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 3-5 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 begins with a 30 minute Open House on Tuesday October 4 for your child & caregiver/family to attend. This provides an opportunity to meet the therapists, acclimate your child to the space and provide some initial information about your child’s responses to a variety of sensory activities. 30 minute sessions will be offered from 12:30-4:30 on 10/4 with sign up sent with registration.

 

GROUP MEETS for 6 weeks October 11-November 15: Tuesdays 2:00-3:00 OR Tuesdays 3:30-4:30. ***We ask that families who are able remain flexible on the time slot so we can effectively pair your child with others that they will gain the maximum benefit from for social interactions!** Caregivers are encouraged to stay to support their child and learn helpful strategies, however other options will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Caregiver education is a key component of this program. Make-up date in case of class cancellation: 11/22/22

 

Group ends with a 15-30 minute Zoom wrap up session with caregiver(s) on November 29th. Every participant will receive a short, personalized Session Summary report complete with suggestions/recommendations for helpful sensory supports in the child’s home/classroom/community.