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After School Snacks

Does your child come home from school hungry? Mine often does. Sometimes his lunch kit comes home empty and other times it’s only half consumed. I will often offer him any veggie, fruit or grain (like muffin) hasn’t  been eaten from his lunch kit first. No use in throwing them out! If it’s a yogurt or perishable sandwich that comes home, unfortunately that needs to go straight to the garbage, as it’s likely gone bad sitting in a warm backpack all day.

After school snack is a GREAT time to get in veggies. They won’t ruin your child’s appetite for dinner, and since your child is quite hungry after school they will be more likely to eat foods they would usually turn down. Slice some veggies and serve with a bean dip. Or one of my childhood favourites was ‘ants on a log’: celery filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins. Since so many schools are nut-free, offer your child nuts and nut butter at home, as they are so...

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When to Start Solids

I’m often surprised by at hearing from moms that their under 4 month-old baby has started solids. Sometimes it’s even under doctor recommendation! How I would love to give some health professionals an update on infant nutrition more recent than 1982….. Anyways, many parents are eager to start solids too young. Common excuses include “my baby is too big” (but…. Breast milk is more calorie-dense than most solids!). Or at the other end of the spectrum “My baby is too small” (but again…. Breast milk is more calorie-dense than most solids!).

So when should you start your baby on solids? There are lots of things to consider. While official guidelines have changed over the years, the current guideline in Canada is to start solids at about 6 months of age. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended until 6 months to protect your baby from GI and respiratory infections. But besides just age, it’s also important to look for...

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Introducing Dairy to Baby

The newest guidelines reviewing when to introduce allergens to babies suggest that all foods – including dairy- can be introduced at 6 months. There’s no greater risk that your child will develop an allergy if you introduce a food at 6 months instead of 12 months (and actually earlier might be better!). I recommend starting dairy with plain full fat yogurt. You can mix in a fruit puree for flavour, if you like. Then grated cheese that your child can pick up on his own. Followed by full fat cows milk. However for fluid milk, It IS recommended to wait to feed your baby cows milk as their main milk source until they are 9-12 months old. This isn’t related to allergy, but to iron status. Cows milk is low in iron, and can inhibit iron absorption.

So when can you introduce milk as a main milk source for your baby? Is 9 months better, or 12 months? It depends on how much they eat. Do you have a baby that eats plenty of solids and gets lots of iron from their diet? Then...

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Gagging vs Choking

Watch my video discussing how to prevent gagging and choking here:

When introducing lumpy pureeds or finger foods to their baby, many parents are afraid of choking. Especially if their baby has a sensitive gag reflex and makes those awful gagging noises every time they eat! However, it’s important to know that gagging isn’t the same thing as choking. Gagging is normal and it’s not dangerous, just bringing up the food to chew some more before it goes back down! Gagging is a part of the learning to eat process for many infants. With choking on the other hand, your baby won’t be making any noise (so those gagging sounds are actually a good thing!), as their air pipe is blocked. They will turn blue and can’t breathe. This is why it’s important to know infant CPR, always watch your baby while they eat, and avoid choking hazards

Choking hazards for kids less than 4 years old include popcorn, full peanuts or nuts, seeds, fish with bones, hard candies,...

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Responsive feeding for baby

The newest Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants encourages "Responsive Feeding." This is based on baby's hunger and fullness cues. It also encourages offering some finger foods from age 6 months, and offering fluids using only an open cup. What does all of this look like? My 7 month old son will demonstrate in this video:

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How to treat constipation in babies & children

 As both a mother and dietitian, I deal with constipated babies and kids a lot. Two out of three of my own babies suffered for months after starting solids. It’s difficult to watch your little one in pain while trying to pass stool because they are so backed up!

The first thing to assess if you think your young child is constipated is the definition of constipation. The Canadian Pediatric Association defines constipation as “ bowel movements that occur less often than usual, that are hard and dry, and/or painful or difficult to pass.” So it’s not the frequency of stools as much of the consistency that is important. Your exclusively breastfed infant isn’t constipated when they don’t poo for 2 weeks, as long as their poo is regular breastfed-baby-poo consistency!

Causes of constipation can include toilet training, starting daycare or starting solids. It seems a tough transition for most babies to go from breastmilk to starting solids. If...

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My Top 5 Favourite Cookbooks

Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals

This cookbook has a section called "Morph It." On the first day, you make a large batch of meat. Roasted Chicken with Smokey Apricot Sauce, for example. Then three "Morph Recipes" are included, all using the main dish cooked in the first day (like Chicken and Mushroom Quesadillas, Thai Chicken Salad with Peanuts and Lime and Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Tomatoes). This batch cooking saves you time most days of the week, and I find the variety to be good even though you are using the same main component. Worth a try!


Sandi Richard, Eating Forward

Sandi is Canada's meal planning guru. She has 6 kids, therefore has to be organized! Her concept of Eating Forward means knowing what you are going to have for dinner - at the beginning of the day! Her cookbooks include a weeks worth of meal plans, including shopping lists. I have tried many of the full week plans, and most of the recipes are delicious, although I do modify some to include...

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Pregnancy Supplement You've Never Heard Of: MTHFR

You likely know of the importance of pregnancy folic acid supplements. Folic acid is a B vitamin required for normal cell growth and development. It helps prevent neural tube defects (NTD) very early in pregnancy, such as spina bifida. It may also prevent oral cleft and heart problems and high maternal blood pressure in pregnancy. I am a strong believer that folic acid supplements are important, and it's been well proven that they decrease the risk of NTDs in pregnancy. In Canada, grains have been fortified with folic acid for this reason. The effect has been decreasing the prevalance of NTDs by 46%.

Health Canada has some good basic guidance on folic acid and folate (the food form of folic acid) here. Essentially the recommendation is to start supplementing with 400 - 1000 ug (0.4-1 mg) three months prior to pregnancy, and continuing through pregnancy. If you have a family history of NTDs, supplement 5mg per day.

What's the problem with folic acid supplements?

What...

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Do Cleanses Work?

Lemon water with cayenne; expensive herbal supplements; 7 day juice fasts: "Cleanse for the new year!" Or should you?

Cleansing is often promoted to improve health by 'cleansing' the bowel and removing toxins from the body that come from the air we breathe, the food we eat and the beverages we drink. Supporters claim the goal of cleansing is to promote healthy intestinal bacteria, boost energy and immunity, and start weight loss. However, there's little evidence that cleansing produces these effects. In fact, some forms of cleansing can be harmful. Cleansing diets, also known as detoxification or detox diets, are not recommended for preventing disease or improving bowel or overall health and especially are not for growing children and teens.

What is a Cleansing Diet? Cleansing is the removal of material from the bowel or colon. It can be done by a variety of methods, either alone or in combination: using a herbal or medicinal or laxative preparation fasting or following a strict...

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Is Juicing Healthy for Me and My Child?

Juice shops are popping up in major cities, you can get '7 Day Juice Fasts' delivered to your door and home juicers are likely flying off the shelves.

What is juice?

Essentially juice is sugar-water with some vitamins. It is fruit and veggies, without the fibre. And considering most North Americans get 10g of fibre per day instead of the recommended 25 -35 g, I'm not sure why we would purposely remove the fibre from produce before consuming it. Yes, you can use the leftover produce pulp in baking, but I imagine most of it gets thrown out. And if consumed as the entire meal or snack, juice is unbalanced as most contain very little protein or fat. I'd rather drink a smoothie, containing the whole fruit or veggie plus some protein and fat (from hemp, pasteurized egg whites, chia, flax, yogurt, nut butter or milk).

If your juice is mostly fruit, it always shocks people to hear that fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar as pop. And the "but it's natural sugar"...

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