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Table Foods: Practical Tips

When and how to introduce solid foods to babies can cause a lot of stress to parents. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be hard. Simply give your baby bites of whatever you are eating (obvious point, eat healthy!)

To be helpful, I snapped a few pics of a day’s worth of meals that I fed to my baby. When I snapped the pics, she was 7-8 months old and would eat about ½ of what I put on her plate (the rest ended up down the front of the tray or on the floor). Now that she is a year, she eats about 95% of the same serving sizes. The pics show before and after I cut up the food for her so you can accurately see about how much food it really is.


½ piece of French toast and 2 slices of peaches.

french toast 1 French Toast 2

½ slice of cinnamon swirl toast, ½ banana, 1 scrambled egg.

Toast 1 Toast 2


1 slice of deli meat, 3 cherry tomatoes, 1 slice of cheese, 3 slices of avocado, and 2 pieces of watermelon.

Deli 1 Deli 2

Vegetable beef stew (pic with my hand to reference the bowl size), I also gave part of a roll and a few pieces of fruit.



2 slices of pork tenderloin, 3 slices of apples, a few green beans, ½ piece of bread, 2 pieces of potatoes.

pork 1 pork 2

2 slices of chicken, a few pieces of pasta, 1 spoonful of peas, 2 slices of peaches, ½ roll.

chicken 1 chicken 2


As I decide what to eat and consequently feed my children, I typically look for a protein, a fruit, and a veggie to make a balanced meal. Add a glass of skim milk to a couple of the meals in the day and you’re good to go!

For more tips see my article, “INTRODUCING SOLIDS: THE MAGIC, THE MYTH.”

Candy, Candy, Candy! What To Do With Halloween Candy

I love candy. I loved it as a kid and still do. It’s my nutritional Achilles heel. But it’s not good for you or your kids. The problem is that there is an entire holiday surrounding it and what to do with it. So what should you do? My advice, come up with a plan. Know the recommendations, know the risks, then decide what’s best for you and your family.

Official recommendations on how much sugar

The American Heart Association (with the AAP supporting the guidelines) says that children should not have more than 6 teaspoons (25 gms) of sugar a day. That’s not much (think 16 candy corns, 5 suckers, 2.5 Reeses Peanut Butter cups, 1.5 Snickers, 0.5 bag of Skittles). The average kid consumes  more than 3 times that amount (on regular days, not Halloween and the days following). It’s no secret that too much sugar can lead to obesity, elevated blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. So despite my love for candy, it’s something I need to address (both for me and my kids) with a plan.

Halloween day plan

  1. Eat dinner before trick or treating (fuller bellies will be less inclined to eat too much candy).
  2. Only allow candy to be eaten at home (where you can monitor what and how much) not on the trick or treat trail.
  3. Make your child walk, don’t chauffer them to houses. The exercise is good for them and will reduce the total number of houses your child can get to.
  4. Limit your trick or treating to neighborhoods you know.
  5. Set an ending time.
  6. Make children trick or treat with someone else. (In our case, one parent takes the all the children…and being told “wait for your sister,” slows the process down so we end up with less candy).
  7. Support the cause by giving out something other than candy (This year I’m giving out glow-in-the-dark bouncy balls and punch balloons that I got for a deal online).
  8. Set a limit ahead of time on the total number of pieces of candy on Halloween day (I’ve done everywhere from 5-15 in years past).

What to do with the post Halloween haul

I’ve heard all sorts of good ideas over the years. Here’s a few you can choose from.

  1. Daily limit. Slowly dole out the candy with a daily limit (e.g., the child is allowed to have 1-5 candies a day).
  2. Donate extra candy. Depending on where you live, there are all sorts of different options. Some dentists have a donation or buy back program. Many shelters will take extra candy (you can have your children help separate them into little bags that make distributing it easier). I’ve also heard of programs that send candy to troops overseas.
  3. Bake goodies. Many candies can be frozen and used later in cookies, brownies, and cake recipes.
  4. Candy art. Have a family night competition where everyone gets to use the candy and toothpicks to make artistic creations (you could even chose a competition theme like best candy house, funniest monster, etc.).Give out awards. Take pics, then pitch the art (candy) later.
  5. The Switch Witchery. I once read in Parents magazine an article about the “Switch Witch” (like a tooth fairy) who comes on her broom stick in the night and takes the entire bag candy, but leaves a toy or prizes in return. I’ve never tried it, but it sounds interesting. Apparently it works best when the child is prepped days in advance. In theory, the child is happy with the new toy and voila, the candy problem is gone.
  6. Reuse the candy. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I have used my kids Halloween candy to fill a piñata and grab bags for my son’s birthday (which happens to be just after Halloween). It solves two problems, I don’t have to buy more candy and it gets rids of all of the extra Halloween candy.
  7. Parent Tax. Last, but not least, my self-serving favorite (did I mention I love candy), the parent tax. I use some lame reasoning like, “I bought your costume, paid for treats to hand out, and took you around,” so that entitles me to whatever candy of yours I want to eat at any time. I say it ‘tongue in cheek,’ my kids put up a fake fight, and they consent to sharing. It’s a win-win scenario.

Have a safe and healthy Halloween!

Introducing Solids: The Magic, The Myth

Introducing solids to your baby is not nearly as scientific as we like to make it out to be. I trained in the era of give rice cereal first, then vegetables, then fruits, and finally meats. If you didn’t give foods in a certain way/order, you somehow would make it so your baby wouldn’t eat the other stuff. There was also some magic number of days that you had to wait between new foods. I have since learned that the science doesn’t support that how you introduce solids makes an ounce of difference. Don’t tell my husband, but I may be admitting I was wrong.

Most people still start with a cereal of some sort. However, that is a cultural thing only, not a scientific fact. Interestingly, there are some who even tout the harms of starting with cereals. My advice, do what you think is best for your child. Generally speaking, cereal (whether that be rice, barley, multigrain, etc.) is pretty well tolerated. Little tip though, mix it thicker than the box says (slightly more runny than pudding); it makes it easier to work with.

There isn’t a magic interval you need to wait between new foods either. The logic holds that if your child is going to have a reaction, you want you to be able to pinpoint the cause of it (so introducing 5 new foods at once just muddies the waters). If you have a kid that is particularly sensitive (inclined to easy face and butt rashes), you may want to wait a few days between new foods. This gives whatever you’ve given a chance to go through the kid and make sure it doesn’t cause a problem.  So for most kids, it is appropriate to introduce new foods somewhere between every meal to every 1-2 days.

Once your child shows that he can tolerate the cereal (or whatever you started with), start adding new things one at a time. You might do pureed green beans or chicken next. FYI, the only difference between stage 1 and stage 2 baby foods is size of the container. You can buy the baby food or make it yourself, whatever suits your lifestyle.

Food handling safety tip: Don’t feed your baby directly from the jar unless he is going to eat the entire container in one sitting. Otherwise, pour some of it into a baby bowl first and then feed it to him. That way, digestive enzymes and bacteria from his mouth don’t contaminate the jar that you intend to put back into the fridge.

After your child is really good at the smooth, pureed foods, feel free to start small bites off your plate. Just keep in mind that if you want your child to eat a good variety of healthy foods, you have to introduce those foods early. If you feed your child French fries, chicken nuggets, and mac n’ cheese, then that is what he is going to know and love. If you feed your child baked Salmon and Asparagus, he’ll eat it because he doesn’t know any different.

Eating healthy is expensive and time consuming. However, the investment is well worth it. Bon appetite!