Little Things That Mean a Lot to Kids

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Here are a few easy tricks to make your child smile.

  1. Go for a walk with just one child.
  2. Slip a note (and an occasional piece of chocolate ) into their lunch box.
  3. Say “yes” to something usually off-limits, like sitting on the counter.
  4. Show as much enthusiasm on amusement-park ridesas they do.
  5. When their room looks like a tsunami swept through it, close the door and get on with your day.
  6. Skype or do FaceTime with Grandmaevery now and then.
  7. If your child has given it a good try, but he’s still miserable and anxious and really, truly wants to quit the team, give him your blessing.
  8. Go ahead: Let your 4-year-old stomp in every puddle along the way. Even without rain boots.
  9. Take in a pet that needs a home and a child’s love.
  10. Give your toddler a chance to fight his own battles in the sandbox or on the playground before you intervene.
  11. Cultivate your own rituals and traditions: Taco Tuesdays, Sunday-afternoon bike ride, apple picking every fall. Our tradition is Pizza Night on Fridays J
  12. Ask your kid to teach you how to do something for a change. And once you get the hang of it, be sure to tell him what a good teacher he is.
  13. Let your child wear their dress-up clothesto the supermarket. All month if she wants to.
  14. Let your child overhear you saying something wonderful about them.
  15. Stay up late to see the full moon. There’s one on October 27.
  16. Print their childhood photos so they have something physical to look at one day.
  17. Don’t be in a hurry to tell your kid to let it go. He needs to vent too.
  18. Crank up the music in the middle of homework and have a dance party.
  19. Make a secret family handshake.
  20. Hang a whiteboard in their room to leave messages for each other.
  21. Start a pillow fight.
  22. Share your old diaries, photos, and letters from when you were their age.

5 Snacks to keep your kids full longer

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Children can definitely eat out of monotony, just like grownups do. But another issue is that sometimes what they are eating may actually not be filling them up. Snack staples like pretzels, gummy fruit snacks, fish-shaped crackers, and even many granola bars simply don’t have much staying-power, so kids are hungrier sooner.

If you’re looking for a snack that will satisfy, here are some ideas:

Cheese & Veggies 

Have been proof that kids that eat as snack cheese and vegetables were satisfied after eating fewer calories than those who munched on potato chips. That’s probably because protein-rich cheese and water and fiber-rich veggies are both naturally filling foods.

Avocado Toast 

Adults who had half an avocado at lunch reported less desire to eat up to five hours later compared to those who didn’t have avocado. But even a kid-sized portion should be super satisfying since avocados are rich in heart-healthy fats that can keep hunger at bay. Spread mashed avocado quarter on a piece of whole grain toast to add extra fiber.

Raspberries & Yogurt

Fruit is high in fiber, which sops up water and swells as it passes through the digestive system, making you feel fuller. Raspberries are one of the highest-fiber fruits, packing a whopping 8 grams per cup (that’s about a third of what school-age kids need for the whole day). If fresh aren’t available, get frozen berries (just make sure they don’t contain added sugar). Add them to yogurt, which is rich in protein.

Nuts or Nut Butter

Nuts contain protein, fat, and fiber, which are all satisfying nutrients. You can serve nuts straight up or paired with dried fruit, or blend nuts or nut butter into smoothies. When kids and parents regularly ate almonds, their overall diet quality improved and they had healthy changes to their gut bacteria. (Just remember that whole nuts are a choking hazard for children younger than four.)

Popcorn

Popcorn is a tasty source of whole grains. Some studies with adults, those who munched on six cups of popcorn reported feeling more satisfied than those who ate just one cup of potato chips—and they also took in fewer calories when given a meal afterwards. Popcorn is big on volume, which the brain sees as being more filling. Skip packaged microwave popcorn and make it yourself on the stove top is simple.

I hope these tips can help you and found this article useful 5 Snacks to keep kids full longer, sometimes is hard to decide the best option and healthier option for your kids, I hope this helps.

 

10 Things I Wish People Would Stop Doing Around My Kids

There are a few things I wish other parents would stop doing when it comes to my kids—or at the very least in front of them. With some things, when I clearly know the intent, it’s much easier to let it go, but other times I find myself digging deep to extend grace (if I’m honest there have been times when I’ve dug deep and come up with nothing).

Still, I’m not here to judge. I’m just here to encourage us to look within and to be mindful of the things we are doing and saying, not just when it comes to our own kids. I’m sure I’ve done something to result in an eye-roll from another mom. So while I’m asking you to please stop talking like a sailor in front of my children who happen to be right behind you in the grocery store checkout line, I’m also doing my best to teach my children about our own family values and expectations and that we don’t necessarily have to like or agree with everything someone does to respect them or be kind.

1. Let their kids use social media

Apparently my tween is the only one who doesn’t have Instagram or Snapchat (hey, I don’t even have Snapchat)—which means I’m being totally unreasonable here. I’m OK with that, but is there anyone out there who can give me a (virtual) high-five?

2. (Well-meaning strangers) offer my kids snacks

You thought the tears were bad, now just wait until I say, “No thank you.”

My little one is crying and you wanted to help so you waved your magic wand, I mean lollipop. Actually, you did ask me if she could have it but she was right there listening and watching that gleaming piece of candy move through the air. You thought the tears were bad, now just wait until I say, “No thank you.”

3. Ask me for a favor related to your kid

Perhaps the only thing worse than my child putting me on the spot is another parent putting me on the spot—in front of both our kids.

4. Drop F-bombs

Given I’ve got a 3-year-old who occasionally moonlights as a parrot, I try to be more careful about what I say around her. While I can control what I say, I can’t control what you say (Note: I’m not just talking about the occasional drop but rather a continuous stream of profanity as a part of your regular dialogue.). And there are some words that I don’t want to become a part of her increasingly expansive vocabulary.

5. Be mean

Making cruel, harsh and/or judgmental comments about parents or children or people in general just isn’t cool nor is it funny. When you pick apart the traits (physical or personality) of another person (even if they’re on TV), support negative stereotypes and engage in other forms of word vomit, I’m forced to question the value of our relationship when it comes to my family. Or maybe I question why I came to this restaurant and ask to be seated somewhere else. In our world kindness rules. You can totally, “sit with us.” Just be nice, OK?

6. Tell me how to discipline them

Lucky for you they’re my kids, which means you don’t need to worry yourself with how they should be disciplined.

If you’re coming from a good place and you’d like to share your thoughts in private, then please go right ahead. But I’d rather you not tell me that all parenting dilemmas would be solved if I would spank my kids or ground them or do whatever it is you do. Lucky for you they’re my kids, which means you don’t need to worry yourself with how they should be disciplined. Have you watched the news lately? There are greater fights for you to fight.

7. Make a negative or snarky comment about their appearance

I’m trying to raise girls that are comfortable in their own skin (and hair), and listening to you go on and on about how their hair is so coarse and how it must take forever and be so difficult to comb isn’t helping. We don’t need you to pity us or belittle us. We’re learning to work what God gave us and love it too. You don’t have to love it, but as the saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say … “

8. Disrespect boundaries

Nope. If my kid doesn’t want to hug you they don’t have to. It doesn’t matter whether you are a relative or a friend; if you ask and they decline, that’s it. And please refrain from the manipulative fake cries or declarations that you aren’t going to give them a treat anymore. Keep your treat. They have a right to speak up when it comes to their bodies.

9. Gossip

How is gossiping about someone’s marriage woes or troubled teen over coffee actually helping them? Moreover how is it helping my kids, who are indirectly being invited into an (inappropriate) adult conversation? Children are children, not miniature grown-ups. So please, let them be little. Once again “If you don’t have anything nice to say … “

10. Insist that (insert magical childhood character) doesn’t exist.

Just because you’ve stopped believing doesn’t mean my children have to. In my house we’re holding on to the magic of childhood for as long as we can, and for us that includes penning letters to Santa and putting that lost tooth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy. (Also: Unlike our fictitious favorites, our God is real. We don’t attack your faith and ask that you please refrain from attacking ours.).

Is there anything you wish other parents would stop doing around your kids or you’re making more of an effort to stop doing?

Via Mom.me

I Smashed the Legos Today, And Now I’m Filled With Regret

Pete Wilgoren

I warned her.

I really did. I warned her.

And she just stood there. We needed to get ready. We were late. She knew we were late. So I warned her again. I did.

Still, she just stood there.

And I started counting to 30. I gave her 30 seconds to get it together. Time to get ready. Now. We’re late. 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8…. You need to get ready to go. Shoes and socks. Now. 9… 10… 11… 12… 13… 14… 15…. And she stood there. And I counted. And she just stood there staring me down defiantly.

And I counted more. 16… 17… 18… 19… 20. Don’t make me get to 30. She just stood there. Don’t do it. Stood there.

Don’t… 21… 22… 23… 24.

We’ve been here before. The morning battles. The not listening. The stare downs.

Stood there. Not this time. 25…

I took one of her small Lego sets, and I smashed it. Just like I threatened. One of the Lego sets she built piece by piece and proudly displayed. Destroyed. And she ran to her room in tears as Lego pieces scattered across the floor. I didn’t wait ’til 30.

I warned her I was going to punish her by getting rid of a Lego set. I warned her. I wanted to send a message. It was the culmination of all the not listenings. All the morning battles. All the frustration. So I sent a message. I did it. It was done. And immediately I thought, “What did I do?!”

She got ready for school in silence as I picked up all the Lego pieces I could find on the floor, from under the table, from behind the piano. I never found them all. We were so late that there wasn’t even time for breakfast anymore. We’d lost so much time on a useless battle over being late, the endless parenting battling over morning routines, I had to bag up some fruit and cereal for her and we headed out the door. In silence.

I dropped her off and headed to work, and I couldn’t shake it. In one instant, I created a memory she will never forget. Never.

I called my wife, and we talked it out as I drove. She listened. She’s always a good listener. And at some point, she said, “They’re little. We only have them for such a short time.” And she was right. I wanted to punish my kid, and I wanted to send a message. And I did. Unfortunately.

When I got off work, it was already dark. I battled the freeway home, and as I approached the exit for home, I passed right by it. I went to a local toy store and scanned the store shelves and spotted the same Lego set — the one with the little rocket ship amusement rides that spin around. I bought it.

I brought it home and walked up to the house. My little gal was already in her pajamas for the night. She saw the Lego set and smiled. I gave it to her and I said, “I didn’t handle the situation this morning properly. I was wrong, and I’m sorry.” And she gave me a big hug. She took the Lego box and dumped out the pieces on the floor and immediately started to rebuild. We started to rebuild.

Still, I know I created a memory she’ll never forget — the day Dad shattered her little Lego set — like little scratches on the surface of their childhood. This scratch was all mine. And I can’t take it back but I can do better. And I will.

By Pete Wilgoren

Irregular Bedtimes Could Be Damaging Children’s Health

What happens in the early years of a person’s life has a profound effect on how they fare later on. Thousands of research papers – many of them using the rich data in the British Birth Cohort studies – have shown that children who get a poor start in life are much more likely to experience difficulties as adults; whether that’s to do with poor health, or their ability to enjoy work and family life.

Ensuring that children get enough sleep is one of a number of ways to get them off to the best possible start in life. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that toddlers should get roughly 11 to 14 hours of sleep every day. For children aged three to five years, the recommendation is ten to 13 hours, or nine to 11 hours for children once they’re at primary school.

But the latest research carried out by our team at UCL’s International Centre for Lifecourse Studies, shows that it’s not just the amount of sleep a child gets which matters. After digging into the data from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) – which has followed the lives of some 20,000 children since the turn of the century – we found that having a regular bedtime also affects how they get on at home and at school, throughout the first decade of their lives.

The ‘jet lag’ effect:

To begin with, we looked at the relationship between regular and irregular bedtimes, and how the children got on in a range of cognitive tests. Parents who took part in the MCS were asked whether their children went to bed at a regular time on weekdays. Those who answered “always” or “usually” were put in the regular bedtime group, while those who answered “sometimes” or “never” were put in the irregular bedtime group.

The results were striking. Children with irregular bedtimes had lower scores on maths, reading and spatial awareness tests. In fact, the time that children went to bed had little or no effect on their basic number skills, or their ability to work with shapes. But having no set bedtime was linked to lower scores, especially for three-year-olds. The greatest dip in test results was seen in girls who had no set bedtime at their early life.

At the heart of this phenomenon is the circadian rhythm – the internal body clock, which tells you when it’s time to sleep and wake up.

If I travel from London to New York, I’m likely to be slightly ragged when I arrive, because jet lag is going to affect my cognitive abilities, appetite and emotions. If I bring one of my children with me, and I want them to do well at a maths test having just jumped across time zones, they will struggle even more than I will. If we think of the body is an instrument, then a child’s body is more prone to getting out of tune.

The same thing happens when children go to bed at 8pm one night, 10pm the next and 7pm another . Scientists sometimes call this the “social jet lag effect”. Without ever getting on a plane, a child’s bodily systems get shuffled through different time zones, and their circadian rhythms and hormonal systems take a hit as a result.

Best behavior:

As well as enhancing a child’s intellectual development, we found that regular bedtimes can also improve their behaviour.

At age seven, according to parents and teachers, children in the MCS who had irregular bedtimes were considerably more likely to have behavioural problems than their peers who had a regular bedtime. The more frequently a child had been able to go to bed at different times each night, the worse his or her behavioural problems were. In other words, the effects appeared to accumulate throughout childhood.

But we did find an important piece of good news,too: those negative effects on behaviour appeared to be reversible. Children who switched to having a regular bedtime showed improvements in their behaviour. This shows that it’s never too late to help children back onto a positive path, and a small change could make a big difference to how well they get on.

But of course, the reverse was also true: the behaviour of children who switched from a regular to an irregular bedtime got worse.

A weighty problem:

In a follow-up study, which looked at the impact of routines (including bedtimes) on obesity, we reported that children with irregular bedtimes were more likely to be overweight, and have lower self-esteem and satisfaction with their bodies.

In fact, of all the routines we studied, an inconsistent bedtime was most strongly associated with the risk of obesity. This supports other recent findings, which show that young children who skipped breakfast and went to bed at irregular times were more likely to be obese at age 11. Even children who “usually” had a regular bedtime were 20% more likely to be obese than those who “always” went to bed at around the same time.

Clearly, the evidence shows that a regular bedtime really matters when it comes to children’s health and development, throughout that crucial first decade of their lives. Including these findings alongside recommended hours of sleep in advice for all those caring for young children could make a real difference, by helping protect children from “social jet lag” and getting them off to a flying start instead.

More information Here

15 Reasons Why Toodlers Are Such Angry Little People

Toddlers get a bad rap. Their lives are tumultuous and filled with people who just don’t understand that they need their sandwiches cut into perfect triangles that don’t touch each other under any circumstances. And the juice should be in the blue cup…I mean the red cup…no, it’s actually the blue. Life is hard for these little dictators because sometimes they need to feel the satisfying crunch of a thousand Cheerios under their feet and most people are trying to take this away from them.

Of course, they feel angry. Who wouldn’t?

Here are some other reasons why toddlers are probably so angry all of the time:

1. They fall down a lot.

Have you ever seen how often those little shorties bite the big one? I don’t know any official numbers, but it’s often. I’d be pissed too if I was falling down all day long on legs that just weren’t working properly.

2. Moms don’t get shit right.

It’s not that hard, really. Moms should be able to figure out that clothes are painful to toddlers extremities, and that if your toddler wants to get into the car all by themselves, well then, the world will just need to wait.

3. There is literal crap in their pants.

And potty training is for losers.

4. Nobody understands what they are saying.

Words are hard, and sometimes screaming just feels right.

5. Everybody is trying to ‘change’ them.

If they have made a self-commitment to cry hysterically each time they don’t get to push the door button at the library, who are you to try and take this from them?

6. Nobody takes their problems seriously.

They don’t want your “help” while putting on their shoes; they just want one thousand years to get it right. Chill out.

7. Pants are the true oppressor of our great nation, and nobody seems to get this.

Toddlers get it. Legs are meant to feel all the changes of the seasons.

8. Time-outs are like jail for innocent people.

Toddlers are ruled by instinct, and their instincts tell them to say, “No!”  in a very loud voice when asked most things.

9. Everyone is always suggesting a nap.

They don’t need a nap; they just need someone to let them paint their body with syrup like God intended.

10. It’s like nobody has ever seen someone want to be naked in Target before.

Toddlers are innovators, and they predict that nudity is going to be the next trending topic.

11. It’s always, ‘hold my hand,’ ‘don’t run in the street,’ ‘don’t eat batteries,’ ‘don’t lick the cat.’

These things bring them joy. You don’t know that toddler’s life, lady.

12. They understand that the choices you are offering

them are complete bullshit.

Oh, really. They get to choose between taking a nap now or taking a nap in five minutes? They know a con when they see one.

13. There’s a never-ending list of things they need to do, and people keep jacking their shit up.

Jacking shit up — every toddler’s mom should wear a shirt that says this.

14. They haven’t known you for very long, so they need to see how long it takes for you to blow.

It’s like a long scientific experiment titled, “How fast can I make these people taking care of me lose their minds?” Their hypothesis is “very soon.”

15. Tantrums are great stress relievers.

It’s better than meditation and/or exercise according to some toddler experts.

So, next time you see a toddler losing his behavior at the grocery store, the playground, the pool, the library, the restaurant, or your own home, remember that they are just trying to live their most authentic life. Instead of trying to escape their wailing, you should really stay and watch and applaud their efforts. And give them candy.

Via Scary Mommy

Little Things That Mean a Lot to Kids

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Here are a few easy tricks to make your child smile.

  1. Go for a walk with just one child.
  2. Slip a note (and an occasional piece of chocolate ) into their lunch box.
  3. Say “yes” to something usually off-limits, like sitting on the counter.
  4. Show as much enthusiasm on amusement-park ridesas they do.
  5. When their room looks like a tsunami swept through it, close the door and get on with your day.
  6. Skype or do FaceTime with Grandmaevery now and then.
  7. If your child has given it a good try, but he’s still miserable and anxious and really, truly wants to quit the team, give him your blessing.
  8. Go ahead: Let your 4-year-old stomp in every puddle along the way. Even without rain boots.
  9. Take in a pet that needs a home and a child’s love.
  10. Give your toddler a chance to fight his own battles in the sandbox or on the playground before you intervene.
  11. Cultivate your own rituals and traditions: Taco Tuesdays, Sunday-afternoon bike ride, apple picking every fall. Our tradition is Pizza Night on Fridays J
  12. Ask your kid to teach you how to do something for a change. And once you get the hang of it, be sure to tell him what a good teacher he is.
  13. Let your child wear their dress-up clothesto the supermarket. All month if she wants to.
  14. Let your child overhear you saying something wonderful about them.
  15. Stay up late to see the full moon. There’s one on October 27.
  16. Print their childhood photos so they have something physical to look at one day.
  17. Don’t be in a hurry to tell your kid to let it go. He needs to vent too.
  18. Crank up the music in the middle of homework and have a dance party.
  19. Make a secret family handshake.
  20. Hang a whiteboard in their room to leave messages for each other.
  21. Start a pillow fight.
  22. Share your old diaries, photos, and letters from when you were their age.

This Popular Sleep Aid May Be Harmful to Kids

There’s no quick fix that gets kids to sleep sooner, better, deeper. But melatonin comes pretty close.While medical experts don’t have much bad to say to adults about using melatonin, which isn’t a pharmaceutical rather a health supplement, some are concerned when it comes to regular use in children.

A recent New York Times Well blog post reported that while a lot of parents have given melatonin for their kids because it works—doctors don’t actually know whether it’s doing harm in the long run. Children’s brains are still growing and developing, and melatonin is a synthetic form of a hormone the pineal gland produces, and which signals to the brain it’s time for sleep.

“I think we just don’t know what the potential long-term effects are, particularly when you’re talking about young children,” said Dr. Judith Owens, director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Parents really need to understand that there are potential risks.”

Research isn’t conclusive but some suggests that it could have effects not just on the brain but on other systems developing in children: reproductive, cardiovascular, immune and metabolic.

Melatonin has known possible side effects for adults, including “headaches, dizziness and daytime grogginess,” the Times reports. That last one is what makes it a sleep aid and also dangerous for drivers who might use it. The hormone-like substance, which is also found in foods like barley and walnuts, can also interfere with medications for blood pressure and diabetes.

When researchers looked into consistency across melatonin products, they found that 71 percent of their samples were at least 10 percent off from the written dose.

Doctors who treat sleep disorders in children have long known parents turn frequently turn to melatonin to help their kids with sleep issues, often picking up the pills at a health food store and not telling their own doctors—a mistake.

“I rarely see a family come in with a child with insomnia who hasn’t tried melatonin,” Owns said. “I would say at least 75 percent of the time when they come in to see us” at the sleep clinic, “they’re either on melatonin or they’ve tried it in the past.”

For those who give it to their children, Owens recommends letting their child’s doctor know. She also said the pills should be picked up from a reputable source. Because they’re not regulated by the Food and Drug Adminstration, there’s no way of know how much of the useful ingredient is in each pill. Buy “pharmaceutical grade,” which tend to have “more precise dosing levels.”

When researchers looked into consistency across melatonin products, they found that 71 percent of their samples were at least 10 percent off from the written dose. In fact—and this is where parents, particularly, should be cautious—some contained nearly 5 times the dosage written on the label.

So while there’s still no silver bullet for kids and sleep—except for lots of exercise, predictable nighttime routines and early (yes, early!) bedtimes—the melatonin temptation should be met with caution and some medical support.

Contributions on this post via Mom.me

Let’s do it, Let’s take the trip 


When I think on my almost 3 years of parenting and the times we’ve traveled as a family even on short gateways, I feel satisfied It’s not just about “being on vacation,” is about the various positive ways of travel that affects us, both individually and as a family unit.Here are some of those ways:

1. Traveling puts your family at the center.

Even the closest of families can have a hard time finding quality time to spend together. Getting away from work, school,  schedules, and of course I can not forget to mention housework plus other responsibilities. Probably not all the family time will be pleasant, but traveling together forces us as a family time, for better or for worse especially with toddlers and little kids sometimes is hectic and exhausted, but the idea is to find the good side and the fun with our reality. 

2. Leaving home gets everyone out of their comfort routine. 

Vacations can be relaxing and fun, but they’re also good ways to step out of our routines . Sleeping in a different bed, eating differebt foods, meeting new people even simple things can be good for us. Experiences new things together forms bonds and memories.

3. Seeing how other people live and understand different cultures. 

The best part of traveling is experiencing different ways of life. International travel is especially good to perceive different cultural horizons, but even domestic trips can help us to see the diversity we have here in our own country. 

4. Experiencing new things with all our senses builds strong memories.

We can look at photographs, but nothing compares to actually smelling the Redwoods, feeling the ocean touching your toes, or just feeling the smell of a different place. When we travel, we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch things we normally don’t. We build memories that last, and experiences as a family become shared memories. 

Keep in mind that our kids will love to recall places, when they have been, and they’ll often mention that certain scents or songs remind them of someplace they have traveled before.

I fully advice to my friends to always take the trip. I haven’t regretted it even that my son is little, and my budget could be minimum, I always try to find the way to travel with him and I can not wait for the next gateway ….

Kids & the Pasta Relationship


Use the “power of pasta” to introduce more variety in meals and see your child learning to enjoy a more balanced diet without mealtime drama.

Imagine this scenario. You found time in your busy day to schedule and prepare a family dinner. You included protein and vegetables to make it balanced, only to see your child piling pasta on his plate… then more pasta… and eating nothing else but pasta!

Sound familiar? You are not alone. I have met many parents who were concerned about their child’s love for plain starchy foods like noodles, bread, rice, or mashed potatoes.

A seemingly logical step would be to implement portion control and encourage the child to eat in a more balanced way. But limiting food does not work for children (or grown ups) who tend to react to dietary restrictions with intense cravings and usually find a way to get what they want. I remember counseling a family in which a five year-old girl was sneaking bagels into her bedroom after her health-conscious parents started “watching” her portion sizes.

But the question is, are starchy foods bad for your child?

Far from it. Starchy foods are rich in carbohydrates. This makes them a great option for kids. Here’s why:

* Kids have a innate penchant for sweet and starchy foods, which is logical from an evolutionary stand point. These foods make an efficient source of fuel for developing bodies and rapidly growing brains.

* Although many adults choose to limit carbohydrates or eat only whole grains for weight and health reasons, I typically do not recommend doing the same for children unless directed by a health professional for medical reasons. First of all, carbohydrates are a great way to meet high energy needs since they are easy for even the pickiest eaters to like. Secondly, too many fiber-rich foods may fill kids’ small stomachs before children get enough calories or nutrition. Aiming for a 50/50 ratio of refined to whole grains is a good goal for most kids.

* Although many starchy options like pasta and potatoes get a bad rep as “empty carbs”, they are far from being nutritionally void. Potatoes, for example, are a good source of fiber (if you do not peel them before cooking) and vitamin C. And did you know that just one serving of pasta contains around 1/3 of a toddler’s daily protein needs? And if you take into account that many starchy foods like pasta and cereals are fortified, it’s clear that these foods are quite nutritious.

But it’s easy to fall into the trap of preparing the same starchy foods, even nutritious ones, over and over again. For example, my kids went to three playdates last week and were served some kind of pasta at every single of them. And guess who made noodles and mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner the same week?

Here are a few ideas to increase variety without making your child feel carb-deprived:

* Experiment with other grains and vegetables. Explore the grain and starchy vegetable aisles in your grocery store. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with wheat unless one has a gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy, it is very easy to over rely on it, mainly because it is so ubiquitous in our food supply. Toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, crackers for snack, and pizza for dinner make up a fairly typical menu. What about granola, cooked oatmeal, or buckwheat pancakes for breakfast? Corn tortillas with guacamole or veggie chips with hummus for a snack? Potato fritters, roasted sweet potato wedges, grilled corn on the cob, polenta, boiled potatoes, rice, or quinoa for a dinner side?

* Think of veggie and protein “safe food” options. Do you always include a familiar and liked option in family meals for your child? If so, great! I am a big proponent of the Division of Responsibility in feeding, where parents carefully and lovingly plan meals while kids choose what and how much to eat. To make it work for your family, make a list of your child’s preferred or safe foods, divide them into foods groups, and include one or two in every meal you plan for the whole family. Remember, the safe food you include does not always have to be starchy. Try serving a familiar veggie or protein instead and combine them with a new or less liked starch. Example: breaded chicken and peas (both safe foods, perhaps) served with quinoa (a less familiar food).

* Mix it up. It is absolutely fine if your child eats only white pasta or rice, but, for the sake of variety, why not introduce their whole grain cousins? To start, mix a small amount of whole grains into the refined option and increase the ratio of whole grains gradually over time.

* Set up a “bar”. Instead of offering plain noodles or a naked baked potato, set up an exciting mix-and-match toppings bar. Make sure to include some conventional options like cheese, butter, or tomato sauce as well as more interesting toppings like olives, canned tuna, avocado, corn, herbs, fresh tomatoes, cooked chicken or ham, crumbled bacon, wilted or fresh spinach, sautéed or fresh onions, and even jalapeño peppers.

Starchy foods are most kids’ all-time favorites. Instead of limiting them in the hope to get children to explore other dinnertime offerings, use the “power of pasta” to introduce more variety in meals. Chances are you’ll see your child learn to enjoy a more balanced diet without mealtime drama.

I hope you identify with article and found it informative about Your kids’ eating habits that sometimes is a challenge for many parents.

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