Did you know that the first cup Judy recommends babies learn to drink from is an open cup at around 6 months?
This Tiny Cup from ezpz (not sponsored) is one of our favorite new open cups, but you could also use a shot glass or a cup found in our Amazon store. Open cup usage helps babies learn to take a small amount of liquid in their mouth and successfully swallow. This is especially helpful for straw and other cup drinking, as sometimes babies don’t know what to do when the liquid hits their mouth. Judy finds that if her clients drink from an open cup first they’re more likely to master a straw cup or Miracle 360 cup. Plus, learning an open cup is a skill your child will use for life.
We have an entire guide to teaching your baby open cup, straw cup, and 360 cup drinking on our blog, plus find our favorite cup recommendations there! It’s actually one of our most frequently asked questions. We also talk about why teaching a cup in infancy is important and why it’s OK to give a little bit of water to babies 6+ months. (No, they don’t need it for hydration - it’s more to help them learn cup drinking, prevent constipation, and start to appreciate the flavor of water.)
Struggling with getting your kiddo to drink water or milk in toddlerhood, and wondering what to do about weaning from the breast or bottle when you’re ready? Perhaps you want to breastfeed into toddlerhood and aren’t quite sure how to make it work for you? Check out our Milk and Weaning eBook, which is also included in Step 4 of our Infant Course and Step 16 of our Toddler Course if you’re already a client. It will help you make the best decision for your family and includes info for breastfeeding/pumping families, formula-feeding families, those who want to switch to cows milk or another alternative milk, and those who don’t want to use milk in toddlerhood. It’s balanced and non-judgmental - just the facts from your favorite feeding pros.
Did you know that all of these “protein” foods are appropriate for 6 month olds who show readiness signs to eat?
Many protein foods like beef, poultry and fish are very high in heme (absorbable) iron and are recommended as a first food by the World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics and Health Canada. Yes, babies without teeth can chew softly cooked meats - the trick is to use moisture while cooking! The Instant Pot and crockpot will be your friend - try cooking with low-sodium broth to keep the meat soft.
Yes, babies can digest meats despite some saying that they can’t. In fact, most current digestive health protocols for adults like the GAPS diet and AIP recommend meat as a first food. There’s a reason it’s recommended for babies too! Of course, not everyone eats meat - see vegetarian notes below.
Eggs aren’t high in absorbable iron but are a highly nutritive food that happens to be an allergen. Early, frequent exposure to allergens like eggs, shellfish and finned fish is critical for allergy prevention according to current recommendations. If your child has a higher risk for allergies due to family history, eczema or breast milk/formula tolerance issues, talk to your pediatrician or allergist first.
Vegetarian/vegan? Many non-animal foods like beans, lentils, whole grains and leafy greens are good sources of iron too. You’ll have to decide if you want to introduce seafood, eggs and dairy - all allergens - due to the importance of early and frequent exposure.
Are you lost on what to feed your baby? Are you interested in BLW, or infant self-feeding? Join the thousands of families worldwide who have taken our infant feeding course, which provides expert help from two feeding professionals who have a combined 45+ years of experience. We offer practical, non-judgmental, non-rigid tips that can help this work for you. Plus, we teach you how to set your baby up for competent eating for life (with elements of eating disorder prevention)! As a client you will gain access to our private Facebook group, and your course doesn’t expire as long as we are selling it! Use it for your next baby too!
Have you heard of coconut butter, also known as coconut cream? It is made from pureed coconut and is similar to coconut milk - but it’s thicker and higher in calories! Coconut cream is made from 4 parts coconut and 1 part water, whereas coconut milk is 1 part coconut, 1 part water.
One tablespoon has 100 calories, so it’s an energy-dense food that’s great for babies, toddlers and kids, especially if they are struggling in the growth department and their pediatrician has recommended more high-calorie foods. This is the only time you’ll see us mention calories - simply just for comparison when talking about adding more calories to your child’s diet if needed for growth or medical issues. We do not recommend counting your child’s calories unless specifically indicated by your doctor or dietitian.
Coconut cream is a great way to add calories - and flavor - to your tot's diet:
Coconut is a great source of lauric acid, which has anti-inflammatory compounds, and it’s a delicious, satisfying option for those with dairy, nut, or soy allergies. I got this Nutiva brand at Sprouts, but there are many different brands you can try.
Fork and Beans has a delicious vegan fudge using coconut butter that’s awesome for those who can’t tolerate dairy:
In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chips with coconut cream, non-dairy milk, and salt. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts if desired and vanilla.
Spread evenly into wax paper-lined small square pan. Place more chopped nuts on top if desired. If using nut/seed butter, drizzle it over the fudge.
Chill 2 hours or until firm. Turn fudge onto cutting board, peel off paper and cut into squares. Store covered in fridge.
Breakfast burritos are amazing for adults and kids alike because you can modify them to your tastes and dietary needs (see below for allergy/diet modifications), plus they’re super easy and delicious!
Sometimes babies, toddlers and kids are overwhelmed by burritos in their whole form and do better with deconstructed options, so above is one way you could present breakfast burrito ingredients to your tot - using an ice cube tray! (This is a silicone tray from Target purchased this past summer.) Shown here are tortilla, eggs, cheese, beans, guacamole and salsa (2 flavors). Yes, babies and kids can eat spicy foods - just start slowly! Some of these foods contain salt, so if you serve these to babies under 12 months just go easy on salty foods the rest of the day.
Since breakfast burritos from restaurants can be so filling, we’ve shown half of a burrito here. The most important thing is not rigid “portion control,” but rather eating until your body is comfortably full and satisfied.
The ice cube tray spaces are really small - the image isn’t to scale next to the full burrito so you can see it better. Each section has about 1 tablespoon of food. Keep offerings small for kids so they’re not overwhelmed - they can always have more than what you serve, and if they don't eat it you waste less food.
Here are some of our favorite breakfast burrito ingredients:
Need to modify your burrito for allergies or dietary concerns?
Teething almost always affects mealtime in some way. A sudden change of eating patterns usually means something’s up - and teeth are a very likely culprit (even before you can see them poking through the gums).
When it comes to teething and mealtime, here's some things to keep in mind:
Food ideas to help with the pain:
Remember, stay consistent with regular food at regular mealtime - you never know when they’ll pick it back up again, and we don’t want their eating to digress in the long-run!
Oh, the things we learn when we become parents, right? As feeding professionals who have worked with thousands of families - and moms ourselves - we have both learned a lot more about food than we ever learned in school. Fortunately, there is still so much more to learn and more ways to grow in our understanding...but here are some things we know to be true right now"
Need more help? Our online courses are here to help you navigate feeding your kids under age 7! The infant course is appropriate for new eaters and babies who haven’t learned to self-feed; our toddler course is best for kids 10 months - 6 years.
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!
One step at a time.
Hey everyone! OT/feeding therapist Foodie Judy here with more techniques to help your child’s eating habits improve through play!
Your child’s sensory system helps determine which kinds of food he or she eats. The inputs food gives us via our sensory system can be either positive or negative, and when children struggle to process these inputs correctly, food can seem really scary or off-putting. One common issue is a strong dislike for touching wet or sticky foods like pasta with sauce, hummus, “juicy” fruit or peanut butter on toast. Does your kid dislike these foods too?
My job as a feeding therapist is to help kids struggling with sensory, developmental, oral motor, or behavioral issues around food become more competent, successful eaters. When children have sensory challenges with food, we introduce those textures in a less threatening way - through play!
In this post, we are continuing our sensory play strategies using these wet textures. In our last post about this we started with dry mixed textures, so if your tot is struggling or you want to help develop and challenge their sensory system, check out that post too!
Here are my tips for successful sensory play with a wet/sticky bin:
Keep in mind the following end goals:
What causes a dislike of mixed textures?
Do you have a child who hates mixed texture foods like casseroles or soups? Perhaps they don’t like toppings on their sandwich or pizza...sound familiar? Judy here to discuss some occupational therapy strategies utilizing sensory play that can decrease selective eating. The dislike of mixed textures originates from the sensory system and your child’s level of tolerance for different tactile (touch) inputs.
Interestingly enough, when you let your child play with mixed textures in a safe, no-pressure way (where they don’t have to eat it), you help their comfort level when they’re presented mixed texture foods at mealtime. Tactile tolerance also helps in every day life - it will be easier to put sunscreen on their face, clip their nails, or wash their hair when they can tolerate these types of touch. This is just one type of tactile input - dry items - and we’ll show you in upcoming posts how to transition to wet or even “gooey” textures, which helps them to tolerate multiple types of foods when eaten.
Read all about sensory processing in this post.
How do we do this in a gradual way using dry textures first? See images below for examples of each step.
Words of advice:
Because kids grow up way too fast!
I don’t know what it is about fall and the holidays that makes me feel all crafty, except, I’m not the super artsy type. I can’t just come up with a craft on my own or make a homemade witch out of pipe cleaners and twine (serious props to the mamas who have this skill - please send me the materials and a tutorial.)
Thank goodness for Pinterest and the simple craft inspirations I find there. I don’t know who originally posted this, but it’s such a cute way to commemorate this holiday and have a record of your tots’ little feet. We did this a few years ago, and I can’t believe how small their feet were then!
This will be something I hope to hang up each year, even when I’m a grandma, to remind myself of a time when Halloween meant pure magic for my little kids. I know they won’t always be like this - eventually trick-or-treating will be uncool, and they may decide to not dress up for a few (or many) years. Hopefully they’ll inherit my Halloween obsession and will always think costumes are cool though!
Don’t get caught up in what you are or aren’t doing to celebrate with your kids this season. No need to pressure yourself to turn into "Perfect Mom" - it just doesn’t exist. Just carving a pumpkin together can be such an incredible memory for your whole family, and for many families it’s plenty of celebrating.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to do a craft, do something like this - it just takes some non-toxic orange and white tempera paint, a sharpie, and a small canvas. Simply paint the canvas and let it dry. Then, put some white washable paint on your little ones’ feet and make the ghosts (this is the hard part - protect your floor!) and let it dry. Finish it off by using a sharpie for their eyes and words!
Don’t forget to date it on the back! One day, you’ll smile looking at those little ghost feet!
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!