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Feeding Chart, Meal Ideas, and Serving Sizes

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Your child is walking, climbing, running, and “talking” nonstop now. Such developmental milestones mean their nutritional needs have changed, too.

Welcome to toddler territory. Armed with some basic know-how, you’ll discover how best to nourish your child up to age 3.

It’s ironic: Because of a slowdown in growth, toddlers, who are far more active than infants, have lower calorie needs, pound for pound. That doesn’t diminish the importance of good nutrition, but it does present some challenges.

Toddlers need between 1,000 and 1,400 calories a day, depending on their age, size, and physical activity level (most are considered active). The amount of food a toddler requires from each of the food groups is based on daily calorie needs.

In addition to choices from each of the food groups, toddlers need the equivalent of 3 to 4 teaspoons of healthy oils, such as canola oil.

 

 

Every day, toddlers hone their motor skills, including at the table. Mastering the pincer grasp, which allows children to pick up small bits of food (and other objects) between their thumbs and the forefingers, is one of the first steps to self-feeding, says pediatrician Tanya Remer Altman, MD, author of Mommy Calls.

Children start to develop the pincer grasp around 9 months, the same time they’re ready for a lidded sippy or straw cup filled with infant formula or breast milk.

Many toddlers can self-feed an entire meal at around a year old, while other toddlers may need help until 18 months or so, Altman tells WebMD.

“After age 2, most toddlers can use a regular cup without a lid without spilling, but if they enjoy a straw cup or a sippy cup, there’s no harm in that,” Altman says.

Once a child discovers they can get food into their own mouth, they may not want you to help so much anymore.

Toddler self-feeding gives a whole new meaning to the term mess hall, but it’s worth it to let them try to get food into their mouth, says Elisa Zied, MS, RD, author of Feed Your Family Right! and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

“Self-feeding is an important developmental skill that parents should nurture,” Zied says.

Allow children to self-feed as much as they can and want to, advises Altman, but if they aren’t getting enough food, you can help, too.

Dairy foods, particularly milk, are rich in bone-building calcium and vitamin D. There’s no rush to serve a child milk, however.

“Wait until his first birthday to offer cow’s milk,” says Zied.

The reason? Unlike fortified infant formula, cow’s milk is low in iron and may lead to iron deficiency that compromises a child’s thinking capacity, energy levels, and growth. Breast milk is low in iron, but the iron is well-absorbed by the child’s body.

Most toddlers begin by eating full-fat dairy foods for the calories, fat, and cholesterol necessary to fuel their growth and development. In some cases, your pediatrician or registered dietitian may recommend 2% reduced-fat milk, so ask what is right for your child.

By the age of 2, most toddlers can start transitioning to lower-fat dairy foods, such as 2% reduced-fat milk or 1% low-fat milk, Zied says.

Milk is particularly beneficial because it provides vitamin D. Children up to 12 months need 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily and children older than 1 year should get 600 IU, according to the National Institutes of Health.  

Toddlers should get 1 to 1.5 cups of milk or another calcium-containing product every day. It is possible to have too much of a good thing, however. Like any beverage, filling up on milk leaves less room for foods, including iron-rich choices such as lean beef, chicken, and pork.

Strictly speaking, children do not need juice. Don’t give juice to children less than 12 months of age unless your doctor says so, according to the AAP.  They also recommend no more than 4 ounces of juice per day for toddlers 1 through 3 years of age. 

“It’s better to get your child accustomed to the taste of water than juice at a young age,” Altman says.

It’s not that fruit juice is bad. It’s an important source of several vitamins and minerals that fuel growth, including vitamin C. Fortified juices offer additional nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, too.

The problem is, drinking [fruit] juice, even when it’s diluted, may give kids a taste for sweets, Altman says. Drinking fruit juice at a young age could encourage the consumption of the “liquid calories” that some experts have fingered as a contributor to childhood obesity. And excessive fruit juice intake may cause cavities.

Altman suggests sticking with whole fruit for toddlers. “I don’t know very many toddlers who don’t like fruit,” she says.

A multivitamin/multimineral supplement (multi) designed for toddlers won’t hurt and may even help a child’s diet, Zied tells WebMD. Opt for a liquid formulation until the age of 2 and then discuss a chewable with your pediatrician.

“Toddlers are erratic eaters, and some may go days or even weeks coming up short for one or more nutrients,” she says.

Dietary supplements provide some insurance against a toddler’s unpredictable eating, but they are just that — supplements, not substitutes for a balanced diet. Multis fall short for many nutrients toddlers need every day, including calcium.

Multis with vitamin D may be in order if your toddler doesn’t get the recommended amount of vitamin D (listed in section above titled Feeding Toddlers: Milk and Other Dairy Products for Toddlers).

The body makes vitamin D; its production is initiated in the skin by strong sunlight. Living in a northern climate increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency in children and adults, making the case for supplemental vitamin D compelling.

Few foods other than milk are good sources of vitamin D. Some good ones include:

  • Cereal, ready-to-eat, fortified: 40-60 IU for 3/4 to 1 cup.
  • Fortified orange juice: 50 IU for 4 ounces.
  • Eggs, whole (yolk): 20-40 IU for one large.

 

Zied and Altman agree: Children should become accustomed at a young age to the natural flavors of food rather than to a salty taste.

But it may come as a surprise that the salt shaker is a minor source of sodium in the American diet.

Processed foods, including toddler favorites such as hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets, provide 75% of the sodium we eat.

Too much dietary sodium has been linked to high blood pressure in adults. Research suggests a lower sodium intake during childhood may lessen the risk of high blood pressure with age.

While it’s a good idea to avoid the salt shaker, it’s even better to cook from scratch as much as possible. “Limit processed products and season food with herbs and spices to cut down on the salt in your family’s diet,” Zied advises.

It’s not possible to totally escape sugar. Natural sugars are present in some of the most nutritious foods, including fruit, veggies, and milk.

But a bigger concern is the overall quality of the food. Whole foods have many nutrients to offer. Processed, sugary foods — such as candy, cake, and cookies — are often packed with fat and lack other nutrients. Added sugar is found in healthier choices also, such as breakfast cereals, yogurt, and snack bars.

Zied says older children get upwards of 25% of their calories from sugar, far too much to ensure nutritional adequacy.

“Generally speaking, sugary foods are OK in small doses,” Zied says.

“She suggests avoiding soft drinks and limiting fruit juice intake as well as serving more fruits and vegetables with each meal you give your little one.”

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The Truth About Whole-Body Scans

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Take a drive around certain neighborhoods in Los Angeles and you may spot as many signs advertising body scans as burger joints. Or maybe you’ve seen the ads on TV or the internet: “Protect your health! Get a body scan now!” 

Are whole-body CT scans really able to do that – and what are the risks? And are DEXA scans a good way to check on your body composition?

While technologies vary, most of these high-tech checkups use computed tomography (CT) scans to examine your entire body or specific parts, such as the heart and lungs, to try to catch dangerous diseases in earlier, more curable stages.

During the 15- or 20-minute scan, you lie inside a doughnut-shaped machine as an imaging device rotates around you, transmitting radiation. The technique combines multiple X-ray images and, with the aid of a computer, produces cross-sectional views of your body. By examining the views, a doctor can look for early signs of abnormalities.

The scans aren’t cheap – whole-body scans run anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per scan and usually aren’t reimbursed by insurance. And the question of how helpful these scans really are is a matter of debate among medical experts.

Advocates promote scans as a smart part of a routine physical exam. But if you’re healthy, with no worrisome symptoms, a scan is usually not warranted, says Arl Van Moore, MD, a radiologist and clinical assistant professor of radiology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, who is also a spokesman for the American College of Radiology (ACR).

According to the ACR’s official position, there’s not enough evidence to recommend scans for those with no symptoms or family history suggesting disease. But Van Moore sees a possible exception. “There may be a benefit to people at high risk of lung cancers, such as current smokers or those with a long history of smoking,” he says. 

For healthy people, the scans may cause undue worry – for instance, by finding something that turns out to be benign. Plus, the amount of radiation exposure, especially with frequent scans, is another concern. If scans are done too often, the radiation exposure may actually increase the number of cancer cases over the long term, according to a 2004 report in the journal Radiology.

The American College of Preventive Medicine says that whole-body scans “aren’t very good at finding cancer in people without symptoms” and that the radiation you get from these scans can increase your risk of cancer.

Before scheduling a body scan, talk to your doctor about your overall health risks and how a scan may or may not help you. In particular, ask yourself:

  • What’s your history? Do you have a personal or family history of lung disease, heart disease, or specific cancers?
  • Did you inhale? Are you a longtime smoker?
  • If so, how long? Even if you’ve quit smoking, for how many years were you an active smoker?

 

This is a different type of scan, called DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry). You might have heard of DEXA scans to check on bone density to see if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia. It uses low-level X-rays to check on your body composition, like how much body fat you have and where it is in your body. 

There are various ways to measure your body fat. Experts have told WebMD in the past that DEXA scanning is a “very good technique” and “one of the most accurate methods out there.” And researchers have called it the “gold standard” for checking on body composition – specifically, for bone, fat, and muscle. But it’s not covered by insurance, unless you’re getting a DEXA scan to screen for bone density. The cost of a DEXA scan varies, starting around $75 in some cases.

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5 Family and Community Engagement Strategies to Improve Student Outcomes

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Strong school-family-community partnerships bring exceptional value to children’s education. A recent book by Karen L. Mapp, a senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and four other co-collaborators synthesizes the available research to explain who benefits from these partnerships and the many advantages of family and community engagement.

Everyone Wins! The Evidence for Family-School Partnerships & Implications for Practice (Scholastic, 2022) cites various research to demonstrate how family-community-school partnerships benefit all stakeholder groups when they’re approached effectively:

  • Students have higher grades, better attendance, deeper engagement in school, greater self-esteem, and higher rates of graduation and college attainment.
  • Educators enjoy better job satisfaction, better success motivating students from different backgrounds, more family support, and an improved mindset about students and their families.
  • Families have stronger relationships with their children and better rapport with educators. They can navigate school policies and advocate for their children more effectively.
  • Schools enjoy a better climate, more support from their community, and improved staff morale—leading to better teacher retention.
  • School districts and communities become better places to live and raise children. They experience fewer disciplinary problems, greater participation in afterschool programs, and more family and student involvement in decision-making.
community members talking and hugging in matching green volunteer t-shirts in front of an outdoor mural

What elements make school-family-community partnerships particularly effective? Here are five tips for how school systems can successfully promote family and community engagement in education and drive better student outcomes.

1. Successful Family Engagement Requires Intentional Leadership

Engaging with families has to be a core activity and not just an afterthought. It requires a total commitment by school and district leaders, and this commitment must include investing in the tools and training needed to help educators effectively engage with families from all backgrounds. It must be a real and intentional focus, and as Mapp says: “It’s real when I see it on your budget sheets.”

2. Teachers and Administrators Must Communicate Clearly and Consistently

To encourage family involvement in their children’s education, educators must interact with families frequently—and in many ways. For instance, teachers and administrators might engage with families in person during school drop-off and pick-up periods, set up a Family Information Board in the school’s lobby, write and distribute regular newsletters or blog posts, and/or send emails or text messages to parents.

Communicating effectively is one of the National PTA’s “National Standards for Family-School Partnerships,” which guides how schools and families should work together to support student success. Teachers and administrators should learn about and meet families’ preferred methods of communication, and families should be able to share and receive information in culturally and linguistically relevant ways.

3. Develop Healthy, Positive Relationships Based on Mutual Trust and Respect

Interactions between educators and families should be positive and reciprocal, with families feeling valued and supported. Educators can establish trust and encourage healthy, two-way communications with families by sharing information about their children’s positive behaviors and accomplishments and which skills may need work. Listen to all parents and provide opportunities for shared decision-making.

4. Be Mindful of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Welcoming all families and fostering a sense of belonging is another National PTA standard. When families engage with your school, do they feel respected, understood, and connected to the school community?

To ensure equity and inclusion, learn about the families you serve and their unique needs and challenges. Use culturally responsive engagement practices. Create opportunities for connection, especially with historically marginalized families and students. Learn about and seek to remove barriers for families to participate fully in their children’s education.

5. Help Families Support and Extend the Learning at Home

Students learn more effectively when they have opportunities at home to practice, reinforce, or extend the skills and lessons they’ve learned in school. Educators can facilitate this process by giving families specific ideas for expanding their children’s learning at home, such as by incorporating core math and literacy concepts into everyday routines.

Schools can also make instructional resources such as take-home packs, activity sets, and other materials available to families to support their children’s education.

How School Specialty® Can Help

School Specialty has more than six decades of experience in providing tools, resources, and strategies that promote successful education both in school and at home. We offer arts and crafts, early childhood, ELA, math, science, STEM/STEAM, physical education, special needs, and social emotional learning resources for families, as well as games, puzzles, and general supplies.

How do you promote family engagement in your classroom and community? Let us know in the comments!



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Preteens and skincare: What parents should know – CHOC

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Published on: April 16, 2024
Last updated: April 9, 2024

Should teens and preteens be using so many skincare products with fancy ingredients? A pediatric dermatologist answers parents’ questions.

Link: https://health.choc.org/preteens-and-skincare-what-parents-should-know/

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