Family Foundations Socialization Makes Trying New Foods Fun

Introducing many new foods into a toddler’s diet is critical for their lasting health. But some toddlers are notoriously picky eaters and the process of accepting new food choices can be laborious. Children need to get used to the taste of new foods and might need to try a new food as many as ten times before they become accustomed to the taste. Many new parents don’t know that, and don’t know where to begin when it comes to introducing new foods to their toddlers in the face of resistance. Recognizing that need, the Clairton Early Head Start staff worked with the Family Foundations Nutritionist, April Randolph Miller, to develop a healthy menu that would introduce a few new foods to children and their parents. She engaged parents and their children in a fun, educational program about healthy food choices for toddlers and how to expand their diets.

The socialization began in the Infant-Toddler playroom where a play kitchen set is available for the young children. Home Visitor staff, Carrie Berlin, Rabiah Johnson and Bruce Kelly interacted with parents, engaging their children to play and pretend in the kitchen. Following playtime everyone had worked up an appetite and had a healthy lunch building their own tortillas with chicken and different vegetables. Parents had the chance to chat with the Nutritionist and the Home Visitors about preparing healthy food and feeding children.

There is a lot for a parent to learn about feeding a young child; what to feed them, how often and how much. Education about Nutrition is essential and that is why it is one of the services that EHS provides for enrolled families. From breastfeeding to making sure toddlers eat a healthy diet to dealing with food allergies, Ms. Miller is there to help parents learn about all that goes into proper nutrition for their child.

Ms. Miller also showcases her expert advice in a monthly parent’s newsletter that covers multiple topics surrounding food and nutrition. The newsletter includes recipes, fun activities for kids and topics such as what to feed your baby and/or toddler and picky eaters.

In addition, Ms. Miller accompanies Home Visitors to help parents deal with the every day challenges that go along with feeding a family. She provides help on an as-needed basis, for the big as well as the small issues. She offers advice on meal planning, food safety and efficient ways to feed the family for busy working parents. If need be, she will help parents learn to cook, use appliances, wash and cut vegetables, and prepare foods to prevent choking hazards for young children. She also helps with serious problems, like a baby’s Failure to Thrive, breastfeeding difficulties or food allergies.

Ms. Miller also works with children on good habits like washing hands before eating and using silverware.

She oversees the food served at the Family Foundations partner Child Care Centers and creates nutrition assessments. Ms. Miller’s multifaceted job has one simple goal; to insure that enrolled children are presented with healthy, nutritious food choices, so they can build healthy bodies and habits for the future.