As exciting as this time can be, when introducing your baby to new foods, you may be concerned about food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances and that’s a very valid concern. One in four kids has food allergies and the percentages are growing. My son is one of these kids. He developed eczema early around 4 months. I knew that this wasn't just a skin condition and could be an early sign of a food allergy. My husband and I were so worried when we saw hives break out on our son’s face after eating certain foods. It wasn’t until later that we learned that he, in fact, has egg and nut allergies.
Under the guidance of the FDA, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act identifies the following eight foods as major food allergens:
Milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans
When introducing these foods, start by offering a small amount at first and watch your baby for any negative reaction. Signs include: rash, hives, gastrointestinal distress like vomiting or diarrhea, teary eyes, face or tongue swelling or difficulty breathing within a few minutes after consuming the food. Often times, a rash can simply signal a skin irritation and could be the result of sensitive skin versus a true allergy. If you feel the reaction is life threatening, seek help immediately. If you see any moderate reactions, discontinue the food and speak to your pediatrician. They most likely will refer you to a pediatric allergist. There you will be able to determine what your baby may or may not be allergic to and develop a game plan.
Fast forward a year from our first appointment, my son can now tolerate eggs in baked goods and it appears as is if his tree nut allergies have subsided. We worked hard to decrease his inflammation by feeding him nurturing foods including probiotics, bone broths, healthy fats and limiting his sugar and dairy. I’m still learning more and seeing various specialists. But everyone’s journey and experience is different and the good news is that there is much more awareness, food products, and resources for parents going through this. I work with this often in my practice and understand that parents need a game plan, some resources and ways to get creative in the kitchen!
As a parent, I understand the importance of teaching my children good habits that can help them gain independence: sleeping on their own, using the bathroom, or feeding themselves is really important and necessary. The notion of potty training can feel overwhelming, especially since the experience will vary from child to child. That’s why you can’t think of it as “training” or that there are a precise set of rules on how to do something as milestone-oriented as using the bathroom. With that, I present how to not potty train! Just some advice from a mom who had an epic journey from Huggies to Hallelujah!
Ready or Not
Just because other children the same age as your child are not using diapers anymore does not mean your child will necessarily be ready to do so at that same age. Every child develops at his or her own pace, and there is no set deadline for your child to be considered “ready.” There were three year olds in my four year old’s class wearing underwear, and I was still packing diapers for the school cubby-- and that’s OK! Once I realized not to compare my child’s development to others’, I had the freedom to help him through the process at his own pace.
Roll with the Surprises
My son pooped in the potty when he was around 3 years old, and I made a huge deal about it. I cheered, called his grandparents, and even made him cupcakes! (I know, I know…) But he cried! He bugged out when he saw his poop, and it scared him. He then refused to sit on the toilet for 6+ months. I was surprised he had this reaction when I was so happy for his progress. Roll with the unexpected and that your child might not have the same response to his development as you will.
Did You Bribe Him?
Most people think that an incentivizing reward system is the way to go. My son had access to iPads, M&Ms, stickers, any potty he wanted, and he was still not having it. When your child isn’t ready to use the bathroom, there’s not much in the way of bribing that you can do. Making it an experience they look forward to is tough, but stay patient and don’t rely on bribes to get them on the toilet.
“Did You Try This?”
Remember, what might work for one child doesn’t necessarily mean it will work wonders for your child. You might hear that the “diaper off for three days” method, or the potty watch, or seeing their friends at school do it will help, and maybe it will! But nothing is foolproof.
Don’t Shame Spiral
Whatever you do, don’t obsess if your child takes a while to master the potty. My child was about to turn 4, and I thought everyone was judging me because he was still in diapers. That’s when my pediatrician reassured me that, “It will happen. I promise.” My child sensed my anxiety about the prolonged process, and that trickled down onto him, likely delaying him. My good friend also made me feel better when she said, “Diapers are so easy-- who wants to constantly search for a bathroom anyways?”
It Will Happen
It only happens when your child is ready. Everyone says this (including my wonderful pediatrician!), and you just have to believe. In our case, my son began using the toilet about one week before his 4th birthday. When he started to become more consistent with his usage and was willing to give it a shot, I didn’t overreact, bake cupcakes, or alert the neighborhood. I just rolled with it, and ever since then, it’s been pretty much routine. We’ve had plenty of accidents, and it certainly doesn’t mean that “One day he decided to do it and it was all done!” It’s a day-to-day process, and is far from perfect, but I know my son is capable, and that’s good enough for me!
What have some of your experiences been like tackling the “potty training” phase with your child?
Once upon a time we posted a recipe for Pumpkin Nut Butter, which was a hit! So here's another "butter" that's simple and can be enjoyed as a purée for baby, or as a stir-in for yogurt and ice cream, or even as a dip for crackers! The possibilities are endless.
I don’t mind going food shopping, I really don’t. With kids it’s fun and without it’s like a mini vacation. I need a full fridge and a full pantry to feel like an adult, much more so now that I am a parent. Truth is, I get really anxious when we’re down to one box of crackers. This is perhaps why you can find boxes and bags of things tucked away in my pantry (that sometimes fall on my head and feet) and why I am at the grocery store a minimum of 3x a week. Did I also mention that I hate to waste food? I’m not afraid to make a concoction of whatever veggies and flash frozen proteins we have to tide us over until we can hit TJ’s or the Farmers Market.
I wish I could be one of those organized moms with a tidy “to-buy” list at the store (although I am OCD enough that if I have to give my husband the shopping list I give him turn-by-turn directions for the grocery store “turn right after the fruit and you’ll see the cereal aisle!”) but in reality I do a version of “meal planning lite.” What I do is stock up on my family’s favorite fresh stuff every weekend and then just cook through the week. We get lots of fruits, veggies and specialty items at the Farmer’s Market, staples at Trader Joe’s, and all fresh meat, toasted nuts, and more at the local Kosher market. This ninja warrior level shopping means I always have staples in my fridge and pantry so it’s easy for me to make one of my go to recipes or even experiment with something new. I usually have everything I need and if I don’t, I make a quick stop to get a missing ingredient. I am a big believer in making a protein, starch and veggie (or an all vegetarian meal), but it always is balanced. For the most part the kids eat what we eat, but naturally I am not immune to making the additional quesadilla, hot dog, french fry, pasta…etc. Being the normal, working people that we are means that we also have to resort to supplementing with frozen stuff from Trader Joe’s. However, we very rarely do takeout or buy pre-prepared foods. I’m not opposed to it, but just not that into it. I prefer concocting a meal from a few frozen favorites and complementing it with a fresh vegetable or salad.
But my favorite meals are our “Caterpillar Family Dinners” (you may recognize that winner from Daniel Tiger)—this is when we all sit down and eat together. I try to do it 2x a week but it’s so hard, especially with a 17 month old who eats like an old man in Florida (at 5pm) but my 4 year old loves eating with us so we try to make it happen.
Bottom line is that I love to cook and my fondest memories of childhood are of sitting around the table with my family eating. Nothing makes me happier.
Whenever I make a meal I always leave out a little extra for leftover purposes and immediately pack it up in my Béaba Clip Containers. That way they are ready to go for tomorrow’s lunch on the go. Huge time saver.
I am a big believer in making and then flash freezing. So for those nights when I’m desperate for dinner and am too lazy to deal, I always have some spare meatballs or soup in my Béaba Multiportions™ container.
· We spend every weekend out of the house (it’s the key to keeping sane) and I always pack up snacks in my Formula and Snack Container and my clip containers. I lay out all of the options on a park bench and then the kids can look at the array before them and make healthy choices. Saves plastic / paper and also gets them interested quickly. Then they inevitably use the empty containers as sand toys. Go figure.