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Baby bottle tooth decay

Baby bottle tooth decay, common among infants and young children, destroys teeth and causes cavities. A child’s teeth begin to appear in the first year of life; even though these teeth are not permanent, they should still be taken seriously. Baby bottle tooth decay can lead to poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, damaged adult teeth and yellow or brown adult teeth.

Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by regularly exposing teeth to sugary liquids. Milk, formula, fruit juice and soda are often the culprits. Letting a child nap with a bottle causes the liquid to pool and sit on the child’s teeth while he or she is sleeping. The liquid combined with bacteria already in the child’s mouth can cause plaque. Plaque will eat away at the child’s teeth, and eventually the child will get cavities. Such cavities can leave children with black or brown holes in their teeth.

Baby bottle tooth decay can be prevented by:

  • Wiping or brushing the child’s teeth after feeding.
  • Not allowing the child to sleep with a bottle.
  • Starting dental visits between 6 and 12 months.

If you think your child has signs of baby bottle tooth decay visit a dentist right away. Signs for concern include black or brown spots and chalky white spots or lines. Baby bottle tooth decay can be serious, but doesn’t have to be if precautions are taken.


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Breastfeeding: How do I know if my baby is getting enough to eat?

Milk production follows the principle of supply and demand. The more frequently you feed, the more milk you will produce. Breastfed babies will feed every 1 ½ - 3 hours. Pumping milk or waiting for your breasts to feel full are not good measures of milk supply. To tell if your healthy newborn is getting enough, check the diaper. From the age of 5 days to 12 weeks, your baby should have at least six wet diapers (pale yellow or clear urine) and at least two bowel movements (yellow, seedy, soupy consistency) a day. If you are not sure if your baby is getting enough, call the Breastfeeding Help Line at (305) 377-7272.

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Creativity in the kitchen

It is often a challenge to get children to eat better, to eat more fruits and vegetables and to drink water or milk instead of soft drinks. Creativity might help.

You can never be sure what will catch a child’s interest. So be creative with how you involve your child in food, cooking and nutrition.

For example, consider broccoli: One child might eat it if you talk about how it looks like Dr. Seuss trees; another child might eat if able to help in the preparation by can breaking off the crowns; another child might eat it if able to choose it from the market; another child might eat it if served with a sauce or dip; another child might not eat it at all and might prefer cauliflower.

For example, consider milk: one child might drink it if able to see a cow being milked; another child might drink it if able to pour for; another child might drink it when mixed with flavoring; another child might drink it with cereal; another child might drink it if you talk about how it makes bones stronger; another child might not drink it and get calcium from other sources.

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Does my child need vitamins?

Babies do not need vitamins unless he/she was not carried to full term or there are other medical problems; your child's doctor will prescribe if necessary. Consult your pediatrician at any time if you are concerned about your child's nutrient intake.

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Eating on a budget

You can serve healthy meals on a limited budget. With time and planning you and your family can eat better for less.

Tips for meal planning:

  • Build the main part of your meal around rice, noodles or other grains. Use small amounts of meat, fish, poultry and eggs.
  • Make meals easier to prepare by using slow cookers or crock-pots.
  • Use planned leftovers to save time and money.
  • Practice “batch-cooking.” For example, cook a large batch of meatballs; divide into family-size portions and freeze for later use.

Tips for shopping:

    • Make a list of all the foods you need.
    • Look for specials in newspapers and mail-outs.
    • Look for coupons for foods you plan to buy. Coupons save money only if you need the product.
    • Store brands usually cost less but with the same taste and nutrients.
    • Compare fresh, frozen and canned to see which is cheapest.
    • Prevent waste. Buy only the amount your family will eat before the food spoils.

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    Family dinners

    Eating together as a family provides many learning opportunities. It’s an opportunity to eat nutritiously, connect, communicate, learn table manners and listen. Positive social skills are encouraged when your child sits at the table. Studies have shown that children who engage in family-style meals grow up to be more emotionally stable and are less prone to problems in adolescence. Studies also have shown that more vegetables and fruits are eaten when a family eats together. And less fat and junk food are consumed. Try not to argue or criticize at the table. Rather, reinforce your child’s appropriate behaviors, and model what you expect.

    Being together at meals establishes a familiar routine. The predictability of this routine is especially important for a small child. The togetherness of the meal helps families function healthily.

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    Finding fresh Florida produce

    This chart tells when you can buy fresh Florida produce at local farmers’ markets and roadside stands. Many of these foods can be found year-round in supermarkets because they import from other states and countries.

    University of Florida Extension / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

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    Food pyramid


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    Food safety

    Bacteria is an invisible enemy that can be found in your kitchen and can make your family sick. Follow these steps to keep your food safe from harmful bacteria:

    (1) Wash hands often. Wash hands after handling food, using the bathroom, changing diapers, handling pets and before eating. Work soap into a foamy lather and rinse thoroughly with warm water.

    (2) Wash kitchen surfaces. Wash counter tops, cutting boards, dishes and utensils after preparing each different food before going on to the next. Use hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly.

    (3) Separate foods. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood away from other food items in your grocery cart and freezer. Use a different cutting space for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Do not put cooked food on a plate that had raw meat, poultry or seafood before it has been cleaned.

    (4) Cook food to proper temperatures.

    • 145° F for roasts and steaks.
    • 180° F for poultry.
    • 160° F for ground beef.
    • 165° F for leftovers.
    • Eggs until yolk and white are firm.
    • Fish until white and flaky.
    • Cover and rotate foods cooked in microwave.
    • Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil to reheat.

    (5) Refrigerate foods quickly to keep bacteria from growing. Keep refrigerator at 40° F and freezer at 0° F.

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    Fruit juice

    Fruit juice offers no benefit to children under 6 months. Children older than 6 months should limit juice consumption to avoid diarrhea, cavities, poor nutrition and obesity.

    Juice should only be given to children old enough to drink from a cup; juice in a bottle can cause serious tooth decay.

    Four to six ounces of juice each day is what young children should be limited to.

    Juice that is 100% juice has some benefits. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against the risks:

    • Too much juice replaces other healthy foods and drinks.
    • Too much juice can cause children to miss out on necessary vitamins and minerals.
    • Too much juice can curb a child’s appetite.
    • Too much juice can lead to weight problems.


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    How do I know if my child is overweight?

    Typically, children are thought of as overweight 20% or more above normal weight for that age but the makeup of each child's build and body is unique. Please talk to your child's doctor about any concerns.

    Establishing and modeling healthy and nutritious eating habits now will help your baby make healthy and nutritious eating choices as he/she gets older.

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    How to plan snacks using the food guide pyramid

    The idea of snacks being part of a healthy meal plan is especially important for children. Parents and caregivers must plan regular snack times for children. Snacks offered on a regular basis provide children with a continued source of energy for active learning and playing.

    The best snacks are foods rich in nutrients. The Food Guide Pyramid is an excellent tool that can be used to plan snacks. You will find a snack in every food group.

    Snacks from the bread and cereal group:

    • Breads of all kinds (whole wheat, multi-grain, oats).
    • Fig bars.
    • Flavored mini rice cakes or popcorn cakes.
    • Ginger snaps.
    • Graham crackers.
    • Ready-to-eat cereals.
    • Tortilla roll-ups (flour tortilla with slice of cheese or peanut butter).

    Snacks from the vegetable group:

    • Cherry tomatoes cut in small pieces.
    • Steamed broccoli or sugar peas with low-fat dip.
    • Vegetable sticks such as carrots, green or red peppers, cucumbers, or squash.*

    * Not appropriate for children under 3 years; may cause choking.

    Snacks from the fruit group:

    • Apple ring sandwiches (peanut butter on apple rings).
    • Canned fruits packed in juice.
    • Chunks of banana or pineapple.
    • Juice box (100% juice).
    • Tangerine sections.

    Snacks from the milk group:

    • Cheese slices with thin apple wedges.
    • Milkshakes made with fruit and milk.
    • Mini yogurt cups.
    • String cheese.

    Snacks from the meat group:

    • Bean dip spread thin on crackers.
    • Hard-cooked eggs (wedges or slices).
    • Peanut butter spread thin on crackers.

    University of Florida Extension / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

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    Infant botulism and honey

    Some doctors think that one cause of "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" (SIDS) may be infant botulism (food poisoning). A number of public health officials now believe there may be many unrecognized cases of this disease each year, and honey has been implicated as a cause in a few. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, but there have been no cases found in children over 26 weeks old. The Infectious Disease Section and Microbial Diseases Laboratory of the California Department of Health has provided evidence that botulism spores in the infant intestinal tract can produce the growing stage of the bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. This in turn manufactures a highly toxic poison. So far, this research indicates no reason why the disease is produced only in infants under 7 months old.

    Botulism spores are found everywhere in nature. They are not harmful themselves, but in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic conditions), the spores germinate and the resultant bacteria produce a powerful poison. That’s why all canned vegetables are heated prior to packing.

    Raw agricultural crops, however, are never heated. And many foods, even if heated or processed, once exposed to the air would be susceptible to re-infestation by botulism spores. Research suggests an unknown risk factor in feeding raw agricultural products, including honey, to infants under a year. Although honey has been blamed as a source of spores in a few infant botulism cases, some medical officials are not convinced about its role in the disease. Dr. Roger Feldman of the Federal Center for Disease Control says data are not yet strong enough for the CDC to issue a warning about honey. But he says parents should be aware of the findings so they can decide for themselves. Perhaps there are other foods involved, and honey may be no risk at all. We just don't know.

    Honey is highly nutritious. No other disease besides infant botulism has been linked to honey. The risk of this disease appears small.

    University of Florida Extension / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

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    Infant nutrition

    Mealtime is more than eating. Babies learn skills then. For instance:

    • Oral skills: Rather than spooning food in, gently touch the spoon to your baby’s lips and let him or her come for it.
    • Jaw skills: Add soft table food when your baby starts munching at 9-10 months and when the baby starts chewing at 12-14 months.
    • Sensory skills: Allow your baby to get messy. Experiencing foods through sight, taste, touch, smell and sound promotes pleasant and nurturing mealtimes.
    • Hand-to-mouth skills: Allow babies to explore toys and food with their hands and mouths.
    • Healthy eating skills: Repeated exposure is key to learning to enjoy a variety of foods. Reintroduce something even if the child didn’t like it the first time.


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    Is my child's height and weight normal?

    Listed below are average height and weight measurements. If your child's measurements differ greatly from these, talk with your pediatrician about anything you should do.

    1 month 8-11 lbs. 20-23 in.
    7 months 15-20 lbs. 25-28 in.
    12 months 19-25 lbs. 28-31 in.
    2 years 24-30 lbs. 32-36 in.
    3 years 28-34 lbs. 36-39 in.
    4 years 32-39 lbs. 38-42 in.
    5 years 36-44 lbs. 41-44 in.

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    Obesity: Health Weight Network, Guidelines for Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs

    Diabetic: Diabetic Cooking

    Children: Child Care Links

    Advocacy: Nutrition Policy

    Diabetic: National Diabetes Education Program

    General: American Dietetic Association

    General: Nutrition

    Food and drug administration

    Advocacy: Center for Science in the Public Interest

    Allergies: Food Allergy Network

    Advocacy: Food Research and Action Center

    Vegetarian: Vegetarian Resource Group

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    Power struggles and food

    Many eating problems for children stem from power struggles with adults. Children long to be in control, and what a child eats and doesn’t eat is something that a child can often control. When a child won’t eat, ask yourself:

    • Is the child leveling off after a growth spurt? If so, less food is required for the same benefit.
    • Can choices be offered? Offering children a choice gives them some control.
    • Can the child help in planning and preparing the meal? This leads to ownership and a desire to try what is created.
    • What is the attitude around mealtime? A calm and patient atmosphere invites conversation and encourages healthy eating.

    Creating a positive atmosphere for mealtime will lessen food issues and struggles.

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    Should I breastfeed my child?

    Unless otherwise directed by your doctor, breastfeeding is recommended for all children. Consider these advantages to breastfeeding when making your decision.

    Advantages for your baby include:

    • Antibodies from breast milk protect your child from sickness and infection.
    • Breast-fed babies have fewer ear infections, respiratory problems, rashes and allergies than babies strictly bottle-fed.
    • Babies who breastfeed are less likely to develop asthma.
    • The process of breastfeeding provides a close and intimate bond to develop between mother and child. Healthy bonds and attachments are necessary for your child's healthy social-emotional development.
    • The process of breastfeeding provides a time for skin-to-skin touching that is important for your baby's healthy brain development.
    • Fat content in breast milk is not present in formulas. This fat content aids in brain development.

    Advantages for the mother:

    • Less after-birth bleeding.
    • Uterus will return to normal size more quickly.
    • Fewer mothers who breastfeed get breast, ovarian and uterine cancer.
    • The time you would spend preparing and washing bottles can be devoted to your baby.
    • Prevents osteoporosis.
    • Often results in weight loss for the breast feeding mom.

    For more answers to your breast feeding questions please call LA LECHE 1-800-525-3243 or contact http://www.lalecheleague.org and in Miami-Dade County call The Breastfeeding hot-line at 305-377-7272.

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    Should my child be on a diet?

    Many parents worry when they have a child who seems heavier than other children; others are unaware that their child is overweight. This is an important concern since the rate of overweight Americans has doubled in the past 20 years. Ask your child’s health care provider if you are concerned.

    Dieting can interfere with a child’s growth; an overweight child should not diet without direction from a doctor or dietitian. Instead, work with your child to accomplish two things:

    (1) Encourage your child to exercise

    (2) Help your child adopt healthy eating habits.

    The greatest impact you can have on your child’s exercising and eating will be the standards and examples you set. Your child will generally do what he sees you do.

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    What are finger foods and when can my child start eating them?

    Between 8-12 months is the right time to introduce finger foods. Keep these things in mind when deciding on finger foods for your child:

    • Is the food baby-bite size?
    • Does the food have a soft texture or is it small enough not to get stuck in the child’s throat?
    • Do you peel fruits?

    Acceptable finger foods include:

    • Macaroni noodles.
    • Cheerios.
    • Cooked carrots.
    • Boiled potatoes.
    • Banana.
    • Peeled pear.
    • Cheese.
    • Well cooked hamburger or chicken.

    Unacceptable finger foods include:

    • Nuts.
    • Uncooked vegetables.
    • Unpeeled fruits.
    • Raisins.
    • Whole grapes.
    • Whole hot dogs.
    • Hot dog rounds.
    • Popcorn.
    • Honey.
    • Peanut butter.
    • Hard candy.
    • Gum.

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    What are food-borne illnesses?

    Food-borne illness is transmitted by microscopic pathogens such as a virus, bacteria or parasite. When a person eats food affected by a pathogen, the person becomes infected.

    Food-borne infections occur from a pathogen growing inside a human body. The time between consumption of the pathogen and symptom onset can be days or weeks because the pathogen needs time mature.

    Food-borne intoxications occur when a pathogen has had time to mature in the food product. Symptom onset is usually quick and easily attributed to the contaminated food.

    Follow proper food safety practices to ensure foods you prepare and consume are pathogen free.

    University of Florida Extension / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

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    What can I do if my child won't eat?

    If your child doesn't seem to eat enough at sit-down meals, with how often he or she snacks. Young children often eat in small but frequent quantities. If your child is getting most calories from snacks, make sure to give healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables, meats and grains that are low in sugar and salt. If your child is refusing certain foods, try offering one food on the plate at a time; when the child finishes each food, add another. If your child will not eat vegetables done one way, offer that vegetable another way… say raw vs. cooked. Let children dip vegetables into dressing they like. If your child is just picky, make a family fun day where everyone tries something new -- parents, too.

    Observe your child’s nutrition habits:

    • Does your child eat throughout the day?
    • Does your child always have breakfast? Skipping breakfast can impair school performance and lower energy levels for the whole day.
    • Do you offer meals that are tasty and attractive to the child? Cooking vegetables for no more than six minutes allows for a crunchier consistency, brighter colors and retention of full nutritional value.
    • Do you respect the child's dislikes? Wait three or so weeks before offering the same food again.
    • Do you offer foods in bite-size pieces with dips for snacks?
    • Do you include vegetables as part of daily family meals?
    • Do you lead by example?

    Vegetables and fruits are part of the same food group and can be interchanged. Don’t think of essential foods, but rather essential food groups. If all fails consult your child’s health care provider.

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    What is junk food?

    Junk food has little or no nutritional value – that is, foods high in calories but low in nutritional content, such as soft drinks, french fries and candy bars.

    Begin to teach children about healthy eating habits soon after birth. The food choices that surround a young child influence diet preferences later in life. Young children surrounded by healthy food choices will incorporate healthy foods into their diets; children surrounded by unhealthy food choices will incorporate junk foods into their diets. Eliminating all junk food from a child’s diet is not likely and not best -- deprivation leads to desire. It is much wiser to work in a little junk food without overdoing it -- smaller portions and only occasionally. The most important thing to remember is that you guide your child’s food choices and dietary habits. Incorporate healthy foods into your own diet, and your child will learn from the example you set.

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    What is the best way to freeze food for my family?

    Foods can be kept in your freezer ready for busy days, parties or unexpected company. By planning a steady flow of casseroles, main dishes, baked goods and desserts in and out of your freezer, you can make good use of your freezer and good use of your time. Advantages of freezing prepared foods:

    • Convenience.
    • Baking more than one dish at a time saves energy.
    • Freezing leftovers avoids waste.
    • Special diet foods and baby foods can be prepared in large quantities and frozen in single portions.
    • Time is saved by doubling or tripling recipes and freezing the extra.
    • If you cook for one or two, individual portions of an ordinary recipe can be frozen for later use.

    Foods that don’t freeze well:

    • Salads
    • Potatoes, baked or broiled
    • Cooked pasta
    • Rice
    • Egg whites
    • Meringue
    • Cream or custard fillings
    • Milk sauces
    • Sour cream
    • Crumb toppings
    • Mayonnaise
    • Salad dressing
    • Gelatin
    • Fruit jelly
    • Fried foods

    University of Florida Extension / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

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    When can my child start cereal?

    Between 4 to 6 months babies can be introduced to solid food. Solid food should be limited to mushy rice cereal and pureed baby jar foods.

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    When should my baby drink cow's-milk? And what about low-fat milk?

    At one year, you should introduce your child to cow's milk. Feed your child whole milk until he/she reaches age 3. This will ensure that he/she is getting enough calcium for strengthening rapidly developing bones.

    If your child is allergic to cow's milk, there are soy- based milks. Consult your child's doctor about what might be best for your child.

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    Which milk should my child drink-fat-free, 1%, 2% or whole?

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:

    Less than 12 months:
    Breastfeeding is best. Formula is okay. Do not give cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is low in iron which babies need to prevent anemia.

    Between 12 months and 2 years:
    Whole cow’s milk is good. Breastfeeding is still recommended. Do not give low-fat or reduced-fat milk. Human breast milk and whole cow’s milk contain fats that are important to building a growing baby’s brain.

    Between 2 years and 5 years: Give milk with 2% fat.

    After 5 years: Give milk with 1% fat. This should give children the fat they need, without the extra calories that contribute to obesity.


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