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.
All new breakfast series - Part 1: Allergen-free Breakfast Ideas! These ideas also happen to be all plant-based options.
We want to take you through many different ways to mix up breakfast, starting with ideas for our friends allergic to any of the top 8 allergens - all ideas shown are free from the common allergens, but of course humans can be allergic to anything. (Judy is allergic to avocado!) Modify if your child can’t tolerate something shown.
We also have plenty of breakfast ideas in our free Breakfast Toolkit as well.
If you have taken our online courses, you know that early and frequent exposure to allergens is important for non-allergic kiddos. But if you have a child with an egg, dairy or wheat allergy, breakfast can be tough. Many typical “breakfast” foods that have some protein in them contain an allergen.
Each idea here contains fat, a little protein, and fiber - this combo of macronutrients is important for blood sugar regulation and keeping kids satisfied so they can play, learn and grow. Many protein options like hemp hearts, sunflower seed butter and chia seeds are also a good source of iron - a critical nutrient in childhood! Protein needs aren’t crazy high for kids - they just need exposure to some protein to help balance their nutrition.
If you’re struggling with picky eating or want to help prevent it in your child, don’t forget to check out our Toddler Course.
Each food served here, except the more crunchy rice cake, is appropriate for 6+ months - hold off on the rice cake until around 14-16 months unless you use a really thin rice cake. Babies under 1 can have sips of smoothies, but we don’t want smoothie intake to displace their breast milk or formula intake.
The smoothie shown is made from 1 cup Ripple Foods milk (put in blender first), 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 3/4 cup frozen mango, 3 pitted dates and 1 T. coconut oil. We recommend serving smoothies alongside whole foods because many kids (and adults) aren’t satisfied with a meal when they just drink it.
Bread shown: Follow Your Heart brand from Whole Foods.
Don’t forget that breakfast doesn’t have to come from “breakfast” foods!
It’s so important for YOU to eat when you have a new baby! Whether you’re breastfeeding, formula feeding, exclusively or partially pumping or using a feeding tube, whether your baby came to you via your own birth, surrogacy, fostering or adoption, YOU NEED TO EAT TOO! Taking care of a baby, no matter your circumstance, is physically grueling, and fuel is required to make it happen. Of course, some days that fuel is coffee and candy.
We wanted to provide you with some ideas to help keep yourself fed:
We know that feeding a baby is emotional, especially in those early months. Hugs those of you struggling with your feeding experience. We are sending you a big virtual high five for the amazing job you’re doing!
Look below to see photos from some members of our Clients Only Group on Facebook as they feed themselves in various way. Notice food dropped on babywearing babies, dads rocking the bottle (or getting their grub on), combo feeding mamas sneaking in a few bites of food while they feed baby a bottle after a breast feed, new moms finally eating after birth, it’s all wonderful and it all represents our own unique stories as parents.
Thank you to the hundreds of parents who contributed photos - what a fun thread to read! It was such a great reminder that we are all doing our best and are all in it together!!
Why is it important to serve variations on the same foods we eat frequently?
I have a confession. I love peanut butter, but I do not like jelly. Or jam. No, It’s not a “health” thing. I just don’t dig them. (I don’t like the taste of honey either. Or donuts, but that’s a whole different post.)
Way before I had kids I started using fruit and other toppings on my “PB&Js” because I enjoyed them so much more, and when I shared these ideas with my adult clients they realized how much they enjoyed the satisfying mouth feel and density of whole fruits on their PB&Js. I even tested smashed raspberries and almond butter sandwiches made with whole grain bread on a bunch of kids about 5 years before I had my first baby. Guess what? They LOVED it. Their parents were shocked. Give it a try! You and your kid may be fans, and you might start changing up how you PB&J!
What about jelly? Is it “bad?” Nope. Jelly is easy, convenient, and (to most people) tasty. It’s just nice to change what we eat from day to day - whether it’s the flavor or brand of jelly - so our kids learn to eat all sorts of foods over time.
Put peanut butter (or other nut/seed butter) on both bread pieces to help prevent bleeding of the fruit into the bread.
If your child is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, sunflower seed butter or another seed-based butter may be a safe alternative. Also consider using granola butter or cream cheese.
Note: Avoid honey in infancy.
Have you noticed that if you let your baby or toddler feed themselves with loaded utensils they are likely to hold the spoon or fork hostage?
Foodie Judy here! I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist specializing in Feeding Therapy. I work with dozens of private clients each week in their homes in Colorado, helping them learn how to successfully eat - many of my clients have medical or developmental issues affecting food.
One trick I use is the Three Spoon Circus, whereby you introduce a third loaded spoon (or fork) when practicing with utensils. Without the struggle to pry the utensil from your child’s hands, mealtime stays more fun and positive and your child may be more likely to continue self-feeding.
We recommend introducing loaded utensils around 6 months in our online Infant Feeding course - yes, utensils are important in baby-led weaning (infant self-feeding)! Your baby won’t be able to scoop with a spoon or stab with a fork for many months, but they have to practice to learn! Make sure they’re also using their hands for many of their meals - involve utensils here and there so they have the opportunity to practice, but touching food and using their hands are critical at this age.
If you have our online Toddler Course, make sure to check out step 8 - we have a great video on play-based activities to promote utensil use as your child gets older! Mastering utensils is a process, one that requires lots of practice and modeling.
This Three Spoon Circus can be used for babies and toddlers who are not quite proficient with dipping/scooping with a spoon or stabbing with a fork. It can also be used with babies who are transitioning off of being spoon fed when parents want to let them self-feed but are nervous to give them whole, non-pureed foods. Watching your baby do it themselves oftentimes builds confidence to try additional textures.
Here are the steps:
Shown: NumNum GOOtensils, such a hot commodity that they sell out from time to time. If you can’t find them, try a short-handled baby spoon.
Our most popular recipe posts and stories on Instagram involve simple dinner ideas - including pouring sauce over chicken, setting the slow cooker (or Instant Pot) timer, and waiting for dinner to be made. Here are some of our favorite sauce ideas that you can experiment with to create a delicious, nourishing dinner (and maybe some leftovers for another meal)! Just pair it with 1-2 veggie sides and a starch like sweet potato, rice or pasta!
Pour at least 2 cups of sauce on the 1-2 lb. of chicken, enough to cover it thoroughly so it doesn’t dry out. You won’t eat all of the sauce; it’s there to retain moisture during the cooking process, which is super important for young eaters! Once the sauce is added, give the chicken a quick stir.
If using the crockpot, cook it on low for 4-5 hours. If using an Instant Pot, cook it on high for 9 minutes with manual release.
We like chicken thighs because they’re more tender and easier for kids to eat, plus they’re cheaper.
A few notes:
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!