Top 5 Healthy Halloween Treats for Your Toddler

Halloween PizzaLadies and gentlemen, ghosts and goblins…the darkest, spookiest, goose-bumpin’ season has finally arrived! During Halloween season, there’s nothing scarier than the sight of your adorable toddler in his or her costume, running around with buckets full of candy. Lucky for you, they are still at an age where you can instill healthy eating habits in their little bodies without letting go of the Halloween spirit! Below is a list of some of my favorite healthy treats for Halloween which won’t lead to cavities and constant cravings for sweets.

 Top 5 Healthy Halloween Treats for Your Toddler 

 

  • Spooky Jell-O:  Make a package of orange Jell-O and use Halloween cookie cutters to make spooky creatures. Top it off with creepy crawlers and you’ve got yourself a non-fat treat. 
  •  Trick or Treat Alternatives: This year, take initiative in your neighborhood by giving healthier candy alternatives like animal crackers, single serve boxes of cereal, or individual 100 percent juice drinks. The more your toddler is exposed to it, the more likely they’ll choose it over candy! To top it off, you’ll make other parents very happy.  Read more

Getting Your Infant Into A Routine

Sleeping BabyEstablishing a routine with your infant can help provide structure and answers during a very overwhelming time. The straightforward “Eat, Play, Sleep” routine, for example, is appropriate for the first several months of a newborn’s life. After starting this routine, you will better understand what your infant is communicating (e.g. a long discontented cry while playing means “Mom I’m tired!” since the step following “play” is “sleep.”). Your baby will also develop secure attachments to their caregivers as their needs are consistently and accurately being met. Additionally, implementing this routine can help your infant establish healthy nighttime rhythms so that everyone can get more sleep! 

Get this routine started by feeding your infant. Feeding will occur at least 10 to12 times per day during the first few weeks of life, giving you plenty of opportunities to initiate this routine. Second, “play” with him or her. A very young infant may play for only 5 to 10 minutes, but over the next several months the “play” step will stretch out to a couple of hours. Examples of playtime activities for very young infants are suggested below. Finally, put your infant down to sleep. After your child wakes up, the cycle begins again. The only exception to these steps occurs during nighttime hours, when you will eliminate the “play” step and simply feed your child before putting him or her down to sleep. This will help your infant understand that daytime is for playing and nighttime is for sleeping.

When initially starting this routine, some detective work will be required to determine when your child is truly hungry and when he or she is simply tired. Look for the following cues to help decide.

Hungry Cues From Your Baby:

  • Initiation of the “rooting reflex” – turning head to side and opening mouth
  • Sucking on hands or other objects, e.g. the caregiver’s shoulder or arm
  • Licking lips or smacking lips
  • Opening or closing mouth
  • General fussiness or crying after waking

Fatigued Cues:

  • Decreased engagement – won’t look at you or favorite objects for very long
  • Decreased movement
  • Eyes that are barely open
  • Yawning
  • Rubbing eyes or pulling on ears
  • General discontentedness and crying after playing

How can you play with a newborn or very young infant? Give your newborn sensory experiences, and remember that the world is a new and potentially overwhelming place.

Try not to do much too quickly or often, and try to stimulate only once sense at a time. 

  • Sing to him
  • Play with her hands and feet
  • Walk him around and tell him about his surroundings
  • Simple black and white toys such as rattles are appropriate for young infants. See if your infant will turn towards the sound of the rattle or look in its direction.
  • Play the “tongue game.” Mimic your baby’s tongue movements, and watch to your amazement as he repeats the same tongue movement! Many infants can play this game even after only a few weeks of life.

Enjoy this new and exciting time in your life! 

5 Ways to Get Your Picky Toddler to Eat 

toddler not eating dinner

Struggling to get your toddler to eat a variety of foods? Tired of watching them eat the same foods from the same food group over and over again? Have no fear! NSPT’s very own dietitian is here! 🙂

First and foremost, is your child a picky eater? Do they refuse to eat any of the healthy foods that you offer? Have you tried unsuccessfully to get them to eat different healthy foods? Is the number of foods they are willing to eat so limited it concerns you? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, your child may be a selective eater. However, in many cases, picky eating has nothing to do with food and has more to do with control.

5 Tips for a Picky Eater

1. Set a schedule. Children tend to respond well to routine, so try to schedule a set time for breakfast, lunch, dinner and at least two small snacks. The more consistent the timing, the more your child will get accustomed to eating every two to three hours.

2. Take advantage of food jags. Does your toddler only eat plain macaroni orr pieces of cheese? Have no fear – the good news is that they’re eating! It’s safe to assume that eventually they will get over these “food jags”, and now is the time to experiment with healthier alternatives without taking away their favorite food. For example, try pasta with added fiber or cheese made with two percent milk for healthier alternatives.

3. Don’t give up. When it comes to getting your picky eater to try new foods, be patient. Studies show that it can take up to 15 to 20 consistent tries in a period of one to two months for a child to even consider trying a new food. If your child doesn’t want to eat chicken on Monday, try again on Friday or the following week.

4. Participation is key. Try to get your child involved with grocery shopping and meal preparation. Let them pick out fruits and vegetables at the local farmers’ market and get them involved in the kitchen. The more you get them involved with what they can eat, the more likely they’ll be to try it.

5. Remember the rule of thumb: your child will decide what he or she will eat, but you as a parent decide what foods and how often. Especially during the ages of two to five, children try to gain their independence with their eating behavior. The less you try to force them to eat, the more likely your child will be able to control their own food intake.

What is your secret to get your picky eater to eat? What has worked for you? Do share!

4 Ways to “Trick” Your Child to Eat Healthy Foods

 Child wont eat healthyTrying to get your kids to eat healthy could be one of the biggest challenges you’ll ever face. Their love for chicken nuggets, French fries, macaroni and cheese and pizza is likely so intense that they’re practically inseparable! But don’t fret – there are ways to try to “trick” your child to eat those healthy foods you’ve been trying to introduce since they were babies. 

1. Puree Away.

 That’s right – it’s time to bust out that food processor that’s been hiding in your cupboards. One of the best ways to try to get your child to eat fruits and vegetables is by pureeing them! Try throwing in cooked cauliflower and a little olive oil in a food processor, then mix it in a bowl of mashed potatoes.

2. Send to blender!

A great way to incorporate fruits into your child’s diet is by sending them to the blender! Try blending in half of a frozen banana in their chocolate shake, or throw a handful of baby spinach into their fruit smoothie.

3. Oven-baked fries:

Is your child a huge fan of French fries? Instead of stopping by the nearest fast food restaurant for an order, try baking your own! Slice a potato into wedges, drizzle a little olive oil on top, add salt and pepper, and bake in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. It satisfies your kids’ craving without all of the excess fat, and it’s a great way to get them involved in the kitchen!

4. Fake it ‘til they make it.

If you don’t eat as many fruits and vegetables as you should, increasing your intake will likely increase your child’s chances of eating and enjoying them, too. So go ahead – pick up that bunch of kale from the grocery store and make a batch of kale chips. You just might fall in love with it!

 What are your secrets in trying to get your child to eat healthy? Tried any of the above with success? Please share! 

Picky Eating: How Common Is It, And Is It More Prevalent in Children With Autism?

A recent study from The Journal of Pediatrics discovered that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are more likely to be picky eaters and may be at risk for suboptimal nutrition¹.   Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders were found to have increased occurrences of food refusal and more limited food repertoires.  Other research has estimated that one third of mothers felt their infant had feeding difficulties in the first four months of life and one in four mothers at routine pediatrician visits expressed concerns with their child’s feeding skills².  The statistics show nearly 25% of typically developing children and 80% of developmentally delayed children will demonstrate characteristics of a feeding disorder³.  Read more