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
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
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.