Phase 2: Healthy Parents

As you help your child build healthy habits, now is a perfect time to examine and improve your own lifestyle. Knowing that your toddler learns and copies your own actions can serve as great motivation. Set a good example by making an extra effort to drop your bad habits around your kids.

While time is something every parent needs more of, there is no excuse for neglecting your own needs. It is essential that you find time to relax and take care of your own well-being. Use the recipes provided below and pamper yourself with an inexpensive home spa treatment. Remember, eating well and adding a little exercise will give you more energy and can help clear your head of stress.

Keep Moving – Don’t Give up

  • Do something whenever you can. You may not have a full hour to devote, but you can find at least a few minutes here and there. Take advantage of the time you have; it will add up.
  • Start slow and build up your workouts as you gain endurance and strength. Take short breaks if you get too tired and then begin again. Just starting to exercise again can be the hardest part. The first few times you exercise can be tough, but you will soon find that you feel better and have more energy.
  • Even if you are tired or think you are not in the mood to exercise, push yourself to put on your workout gear. See if you can finish at least 5 minutes or work out at a lower intensity than normal. You will usually find you feel much better once you start and have more energy than you thought.
  • Set a goal and stick to it. Maybe it is running in a local 5K or maybe it is running for 15 minutes straight. Whatever it is, honor the commitment and do not make excuses.
  • Take advantage of free resources like your library’s selection of exercise videos and books or check with your local parks and recreation department, which often offers free or discounted classes.
  • Turn on the music and grab your toddler. Find music you both like, clear the floor of toys and sharp objects, and get moving. You will both have fun while getting a mini workout.
  • Walking is one of the best forms of exercise. Whenever possible, put your baby in her stroller and head outside. You can use the time to plan or clear your head of stress or just enjoy the fresh air.
  • Exercising is easier when you wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
  • Keep a journal of what you eat and how long you exercise. This will help you see patterns and help you make improvements in your diet and exercise.

Take Time to Relax

  • 30 to 45 minutes before your bedtime, stop the chores and unwind. Take a relaxing bath, read a book or watch a TV show. Try to make this a nightly ritual.
  • Remove clutter from your bedroom. Keep children’s toys and clothes in proper places and not the floor of your room. This will make relaxing in the evening easier.
  • Take a few minutes at any point during the day to head to a quiet spot, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and visualize a comforting place for you. It could be a warm sunny day at the ocean, an afternoon on the front porch with a slight breeze tinkling the wind chimes, drifting down a river in a rowboat; anything that brings calming thoughts to mind.
  • Make a list and prioritize what you need to accomplish. Start one task at a time and finish it before moving on to a new task. Praise yourself for completing each one.

Positive Benefits

  • Regular exercise can strengthen muscle, increase flexibility, increase energy, control weight and build strong bones.
  • Exercise relieves stress and improves your energy. Studies have repeatedly shown that exercising improves blood flow, lowers blood pressure, muscle tension and raises endorphins to promote mental well being.

No Excuses

  • Take advantage of your baby’s naptime or a friend’s offer to baby-sit.
  • Go for a walk or a run with baby in the stroller. Walking is effective exercise and a great way to include your baby. Investing in a good stroller makes it easier to include your baby in a walking or running schedule.
  • As your child gets older, involve yourself in your child’s play and engage in more physical activity.
  • Sign up for a fitness class or take a walk with other moms. You will build social relations while toning your body.

Home Spa Treatments

Tomato Face Pack

Tomatoes are especially good for oily skin.

1 ripe Florida tomato

Mash up ripe tomato and leave it on skin for 15 to 20 minutes. Wash off with warm water and washcloth.

Yield: 1 face pack

Rejuvenating Cucumber Face Mask

Cool cucumbers and yogurt refresh and soothe tired skin.

1/2 Florida cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon yogurt

Puree sliced cucumber in a blender or food processor. Mix in yogurt. Apply to face and let set about 20 minutes. Wash off with warm water and washcloth.

Yield: 1 mask

Avocado and Honey Face Mask

Honey cleanses and moisturizes while avocado soothes skin.

2 tablespoons ripe Florida avocado, mashed (skin and seed removed)
2 tablespoons Florida honey
1 egg yolk

Mix the avocado with the honey and egg yolk, blending thoroughly. Apply to clean face and neck and leave on for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and then follow with a toner and moisturizer.

Yield: 1 mask

Sugar Foot Scrub

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1/2 of one lemon or 2 drops essential oil for scent

Mix all ingredients. Gently massage the scrub onto each foot. Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse in warm water. Towel dry.

Yield: 2 Foot Scrubs


Phase 2: Feeding Guidelines

By now you may have noticed your toddler is interested in the foods you and your family enjoy. Even though your toddler does not have many teeth, she can mash foods with her gums. As long as foods are properly prepared, your toddler can eat a variety of foods. Do not be afraid to experiment and remember that it often takes 10-12 tries before a child may accept a new food.

Toddler Diets

  • Stick to 3 meals and 2 snacks at regular times and avoid additional foods in between. Wholesome snacks are important several times a day because children’s stomachs are small and they usually do not eat enough during each meal. Choose nutrient-rich snacks similar to the meals you prepare.
  • Toddlers do a good job of determining how much food they need to eat on their own. If you are worried that your child may not be eating enough, look at his food intake over a week and not over a day. A general guideline to calculate children’s caloric needs from 1 to 3 years is to multiply your child’s weight by 45 calories.
  • Make sure your child is getting enough iron in her diet for proper development. Iron-rich foods include fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables and beans, as well as tofu, poultry, fish and meats.
  • It is recommended that whole milk and dairy products be served until the second birthday. Extra fat is necessary for proper growth and brain development during this period. Milk is also an important source of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Water is a perfectly good drink to serve your toddler. You can add a small amount of juice for variety, but juice and sweetened beverages do not offer much nutrition. For children ages 1 to 6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day (about a half to three-quarters of a cup). Too many sweet drinks can cause tooth decay and add calories to your child’s diet.
  • Check labels to make sure you are not giving your child unnecessary calories and sweets. As a rule, every 5 grams of sugar equals about one teaspoon. Be especially careful when purchasing juices, cereals and snack foods.
  • Talk to your pediatrician before introducing high allergenic foods such as milk, peanuts, tree nuts such as pecans, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.

Transitioning To Table Foods


  • Watch for signs that your child is ready for finger foods such as showing interest in the foods you are eating and a good pincher grasp (can pick up small objects on his own). You should not have to help your child eat at this point. Children are usually physically ready for finger foods by 8 months old.
  • In order to make the transition from pureed baby foods to table foods, gradually add more texture to purees and foods. Introduce larger lumps and pieces in purees and begin offering finger foods. You can use a little common sense and trial and error to determine what type of foods your baby is ready to eat.
  • Offer one favorite food with other choices and encourage your child to try at least a bite. It is common to see a toddler stick with one food and not want anything else. While it may be upsetting, it is usually not cause for concern.
  • Children 5 and under usually do better experimenting with new foods at lunch and when relaxed. If your toddler is cranky, has just come from an over stimulating play session it might not be the best time to introduce a new food. If your child has a reaction to a new food, it is better to know in the afternoon than late in the evening.
  • Try describing a newly introduced vegetable or fruit in a fun way for your child. Eggplant can be a “purple people eater”. Dipping carrots in yogurt can become taking “Charlie the Carrot” for a swim.
  • Let your child make a mess. This is a period of learning; allow them to explore and have some fun with their food.
  • Dips can be a lot of fun for kids and can increase acceptance of certain foods. Be creative – experiment with low-fat salad dressings, yogurts, hummus and salsa. See the “Kid Recipes” section for ideas.

Eating At The Table

  • A study at Harvard University showed that the odds for being overweight were 15% lower for children who ate dinner most or every day of the week. Make family meals a priority and start a good habit early by feeding your toddler with the family as soon as possible.
  • Do set table rules and do not let your child control you or the mealtime. Do not wear yourself out and try to please everyone. Offer choices and at least one food you know everyone likes.
  • Dinnertime can be great opportunity to catch up and connect with family members. Aim for a relaxing environment and avoid conflict and distractions at mealtime. Turn off the television and radio.


Phase 2: Healthy Habits

The transition from 1 to 2 years of age is a period of increased independence for your child. The strong base of healthy habits for children and parents built in Phase I will continue in Phase II. Remember, the healthy habits you are teaching your toddler now will grow with them to middle school and beyond.

Sensible rules for great teachers:

  • Children learn and discover their world by copying the behavior of people around them. Explain to each member of the family the importance of setting a good example for your toddler to learn from and imitate. To teach good habits you need to make sure both your words and actions are consistent.
  • Limit sugary and other unhealthy foods. Kids have a natural preference for sweet foods, so it is important to introduce them to the flavors of fruits and vegetables.
  • Be patient. A toddler’s likes and dislikes can change from day to day. Familiarity is the key to acceptance. It can take 8-10 exposures to a new food before your child will eat it. Give your child choices but do not force her to eat anything.
  • Do not give in to unreasonable requests or accommodate the “food ruts.” You do not want to force your child to eat anything but you do need to set rules and boundaries. Urge everyone to try at least a few bites of everything.
  • Do not make a fuss over your child’s eating habits. If your toddler does not want to eat, simply wrap up the meal and put it away, but do not offer something else. When you child gets hungry again, you give them the plate of food from earlier. Do not beg, bribe or punish your child to eat.
  • Be positive about your child’s eating habits and avoid labels. The word “picky” has a negative association. If he hears from you that he does not like corn he will believe he does not like corn. Instead of giving up, think of him as “selective” and continue to offer rejected foods.
  • Although it can be hard at times, always try to keep your cool. As children approach age 2, they may reject food just for the power of being able to do so. Keep to a regular schedule and offer nutritious snacks several times a day.
  • Stock the pantry and refrigerator with healthy foods. If you do not keep junk food in the house, no one can eat it. If you must have something, keep it out of sight.