How to Pick a High Chair

Before you had your baby you probably spent a lot of time figuring out the best cribs, changing stations, car seats and other important baby gear. As your baby approaches the middle of her first year, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do some serious research on high chairs. Today we’re sharing tips on how to pick a high chair.

Before you put your baby in a high chair for her first meal, make sure she’s ready for her new thrown. In order to sit in a high chair your baby should be able to sit upright with support (that means no flopping to one side or falling forward). Also, pediatricians recommend starting solids between four and six months of age. But don’t worry mamas, breastfeeding can continue for as long as you and your baby desire.

High chairs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, functionalities and price ranges. You’ll want to select one that works best for your needs including the space where your family eats. Keep these tips in mind for how to pick a high chair:

How to Pick a High ChairSafety Rating – First and foremost make sure your high chair has a good safety rating. Much like cribs and car seats, high chairs must meet safety requirements.

Easy to Clean – Your baby’s high chair is going to get messy. Very very messy!  The easier it is to clean, the better. High chairs with easy-to-wipe fabric seats or seat covers that are washable are ideal. Also, nooks and crannies are excellent places for food crumbs and germs to hide so the less of those the better.

Straps – Straps are essential for your baby’s safety. Test the difficulty of straps on the high chairs you are considering. Secure is good but Fort Knox may be unrealistic for daily use.

Tray – Many modern high chairs have removable trays that help you seat your baby and allow for simple washing. Some trays are even dishwasher safe. Others offer several layers so you can feed your baby a few meals without needing to clean trays.

Wheels – Being able to move your high chair around the kitchen can be helpful if you plan to multi-task during your baby’s meal times. Wheels help you cart your baby around without having to lift the chair.

Adjustability – If you plan to move your high chair to different areas of your home, adjustability may be an important feature. This allows you to lift or lower your baby to different heights. Some seats also slightly recline for babies who like to lounge.

Collapsible – Folding up your high chair when it is not in use might be a huge plus for you. High chairs can take up a lot of space so being able to tuck it away can declutter your kitchen. Also, this is a great feature if you plan to store your high chair for a few years between children.

Convertible High Chairs – Several models of high chairs convert from traditional baby high chairs to toddler booster seats. Although it may be initially more expensive, it could save you money in the long run.

Sources: Parents and BabyCenter

5 Tips for Dealing with a Picky Eater

5 Tips for Dealing with a Picky EaterWhen your baby starts solids, she will discover a whole new world of flavor. For some, this experience is exhilarating and your baby may wonder why you’ve withheld such delicacies for so long. Other babies are more satisfied with the fantastic familiar flavor of your breast milk and may be less inclined to try new foods. If you have a picky baby on your hands, try these 5 tips for dealing with a picky eater.

If you find that your baby is a picky eater, don’t despair. A picky eater in infancy does not mean your child will remain that way her entire childhood. Babies reject food for a variety of reasons including the unfamiliar flavor, texture and temperature. They may also eat more during growth spurts and less in-between. Or when your little one is teething or fighting off a cold, she’s less inclined to gobble up what you’re serving. Figuring out your baby’s likes and dislikes will take some experimentation with all of these variables.

Tip #1: Flavor

Offering your baby a range of foods – from sweet, to savory, and everything in between – is important to understanding her pallet. When you’re just starting out, wait a 2-4 days between serving new foods. This will not only ensure your baby does not have an allergy to certain foods, but it will also help you really determine if she likes the food. She may not know herself until trying it a few times. If your baby doesn’t like a food, don’t banish it from her diet forever. Try again in a few weeks. As she discovers new flavors, her pallet will evolve and she may come around to once-rejected foods. Don’t shy away from adding spices to your baby’s cuisine. She’s used to the evolving flavor of your breast milk and may enjoy that in her baby food as well.

Tip #2: Blend

Serving straight green beans or kale may be off-putting to your baby. If you discover that is the case, start by blending it with breast milk and baby cereal to balance the flavor. Or you can mix more pungent veggies with a favorite fruit. Slowly cut back on the additives until the veggies it he only thing left. This is a form of pallet training that may help your baby learn to like certain foods.

Tip #3: Texture

Even when you puree your baby’s food, the texture will vary somewhat. Perhaps it’s the creamy avocado that your baby prefers over grainer apples. Eventually your baby will need to learn to appreciate the natural textures of food, but if it is hindering its likeability, try serving everything at her desired texture. Then slowly ease up on the processing to allow her to get a sense of the food’s true texture.

Tip #4: Temperature

Also experiment with different temperatures. Your baby is used to warm breast milk so she may actually prefer lukewarm or warm food. Other babies may like chilled foods, especially while teething. Before you decide your baby truly doesn’t enjoy a certain food, offer it at several different temperatures to gage her reaction.

Tip #5: Routine

By having set meal times and snack times, you can help ensure your baby is ready to eat when it’s time to eat. Allowing your baby to snack constantly may mean she’s not hungry for meals when they are being served. While you never want your baby to be ravenously hungry, you do want her to be hungry enough to want to try new foods. Also, if your baby understands that not eating a meal will lead to more desirable snacky foods later, she may hold out for a better option.

Remember, set a good example for your baby and don’t give in or give up every time meals or snacks are rejected. Learning to eat is a process of experimentation for both you and your baby. Be patient and enjoy the ride!

Breast Milk Smoothies

Breast Milk SmoothiesOnce your baby begins eating solid foods, the door is opened to new and exciting culinary worlds. If you’re a mom-chef you’ve probably been salivating at the chance to make sophisticated fancy foodie-style baby eats for your little one. Even if you’re just a regular mom in the kitchen, starting solids is exciting and offers great new opportunities for your baby. Between the variety of foods your baby can begin to enjoy and adding in natural flavors and spices, your baby can savor new masterpieces from your kitchen daily. That includes breast milk smoothies, a terrific way to help your baby consume even more breast milk goodness and a wealth of other nutritious foods as well.

Breast milk smoothies achieve many goals at once. First, if your baby is on the newish side to solids, drinking may be more comfortable than eating. Blending food and breast milk into liquid might be the best way to familiarize your baby with new textures and flavors.

Additionally, there are some super healthy foods that your baby is probably not going to eat straight up. Kale anyone?  These are excellent foods to add to breast milk smoothies so your baby can reap the health benefits and you can check for allergies while masking the flavor with more palatable fruits…and your awesome breast milk, of course. Trust us, breast milk smoothies can be a savior for moms of picky eaters.

When your baby is teething, eating solid foods may not be her favorite activity as they may hurt her tender gums. But slurping down delicious and nutritious breast milk smoothies can save the day.  Teething and other developmental milestones may cause your little one not to want to nurse or she may go on a nursing strike for some reason. Keep her nourished with your breast milk with a smoothie instead. If your baby needs cold relief for her sore mouth, you can freeze your smoothie into a popsicle for her to suck and bite on instead.

As your baby gets older, she may be breastfeeding less. If you have breast milk stored or you still plan to pump milk for your baby or toddler, you will have plenty for breast milk smoothies. Frozen breast milk works particularly well to help the consistency of your culinary concoction.

Need to take food on-the-go? Breast milk smoothies are easy to bring along. To simplify food prep, make a batch of fresh breast milk smoothies that will last for several days. Be sure to date the container so you know how long the breast milk will last. If you use frozen milk, your baby should drink the smoothie within one day.  Do not refreeze breast milk once it has been thawed.

The sky is the limit when you’re making breast milk smoothies. You can slowly increase your ingredients list as your baby has tried more and more foods. Remember to use the same food introduction rules when making breast milk smoothies – introduce one new food every 2-5 days as recommended by your pediatrician. Be sure too keep an eye out for possible food allergies by gauging reactions including rashes, hives, respiratory trouble, congestion, digestive problems or changes in behavior.

Breast milk smoothies can include traditional ingredients like your baby’s favorite fruits and veggies and you can go wild with other nutritious foods that are harder to incorporate in your baby’s diet. Oatmeal, flax, chia seeds, tofu, kefir and beef liver are all fantastic ingredients for breast milk smoothies.

We hope your baby enjoys breast milk smoothies as she continues to discover new delicious and nutritious flavors!

Sources: Integrated Nutritional Therapies and Homemade Baby Food Recipies

Why Babies Should Not Eat Sugar

When it comes time for solid foods, you may be faced with one of an endless number of parenting decisions surrounding food. You’ve already made the best first food choice to breastfeed so your baby’s nutrition is definitely a top priority. With the introduction of solid foods, you have the opportunity to continue to build on the foundation of healthy eating habits you established from day one. As you now have many food options for your baby in addition to breast milk it may be your parental instinct not to feed your baby sugary foods. Good instincts! But do you know why babies should not eat sugar? Today we’re going to explain why babies should not eat sugar.

Why Babies Should Not Eat Sugar

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting solid foods between four and six months. The rules have changed on where to start with baby foods and now almost anything goes. So the possibilities are vast and sometimes parents are overwhelmed with options.

Your first decision about solids is whether to serve store-bought or homemade. You may prefer the control and satisfaction of homemade baby food or the convenience and variety of store-bought food. Either way, it’s important to ensure your baby’s earliest solid foods do not have added sugar. You will probably start with fruits, vegetables and grains, all of which can and should be prepared without added sugar. Of course the natural sugar found in many of these foods is fine, but adding sugar is completely unnecessary.

Ok, you’ve got that covered and you’re probably feeling that this food thing is pretty easy. But wait, it gets much more complicated.

It’s not until your baby is ready for combination foods like breads, yogurt, dips and so on that the parenting decisions really come into play. How much sugar will you allow your baby to have? And then your toddler, preschooler, and big kid? It’s a continual question you’ll be asking yourself throughout your baby’s childhood.

Still the question remains why babies should not eat sugar. The answer is relatively simple in that it is similar to why older children and adults don’t need very much added sugar. Excessive sugar bogs down the body. While it gives a brief energy burst, sugar really does more damage than good on a cellular level. It affects everything from cognitive function to muscle development. Sugar contributes to diabetes and obesity, two health conditions that are associated with a laundry list of further health complications. Plus, sugar is linked to ear infections in babies and can cause tooth decay.

Furthermore, developing a sweet tooth at a young age is not good for babies because it sets the stage for their food expectations for the rest of their lives. That’s not to say they shouldn’t enjoy food, but added sugar is an acquired craving and one that can start in infancy. If you limit sugar in early childhood and put an emphasis on healthy eating habits, you can avoid some of the negative health repercussions and desire for sugary foods in the future.

Even with these negative side-effects of sugar readily available, baby food manufacturers add sugar to food regularly. Beyond jars of pureed baby food, some baby snacks such as crackers, puffs, cereal o’s and dried fruits have added sugar. Because they are marketed as baby foods, parents believe they are healthy. But parents should beware and read labels to know exactly how much sugar is in the foods they are serving their babies.

It’s important to know why babies should not eat sugar so you are prepared to make essential parenting decisions surrounding food for your baby when it’s time to begin solids. By breastfeeding you set your baby on a healthy path. Continue the great work by limiting sugar, especially in infancy.

Source: Parenting Healthy Babies

Why You Should Let your Baby Be a Messy Eater

Why You Should Let your Baby Be a Messy EaterFor neat freak parents everywhere, this one’s going to be a challenge. Research shows and experts say that making a mess during mealtimes is a good way for babies to learn. Having a fun and enjoyable experience while eating, even if it creates a mess, may serve your baby well when it comes to learning, sensory development and enjoying food. Today we’re dishing out 4 reasons why you should let your baby be a messy eater.

Reason #1: Mealtime Should be Fun

You may have been taught not to play with your food as a kid, but the theory has changed. Kids have fun making messes as they use their hands to explore objects. When those objects are foods, things can get a bit messy, sticky, gooey, smeary, grimy and yes, food can get everywhere. But this discovery process is a blast and brings positive association to food and mealtimes. Messy eaters may even be less picky eaters in the long run because they have the freedom to manipulate foods and taste them as they please. Also, the sacred family mealtime should not be a struggle, but rather a feel-good experience for all. And let’s face it, as a kid playing with your food just feels good.

Reason #2: A Sensory Experience

While your baby is making that ooey, gooey, icky mess, he’s feeling a variety of textures. He’ll feel it on his hands as he sloshes it around on his high chair tray. He’ll feel it on his lips and mouth as he tries to feed himself. He’ll feel it on his face when pieces end up on his cheeks, chin, ears, hair and goodness knows where else! It’s important for children to feel comfortable being messy, and to cope with different textures whether it’s smooth, hard, crunchy, sticky or chunky. All of these sensory experiences are great for a baby’s development.

Reason #3: Improved Identification

A study published in Developmental Science shows that babies who are messy eaters and are permitted to play with their food have an easier time identifying nonsolid food items. When you think about it, this should be no surprise. Interactive play teaches children of all ages many lessons. The same can be said of food. This research also found that sitting in a high chair improved learning as well. Making a mess while eating can, over time, impact cognitive development.

Reason #4: Fosters Independence

Eventually all babies need to learn to eat on their own. Allowing your baby to practice is going to be messy. But as we all know, you get better with practice so a little mess for the greater goal of independent eating is a sacrifice all OCD parents should make. Do your best not to wipe your baby’s hands, face and tray until the end of the meal. As long as your baby is working on the skill of putting food in his mouth, it’s all worth the mess.

Sources: Huffington Post and Your Kids Table

The New Rules for Starting Solids

Starting solids is an exciting time for your baby and the entire family.  Now your little one can join the rest of your clan for family meals at the table.  She may not be able to feed herself right away like everyone else, but she’s on her way to learning to enjoy food, meal time togetherness and healthy eating habits.

The rules about starting solids have changed in recent years.  What once were rigid instructions that disregarded a family’s and baby’s preferences are now replaced with a more flexible timeline and options for introducing solid foods.  Today we’re reviewing the new rules for starting solids.

Timing

The American Academy of Pediatrics once recommended starting solids at six months and to exclusively breastfeed up until that time.  Now the guidelines have been revised to starting solids between four and six months if your baby shows readiness.  What does readiness look like?  If your baby can sit up with assistance (as in, sit in a high chair), can hold up her head and shows interest in food (like watching you eat or reaching towards food), she’s probably ready to give it a go.  Exclusive breastfeeding should continue until you start solids and breastfeeding along with solids should continue until at least one year of age.  At one babies can start drinking cow’s milk if you choose to discontinue breastfeeding.

Where to Start

The New Rules for Starting SolidsThe old method of starting solids suggested beginning with rice cereal and other grain cereals, followed by vegetables, meats and then fruits.  This strategy reduced the risk of allergic reaction since rice and other grains are less likely to be allergens.  Also, starting sweet fruits later was believed to encourage a palate for vegetables and meats.  Now, almost anything goes.  You can start with meat, fruit or vegetables if you like, and you can skip the grains altogether.  Grains tend to be high in iron which many breastfed babies lack, but so are other healthy lean meats and produce.

Allergies

New studies show that delaying the introduction to foods due to potential allergies does not reduce risk of reaction.  Rather, introducing nut products, eggs and fish sooner can actually decrease risk of allergies.  There are only a few exceptions here:  If a close family member has allergies, consult your physician about your baby’s risk as allergies may be genetic.  Also, never give honey to a baby under one and beware of foods that are choking hazards like whole nuts or grapes.

The Wait Rule

Experts have varied opinions about waiting three or four days between introducing new foods to your baby.  On the one hand, waiting several days can help you identify an allergy if your baby does have a reaction to something she’s eaten.  However, that prolongs the process of trying new foods, drawing it out over many many months.  You will have to be the judge of what makes you comfortable and how your baby responds to various foods.  Remember, she will have her entire life to eat so rushing it is not necessary.  However, if she is enjoying food, experimenting can be fun and exciting.

A Chow Schedule

Shortly after your baby starts solids is a great time to initiate a meal schedule.  Your baby may be ready to eat during normal meal times with a set breakfast, lunch and dinner time as well as two snacks in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon.  This consistency will help acclimate your baby to socialized eating and help ensure your baby isn’t grazing all day.  Constant snacking can result in poor meal-eating and picky eaters because they fill up on less healthy snack foods and aren’t hungry from substantive foods during meal times.

Starting solids is a wonderful opportunity to begin a lifetime of healthy eating.  Help your baby enjoy the flavors of fresh produce, lean meats and delightful food combinations.  Health is a journey which you started off on the best foot by breastfeeding.  Continue your hard work as your baby begins a new adventure with solid foods.