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My son Cooper is a big eater. I have never worried that he is not eating enough for long. He has had moments of eating like a bird, but he quickly returns to having a healthy appetite. My twin girls don’t eat as much and it started to stress me out. They are getting about 20-24oz of breastmilk or whole milk currently so I know they are not drinking too much. The girls just don’t eat a ton. So I start to research a little more about how much they should be eating. What I found helped me calm down and realize they were just fine.

A toddler should eat a tablespoon of food per food group for their meal. A one year old portion size is 1 tablespoon, while a two year old portion size is 2 tablespoons. And furthermore, a 3 year old’s portion size is 3 tablespoons per food group. But please remember that every toddler is different and has a different appetite. It is okay if your toddler eats more than the allotted tablespoon amount. My son defiantly eats more than his recommended amount and his pediatrician confirmed that toddlers cannot overfeed themselves under the age of 3.

So a typical day of eating for a one year old might look like this:
~ 20-24oz of breastmilk, formula, or wholemilk is the norm for this age
Breakfast
1 tablespoon fruit
1 tablespoon grain (bread, pasta, crackers, oatmeals, etc.)
1 tablespoon protein (yogurt, egg)
Mid-Morning Snack
1 tablespoon grain, veggie, or fruit
Lunch
1 tablespoon of grains (bread, pasta, crackers, oatmeals, etc.)
1 tablespoon of veggies
1 tablespoon of protein
Afternoon Snack
1 tablespoon grain, veggie, or fruit
Dinner
1 tablespoon of diced fruit
1 tablespoon of grains (bread, pasta, crackers, oatmeals, etc.)
1 tablespoon of veggies
1 tablespoon of protein

So a typical day of eating for a 2 year old might look like this:
~ Check with your pediatrician on how much milk you toddler should have at this age. Many pediatricians will advise to switch to 2% milk at this age and to continue to keep milk consumption under 24oz.
Breakfast
2 tablespoon fruit
2 tablespoon grain (bread, pasta, crackers, oatmeals, etc.)
2 tablespoon protein (yogurt, egg)
Mid-Morning Snack
2 tablespoon grain, veggie, or fruit
Lunch
2 tablespoon of grains (bread, pasta, crackers, oatmeals, etc.)
2 tablespoon of veggies
2 tablespoon of protein
Afternoon Snack
2 tablespoon grain, veggie, or fruit
Dinner
2 tablespoon of diced fruit
2 tablespoon of grains (bread, pasta, crackers, oatmeals, etc.)
2 tablespoon of veggies
2 tablespoon of protein

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My daughters Anna and Molly have quit eating Baby Cereal. This would be okay if they ate enough iron, drank formula, and ate plenty of grains in their diet- but they are not. They eat very little iron, are still breastfeed, and are still not eating a ton of finger foods that are grains. So I went on quest to find some recipes that utilize iron fortified baby cereals that I felt like my daughters would eat.

Baby Cereal Pancakes
http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/babycerealpancakes.htm
These pancakes were a big hit with my twin girls! They make a lot so I just freezed the batch of pancakes after I made them in individially wrapped cling wrap inside a freezer bag. Then in the morning, I just take one out and pop it in the microwave for just a few seconds. A quick and easy breakfast.

Baby Cereal Cookies
http://www.food.com/recipe/baby-cereal-cookies-104405
This was a very simple recipe and easy to make. The girls like them. I made the cookies about the size of a quarter. They work great as a finger food at breakfast time with some chopped up fruit and a yogurt. Then the girls also have enjoyed having two of these cookies during their afternoon snack time. My 2.5 year old even enjoys these. These cookies have very little sugar- they actually only use molasses. My only recommendation is to add 7T of whole milk instead of 3T. They turn out better and more moist with more milk. They freeze well too. So if you make a double batch, you can freeze a batch to be used for later.

Baby Banana Oatmeal Muffins
http://wicfoodrecipes.blogspot.com/2010/02/baby-banana-oatmeal-muffins.html
I use apple sauce instead of oil, whole wheat flour instead of regular flour, and 2 mashed bananas instead of babyfood jars of banana. They turned out great! The twins loved them and so did everyone else, including daddy!

Baby Cereal Muffins
http://moms4mom.com/questions/3317/how-can-i-convince-my-8-month-old-to-eat-baby-food

Orange Minimuffins
http://www.thesneakychef.com/blog/2011/01/orange-minimuffins.html

Wholesome Babyfood- Link to various recipes using babyfood
http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/teethingbiscuits.htm

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When I first wrote my post about structuring your toddler’s day, I wrote it for when my son was taking one nap a day. But most toddler’s don’t drop the morning nap and move to one nap a day until they are closer to 15-18 months old. My son Cooper dropped the morning nap at 12 months, which is early. My twin daughters are 12 months old and are still taking 2 naps a day. While there are days they only take one nap (due to activities we have planned outside the home), 5-6 out of 7 days they are still taking two naps a day. I thought it would be helpful to write out their schedule at 12 months for parents who are looking to structure their toddler’s day while still on two naps.

Click on each activity to learn more about them. Check back frequently as I add more links to the various activities as I blog about them.

For a sample schedule of a toddler on one nap a day, please see my post entitled Structuring Your Toddler’s Day (one nap a day)

7:00 Nurse, Potty, Dressed for the Day
7:30 Structured Learning/ Free Play
8:00 Breakfast
8:30 Free Play in Playroom & Circle Time
9:00 Outside Play
9:45/10:00-11:00 Nap
11:00 Nurse, Potty, Diaper Changes
11:20 Independent Play Time
12:15 Lunch
12:45 High Chair Activity (AKA Table Time/ Transition Time)
1:00 Play With Mommy inside or Outside Play
1:30 Story Time & Quiet Play with Mommy
2:00-4:00 Nap
4:00 Nurse & Snack, Potty, Diaper Change
4:30 Blanket Time
5:00 Sibling Play
5:30 DVD in Playroom (while Mommy gets dinner ready) or Play with Daddy if he is home from work already
6:00 Dinner
6:30 Family Play
7:00 Bath
7:15/7:30 Nurse/Bottles, Followed By Bed

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If you are anticipating a newborn, I bet you are wondering how you can possibly juggle the needs are two different children. Here is my suggestions:

1. Write your current child’s schedule on paper. Then think about how you can incorporate the needs of your newborn into your older child’s schedule.
2. Write out two schedules: One schedule that is a 3 hour schedule and one that is a 2.5 hour schedule. The 3 hour schedule is the goal and the one you hope to maintain, but you might need to feed more frequently in the beginning and also you might have a few growth spurts where you will need to feed more often. It is helpful to have a game plan for either situation.

Here are the schedules that I kept. I hope you find them helpful.

1-4 week old & 19 Month Old
(3 Hour Schedule)

7:00 Nurse, Followed by one-on-one time with Molly
7:45-10:00 Nap
8:00 Wake Up & Free Play
8:30 Breakfast
9:00 Outside Play

10:00 Nurse, Followed by one-on-one time with Anna
10:00- 11:00 IPT
10:45-1:00 Nap
11:00 Structured Learning/ Play
11:30 Free Play
12:00 Lunch
12:30 Read Stories, Potty, Get Ready for Nap

1:00 Nurse, Followed by laying on the floor with Both Girls
1:00-4:00 Nap
1:45-4:00 Nap

4:00 Nurse, Followed by hanging out in bouncers
4:00 Snack & DVD in gameroom on blanket (Modified blanket time)
4:45-7:00 Nap
5:00 One-on-One time with Mommy
5:30 Outside Play/ Play with Daddy if he gets home on time
6:00 Dinner
6:30 Free Play

7:00 Nurse
7:00 Play with Daddy
7:30 Family Play
8:00 Bedtime
8:00 Bedtime Routine
8:30 Bedtime

8:30-10:00 Adult Time with No Kids
10:00 Nurse, Right Back To Bed (treat like a dreamfeed)

This is my 2.5 hour schedule that I used when the girls were about 6 weeks old. I did this for schedule for about 3 weeks when they hit a HUGE growth spurt. I also went back to this schedule a few times during other growth spurt seasons.

Twins: 6-9 weeks old, Cooper: 30 Months Old
(2.5 Hour Schedule)

7:00 Nurse & one-on-one time with Molly
7:50- 9:30 Nap
8:00 Wake & Free Play
8:30 Breakfast
9:00 Outside Play

9:30 Nurse & one-on-one time with Anna
9:30-10:30 IPT
10:20- 12:00 Nap
10:30 Structured Learning/ Play
11:00 Free Play

12:00 Nurse (I nursed in the room right next to the kitchen so I could see Cooper) & Hang out in bouncers in kitchen
12:00 Lunch & DVD
12:50- 2:30 Nap
12:50 Get Ready for nap (sort version)
1:00-4:00 Nap

2:30 Nurse & hang out on floor with both girls
3:20- 5:00 Nap
4:00 Snack & One-on-One time with Mommy

5:00 Nurse
5:00 Blanket Time in Game room with DVD (modified blanket time)
5:30 Sibling Play with Mommy in Gameroom
5:50- 7:00 Nap
5:30 Outside Play/ Play with Daddy if he gets home on time
6:00 Dinner
6:30 Free Play

7:00 Nurse
7:00 Play with Daddy
7:30 Family Play
8:00 Bedtime
8:00 Bedtime Routine
8:30 Bedtime

8:30-10:00 Adult Time with No Kids
10:00 Nurse, Right Back To Bed (treat like a dreamfeed)

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My son will be 2 in a month. There have been several periods during this year span from 12-24 months where he has been difficult, fussy, and clingy. I would say these are wonder weeks, but the book stops at 13 months. In the back of the book, it does mention that children will still continue to have wonder weeks though out their childhood.  It lists that toddlers will hit a wonder week at 64 weeks (~15-16 months) and again at 75 weeks (~18 months).  I also think that toddlers hit an other wonder week around 22-24 months. I am going to discuss what was going on with my son during these developmental stages and I hope it will help you to figure out your own child’s developmental changes and needs.

Wonder Week 64 (~15-16 Months)
During this wonder week, my son was only saying a few words (5 words at most). His receptive language skills were decent, but we still have difficulties trying to communicate certain things to my son. He got easily frustrated because he did not know how to tell us what he wanted or he did not understand what we were saying or asking of him. His sleep prior to this wonder week was great. He slept from 8pm-7am and a 3 hour nap during the day. During this wonder week, my son started to wake a few times in the night and cry, wake up earlier in the morning around 6-6:30am, and his naps were disrupted by waking mid nap and crying or taking a shorter nap. He seemed to whine a lot more and just want me to play with him non-stop. His independent play was just not as good.
After the the wonder week was over, things improved. His sleep went back to 11 hours at night and 3 hour naps. He was not waking up randomly and crying anymore. His receptive and expressive language improved. He was able to follow several step command such as, pick up the cars, put the cars in the box, and then put the box away. He was saying more words and that made his ability to communicate his needs easier for him. He went back to contently playing with his toys solo and independently. He also had less tantrums.

Wonder Week 75 (~18 Months)
During this wonder week, he was horrible!!! During 17-18 months we was a wreck. His sleep went back to being terrible with multiple wake ups in the middle of the night and shorter naps. He was SOOO clingy and fussy. I could hardly get anything done because he just fussed and followed me all over the house. Again his independent play was terrible and he would cry for a great part of his independent play time. He still was not talking a whole lot at this point. He had about 1o words he could say, but that was about it. He also started to eat terribly and became very picky about what he would and would not eat. I was expecting my twins around this time too, so to be fair, I am sure that he sensed that something was about to change.
After this wonder week, Cooper’s language totally took off. He started to repeat everything we said. His vocabulary went from 10 words to who knows how many. It seemed he was saying a new word every day. He understood us even better and for the first time he was able to respond to simple yes and no questions verbally. This made our life so much easier and helped to cut down on the frustration Cooper was experiencing from not being able to communicate effectively to us. His fine motor skills also improve and was able to color easier with markers and crayons. He started to eat better as well. He was so pleasant to be around. He would play independently without complaint as well.

Wonder Week 22-24 Months
During this wonder week, again Cooper had the typical wonder week symptoms. Poor eating, poor sleep (but not as bad in past wonder weeks), poor independent play. But the most difficult symptom was tantrums. His mood would flip flop in an instant. He would go from happy to totally upset and crying. He had a hard time if he did not get his way right away. He also go frustrated when he was playing and something did not work out the way he wanted it to. He spent a lot of time in time out during this time period for tantrums or not listening to me.
After this wonder week, Cooper is back to being pleasant and easy to be around. He does not throw the same amount of tantrums.  He is eating better, sleeping better, and playing better independently. The most noticable change his is language. He can now say simple phrases and sentences such as, “babies cry”, “brush my teeth”, “mama sit”, “help please”, “CooCoo (Cooper) downstairs”. This has changed the way he can communicate to my husband and I, thus, has changed his frustration level. Update: About a month after his 2nd birthday his language increase ten fold! He is talking in sentences, asking question, and is very verbal.

At every stage of these wonder weeks, something happened to my son’s language. I really think that his frustration, clingy nature was due to his frustration with language and communication. Once he was able to communicate better, things went back to a more simple and peaceful time for Cooper.

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I was very intrigued with the thought of being done with diapers early than the norm. I cannot stand to clean a poppy diaper. A close friend of mine had lent me a book on Infant Potty Training when I was pregnant with my first child. I read the book and thought, there is no way that I am going to do that because that just seems like to much work. So for the first 5 months of my son’s life, we did the normal diaper changes. But around 5 months of age, I started to see a pattern to my son’s pooping pattern. I would breastfeed him and he would always poop right after he was done feeding. Some one had given me a potty seat that fits on top of a regular toilet seat so I thought, what the heck, I will just give infant potty training a try.

Step One: Develop a signal word and show sign while child is peeing or pooping

I decided to just work on poop, since I hated changing poopy diapers the most. After my son would finish breastfeeding, I would say the word potty and sign potty in sign language as he was pooping. This way he started to associate these two cues (the word “potty” and the sign language for potty). I did this for about a month.

Step Two: Put your child on the potty when he starts to pee or poop (while using your cue word and sign language)

The day my son turned 6 months old, I decided I would finally give infant potty training a real try. After I was done breastfeeding my son, I took his diaper off, placed him on the potty seat, and said potty and signed potty at the same time. Apparently all my hard work for the past month had paid off because my son pooped and the potty! I could not believe it. From that point on, he has always pooped on the potty. He poops on the potty about 95% of the time. He still has an accident every now and again, but it mostly my fault for ignoring his need to go. I still take him to the potty after he eats. He does not always need to poop, but it has become a ritual we do. If my son does not need to go, he will say, “all done”, and at which point I know that it is time to take him off the potty.

Step Three: Your child communicates to you the need to use the bathroom through sign language or words.

The ultimate goal is that you child would tell you that he needs to use the bathroom without you having to take him to the bathroom at set times. Even though I have been signing potty to my son since he was 5 months old, he does not consistently tell me in sign language that he needs to go, which is why I still put him on the potty after each meal. He is now 17 months old, and he is telling me he needs to go more frequently, but not consistently.

What I wish I had done

What I wish I had done was also work on getting my son to pee in the potty early on. I decided to only tackle pooping in the potty. I have attempted to teach him to pee in the potty, but I believe that I missed that magical window where it is easier to train peeing in the potty. My son will pee on the potty about 50% of the time I put him on the potty, but I believe he does not have any control over his bladder muscle yet because I never helped him to develop it. He is also not aware that he is urinating half the time (at least that is what I think). I have decided to take pee training with “bottomless toilet training” or a “bare bottom week”. Essentially, during bare bottom week, you allow your child to run around without a diaper on. Every time he or she starts to pee, you whisk them to the toilet to finish peeing. You reward them for peeing on the potty with some kind of a prize (m&ms, candy, juice, etc.).  I plan on doing this once the weather warms up so my son will not be cold running around half in the nude.

My Closing Thoughts

I am so glad that I decided to poop train my son. I think it will make when I finally tackle pee training even easier. My hope is to have my son completely potty trained before my twins are born at the end of April. Let’s just hope the weather warms up in time for me to start my “bare bottom week.” If I am successful, my son will be 19 months old and completely potty trained. Let’s hope it works! I would be one happy mama to have my toddler out of diapers before I start diapering two newborns again!

Resource Links

Elimination Communication websties
http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/
http://www.parttimediaperfree.com/

Elimination Communication Books
The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative
Infant Potty Training: A Gentle and Primeval Method Adapted to Modern Living

Bare Bottom Potty Training websites
http://www.nickjr.com/preschool/potty-training/advice/potty_training_bare_ap.html
http://www.parentingscience.com/potty-training-techniques.html

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Eating with a spoon requires fine motor skill development, as well as hand eye coordination.  My personal experience has been that my son was ready to try using a spoon around the age of 15 months old. Prior to 15 months, I worked on a lot of fine motor skills with him- such as holding a paint brush, writing with chalk, drawing with crayons, stacking rings, and putting buttons through a small hole. Many of these skills also require good hand eye coordination. Once I notice that he was able to many of these tasks with more ease, I began the process of introducing the spoon.

I should add, that I have allowed my son to play with a spoon during meal times since he was much younger- maybe around 9 months old. I would lay a plastic feeding spoon on his high chair and let him chew on it and play with it. I also made sure that I ate with a spoon in front of my son and occasionally showed him how to hold the spoon and bring it to his mouth. So by the time he was 15 months old, he understood the concept of what a spoon was and its function.

Start by giving your baby a small bowl/ cup of tick food. The thick consistence will keep the food from running of the spoon. Here are some good first foods to use to introduce self spoon-feeding:

  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Mashed Butternut Squash
  • Yogurt mixed with baby cereal or baby oatmeal to make it thicker

The mechanics of self spoon feeding a kind of rough at first. You may find your little one just poking the spoon into the food and then bring it to his or her mouth. That is a good first step. You will have to show your child how to “dig” into the food and lift it up so that more food collects on the spoon. Model how this is done by guiding his or hand and allow your child to bring the spoon to their mouth. This is a hard skill to develop, so be patient. Self feeding with a spoon also takes a longer time to do, so if you are in a rush to go somewhere do not allow your child to self feed during that meal or you will never get out of the house on time. I usually save self spoon feeding for dinner since I usually am not heading out anywhere anytime soon, he will get a bath after dinner, and I don’t feel like I have to rush him.

Make sure you are prepare for there to be a mess. If the weather is warm, you can take you child’s shirt off. If you want to use a bib, make sure it is wide and covers a lot of surface area. I have found some really good toddler bibs at walmart that pull over the toddler’s head. They seem to help keep messes to a minimum (sort of, haha). Also I know that bumkin makes a bib that actually has long selves if you care to try that out too. I also keep a wet washcloth handy to wipe my son’s mouth, hands, and face when he is done eating. He is usually caked in food by the time he is done.

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