no differently afterwards either (according to the hundreds of parents we've asked!). Plus, don't you want your child to be able go to a party when he's older, have some cake (until his body tells him he's satisfied), and move along? Promoting a "good versus bad" mentality around food increases your chid's risk for an eating disorder. We recommend not even talking about the food itself - just serve it, eat together, and enjoy the food. No biggie.
Most "Paleo" or "healthified" cakes still contain added sugars. Yes, maple syrup, agave nectar, and coconut sugar are still sugar. They may be nominally healthier, but the difference is pretty small. These cakes may be great options for kiddos or party-goers with food allergies, and some of them taste pretty darn good. Want to use one for your baby's birthday? Great! Just don't feel pressured to make a maple syrup-based cake if a more "traditional" (or heck, store bought) cake is easier for you.
Oh, and watch out for "sugar-free" cake recipes. If they're sweetened with applesauce or fruit, that's great (and technically they'd be "free from added sugar" since fruit has fructose, or fruit sugar). Truly sugar-free cakes usually contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda) or aspartame, which we don't recommend for babies, children or adults.
Many babies do not touch their smash cakes anyway. Parents oftentimes go overboard ensuring that their baby's cake is beautiful (or healthy, tasty, themed)...and baby won't even eat it. This happened to my first baby, and it happens all the time with our clients.
See that frosting on her hands and face? Yup, it's because we pressed her hand in the cake and put some on her lips just for the photos. Girlfriend refused to try any at all. I'm glad I got a bundtlet from Nothing Bundt Cake because it was so easy (and it photographed so well)...and when she didn't eat it I wasn't disappointed that I had spent too much time.
This photo from one of our group members cracks me up. Baby wanted nothing to do with her beautiful cake, but mmmmm, that carrot!
Remember, offering your baby a birthday cake (or something else) is all about the moment, the memory, the tradition. It's a rite of passage for many families. Think less about the "healthfulness" of the food and focus more on the memories you'd like to make. Your baby's first birthday is a celebration of surviving the first year (more for you than for them!), and having birthday cake if you want to is about celebrating. Food has an important part in our culture, and it's OK to eat certain foods as part of a celebration. Think long-term about what you want for this moment.
I think super messy cake smashes are a hilariously appropriate way to usher in toddlerhood and the joyful craziness that it brings.
You don't have to do a smash cake. If you still want to do "smash" food or messy play, get creative! Check out the awesome ideas here and here. The sweet girl in the photo below did a quesadilla/taco smash, which was a perfect option for her family.
One thing I do look for in cakes? Artificial dyes. I personally don't feel good eating them, so I try to get cakes that don't use them. However, they're hard to avoid when using fondant and specific cake designs, so it's usually that's something I let go of and just enjoy.
Remember, your baby's first birthday is a momentous occasion for the entire family! Enjoy it, and have some cake if you'd like - or not!
Feeding a baby or toddler can seem very overwhelming. There are so many routes to take, potential products to buy, things to consider. In a time when parents are bombarded with too much information, choosing the right approach for introducing solids may be more overwhelming than ever.
Our followers know that while we love the Baby-led Weaning (infant self-feeding) developmental approach (and even have an online course all about it), we also support all families on their feeding journey and recognize that what works for some doesn’t work for all. Yes, we work with families who spoon feed and love to help them make that a positive experience. No, we don’t think spoon feeding is unnecessary for some families, nor do we think that there’s one right way to feed a baby. Ultimately, we want feeding to be a positive experience where the caregiver follows the baby’s lead. We also want the caregiver to have positive feelings about the feeding experience, since babies can pick up on anxiety surrounding mealtime.
Eventually, the goal for every baby (barring health or medical issues) is independent, safe self-feeding. This may happen at a different rate for each baby. We’ve seen some confusion about how long to spoon feed, transitioning from spoon feeding to self-feeding, if food before one is even important, and other feeding fiction over the last few months in our Feeding Littles Group on Facebook. We want to set the record straight from a nutritional and developmental perspective on a few key feeding issues.
1. There are essentially two main approaches to infant feeding - Baby-led Weaning (infant self-feeding) and traditional feeding (sometimes referred to as Traditional Weaning). While the approaches seem different, the eventual goal for both BLW and traditional feeding is self-feeding all safe textures.
Baby-led Weaning is defined by babies feeding themselves whole foods (not exclusively purees) from the start. These foods are offered in the shape of a stick or strip because 6-month-olds usually lack the pincer grasp and cannot pick up a small piece of food. However, many parents are nervous about babies eating textures like avocado, banana, cooked sweet potato, or softly cooked chicken, so a modified approach may work better for these families. Offering pureed or mashed food on loaded NumNum GOOtensils (or dumping a puree on baby’s tray!) can be a good way to start letting your baby feed herself a texture that makes you feel more comfortable. Once you see her maneuver the food in her mouth, you may be willing to offer her other foods. Learn more about smart spoon feeding here.
2. Anything that’s not breast milk or formula is considered a “solid” or a “complementary food,” and we don’t recommend offering these foods until baby is ready.
Some parents confuse the guidance on offering complementary foods because they assume that pureed food is not a “solid.” Recommendations to wait until around 6 months for solids apply to feeding your baby any type of food that isn’t breast milk or formula. In assessing readiness, keep in mind that sitting with minimal assistance is key. For most babies, this is around 6ish months. Read more about developmental milestones for solid readiness here.
3. Food before one is not just for fun.
In fact, introduction of food in the second half of infancy is extremely important for a variety of reasons. The term “food before one is just for fun” sounds catchy and has gained in popularity since the BLW movement has gained momentum, but the unfortunate reality of this phrase is that some parents take it to mean that food has no importance before one and breast milk is all a baby needs. Some “crunchy” circles consider it best to not give baby any food except breast milk until 1, which can set baby up for a host of developmental, allergenic and nutritional issues.
Yes, breast milk or formula fulfills the majority of baby’s nutritional needs in infancy, but at or around 6 months of age baby needs some iron and zinc from food. Allergenic foods are important to introduce by around 6 months as long as baby does not have a high allergy risk (parent with an allergy or eczema/other allergic condition – if this applies, talk to your doc). If you skip offering food until 1 year of age, you may potentially miss a key allergen window. Plus, babies who don’t have exposure to various food textures by around 9 months run the risk of feeding issues later in life. They also miss exposure to a variety of flavors and may be less likely to accept strong flavors as they get older. We work with toddlers who have struggled to accept new textures and flavors for a variety of reasons, including lack of exposure in infancy, and it can be tough on the entire family. Of course, sometimes kiddos end up in feeding therapy or nutritional counseling for many reasons out of a parent’s control, but not offering food to babies after around 6 months of age and letting them play, explore, taste, chew and learn about food is a concerning trend in the parenting world.
Above all of these reasons, we encourage parents to watch their baby’s cues and to follow their lead with feeding. Many babies are interested in food as they approach 6 months of age. Not letting them eat food of any kind until 12 months hinders their natural interest in the world around them and doesn’t let them model what they see adults and other children do every day – eat food! They also miss out on the social and language-building element of eating together. Yes, we need to wait until baby is ready for food, but waiting much past 6-7 months doesn’t give your baby some sort of advantage (barring medical issues); it may prevent him from being the eater he’s meant to be.
This phrase may also be taken to mean that food introduction can be casual. We strongly support keeping mealtimes fun and low stress and not worrying if baby misses a food meal due to teething or illness, but we've seen in time and time again that babies who get more practice with food are more skilled, successful eaters.
4. Make sure baby can pick up the size food you offer.
This is especially important in Baby-led Weaning, where baby feeds herself from the start. Since 6-month-olds lack a pincer grasp, offering diced up food can make them frustrated. As your baby becomes a more skilled self-feeder, she can handle smaller pieces of food.
5. It’s important to follow your baby’s lead.
Some parents become frustrated when their spoon-fed baby starts grabbing for the spoon. Remember, we want all babies to eventually self-feed, so this is a great first step! Offer her the spoon (or a NumNum GOOtensil) loaded with some mashed or pureed food, and try some soft finger foods like avocado or banana spears, softly cooked chicken, or cooked sweet potato spears after that.
6. If you have decided to spoon feed your baby, we recommend encouraging independent self-feeding by no later than 14-16 months.
Of course, if your baby has developmental or medical issues, this may not be the case. Some parents love spoon feeding their baby and enjoy making baby food. If that works for you, great! Spoon feeding is not meant to be forever, and the term “traditional weaning” doesn’t mean that baby is always fed by his parents. That’s why technically you don’t “switch” from traditional weaning to BLW – inherent in traditional weaning is the idea that your baby eventually self-feeds.
Even though it’s a messy process, let your baby and toddler feed himself a variety of foods. Regularly putting food in your toddler’s mouth and not letting him try it himself prevents him from developing the skills needed to self-feed. It can also lead to distracted eating or overeating and a host of other feeding issues.
7. You do not have to wait 2 weeks between spoon feeding a baby and giving her finger foods.
The myth that there should be a “rest period” after stopping spoon feeding and before letting your baby self-feed whole foods has been flying around BLW boards for years, and it’s simply not backed by science. The theory behind this “guideline” is that when babies go from being fed a puree to putting foods in their own mouths, they are more likely to choke because they will swallow the food without chewing. Well, babies new to BLW who have never had any kind of food may also try to swallow without chewing - that’s what they have the protective airway mechanism that is the gag reflex. In fact, Judy uses smart spoon feeding and self-feeding other textures within the same feeding therapy session all the time. The entire premise behind BLW is that it is safe for a baby to self-feed all textures; if this 2-week “rule” were true, it wouldn’t be deemed safe to let baby self-feed yogurt, hummus and guacamole while simultaneously letting them self-feed spears of avocado or cooked broccoli.
8. Gagging is a reflex and is your baby’s way of safely protecting her airway. However, gagging should improve over time.
For many babies new to self-feeding whole foods, gagging is a common thing. It should get better with practice. If your baby continues to gag very frequently after many weeks of practicing with real foods, talk to your pediatrician. Excessive gagging can lead to a feeding aversion.
9. A choking hazard is a choking hazard for all babies, independent of feeding style.
Just because a baby starts food utilizing BLW doesn’t mean he can “handle” choking hazards better than another baby. Cut grapes, cherries, and cherry tomatoes into quarters, and remove skin or small bones from meat. Avoid popcorn, chips, gum, and hard candy until age 4. Apples and raw carrots are unexpected choking hazards; we recommend softening both or shredding before serving (until age 4).
10.You do not have to offer only vegetables if you want to raise a veggie-lover.
Fruit won’t ruin your baby. Have you ever tasted breast milk or formula? Yup, very sweet. Your baby already knows what sweetness is, and starting on just vegetables hasn’t been shown to improve his diet quality long-term. What does help foster adventurous eating is exposure to ALL foods, with lots of repetition - some babies don't like foods until they've seen them 20-30 times!
You don’t have to offer fruits with every meal, but rather make sure to have at least one veggie and/or fruit at every meal for exposure to different flavors and nutrients. Don’t forget to pair the produce with a high-iron food like beef, salmon, chicken, lentils or beans!
11. When your baby turns 1, you can offer a sugary cake – or not.
Do whatever makes you feel comfortable. (Judy and I gave our kiddos real cake, for what it’s worth…and my first didn’t even touch hers!) If you want your baby to eat a Paleo cake, fruit, or a cupcake made with applesauce, great – just don’t overly stress yourself. Many, many babies don’t eat their first birthday cake – offering one is more for fun, tradition, even just photos. We've also seen funny taco, BBQ and watermelon first birthday smash photos that look just as fun if you want to try something unique.
If your baby eats some cake, he will be OK. Remember that all foods fit, and we need to teach our kiddos that it’s not a big deal to have some cake eventually. Focus on the fact that you survived your first year with baby! That calls for some cake (or champagne!) for you!
I love packing lunches. Perhaps it's the dietitian in me, or maybe it's because it requires some culinary creativity, but something about it is fun and soothing. My daughter now goes to PreK 4 days a week, so I have plenty of opportunity to flex my food prep muscles each week. While I myself enjoy this process, I know many parents don't, and they get stuck in the same sandwich-fruit-chips rut every day. I often post our (simple) lunchbox creations on our Instagram stories (check them out if you haven't!), and many parents have told us that they really need help in the lunchbox department. You asked, and we answered! Here is a simple resource that will help you get out of your lunchbox rut...no Pinterest Mommin' required.
Our School Lunch Cheat Sheet (link below) is downloadable so you can print it and post it to your fridge or take it with you to the grocery store. We hope that it inspires you to add some variety to your tot's food. Make sure to avoid choking hazards (uncut grapes/cherry tomatoes, popcorn, chips, uncut hot dogs, raw carrots) for kiddos under 4, and follow our additional tips for lunch time success at any age!
Tip 1: Keep it simple. If every lunch is complicated and requires more than a few minutes to put together, your motivation to add healthy foods and mix it up won't last long. Most of the foods we use in our lunchbox are simple, single-ingredient items (like steamed green beans, frozen peas that thaw by lunch time, and fresh fruit). Just pick one item from each category and you're all set.
Tip 2: Keep it safe. If your child's school doesn't refrigerate lunches, make sure to include ice packs. We love these from Amazon.
Tip 3: Keep 'em hydrated. The ideal beverage for kids is water. Make sure your tot has a big water bottle so they have plenty to drink (especially if refilling isn't an option).
Tip 4: Mix it up. Avoid offering the same foods every day. Variety is key to preventing picky eating and fostering a love for many different foods. If you struggle with this, focus on alternating foods or mixing up the veggie/fruit at minimum. Many kids eat better in the school group environment, so take advantage of their potential willingness to eat by serving something new.
Tip 5: Tailor it to your child. The list below doesn't account for allergies, intolerances or dietary preferences (e.g. vegetarian). Make it your own by omitting what doesn't work for you. If your child has never had a food listed, consider trying it at home first, or include it with plenty of familiar foods when serving it for lunch.
Tip 6: Use healthy convenience foods. Frozen veggies, fruit packed in juice, string cheese and boxed vegetables soups are keep prep time low and mamas happy.
Tip 7: Give them a little extra. Serving sizes for kiddos are pretty small (1-2 T of veggies is a serving for a 1-year-old!), but if we're not eating lunch with our kiddos we don't have a chance to offer them more. I always make portions a bit bigger for school lunches in case my kiddo wants to fill up on just one or two foods.
Tip 8: Don't get discouraged. It is NORMAL for kids to not eat all of their lunch to not touch one particular item (or many items!). Remember, your child will learn to eat what they are exposed to. The more you limit variety in the food you offer, the less variety of food your child will eat. Raising an adventurous eater is a process, one that doesn't happen overnight. Consistency, modeling and making mealtime fun are hugely important in their eventual love of all (or most) foods. Let's be honest, we don't have to love every type of food, right? (Raisins? Blech, I say!) It's OK if your kiddo doesn't either. They may one day, however, if you give them a chance without forcing.
Tip 9: Add some fun! Don't hesitate to write a little note in your child's lunchbox, offer some chocolate chips, offer a favorite dip, or cut their sandwich into a fun shape. Kids love novelty, and even small changes like serving fruit on a skewer (cut the sharp end off) are a fun way to keep them interested in food.
Tip 10: Get help if you need it. Our Feeding Littles: Toddlers online course is full of strategies to help with mealtime. Stop waiting - you deserve to enjoy feeding your child.
Your baby should - and needs to - gag in order to learn how to eat safely.
Let's talk about the biggest source of stress for parents when they start Baby-led Weaning (BLW): the gag reflex. Babies who self feed starting at 6 months have to have larger pieces of food (around the size of an adult finger) that they have the ability to pick up, which inherently leads to a fear that baby will choke.
Major governing bodies and health associations have always recommended offering finger foods around 6-7 months of age, and a recent study suggested that BLW does not increase risk of choking over spoon feeding. However, it doesn't stop parents from being concerned about safety, since most of us are not comfortable with watching a baby gag.
Gagging is not the same as choking. In fact, gagging is good because it means that your baby's body is automatically protecting her airway. You will know baby is gagging and not choking if you can hear sound and if baby is working the food out quickly. Choking does not involve sound (no air = no sound).
Most babies gag frequently for 1-2 weeks when starting BLW. Fortunately, as they get more proficient at lateralizing the food to the side of their mouths to chew it before swallowing, gagging greatly reduces. Essentially, as your baby practices and learns that she can not just swallow whole food, she will gag less as and lateralize/chew more. The more gagging and practicing she does, the less she will gag in the long run.
Instead of fearing the gag reflex, we want to teach you more about what it is, how it protects your child, and how to help your baby learn to chew safely.
Coughing and gagging are similar.
Did you know that gagging is considered one of two oral protective mechanisms? The other such mechanism is coughing. So, your baby protects her airway by coughing or by gagging.
Your baby will cough reflexively after the following things occur:
Gagging is a good thing.
We are very comfortable seeing our baby cough, since most of us cough at some point during the day. Gagging, on the other hand, seems much scarier because we assume that it means the baby is choking on food.
Remember, gagging is not the same as choking. Furthermore, gagging is simply a protective oral reflex, just like a cough!
The purpose of the gag reflex is to protect the baby from ingesting items too large to be handled by the esophagus. Think of it like a gate keeper - NONE SHALL PASS!
The gag reflex works by touch-pressure receptors located on the tongue or on the pharyngeal wall. These receptors perceive food that is too large to pass to the esophagus and cause a reverse peristaltic movement in the pharynx. This can also cause a cough. Remember, since it's a reflex, it does it automatically without your baby doing it on purpose.
The site for the elicitation of the gag reflex changes with increasing age, but our gag reflex never goes away - it is there to protect you. You may have gagged as an adult when your throat was swabbed for a strep culture or if you took too big a bite of food.
In a newborn, the gag reflex at the mid-tongue area. As the baby matures, the site gradually moves back to the pharyngeal wall or the posterior portion of the tongue.
As a feeding therapist, if I see a gag reflex that is too easily stimulated, it indicates a hyper-responsive reflex that may interfere with feeding. Conversely, if a gag reflex is not present, the baby may be neurologically depressed and feeding may not be indicated for safety reasons. These children may need to receive nutrition through a feeding tube.
That is why encouraging a child to play in their mouth with toys such as a Fluxy is so important - it familiarizes baby with her gag reflex.
We want to encourage babies to put their hands in their own mouth. (Yes, it seems gross, but it's actually an important developmental step!) Biting down hard on a toy like the Fluxy or another long, safe teether on the area where the molars will eventually arrive is essential. This allows for great oral awareness, developing jaw grading and strength, and desensitization of the gag reflex in a way that most babies allow (because many don't want us in their mouths)!
So, gagging is good, and the more your allow your baby to gag on long teething toys before feeding begins and in the early stages of introducing food, the faster she will understand where her gag reflex is and will learn that food needs to be routed to the back of her gums, not straight down her throat.
Plus, the more you see gagging, the easier it will be on you. Most parents get really nervous by it when they see it at first, but by a few days in it's much more commonplace...and then baby does it less as she gets more skilled.
How can you help your baby right now?
Let your baby explore her gag reflex as much as possible, and don't be afraid to gently go in baby's mouth (with clean hands, of course!) and feel along the back gum line (where the molars will eventually be). Here's what you can do right now to help your baby with safe eating:
Some parts of the U.S. are just now starting to thaw from a pretty rough winter, but in Arizona we are rapidly approaching 100 degree F heat. Young children don't seem to mind operating at full-speed in hot temperatures but can dehydrate faster than adults, so it's especially important to make sure that they are drinking enough fluids, especially in hot weather. We want to share some favorite mom hacks that keep kids - and adults - hydrated all summer long.
How much is enough?
Most pediatricians recommend that babies receive at minimum 20-24 ounces of breast milk or formula per day. Many babies will drink much, much more than this. For babies under 6 months of age, breast milk or formula will fulfill all of their hydration needs, and additional water is not recommended (and can even be dangerous). Breastfed babies should have at least 5-6 wet diapers and at least 6-12 feeds per day, depending on baby's age. Hydrated babies have moist (shudder) mucous membranes of the mouth and eyes, pale yellow urine, plenty of tears when crying, and no sunken soft spot.
Babies 6 months and older can have a few ounces of water per day, gradually increasing water intake toward their first birthday. It is important to not displace breast milk or formula with water until baby is closer to 1.
Hydration estimates for toddlers vary depending on the source. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommends about 44 oz of fluid (5.5 cups) per day for 1 - 3 year olds, while other various sources recommend about 4-6 cups of fluid per day. If you'd like to calculate your child's estimated fluid needs by weight, check out this calculator.
Instead of focusing on a number, watch your toddler. His urine should be pale yellow (unless taking B vitamins, perhaps as part of a multivitamin supplement), and he should not have a dry mouth. Watch for crankiness, headache, lethargy, dizziness and dry skin - all signs that your child is dehydrated. Call your pediatrician immediately if you're worried about your child's safety when it comes to their hydration status.
Other hydration estimates from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are below:
Your child will need extra fluid while playing outside in the heat, performing strenuous activity or while sick.
What counts as fluid?
Water, milk, juice, and fluid from soup, veggies, fruit, and other high-fluid foods like popsicles all count toward your child's water intake. We don't recommend juice regularly unless indicated by your doctor for constipation (and new AAP guidelines recommend no juice before a child's first birthday), so stick to water as much as possible.
If your toddler drinks milk, it is recommended to limit their intake to no more than 16-24 ounces (2-3 cups) per day - that leaves a need for at least 1-2 cups for water for a child that drinks milk.
At Feeding Littles we recommend water as the sole beverage besides milk and encourage free access to water throughout the day for all children 12 months and older. Serving at least 3 types of veggies and at least 2 fruits daily also helps to increase your child's water consumption.
What can I do to keep my child hydrated?
Happy start of summer, and happy drinking (water, that is)!
Many parents who follow Feeding Littles utilize the concept of Baby-led Weaning (BLW), which means that babies feed themselves whole foods from the start. (Don't worry - it doesn't mean that baby weans early from the breast or bottle - the term weaning is the European use of the word, meaning introduction of solid foods.)
With BLW, parents don't spoon food into a baby's mouth. While this approach can be great for many families, it doesn't fit everyone, and many parents choose the "Traditional Weaning/Feeding" (TW) route where babies are spoon fed purees and gradually eat other textures, building up to self-feeding all foods. The goal of either approach is for a baby to learn how to eat all safe textures; BLW babies get there faster, but TW works well for many families too.
With spoon feeding/TW, parents are sometimes coached on what to feed baby and how much to offer, but nobody tells them how to actually do it. Turns out, most of us don't do it correctly from a developmental and motor perspective. Since Feeding Littles supports all ways of feeding babies (as long as they're fed!), we want to give you some pointers on how best to spoon feed a baby. Even if you plan to do BLW, keep reading - these tips apply to feeding kids in general, and some of these concepts may be completely new to you!
Remember: we share this information to educate and help you have your best feeding experience possible. We never intend to offend or shame anyone into thinking they have "done it all wrong" - we simply want to provide information that most people don't learn anywhere else. In the end - your child, your choice. Do what's best for your family.
#1: Starting too early - remember, "solids" refers to anything but breast milk or formula.
Parents hear that most governing bodies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, recommend waiting until around 6 months to start solid foods. Some interpret this to mean that purees should be started earlier and whole, more "solid" foods can start at 6 months. This recommendation is meant to apply to all "complementary foods," which means anything but breast milk or formula, not just food that is in whole form. We think that a baby's gut and immune system is more ready for food around 6 months and when baby is showing readiness signs like good head control, sitting with minimal assistance, bringing hand to mouth, and interest in food. For some babies, this is earlier than 6 months, and for others it's later. We don't recommend starting much later than 7 months for allergen exposure reasons.
From an Occupational Therapist's perspective, additional cognitive signs are important to watch for when assessing readiness for any food. Before starting spoon feeding (or any complementary food feeding), make sure to ask yourself these questions:
Starting food too soon may not only cause digestive upset (including constipation!), but for some babies it can be a negative experience when they're truly not ready. Watch your baby and look for these cues that he's ready for food!
#2 Force feeding, holding down baby's hands, and tricking baby to eat.
As parents we have a lot of things to accomplish on any given day. Sometimes feeding seems to be just another item on our endless to-do list. Try to remember that your child's feeding journey is important in establishing great feeding dynamics into adulthood. We want our kids to know how to eat when they're hungry, stop eating when they're full, and fill their tummies with foods that help them feel their best. That process starts the moment your child is born, as you learn your baby's hunger and fullness cues. It intensifies as you begin your solid food journey. Below are a few tips to help you honor your baby's cues and help him listen to what his body - not the clock or an external rule - has to say:
When spoon feeding, most of us put the spoon toward the top of a baby's mouth and then scrape the food off the top lip or hard palate so it's comes off the spoon. Watch this video for an example of what this looks like, and notice how baby is also being fed quickly and without much time to open his mouth or respond to the spoon. See how he leans away and looks a little overwhelmed:
Furthermore, as baby gets messy and her face becomes covered in food, we usually like to scrape it off with the spoon. Here is an example of face scraping:
Depositing food at the top of a baby's mouth makes her an inactive member of the feeding process and doesn't teach her where food should go when she eventually brings it to her mouth herself. When we scrape her face after she has taken a bite, it can be uncomfortable and may lead to feeding aversions, as many babies don't like the sensation. Below are some additional tips about the mechanics of spoon feeding that you may find helpful:
#4 Staying on purees for too long.
Pureed food feels safe for parents who worry about babies choking on whole foods. Unfortunately, if a baby isn't introduced to other textures relatively quickly, he may have difficulties graduating off purees. One study suggests that if babies aren't fed lumpy foods by 9 months, their risk of feeding difficulty later in life increases. Babies aren't meant to be on pureed food for life - the goal for all babies is to eventually eat real food. Here is the typical progression of food texture in TW:
Of course, this continuum of textures is more important in feeding therapy and with kids who really struggle with various textures. Once you feel confident in your baby's eating ability, play around with lumpier foods like mashed fruit or veggies, soft finger foods like cooked green beans, or ground meat. Spoon feeding pureed food should be a short stage in your baby's eating experience. Your baby won't be able to pick up small pieces of food until he has his pincer grasp, but he can get longer, strip-shaped foods starting at 6 months.
Side note: keep in mind that baby food pouches are still pureed food, and they don't offer a sensory experience for the eater. We recommend using them sparingly.
#5 Spoon or hand feeding your toddler.
Barring developmental or medical challenges, most toddlers should self feed without being hand or spoon fed by a parent by 14-16 months. Some parents of older toddlers hand feed them regularly in order to "get them to eat," and we completely understand the fear behind trusting that your child will, in fact, eat when he's hungry. Hand feeding older toddlers doesn't allow them to decide how much to eat and can start to interfere with their hunger and fullness cues. It also prevents the toddler from honing in on age-appropriate feeding skills and takes away from much of the sensory and motor development experiences that feeding provides. If you need strategies to help with your picky toddler, check out our online course.
When spoon feeding an infant who starts to grab for the spoon, instead of getting frustrated, try to celebrate this huge developmental milestone! Your baby is showing you that he wants to start feeding himself - remember, that's the goal! Check out this video of a parent appropriately responding to her baby's desire to self-feed:
In this next video, watch how mom hands baby a loaded NumNum GOOtensil, which is designed to encourage babies to self feed. The center of the GOOtensil is hollow and allows purees or other smooth textures to be captured without worrying about which side of the utensil is "up," and the handle is short - perfect for baby's hands.
Need more help feeding your baby? Be sure to join our Feeding Littles Group on Facebook and follow along on our Facebook and Instagram pages! Stay tuned for an online version of our live Baby-led Weaning class, coming soon!
Megan and Judy, co-owners of Feeding Littles, bring you helpful info on food, nutrition, picky eating, and feeding young children. Megan McNamee MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Judy Delaware, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy with children 3 and under in Boulder, Colorado. Megan and Judy are both moms of two and love helping families develop a healthy appetite for all foods!