Feeding a baby or toddler can be challenges. In fact, it can feel overwhelming at times. You may worry did he eat enough? Too much? Did he take in the right nutrients? And the list goes on and on. Picky eaters and defiant toddlers can make for stressful meal times that leave everyone frustrated. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Take the stress out of your meals by realizing one thing: your only job as a parent is to provide a healthy balance of foods to your baby. Your child will determine how much of these foods he will choose to eat, if he chooses to eat them at all. That’s it! Force feeding, fighting, bribing, these things don’t work. And they most often result in poorer eating habits over time. What does work is to just focus on exposing your child to healthy food options and being an example of healthy eating yourself. Your baby will mirror what you do. If you eat a large amount of fruits and vegetables regularly, your baby most likely will too – even if it doesn’t seem that way right now.
So relax! At the next meal, offer your baby a variety of healthy finger foods (or purees). If he eats them, great! If he just touches them, that’s fine too. If he picks them up and throws them, oh well! It’s all about exposure right now. The more a child is exposed to a food, the more likely over time he will come to eat that food. But if meal times are filled with stress and power struggles, your child will learn quickly to hold his ground and display his defiance in food choices. Of course this is always easier said then done, but it really does work.
Try to focus on your child’s balance of food over the course of a week instead of day to day. For instance, Joey essentially ate a plate full of peanut butter for dinner last night (that he licked off of the carrots and apples I provided with it). But the day before he ate a huge variety of protein options along with grains, fruits, and veggies. It all balances out in the end!
As parents, I am sure you have days where you feel too tired to even move, let alone workout. But even on these tiring days, it’s important that you push yourself to move. If you skip too many days of exercise, it’s easy to get out of the habit and fall back into a sedentary lifestyle. So to help you stay motivated, enlisting the support of a fitness coach can be invaluable. Now, before you stress about finding the time or money to hire a fitness coach, let me tell you- the best fitness coach is already in your home with you. In fact, he or she may be on your lap as you read this! That’s right- you can’t find a better (or more adorable) fitness trainer than your own little one.
How can my baby “train” me to workout you may be asking? Well first, toddlers LOVE to imitate everything you do. And they love repetition- the perfect combination for an effective workout partner! Invite your toddler to “workout” with you. For instance, I lay on the floor with Joey next to me and do leg raises to tone my core. Then Joey lays down beside me and does performs “leg raises” next to me. Not only is it cute to watch, but his enjoyment of doing them and desire to keep doing them over and over encourages me to keep going. It certainly makes my workout more entertaining! What exercises does your little one like to imitate?
I don’t know if this just happens to me or if everyone gets this, but I feel like since Joey turned one everyone keeps asking me when we are having another. I love my little guy more than anything, but I just can’t picture having two babies just yet. This little guy, although more lovable than you can imagine, is pretty high maintenance. He still doesn’t sleep. He’s into everything, always. The only schedule he is consistent with is that he will consistently have no schedule. And he has no off button. Now, don’t get my wrong, I know that almost every toddler is the same way (although I have heard rumors that some actually sleep through the night and take naps and don’t scream for the entire duration of any car ride- image that!). And that’s why I give major props to anyone who has had two babies close together. I don’t know how you do it! I certainly would love another baby in the next few years. But I think if we have another one (who I am guessing will have just as much energy and inherit the same “inability to sleep” gene that Joey has), we need to give ourselves a little time in between or we may lose our minds entirely from lack of sleep.
If you love grilled cheese, but are looking for a way to boost its health properties, this recipe is for you! I find it’s a very easy way to get Joey to eat his greens while enjoying one of his favorite foods.
2 slices 100% whole grain bread
1 Tbs olive oil based spread or butter
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or any cheese of your choice)
¼ cup kale, cooked, shredded
Spread butter/olive oil spread over one side of each slice of bread. In a large pan or skillet over medium heat, place one side of bread, buttered side down, into pan. Sprinkle ½ of cheese over bread, then place shredded kale on top. Next, cover the kale with the remaining cheese and place the second slice of bread on top (buttered side facing up). Allow bread to toast until golden brown, then flip sandwich and toast on the other side. Serve warm and enjoy!