Encouraging your toddler to eat healthy

by Maxine
Posted December 16 2010 06:48pm
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Do you have trouble getting your toddler to enjoy healthy foods? Are you looking for suggestions on how you can encourage your child to develop healthy eating habits? Learn more about what our experts have to say. 

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 group. 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. Expect the appetite of your two-year old to be reduced, since he is now growing at a slower rate than before, and he is much more interested in exploring his surroundings instead of sitting in one place. 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. 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 toddler 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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Discussing the meaning of death with your child

by Maxine
Posted December 20 2010 11:00am
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Whether it's a pet or a person, the death of a loved one can be a confusing, upsetting and possibly scary time for children. They may feel abandoned. They may think it's their fault for being bad or doing something wrong. Most children will wonder what happens to their pet or grandparent who dies. Children worry about whether they could die, too. Preschoolers almost all worry about whether you and other loved ones are going to die.

When talking to your child about death, approach the topic in a gentle and sensitive way. If your child is young, let him know that death is final and that all living things have a beginning and an end of life. Help your child understand that death is a part of the natural cycle. You can start with non-threatening examples, such as trees, butterflies, birds and fish, explaining that they all have their own life span.

Also tell your child that sometimes living things become ill or get hurt so badly that they can no longer stay alive. But emphasize that most people and pets can recover from their illness and hurt, and live until they are very old.

When discussing death with your child, try to be as open and honest as possible. It's best to follow your child's lead. Encourage your child to express what she thinks and feels, and to ask questions. Then do your best to answer them. But don't pretend that you have all the answers. It's a good idea to let your child know that you don't have all the answers, and that some things are hard for everyone to understand, no matter what their age.

It's not a good idea to use fairy tales, ghost stories or expressions like "going away" or "went to sleep" to explain death. If you tell a young child that grandpa "went to sleep," the child may become frightened of going to sleep, fearing that he will die too. If you believe in afterlife, explain your beliefs carefully but be aware that your young child may misunderstand some of it. It's important to explain to your child that he won't see the dead person or animal again on earth. For more assistance, talk to other parents, or visit a parent resource centre or bookstore for advice. 

There are many storybooks written for children on the topic of death.  Some are very specific, (e.g. death of a pet, death of a parent), while others just deal with the topic in general.  Most of these books are focused on certain ages, so you can see which books are written for your child’s age.  You can look up these books at your local library or book store.

A few of the books available include:  

  • I Had a Friend Named Peter by Miriam Cohen (friend)
  • Old Pig by Margaret Wild (grandma)
  • Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Viorst (cat)
  • What's Heaven? by Maria Shriver (grandmother)
  • When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasney Brown (people)
  • The Accident by Carol Carrick (dog)
  • Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley (friend)
  • The Fall Of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia (oneself)
  • The Goodbye Boat by Mary Joslin (aging loved one)
  • Goodbye Mousie by Robie H. Harris (small pet)
  • Grandpa's Slide Show by D. Gould (grandfather)
  • I'll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm (dog)
  • Jim's Dog, Muffin by Miriam Cohen (dog)
  • Saying Goodbye to Daddy by Judith Vigna (father)
  • Saying Goodbye to Grandma by Jane Resh Thomas (grandmother)
  • Sophie by Mem Fox (grandfather)
  • Swan Sky by Keizaburo Tejima (sibling)
  • When A Pet Dies by Fred Rogers (pet)


Have you had to deal with this issue with your preschooler? How did you handle it? Leave a comment below and share your experience with other parents.


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When your preschooler is upset

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 05:12pm
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When preschoolers get upset, it can be very hard on them and the people around them.  Here are several suggestions from our experts to make things easier on everyone.

  • Offer your child a safe quiet place to calm down, away from others, but where she knows she is not entirely alone.
  • Help your child regain control of his emotions by teaching him deep breathing and to think about good things.
  • Try to calm your child by gently changing the scene into something more positive, like baking cookies, going for a walk or cuddling together while you watch TV.
  • Encourage positive, fun physical activity, like jumping on cushions, to help release strong feelings.
  • Most importantly, try to keep yourself calm when your child is upset. Remember that you can't be helpful unless you are in control of your own emotions. 
  • During your regular daily life provide a good example of coping with your own emotions by saying things in front of your child like, "I'm sure I can get through this if I slow down and think about it." 


How do you manage when your preschooler is crying and upset? Have you tried any of these techniques? Did they work? Share your story with other parents by leaving a comment below.


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Living smoke-free with your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 05:52pm
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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. 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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