My Baby Has Baggage

My baby has baggage, and I’m trying to understand it. BabyC carries around a little mesh drawstring bag for most of the day. The bag initially held a little set of finger puppets. A few of these remain, but BabyC has also added a variety of other small objects. Some have been there for months, while other rotate out on a daily basis. Regardless, they must have some meaning to her, because she has a hard time parting with her bag. When we leave the house or she gets ready for bed, we often have to take the time to find a safe place for it, where she knows she can find it when she returns.

Sometimes, BabyC insists on bringing the bag on our walks. I think she likes having a place to stow her little treasures.

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Toddlers and the Power of Choice

BabyC and I have been struggling with diaper changes recently. When BabyC was a younger infant, diaper changes were good times – a chance to check in together, have a little conversation, and give her 100% of my attention. These last few months, BabyC has really resisted diaper changes. At 14 months, she is now quite mobile and strong, and diaper changes have turned into a three-ring circus, with her rolling over and popping up to stand at each step. If I try to do part of the diaper change while she is standing, she sits down. She seems to resist every step, kicking and crying. I try my best to be patient, keep moving slowly and respectfully, and talk her through each step (see Janet Lansbury’s brilliant post on this), but I haven’t seen much reward for these efforts, until recently.

A few days ago, I accidentally happened upon one solution to the diaper change debacle. BabyC and I were in the kitchen. She was playing with some toys while I fixed dinner. I noticed that she paused what she was doing, and an intense look of concentration came over her face. Poop time. I made a mental note but wanted to finish what I was doing before taking a break for the dreaded diaper change.

But BabyC came over to me and started to tug on my jeans, trying to get my attention. “BabyC, do you need to have your diaper changed?” I asked. She nodded a very confident “Yes!” I was taken aback. I realized that when I had asked the question, I had assumed that she either wouldn’t understand it or would shake her head “no,” since she usually protests diaper changes so much. Wow, mental note to never underestimate a toddler! Continue reading

Some Random Thoughts on Feeding a 13-month-old

Last week, I wrote about how to encourage a toddler to eat more vegetables. That article got some really wonderful comments from experienced parents and from professionals in the field of nutrition. If you haven’t read the comments on that article, I encourage you to go check them out. The comments are at least as interesting and informative as the article itself. I am really grateful for these comments. I love writing for such a smart and thoughtful audience, and I love when a post can start a good discussion.

I’ve been working on a post to compare the nutrient composition of common fruits vs. vegetables in response to one of those comments, but let’s face it – things get hectic this time of year. That post will be finished in the next couple of days – sometime after I’ve gotten the rest of my gifts mailed off and planned our meals for the next week. In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about food a lot and thought I’d take a few minutes to jot down some of my random thoughts on the current mealtime state-of-affairs with my 13-month-old BabyC: Continue reading

How Can I Encourage My Baby or Toddler to Eat More Vegetables?

This post is my answer to a friend’s concern about her 11-month-old, who refuses to eat most vegetables. It is such a universal concern that, with her permission, I turned it into a blog post. She writes:

“My 11-month-old is a pretty good eater when it comes to everything but veggies. He can sift through a bite in his mouth and spit out only the vegetables. I am trying not to add salt or oil or cheese to the vegetables, but he hates them! (Sweet potatoes/yams are okay, and once in a while peas, too.) Any suggestions on how to incorporate vegetables into his diet?”

I think just about every parent wishes her child would eat more vegetables. We found that BabyC became much more selective about what she ate right around 11 months, and there was a noticeable drop in her vegetable intake at that time.

When all else fails, put veggies on the floor. BabyC finds food on the floor more trust-worthy and interesting than food on her high chair tray.

We all want our kids to eat well today (or at least on average over the week), but we also want them to form healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. Are there any strategies we can use to get our babies and toddlers to eat more vegetables? Luckily, there is a ton of interesting research on this topic. Continue reading

My Child, a Picky Eater? No!

It was bound to happen.  I was just starting to feel smug about having a baby who would eat anything. I was casually feeding her everything off of my plate, introducing her to new flavors every day, and watching with pride as she tossed everything in her mouth without a second thought. Curry? No problem. Cauliflower? Love it!

OK, not the most exciting foods on her plate here - you'll just have to believe me on the curry and cauliflower.

But you know what happens to people who feel smug about their parenting. Continue reading

Breastfeeding Beyond a Year: Why Stop Now?

BabyC is fast approaching her first birthday, and I’ve been asked more than a few times, “How long do you plan to keep breastfeeding?”

When I first started thinking about this question, the scientist in me wondered about the health benefits of “extended” breastfeeding.  I wrote about some of my research on the (purported) health benefits of nursing beyond a year last week.  I plowed through hundreds of breastfeeding studies looking for some data on extended breastfeeding, but the truth is that very little research on this topic has been published, and almost nothing has been published on extended breastfeeding in the developed world.  Please let me know if I missed something – just don’t send me links to La Leche League and KellyMom.  I’ve seen their pages and tracked down all those citations, and I couldn’t find any convincing evidence that my child will be any less healthy or nourished or smart if I wean at a year.  There could very well be health benefits to extended nursing, but as far as I can tell, they haven’t been described in the scientific literature.  I doubt if that will change in the near future, since extended breastfeeding is probably not much of a research priority.

However, as I started delving into the research on this topic, I realized that the mother in me didn’t really care what the data saidContinue reading

TV, Tots, and Tired Parents: The Backlash to the AAP’s TV Policy

Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post about the American Academy of Pediatrics’ new guidelines for TV use in kids under 2 years old.  I intended that piece to be a brief summary of the new guidelines and the research that the AAP used to support them.  I didn’t think about these guidelines as being controversial.

However, as the media and the blogosphere got wind of the new guidelines, I found article after article questioning them – calling the AAP out on making a recommendation without solid science and blaming them for creating the next round of unwelcome parenting guilt. Continue reading