Eight Sneaky Tricks To Get Your Children To Eat Healthy Food

A child’s diet should be high in fruit and vegetables, high in complex carbohydrates such as brown bread, brown pasta and brown rice and relatively low in fat and sugary foods. It should also be low in salt. But as many of us know, getting children to eat what is good for them can be easier said than done. So how do you get your child to eat a healthy diet?

Eating picture from Shutterstock

Eating is essentially a learned behaviour — so here are eight simple tips to encourage better eating.KidFood

1. Get a fruit bowl
Buy fruit and bring it into the house. Children like to graze and grab food when they are hungry. If there are bags of crisps around they will grab them. But if there is fruit then this is what they will find when they are hungry. So buy grapes, satsumas, small bananas and apples and place them in a fruit bowl. Then put the fruit bowl in a central place where your children can reach it whenever they feel hungry.

2. Use mindless eating in a good way
Where you are when you eat makes a difference to how much you eat and what you might eat. And distraction can be used as a tool. Throw a box of grapes into the back of the car or try giving your child a bowl of chopped up fruit or carrot sticks when they are watching the TV and watch it disappear as they make their way through it without thinking.

3. Buy what you want them to eat
You are in charge of the money, the shopping and the cooking. They are not. So buy vegetables, brown bread and fruit and bring them into the house. Then give them to your children. They cannot eat vegetables if they are not on offer. And will only eat white bread if that’s what you buy.

4. Use peer pressure
Children may well not eat cauliflower/broccoli/beans/brown pasta at home but strangely will wolf them down when at a friend’s house. So when they are going to a friend’s for tea never say “they don’t like X” and if you’re asked “what do they like?” just answer “feed them whatever you were going to cook”. Likewise when you have children back for tea give all the children the same food and even use it as a time to cook a food you know your child says they don’t like. If their friend eats it, then they may well eat it as well.

5. Persist
Keeping going is always the key. Children like what they know and know what they get. And some don’t like change. But if you just persist, very soon what they know will shift and so will what they like, particularly if you eat with them and show them that you like the food you want them to eat. One day they will just eat it. And don’t forget the peer pressure, as this is particularly effective if they have a friend round for tea. If their friend eats their broccoli your child will too.

6. Don’t mention it
At its simplest, if you don’t mention that the pasta/rice/bread are now brown then children won’t notice the difference. They actually don’t taste that different particularly when covered in sauce or toasted and buttered.

But if you feel that your children are more sensitive to such things then mix it up for a while. Cook pasta that is half white and half brown and see how they get on. You could mix it in with orange, green and brown pasta so it is all just a different colour and the chances are they will eat it. Nowadays there is even wholemeal bread that looks white that you could use. Then after a while tell them “by the way that’s brown bread you’ve been eating” and shift to the proper thing.

7. Be a good role model
Eat with your children as much as possible and comment on how nice the vegetables are. Instead of saying “eat your beans they are good for you”, try saying “have some beans, they are really juicy”. Then be seen to eat your own vegetables and enjoy them.

8. Say the right things
Don’t say “we’re going to eat brown bread as it’s healthier”. Health doesn’t really work as a motivation for children as its too long term and they live in the present. Be positive and say “this bread is much more filling” or “this pasta goes much better with this sauce” or even “this rice is much less mooshy than the other rice” or just “ooh this is lovely”. Then eat your food with pleasure in front of them.The Conversation

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BABY LED WEANING & INTRODUCING SOLID FOODS

Parents are often confused about starting solids with their little ones, and it’s no wonder with all the conflicting information out there!  My philosophy for introducing solids (otherwise known as complementary foods) is to follow a “baby led” weaning approach.  Keep in mind that there are two very different definitions of “weaning.” In the UK,  “weaning” means “adding complementary foods,” whereas in the US it means “giving up breastfeeding.”  (I firmly believe both the mother and her baby should continue breastfeeding as long as mutually desired.)  If I had my druthers, I would call all of this “Baby Led Feeding” and present an approach that is a combination of the true baby led weaning (handing a six month old a pork-chop or a corn on the cob) and the old school recommendations of starting with only mushy gushy purees.

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So when do you start?  Your six month old is ready to eat—she is showing developmental signs of being ready to eat like holding her head up on her own, sitting in a high chair, demonstrating interest in what you are eating, and opening her mouth when you bring a spoon to her. But what do you feed her? At six months of age, her iron stores are starting to decrease and this is a great time to try iron rich foods. There is no evidence that shows that babies have to start with rice cereal.  The iron in beans, poultry, and meats is actually more bioavailable (meaning that it is more easily absorbed by your body), plus it contains zinc and B12—all needed by your baby.

If you wait until she is ready to eat and mash it up, she will be able to eat it (it’s thought that our ancestors probably pre-chewed meats and fed it to their infants).  You also can try organic produce—mashed avocado (a great source of monounsaturated fat), sweet potatoes, banana, steamed mashed carrots, and summer fruits including apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums. It might be surprising, but noodles are a good choice for finger foods. Toss the noodles in a little pesto or olive oil for flavor. Provide some dissolvable crackers or cereals for her to explore, avoiding the sweetened varieties. Let her enjoy the foods, get messy, and feed herself.  This is all part of the process.

The following foods are choking hazards for children under 3 years, so avoid these when introducing your baby to foods: grapes, olives, hot dogs, pickles, popcorn, nuts, chewy meats, spoonfuls of peanut butter (peanut butter should be mixed with applesauce, smashed banana or spread thinly on bread/crackers), and hard candy. Cut all round food lengthwise. Of course, make sure that if you have a family history of allergies that you consult your pediatrician about introducing highly allergenic foods (nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, fish, dairy, wheat, shellfish).  And always discuss introducing solid foods with your pediatrician!

To learn more about introducing solids, check out the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics guidelines and this study about meat as a first food.

Why Formula Feeding Was Right for Me

One evening, soon after we’d made my second pregnancy public, we had some friends over for dinner. The wife of the couple, a close friend who had breastfed for the recommended year, asked if I was going to try and nurse, this time around. “I mean, why wouldn’t you at least try?” she asked, innocently.

This was a rather loaded question.

Twenty months earlier, when I’d entered the hospital to deliver my first baby, I had arrived armed with a new nursing bra, a weathered copy of The Nursing Mother’s Companion, and the full intention to embark on a mutually advantageous, successful breastfeeding journey with my son. And then I gave birth, and all hell broke loose. First came the soul-crushing postpartum depression. Then latching issues. A nerve problem in my left breast. A supply problem in my right. Seven different “lactation consultants.” A tongue tie. A frenulectomy. A switch to “exclusively pumping” rather than nursing. A formerly rock-solid marriage straining under expectations and disappointment. A milk/soy protein allergy. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Eventually, I threw in the nursing cover, packed away the pump, and began formula feeding. I was racked with guilt, but also infuriated at the lack of support for formula feeding parents, so I did what every other middle-class, overly-analytical mom in America does when they need an outlet: I blogged about it. I had stumbled on an unfulfilled niche, so the hits came fast and furious, and before I knew it I’d become the unofficial spokesperson for “breastfeeding failures” around the world. Obviously, when I got pregnant with my daughter, the questions inevitably began. Was I going to try breastfeeding again? Depending on the person asking and the day of the week, my answers would range from “of course!” to “hell to the no.” Both were honest. I truly didn’t know what I was going to do. I’d paid lip service to breastfeeding, claiming that I would have continued had I not faced all our problems. Now that I was facing the prospect of a clean slate, though, my view was murkier.

As much as I did believe in breastfeeding, I felt I harbored some post-traumatic stress from our experience with our son, Leo. I knew it was irrational, but when I thought of nursing, I thought of pain, depression, frustration, craziness, and most of all, failure. My word associations with “formula” were salvation, ease, freedom. Along with those positive associations came others, too. Like selfish, lazy, unfair. Cheater.

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I felt tremendous guilt over these emotions. I was a bloody hypocrite. Here I was telling random women all over the world that it was okay to choose formula, that a happy mom meant a happy baby, that there was no shame in not breastfeeding…but when it came to my child, this didn’t hold water. How could I justify not even trying with my daughter?

This brought a harsh truth to light. I’d claimed my blog, Fearless Formula Feeder, stood for feeding freedom; that I would fight for every woman’s right to feed their child as they felt fit. Reading through the past 16 months of posts, though, the focus was on women in extenuating circumstances–sexual trauma survivors, women with rare illnesses and conditions, cases of extreme postpartum depression and incompatible medications. There was little attention paid to women who decided to formula feed for less dramatic reasons, reasons like having a bad taste in your mouth from a bad breastfeeding experience with your son.

I decided I’d give it the old college try, but then the nightmares started. I dreamt of a trio of Macbeth-like lactation consultant witches, trying to force my baby onto my breast. Of a zombie version of me, submitting to an endless cycle of pump, feed, pump, while Leo cried neglected tears in the corner.

These dreams were stupid, and I knew it. Still, my subconscious refused to let it be. I started feeling obsessed with the decision, and it was coloring the latter half of my pregnancy. I felt like the guy in Spike Lee’s 25th Hour, just a day away from starting his prison sentence, which of course made me feel guilty.  A few of my friends were also pregnant with their second kids, and they all kept talking excitedly about tiny newborn clothes and sleepy newborn cuddles. I wanted to puke. I wondered if I was just missing the maternal gene.

Considering the bulk of parental responsibility for a newborn consists of feeding it adequately, it made sense that I felt defunct. According to all of the medical literature, all the websites, all the popular social media, I had failed to feed my first child correctly. It didn’t matter that breastmilk made him sick; there was no way a human could be allergic to its mother’s milk–I just hadn’t cut out enough foods from my diet. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t latch; if I’d forgone the bottle of formula to treat his jaundice, he would have breastfed successfully. It didn’t matter that he was tongue-tied; a quick snip should have fixed that, so I probably hadn’t tried hard enough to counteract his aversion to my breasts. It didn’t matter that I was drowning in depression and anxiety; breastfeeding should have improved my mood, and even if it didn’t, I should have pushed through for my son’s sake. It didn’t matter that he thrived on formula; that was simply good luck, and of course, there was still time for the repercussions to develop. And most of all, it didn’t matter that I felt with every bone of my body that formula was the right choice for our family. That made me selfish, ignorant, and irresponsible. It made me a bad mom.

It had been easy to brush that all aside once my peer group stopped breastfeeding, and once Leo grew and gave me a million reasons to feel proud of my parenting. Once my daughter was born, though, it was all going to start again, and this time it would be way worse. This time there were no excuses. If I chose to formula feed from the start, it wouldn’t be for her benefit. It would be for mine.

In the end, my only decision was to make no decision. I approached the situation like a science experiment. I would let my daughter lead the way, not push her to latch if she couldn’t, and not go to any heroics. I would let whatever happened, happen organically. No expectations.

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I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know what I hoped. I did know one thing, though. My daughter might not end up getting as much breastmilk as her brother had, but she would get something else Leo never got, in those first months: a real mother, one who be focused on her, rather than the number of ounces dripping out of a Medela pump.

Labor went quickly, the second time around. Singing along with Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days,” about happiness hitting like a bullet to the head, I pushed through one contraction, and laughed my daughter Lucy into this world.

The nurse handed her over and I laid her on my bare chest. I wasn’t thinking; I was in a state of pure emotion, pure instinct. Lucy looked up at me with sleepy, calm, newborn eyes, and latched on.Perfectly.

I breastfed my daughter for three blissful days. I nursed her until the nerve pain started; until the first fuzzy shadows of postpartum depression began creeping into my peripheral vision; until the pump started talking to me, whispering yousuckyousuckyousuck, just like last time.  But this time, I knew I didn’t suck.  I knew she’d thrive on formula like my son had. This time, the decision would be mine, and not made for me by fate, or the formula company, or the breastfeeding police.

And in the end, she was fed. And in the end, she was loved. And in the end, that’s really all that matters.

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A word on breastfeeding out and about…

In one of my voluntary roles, I am sometimes asked by national and local media to comment on breastfeeding issues. Today I was asked to comment on whether businesses on Kent should offer more breastfeeding facilities to new parents. In the past year, I have spoken on London radio about breastfeeding in public and been asked to give several comments to newspapers.  Breastfeeding in public  is an issue that never seems to go away. Largely because of the ignorance of businesses and services who have yet to update their employees on the ways mothers and babies are protected to breastfeed in public by law. It must be a constant embarrassment for well-know High Street names to have to apologise for the stupidity of people working in their branches up and down the country. But it continues to be necessary.
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Mothers and Babies are not allowed to be discriminated against on the grounds of breastfeeding. Their access to businesses and services is not allowed to be restricted. It’s not complicated. It really isn’t.

The vast majority of the British public don’t wrinkle an eyebrow when a baby is breastfed out of the home. But it’s the small minority who grab the headlines and give new mothers the wrong impression they will face discrimination. In my 7 years of breastfeeding, I have fed all around the world – on planes ,trains, mountain-sides, cafes, doorsteps, bus stops – and not ONCE have I ever received a negative comment or glance or been asked to stop. The response has either been warm and supportive or indifferent.

Some mums find breastfeeding in public uncomfortable whether or not they might have to deal with an unfriendly comment. They may be struggling with latch and positioning, be feeding an older wriggly child, or feel self-conscious about any glimpses of their post-partum body they might flash to others. For these mums, the offer of a feeding room can make all the difference. It’s really not hard for a business to provide one simple room with the right kind of chair and a door. It doesn’t need fancy Winnie the Pooh murals or even nappy changing facilities (toilets work for that). A small cafe or business almost always has an office with a chair somewhere even if a separate room cannot be created. We don’t mind a bit of stock sitting in the corner of the room and we don’t need it fancy. Just clean and the space to sit down. All businesses need is a warm smile and a bit of imagination and THEY will benefit.

To put it simply, mothers have money to spend. We are a powerful consumer force. The Guardian reported this week that the average family spend £5,213 during the baby’s first 12 months. This is a vulnerable time for the British High Street. With a tiny bit of effort – the purchase of a couple of Ikea chairs and a bit of paint – that £5,213 is there for the taking. If retailers fail to use a bit of imagination, fail to educate their workforce about the legal rights of mothers and babies, THEY will lose out. Because online shopping with a cup of tea, bit of daytime telly and baby snoozing nearby is an attractive proposition. The postman brings the parcel and noone has to faff around looking for somewhere comfortable to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding rates continue to rise. If UK retailers and businesses don’t understand how to harness this powerful consumer market, they will be the ones to suffer.

BREASTFEEDING BASICS: IS YOUR BABY GETTING ENOUGH BREASTMILK?

“Is my baby getting enough breastmilk?”  

Mother feeding her newborn baby boy

It’s a classic concern common among new (and experienced) breastfeeding moms: Because there aren’t measurement markers on our breasts (wouldn’t that be amazingly convenient and awesome?!), we can’t really know exactly how much milk our babies receive when feeding. The good news is most women produce enough milk to nurse their babies successfully; only a small percentage of all breastfeeding mothers truly have a low milk supply. Here’s a handy Honest guide to ensure that your baby is getting what they need so you can get some peace of mind:

 

Weight Gain & Appearance

 

A 7-10% weight loss during the first 3-4 days after birth is considered normal for an exclusively breastfed baby. More than 10% can be an indication that the breastfeeding needs to be evaluated. It’s a good idea to have a routine weight check at 5 days (either with your pediatrician or with a lactation consultant) because by that point your baby should be gaining rather than losing.   Also, if you and your baby are experiencing any problems they can be caught and remedied early. Check out this handy chart to see how your baby’s weight gain is progressing (notice that it slows down as time progresses):

 

Age Weight Gain (Per Week)
0-3 months 4-7 ounces (110-200 grams)
4-6 months 4-5 ounces (110-140 grams)
6-12 months 2-4 ounces (60-110 grams)

 

In addition to weight gain, how does your baby look?  Sometimes babies do not follow their weight gain patterns for a week, but then they get back on track.  Or perhaps mom had a lot of IV fluids during labor, causing baby to be heavier at birth.  It’s important to look at how baby is doing so that nursing can continue during little “blips” in weight gain.  As always, consult your baby’s pediatrician with any concerns.  Some things to consider:

  • Is your baby eager to nurse?
  • Is your baby peeing and pooping well? (see below)
  • Are your baby’s eyes bright & alert?
  • Is your baby’s skin a healthy color and texture?
  • Is your baby meeting developmental milestones?

Diapers

Counting your baby’s diapers (pee and poop) can be a helpful tool for indicating whether or not he is getting enough of your breastmilk–what goes in, must come out! In general, babies will increase the volume and frequency of the pee and poop each day as they are able to take in more breastmilk and as the composition of the breastmilk changes to meet their needs. See the chart below for a quick reference about what to expect in the first few days/weeks.

If you suspect you aren’t making enough milk or your baby is not feeding well, call your doctor and a lactation consultant (IBCLC) right away.

 

Feeding & Diaper Goals

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*Stools should be at least 2.5 cm (the size of a quarter) to “count.” If it’s just a little “smear” in the diaper, that’s not technically a stool.

Breastfeed Often

A baby needs to breastfeed frequently, including nighttime.  Your breastmilk is digested quickly and easily, and you only need small amounts to fill your baby’s tiny tummy. Check out our handy guide to your baby’s developing stomach sizes and feeding measurements below:

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Frequent feedings also help to establish your milk supply.  This is the concept of supply and demand at its best—the more milk that is removed from your breasts, the more milk your body will produce. Frequent feedings are good for both of you!

  • A newborn should feed at least 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period.
  • Allow baby to determine the length of feedings: See our blog post onunderstanding your baby’s hunger and satiety cues for more information on baby led feedings.
  • Keep in mind that some babies “cluster feed,” which means that they go to the breast very often in a short period of time, and then sleep for several hours. This does not mean that you do not have enough milk for them; it’s a common feeding practice among infants. Sometimes, it’s a cue to your body to increase milk supply when your baby is about to enter a growth spurt. The number of feedings in a 24-hour period is more important than the spacing of feedings.
  • A sleepy baby may need to be wakened every two to three hours to feed.  You typically need to ensure that your (healthy) baby does not sleep through feedings for the first few months.  Talk with your healthcare provider if baby is lethargic and difficult to wake for feedings (or if you have any concerns in general).

 

Most importantly: Trust your instincts & relax! Remember that this is a time to savor each and every moment with your baby. Know that you are providing your baby not only with amazing nutrition, but also with a wonderful first bonding experience. Be aware that there are a range of breastfeeding experiences from mom to mom, and it may not always go as planned. (You’ll have to get used to that, too.) Next week, we got you covered with our tips to help with some of the common breastfeeding challenges, such as sore nipples, engorgement, low supply, and much more…

Let us know how breastfeeding is going for you in the comments below. We’d also love to hear if you have any breastfeeding-related topics that you’d like addressed in future blog posts!

 

 

 

Double Trouble: Baby or parent-led twin schedule?

The first months at home with new babies are all about figuring out a daily routine. I don’t necessarily mean having a detailed timetable, saying when they should feed, play and sleep, just having a rough idea what time these might occur. It helps in planning the day and makes the parent feel a bit more sane and in control.

However, perfect routines are a bit like unicorns. Amazingly beautiful, often talked and fantasised about, but rarely seen.

It’s now more than two months since my girls came home from NICU and my life revolves around feeding them and getting some sleep. Having two little people to look after can make the experience a bit overwhelming at times and having a routine makes me feel like I’m in charge.

As is the way with pretty much everything baby-related there isn’t a right or wrong way to do this. Some experts insist that it’s vitally important to get the babies onto a parent-led schedule pretty much the moment they leave the womb.

Others say you have to let your babies lead the way and that waking them up or trying to make them fit into your schedule is deeply unsettling for them, and that you’re a bad parent if you want to force your ways onto those helpless little mites. Some paediatricians also warn that they might not get enough food and end up underweight if parent-led.

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I’ve read some of the books that promote schedules and they promise that the baby will sleep through in no time. The holy grail! They say that babies love to know what to expect and will soon fall into those regular patterns.

Of course it sounds fantastic. Who wouldn’t want to know exactly when their children will be awake and asleep? We could plan to get lots of things done during their naps and be comfortably rested after sleeping all night.

The German in me really liked the idea of a well structured parent-led schedule and thought that with twins it’d be even more important to be organised to tame the madness of having two newborns.

For a while we started every day with the idea that we’d know when they’re going to be awake and asleep, but pretty soon our strict four hourly regime turned to custard.

Sometimes one the girls would wake up screaming her head off in hunger before the scheduled feeding time, or one of them would do a poo and then wouldn’t settle back without a quick feed. What happens to the routine then?

Another thing that makes sticking to a rigid routine impossible is actually having a life outside the house. If you just stayed at home and dedicated the first six months of your babies’ lives to getting them on schedule it might be possible. But on the downside, I’d go stir-crazy.

Right from when our girls came home from NICU we managed to get out of the house most days. We went to our antenatal coffee group, for walks along the beach or down to the supermarket. I try to schedule the things we’ve planned around the times they’ll most likely be asleep but I have since learned that babies are unpredictable and don’t sleep the same amount of time each day.

Another major hindrance to having perfect routines is my love of sleep. Some nights we get more sleep than others and who would want to wake up their sweetly slumbering babies early in the morning when there’s sleep to be had?

On top of that, I’ve found that they just don’t feed all that well when they’re woken up by us rather than waking up naturally themselves. Makes sense really. Who’d like to wake up from a deep sleep and be forced to eat a three course meal immediately?

We’re still trying to find some sort of routine that works for us. That of course doesn’t mean letting them cry if they’re hungry, but it can mean cuddling one of them for a wee while before she’s really, really hungry to give her sister a bit more time to wake up. We also try to start and finish our days at approximately the same time and let things flow in between.

I feel that trying to keep to too strict a schedule is probably more stressful than the benefits you’d get. You simply can’t tell a starving baby that it has to wait another 43 minutes until it’s officially time for lunch.

From the start I’ve always fed my girls together and so when one wakes up the other has to eat as well. This means that we almost always have one baby who leads and one who is led by her sister. And it’s not always the same baby waking up first.

The routine we have in place now is more about the how we do things and not so much about when we do them.

Our girls have good days, and they have some grumpy days when they don’t want to sleep that much and want more cuddles. I’ve learned that you really can’t plan your day too rigidly with little babies and there’s no point in getting worked up when they don’t sleep as long as I want them to.

The Mama bar is always open and our main jobs for the for the first months of their lives is to teach them that we’re there whenever they need us and to help them sleep as much as possible so they can be happy babies when they’re awake.

Did you work with feeding/sleep schedules for your babies, and if so how did they work out?

 

Toddler Feeding Throwdown

We should all know by now that the days of cheap acrylic tableware shattering on your kitchen floor are OVER. You will never again, have to witness your sweet little’s tears
streaming down her face as her favorite character plate meets its final destination: the trash can.
It’s happened to the best of us. You grab a few inexpensive cups and plates every other time you’re at Target, knowing you should make the small investment on better stuff.
Not to mention the “few” times you’ve stuck that toxic stuff in the microwave. Yeah, you know better, but you don’t have a clue where to start—the industry is overloaded
with kids’ feeding! Trust me, I get it. What I’m about to feature is only half of what I have actually tested. It’s a bit overwhelming and don’t even get me started on
bottles. Maybe next time;)
Well, here it is. I’ve chosen the best of the best, non-toxic, easy to clean/dishwasher safe, non-breakable (most of it;), and best of all… it’s Nugget tested and mother
approved.
I am ranking the sippy cups on a scale of 1-10. Ten being the best.
This first place setting is from AYCBaby.

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I absolutely LOVE this site. They offer so much more than baby/kids stuff and they give 15% of your order to your local school!
It’s the easiest to clean and large enough for everything to fit on nicely:

if you not a fan.I thinks
you need their very own drying rack and I agree. I personally think they are great if you must protect your table top, or are traveling. If not, I would just avoid them all
together. I will be on the look out for a more sturdy place mat that is perhaps made of thick silicone. If anybody has come across something like this, please let me know.
The Bot sippy cup. I love so many things about this cup. We don’t usually use a sippy unless we are in the car, store, etc.. as I like to incorporate “adult” open face cups

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as mush as possible. With that said, we prefer a straw. I love the flexible, weighted straw, that allows tot to drink from it no matter which way it’s tilted. They offer
replaceable straws too!

The twins use Drink Bottle for travel and they take them to preschool. I love these for the 3 year olds that don’t use (or want to use) a sippy cup. The attached flip top lid is excellent and easy for them to use and they are leak resistant. Lightweight, unlike several stainless insulated bottles.

Breastfeeding And Bottle Feeding 'Make Babies Obese', Studies Suggest: Here's What Parents Need To Know

Parents reading the papers today were left pondering how best to feed their babies as two news stories made bold claims, reporting both breastfeeding and bottle feeling can contribute to obesity in babies.

One article in The Mirror states “breastfeeding will increase the chances of your baby being overweight” because of two sugary carbohydrates found in breast milk.

A second article published in the Daily Mail had the headline: Bottle feeding is making babies fat. It claimed many bottle feeding parents are overfeeding their babies because they are distracted by their phones.

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“I think the articles are trying to scare mums more than anything,” Lisa Clegg, maternity nurse and founder of The Blissful Baby Expert told HuffPost UK Parents.

“If a baby isn’t hungry it will refuse to feed, making it very clear to the parent that it definitely does not want any more milk by pushing the milk away, moving their head away from the bottle or breast and clamping their mouth shut.”

In the study the Mirror reported on, which claimed breastfeeding can make a baby overweight, scientists identified two sugary carbohydrates in breast milk which “increased a baby’s risk of being obese at six months”.

The ­University of Southern ­California studied 25 mother and baby pairs and found the carbohydrate called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) was a key factor linked to infant obesity.

Two specific HMOs were each associated with around one pound of extra fat mass at six months of age, but it is not known whether genetic factors or diet were responsible for the composition of the mothers’ breast milk.

“It’s a bizarre piece of research,” Jacque Gerrard, the Royal College of Midwives’ director for England told HuffPost UK Parents.

“There is an overwhelming plethora of evidence supporting the health benefits of breastfeeding, showing it can prevent diabetes and obesity as babies grow older.

“This is a very small study so how can you draw conclusions from it? We always support women who breastfeed, because of the benefits for both mum and baby.”

Gerrard also pointed out that the article focused on breastfeeding impacting a baby’s weight, but this is not the case. She explained the way you feed your baby won’t make them obese while they are a baby, but it could contribute to obesity as they grow older.

A second study, reported in the Daily Mail, suggested bottle feeding is “making babies fat” because mothers who are distracted by their phones end up overfeeding their children.

California Polytechnic University researchers said that just as TV dinners lead adults to eat without thinking, multi-tasking mothers may be guilty of ‘mindless feeding’.

They quizzed 41 women with young babies about what they did during bottle feeds, with 83% admitting they multi-tasked by watching TV, playing on computers or their mobile phones.

Researchers called this a “technology trap”, distracting new mothers and stopping them from noticing when their child has had enough milk.

Gerrard said if a mother is taught properly how to feed her baby with formula milk, then bottle feeding shouldn’t lead to any problem with their child’s weight.

She argued the study is less about the distraction and more about what their babies are drinking.

“A mother choosing to formula feed her baby will get every bit of support to do that from midwives to ensure their baby gets the right quality of formula and follow exactly the instructions on that packet,” she explained.

“That’s the difficult part – if they don’t get taught properly how to make an exact quantity, it can cause complications for babies in the longer term.”

With such contradictory advice doing the rounds, it’s hard for new parents to know what’s best for their baby.

Clegg reiterated parents should understand a baby will let their mum or dad know when they have had enough milk.

“Many people don’t give newborn and young babies credit for how clever they really are from a young age,” she said.

“A baby will not feed if they are not hungry and that goes for bottle and breastfed babies.

“I work with babies every single day and all of varying ages – the one thing they all have in common is that they know how much they want to eat and when.

“It’s a natural instinct they are born with and from one baby to the next, their appetites will vary dramatically.”

Clegg said neither study has taken into account the impact of genetics on the weight and build of a baby, adding that it is later on, when a parent has begun weaning their baby, that will have an impact on their weight.

“In the first six months when only milk is offered, parents need to stop being so pressured by yet another article or study telling them they will make their baby obese if they offer too much milk,” she added.

“I encourage mums to trust their own instinct on how much milk their baby needs and listen to their individual baby and not research like this.

“Even siblings will have different appetites – how your first baby liked to feed in frequency and amounts is likely to be different to subsequent babies you have.”

Hospitals Doing Better Job of Promoting Breast-feeding: CDC

U.S. hospitals have made significant improvements to breast-feeding support programs in recent years, providing better help to new mothers, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

Nearly twice as many hospitals have adopted most of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding initiative, a global standard for hospital support of breast-feeding before, during and after a new mom’s hospital stay, the officials said.

The percentage of U.S. hospitals using a majority of the Ten Steps increased from about 29 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2013, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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But there’s still work to be done, the CDC report added. Nearly 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, but only 14 percent are born in “baby-friendly” hospitals that have successfully implemented the entire Ten Steps program.

“Every one of the Ten Steps is important to use in a hospital to give babies the best start, to help mothers start and continue to breast-feed as recommended,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said during a media briefing. “Ideally, we would like every birth hospital in this country to adopt all of the Ten Steps and become ‘baby-friendly.'”

Breast milk is loaded with antibodies and other germ-fighting factors that pass from mother to baby. Babies who are breast-fed are less likely to develop ear, respiratory, stomach and intestinal infections. They’re also at lower risk of asthma, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome, the CDC says.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life, and that they continue to receive breast-milk as part of their diet for at least 12 months.

However, studies have found that by six months of age, only about half of all infants are receiving any breast-milk. And only 22 percent breast-feed exclusively for the recommended first six months of life, according to background information in the CDC report.

There’s strong evidence that many mothers want to breast-feed longer, but stop due to inconvenience and lack of support. Six out of every 10 mothers who stop breast-feeding during the first year report that they stopped earlier than they would have liked, the CDC report said.

The main complaints that new mothers cite for quitting breast-feeding include pain, problems with the baby latching on appropriately, and concern that the baby isn’t getting enough milk, said report lead author Cria Perrine, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.

“These are things can be overcome with early professional support and management, which is why that early period in the hospital and immediately after the hospital is so critical,” Perrine said.

To help mothers start and maintain breast-feeding, the World Health Organization and UNICEF started the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding stand as the core of that initiative.

The CDC report said the policies from the Ten Steps that had been successfully implemented by a majority of U.S. hospitals in 2013 include:

However, U.S. hospitals are falling short in other key areas, the CDC researchers found.

Only 26 percent of hospitals make sure that healthy babies are solely fed breast milk, for example. Newborns should not be fed infant formula unless it’s a medical necessity, according to the Ten Steps guidelines.

And just one-third of hospitals provide ongoing support for breast-feeding mothers after they’ve left the hospital. This support can include a follow-up visit, a phone call, or referrals to breast-feeding support groups.

The CDC researchers also found that only 45 percent of hospitals kept mothers and babies together throughout the entire hospital stay, which provides opportunities to breast-feed and helps mothers learn their baby’s feeding cues.

The CDC report also noted that mothers who breast-feed are less likely to get breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

And breast-feeding can save money. An estimated $2 billion in yearly medical costs for children could be saved if breast-feeding recommendations were met, according to the CDC.

The CDC report urges more American hospitals to get on board with the Ten Steps program, and to work with professionals in their area to create breast-feeding support networks for new mothers.

Perrine noted that a year ago there were no “baby-friendly” hospitals in Georgia, but since then four hospitals have gained that designation by fully implementing the Ten Steps. Those hospitals account for 10 percent of births in Georgia, she said.

“As a mom who gave birth to a baby a year and a half ago in the state of Georgia, this is very exciting to me,” she said.