posted in Life & Home
The moment I became a mother, something clicked. As a breastfeeding mom, I realized that everything going into my body was being passed along to my baby in one form or another. If he was gassy, I looked to my diet. If he was awake at unusual times, I took stock of how much caffeine I’d consumed that day.
It was the beginning of a long road that we all take as parents and it’s a road fraught with questions. How much should my baby eat? How often? Are snacks ok? Does she eat too many snacks? Why is he so picky?
Over the past 7 years, I’ve dealt with all of these questions and more. I want to pass along some of my personal experiences and the lessons I’ve learned to hopefully take some of the stress out of mealtime for you and your family.
The kids are alright
With all the different and often competing definitions of so-called “healthy eating,” it’s no wonder so many of us struggle to make sure our children are getting what they need. Yes, it’s important to review labels and steer clear of certain ingredients, but it’s also okay to relax.
In the baby stages, you’ll either breastfeed or formula feed or do a combination of both. I ended up combo-feeding after several months of exclusive breastfeeding and it was the best thing I could have done for my baby and for myself. But getting to that point required me to take a step back from my hard-line thinking and see the path to another way.
This path was best for my baby and it was hard for me to accept it because I worried he wouldn’t get the same nutrition from formula. As it turns out, adding some formula to our daily feedings increased my ability to breastfeed long-term. I decided that part-time breast milk was better than none and once I came to that conclusion, everyone was happier.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew
I’ve faced a variety of different picky eating seasons with my boys, with vegetables being at the top of the list. I wanted to place an entirely healthy plate in front of my children and watch them gobble it up with enthusiasm. Of course, many children aren’t really interested in how much iron or Vitamin D they are consuming and they go straight to the junk because it tastes good. I mean, don’t we all do that from time to time?
This is frustrating as a parent and I fought it for years until finally deciding to start smaller. Instead of an entire meal of unfamiliar options, I began adding smaller portions of vegetables to current favorites. I also cooked them in many different ways to find one that my boys like. It wasn’t just that I wanted them to eat their veggies. I wanted them to enjoy them and begin to understand that healthy food can be just as yummy as some unhealthier options if you take the time to learn how to prepare them to your liking.
For instance, a year ago my son would tell you he hates broccoli. But once I started roasting it, he started asking for seconds. Now he eats broccoli, green beans, and kale, roasted of course!
Take stock of your own plate
Once I found a working strategy for meals, I realized that out of convenience, I’d started eating the same bland foods as my children. It was easier but it didn’t show them what else was out there. I love to cook so I decided to start making meals that I could manipulate to everyone’s tastes. Eventually, the boys got curious about what was on my plate and began asking questions.
Because they saw new options on my plate over and over as they became bored with their own menus, they started getting more adventurous. One of their favorite meals to date is salmon with roasted broccoli. This is not because my husband and I are awesome parents.
We didn’t control this outcome and never would have predicted it. We just got sick of eating chicken and decided to change it up. Wouldn’t you know, the boys didn’t want to be left behind!
Make it fun
Choosing and preparing foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients not only supports your child’s growth, but it also provides the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Dairy products with high nutritional values are packed with calcium, vitamin D, and protein, which helps the body to function properly and reduce health risks. But kids don’t want to know all that. They want to see the chocolate syrup swirl around in their milk until it becomes chocolate milk. They want to crack the eggs when you bake or push the button on the blender when it’s time to make a smoothie.
I’ve invited my boys into the kitchen to watch and participate when it comes to making meals and snacks and they love it. We’ve learned a lot of fun facts about different animals and how stuff works in the past year and together, we’ve made good food and great memories.
Over the past month, BabyCenter partnered with Horizon Organic to share some fun facts about cows and dairy. These are great bits of information to share with kids and get them interested in food. But they also include quite a few facts that I didn’t even know!
Take a look. How many facts did you know? Did anything surprise you?
It takes 12 pounds of milk to make one gallon of ice cream? That’s a lot of pumping!
Like snowflakes, no two cows have the same pattern of spots?
You may smell dinner in the next room, but a cow can smell it from miles away? That’s right! Cows can smell something up to six miles away.
When you’re craving foods with hot peppers, grab a glass of milk to help cool off your mouth? Milk products contain casein, a protein that cleanses burning taste bud
It takes a certain number of licks to polish off an ice cream cone? Experts say 50. Can you beat that?
Cheddar cheese is the most popular natural cheese in the U.S?
Back in the day, if you wanted milk on your trip you had to bring your own cow?!
After a full day of work, when cows are ready to sleep, they lay down.
A baby cow can start walking within an hour after birth!
Cows spend about 8 hours a day eating? That’s a full-time job!
Dairy cows can weigh up to 110 lbs. at birth? That’s one big baby!
One of the best snacks that goes with a cold glass of milk is cow- shaped graham crackers? Of course.
Milk is one of the few dietary sources of Vitamin D? It helps bodies absorb calcium.
The number one source of protein for kids ages 2-18 is milk?
Getting the adequate amount of calcium early in life can help protect against osteoporosis much later?
The mealtime conversation is one that evolves as our children grow so it’s important to stay flexible, try new things and remember that with a mom or dad who cares, the rest will fall into place.