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Top 10 Tips for Toddler Mealtimes

As promised, here is my second blog post on feeding, continuing on from the Feeding Milestone post I did last week. These are some general parent tips that I share with parents when they express frustrations or concerns with their toddler’s mealtimes.

1. Respect Your Child’s Appetite.
If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force them to eat a meal or a snack. Don’t use food to bribe your child, and don’t force your child to “clean their plate”. This leads to unhealthy mealtime habits and can lead to power struggles over food.

2. Stick To Mealtime Routines
Mealtime routines help to reduce anxiety for children. Children thrive on schedules and routines and it is very helpful for them when they know they have set mealtimes/snack times. Remember as a baby you could predict exactly when your baby would want their next feed? The same goes for your toddler – it’s just that instead of being nursed or getting a bottle of milk, they are getting solid foods. Additionally, you want to discourage grazing throughout the day. This reduces your child’s appetite and a reduced appetite will lead to food refusals!

3. Be Patient With New Foods
It can take 10-12 times for a child to truly know if they dislike or like a food. Also keep in mind that at this age, your toddler’s taste buds are very sensitive. They are predisposed to enjoy sweet tasting food (think of how breast milk or formula taste – both are very sweet) and are extremely sensitive to bitter tastes (i.e. green veggies). The more exposure they have to a food, the less likely it is that they will refuse it over time.

4. Make Mealtimes Fun!
Don’t let mealtimes become a chore. Instead, allow your child to get messy during meals, and explore their foods. Make food art, let your child use dipping sauces, make different sounds when they eat different foods…whatever floats your child’s boat. Also, it’s good to keep in mind that children explore new foods with ALL of the their senses. So if instead of eating the squash, they want to squish it in their hands, rub it on their cheeks and hair, sniff it, inspect it and throw it over the high chair to hear it “plop”….LET THEM! It is how they are learning what squash is! You want mealtimes to be the times of the day he/she looks forward to, not the time that they dread.

5. Grind Up Real Foods
Avoid being a short order cook – use the family pot to introduce foods. Making spaghetti? Grind it up for your little one to enjoy. (Or if you’re like me – use cous cous – instant child friendly pasta that cooks up in a cinch!) The more your child is exposed to the foods you enjoy as a family, the more your child can be a part of your family mealtimes.

6. Ensure Food Is Age and Stage Appropriate
By making sure that your child’s foods are age and food stage appropriate it prevents mealtimes from becoming overwhelming. Additionally, offer small amounts of food at a time. If he/she is still hungry, they can always get more food. This works two fold – it reduces food wastage during their exploration time but it also reduces any anxiety your child may have about the amount of food that they are expected to consume.

7. Try Preparing The Same Food In Different Ways
Provide soft baby carrots at one meal and carrot slices at another meal OR provide meatballs on one day and make a meat loaf the next…switch up the way the food looks to help your child learn that the same food can come in different forms. This also includes “hiding” undesired foods (like vegetables) into desired foods (for example, I fine slice kale and spinach and add it into my spaghetti sauce…not even my husband notices!)

8. Be Creative
If your child is old enough, recruit their help as your “sous chef” to help prepare the meal. Instead of a boring sandwich, make sandwich faces. Create dishes that promote interaction and appeal to your child visually. Remember we all eat with our eyes first!

9. Minimize Distractions
Allow the focus on mealtimes to be on the family meal. This not only involves the actual food but the conversations and interactions at the family table as well. Avoid using the television or other electronics to distract your child while you feed them.

10. Be A Good Example
Eat the way you want your child to eat. You can tell your child to eat their vegetables until the cows come home, but if you don’t eat your vegetables – it’s pretty hard to convince your child to eat them! Even if your eating habits aren’t perfect, do the best you can to show them what well balanced meals look and taste like. You want to teach your child to eat healthily and to have a healthy relationship with food as well.

Until next time,

Cayman Mummy

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Feeding Milestones for Babies and Toddlers

As much as I wish I could be a stay at home mom, professional blog writer, or professional baker…my day job is actually as a Speech Language Pathologist! It’s a job that I absolutely love (how lucky am I to do something I love every day?!). One of the areas that I deal with as part of my job is feeding difficulties. Recently on my Facebook page, I posted about my frustration in seeing so many Caribbean babies getting cereal in their bottles. This opened up a plethora of questions about feeding milestones, what to do/not to do when transitioning to solids etc. I thought why not turn these feeding questions into a blog post! When I started to put together all of the information I realized what an exceedingly long blog post it would end up being…so in the interest of space and time I’ve decided to break it up into different sections. This being the first of several posts regarding feeding.

Like all things – we should start with the basics! When you know what the timeline of feeding transition is from birth through toddlerhood, it’s easier for you to pinpoint the area that your little one may be having the most difficulties.

O-3 Months
– Babies should be solely breast and/or bottle fed. There are oral reflexes in place for suckling and swallowing.
– It is important that during this time baby establishes an appropriate latch.
– Force feeding baby to drink X amount of ounces should be discouraged.
– Follow the baby’s lead on when he/she demonstrates signs of being full.
– Bottles should never be squeezed, nor nipples cut to encourage the baby to drink more or to drink faster.

4-6 Months
– Babies begin to suck and are no longer suckling.
– Breast/bottle feeding is no longer automatic, it begins to become voluntary.
– Babies begin to reach for bottle or spoon when hungry. May also be able to put hands on bottle, and some may even be able to hold bottle at this age.
– If your baby demonstrates signs of readiness, he/she may begin to take pureed food from a spoon.
This is the age range where babies begin to demonstrate signs of being ready for solid food, however the Cayman Islands Children’s Health Task Force does not recommend solid foods until 6 months of age (unless otherwise advised by the child’s primary paediatrician).

6-9 Months
– Babies should be able to open their mouths and wait for the spoon to enter.
– Many babies can drink from a straw at 9 months. Babies are also ready to transition to sippy cup or preferably, regular cup at this time. This is the perfect time to start bottle weaning!
– By now, a munch pattern using an up/down motion should be observed during meals, however a rotary chew (think of a cow chewing on cud) may begin to develop at this age.
– Baby should quickly and efficiently remove food from a spoon using their top and bottom lips and should also lean their head forward to accept the spoon.
– Babies should be able to hold their bottle or cup in both hands.
– Baby should be able to demonstrate stable head control in a sitting position(no head bobbing) and stable trunk control for independent sitting.

10-12 Months
– At this age, feel free to shift foods from pureed to finger food textures.
– Further development of grasping patterns should also be observed.
– Oral motor skills are also being developed. Your little one may be learning to move his/tongue from side to side, may be starting to munch and may also begin biting (not just on food either!).
– Your baby may also begin seeking independence at this age and may not want you to feed him/her any more.
– Your baby may begin to demonstrate some taste preference shifts and may reject “baby food” flavours. This is the perfect age to begin exposing your baby to the family pot and allowing him/her to explore the flavours and textures that the family enjoys.

13-15 Months
– At this age, your toddler’s biting skills continue to develop. Cognitively, toddlers may also try biting objects or people.
– Chewing should be demonstrated (with or without teeth), although not fully mastered.
– Toddlers should be able to bite through a hard cookie.
– Chopped table food should continue to be provided.
– Bottle use should be discontinued. Cup and/or straw use only at this age. Your toddler should be fully weaned from the bottle by 15 months (ideally).
– At this age, toddlers typically engage in “co-feeding” with their caregiver (i.e. while the toddler is self-feeding, caregiver is also putting food in their mouths in between)
– Toddlers typically can grasp a spoon with their hand and will make attempts to bring it to their mouths, although they may have difficulties with keeping the food on the spoon.
– Toddlers should be able to hold their cup with 2 hands.

16-18 Months
– At this age, your toddler should tolerate more challenging foods that require chewing, such as proteins and vegetables.
– By 18 months most toddlers should be able to chew with their mouths closed (although they often do not).
– At this age your toddler should not have large amounts of food or liquid leaking or spilling from his/her mouth during mealtimes.
– Your toddler should be an efficient finger feeder at this time.
– Your toddler will make attempts to assert their independence during mealtimes and will enjoy practicing using their spoon/fork (although still not great about keeping a lot of it on the spoon still).

Two Years Old
– By age 2, your toddler should be able to manage any type of food he/she likes.
– He/she should be drinking from a regular cup with very little spilling.
– He/she should also be able to feed himself/herself fairly well with a spoon or fork.
– Some “fine tuning” will continue over the next few years.

I hope you find this milestone list useful and informative! Stay tuned for my subsequent posts dealing with feeding, as I’ll be talking about the different stages of baby foods, red flags of picky eating and feeding “do’s” and “don’ts”

Until next time,

Cayman Mummy

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First Birthday!!!

I am now the mother of a one year old. OH MY GOODNESS!!! When did that happen? How did we skip to one already?? So now it’s time for….FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY! I love hosting parties – a lot more than my wallet wishes I did! For me it’s not necessarily the size of the party – but the details. With first birthdays, it pretty much is the ONLY birthday that you as a parent are guaranteed to pick a theme that YOU like. By the time a child is 2, it’s pretty clear cut what they like and it’s pretty hard to not choose something along with their taste. First Birthdays to me are all about individuality and fun. Make it about your favourite book, your favourite activity, your favourite food – just make it about you as a family unit!

For Cheeks’ first birthday, we decided to go with something that was not only unique but loads of fun! Both my husband and I LOVE comics (him a little more than me, but I NEVER miss a DC or Marvel movie) so we thought the best theme for our little Cheeks would be ONE-der Woman (Wonder Woman). The perfect way to celebrate a ONE-derful little girl ;).

If you don’t know about Etsy, you will after this blog. I think next to Pinterest, Etsy is my online obsession! I found so many amazing products that helped me to personalize Cheeks’ special day. I ordered a gorgeous personalized invitation from my personal friend Alyson of SimpAlyPapers who created a beautiful custom invitation for me (she also did my baby shower invites – she’s soo good!). I also ordered a customized first birthday guest book created by MonthsofMay (again, I’m a repeat customer of hers because she did a great job with my Christmas cards). I also ordered a fabulous commemorative birthday poster from ChalkyPrints, and all of the party labels were from QTpartydesigns. Rod at Executive Services (https://www.facebook.com/caymanexecutive) helped me with getting everything printed – local, great quality service – what more could you ask for? My Etsy orders really helped to tie in the theme that I was going for!

Alyssa bday 1
Alyssa bday 2water bottle wraps
crayons

So you remember my infatuation with tutus a while back? Yeah, I still have it! I had do a cutesy tutu for my little heroine. Unfortunately she wasn’t too pleased with the crown or arm bands so we opted for a simple headband which she still ripped off after a few minutes!

Alyssa bday 7

The superhero guests came in their regalia, and it was a sight to behold for sure! The kids had a blast playing with balloons (who would have thought??? Get as many balloons as you can – they are a hot commodity amongst the kiddies it seems). Guests enjoyed finger foods, drinks and of course, no birthday is complete without the CAKE! A One-der Woman themed cake and smash cake from CAYKE provided a sweet finish to the day.

Alyssa bday 5
Alyssa bday 6

Babies received goodie boxes of superhero themed rubber duckies with super hero food (raisins). The older kids received bags of customized crayons, super hero wrist bands and other fun goodies.

Alyssa bday 4
Alyssa bday 3

While doing a non-traditional theme is a lot of fun, it is also a lot of work. So if DIY favor tags and water bottle labels that have to be printed and cut out by hand aren’t your cup of tea, by all means hit up the party stores where everything is good to go (which is what I will probably do next year because it surely was a LOT of work). Remember – first birthdays aren’t a competition – it’s a reflection of who you are as a family! Have fun rocking out with your little ONE 😉

Until next time,

Cayman Mummy

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The First Noel (A Baby’s First Christmas and Christmases to Come!)

Why am I writing about baby’s first Christmas in February? Firstly, it’s because I’m woefully behind on all of the great blogs I had in mind for you! Secondly, I LOVE CHRISTMAS – it’s my favourite time of year (in fact, I’m going through Christmas withdrawal as I type this). Lastly, I am a firm believer of the adage of “better late than never” so, I proceed with writing this blog for any other Mummies and Daddies who want to plan for Christmases to come! December will be here before you know it right?

When it comes to baby’s first Christmas – there’s always a lot of pressure for new parents. You want it to be perfect, and you want to do it “just right”. Mummy has her traditions, Daddy has his traditions and you have to find a happy mix of the two to pass on to the next generation. There is also another pressure – to start NEW traditions – ways that your family will celebrate Christmas year to year. Some of these fun traditions may be things that honestly, baby couldn’t care less about (like baking Christmas cookies) – however, they are things that in the future will be something that your child will LOVE doing. If it’s important to you – it will end up being important to your child so have fun with choose traditions and make them a reflection of your family.

I did TONS of research on things to do for Baby’s First Christmas. I also tried to incorporate things that would be great traditions for years to come. There are so many traditions to choose from – making ornaments, choosing a fresh tree every year, baking cookies, reading Christmas stories, the “Elf on a Shelf” etc.

These are some of the ones that I chose to do for Cheeks’ First Christmas and plan to do for Christmases to come.

1. Yearly Ornament. I had a great time with doing a handprint ornament with Cheeks’ and a couple of her friends (okay really it was with Mummy’s friends who have daughters the same age as Cheeks but we are determined that they are going to be the next generation of friends in true Caymanian fashion!) We got glass ornaments, child safe glue and some glitter and went to town! It took us a few tries to get the handprints but a few smudgy handprints later, we all have an ornament to treasure. Each year I will try to find some cool way for us to make, decorate, or choose an ornament so that our tree can eventually be filled with ornaments of Christmas memories.

handprint ornament

2. Pictures with Santa. At least until it’s not important to Cheeks anymore. She did so great with her Santa pics (honestly, I was hoping for the tearful shot, but I’ll take the cute doll look any day!) and you can find some great places on island to get them done reasonably. Camana Bay is a favourite spot, but we lucked out and got ours through Creations at Little Darlings.

aly with santa

3. Christmas Pyjamas. They have such cute pyjamas year, after year – why not get a special set JUST for Christmas?? Save them year after year and you can pass them on to the next generation. Personally, I think it would make a cool Christmas quilt that you can then gift to your child when they are an adult.

4. Christmas Story. We read the original Christmas story, of Jesus’ birth and sang some Christmas Choruses as well. This was a tradition in my family and something that I really want to pass down to Cheeks. Jesus is the Reason for the Season, and while we love and enjoy EVERYTHING about Christmas, we always take the time to reflect on the best Christmas gift ever received.

5. Christmas Eve Box. A friend of mine clued me into this one. A box filled with your Christmas pyjamas, snacks, a Christmas book and a Christmas movie to enjoy on Christmas Eve. I didn’t go all out with Cheeks’ box this year – just pyjamas and a book. But when she’s older, there’s going to be a lot of fun attached to this one! What I like about this one as well is that it gives parents some down time from all of the Christmas Day preparations. You take a couple hours on Christmas Eve to SPEND TIME with your kids rather than running around trying to make Christmas Day happen. As your children get older the time spent will be treasured so much more than the physical gift that was received.

6. Gift Limit. Both my husband and I initially said we would do a single gift each for Cheeks…but then there were so many cute things to choose from that we couldn’t control ourselves. We limited it to the old Victorian tradition of “Something you want. Something you need. Something to wear. Something to read.” (Keeping in mind that for a baby/toddler – they don’t really “want” anything so it’s more of something that Mummy and Daddy WANT you to want!). It’s so hard to not get caught up in the commercialized version of Christmas, so keep in mind to keep a balance – so that your children will learn to love Christmas not only for the gifts but for the magic of the season as well!

6. One Gift on Christmas Eve. This is one that is from my husband’s childhood and Cheeks had a great time ripping the paper off that gift. Not to mention it was great practice for the big finale the next day!

christmas eve present

7. Christmas “Outfits”. Since Cheeks is still a baby, I think I can go a little “out there” with her little outfits (plus it’s her first Christmas – come on!). This year she had her Christmas church dress, her opening presents outfit and two Christmas outfits for the Christmas Day (babies aren’t known for being tidy). She won’t have 4 outfits for Christmas again next year, but a nice Christmas Dress and a Christmas-y outfit for family dinner will definitely be the norm for years to come.

Christmas outfits

8. Christmas Day Church Service. Taking the time on Christmas Day (away from the cooking and the cleaning) to go and share in the celebration of the Reason for the Season. Not all churches in Cayman hold services on Christmas Day but the Webster Memorial Church in Bodden Town does as well as a few others smaller churches on island.

9. Remaining Gifts on Christmas Day night. This one seems like torture, but believe it or not, it’s a tradition from my family. A traditional Christmas Day was you went to church, you changed into a Christmas-y casual outfit, you spent the entire day enjoying Christmas food and spending time with your family, opening your Christmas presents with the extended family and then we ended the night with fireworks. As a child, yes, it was torture to know you had presents you had to wait to open, but looking back it was a pretty cool tradition that I decided to carry over with Cheeks.

10. Christmas Lights. The tenth and final tradition. There can be no Cayman Christmas without going to look at the lights! Especially the ones by Mr. Rex Crighton’s house and Ms. Maxine and Maureen Bodden’s home. Cheeks had such a good time – her eyes were wide as saucers and she just took it all in and pointed to everything her little eyes could see. I want to see the magic of Christmas lights through her eyes every year.

mr rex's lights

Some of these traditions might appeal to you and others may not. The traditions around any holiday should be specific and unique to your family! Most importantly, use these traditions to make MEMORIES because that’s what makes the beauty of Christmas last in our hearts all year round!

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First Halloween!

Halloween is one of those holidays that you either love or you hate. While I’ve never been a HUGE lover of Halloween, I do enjoy a good dress up every now and then and I appreciate the opportunity for the kiddies to get all cute! This Halloween was Cheeks’ first Halloween and I challenged myself to get craftsy with this one and make her costume. Originally, I was planning to dress her as a cat – sounds simple enough right? Yeah not so much for a beginner crafter so that was scraped and I opted for something that was a little more acheivable but just as cute – a Little Pumpkin :).

I have been dying to get Cheeks into a tutu outfit since she was in the womb…what’s the point of having a baby girl if you don’t dress her up?! Tutu outfits aren’t exactly easy to come by here in Cayman and I’ve always been a bit intimidated by making a tutu, however, fortified with a multitude of pins from pinterest I pressed on…and was able to make a pretty decent looking tutu!

tutu

I figured I’ll pair this with an adorable “My First Halloween” onesie – and I’m done! She’s super cute – pumpkin-ish and will look great for photos. Except I didn’t factor in one thing…there weren’t any “My First Halloween” onesies on island! Sooo Plan B went into effect! I took one of Cheeks’ plain white onesies, some of the leftover tulle from my tutu making escapade and grabbed my glue gun!

doing the pumpkin

After some weaving, twisting and glueing I finally got the onesie completed and of course, a tutu outfit is not complete without an oversized bow or flower to complete it! I raided this adorable fall flower from my friend Sabrina’s stash (she owns and operates Sweet Pea Personalized Gifts – such adorable stuff!!!). And voila! We were ready for Halloween!

Completed outfit

Looking forward to the process again next year!

Until next time!

Cayman Mummy

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Totally Fresh and Totally YUMMY (reblog from Eco Chic Cayman)

I LOVE the teas from Totally Fresh – they are so refreshing. I also love the fact that they provide so many nutritional benefits (perfect for a breastfeeding mama like myself). My favourite is the moringa lemongrass – I love to boil a big pot of it, add a few teaspoons of Cayman honey and ice it!

Support local agriculture and the local economy and check out Totally Fresh Cayman!

PS Thanks for this amazing review EcoChicCayman – I couldn’t have blogged any better 😉

Totally Fresh Cayman

For all you tea lovers you are in luck! Totally Fresh Cayman produces and brews the finest Moringa Loose Leaf Tea on the island! My personal favorite is the Moringa Lemongrass Iced Tea.  James Pedley, the owner, grows Moringa on his farm.  He has two signature teas Moringa and Moringa Lemongrass.  Due to limited supply herbs such as mint and basil can be requested by special order.  James is dedicated to growing the finest ingredients for his high quality island tea.  Coming soon are new tea flavors, herbs and produce.  Just this year James introduced his line of Moringa Loose Leaf Tea and Iced Tea at Camana Bay’s Farmer’s Market.  It is quickly becoming an island favorite.  Additionally, the Greenhouse Cafe was one of the first restaurants to begin serving his Moringa Lemongrass Iced Tea as a staple part of their drink menu.  It was there that I was first…

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Cheeks’ Best Friend…

So, Cheeks has a best friend already! I know what you’re thinking – she’s only 7 months so how could she have a best friend? Well, Cheeks and Sophie’s friendship has been going strong for about 4 months now and they are pretty much inseparable. When Cheeks hears Sophie, her face lights up. When she sees Sophie, she gets so excited she reaches out to give her a good squeeze. But her absolute favourite thing to do with Sophie is to…BITE her! Don’t worry, I’m not raising a cannibal! Her best friend Sophie is probably the same best friend a lot of babies her age have – Sophie the Giraffe!

sophie

Sophie is this incredible teething toy that almost every baby loves. Its one of those toys that you bypass in the toy store, until you start talking to other parents and you realize it’s one of the best things since sliced bread when it comes to teething toys for babies! I think the thing that is most incredible about Sophie is that she was created to stimulate all of baby’s senses.

Sophie has typical giraffe spots – but these spots create light and dark colour contrasts which appeal to baby’s developing vision and make her easy to spot among her other toys. Sophie is made of natural rubber, which makes her smell identifiable to baby. Sophie squeaks when you squeeze her, and surprisingly the squeaky sounds she makes makes Cheeks smile and giggle so it’s appealing to my baby at least! Sophie is soft, smooth and very light in weight, with lots of grabby legs and other bits which makes her very easy for little ones to grasp and hold. Finally, Sophie is flexible with lots of different bits for baby to gnaw and chew on. If your teething baby is anything like mine, she will put Sophie’s head in her mouth and just rub away until she gets some type of relief from those annoying teeth trying to pop up!

Sophie is definitely one of the best teething toys Cheeks has received and I will now be gifting it to my other friend’s babies as they get to be teething age too! Thankfully it’s easily found on island as well as on Amazon so Mummies of Cayman – have no fear! Your little one’s Sophie is very near 😉

Until next time…

Cayman Mummy