Category: Raising Healthy Children

Starting Solids: When Can Babies Eat Table Food?

Babies can’t live off milk forever. Eventually they must join the rest of us in eating solid food. But how should it happen?

The baby food industry has everyone fooled. You don’t need them. There’s actually more research that goes into commercial pet food than commercial baby food. For all its faults, dog and cat kibble at least has to adhere to certain nutrient standards. Commercial baby food is just random stuff blended up with enough pear or banana to taste sweet. And I’m not saying there’s something wrong with pears or bananas or green beans or whatever else they blend up and throw in those pouches. I’m just saying it’s not enough. You can do so much better with a little thought and innovation.

It’s not as hard as people think. I mean, these are people we’re feeding. Small people, but people. If you can feed yourself, you can feed a kid. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably feeding yourself nutrient-dense whole foods. Well, do the same thing for your baby only in smaller portions and using different textures. Because there are limitations:

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How to Foster Healthy Body Image in Children

I belong to a ladies’ trail running community online. These women are cool, badass humans who perform amazing feats with their bodies. Last month, someone asked the group if they ever struggle with body image. The responses were overwhelmingly affirmative. Hundreds upon hundreds of women responded, “Yes! Me. Every single day.” Only a very few said no.

It was eye-opening and also woefully unsurprising. Most adults I know struggle with body image on some level.

Those of us who are parents would love to spare our children from this emotional baggage, but how do we help our kids develop healthy body image in today’s world? We’re up against massive biological and, especially, social forces. Humans are hardwired to see — and judge — faces and bodies, looking for signs of friendliness, similarity, and fertility. Our early survival as a species depended on it.

The modern diet and beauty industries have taken these natural propensities and exploited them to the nth degree. They bombard us with messaging, both subtle and overt, telling us we must do everything in our power to be as physically attractive as possible. No amount of time or money is too much to invest in the quest for beauty and the “perfect” physique. Oh, and definitely don’t show any signs of aging. The wrinkles, gray hair, and natural softening of the body that comes with growing older? Not allowed! Obviously, if you fail to live up to the ever-changing ideal, it is 100 percent your fault.

Short of moving to the woods and disconnecting from society entirely, we can’t keep our kids from being exposed. Our best hope is to help them develop a healthy body image early. Give them a strong foundation so when they inevitably get caught up in Hurricane Diet Culture, they may waver, but they’ll stay standing.

The strategy is two-fold: First, do your best not to repeat and perpetuate the culture that creates insecurity and negative body image. Second, teach kids to trust, respect, and appreciate their bodies regardless of appearance.

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Parental Burnout: What to Do If You Feel Overwhelmed as a Parent

Last year, an article in the New York Times described “The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting.” That word struck me at the time and has stuck with me ever since. Speaking as a mom of two, the expectations and pressures weighing on parents can indeed feel relentless.

It’s not enough to keep our children clothed and fed, get them to school, and take the occasional family vacation. Parents today should provide optimal nutrition from birth and ensure that kids have the best educational opportunities. We’re told to enroll them in sports, extracurriculars, and tutoring to give them a competitive edge for college, then we’re obliged to volunteer as assistant coach, snack mom, and classroom parent. By the way, you’re already saving money for college, right?

Don’t forget, we’re also in charge of arranging playdates, monitoring screen time, and searching Pinterest for unique birthday party ideas and fun hijinks for the Elf on the Shelf.

No wonder parents are succumbing to burnout.

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How I’d Change School

Almost no one’s happy with school these days. Kindergarteners are sitting in front of devices for 4-5 hours a day. Teens are dreading daily online meetings and getting prescriptions for “Zoom fatigue.” Some of this is growing pains—kids, teachers, and parents are being asked to completely change the way they do school on a moment’s notice, and change like that doesn’t come easily. But that’s not the only reason.

There just aren’t many great options left. Parents don’t want their kids stuck on the computer all day, nor do they want them in class masked up and unable to touch or play with their peers. There are big problems in every direction.

Change is in the air. People are fed up with the new way of doing things and realizing they don’t like the old way all that much either. I don’t have kids in school anymore, but I do have a grandkid who will be in school soon. Besides, everyone who lives in a country has a stake in the school system of that country. The schools shape the people who become the adults who shape the nation. That affects everyone. Something needs to change.

If I could wave a wand, how would I change school?

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Making Distance Learning Work

Hi, everyone, Lindsay here. As a parent of school-aged kids, the upcoming school year is front and center in my mind. Like you, I’m trying to figure out how to make distance learning work for my family. Before starting today’s post, I want to acknowledge that everyone’s situation is different. Family structures, finances, support systems, living arrangements, access to technology, and employment all affect how we’ll approach this upcoming school year. Not to mention, our kids have unique needs, strengths, and challenges.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. A lot of parents are facing tough dilemmas. Their school districts’ solutions simply aren’t workable for them for various reasons, sometimes reflecting larger societal issues. While I’m going to offer some simple, concrete steps and encouragement, I also don’t want to minimize the challenges that some people are facing. I’d love for other parents/caregivers to join the discussion in the comments and let us know how you’re juggling everything.

The new school year is almost upon us, and I’m sure I’m not the only parent who feels like my head has been spinning for five months. After being thrown into distance learning in March, school districts are still scrambling to figure out what’s happening this fall. Teachers and parents are rightfully worried about how to balance seemingly un-balanceable interests: educating our kids, supporting working parents, making sure all kids have equal learning opportunities (always an issue), maintaining kids’ socioemotional wellbeing, and allowing schools to stay funded, all while protecting the health and safety of students, their families, teachers, and staff.

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How to Get a Picky Eater to Try New Foods

At my house, dinner often looks like grass-fed rib eye, grilled to medium rare with salt and pepper, and broccoli roasted with avocado oil and cooked ‘til crispy. It’s satisfying, satiating, and metabolically in line with the way I like to eat.

Dinner probably looks fairly similar at your place too. Only while grilling up your perfect cut of steak, you might also be firing up a big pot of mac ‘n cheese or popping some dino nuggets and waffle fries into the oven for the picky eaters in your household. Especially if your kids are used to conventional, Standard American Diet type fare.

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