The Juna Women podcast is a weekly discussion where Juna Founder, Sarah Kuhn, talks to Moms about their health, work, parenting, and all the different ways they’re keeping it together. This is Episode 010, Feeding Your Kids with Confidence and Positivity featuring Alexandra Turnbull, RDN.
In this episode of the Juna Women Podcast, Sarah talks to Registered Dietician and Nutritionist and expert on feeding your family, Alexandra Turbull.
Alex, @thefamilynutritionist, is all about helping Moms feel confident about what and how they feed their families and does an excellent job sharing her wealth of knowledge in this episode.
Here are just a few examples of the great content Alex shares from her Instagram page.
Food and Eating 6-12 months
Feeding your baby beyond breastfeeding or bottle feeding starts at about 6 months. This period of time will look look different for your baby – some start with solid foods earlier, others later. There are different ways to introduce solid foods to your baby, but Alexandra prefers baby led weaning (See next section).
You may have heard of the old adage, “Food before one is just for fun”. While partially true, it’s not entirely true. Food before one is fun, but it’s not JUST fun. It’s also a lot of exploration and learning key developmental skills.
If your child is not all that interested in solid foods – that’s okay. The only time to worry is if they’re NOT eating and not gaining weight. The bulk of the nutrition will probably still come from breastmilk or bottle feeding. If you find your child isn’t consuming enough of either, that’s when you want to check in with your doctor.
A few things to avoid before the 1-year-mark include cow’s milk and honey. Also be sure that all the foods are either so big (think huge carrot stick) that they won’t choke on it, or cut up so small they can’t choke (tiny piece of blueberry).
Baby Led Weaning
Baby-led weaning (BLW) is a method of adding complementary foods to a baby’s diet of breastmilk or formula. A method of food progression, BLW facilitates the development of age appropriate oral motor control while maintaining eating as a positive, interactive experience.
It’s all about letting the baby lead feeding themselves, rather than doing pureed food. You start with foods that are the size of about an adult pinkie. It helps them experience different tastes/textures. You can start with just 1-3 different options for them to pick up. Remember from 6-12 months formula/breastmilk is there primary source of nutrition.
At around 8-10 months — When babies develop their pincer grasp start cutting foods into small pieces, about chickpea-sized. And for small round foods like chickpeas or blueberries, smash them lightly before serving. It’s great for babies at this age to practice their pincer grasp, but it’s A-OK to continue serving food in sticks like you did when he was younger.
At all ages — Foods should be soft enough that you can smash them with gentle pressure between your thumb and forefinger. This means no raw carrots, apples, nuts or tough chunks of meat.
Philosophy and Approach To Food
Alex is a big fan of Ellyn Satter. She has a few books worth reading.
- Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, Revised and Updated Edition
- Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook
The basic idea is this: As the parent you get to choose the foods you bring into your house and what you prepare. You get to pick when they eat, where they eat, and what they eat.
The children get to determine how much they want to eat of the foods they’re being offered. Yes, sometimes this means they might not eat! This is where lots of parents struggle, if they see their kid not eating. It’s a hard thing to do – to watch your kids choose not to eat, but you have to stand your ground and believe that there’s a method to the madness.
Your jobs with feeding are to . . .
- Choose and prepare the food.
- Provide regular meals and snacks.
- Make eating times pleasant.
- Step-by-step, show your child by example how to behave at family mealtime.
- Be considerate of your child’s lack of food experience without catering to likes and dislikes.
- Not let your child have food or beverages (except for water) between meal and snack times.
- Let your child grow into the body that is right for him.
Part of your feeding job is to trust your child to . . .
- Eat the amount he needs.
- Learn to eat the food you eat.
- Grow predictably in the way that is right for him.
- Learn to behave well at mealtime.
Always offer something they do like, something new, and maybe something they might not like or they’re unsure of, but is healthy for them.
Q: Should we ever force our kids to eat certain foods? No. It’s about exploration for them and repeatedly giving them the opportunity to try certain foods. If they choose not to one day, or even every day for two weeks, it’s totally normal. You can continue to offer and continue to be okay if they choose not to take it. It can take 10-20 exposures to certain foods for them to determine if they really like it.
Q: Is it ever too late to try the Ellyn Satter method? No. You can implement it any time.
28:00 – Keeping It Positive
Alex’s big thing is not being negative about food. She encourages an optimistic view on foods. It’s not that you don’t like, it’s that you don’t like it… yet.
Don’t force your kids to eat things. Think about when you were forced to eat things as a kid. Did that provide a positive or negative feeling about food for you? Most likely negative.
Keep things fun. Chang things up. Keep up exposure to healthy foods.
32:17 – What books/podcasts are you consuming?
34:35 – What does your Mom community look like?
“My mom community is a prenatal yoga class, friends, and connecting with Moms and parents on Instagram. There’s some stuff that’s not so fun about the social media world, but there’s some really great things too.”
Note: Rachel is doing a self imposed social media hiatus around her due date (July 31) so she may not be active at this moment.
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