The Division of Responsibility in Feeding

What is the Division of Responsibility?

The Division of Responsibility is a feeding method that is used to encourage children to trust and use their natural hunger cues and instincts when eating. This approach gives responsibilities to the parent and the child: parents decide what food is served, when it’s served, and where their child will eat the food; children decide how much they want to eat and whether they will eat the food.

What are the benefits of using this method?

Mealtimes can be different for every family, but this approach can be incorporated into any family mealtime – breakfast, snack, dinner. When using this method, parents allow their child to make decisions, which can be a positive experience regardless of the child’s age. In addition, family meals can influence a child’s food-related behaviors. For example, when families share a higher frequency of family meals, research indicates that family members’ fruit and vegetable consumption increases and fried foods and soft drinks consumption decreases (Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2003). When parents provide healthy food options for their families, children begin to learn life-long, healthy eating behaviors.

Family meals also provide a time for bonding that allows children to connect with individual family members and for the family to connect. Regularly scheduled meals can manage children’s expectations around food and can help children feel safe, loved, and secure.

How can I start to implement this method?

Children are still exploring their senses, including their sense of taste, and feeding times provide an opportunity to instill healthy feeding habits that could last a lifetime. When beginning to implement this method, offer new foods along with foods that you know your child will like and eat. In other words, the child is given choices but within limits.

As a parent, you should offer a variety of healthy foods at regularly scheduled times and at a table (or location) where there are no distractions, like televisions or screens. Let children decide which of the offered foods they would like to eat. Start with small portions, and permit children to eat more if they say they’re still hungry or to stop eating if they say they are full. This removes the pressure you may feel to control your child’s eating, and it benefits children because they learn to pay attention to their internal signals of hunger and fullness.

As your child gets older, they may become more vocal about what they want to eat during meals and snacks. Try to provide opportunities for them to help make decisions regarding what your family is eating or what they may have as a snack. For example, allow your child to help you plan a weekly menu, or, depending on their age, have them be the chef for the night. Remember, it is important for your child to start making decisions, but it is equally important for you to trust your child to make decisions for themselves and for you to be okay with the decisions they make.

Tips for eating and mealtime:

  • Talk to your child when they say they are full. Allow them to recognize when they are no longer hungry to help them learn to listen to internal cues of fullness.
  • Serve as a role model and set good examples for healthy eating behaviors by offering and eating a variety of healthy foods.
  • Eat meals regularly with your child.
  • Offer your child healthy choices, for example, “Do you want a banana or yogurt?,” to give your child the opportunity to decide between two healthy options.
  • Remember, it can take up to 10 or more times for a child to be introduced to a food before they will try it.

Keep in mind, you and your child have responsibilities when it comes to feeding and eating. This can help the entire family create a positive relationship with food. As your child grows and learns how to trust their own body cues, they will be able to understand what they need and make healthy choices on their own.

Additional Resources

Grow Parenting Program: The Division of Responsibility in Feeding

Sprout Parenting Program: The Division of Responsibility in Feeding

References

Ellyn Satter Institute. (2015). Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding. https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/ELLYN-SATTER%E2%80%99S-DIVISION-OF-RESPONSIBILITY-IN-FEEDING.pdf

Neumark-Sztainer, D., Hannan, P. J., Story, M., Croll, J., & Perry, C. (2003). Family meal patterns: Associations with sociodemographic characteristics and improved dietary intake among adolescents. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 103(317). https://doi.org/10.1053/jada.2003.50048

Thrive. (2017). Grow parenting program. https://thrive.psu.edu/universal-parenting-programs/grow/

Thrive. (2018). Sprout parenting program. https://thrive.psu.edu/universal-parenting-     programs/sprout/

Dietary Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers

Did you know the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) update the dietary guidelines for Americans every 5 years? These updates are based on new research conducted by an independent committee that strives to provide transparency and include public input when possible. The committee doesn’t just look at trends related to current information on nutritional science; it also determines where future research efforts should be focused. This continued research is important as knowledge is gained regarding how and why people have different nutritional needs at different points in their lives.

The latest update to the guidelines provides insight into nutrition recommendations for different life stages and offers the following general guidelines (USDA and USDHHS, 2020, p.17):

  • Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
  • Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
  • Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within calorie limits.
  • Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.

It is vital to our health to maintain positive eating habits throughout our lives. Not only do good nutrition habits fuel our development, but healthy eating can also help to prevent chronic diseases. Therefore, it is important for parents to understand how to get infants started on a healthy nutrition path.

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the first edition, since 1985, to update nutrition guidelines that are specific to infants and toddlers. Those updates are outlined below.

Infants birth to 6-months old:

Feeding infants an exclusive diet of human milk is the healthiest option for the first 6 months of life. Families may also consider donor milk. If donor milk is the decided option, ensure you “obtain pasteurized donor human milk from a source, such as an accredited human milk bank, that has screened its donors and taken appropriate safety precautions” (USDA, USDHHS, 2020, p. 54). Sometimes, human milk may not be available to your family. In these situations, you should feed infants iron-fortified formula for the first year.

Infants 6-months to 1-year old:

After 6 months, introduce appropriate nutrient-dense foods to your baby, and continue to provide human milk or formula. Offering your infant food at this stage provides them with the nutrition they need and allows the infant to begin to experience different tastes and textures. Do not give up if your infant does not accept these foods! Remember, these foods offer your baby new tastes and textures, and it may take 8-10 offerings for infants to accept a new food experience. Following these guidelines has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, food allergies, and asthma.

How do you know when an infant is ready to be introduced to complementary foods? Some signs to watch for include the following:
  • Your child can independently control their head and neck.
  • Your child sits upright alone or with the support of a highchair.
  • Your child brings objects to their mouth with their hands.
  • Your child tries to grasp small objects, such as toys or food.
  • Your child swallows food rather than pushing it back out onto their chin.
Nutrient-rich foods that are good to introduce to infants include the following:
  • Iron-rich pureed foods, such as meats and spinach, or soft food in small pieces, like scrambled eggs;
  • Zinc-rich foods such as pureed beans, squash, cheese, and yogurt (no cow’s milk);
  • Soft or pureed vegetables, such as peas, broccoli, carrots, and lentils;
  • Grains, such as infant cereals fortified with minerals and vitamins.
When beginning to introduce your infant to solid foods, note there are some types of foods to avoid. These foods include the following:
  • Added sugars. Besides the normal health problems that can occur from ingesting excess sugar, infants are forming taste buds and may develop a preference for foods with high sugar content.
  • High sodium foods. As stated above, since food preferences are being formed, infants may develop a lifelong preference to high-salt foods if they are fed excess sodium.
  • Honey or unpasteurized products. Unpasteurized products and honey may contain organisms and bacteria that can cause serious illness or death in infants.
Toddlers 13- to 23-months old

At this stage of development, children should be relying on milk as a nutrition source less than they did previously. For the average toddler, professionals recommend that children consume 700-1,000 calories a day. Keep in mind that toddlers should not consume saturated fats. Toddlers should be eating a diet of “nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods (including lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, nuts, and seeds), dairy (including milk, yogurt, and cheese), and oils” (USDA, USDHHS, 2020, p. 63).

Healthy Diet Shifts for Toddlers
If you normally provide… Try making this diet shift…
cereal with added sugars cereal with lower amounts of sugar
canned fruit in syrups fruit canned in 100% fruit juice or fresh fruit
deep fried vegetables roasted vegetables
high-sodium meats ground lean meat
beverages with added sugars,
such as some juices
milk or water

You can learn more about healthy nutrition guidance for infants and toddlers, or the other life stages, at the Dietary Guidelines for Americans webpage https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/ Here you can view the full report and find additional resources that can help guide you and your family in making healthy nutrition choices.

 

Reference

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2020). Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 (9th ed.). https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/

Communication: The link to healthy choices for teens

As a child ages and enters their teen years, parents may find it more difficult to talk to them about making healthy choices. This may be because children, at this age, are beginning to make their own decisions about what matters most to them, including choices that affect their health and well-being.

So, as a parent, how can you develop a pattern of communication to help your teenager realize that making healthy and safe decisions about their well-being, including recognizing and avoiding risky behaviors, eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep, is important?

Intentionally create an environment that promotes trust and communication.

Plan to have regular check-ins with your child to discuss daily needs and how those needs can be met. Check-ins can address simple needs like who is picking your child up from school that day or taking them to practice. Those interactions can help create an environment in which your child feels comfortable approaching you, and your child’s feeling of safety may, then, lead to discussions around difficult topics and situations.

Spend quality family time together. Plan time for your family to have fun and enjoy each other – go for a hike, play board games, or plan a vacation together.

Create routines and rituals that emphasize your love, respect, acceptance, and support of one another. Participating in routines, rituals, and shared activities can generate conversations and offer you opportunities to use positive communication skills to encourage your child, promote family togetherness, and create memories.

Establish boundaries and guidelines that will help cultivate open discussions. Boundaries can help you and your child understand and learn positive communication skills. For example, you and your child can negotiate rules and expectations. However, let your child know that safety issues, like not being allowed to go for a run outside after dark, are not negotiable.

Use positive language to avoid being argumentative.

Use I-statements. I-statements help your child understand what you are feeling without making them feel judged. For example, “I am concerned about your health because you don’t eat anything until dinnertime.”

Be mindful of your non-verbal language.

Body language. Make sure your gestures, facial expressions, posture, and eye contact match what you are saying.

Paraverbal language. Consider the tone of your voice, the rate of the gestures, the words you say, and the amount of eye contact you use to help your child understand the true intention of what you are saying.

Actively listen to your child.

Be present and limit distractions. Put down your phone, turn off the television, or stop doing the laundry, and give your child your undivided attention. Showing your teen that you care about them and what they say is important is a great way to promote the trust that is needed to create and maintain a positive parent-child relationship.

Listen with intention. Focus on the moment – don’t think about your response or other issues that may be occurring that day – and don’t assume you know what your child is going to say. Just listen.

Withhold judgment. When listening to your adolescent, do not make immediate judgments on their words or actions – listen to the whole story. Your child should feel that their thoughts and feelings are valid and deserve consideration.

Clarify what your child is saying by paraphrasing their words. When you’re communicating with your adolescent, sometimes what you mean and what your child hears are two different things. Or vice versa, sometimes what your child means and what you hear are two different things. Practice this skill with your child by clarifying what was said through repetition. For example, “What I hear you saying is you can’t get to bed on time because you have too much homework to do.”

Integrating these strategies and skills into your interactions with your child can help you build a respectful pattern of communication in your parent-child relationship. By doing this, you may find it easier to talk with your child about topics like making healthy and safe decisions. Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. Continue to work on your communication strategies with your teen and practice them daily to help create and maintain open and positive communication in your parent-child relationship.

Incorporating Quality Carbohydrates

Encouraging healthier eating for you and your family includes eating a healthy and well-balanced diet that incorporates foods high in carbohydrates. When consumed, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (sugar), which provides the body with energy to support physical functioning. Therefore, it is important to eat carbohydrates in a healthful diet, but some types of foods rich in carbohydrates are better for our bodies than others.

The healthiest sources of carbohydrates come from unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. These types of carbohydrates support optimal health by supplying the body with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and important phytonutrients, like antioxidants and beta-carotene. Furthermore, the proposed benefits of phytonutrients, such as increasing immune system performance, enhancing vision, decreasing cancer risk, improving heart health, and lowering cholesterol, suggest these natural chemicals play a significant role in overall human health.

Adding quality carbohydrates to your family’s diet can be easy! Try some of the following:

Choose vegetables and fresh fruit.

When eating meals or snacks, concentrate on filling at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are associated with a reduced risk of many chronic diseases (e.g., arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes).

Incorporate whole grains into the first meal of the day.

Purchase whole grains like old-fashioned oats or cereals that list a whole grain as the first ingredient. Oats and oatmeal have been shown to promote weight loss, lower blood sugar, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Use whole-grain bread.

There are many types of bread to choose from and picking the right one can be challenging. Look for a bread that is made entirely from whole grains or one that lists the first ingredient as whole grain.

Include whole grains, like quinoa.

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and is an edible seed that contains many key nutrients, like fiber, protein, and B vitamins, and important minerals, like iron. Replacing gluten-free ingredients with quinoa can help increase your nutrient value and antioxidant intake.

Substitute beans for potatoes.

Potatoes have been associated with weight gain, so substituting potatoes with beans and other legumes, like chickpeas, can provide your body with carbohydrates that also offer protein.

Additional Resources:

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). My Plate. https://www.myplate.gov/

References:

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (n.d.). Carbohydrates. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/#:~:text=Carbohydrates%20are%20found%20in%20a,sugars%2C%20fibers%2C%20and%20starches

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Phytonutrients. https://www.nutrition.gov/topics/whats-food/phytonutrients

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). 2020-2025 Dietary guidelines for Americans. https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/dietary-guidelines

 

 

 

Talking to Children about Germs, COVID-19, and Practicing Proper Hygiene

With the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many children may have questions about the virus or germs in general.

What are Germs?

Germs are everywhere! They are small and can enter our bodies without us knowing. Some germs can live on surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, countertops) for a short period of time. Once they invade a human body, however, they can make a person sick. The easiest way to prevent the spread of germs is through handwashing!

Bacteria are tiny cells that obtain nutrients from their environment, which in some cases may be the human body, and can reproduce either inside or outside of a human body (KidsHealth, 2018). Ear infections, strep throat, and pneumonia are all examples of illnesses that can be caused by bacteria. Antibiotics can be used to help kill unwanted bacteria inside the body. However, not all bacteria are bad. Some bacteria are good and help to keep our bodies functioning normally!

Viruses need to be inside living cells to reproduce (KidsHealth, 2018). A virus cannot survive long outside of a host, like a human or an animal. Viruses can cause the common cold; the flu; sinusitis; bronchitis; or other diseases, such as COVID-19. Antibiotics cannot be used to kill viruses; however, antiviral medications and vaccines can help to fight viruses or even prevent viruses from making a person sick.

How to Talk to Children about the COVID-19 Virus

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) (2020) has developed some general principles for how to talk to children about the COVID-19 virus.

  • Remain calm and reassuring.
  • Make yourself available to listen and to talk.
  • Avoid language that might blame others and lead to stigma.
  • Pay attention to what children see or hear on television or media outlets.
  • Provide information that is honest and accurate.
  • Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.

How to help Children practice Good Hygiene

Parents can help children prevent the spread of germs by teaching children specific manners to be used when they are sick and showing them how to maintain proper hygiene. According to the CDC (2020), some ways parents can teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs are as follows:

  • Remind children to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing or who seem sick.
  • Remind children to cough or sneeze into their elbow or a tissue, and then throw the tissue into the trash.
  • Get children into a hand-washing habit.
    • Teach children to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing their noses, coughing, sneezing, going to the bathroom, and before eating or preparing food. Have them sing the Happy Birthday song twice while they wash their hands; that will equal 20 seconds!
    • If soap and water are not available, teach them to use a hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizers should contain at least 60% alcohol. Supervise young children at home, school, and child care facilities when they use a hand sanitizer to prevent them from swallowing the product.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/

References

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, March). Talking with children about coronavirus disease 2019: Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html

KidsHealth. (2018, July). What are Germs? Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/germs.html

Let’s go camping!

Summer has finally arrived, and it is time for everyone to go outside and enjoy some outdoor family fun! Camping is a great summertime activity, and it offers opportunities for your family members to explore nature and escape the “noise” (e.g., televisions, tablets, social media).

Outdoor activities, like camping, hiking, fishing, and biking, can provide many health benefits such as increasing Vitamin D intake, improving overall mood, improving concentration, and decreasing stress (Harvard University Medical School, 2010). Sharing outdoor activities while camping can also offer unique opportunities for your family to connect to and learn about each other.

The first time you go camping you may experience some uncertainty. However, careful planning, especially if you have younger children, can help ensure you have a successful camping experience.

Practice Inside

  • Practice camping in your home. If you have enough space, set up a tent inside and decorate your campsite – remember to be creative (e.g., make smores in the microwave, string up lights to simulate stars, play nature sounds).

Practice Outside

  • If you’re unsure of how your children may react to camping, or sleeping outdoors, set up a small campsite in your backyard. Backyard camping can offer your family a similar experience and allow you to understand what may be needed when (or if) you decide to take your camping a bit farther from home.

Create a List

  • As part of the planning process, create a list of camping essentials that you will need, like a tent, blankets/sleeping bags, pillows, food, water, sunscreen, fire starters, medication, and appropriate clothing, but remember some specialty items that might bring comfort to your children like a favorite blanket or a special toy. To learn more about camping essentials visit https://www.myopencountry.com/camping-tips/

Include your Children in the Planning Process

  • Children like to be involved, so it’s important to talk to them about what camping is, why you want to do it with them, and what they can expect. Be sure to address any concerns they raise and come up with solutions to any expressed concerns as a team.

Measure Your Skills

  • If you’ve never been camping yourself, you may want to look for a campsite that is located on resort property or a campsite that has amenities (e.g., public restrooms, on-site store) close by. Remember, even if you’re an experienced camper, your children might still be new to camping, so you may want to consider choosing an area that’s challenging but not too much for them to handle.

Take Precautions

  • If you are a bit skeptical about venturing out alone, invite some additional family members or friends to join along in the fun.
  • Many campsites have restrictions, like burning fires or bringing pets. Be sure to carefully vet the camping locations you’re interested in and keep a detailed list of any regulations.
  • To help your children avoid getting lost, teach your children the buddy system. Younger children should team up with an adult, and older children can get together with a peer.

Camping can be an enjoyable activity for your family and a way for you to create special memories together. Your children will benefit from being outdoors and finding ways, places, or things to explore. Who knows, it may become your family’s favorite vacation getaway!

 

Resources

Baer, T. (2019, June 24). 30+ tips on camping with kids, from parents who have been there. The  Dyrt Magazine. https://thedyrt.com/magazine/lifestyle/camping-with-kids/

Conghalie, B. (2021, March 8). Camping hacks and tips from fire to shelter. My Open Country. https://www.myopencountry.com/camping-tips/

Reference

Harvard Medical School. (2010, October 12). A prescription for better health: Go alfresco. Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/a-prescription-for-better-health-go-alfresco

Digital Empowerment Resource

Media has become an integral part of everyday life for youth and families. Media habits that youth develop at an early age may continue through adulthood. Providing support to children to navigate the digital world responsibly – enhance the positive attributes and cope with the challenges and dilemmas – at a young age may increase their abilities to have respectable, meaningful interactions with others through constructive online engagement. Online platforms can offer youth and children a vast virtual world, which increases their exposure to a variety of topics and diverse individuals – good and bad. Professionals and parents serve as the cornerstone to teaching the fundamental skills of digital citizenship to youth and empowering youth to be good digital citizens by helping them understand the virtual world and helping them know how to keep themselves safe within that world. To aid in the healthy development of youth, the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State (Clearinghouse) partnered with the Department of Defense’s Office of Military Community and Family Policy (MC&FP) to create a Digital Empowerment Resource to provide support to professionals and parents as they educate children about what it means to be a good digital citizen and empower them to positively participate in the virtual world.

The Digital Empowerment Resource offers activities and resources that can be used to speak with children and youth about media use and communicate the importance of good digital citizenship. Activities have been developed to make it easier for the professional to identify appropriate material to use in daily lesson planning with children who are 5 to 10 years old and adolescents and teens who are 10 to 18 years old. In addition, resources are provided that offer supplementary support to the professional on specific digital citizenship topics. Furthermore, resources include posters that can be printed and placed in facilities, parent handouts, and family activities that can be used to engage the entire family in practicing good digital citizenship habits.

Podcast

Representatives from the Clearinghouse recently spoke with the Military Family Learning Network about the Digital Empowerment Resource. A podcast recording can be found here: https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/podcast/exploring-the-thrive-initiatives-digital-empowerment-resource-for-parents-and-professionals-anchored-episode-23/

Digital Empowerment Resource

The Digital Empowerment Resource is available at no cost and can be downloaded directly from the Thrive Website: https://thrive.psu.edu/for-professionals/resources/

 

Nutritional Health before and during Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body is your baby’s first environment. Just as you would prepare the outside world for your baby by purchasing a baby crib, installing a car seat, or prepping your home for safety with outlet plugs, you should also prepare your body for pregnancy by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating nutritious foods and avoiding other foods and substances is important for you and your baby. Remember, many factors, including your own health, safety, and the choices you make, affect your body and your baby.

If you are considering conception, planning for the pregnancy, and preparing your body can improve your chances of having a healthy full-term baby. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can increase your overall health and improve your chances of conception. Research indicates diets high in folic acid, polyunsaturated fats, and plant-based foods can positively impact fertility (Panth, et al., 2018). If you are planning to become pregnant or if you are already pregnant, you may want to consider some of the following nutritional health tips.

Learn what to eat. Eating nutritious foods and learning about appropriate food choices during pregnancy is essential for your health and the health of your growing fetus. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), and these guidelines offer information about healthy foods you may want to consider eating while you are pregnant. Some of those foods include the following:

  • Dairy products are sources of calcium, protein, vitamin D, and phosphorus. These nutrients are essential for your baby’s developing bones, teeth, heart, and nerves:
    • milk, cheese, yogurt.
  • Protein can positively affect the growth of fetal tissue and the brain, and it can increase the mother’s blood supply:
    • beef, pork, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts.
  • Carbohydrates are a source of energy, so they help the mother support and grow the baby:
    • whole-grain bread and pasta, rice, oatmeal, corn, potatoes.
  • Healthy fats, which are called unsaturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats, help improve the heart and how it functions:
    • olives, nuts, avocados, meats (HHS, 2020).

Know the benefits. There are many benefits to consuming nutritious foods and eating a balanced diet of protein, fat, and fiber while you are pregnant. Eating healthy foods can help you maintain your health; give you more energy; help reduce stress, either while trying to conceive or during pregnancy; and help decrease fatigue, nausea, or anemia. Eating the appropriate foods can help ensure a healthy birth weight for your baby and support his or her brain development and reduce birth defects (HHS, 2020).

Follow safe food practices. Pregnant bodies are more sensitive to food-borne illnesses. Good food safety practices should be followed and include the following:

  • Ensure food has been cooked to safe minimum internal temperatures.
  • Wash all fresh produce.
  • Avoid raw dairy and eggs and raw sprouts.
  • Check that food like milk, cheese, and juice say pasteurized on the label.
  • Consume fish with some caution. Fish can have mercury, which is a heavy metal that can make you sick and harm your baby’s development. Shark, swordfish, tuna, and marlin often contain mercury. Smaller fish like sardines, cod, flounder, tilapia, and canned light tuna are nutrient-dense and provide many benefits.
  • Avoid raw fish and raw shellfish.
  • Stay away from deli luncheon meats, and hotdogs should be reheated to steaming hot to kill Listeria (a foodborne illness that can be serious during pregnancy).
  • Avoid organ meat, like liver, as it may have too much vitamin A.
  • Minimize your caffeine intake. A little caffeine is fine but aim for no more than 300 milligrams or 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day.
  • Avoid sweetened beverages and junk foods. These foods are not nutrient-dense, and they contain significant added sugars or sugar substitutes.
  • Avoid alcohol; there is no known amount of alcohol that is considered safe during pregnancy (HHS, 2020).

Some pregnancies may have more health challenges than others. However, you can improve your baby’s first environment by making healthy nutrition choices and regularly visiting your pregnancy healthcare provider. Preparing your body, making appropriate food choices, and maintaining your overall health will help you give your baby the best start possible.

Visit your healthcare provider if you plan to become pregnant or if you are pregnant and talk about your health history and your partner’s health history. You and your partner may need to make changes to your nutrition, medications, and lifestyles. Healthychildren.org provides additional tips (e.g., exercise, stress reduction, family planning, healthy relationships) on taking care of yourself before and during pregnancy.

Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021). Prenatal decisions to make. Healthy children. https://healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/decisions-to-make/Pages/default.aspx

U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. (2020). Dietary guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf

References

Panth, N., Gavarkovs, A., Tamez, M., & Mattei, J. (2018). The influence of diet on fertility and the implications for public health nutrition in the United States. Front Public Health, 6, 211. https://www.doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2018.00211

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). Dietary guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf

 

Outdoor Safety

In spring, the weather is getting warm, and you and your family can go outside and be physically active. Whether you go biking, geocaching, hiking, walking, or swimming, you should consider some safety measures. Following safety measures like wearing helmets and sunscreen are essential to protect you and your family while you enjoy the outdoors. Here are tips to keep you and your family safe during outdoor activities:

  • Wear helmets correctly. Helmets can protect you and your child while you participate in activities like baseball, rollerblading, and bike riding. Helmets should be well maintained, age-suitable, and appropriately certified for use, and they should be worn regularly and correctly. Learn about helmets and how to make sure you are wearing them properly at HEADS UP.
  • Drink water and stay well hydrated. Water is healthy and has zero calories and no added sugar. Water is essential for the body – drinking it helps keep joints, bones, and teeth healthy; allows the blood to circulate; and may improve your mood. Drinking water keeps us hydrated while we engage in outside activities. When you sweat, you need to replace the water your body has lost. During activities like running, biking, and playing soccer, your child should drink water before, during, and after the activity. Hereis more information about the benefits of drinking water and staying hydrated.
  • Wear the proper footwear. Biking in flip-flops, hiking in high-heeled shoes, and playing soccer in slippers are not recommended. Wearing the right shoe for the activity can decrease your chances of injury. Proper fitting shoes cushion and support the foot, feel comfortable, and fit well. You can learn more about safe footwear from the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society here.
  • Use sunscreen. Sunburns and skin damage can happen even on cloudy days. Try to put on sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside. Use an SPF of 15 or higher. Remember, reapply sunscreen after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. You can find additional sun safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.
  • Limit cellphone distraction. Research says that most playground injuries happen when parents focus on cell phones instead of watching and playing with their children (Lemish, 2019). While playing with your child outside, try to use your cell phone on a limited basis and only as needed.

Getting outside and getting physical activity can be an enjoyable experience for you and your family. Just remember to be safe and have fun!

 

Resources

American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (2021). How do I choose shoes for my child? FootCare MD. https://www.footcaremd.org/resources/how-to-help/how-to-select-childrens-shoes

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Heads-up helmet safety. https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/helmets/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Sun safety tips for families. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety-tips-families.htm

Healthy Children (2020). Choose water for healthy hydration. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Choose-Water-for-Healthy-Hydration.aspx

Reference

Lemish, D., Elias, N., & Floegal, D., (2020) Look at me! Parental use of mobile phones at the playground. SAGE Journals, 8(2), 179-187. https://doi.org/10.1177/2050157919846916

 

 

Healthy ways to celebrate National Nutrition Month

We all know we should practice healthy eating habits for our general health and well-being. Parents want their children to be healthy, so they follow healthy eating habits with their children throughout the year – but March is National Nutrition Month, so parents can use March to dedicate extra time and attention to nutrition! Here are a few ideas to inspire you and your family to focus on good nutrition and healthy eating for National Nutrition Month!

Try choosing one of the following healthy eating challenges during the month of March!

  • Make your own taste test kitchen at home and try new foods! This is one way to introduce your children to foods that they may normally refuse to try or maybe never have had the opportunity to try. Think outside of your regular food items and explore different spices and tastes together. For example, you might try kiwi or star fruit, or even foods made with saffron and cardamom or other spices from different parts of the world.
  • Try to eat breakfast as a family. Eating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast can be a good way to begin your day together. MyPlate is a resource for information on what constitutes a well-balanced meal.
  • Try limiting sweetened beverages by drinking water with slices of lemons or limes and play an educational game! Rethink Your Drink demonstration is a fun way to teach your children about healthy beverages choices.
  • Teach your children how to read a nutrition facts label. This can be an activity for the whole family. Look through your pantry or cupboards for grocery items, read the labels, and talk about the ingredients. Make a game out of it, like the person who finds the label with the least number of ingredients gets to pick the dinner menu for Friday night.
  • Use the MyPlate website to find games and activities for children of all ages. Get creative!

Any small change that you make to improve the nutrition of you and your family this month is a big success!

 

Resources:

Action for healthy kids. (n.d.). Rethink your drink [Activity]. https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/activity/rethink-your-drink/

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2021) Myplate.gov. https://www.myplate.gov/life-stages/kids

 

References:

Action for healthy kids. (n.d.). Celebrate National Nutrition Month. Healthy Kids Blog. https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/activity/celebrate-national-nutrition-month/