How to Go Green in Your Child’s Diet! By Ally Cole, Pediatric Dietitian

Have you ever wondered why your child won’t eat vegetables? It’s a much more complicated discussion than just not liking green foods. The food industry, early exposure, and marketing all play a role in the foods we feed our children. The first 2 years of life are all about learning, and it should be recognized that eating a variety of foods is a learning process as well. The earlier you expose kids to vegetables, the more they are likely to eat and enjoy them long term. A child’s food preference directly affects behavior, which in turn will affect overall wellness, links to obesity and health. Food choices are a learned behavior, much like anything else.

Reducing sodium and sugar intake early on can help set taste preferences and help children make healthy food choices later in life. However, a report from the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity found only 4 out of 80 baby and toddler snacks met nutritious standards. In addition, 50% of baby food snacks and 83% of toddler food snacks contained added sweeteners.  

It is even more difficult to compete with the toy-tie ins marketing strategies company’s use to grab the attention of kids in less healthy food. 

So, as parents, what do we do? Start with vegetables as your child’s first foods, continue to offer veggies twice a day, let your child explore their vegetables, grow a garden together, visit the grocery store together, cook together, model the behavior yourself, limit screen-time, stay informed on healthy options, and remove the stress from mealtimes. You’ll be surprised at the wide variety of foods your child will enjoy the more you instill these practices! 

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An 8-week program for children age 4-5 with sensory processing differences

Children with sensory processing differences have difficulty with regulation, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to interact with the world around them. Our Sensory Explorers group targets regulation in order to build engagement! This group is led by pediatric occupational therapist Mackenzie Baldock and developmental therapist/PLAY Project Consultant Brenna Thompson, both of whom specialize in using developmentally appropriate strategies to support children so they can learn new skills. Group meets once/week for 60 minutes.

Wondering if this class is appropriate for your child? Some characteristics of kids who benefit: easily frustrated with play, repetitive play, difficulty sitting/keeping still to engage in play, refuses to allow others to engage in play, unable to be messy, overly busy, quickly overwhelmed in a busy environment, picky eater, difficulty tolerating grooming/dressing/diapering routines, struggles with transitions/following a group plan/routine. 

Goals of the group include:

  • Child participating in a variety of sensory play activities
  • Engaging socially with others in the group
  • Providing a non threatening environment where children can experience new sensations with the support of a pediatric Occupational Therapist and PLAY Project consultant
  • Providing personalized resources to caregivers, so they better understand the sensory system and learn strategies to assist their child with regulation outside of group
  • Opportunity to meet with other local families
 
 

GROUP MEETS for 8 weeks March 14- May 9: Tuesdays 3:30-4:30. Caregivers must stay on the premises to support their child and learn helpful strategies. Children will separate from caregivers for the session; caregivers can socialize at our coffee bar in the lobby (we will also provide a few toys for siblings to play). Caregiver education is a key component of this program. 

 

OPTIONAL Summary Report available at close of session. This 2 page report will summarize your child’s participation in the class and provide helpful sensory strategies to increase their participation in activities. This report could be given to teachers in classrooms & daycares or utilized to help educate other caregivers about ways to help your child participate. This option includes a 30 minute Zoom meeting with Brenna and MacKenzie to review the report and discuss your child’s progress in Sensory Explorers. COST: $100 due at sign up