Care and Nurture of Your Child Ages 0 to 5

A Feeding Baby 002

On Nov. 11, 2014, Carolina Parent hosted a live Facebook chat with American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness providers on how to care for your 0-5 year old. Here’s a transcript of the conversation:

Carolina Parent Magazine: Welcome to the Carolina Parent and the American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness “Your Boo: Care & Nurture of Your Child Ages 0 to 5” LIVE Facebook chat! Today we’ll be talking with Brent Wright of East Point Prosthetics & Orthotics, Steve Adkins of Health Park Pharmacy and Ryan Sobus of Healthy Diets.

READERS: Ask a question as a comment below this post and don’t forget to REFRESH your page!

Welcome, experts! Onto the first question: My baby is ready to eat solid foods, what’s the best way to introduce new foods and what types of fruits and vegetable do kids typically like? I could use this advice for my 3 year old as well. He is a picky eater and I don’t think I introduced him to enough foods early on at the table!
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Ryan, here! The more dietary variety kids get in the very early years, the more accepting they will be later on. So start with bland fruits and vegetables but up the ante. Use herbs, spices, garlic and onions to make food taste good. Once kids can eat table foods, let them join you at the dinner table. Your mission is to get them to try as many flavors as possible.
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: For your older kids, It’s not always the taste of veggies that turn kids off, it’s the texture. Researchers from Wageningen University provided kids (age 4 to 12) carrots and green beans that were steamed, mashed, grilled, boiled and deep-fried. The kids preferred the boiled and steamed versions. Why? Because they were crunchier, had little browning and less of a granular texture. So experiment with different crunchy textures and see how it goes.

ages-0-5-live-promo.jpgExperts in behavioral economics say parents need to go a step further by making healthy foods highly accessible. Lay out an attractive bowl of fruit on the kitchen table. Include veggies with dip with meals and while you’re preparing dinner. Studies show the visibility of food increases desire to eat it.

Another way to help kids feel comfortable around food is to show them how it’s done! I’ve learned that at this stage, they so much want to be like their parents. If you turn your nose up at broccoli or asparagus, chances are they will follow your lead. This may not happen automatically for every kid, but research supports the notion that kids are more likely to eat a food when they see their parents eating it.

Carolina Parent Magazine: “I am pregnant and expecting my first baby. How early on should we start thinking about healthy eating for our child?”
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Ryan here! Helping kids learn to eat healthy starts at conception. The amniotic sac not only transmits nutrition but the flavors of the food eaten. Studies show that the wider range of flavors babies are exposed to in utero and through breastmilk, may help to increase their preference for a more diversified diet later on.

Carolina Parent Magazine: “All my kid wants to eat is chicken nuggets and French fries. We’ve tried everything. What can we do to introduce more variety of foods?”
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Ryan here again! Parents can learn something that restaurant owners already know — you need to make food sound tantalizing. In his studies, Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, demonstrates that the name we give a food can make a big difference in how children perceive it. In one study, when researchers called veggies names like “X-ray carrots” or “princess peas” kids were 60% more likely to try it.

Because kids feel little control over their day-to-day environment, helping with meals gives children a sense of ownership and makes it more likely they will eat the meal. Pick out new vegetables at the market or flip through cookbooks for menu ideas. Having kids help with the meal preparation will help them find their place in the “tribe” and the world around them.

When a group of 4 to 7 year olds were presented with two versions of fruit, one cut into fun shapes and the other not, the kids presented with the fun shapes ate twice as much fruit. While the researchers of the study published in Appetite say that the novelty can wear off, it’s important to remember that kids like fun. And if we can present food in a fun and attractive way, it can pique their interest and desire.

Kara Lynn Hardister: My 3 year old will sometimes skip entire meals, with the excuse “I’m too busy playing” and “I’m not hungry”. It’s a constant battle. We always eat as a family (my husband and I, and my other 19 month old daughter), but she will just usually throw a tantrum or pace around the table or hide in her room. Other than tying her down to her chair, what can we do? It’s not like we aren’t making food that she doesn’t already like. I’m pretty sure that even if I put cake in front of her, she’d find an excuse not to eat it. She does get healthy snacks through the day, but I’m afraid she’s going to starve.
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Ryan here! I understand that meal times can sometimes feel like a battle. As a parent, it is your responsibility to choose the foods that you offer your child and provide consistent meal/snack times. It is NOT your responsibility to force your child to eat. It’s important to help your child feel safe with food and come to expect consistency. Provide consistent meal and snack times every 3hrs. Unless your child’s natural growth curve is disrupted, allow them to explore their hunger and fullness cues and respond appropriately. A great resource for this type of feeding is Ellyn Satter’s “Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense.”
Kara Lynn Hardister: good answer!

Brenda Larson: My great-niece won’t eat a variety of foods and her mom is concerned that she’s not getting all the nutrition she needs. Is it a good idea to think about a multi-vitamin of some kind for kids? She’s five.
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Steve here. My wife is a dietitian & I am a strong proponent of getting as much of ones nutrition needs met from whole foods. However, as farming becomes more industrialized & foods are more genetically altered, multi-vitamins are a good way to augment these needs.

Lauren Isaacs: My husband doesn’t get home from work until 7-7:30 (stays late by necessity). My daughter eats at 6:30 and goes to bed at 8. Is it important to have a family dinner together?
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Family meals combine the benefits of repeated exposure with role modeling. It also teaches kids how to behave at the dinner table and gives families time to connect. I know your schedules may be wacky, but get this habit going as soon as you can.

Research shows that children of families who break bread together more likely to say they would confide in one, or both, parents about a serious problem; more likely to report that their parents are proud of them; more likely to report lower levels of stress and tension at home; and more likely to talk to their families during dinner, and to have the TV off during the meal.

Carolina Parent Magazine: “Can I do anything to avoid the “hot lots” of vaccines that I’ve heard are more likely to cause reactions?”
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Steve here commenting from Health Park Pharmacy. This is a common misconception. A report of an adverse event (VAERS) does not mean the vaccine caused the event. VAERS reports have many limitations such as the lack of important information like lab results. The limitations of the reporting system when following up with the doctor or parent/patient about the event make causality hard to determine. Vaccine lots are not the same size and range from thousands to millions per lot for example. FDA would recall the lot if reactions were truly linked to the vaccine. For more information on this subject visit our website at:

Carolina Parent Magazine: “Do vaccinations put my child at higher risk for ADD or ADHD?”
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Steve here. There’s no evidence that supports any link between vaccines & ADD/ADHD. When looking for good references, I strongly suggest limiting your search to FDA, news media and other online sources can be a bit skewed.

Carolina Parent Magazine: “Is it true that children shouldn’t get vaccinations if they’re sick?”
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Steve here. It’s always a good idea to check with your child’s pediatrician. A runny nose may not be an issue. However, if your child’s body is trying to mount a response to an infection/they are running a fever, it’s probably best to wait a couple of weeks.

Myra Wright: What offers the best protection against the flu in young children — flu shot or nasal spray/FluMist? Or, are they equally effective?
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Steve here with Health Park Pharmacy. All patients should be treated individually. While Flumist may offer better coverage, patients with chronic upper respiratory conditions should not receive FluMist.

Carolina Parent Magazine:
“My baby is starting to develop a flat spot on his head from sleeping on his back and maybe time spent in his swing. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do since he’s at the age where all he really can do is lay down.”
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Brent here answering from EastPoint! If you are noticing a flat spot, we encourage parents to bring it to the attention of their pediatrician early. We encourage physical therapy early. If the head does not resolve by 5.5-6 months a helmet may be indicated. We look at 2 measurements: Cephalic Ratio, that is the ration of the length versus the width of a child’s head. Typically we are 15% longer than the width. We also look for asymmetry of the diagonals. The measurement is taken above the eyebrow in a diagonal to the other side of the head. The two diagonals are compared to get a measurement called the Cranial Vault Asymmetry Index. If a diagonal difference is greater than 10 mm then a helmet is indicated.

Carolina Parent Magazine: “If I were to need a helmet for my child, how long do they typically wear them and what are the costs? I am also wondering would they need more than one helmet?”
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Brent here with Eastpoint. Generally babies will need a helmet for 2 to 3 months depending and age and severity of the asymmetry. The initial evaluation is free, and the cost depends on the insurance. Some do cover it and some consider it cosmetic. You will most likely need a follow up appointment every 2-3 weeks. Finally, 99.9% of time only one helmet is needed.

Carolina Parent Magazine: “Are the helmets to treat flat-heads comfortable for kids to sleep in? Also are the children able to fit in a standard car seat with their helmet? I can’t imagine sleeping in a helmet. Seems like it would give you neck pain.”
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Brent here answering from Eastpoint. Helmets should not hurt. Babies seem to like the contact on their head. Especially when sleeping. Sometimes you will notice that babies go to the edge of their crib and touch their head to the crib wanting that contact. With helmets they don’t do this. In addition there are no issues with a car seat and no special considerations. We also follow up with the babies, kids and parents every one to two weeks to make sure there are no issues as the child’s head is growing.

Carolina Parent Magazine: “Are there any long-term effects of the flat-head syndrome? I’m a bit worried that we should have been more aggressive in getting our daughter checked out.”
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Brent here again from Eastpoint answering. Well…..when your child is older….it’s hard to rock a Mohawk or a crew cut. On the serious side, there are potential TMJ risks and athletes could have problems with helmets fitting correctly. At this time, we are not sure what the long-term implications will be from plagiocephaly. This is a more recent occurrence in children, and began largely due to the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign in 1994.

Carolina Parent Magazine: Well that looks like all we have time for! Thank you to American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness providers Brent Wright of East Point Prosthetics & Orthotics, Steve Adkins of Health Park Pharmacy and Ryan Sobus of Healthy Diets for sharing your expert advice.
American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness: Thank you Readers and Carolina Parent Magazine! For more information on these providers as well as the American Institute of Healthcare & Fitness, please visit us at:

Categories: BT Development, BT Health & Wellness, Early Education, Health, Health and Development, Preschool Development, Preschool Health & Wellness