Whenever we post about favorite salad toppings we get questions about how/when kids can eat salads, too - this post is very long overdue!
The biggest issue with salad is the safety of the greens. If we give a toddler soft leafy greens before they have a good rotary chew pattern established and a lot of teeth they may just swallow it whole. Lettuce leaves may be soft, but they do require lots of great chewing with teeth to break down (unlike many other foods that can be chewed successfully with gums).
Here are some simple guidelines:
A few additional tips:
One big question we always get is, “How do you keep lunches cold?” (Shown here are Bentgo boxes that we love! You can find them in our Amazon shop under Lunch.)
Here are some tips from USDA:
Don't forget that these safety guidelines apply to any food out of the fridge, even snacks you send with your preschooler or diaper bag snacks.
When life changes, so does eating. Having a new baby definitely changes everything in your house. If you also have a toddler or older kid at home, don't be surprised if the addition of a sibling causes disruption at mealtime. You may find yourself serving crackers and milk for lunch. We want to be the first to tell you this: it's ok.
How can you make mealtime a little better with a newborn and an older kid - or multiple kids?
Do you have a kiddo that needs a little help in the growth department? Perhaps you’re pregnant and are struggling to gain weight yourself, or maybe you’re breastfeeding and are losing weight very quickly. We all have unique nutritional needs!
Sometimes we need to add Calorie Boosters to foods to help each bite count. One simple strategy we use with our clients is adding a layer of fat/oil underneath other toppings on toast, pancakes, waffles, rice cakes, sweet potato spears, etc. It helps each and every bite count a little bit more.
How do you know if your child needs this? Talk to your doc first! Are they worried about your kiddo’s growth? Can their growth trajectory be explained by genetic/environmental factors? If you’re doc’s not worried, keep doing what you’re doing! On the other hand, if your provider has expressed concern in your child’s growth it may help to try these strategies.
Nut allergy? Use sunflower seed butter or tahini (shown on top right toast).
Dairy-free? Try the Kite Hill Foods cream cheese spread with coconut oil or avocado oil underneath for the third toast option.
This is just one of the many techniques we’ve outlined in our new Calorie Boosters handout we just added to our Infant and Toddler Courses! It includes so many unique ideas and has allergen-friendly options. We also have included some tasty recipes! (If you already purchased either course you have access to this handout! Head to Step 5 in the Infant Course and 13 in the Toddler Course!)
We also added an entire handout for constipation in Step 4 of the Infant Course and Step 13 of the Toddler Course.
Our courses are live, meaning that you’ll always have the most updated version (and they don’t expire - as long as we’re hosting them!). Go back and watch them again and again.
Let’s talk DIPS! Did you know that the use of dips is something I use all the time in feeding therapy to help reluctant eaters learn how to eat more foods?
There are so many dip options - these are just a few! Kids also enjoy ketchup and ranch (obviously), as well as olive tapenade, broths and soups (including bone broth), gravy, dressings etc.
As an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy, I find dips really helpful for the following reasons:
I recommend offering them as early as 6 months (stick to the less salty ones in infancy like yogurt, smashed avocado, fruit purees, olive oil). Start by dipping strips of food into the dip and handing them to baby. By 14 months, your child may be able to dip on their own. You don’t have to use dips all the time, but it is fun to try them out when your kiddo isn’t into eating a specific food.
We hope you enjoy trying dips with your child! Don't forget to connect with us on Facebook or Instagram if you're struggling with your child's eating.
Foodie Judy here! Yesterday a member of our Feeding Littles Clients Only Facebook group asked how to teach a child how to swallow a pill, so we thought we’d give you a tutorial here!
Why do some kids need to swallow pills? Some medications only come in pill form or kids may not like/tolerate the liquid or chewable version. Sometimes important medications cannot be crushed or cut. Teaching your child (age 4+) to swallow a pill can be a very helpful skill, especially if they are dealing with a temporary or chronic illness or if they need to take a supplement and it doesn’t come in a palatable liquid, powder, gummy or chewable. (See our blog post for more on supplements.)
Here are our steps for helping to teach your child how to swallow a pill:
Remember that we all develop differently. Some kids are not ready for this at age 4.
A few additional points that we want to add:
Homemade energy bites are my kids' favorite snack, hands down! We have been making these for years and they’re so tasty for mama and kiddo alike - please make sure read the safety information below before serving.
These are also awesome for pregnant mamas as some data suggests that dates may help with cervical ripening before birth.
Best of all, they are a nice balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates (read: energy) that taste amazing.
I loved having them on hand when I was pregnant and breastfeeding, especially because they’re a quick, satisfying snack that can be eaten with one hand! You can make a large batch and keep them room temperature, in the fridge or frozen - you (adult) can eat them frozen, but make sure to thaw for younger eaters.
These energy bites are similar to commercially available energy bars and are simply equal parts Medjool dates and nuts or seeds of choice. Make sure to use a high powered blender or food processor to blend. If using the Vitamix, use the tamper.
Vary the nuts you use: each one provides different nutrition! For non-allergic people, regular exposure to allergens is important for allergy prevention.
A few tips for success with these:
We talk often about feeding our kids, but feeding yourself is important as well!
Every time I post about my lunch salads I get tons of questions about how to make a salad tasty and satisfying. Y’all say that your salads aren’t interesting, but with a few tweaks I bet they could be something you really enjoy!
I love salads. They’re what I crave for lunch. I don’t eat them because I “should” or because I’m trying to be “good.” I eat them because I love how they taste and I love how they make me feel. If I’m not craving a salad one day I don’t eat one! Yup, sometimes that means a sandwich or a burger. But most days when lunch rolls around, salad usually sounds tasty.
However, I rarely eat the same salad two days in a row. Adding variety in flavor and ingredients keeps them interesting and satisfying.
I also love trying salads at restaurants - there are always so many creative ways to make them!
When making a salad, consider adding one component from each category so there’s enough flavor, satisfying nutrition, and texture in your salad. (Many of us miss out on protein or filling fat when we make a salad and are hungry 1-2 hours later.) Let’s face it - plain chicken on lettuce is oftentimes not that interesting, but once you add some avocado, chopped almonds and fresh strawberries it becomes a little more tasty! Dress it with tangy vinaigrette and suddenly you have a winning lunch.
New to this? Want to get more salads in your life? Don’t overwhelm yourself, just pick one thing from each category to try to have on hand when you build your next salad. Use a pre-cut base so you can wash and pour it in a bowl.
Oh, and one more thing - some people just aren’t satisfied by a salad alone. Try pairing it with a whole grain bread, some fruit or some soup and see if that helps round out the meal for you.
Are you and your kiddo getting sick of the same ol’ sandwich? Perhaps you have a nut allergy in your family or can’t bring nut products to school. Here are some simple options that are balanced, tasty and easy to put together. Maybe some of them will work for your family!
These are open-faced sandwiches so you can see the fillings - add bread on top!
Shown is Trader Joe's sprouted bread, and we also love Dave's Killer Bread - watch for big seeds for kids under 4 and honey for babies under 1 when choosing bread!
We like BPA-free canned wild salmon as an affordable way to get more omega-3 fats in our diet. It’s great mixed with Primal Kitchen avocado oil mayo, which is made from avocado oil, eggs, vinegar, salt and rosemary.
To add flavor to mashed black beans, add garlic, cumin and sea salt - hot sauce for you (or your kid if they like it)!
There are so many great deli-style turkey options on the market - we love True Story brand and Trader Joe's organic turkey - the only ingredients in these options are turkey and salt. If you don’t have access to them, try to find nitrate-free options if you use deli turkey.
If your kiddo has a pine nut allergy omit the pesto or use a pine nut-free option like Alessi Foods brand.
How do you teach your baby or toddler to eat a sandwich? Well, you can just give it to them and see how it goes, but if they stuff it all in their mouth or can’t figure out how to eat it we have a few Foodie Judy tips for you below:
Flying with kids? We have one word for you: SNACKS.
Here are our minimums in the snack department when we fly as a family - longer trips may require even more snack options!
We always bring reusable water bottles that we can fill once past security. Lately we’ve been digging the Hydroflask kids straw bottles and we always label them in case they get left behind. Check out our Amazon shop for a complete list of our favorite straw cups! The labels shown are from Mabels Labels.
We also bring one type of fruit or veggie, either fresh or freeze dried. These freeze dried strawberries from Trader Joe's are crunchy and aren’t as concentrated in fruit sugar or as sticky as regular dried fruit (although we dig dried too - just be consistent with teeth brushing!). Freeze dried is great for kids who love a little crunch. They’re also shelf stable so they’re perfect for travel. Babies can have them if they’re soft and easily dissolvable/chewable - the strawberries are probably the safest.
We always bring a beige crunchy “interesting” food that will keep their attention for a bit, like Annie's Homegrown bunnies, veggie straws or crackers. We don’t serve these foods every day - but we do serve them sometimes - and to our kids they’re a little unique!
Lastly, something filling! We actually brought a Larabar on this trip for the kids and I tried these Enjoy Life Protein Bites - we wanted to test them out and show them here for those of you dealing with top 8 allergies! Holy moly, they're delicious! They’re kind of like a chocolate dessert with a nice protein boost, and for families who need a quick, portable option that doesn’t include top allergens they’re awesome!
Other protein/fat combo options good for young eaters on planes include string cheese or Babybel cheese, sunflower butter sandwich or homemade energy balls.
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!