Helping Your Picky Eater to Eat

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Healthy Kids

Appropriate sleep, especially in the early stages, is influenced greatly by nutrition. Getting more calories into your baby will help them sleep longer through the night. For parents of toddlers, there can be nothing more frustrating than preparing a meal and placing it in front of your child, only to hear “Yuck! I’m not eating that”. A picky eater can quickly turn a happy mealtime into a power struggle, and often the parent loses. Give your child some extra sleep help and try these tips:

  • Eat with your child. Try to eat with your children as much as possible so that they can watch your modelling of how to interact with different foods. By the time a 6 month old is ready to have solid foods, they have probably watched their mother eat at least 600 times.

Solid Foods and Sleep: the Myth

Written by Jennifer Garden. Posted in Healthy Kids

Research indicates no difference in a baby’s sleep patterns when comparing those that ate solid food to babies not eating solid foods before bedtime. Early introduction to solid foods is not recommended by Health Canada before the age of 6 months. You can introduce solid foods between the ages of 4 to 6 months depending on your baby’s readiness to eat. Most guidelines suggest introduction of solids (complimentary foods) by 6 months of age. Contact a SleepdreamsTM sleep consultant to find out more about feeding as it relates to sleep help for your child.

Attached and Healthy

Written by Jennifer Garden. Posted in Healthy Kids

Your approach to your child's sleep can be dependent on your parenting style. Even if children are sleeping they still need to feel áttached'to you. A baby under the age of 6 months should always be attended to. Good sleep hygiene can begin prior to 6 months but only insofar as establishing good bedtime routines and avoiding negative sleep associations. Contact one of our sleep help experts to find out more and discuss appropriate sleep help to suit your child and your parenting style.

If your child is older and going through separation anxiety, it will be important for you to talk to them during the day. Tell them that you look at them, watch them and check on them when they are asleep. You can tell them “Mommy saw you sleeping last night and you looked so peaceful.” or “You smiled in your sleep last night.”

Young children don’t yet have a good grasp on verbal language skills until usually around 18 months. For these kids you will need to be present for them and help them to calm down when it's time for bed. You will also need to set firm boundaries around sleep as your actions “speak louder than words”, or rather, your actions are the words at this stage. Be consistent. Consistency helps as your child is trying to understand what you are asking of them. If you keep changing the routine, your child will have a tougher time figuring out what’s expected.

Sleep and Nutrition

Written by Sleepdreams. Posted in Healthy Kids

Appropriate sleep, especially in the early stages, is influenced greatly by nutrition. For parents of toddlers, there can be nothing more frustrating than preparing a meal and placing it in front of your child, only to hear “Yuck! I’m not eating that”. A picky eater can quickly turn a happy mealtime into a power struggle, and often the parent loses. So before you add short-order cook to your parenting resume, try these tips:

 

  • Eat with your child. Try to eat with your children as much as possible so that they can watch your modelling of how to interact with different foods. By the time a 6 month old is ready to have solid foods, they have probably watched their mother eat at least 600 times.
  • Let your child be messy. Especially for infants. A great rule for those new to eating (6 months and beyond) is that once you give them food, you do not take it back. This involves cleaning faces and hands during meal times or scraping a face with a spoon in order to retrieve food that has spilled out of the mouth. For the little ones that are very sensitive, this can be quite alarming and may cause them to be quite defensive orally. There really is no mess that a bath cannot fix.
  • Offer a choice between two items. This can be as simple as asking if a child wants pasta with sauce on top or on the side for dipping. Or let a child choose between two possibilities for lunch. But keep it within your limits as a parent.
  • Involve children as much as possible in the kitchen. Baking is a great time to include children in the kitchen, as long as you grade activities to their abilities. If you have toddlers or preschoolers, let them pour ingredients into the bowl after you have measured them out. Take turns stirring the dough. Let your children help set the table. If you are worried about plates being broken, make that your job and get your children to place utensils, napkins and cups for everyone.
  • Allow dips. There is something to be said about the power of a dip. Vegetables are eaten. Eggs are devoured. You can be creative with dips. Like above, penne noodles can be dipped in sauce. Turkey can be dipped in gravy. Fruit can be dipped in yogurt. You can also give another ‘choice’ by asking if they want sauces put ‘on the side’.
  • Make food fun. Sometimes food just has to be fun. And it should be. Meal times are a time when family units can come together and discuss their days. So show your children that meal times can be fun. Have “Green Food Friday”, when all the food at the table is as green as possible. Or have breakfast food for dinner.
  • Present food in new and different ways. Take cheese. Cheese is a food that can be cubed, grated, melted, presented in sticks, sliced or even cut into a fun shape with a cookie cutter. Sandwiches can be cut into fun shapes as well using a cookie cutter. Let your child pick which cookie cutter to use, and help them to cut it if they have not yet developed that skill.

 

Remember that some children need a food presented to them at least ten times before they will feel comfortable enough to eat it. If your child is extremely picky, remember that force-feeding will never solve the problem, but will only make it worse. If you have concerns regarding your child’s eating habits, talk to your family doctor about your concerns. You may need the help of an occupational therapist to help you make mealtimes a positive experience in your house.