Encouraging your preschooler to eat healthy

by Maxine
Posted December 20 2010 11:46am
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How can you get your preschooler to enjoy healthy foods? Here are some suggestions from our experts:

Establish a routine for meals and snacks. Try to feed your child at times when he is alert, and not too tired to eat or cooperate.

Use a variety of foods from the four food groups. Remember that children, like adults, have their own likes and dislikes, which may change over time. If your child will not eat certain foods (such as yellow vegetables) try to "hide them" in a soup or casserole.

Involve your child in the food preparation. For example, he can help to set the table, or pour and mix ingredients - your child will feel so proud of his participation, that he will be more likely to eat what he has helped to prepare.

Serve new foods alongside familiar foods. This encourages your child to enjoy eating a variety of foods and establish good manners.

Create a pleasant environment for your child at mealtime. Make sure she is comfortable (for example, young children will usually need a booster seat).

Set reasonable expectations, such as a realistic sense of how long your child can sit at one time, or the amount of food that he can eat during a meal or snack time. 

Try not to show anxiety about what foods your child is or is not eating. Children learn quickly that food can be used as a weapon for getting their way.

Don't forget that children's appetites vary. Children should eat to satisfy their hunger, not to gain anyone's approval.

Try to sit and eat as a family. This establishes mealtimes as pleasant social occasions.

Offer your child the same food that everyone else at the table is eating, as long as it is age-appropriate.

Present food in a form your child can cope with at her level of skill and independence. Using child-sized, unbreakable utensils, dishes and cups will help encourage your child to develop the skills she needs to learn to feed herself.

Understand that children need practice. Using a spoon, fork and cup with control and confidence takes years of practice.

Remember that children tend to be messy. They may eat with their fingers and hands, spill things and can be easily distracted.

Limit the number of choices at a meal as too many choices can be overwhelming. Foods that are rejected by your child should be re-introduced at a later time.

Involve your child in making decisions about meals so his likes are reflected in the menu. Try to always include one thing your child likes eating.

Buy or make a placemat for your child's place at the table. 

How do you encourage your preschooler to eat healthy? What have you found works best for your family? Share your experience with other parents by leaving a comment below!


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Help! My toddler is refusing to sleep!

by Maxine
Posted December 17 2010 11:44am
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There are many things that can cause your child to stay awake at bedtime or to wake in the night and stay awake. Some examples are teething, illness, digestive problems, allergies, a move to a new home, or change in child care provider and even anxiety. You may not know it, but your child could be feeling genuinely anxious about being separated from you at bedtime.

The best way to make sure that both you and your child are getting the rest you need is to establish a regular bedtime routine. It should be at the same time every night, with no rough or active play just before bed. A nice bath and bedtime story is a great way to calm your child before going to sleep.

Be gentle but firm about your child staying in bed after being put down. Encourage your child to learn to stay calm by singing and talking quietly to herself, or cuddling with a pillow or stuffed animal. Leave the room with your child awake, so he can learn how to fall asleep on his own. It's also important that while your toddler is falling asleep, she is not distracted by excessive noise in the home, such as loud television programs, or the sound of older brothers and sisters playing.

It's normal for your child to call out to you in the night, but you don't have to go running right away. Try calling back to him first, just to let him know you've heard the cries and are near by. If your child continues to fuss, go into the room and use your voice and presence to calm him. Instead of picking him up, pat or massage him gently.

And remember, almost every child goes through several phases of testing you to see how late they can stay up. Stay gently firm and consistent. Getting angry doesn't help ease your child into sleep.


How did you deal with a toddler who refused to sleep? Offer your tips to other parents by leaving a comment below or ask an expert your question on this topic.


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Living smoke-free with your toddler

by Maxine
Posted December 17 2010 04:00pm
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Breathing in second-hand smoke causes over 1,100 deaths in Canadian non-smokers from lung cancer and heart disease every year. A Health Canada Report in 2007, noted that 7% of Canadian children under 12 years old were exposed to second-hand smoke from cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Although this number is dropping, it still means that about 300,000 children under age 12 continue to be exposed regularly to second-hand smoke. 

The good news is that most Canadian families agree they should avoid exposure to second-hand smoke in their home and car. Currently, four out of five (82%) Canadian homes already restrict smoking in some way and parents report there is general agreement about these restrictions among family members. Parents also report that the primary reason they want to cut back on the amount of second-hand smoke in their home is because of their children.

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals which are known to be linked to cancer. Second hand smoke also contains these chemicals; 2/3 of the smoke from a burning cigarette remains in the environment such as a room or a car-the other 1/3 is inhaled by the smoker.  Third hand smoke also contains the same chemicals. This is the smoke that gets trapped in hair, skin, fabric, carpets, dust and toys; which accumulates over time. Babies and young children may take in more third hand smoke because they put their hands in their mouth and they spend more time playing on the floor.

Children are more vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke because:

  • They breathe faster than an adult and will breathe in more air relative to their weight and, therefore, absorb more toxins. 
  • Their immune systems are less developed than an adult and their lungs are still developing. 
  • Their airways are smaller and more sensitive to impurities in the air. 
  • Children may not be able to move to a less smoky environment (e.g. go to a different room or get out of the car). 
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke in children has been linked with health problems such as colds and upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, croup, ear infections, asthma and allergies. 

What do these statistics mean to you as a parent? Well, for one thing, they mean that you are not alone. Across Canada, hundreds of thousands of families are struggling with the issue of second-hand smoke and are looking for ways to protect their children from its harmful effects. For a guide on how to make your home and car smoke free visit Health Canada’s website or visit The Canadian Lung Association website which has tips on how to protect yourself from Second and Third Hand Smoke.

Visit Health Canada's website for a Guide for Parents: Making Home and Car Smoke-Free.



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Ten Things to Remember When Your Child is a Preschooler

by Maxine
Posted July 27 2010 07:03pm
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1. At about this age, children start to think more about the feelings of others.

So you can talk with your child about things he does that affect other people. For instance, ask how he would feel if someone interrupted while he was talking. You might agree on a signal, like touching your arm, for when he wants a turn to talk.

2. During the preschool years, your child will learn to share you with other people.

Give her the chance to be involved with you or other children for short periods of time. Praise her for the times when she is playing contentedly on her own.

3. Encourage your preschooler to try new things.

But don’t push him beyond his limits. An activity may seem easy to you, but your child may not be ready for it. Listen to your child, especially when he’s scared. Don’t make him try something because you want to do it or you see other children doing it.

4. Resist the impulse to take over your child’s play and make it better.

This reduces her self-confidence. It makes her feel as if her work isn’t worthy of your appreciation.

5. The most important way to build your child’s self-esteem is to make sure he knows he’s loved.

Then he begins to see himself as a good, lovable person. Each time your child learns a new skill, right from the earliest days, let him know how well he has done. You should also encourage him to cope with new situations. But only expect what’s likely for his age, not perfection.

6. Give your preschooler lots of chances to play – alone, with brothers and sisters, with other children and with you.

When your child plays, she is practicing skills in every area. She thinks, solves problems, talks, moves, co-operates and makes moral judgments. Play is helping her to get ready for the real world.

7. Praise your child’s attempts to try new things and to deal with frustrating situations.

Never punish, shame or ridicule a child who tries and fails. This can damage or destroy their fragile self-esteem. For the same reason, don’t look for perfection or constant success. Expect only what your child is capable of for his age and stage of development.

8. Make it clear what your expectations and limits are – it helps to prevent problems.

Enforce these limits consistently but always respect your child. Try not to yell or humiliate her. And never use physical punishment.

9. When you spend time with your child, let him take the lead sometimes.

Choose what you’ll do together by talking about possible choices and exchanging points of view.

10. A child needs to be given choices as she builds confidence and independence.

Deciding what to wear each day is a good place to start. Offer your preschooler two or three choices that suit the weather and (hopefully) the occasion. Even if her choices aren’t what you’d prefer, be happy that your child is happy.

Also See: 


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