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Want to Make Your Own Baby Food? Read These 7 Tips First

January 12, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Want to Make Your Own Baby Food? Read These 7 Tips First | Making baby food is pretty easy; after all, most of it consists of steamed and puréed vegetables or mashed-up fruits. Before you give it a try, read through these seven considerations to ensure you take proper precautions. | A baby looks at her food before eating it.

Before having a baby, many parents idealize what life will be like with the baby. From all-natural births to cloth diapers and organic creams, expectant parents fill their registries with products that suggest that we can do it all ourselves.

Then the baby comes and we realize that we’ll do anything to make raising our child easier and less painful. But one of those idealized visions can remain a reality: making your own baby food.

Not only is making baby food more economical than store-bought food, you can also control the nutrients and eliminate added chemicals and preservatives in your baby’s diet. And it gets the baby used to eating the same foods as the adults, which will make your transition to solid foods easier.

Making baby food is pretty simple; after all, most of it consists of steamed and puréed vegetables or mashed-up fruits. Before you give it a try, read through these seven considerations to ensure you take proper precautions.

1. Wait until your baby is 3-6 months old.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends waiting until your baby is six months old to introduce finger and puréed food. If you follow proper sanitary guidelines, they say you can introduce baby food along with breast milk or formula as early as three months old.

Check with your pediatrician before changing your baby’s diet at any point, and talk to him or her about potential food allergies in advance.

2. Get the right equipment.
For the basics, you’ll just need a steamer and a food processor (or blender). If you want to splurge, there are plenty of all-in-one products that can aid in the whole process from peeling to steaming to blending.

This article breaks down the types of equipment you can use to make baby food.

3. Wash. Wash. Wash.
Wash everything that will come into contact with the food. Wash your hands and the surfaces you’re using to chop, dice, mash, etc. Wash the equipment and the food, even if you’re going to peel it. Keep everything clean to prevent the spread of bacteria to your baby.

4. Limit nitrates in the food.
Nitrates are found in plants, soil, and well water. If your baby is exposed to too many nitrates, he or she could develop a type of anemia known as “blue baby syndrome.”

To limit the amount of nitrates your baby ingests from homemade baby food, do the following:

  1. Consume or freeze baby food immediately. Nitrates develop in food the longer it sits, so if you’re not going to cook fruits or vegetables right away, use frozen versions. If you’re not going to use all of the prepared baby food within a few days, freeze extra portions the day you make it. You can defrost it later in the week or anytime in the next three months.
  2. If you have well water, test it for nitrates. If the levels are more than 10mg per liter, use purified or bottled water for all baby food (including formula).

5. Never sweeten baby food.
Babies don’t need extra sweetener. They get all they need from naturally occurring sugars in fruits and vegetables. It is especially dangerous to add honey to baby food, as it can cause botulism in babies under a year old.

6. Avoid any unpasteurized dairy products.
Raw or unpasteurized milk can contain dangerous bacteria that can cause illness, so just as you avoided it during pregnancy, you should avoid it when making baby food.

7. Have fun!
While it’s important to be diligent and cautious when making your own baby food, have fun experimenting with different flavors and textures to see what your baby likes. This website has great recommendations for starter fruits and vegetables, like peas, mangoes, squash, and more.

Do you make your own baby food? Share your favorite recipes in the comments below!

Tags :  early childhoodbabyphysicalhealthbudget
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5 Ways to a Healthy Immune System This Holiday

December 1, 2015

By Jessica Vician

5 Ways to a Healthy Immune System This Holiday | December is a busy time for families. With the school parties, vacations, and family visits, it’s especially important to make an extra effort to keep the family healthy. Make sure you're doing most of these things to keep your child’s immune system healthy for the holidays.

December is a busy time for families. With the school parties, vacations, and family visits, it’s especially important to make an extra effort to keep the family healthy.

You might be thinking, “I can’t add anything else to my plate this month!” Don’t worry: you’re probably doing most of these things already to keep your child’s immune system healthy for the holidays. Check the list and add whatever you’re missing.

Teach Them to Avoid Germs 
Remind your kids that it’s especially important to wash their hands and avoid germs during the holidays. Every time they come inside, before eating, and after playtime, ask them to wash and dry their hands.

Discourage your kids from sharing drinks, food, or utensils with anyone during the holidays, too. Even with the best intentions, we all have different germs and can get each other sick.

Settle the Stomach
If your child has a party to attend or you know grandma makes lots of cookies for holiday dessert, ensure the day’s first meal healthy and packed with nutrients. Make a spinach, egg, and cheese sandwich on a whole-wheat English muffin, and include yogurt rich in probiotics.

For lunch, include those nutritious greens, grains, and protein and add a probiotic drink like GoodBelly to make sure your child’s stomach is ready for the heavier food.

Plan Physical Activities
The day after a big party, plan a fun physical activity with your child like sledding, ice skating, or going to an indoor trampoline park. The fun exercise will keep your child in peak physical condition and sweat out all those cookies!

Make Time for Resting
The holidays are a very stimulating time physically, socially, and emotionally. Make sure your child gets a little extra rest this month so he or she has enough time to recover. Even an extra half an hour of sleep goes a long way.

And for those days that you plan heavy exercise, remember that you’ll also need to plan a nap or early bedtime.

Remember The Multivitamins
Even with healthy eating, physical activity, and rest, your kids can still pick up a virus over the holidays. Encourage them to take their daily multivitamin and get plenty of vitamin C and zinc to ward off those viruses.

As always, before starting a new health regimen, check with your child’s pediatrician. These tips should help you and your children avoid getting sick over the holidays, but if your child has any special conditions, talk to the doctor first.

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12 Winter Exercises to Keep Your Kids Fit

November 19, 2015

By Jessica Vician

12 Winter Exercises to Keep Your Kids Fit | These are 12 easy and fun ways to keep the kids fit through the winter. Don’t let the weather stop your family from getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. | A young child and mother have a playful pillow fight with the father on the bed.

As the weather cools, it can be difficult to keep your child physically active indoors. While summers are full of playing outside, riding bicycles, rollerblading, and even hoverboarding, the cooler temperatures and wet weather puts an end to the outdoor fun.

But just because the kids are inside doesn’t mean the exercise and fun should stop. Exercise is critical to your child’s physical development and must continue in every season to help your child:

  • Strengthen his or her bones and muscles
  • Reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Lower his or her blood pressure and blood cholesterol (yes, it’s important for kids, too!)
  • Reduce and cope with stress

Kids ages 5-12 should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, according to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

While your school-aged child should get some of that 60 minutes during recess, fill in the extra time (and get the full 60+ minutes on the weekends) with these fun activities both in and out of the home.

In Your Home

1. Crank up the tunes and throw a dance party. Practice routines from YouTube videos.

2. Hop on the bed and have gentle pillow fights.

3. Host hallway races, encouraging the kids to beat their best times.

4. Have a big basement? Play crab soccer.

5. Run to find the best hiding spot during a physical game of hide and seek. 

Outside the Home

6. Visit a trampoline park for bouncing basketball, dodgeball, or just jumping.

7. Find an indoor laser tag center for running, hiding, and fun in the dark.

8. Roll your little ballers into a family bowling night.

9. Kids can practice their swings at an indoor golf center in the off-season.

10. Swim their energy away at an indoor pool.

11. Practice a single lutz or play hockey at an indoor or outdoor ice skating rink.

12. Have a snowball fight after each big snow.

These are 12 easy and fun ways to keep the kids fit through the winter. Don’t let the weather stop your family from getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Join in on the fun for your health and fun family memories.

What activities do you do with your family in winter? Tell us in the comments below.

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What is Parent Engagement and How Can You Practice It?

November 10, 2015

By Jessica Vician

What is Parent Engagement and How Can I Practice It? | A mother smiles as she looks at her daughter, who smiles back.

At YOU Parent, we are huge supporters of parent engagement. Engaged parents have the power to positively influence their children’s lives by supporting their social, emotional, physical, and academic needs, which is why we offer programs that teach parents to do just that.

Schools can benefit from effective parent engagement as well. Research proves that students earn better grades, score better on tests, and are more likely to graduate if they attend schools that effectively implement parent engagement programs.

So we know that parent engagement helps children, but what is parent engagement?

Parent engagement is exactly what it sounds like: parents who are actively engaged with their children. It involves a partnership between schools, communities, and parents that allows them to collaborate for the greater educational success of a child. Actively engaged parents:

  • Encourage their kids to do their homework and to ask questions if they need help.
  • Make sure their children eat well and get enough rest to come to school ready to learn.
  • Engage their kids in learning activities outside of the classroom.
  • Nurture their children’s social and emotional needs to fulfill them outside of academics and sports. 
  • Inspire their kids to seek greater success in life. 

From birth through high school and beyond, there is always an opportunity to engage with your child and support his or her core needs. Get started with these four easy parent engagement activities that you can do with your child. Each activity addresses one of the four core needs.

Social 
Sit down for a family dinner and talk about your days. What was the best thing that happened all day? What was the worst? What did each of you learn that day?

Emotionalʉ۬
Tuck your child in for bed and lay beside him or her to cuddle for a few minutes before sleep. Show your love with a hug or squeeze.

Physical
Take a short walk with your child. Catch up on each other’s lives.

Academic

Check your child’s homework each night and ask him or her to tell you about the work. How did your daughter get the answer to that math problem? Ask her to talk you through the formula or equation.

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Take the Parent Engagement Pledge This Month

November 3, 2015

Celebrate Parent Engagement Month! | We heart parents. Show us your pride as an #EngagedParent

It's our favorite month of the year: Parent Engagement Month!

Throughout the month, YOU Parent will be your one-stop website for all things parent engagement, from the parent pledge to photos for Facebook and Twitter to breaking down what exactly makes an engaged parent. Help spread the word on how parent engagement can help children succeed! 

Take the Parent Pledge
Promise to be an engaged parent this year and take the parent pledge. Click the image below and print the PDF. Snap a photo of your signed pledge and share it with us on Facebook and Twitter using the #EngagedParent hashtag. 

parent pledge textparent pledge text

Share Your Pride on Social Media
Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by sharing your stories with the hashtag #EngagedParent. Show your pride by updating your profile and cover photos to the ones we've provided below. 

Downloading is easy. Just click on an image below and it will open in a new browser window. Then right-click on the image to save it to your computer. You can then upload it to Facebook or Twitter directly from your computer—we've already sized each image for you. 

Facebook

A heart-shaped apple logo.





I heart my child. I am an #EngagedParent. November is Parent Engagement Month. From YOU: Your Child's First Teacher.








Twitter

A heart-shaped apple logo





I heart my child. I am an #EngagedParent. November is Parent Engagement Month. From YOU: Your Child's First Teacher.







Click here for the Spanish versions. 

Check back with us throughout the month for more parent engagement fun and be sure to talk to us in the comments below and on social media.

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