Sweet Jack is the reason Feeding Littles exists. Read more about his heartbreaking story here - grab some tissues, because you're going to need them!
To celebrate Jack's angel-versary on December 23, we wanted to create something that depicts an important lesson Jack taught us: to pause, step back and simply enjoy our children exactly as they are. We hope that this free printable is something you'll post in your home as a special reminder from Jack.
We hope you have a beautiful holiday with your family. Amidst the chaos, don't forget to take a moment to take it all in. Really look at your children and notice their smile, their features, their sweet voice. It is something we all take for granted every day, and Jack reminds us that these times are certainly fleeting and not gifted to everyone.
Click either of the files below to download the printable - the first is a JPEG, the second is a PDF.
Thanksgiving is a time to gather family and friends and share a delicious meal. You envision a table full of loved ones - or perhaps just your small family - and enjoying favorite dishes from recipes that have been passed down for generations.
Unfortunately, it's not always how Thanksgiving (or other holiday dinners) work. For parents with picky eaters, Thanksgiving may be stressful as you anticipate comments what family members will say about your kid's eating habits (and what they imply about your parenting). Perhaps you're doing Baby-led Weaning (infant self-feeding) and you worry that loved ones will not understand how your baby eats. The sights and the aroma’s might be completely delicious to adults, but for many children, especially picky eaters or children with special needs or allergies, this meal can cause stress to the whole family.
Remember, flexibility is important with all things, especially children and holidays.
We've laid out some strategies for keeping Thanksgiving fun and low-stress with your BLW baby or selective kiddo.
Tips for self-feeding babies.
Tips for selective eaters.
If your child has known food allergies, make sure to inform your host ahead of time. Always ask for ingredients in foods you didn't make, and consider bringing allergy-friendly Thanksgiving dishes your child can enjoy so they can be part of the celebration.
While you don't need anything special for Baby-led Weaning or toddler feeding, the right gear (and realistic expectations) make restaurant eating much easier. Check out our Amazon shop that includes a Restaurant Essentials section.
Here are some of our favorites for eating on the go:
Do your kids enjoy blueberries? There are so many amazing ways to use this summer fruit, which is crazy high in phytochemicals (but definitely can turn kid poop blue). You can definitely serve blueberries as is (modified for age), but we like to change it up and use blueberries in other ways too.
Here are a few ways that our family enjoys blueberries:
We recommend squishing or halving for kids under 12 months to be extra safe (although they’re not a true choking hazard). Keep the salad for older eaters due to the honey (a no no under 1) and the whole nuts (avoid until 4).
If you are looking for more ideas like this, you can follow us on Instagram or check out our online Toddler Course.
Magic bars are always the favorite of the party when we make them. We gifted them to neighbors recently and I already got the "best neighbor ever" text from a few of them - one asked to put in a large order, another asked if I’m selling them. Not kidding, they’re insanely good!
Do you feel out of control around holiday desserts? One thing to try: sit down so you can really enjoy your dessert - we savor food most thoroughly when we are given the space to enjoy the eating process. Put it on a plate, maybe grab a glass of milk/milk alternative (or beverage of choice), and taste it! Eat slowly and savor each bite! After all, isn’t that why you want to eat it?
We usually use more quantities than what typical recipes call for - see images below of us putting together the layers. *Make sure the walnuts are finely crushed if serving this to kiddos under 4.*
Judy here, back with another feeding therapy tip! Many families like baking cookies from scratch around the holidays - perhaps it's something you did with your family growing up, and hopefully you have positive memories of the experience!
Did you know that baking holiday cookies is also an amazing sensory, fine/large motor, and life skill activity that I actually use with some feeding therapy clients? Check out these images of me doing this with a client!
Baking cookies from scratch can be especially helpful for kids who hate touching gooey textures or getting their hands messy.
A few tips:
Activities you can give your child to do, depending on age and comfort level:
How can you make this a success?
You can start baking with kids starting at 16 to 18 months old. They will be touching (and eventually eating) various textures, which makes great sensory play. You child will also be practicing fine and large motor development, math, communication/language, following directions/sequencing, and patience! Most of all, you are encouraging independence, a love for cooking, and making memories as a family!
Are you ready for Thanksgiving with your baby, toddler, or child?
Here are different ways you *can* serve Thanksgiving dinner to kids of various ages! These ideas are by no means prescriptive and are meant to inspire you!
A few things to note:
We hope your holiday is full of laughter, good food, and perfect imperfection.
Do you have a go-to party or holiday appetizer? I love making new party snacks!
This one is my favorite - it’s requested by my dad’s golf friends every time I see them! The smoky, salty sweet combo of the olives, goat cheese and crushed smoked almonds make it taste complex and interesting, but it’s literally just three ingredients! You’ll feel like a fancy gourmand serving these, even if you couldn't accomplish other tasks in your day you meant to get to. Kids can eat this too, just make sure to quarter the olives for kids under 4.
These ingredients were just what I found at Target but you can use whatever you can get!
We love squash, especially during the fall months! These fall favorites are super high in vitamins and minerals and have a hearty texture that helps bulk up a meal so you’re satisfied when finished and have more leftover! They’re a great first food for baby because they’re soft enough for strong gums and are usually well liked by new eaters.
These delicious beauties are shown here cut as wedges - technically some of them are half moons because of the round shape of the squash. All that matters is that baby can pick them up using a palmar grasp and can bring them to their mouth.
A few things to note:
These are simple preparations - you can change it up as much as you'd like to meet your family's needs and favorite tastes.
Need help encouraging your baby to feed themself real foods? Check out our online Infant Feeding Course to get professional nutrition and feeding help from the comfort of your home!
Did your child dislike touching the insides of a pumpkin when carving pumpkins this Halloween season? If so, they may struggle with squishy, wet textures – and playing with water beads can help! Water beads can be found on Amazon or many craft stores.
Safety Note: water beads, although non-toxic, are NOT meant to be consumed as they continue absorbing water as they travel through the intestines. They’re also choking hazards if eaten. This activity is only meant to be done with older toddlers or kids who don’t put toys in their mouths and under very close parental supervision.
When it comes to sensory processing, many people fall under two camps: sensory seekers and sensory avoiders. Sensory seekers like strong sensory inputs – for example, they’ll seek out spicy, sour or heavily flavored foods. Most sensory seekers love water beads, too. Playing with them is almost mesmerizing and can emulate an ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)-like experience.
(If you are a sensory seeker, search #asmr, #asmrslime, #asmrsand and other ASMR hashtags on Instagram to discover an amazing new world! I apologize in advance – you will be hooked to these videos!)
On the other hand, sensory avoiding children and adults may not love the feeling of water beads on their hands, but playing with this type of medium helps them become more tolerant of wet, squishy foods like peas, berries, grapes, cherry tomatoes and wet pasta.
Start by having your child help pour the dried water “beadlet” into a bowl with amount of water recommended on the instructions. Give them the control to pour the water, then watch as these water beads soak it all up. Be certain to use a large enough container - you will be shocked as to how big these little “beadlets” can grow!
Once they are at full sized, usually in 3-4 hours, ask your child to stir the water beads with a wooden spoon, scooping them with a measuring cups into a large mouthed funnel. Maybe holding the funnel is the most they can do. Sometimes just being in the same room with an activity of this nature is more than a child can tolerate. Adding familiar toys (toy cars and trucks, toy slide, toy shovels, balls, etc.) can encourage play, but never force your child to participate.
Here are some end goals to keep in mind:
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!