Margarine anyone?

[Reading ingredient labels]  Well our Facebook friends have decided it would be good to look closer at ingredient labels to work out what EXACTLY we are feeding our kids.  It has become an interest area for me considering my family has found such a link between food, health, behaviour and thus living better.  So here goes!
 
DESPITE the fact that margarine is a highly processed food and is claimed to be carcinogenic, take a look at the ingredient labels of these three random butter spreads. Which one would you pick?
hello headaches and undesirable behaviour...or not?

hello headaches and undesirable behaviour…or not?

There is a clear… winner without the preservatives, COLOUR (?!), soy lecithin, vegetable gum, vegetable/canola oil, FLAVOUR and several other not-so-natural ingredients. Not to mention the added vitamins that butter naturally contains. (It’s Mainland Buttersoft if you couldn’t pick it!)
I’d certainly trust a cow over a chemist once you’ve seen the process of how margarine is made.
Better yet, go for plain butter or even coconut oil.

Remember to look at the labels and pick a better alternative where there is one! And why not check out what your butter/margarine has in it’s ingredient list right now…?

Take a look at the link in the comments for more information on why plain old butter is better than margarine/spreads..
And Dr. Joseph Mercola or Changing Habits will give you all the information you need if you’re interested in knowing more about what food does or doesn’t do for our health.

The more love you put in, the more you get back..just like with our children!

Just a few months ago I realised our veggie patch wasn’t giving us as many veggies as it had been.  So we gave it some love and a few weeks later it is nearly overgrown!  It got me thinking about the times when our children might need a bit of ‘extra’ love for whatever reason.  And just like with the garden, before you know it they are flourishing!

The extra love might be hugs, time spent together or some nice words. You will know what your child needs!
Heidi

growing with love

growing with love

Child-friendly green smoothie + 10 tips to entice your child

Are you looking for a green smoothie that will provide PLENTY of nutrients to start your child’s day and tastes delicious?  Are you feeling like your child could never come around to this?  Well then read on for the recipe and how to wean your child onto this delicious breakfast OR snack.

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Here is the recipe for one: (tip: write it out with the quantity for the number of people you are making it for and stick it up on the kitchen wall until you know it back to front!)

The ‘works’ green smoothie (AKA ‘the juice of a sea cucumber’)

  • 1 kale leaf, washed and stalk removed
  • 1 handful spinach, washed
  • 1/2 orange, peeled
  • 2 tsp almonds, soaked in water night before and drained (allows nutrients to be absorbed by your body better – ‘bioavailable’)
  • 1 tbs goji berries
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup water (or equivalent ice)
  • optional: probiotics, changing chia for sunflower seeds, linseeds or pepitas, 1 tsp Superfoods for Kidz ‘Vital Veggie Power’ (particularly used for Master 21 months who eats minimal orange or green veges if we’re being realistic!), swap 1/2 orange for 1/2 lemon + 1/2 pear.

Blend until smooth.

just some of the ingredients you can see...

just some of the ingredients you can see…

Superfoods for Kidz - Vital Veggie Powder

Superfoods for Kidz – Vital Veggie Powder

Here are some of the steps we took to wean the boys onto this smoothie….and who now SLUUUURRP it!

1. Start on an easier smoothie.  We started with 150ml almond milk, 1/2 banana, handful of soaked almonds, 1 tsp carob powder, 1/2 tsp honey or 1 date, probiotics, pepitas/sunflower seeds thrown in. See my post, ‘What About A Brekky Shake‘ for further ideas. Adjust the carob/cacao/cocoa or slightly more honey to entice them in.

2. Make small changes…slow and steady wins the race!  We started adding 1/4-1/2 tsp barley grass powder.  This is a great start in developing a taste for some supergreens and the boys gradually got used to 1 tsp barley grass powder.  This then became the green/chocolate smoothie.

3. Give it a name.  The boys were used to names such as ‘choco-coco banana’ or ‘honey cinna-banana’ so by the time I announced we’d try a new smoothie, they were excited to name this new one.  This time I drummed up more excitement by using Master 3.5’s new interest, sea animals.  I suggested ‘what about the juice of a sea cucumber?’.  A definite ‘YES’!

4. Introduce a new cup/straw.  As we are trying to get rid of plastic and the chemicals that go with it, I decided to invest in some stainless steel cups and drinking straws.  I brought these out on the day we tried the new smoothie.

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5. Plan to drink the new smoothie yourselves first and only offer a taste for your kids – miracles can happen when there is no pressure and they see others enjoying it.  The first morning I made the new smoothie (juice of a sea cucumber), I talked it up, but only made enough for my husband and I, not planning for the boys to drink more than a taste.  They both had a taste and Master 22 months took the bait…. ‘MORE!’.  So we donated one of our smoothies to him and made do that morning with some sneaky ‘low-fives’.

6. Slow and steady wins again.  I then made Master 3.5 his usual ‘choco-cinna banana’ in WITH the remnants of the new smoothie.  In fact, I knew half of the ingredients of the green smoothie weren’t THAT far off what he was used to.  So I added the almonds, goji berries and chia but left out the orange and greens (there was already some taste of them in the dregs) and added almond milk instead of water.  It was daring but he went with it!

7. Blend and blend again. Sometimes the smoother the better, particularly with fibrous foods like orange.  Be sure to start weaning off super smooth once you have the kids hooked in so they don’t rely on ‘no bits’ forever.

8. Know went to step up, and went to back down.  Again, slow and steady wins the race.  Keep making your green smoothie first, and making your child’s preferred one with more and more dregs.  I sensed that Master 3.5 was interested in the new smoothie after he saw Master 22 months slurp his up.  He just needed a day or so extra to get his head around a change in his breakfast routine, not SO much the taste.

9. Give some warning.  I planted the seed ahead of time and one day confidently announced ‘we’ll be getting up early to get out and go to the beach tomorrow morning, so we’ll all have the juice of a sea cucumber tomorrow okay?’.  He agreed, although I was probably still prepared to make his back up if he needed.  Nope, he was completely happy to enjoy the new drink with us!

10. Educate! We have drawn a picture and told the story of how each ingredient does something to help our body.  Master 3.5 is learning to have a sense of ‘taking care of his health’ as he asks me to go through each ingredient and what it does again!

your body will thank you!

your body will thank you!

Of course another idea would be to get your children involved in making the smoothie and talking about all the yummy ingredients in it, pointing out the ones they already know and the ones that sound enticing (like goji berries).  I didn’t play up the greens but maybe that was just me anticipating a reaction!

And the best bit about this shake is… you won’t even have to fake a ‘yummy’ smile as you drink, because it really is delicious!

Please let me know how you get on or other delicious variations  🙂 Heidi

If you prefer, I raise my kids is on Facebook or Google +…

Sippy, straw, bottle, cup

[6 months +]  A cup is a cup is a cup! Not! You can almost expect to spend a bit of money just finding the right cup for your little one.  It is frustrating as even if someone gives you a recommendation for a good one, it’s likely you won’t be able to find that exact cup in the stores.  And if you do, maybe it won’t suit your child.

moving to an open cup

moving to an open cup

First, let’s look at the basics of cup drinking.

When? Any time from 6 months on, even if it’s just providing exposure.  At about 7-9 months, your baby should be more interested and able to take some water.  That means if you are still breastfeeding, your baby need not ever drink from a bottle.  And there is NO reason why your baby can’t drink formula or cow’s milk (after 12 months), or any other milk from a cup, instead of a bottle (you can have a particular one for water and another for milk).

Why? Drinking from a cup gives your child’s jaw a mini-workout.  It moves from the more ‘immature’ action of suckling, with the tongue and jaw forward (as your baby would do on the breast or bottle) to the jaw having to grade and hold itself in place with tongue back in the mouth.  Go on, pretend you are drinking from a bottle and notice where your tongue and jaw are and then change to a position for cup drinking.

This workout for your baby’s jaw and tongue position leads to stronger muscles for later chewing and holding itself in place for the different vowel sounds (try ‘ae’ vs ‘oh’ vs ‘eh’ vs ‘ih’).

But before open cup drinking stage, your child will most likely use a sippy or straw cup and even a pop-top.

Which one?

You will most likely need to start with a sippy cup with a silicone mouth piece but even a young baby can learn to drink straight from an open cup (it’s just the spill factor that makes most turn to a closed cup).  Give it a try!  Don’t believe marketing – you do not need to buy a cup for 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2 years etc.  Some babies can hold on quite fine without handles and others can go straight from a silicone mouthpiece to an ’18 month old cup’ without the need for the ones in between.  Once your child is used to a soft mouth piece, you can move towards a harder mouth piece and then possibly to training more on an open cup.  There are also cups that transition through several stages, with different attachments (more info below in ‘product review’).

The other thing is, cups bring a whole lot of plastic into your child’s mouth.  Since BPA-free plastic is now being found to still be not-so-desirable (take a look at ‘Even BPA-free Plastics Leach Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals’), don’t forget to be on the watch for plastic alternatives, such as stainless steel or even protected glass.  The plastic-free sippy cups can be pricey, but why not look out for stainless steel drink bottles as soon as your little one is ready (even at supermarkets).

Sippy vs straw? And then what?

Sippy:

  • It is generally easier to teach your baby to drink from at first (silicone mouthpiece moving to harder mouthpiece). Note: the sooner you move to a harder mouthpiece, the less you will have to replace silicone tops that are easily chewn
  • The sippy cup with a silicone mouth piece can actually still promote the jaw/tongue forward position, but is good practice for open cup drinking, allowing your child to practice tipping the cup, with hand to mouth action
  • As your little one gets better at drinking, you can change to a sippy cup with a harder mouth piece which promotes keeping the tongue in the mouth (and thus jaw in a better position)
hard mouthpiece

hard mouthpiece

hard mouthpiece

hard mouthpiece

Straw:

straw_cup

  • Promote jaw/tongue back position – good for later speech
  • Can be tricky to teach but some kids just get it, easier than a sippy cup
  • Can be tricky to wash but may last longer than the silicone topped sippy cups
  • Can be easier to keep leak-free than the silicone mouth pieces that can split and allow ‘spill-proof’ to pour out
  • No plastic-free version (that I have seen), until your child can drink from an open cup…and then there are stainless steel cups and straws available

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Pop top/sports top/drink bottle:

  • These are generally the step after sippy or straw cup, but if you are struggling with the above, feel free to give them a go!
  • Stainless steel varieties are readily available which prevent plastic chemicals from leaching into the water

    say 'no' to plastic

    say ‘no’ to plastic

Making it easier

Firstly, if your little one is struggling to drink from a cup, give it some time.  Once they are really needing to take in more liquid (ie less milk feeds, eating more or hot weather), you might need to try some tips below to help them:

  • start with a silicone top (you can even widen the hole if necessary) OR use a harder mouth piece and take out the valve
  • use a very small cup, such as a medicine cup to introduce a tiny bit of liquid to your baby’s mouth
  • some have claimed ‘take and toss’ cheap varieties have been the only way..
  • when introducing a straw cup, use a short straw in a cup, a ‘lickety-sip iceblock straw’ or even cut the straw in the cup (your little one will then have to tip the cup but only suck a tiny bit to draw the liquid up)

    a short straw to practice! and a novelty..

    a short straw to practice! and a novelty..

Moving to open cup

Once your child has the hang of a sippy or straw cup (probably some time after 12 months), you can try them occasionally on an open cup.  Think any small ‘cup’ like a medicine cup or round container.  A smoothie can be easier for a child to manage as it approaches their mouth more slowly than water and they will ‘feel’ it on their top lip better too.

Here is a variety of ‘cups’ that I have used over the years with the boys.  And sometimes the more novelty the cup, the more likely they are to try something new too (for example, fresh orange juice with all the pulp + barley grass & ginger!!).

they're all cups

they’re all cups

Product Review

Weego BPA free Glass sippy cup – I wish we had known about these when we bought all of our plastic cups (now knowing that any plastic can leach undesirable chemicals from them).  However, most babies generally need to start with a softer mouthpiece before moving to a harder one that this sippy cup has.  And you will have to trust that it will be easy enough for your little one to sip from without being able to test.

http://www.shopnaturally.com.au/lifefactory-weego-bpa-free-glass-sippy-cup-bottle-9oz-250ml-with-ocean-blue-silicone-cover.html

glass_cup

There is also a stainless steel variety that converts from a bottle to a sippy cup.   More plastic-free varieties at baby-bottles.com.au http://www.baby-bottles.com.au/p/8231028/earthlust-birds-bees-stainless-steel-baby-bottle-sippy-cup-birds-207ml.html

getting away from plastic

getting away from plastic

Mag mag – 4.8 stars (from productreview.com.au) goes from teat towards straw cup with varying teats in between + handles, can easily buy replacement valves and keep the cup (a plus over others where you have to buy another whole cup)

Nuby No Spill Flip-It – 4.8 stars. no spill, easy to sip from, babies have mastered as their first cup (say 7 months old), straw and cup not so easy to clean

Take and Toss – 4.7 stars cheap, removable handles, no valve, will leak, will need to replace often as children can chew on the plastic

TommeeTippee Discovera two-stage drinker – I can’t remember where I bought this (maybe Target or Woolworths).  It is the perfect step from hard mouthpiece sippy cup to open cup.  The rim of the open cup has a good ‘lip’ on it for the child to feel their mouth on it.  We have combined open cup drinking with this cup and stainless steel drink bottle (pictured above) for out and about for Master 20 months.

sippy to open cup

sippy to open cup

Of course, there are MANY other varieties I haven’t mentioned.  I’ve stuck with the popular and the non-plastic varieties.  Please leave feedback if you have found another brilliant cup that is worth sharing with others (and where you got it)!  Thanks, Heidi 🙂

Helping your child to talk : WAITING

[Birth onwards]  How long do you give your little one to respond?  By waiting and expecting your baby/toddler to give you some form of communication (a smile, kick, reach or words), you are teaching them that communication is two-way.

Some children need you to wait a bit longer, to give them time to come up with a response. Silently counting to 10 while you look expectantly at them is not ridiculous!

tickle, tickle!!..........

tickle, tickle!!……….

An example is :
Mum – tickle, tickle, tickle!!!!! (WAIT!)
Baby – eventually kicks in excitement for ‘more’

Mum – more or finished? (WAIT!!!!)
Toddler – might push food away or say finished after they realize they have to make a decision

Dad – pink shirt or red shirt? (WAAAIIT!)
Toddler – might reach for or even attempt to copy colour

The key is waiting 😉

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Yes, let’s create more memories!

Do you remember to stop and take the time with your kids? I could easily get swept up multitasking in the kitchen while the boys eat but one day we started morning tea under ‘our’ tree, way off in our yard. Master then 17 months then started dragging the mat there for lunch. How could I say no to spending time JUST with my boys, the trees, the breeze, the birds and our garden? I know I will always remember our meals on the mat outside!

relaxing together

relaxing together

Make your own Fairy Wands

Miss 4 had the deepest desire to have a ‘fairy princess’ party. So Miss 4 and I set to work planning the event. We loved looking over the amazing ‘pinterest’ parties, as I am calling them. I am not sure how you all feel but ‘pinterest’ has changed my world!!! After much planning with Miss 4, we had come up with some fun ideas for the party. This was one of them!!!

DIY Fairy Wands for all the ‘Fairy Princesses in the world’

wand1

You will need:  some cardboard (I used a box), bamboo sticks (I found these in our Bargain Shop), ribbon and spray paint.

wand Use a star template to draw around, you can find these easily by typing into google ‘star template’. Then comes the fun part, cut them out.

wands6Spray paint the cardboard stars and bamboo sticks.

'wide beehive inside'Make a hole, using your bamboo stick. Using ‘gentle hands’. I pushed the bamboo in about  5cms.

wands9Wrap your ribbon around, then add glue and stick the ribbon wrapped stick and glue into the hole in the star.

wands7You want to get some glue into the hole, so it will all stay nice and strong.

wand3This is what they will look like.

IMG_2905Use a vase or jar to keep them upright while they dry.

fairypotFor the party I had a table with ‘fairy dust and glitter’ and craft glue.

The children and adults loved decorating them and they were able to take them home as party favours.

‘Bippety bopperty boo’!!

:)Kara

How to find the right childcare centre for your child

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When is it a good time to start looking for a childcare centre?

My answer as soon as you are pregnant or even contemplating the idea of returning to work. 

The reason, it is so important to start this search, is so that you do not have to take ‘whatever’ come available. Trust me, there is childcare and there is QUALITY childcare.

First, go to as many as you can!!! You might really feel very happy with the first one you see but you need to understand that staff are very good at selling their centre. To an inexperienced eye you might get carried away with the sales pitch.

Have a look at the space. How much room do the children have to move. Small classrooms and play areas, might look safe but they also can feel overcrowded and the noise level can become overwhelming. Many new centres look beautiful and clean but the classrooms have been built to the minimum requirements for space. (Floor space:child ratio per regulations). Studies have shown that children that have alot of space to move are happier  (just like the chickens in the egg farms).

What does the inside and outside environment tell you? What do the posters say? Art work? What do they value enough to display on their walls of the rooms? If you find that the walls are empty, ask why?? If all the artwork is all uniformed, ask does this centre encourage creativity? Does the centre feel like a comfortable place, or does it feel a little sterile? Are there gardens outside? Vegetable gardens? Trees? All of these things can help you to see whether the staff put ‘love’ into their environment. Many passionate carers believe the environment to be the ‘third’ teacher. This means that they will put alot of effort into making the environment as inviting, wondrous, warm and exciting as possible. Remember learning begins at play (but thats another post).

What are the children doing? Can you hear lots of disagreements? Are the children playing in ways that are dramatic, constructive, creative and friendly? Or are they walking around aimlessly, sitting by themselves with security ‘toys/blankets’. How are the children using their environment?

The biggest resource in any centre is the staff!!! If this resource is faulty, it doesn’t matter how beautiful everything else is, it won’t work. How are the staff interacting with the children and their environment? Are the staff sitting with paper and pen away from children? Are they talking to other staff? Are they sitting down with children around them adding information to the children’s play and learning? Can you tell that the staff love the children? When you walk into the room, the staff are on their best behaviour!! So if you see something you are not happy with and this is their best, imagine what could be their worst. I have seen and heard of some terrible things and not all centres are QUALITY!!

If your are able to answer these questions about your centres you are looking at then you have looked at them with more educated eyes!!!

This is for the first visit. The next visit needs to be at a different time and we need to ask questions to see what responses we get!!!!

Well done you have completed the first stage of what is a very emotional and important decision.

Like if you would like to know the questions for the next visit!!!!

Link

National Simultaneous Storytime

This is an annual campaign to encourage young children to read and enjoy books. Each year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author, is read simultaneous in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, bookshops and homes. The event is promoted by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA).

Check out your local library to see if they are holding a ‘reading’. Or organise a playgroup and explain to the children, why you are reading this book. Lots of lovely learning!!!!

So you think you know how to read a book to your child…? [12 months to 3 years]

Did you know there is a direct relationship between the hours a child has been read to and their success in literacy?  It is also linked to their likelihood of attending university, better parent-child interaction and promotes far higher vocabulary, attention span and imagination skills.

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Children learn through imitation, so the more you show them that reading is fun, the more likely they will be to enjoy reading too.  Below are some tips to get more out of reading with your child (remember reading to your child ideally starts from birth and occurs daily!!):

  • when at a familiar page, wait and wait some more for your child to join in by saying a word/words, pointing or doing an action previously seen
  • wait before you turn a page to see if your child knows what is coming next (they might say a word or a gesture to let you know they remember the next part)
  • ask questions
    • for ~18mths-3yr olds : what is he doing?, who is that?, encourage naming and pointing
    • for 3-5yr olds : I wonder what might happen next?, have you ever seen that?, what was it like?, encourage more story retell or relating to their own experiences
  • add in actions to add more meaning, particularly for little ones eg. hand showing ‘over’ for cow jumping over the moon, arms doing movement for wipers on the bus, hand movement to show what ‘tilt’ the boat means
  • after you have read that book for the 50th time (!!), encourage your child to help you ‘retell’ the book, by looking at the pictures and asking if they remember what happened. Encourage any attempts and try not to correct them. This is great for learning to sequence stories themselves (and to see what they understand of the book)
  • before the last page, ask your child what they think might happen. A great one for improving imagination! And after their idea, you could offer another possible ending so they can see there are many ways to write a story and different people might think of different ‘ideas’
  • refer back to favourite books in real life scenarios, for example, ‘that’s a pipe, like a water spout incy wincy was in!!’, ‘we fell in the water like the animals in ‘Who sank the boat’!’, ‘look, these are pumpkin seeds, remember like we saw in the book….?’
  • talk about the characters, relate them to your child (‘he misses his daddy when he is away, like you do’, ‘he’s got a little sister, like you do!’)
  • don’t forget to define words your child may not understand by using actions or other words your child knows (think Getting thrown into a new language is not easy.)   Don’t overlook any words as you might be surprised the words you thought your child would understand, they aren’t really sure of what it actually means.
  • Aim to pick a few words per book (do you know what ‘afraid’ means, what do you think a ‘tuffet’ is?) to discuss

Most importantly! Respond enthusiastically to all attempts to join in.  Don’t get caught up in just reading the book!

Stay tuned for some book ideas and reviews for Book Week!!

And for the little ones, So you think you know how to read a book to your child – [birth to 12 months].