Toddlers can be surprisingly good at eating fruit and vegetables but as they only eat small portions, you can face a challenge keeping them fresh. Here are a few tips on keeping your fresh produce extra fresh so that your little ones can enjoy a healthy snack on demand:
Melons: they are delicious but can be fiddly to prepare. Cut the whole melon at once and put the chunks you don't eat straight away into an airtight container. Whenever you fancy a snack it's ready prepared for you and will keep for up to 5 days.
Peppers: if you only need a portion of lovely red, green, yellow or orange pepper, keep the seeds, stalk and inner membrane intact and the pepper will stay fresher for longer.
Spinach: if your spinach has gone a bit limp, refresh in ice cold water and it will revive.
Cool food: to cool food quickly, simply place on top of picnic ice blocks and you'll find it cools down much quicker.
Carrots: to stop them going mouldy, wrap in kitchen paper in the fridge and they will keep longer. The kitchen paper soaks up any condensation which is what make the vegetables turn mouldy.
Fruit: apples stay fresher in the fridge, so do tomatoes and broccoli.
Paper bag: keep a paper bag in the bottom of your fridge where you store your fruit and vegetables so any moisture will be soaked up.
Going for walks is an ideal way to spend time with the family - it's free, it's healthy, it's outdoors, it's fun and educational and it's something you can all share together no matter your age or ability. You can do it with other families, on your own or with other family members. It can be a long, all day affair or just an hour trek. It can be in all sorts of different terrain: woodland, seashore, farm land or country paths. Most of all, it's something to enjoy!
- Getting the children out of the door: older children may have opinions on going for walks so do make sure you describe the walk as an adventure; an excursion or something exciting rather than just a walk.
- Think of activities to do while on your adventure: collect things (feathers, pebbles, leaves) or spot things (acorns, birds, animal tracks).
- Play "follow the arrow": take 3 sticks and arrange them in an arrow. Send the children ahead and get them to make the arrow shape that will guide you all home.
- Follow My Leader: get the children to decide on the route. Ask them which paths to take or which way to turn.
- Make a map: draw a map of the route as you go, marking on special land marks.
- Snacks: take snacks to keep energy high and moral positive! Offer snacks when they find things or spot something fun.
- Play camouflage: send the children ahead and get them to hide. When you are near get them to jump out and surprise you!
- Do other things along the way: if you see logs, try and climb them, if you spot a brook try and cross it and any good climbing trees must be conquered! Help the little ones to climb up - they will love it!
- Be prepared for weather changes: take waterproofs as you don't want to be caught in a shower!
- Take the right equipment: make sure everyone has wellies or walking shoes to avoid hearing moaning children (and adults!) if their feet get wet.
- Listen to the children: if they get tired, try not to force them to go on... it may put them off for ever!
Watching your little one skip and prance around a church hall wearing a sweet ballet skirt and pretty little ballet shoes is undeniably cute. However, why should we bother introducing ballet or any kind of dance into the lives of pre-schoolers?
- Ballet is fun: The children's dance routines and exercises are made to be fun. So they all enjoy the dance and stories that are told by the ballet teacher.
- Exercise: It is great exercise!
- Musicality: Listening to and dancing in time with music helps withtheir musicality. If they may learn an instrument one day, being aware of music and timing when dancing will be fo great help.
- Strength: It is physically demanding so therefore a great way to build strength and fitness and indeed flexibility.
- Posture: They learn how to stand and walk correctly, which is a great lesson to learn early with regards posture and avoiding back pains from poor posture. They also learn co-ordination and how to use their bodies.
- Balance: They learn all about balance and how to correct themselves when unbalanced. This is a great skill to have for dance but also for other sports and physical activities.
- Mentally challenged: Those who find school difficult often excel in ballet because they feel they can express themselves more freely and easily when moving than when sitting still in class. They are mentally challenged in a ballet class, but in a different way.
- Social Skills: Ballet is a great chance to make new friends and to have fun with other children in a like minded environment. They communicate about different things and work together as a team.
- When to start?: Children can start as soon as they want to and if there are classes available from as young as three, then enrol them! They may not display much balletic prowess at this age, but they will begin to watch and learn from others.
Choose a class that is fun focused and that it is an accredited school either the Royal Academy of Dancing (RAD) or Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD).
Walking to pre-school or nursery in the bad, autumnal weather can be a real bore for little ones, especially those who are only just out of the buggy. Here are a few ideas to perk up your walk together and do a bit of fun learning on the way!
Weathery Walk - walk the way you might in different types of weather.
- Trudge through snow
- Battle against raging rain
- Fan yourself in the heat of the hot sun
- Keep upright in the blowy wind
Colour-Spy - spot things that are certain colours. Find 3 red things (traffic light, post box, car) etc.
Letter Think - think of things that begin with certain letters. Name 4 things beginning with "d". Even little ones can do this with come help. Give a clue to help them get to a "d" word.
Wonkey Walks - Walk in different ways between the trees you pass. So, walk like a frog to the next tree. Then walk like a monkey to the next tree.
Tree Races - If you live on a quiet road you could race to the next tree. See who gets there first.
Count the Steps - estimate how may steps you need to get to the next landmark (tree/traffic lights) and simply count how many steps you actually take. How close were you?
Car Count - name a colour and count how many cars you see on the way of that colour.
Walking to school or nursery is a great, healthy way to start the day; these ideas will make it fun too! Have a good day!
Watching the cartoon character Popeye eat spinach really does encourage children to eat more of the green leafy vegetable in real life it has been reported.
In the cartoon, Popeye the Sailor man, eats cans of spinach to give himself extra strength and becomes stronger once he has eaten. It has been found that when children watched the cartoon, and saw him eat spinach, they copied and did the same. They too wanted to eat spinach, despite historically not wanting to.
According to a study published in the medical journal Nutrition & Diet, researchers studied children aged 4 and 5 years old. They looked at their diet of fruit and vegetables before and after the study. All 26 children were encouraged to plant their own seeds, tave tasting parties and watch Popeye cartoons. The Professor in charge of the study said their intake of vegetables almost doubled! In addition, the children become more interested overall in the fruit and vegetables forming part of their diet.
Teachers were also encouraged to get involved and were asked to be role models at lunch time in shcoold. Teachers were invited to eat fruit and vegetables at meal times with the children. It was reported by parents that even the talking about vegetables increased after the children were involved in the study. They also came home proud from school having eaten their vegetables at lunchtime.
All children under five will continue to have the chance to get free milk in preschool settings according to the recent announcement from Downing Street. The Government has confirmed that 1/3 pint of milk will be given to all under fives who attend a day care setting.
It had been reported that Anne Milton, UK Health Minster, intended to scrap the scheme on the grounds of cost. It currently costs around £50m (double what it was five years ago). By 2011/12 it is expected to cost around £59m a year. Instead of providing milk, the value of Health Start vouchers were to be increased, which would help the poorest families rather than all under fives no matter what their parent's income level.
Milk is vital to children's development. It contains vitamins and minerals that are important for growth and development as well as calcium which is important for healthy teeth and bones.
However, Downing Street has confirmed that free milk is set to stay!
Don't have a battle at mealtimes, everyone at some point has a bit of trouble with a fussy eater in the house so the first thing to remember is keep cool about it. You are not alone in your struggle to get food down a stroppy toddler or a moody and tired pre-schooler. Don't think your child will starve if they don't eat properly for a few days... they won't! They may be genuinely not hungry or a bit poorly, so don't get angry with them and claim they are being defiant or naughty, this may not be the case. And, don't blame yourself.
Many fussy phases pass, so don't worry for the first few days. If eating is becoming a problem on a frequent basis and some difficult habits are forming, then try some of these tips:
- Play with food: allow your toddler to handle the food and roll peas or fly carrots like planes. If it gets them eating then allow it! Don't be too strict.
- Give small amounts of lots of choice: so have a few sorts of vegetables for them to choose from. Try using a compartmentalised plate or a muffin tray and fill each hole with something different!
- Try giving 4-6 smaller meals a day rather than the usual 3 large meals. Healthy snacking is just as nutritious and possibly better for smaller tummies to cope with. Grazing minimises low blood sugar so will lessen any undesirable or difficult behaviour too.
- Make the food fun. Cut bread into strange shapes (eat your mountains or bread crown sounds a bit ore fun!). If you can cut into shapes of use cookie cutters to make sandwiches or toast then do.
- Or get them cutting things themselves (give plastic, blunt knives to cut cooked carrot) and the food is more likely to disappear. Or, get them spreading their own spread onto bread.
- Use fun plates and even get some party plates to serve a meal on. Pretend its a party!
- Call in an older cousin or friend who eats well and have a meal together. See if any good eating habits rub off!
- Sitting on a chair with dangling feet is something that toddlers don't enjoy (try sitting on a stool for a whole meal) so place a step or box under their feet to support them. This may keep them still a while longer and many help them concentrate more on eating and less on wriggling.
If eating problems persist and really do become a barrier, then you may want to seek medical or professional help, but on the whole, eating fads come and go and this is a normal part of growing up.
What makes children happy - a new toy, a bar of chocolate, a nice frilly dress? These things might bring immediate happiness, and a smile to their faces, but it's not these things that will make them into happy adults.
Despite the fact all of us want to be happy, and hope our children will be happy, there is not that much research on discovering the key to happiness. Psychologists tend to focus on how to make unhappy people less unhappy rather than how to make happy people even happier.
There is a line of study that focuses on positive psychology and the study of being happy. It has found that being rich does not necessarily make you happy and that those in very poor or deprived situations are not necessarily unhappy. It seems once we reach a certain level of income, no more money will make you any happier.
- More money leads to higher aspirations which cannot always be met which leads to a feeling of disappointment and unhappiness
- Jealousy: once you have more you see what others have and you are less happy with your own possessions.
Happy, secure relationships seem to be the once constant factor in happy people's lives. And, it is the relationship that children have with their parents that can be a deciding factor in their overall and long term happiness. Why? Because a good relationship can mean a child has higher self-esteem, has a positive view of the world and higher expectations.
When left with other people, a secure child may be upset when the parents leave but will easily be comforted after a short while and then will play happily. When the parent returns they will be happy to see the parent. An insecure child will be very upset and remain upset when a parent goes. On returning, the child will likely ignore or avoid the parent.
However, not all children will be doomed to an unhappy life if this is the case...but there is a link showing secure children are more likely to grow up with fewer relationship problems (with friends, spouses and their own children).
This is the idea that children know what they are good at and are pleased when their skill or achievement is noticed by others. They feel proud and happy that they have done well. This doesn't mean to say they should only be encouraged to be the best or do the best... instead they should be encouraged to try and have a go and be rewarded by undertaking an activity. They will play a game for the fun or it rather than only to win.
It has to be noted that genetics play a part in happiness. If your parents tend to be happy, then you will. This may be linked to the inherited personality traits (extroverts tend to be happier than introverts).
So, the best thing we can do as parents is to try to develop a good relationship with our children: encourage and engage with them to do activities and focus on tasks together and encourage and stimulate them as much as we can. ...and the odd chocolate button would be a nice treat too!