Previa Alliance Podcast

Solid Starts

November 27, 2023 Previa Alliance Team Season 1 Episode 82
Previa Alliance Podcast
Solid Starts
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ok time to start solids - Doctor

How, what, when…help! - All parents

As a parent, do you ever feel lost when it comes to feeding your baby solid foods? Do you worry about allergens, picky eaters, and the chaos of mealtime routines? You're not alone. This episode features a conversation with Kary Rappaport Executive director from Solid Starts, a pediatric occupational therapist and lactation consultant whose work has been shaped by her own experience with postpartum anxiety. Kary’s approach to infant feeding offers a refreshing perspective and practical guidance, which we unpack over the course of our chat. From how to start with solids, allergens, and problem solving techniques to tricky mealtime behavior, this is has it all!

Solid Starts Food database First Foods for Babies Starting Solids - Solid Starts

Check out Solid Starts for helpful guides and courses.

More about Kary Rappaport - Executive Director of Solid Starts PRO

A mom of two, Kary specializes in family mealtime dynamics and eating issues across the spectrum, from breast and bottle feeding challenges and picky eating, to dysphagia, tube feeding, and complex food refusal.  Kary has extensive, wide-ranging work experience from outpatient therapy, to pediatric acute care in a high acuity NICU, to in-home settings and Well Child visits, all supporting families and children with eating and swallowing. Kary has worked with thousands of infants and children as they learn to eat, and she has taught parents and medical professionals on this topic for nearly two decades. 

Solid Starts is the leading institution on how to introduce real food to babies. We are a multi-disciplinary team made up of doctors, feeding therapists, dietitians, and researchers focused on providing evidence-based information on introducing solid food to babies and navigating picky eating in toddlerhood. Central to our mission is the free First Foods Database®, an award-winning app and database of foods from around the world.

Follow Previa Alliance!
Previa Alliance (@previa.alliance) • Instagram photos and videos
Previa Alliance Podcast (@previapodcast) • Instagram photos and videos

Keep the questions coming by sending them to info@previaalliance.com or DM us on Instagram!

Speaker 1:

Hey guys, welcome back to Free your Alliance Podcast. This is Sarah again and we are bringing you guys today another person to be in your village. So if you are hitting that you know four months to six months, or your mom to be, or heck, you're like me. You have toddlers who some days decide to eat and some days decide not to. This is the podcast special for you. We have from Solid Starts, carrie. She's the executive director. She comes to you as also an occupational therapist, lactation consultant and mom and hello. She loves maternal mental health, so she's our girl. So buckle up. This is a great conversation today. Don't worry about pen and paper writing everything down. We will take great show notes and we'll link everything. But, carrie, welcome. Thank you so much for having me, sarah. We are so excited. So let's start off. Tell us just a little about yourself and why did you choose this career.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm a pediatric occupational therapist by training. I've been doing this for it's getting close to 20 years now. I specialize in feeding, eating and swallowing, especially with the little list ones. I'm also an international board certified lactation consultant. I got into this line of work primarily because I was a severe picky eater as a kid and really that population resonated with me. I also grew up with a family that did family meals pretty regularly, and that was a very important and sort of anchoring part of my childhood. Even though we had our busy lives, there was always moments to come to the table and be together, and so both of those things together sort of guided my career choices in terms of specializing under the umbrella of pediatric OT in the area of feeding, eating and swallowing.

Speaker 1:

I love that. Again. Tell us about you as mom. How is this? How does mom carry coming to play with this?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm a mom of two kids. I have a seven year old and a 10 year old. I am finally in a phase where I feel like I'm going to handle on things, although I feel like every year that passes I'm like, oh no, that was actually really hard. Last year this is a little bit easier. But yeah, I definitely had my own struggles postpartum with both kids, with just baby blues and feeling so much anxiety after I had my daughter my first one and quickly felt like everything was a little bit harder than I expected, everything was a little bit scarier than I expected and I really relied on and used my village at that point Friends or friends of friends who had had babies and pretty quickly realized how important that was to have a collection of people you can trust, that you can go to to say is this normal, is this right? Am I on the right track? What do I do here? Because it's endless. There are questions like that that come up every single day. Even currently, as a professional and as a mom who's been doing this for 10 years, I have questions daily that I'm like is this right, am I on the right track? So I know how important that is to address maternal mental health. I also know how important it is just to have that village that you can trust.

Speaker 1:

I love that and yeah, I mean I've been doing this almost five years and I'm like half of your time and I'm like every day. You're right, I'm going okay, what about you? Hey, text mom, friend, or. But that's the village part is what I'm so glad you mentioned, because we're parenting in a new age where that traditional villages, you know, living super close to family or having that neighbor mom who kind of is like the veteran mom, takes gender over wean, doesn't happen for a lot of people. So we build an online village. So that is why we're so glad to have you on. So my listeners, we know this I suffered from postpartum anxiety and you know mine did not go away for, say, for a while, and especially starting solid. So you know I remember Will, my oldest, for six months. They're like you know the pediatrician God love them was just like okay, start solids, that's literally. And I was like wait, what? Literally? You know it's just like bye. And so what does everybody do? You know it was reading how y'all's founders are essentially the Google rabbit hole, right, you go down this like horrible thought pattern and if you're already struggling with anxiety, like so many of our moms do, you're going okay, I don't know what to do. I'm clueless, this is this, this is that, and I wish I would have had y'alls first food database, like hello. So if you'll please just talk kind of about this mom, who I was, who's like clueless and wants to have evidence based information, where does she start?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I love that. Like you said, I feel like it's like when you first go home from the hospital and they hand you the baby and they're like here you go, go home, and you're like wait, what You're trusting me to do? All this? Solids is the same thing. They're like go ahead, start solids and you're like no guidance, no, nothing. So food database is really meant to be that tool that any parent can use every day, multiple times a day, to just look up a food and get accurate, very, very deeply researched information, but condensed down to just what you need on is this food okay to serve to my baby at any age? So it starts at six months or around six months, or whenever you start solid, so five or six months, and then you can see how you would cut it, how you would serve it, how you would arrange it for a baby at nine months or how that might be different for a baby at 12 or even 18 months, two years old, and it gives information on the nutrition in that food, whether that food has any notable issues that you might want to be aware of, that might need some modification or that you should be thoughtful about, and how you choose it or how you serve it. It's just a very, very well put together tool that is vetted by our team of medical professionals, so everybody gets a chance to look at each food database entry to say, you know, I don't know if we thought about this angle of it and I want to make sure we let parents know that it could be the nutrition piece of it or it could be sort of where it comes from, because we have a food culture writer as well. So there might be something that parents might want to know about in terms of where the food is coming from or how it's produced. And then again for the choking standpoint and the serving standpoint and how that fits together with your baby's development to know, okay, at this age, your baby has these skills that would make this serving presentation the most effective for them to be able to both get it into their mouth and eat it, but also just how different presentations or different preparation styles might impact the sensory experience of your child. So, knowing that we want baby to have lots of different sensory experiences, especially when it comes to foods, because foods have such a wide range of sensory properties, so we've also thought of that and include information on that. It's just super comprehensive, which sounds overwhelming, but again, it's done in a way the app and on the website it's extremely easy to navigate. It has just sort of the key bullets where you can look and be like, okay, cool, it's safe. This is how I'm going to cut it. This is, you know, the main thing I want to know about nutrition, so it's great for the.

Speaker 1:

I stumbled upon it and I was like, where has this been all my life? I literally said that. And it's so empowering too because from anxiety personality type like myself to have that information, I felt in control. But like for babysitters, grandparents, right, who's watching your kids? Because I mean this kind of jumps to my next question Baby lead feeding, or like babies eating, you know, with their hands, versus the very typical old school, we still do it, but purees, right, you may have grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle make a comment at you, be like what are you doing? Right, because that wasn't how they did it. And so we're also this generation of moms who are at evidence base. We're fighting back a little bit of oh, that baby's gonna choke, or what do you do? So, yes, how do you talk? Like, what's your response? Cause I'm sure you hear it from your clients. I heard you probably heard it from as a mom. You know what are you doing? giving that baby, that like you know, smash that up, cut that up or you know whatever. What do you say? Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

That comes up a lot. We have a lot of parents who ask about that and, like you said, I've experienced it in my own life. I think the answer is just to point out that babies around six months old have all the skills they need and the foundational reflexes to be able to self-feed and to learn to chew, and that there is a window of time. So this is newer and we get that. There are a lot of grandparents out there or aunties, uncles, who maybe did not have this research when they had kids, and so it's not that they were doing it wrong, it's just that we are learning and we adapt as we learn. But there is research that shows that there is a developmental window between around six to nine months where a baby is most open to and most ready to learn the skills to chew. And if we introduce chewable foods during that window so foods that baby can pick up with their hands and bring to their mouth and that have texture to them, baby will naturally learn to chew and to swallow those foods, whereas the research shows that if you wait a little bit past that, especially after 12 months, it becomes harder, not that it becomes impossible, it just becomes more challenging because that developmental window starts to narrow and so you have to do extra work. We also know as medical professionals that toddlers in general are less open and interested in trying new foods, in learning to chew, in learning about foods that they have not been introduced to early. So that window is extra important for introducing chewable foods from that six to nine month phase. But again, there's a lot of parents out there and I don't want to be part of the anxiety to say, oh my gosh, my baby is 10 months or 12 months and we haven't done it yet. That is okay, I promise you. I've been doing this a long time. They're going to learn to eat. We just know that it takes longer. At that point it takes a little bit more effort and work on your part.

Speaker 1:

And that's all. What we're trying to do is meet everybody where they're at right, and you guys have resources for our listeners who just said in their head what you just said out loud. You guys can meet them where they're at right. If we're talking a six month old baby, if we're talking a two year old, you guys can work through that. Now I will tell you the biggest hold up from me when I was starting sauce, because I was like I'm gonna do baby levy, I'm gonna do this blah, blah. It's the gagging versus choking it. And I'm a nurse. So I was like you think I could handle that. But when it comes to my children, something happens inside of me and I just lose all my common medical sense. So how is it important for mom? So that's, they're going to gag, right, like the baby's going to gag. So hawk us off the cliff a little bit for those like me versus gagging versus choking.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think this plays really nicely into the previous question too, about how can this be safe and what are you doing? So the important thing to remember is that gagging is one of your child's, one of your baby's protective mechanisms to reduce the risk of choking. Gagging is not choking. It doesn't lead to choking. It actually physiologically protects the airway and reduces the risk of choking by helping to both close the airway and to move food away from the airway. So a gag is protective. We want baby to gag. It's a normal response as they're learning to explore foods, because baby, from birth to around six months old, has only been drinking liquids. They've been taking in breast milk formula. They are not used to bigger pieces of food in their mouth. They have chewing reflexes, but they need those protective reflexes in place to help reduce the risk of choking during that phase. And so your baby, from six to nine months, actually has the strongest physiologic protection against choking that they will have as they learn to eat. That starts to slowly fade out from nine months through around 18, 24 months as they get a little bit bigger and their oral structures change. So we want baby to gag. That is expected, it is normal and it helps to push the food out of the mouth and away from the airway. That's something that I think most parents worry about is that the gag will lead to choking or means that the baby is choking, and that's completely not true. So I think the two things that really help some families when they think about it is that your six to nine month old baby, your six to 12 month old baby, their gag reflex is really far forward in the mouth. It tends to happen around the middle of the tongue, whereas as we get older, that gag reflex starts to get a little less strong and it seems to move back in the mouth. So you will not gag until the food hits the back part of the tongue. The back part of the tongue is pretty close to the airway. The middle of the tongue is nowhere near the airway. So we want baby to gag when the food is really far forward in the mouth, which means that it's not anywhere close to actually being in the choking realm. The other thing to keep in mind is that, like I said before, when you gag, the airway closes, so your baby is actually closing off the airway to keep anything out of it that might happen to be back there as their throat and tongue work to push that food up and then back out of the mouth.

Speaker 1:

I thought it's a very, very great explanation. I mean, even now it makes me feel good hearing that you know my kids are past that like oh okay, and something I had to learn was, and then I had to tell my I remember my mom specifically when both of them would gag. I was like you almost do a poker face or say you're okay, right, but was I dying inside for a second? Yes, I was. So any listeners that like I can't naturally do that. It's a like you know now you're giving, we know this is safe, this is okay, it's normal, but you still got to pull that poker face a little bit Cause maybe they read you. I mean they do.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. Yeah. We say use that poker face or just that feigning of indifference to prevent yourself from startling the child, first and foremost, or from making them think that they're in a dangerous situation. You want them to know that they're safe by the looks that you're giving them. This is okay, this is normal, you're safe and I trust that you're safe. I often say that learning to eat solids for the baby and the parent, they're just a microcosm of the rest of your life. You know the baby is learning how to use their motor skills, but they're also learning about problem solving. They're learning about attention. They're learning about frustration management and then, when it comes to parenting, you're learning how to cope with things that are a little bit outside your control and you're learning to let go. You're learning to stay calm in the face of something that feels a little nerve wracking and you're learning to support your child as they're out there in the world doing things that you can't fully control for them.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that was. I mean 100% of that, and I think that's a good segue again into allergies, because when we're talking about solids and we're talking about foods and allergies are gonna come up, right, cause we've all, maybe we know someone and we've heard a story right, there's still anxiety reducing for me cause I'm like, oh God, is there gonna be an allergy that my kids are gonna show one day? You know they're on the rise and so there was a big push years ago of like we're gonna avoid allergens till later and now we're more early introducing. So if you want to speak to that cause I know our, you know how can our listeners be proactive and how can they be up to speed to feel comfortable navigating this. Like you hit the nail on the head again, it's like it's out of our control, right? We really don't know, unfortunately, until it happens with an allergy, unless there's strong family history. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2:

Just like you said, the recommendations have changed. So it's another area where you might get pushed back from a grandma or somebody else in your life who's like that's not how it was done before. You're right, or they are right. That's not how it was done before. But thankfully, as research comes out, we've learned that early introduction of the foods that are most commonly the cause of allergies is actually preventative of forming an allergy. It doesn't help to delay introduction of them, even for kids who have a high risk for allergy because they have things like eczema. So early introduction means once your baby is starting solids, usually around six months old, you want to introduce those common allergens. There's nine of them right now. Those I always butcher this but I'm gonna try. It's dairy wheat, egg, shellfish, finfish, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and soy. Think I got them. Those are the foods that are most likely to cause an allergy. Other foods you can be allergic to them, but they're very, very uncommon compared to these nine foods. For those foods we say don't start. It's not like the very first food you give should be one of those foods, but they should be in there starting after a week or so you wanna start introducing these foods and the catches that the introduction needs to continue. So it's not like a one and done, unfortunately. We're like, okay, introduce peanuts, no reaction, we're good to go for another year. You need to keep introducing them a few times a week, especially for the peanuts and tree nuts. Same goes for eggs. So you wanna introduce those foods in small amounts? We recommend that you introduce just that food without another common allergen when you introduce it. So, for example, you could potentially introduce your baby to apple and avocado on the same day, no problem. But when you're introducing egg, you wouldn't introduce egg and, say, peanut butter on the same day. You could introduce egg and apple or egg and broccoli, but not two common allergens on the same day. Usually the response is pretty quick. So you are best off if you're not putting your baby to like a down for a nap or to bed right afterwards. It's sometimes helps the parents anxiety to introduce those common allergens early in the day rather than waiting for dinner time, for example. Or if you are doing it at dinner time, that you have a few hours before baby is going down for bedtime or a nap would be ideal so you can observe them.

Speaker 1:

And again you guys, the listeners, are like that's great, how do I introduce them? Go to Solid Starts, go to y'all's website and go to that food database and you have a whole hour D section as well that they can learn how to introduce it. Because a lot of us we don't know how to introduce shellfish off the top of our head. We need you guys to tell us. So again, just keep in your head and your guys are listening to this that website is fantastic and it's got so much easy, easy access information. Okay, so we've kind of conquered, we're feeling confident, we can start our solids. We know about allergies. Now what other resources are you guys there from moms and dads who are like me right now that we've got some food refusal, we've got some picky eaters, so it's not one and done with anything in parenthood Like, okay, we did this, now what's next? Oh, great, they throw the food. Oh, they don't like apples today. They loved it. Last week. You bought 20 apples this week. What did we get for these moms?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so we love love starting with finger foods and introducing a wide variety of them from, like I said, around six months. When you start solids through 12 months old, that is a phenomenal foundation. No matter how you spin it, it's a great foundation to lay for your baby. But it is very common around usually it's a little bit like closer to 15 to 18 months, but some babies early starting around 12 months old and you start transitioning into toddlerhood. It's very common to see some new onset food refusal and to see what we call typical toddler food selectivity. It's a expected phase and a normal phase that most toddlers will go through and how you respond to that phase matters. You're going to need a slightly different bucket of tools than what you've used for your baby Because, like I said before that six to 12 month window six to nine month window is a period where baby is developmentally open to trying new foods and excited about exploring new foods. I often joke that you can find a lot of babies gnawing on shoes during that phase, or the dog toy or a handful of grass. They're not super discerning about what they put in their mouth, where toddlers usually know what foods taste good, they can identify. You bring out the cupcake and they know that that's going to be something Delicious tasting, versus they see a broccoli and they already have an idea, a mental picture, of the fact that that's not going to taste like the cupcake. So even though you laid that foundation, which is super important, it's very likely that your toddler will start pushing boundaries, testing boundaries, because developmentally that's what they do. It's normal. So we have a toddlers at the table course that I absolutely love. That, I think, is incredibly valuable for parents who feel like they laid this good foundation but now they're struggling with mealtime behaviors. Again, they're normal. It's a phase that will pass. But it's also a phase that can trip some families up because your child is sort of leading you down a path that can lead to picky eating over time if you're not careful, because they are again pushing boundaries, trying to get you to serve certain foods, and when they learn that food refusal, for example, or throwing food, gets them something better or something that they want, it can easily snowball into a narrower diet and into more food refusals. So we really strongly encourage families who are struggling with that to check out our toddlers at the table course, just because again, it's filled with things that are really reassuring for parents, and what I love is that it's got a bunch of strategies that are easy and straightforward but that are not necessarily intuitive. So they're just a way of approaching food at the table with your toddler. That really helps to further develop independence and their budding sense of curiosity and discovery and a desire to imitate you and to be part of the family meal. It really capitalizes on all of that and helps a toddler learn how to progress their skills rather than sort of stagnating or getting stuck in this restriction that they are normally in. But that should just be a phase.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I love that. And then I guess, on a personal note, I'll ask this too I, you know my almost five year old. He still has food preference differences. Is that on course? This is me going off track.

Speaker 2:

Carrie.

Speaker 1:

Is this, am I okay? That's my? Am I okay, carrie?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you are totally okay, that's normal. So toddler food selectivity can go on for a while. But also it is normal as humans to have food preferences. What I think parents need the reassurance of is that the research is very clear that food flavor preferences are learned over time. So people think like, okay, when my five year old doesn't like this, they may never like this. Or you know, they don't like the feeling of this in their mouth. They could never learn to like the feeling of this in their mouth. That's not what the research shows us. We know that food preferences are learned through exposure and the more positive exposure we have to a food over time, the more likely you are to include that food in your diet and to enjoy it. And most adults can think of a food that they didn't like as a kid or that they didn't like even a part of their adulthood, that they had served a different way and were suddenly like, oh, actually that's delicious, I do like. That Turns out when you prepare it like this or if you cook it like that, I do like that food. So it's normal for a five year olds to have big opinions on those things still and to have those food refusals or to have preferences like that. I think what we want parents to do is to lean into that a little bit, to think about this as you would any other area of your child's life, where you're like, okay, you're not interested in this right now, but how do we learn about it? How do we lower that barrier so it doesn't feel so scary or it doesn't feel so uncomfortable for you? How do we explore it in a way that allows you to positively learn about it, so that you're more likely to try it, especially when it comes to foods that we value, that we serve? You know it's fine if your five year old dislikes certain foods. That's normal. Six year olds, adults, have foods we don't like. It's not that we need to like all foods, but it's important for us to understand that food is highly modifiable. You might not like it, like I said one way, but the five year old can start to learn that they have some agency there to be like oh okay, if I actually dip it in this sauce or if I add a sprinkle of this seasoning or if I mix it with that food, it tastes better for me and that can really open doors for them. So I think that's the goal. It's not that we can somehow get a child to eat all foods, but it's just that there's a lot of room for learning. That happens, and five year olds tend to be still in that phase where they're like I don't like it at all, shut it down, but they're also bright learners, and so it's a great opportunity to sort of pull them into that avenue and to be like how do we discover a way to make this better? You know, I know you're a problem solver. How do we fix this? What can we do together to make this more exciting or interesting?

Speaker 1:

I'm gonna say still that tonight. So that is. I mean, you're just so right, like, just to rephrase it how I would have, like he doesn't want to get into the car, we'll get out. The same thing, I think we do. We get tripped off right Like we get tripped up when it comes to food, and it's probably a lot to do with how we were raised and society pressures that puts on us and about diet and what we consume. And if you don't do this I mean I remember growing up there like if you don't like your milk, your bones are gonna break, you know, and you're just like there's other ways to get calcium. But yes, you know it's just kind of like. So I think that again we can go back to the theme that we are a different generation of parents that are trying to reframe.

Speaker 2:

Exactly. We have new tools. We know that there's new research to support different ideas, so we're trying to do things a little differently, but it's easy to fall back into old patterns and to habits that we were raised with Totally.

Speaker 1:

Another question I hear a lot from our listeners, from premium moms, is traveling, holidays and food with kids is stressful, right, because it's as an adult. We can go now if you have a kid and you're just like, okay, kerry, I'm in this whole new environment, my kids don't wanna eat anything or I don't know what to do. You know, any age that's stressful. What do you say to your clients or your friends who are like what's your advice? How do you survive this?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So from me personally, my perspective is lower your expectations in those moments. Those are not the times where you're really gonna push your child to be extra adventurous or you're gonna push them outside of their comfort zone or push your boundaries. Those are usually the moments where you're going to sort of let things go and be okay with your child eating not the perfect meal or not the perfect diet for those three days that you're traveling or that week that you're traveling. The more you can get into a routine, the better. So if you're traveling for three days, it's very hard to get into a routine. If you're traveling for a week, you probably can establish some level of routine and consistency that can help your child do better. So we wanna just keep that in mind. It's stressful to travel. It's stressful over the holidays. We feel it, they feel it and it is very normal that they might not eat as well as they were eating before or that they might seek to control what they can control, which is food. So they may insist on certain things or only eat foods served a certain way, and that might not fly at home. But in those moments you might let that go and say this is fine, because they're small, they're still learning, they're feeling out of control and this gives them some sense of control. That's fine. I often reassure my friends, and our followers as well, that you can get back to your good routines and habits once you get back to normal life. So if it's holidays or parties or whatever or travel, once you're back to normal life just go right back to your patterns and you can sort of relay those foundations of routine and habit and boundaries where you might let those go, when you're traveling and on an airplane or in a car or all those things where, again, we're just not at our best.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes we just have to survive it, and that's why I tell our moms too. It's just like I think we all live sometimes in a fake Instagram reality where you think it's gonna be. You're like, well, you see that vlogger's kid and they're trying every new food and they're not throwing it, and that my kid has a French fry for five days in a row, and it's like that's sometimes just how it rolls, and you also don't know what really happened in that other, in that vlogger child's, rest of the day. You just see that one glimpse. So we always try to remind people that now, okay to the mom who's listening in and she's going. Okay, I think we have a little bit more of an issue. Like, I think, like she's listening to our gut, right, like we all have the mom gut that tells us something might not just be right. Where do you tell her to find you guys, find you and find those resources to help her and help her child.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. I think you hit the nail on the head, Like if you suspect or you are worried that something is wrong outside of the realm of typical baby behaviors, toddler behaviors, or you've been working on something for a while and you're just not seeing progress. Get help. Get help early. It's amazing how quickly issues can snowball because we're feeding our kids every single day, multiple times a day. Issues can compound quickly. So don't wait on it. If you're feeling anxious, I'd say seek help. The best avenue for that is usually to start with your medical provider. So I would bring it up to them. They may give you some guidance. But if the guidance is something you've already tried or you have seen no progress with, push them a little bit. You can ask for a feeding evaluation from a local feeding therapist. Usually that's an occupational therapist or a speech and language pathologist. You might also ask to see a pediatric dietitian. All three of those disciplines can be extremely helpful in figuring out what's going on. So we're trained to identify the underlying issues, to be like oh okay, well, you know, your child might be refusing food because they don't like sitting in the high chair, whereas this other child might be refusing food because they're struggling with their fine motor skills. You wanna make sure that somebody can help you kind of get to the bottom of the issue and then help you with active strategies to improve it. So I would start with your medical provider seek out a feeding therapy evaluation. If your medical provider thinks that's necessary, or if you are feeling like it's necessary, sometimes you have to push a little bit and say, nope, I've tried these things, I'm not gonna take a wait and see approach anymore. I need some help with this now. I think the other thing that I like to remind parents is just that to seek out a feeding therapy evaluation doesn't necessarily mean that things are completely off the rails or that there's something wrong with your child. Again, a little support can go a long way. Some early intervention can really help you get back on the right track if you feel like you hit a wall with making progress.

Speaker 1:

And I think it's just I say this too when it comes to, like, our mental health. It's that first step of asking that can fill the hardest and honestly it is the hardest. And then you get in and you realize it's not that bad, you know, or like name it to tame it, cause there's a lot of unknown that's scary, right, like it's scary. What's wrong with them? What's wrong with me? Why am I feeling this way? Why are they acting this way? And then we rav it whole in our minds what could be so? I mean, this is why you're there and again, there's it's strength in asking for a second set of eyes and to talk to you about it. So I love that.

Speaker 2:

And there's so many things when it comes to feeding that are within the realm of normal. So we really really love parents to go to our Instagram page or our website and just watch videos and search and look at the different content that we have, Because a lot of things parents think are problems are actually normal things that everyone's dealing with or that some babies just do and it's still considered very normal. So knowing that can be helpful and then again, knowing that oh okay, this is a normal pattern of behavior, we expect certain babies or certain kids to outgrow this in time can also help. You know that, okay, we've been working on this for a while and they're not outgrowing it, so now I do want to take that next step forward. We also really like to offer strategy so that parents know, because sometimes it is just a watch and wait, and sometimes it's a watch and wait with a little bit of support from the parent. So the parent might need to do something slightly different to help their baby build this different pattern or this new skill. And if you've tried that and those things aren't working, then again that's a red flag like, oh okay, we've tried the basic strategies, Now we might need a professional to give us a little bit more individualized guidance.

Speaker 1:

And I think it's great too, cause then they would come into their professional appointment and have a good history right. So they're not starting like negatively, they're starting positively, with this therapist to say, listen, I was on, so I started to Instagram, I watched this, I did this, and so they really it's like I tell people, bring everything you can when you're seeking out that help, to give that professional a really good like background, look into it and it's like, okay, this mom, she knew this, she knew that, and you catch it early. But even I know our listeners are probably even thinking what even cup to use. You guys have all that handled too. So it's truly a one-stop resource. And then if there is listeners who are professionals and they're like, hey, I would love to learn their way. I know you guys you're the director of this, of the section, you have a whole professional section that they can go and take courses too, which I love.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, this was a heavy lift and an absolute passion project of mine, but we just launched our what we call Solid Starts Pro and it's our set of professional resources to help feeding therapists, doctors, dieticians, nurse practitioners, you name it. We have a growing set of resources currently for medical professionals who work in the pediatric space and who might support or want to be supporting families with feeding, eating and swallowing. So currently we have a membership that you can join that gives you access to our foundations course, which is a deep dive into the research around starting solids and how to support families, and then also gives a professional access to tools that our professionals have created and that we use in our practice or have used in our practices to help support families. We also do live events with professionals and different activities every month to help support learning. So that's a growing resource. We just launched it in May, I believe it was. We still have a discounted rate on it, so now is the time for professionals, if you're interested, to sign up, because you'll be locked in at that discounted rate, but as the tools and resources continue to grow, we're gonna go up to the rate that it is meant to be at soon. So I'd say definitely get into that now if you're interested. It's a bunch of things that I think most of us wish we had when we got started because, just like, parenting is a journey and you are learning and feeling behind and then figuring it out, and same goes for working in the space. As a medical professional, it's very common to have a big learning curve where you feel like you don't know what you're doing and you're needing tools and resources that you can trust. And all of our, like I said, of tools and resources for parents, but also for our professional community, are created by and vetted by our professionals team, which includes two doctors. We have dietitians, ots, slps we have a really comprehensive team of experts.

Speaker 1:

And I will say I've had several from pediatricians over the years and just from us moving quite a bit and I think it's really important to be aligned with your healthcare providers, your knowledge and their knowledge, so even them taking this course and you've been a solid starts customer and you guys kind of line and have those conversations. I think that's super important. Even as mom, you can say you know, because some of the professionals they are not going to be up to speed with everything. How could they be Like, you know you can't. So you could always, if you're having this conversation, bring up solid starts to your pediatrician too, to your nurse practitioner, whoever, and say this is where I'm falling, check it out. So I think just because one person does it one way does not mean that you shouldn't do it and follow the research. I think that's my go home to so many people. It's just you have to feel confident as a mom where you get your information and you still got it in like to be able to defend it, cause if it's your aunt, if it's your pediatrician, whoever, who's going to say what are you doing? Research speaks for itself.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely, and I love that you mentioned that. You reminded me to just point out that one of the pro membership benefits is access to being on our growing list of professionals. It's our directory of professionals who have taken our course and use our resources and know of our approach. So that parents can find a person at a professional in their area who does this work and who knows this approach, so they don't feel like they're having to explain this to the professional and get them on board and that they know that their professional is seeking out continuing education in this area and is up to date on the latest research. So it's a tool for parents to use to find somebody in their area and it's also a tool for professionals to get the word out to their client base to say, yeah, I know this stuff, I follow this, I'm in line with the latest research on this.

Speaker 1:

That's so powerful. You know cause like a post-partner part international is our kind of go to. For our listeners who are not where we're at with our therapist. It is the same thing. You log on, you know they have been trained and you know that they're vetted, you know that they are going to serve you or your child in a certain way. So I love that you guys have that directory and I think I mean I'm hoping all pediatric residents now who maybe they're listening go. That'd be so important to have it. But to wrap us up, we ask all our guests on this and anything you want to say on this topic as that you know what is something you wish you knew about motherhood before you became a mom 10 years ago.

Speaker 2:

I think the primary thing I wish I knew was that it's absolutely essential that you have a village and that it will be easier, it will be more fun and more joyful and just. You will feel better if you cultivate that village and lean into that village. You know we talked about this a little bit right at the start, but nothing has been more valuable to me as a mom than my group of mom friends, parent friends who live near and far, that I've cultivated through online relationships and text relationships and phone, as well as local relationships to normalize the experiences that I'm having, to make me feel like what I'm experiencing is not absurd, or there's just so many parenting moments every single day, every week, that I'm like I could have never seen this coming. Has somebody else experienced this? What's going on? So I think it's really just leaning into that and often in our culture, I think we tend to lean towards independence and towards that sense of I can do this if I just work harder, if I just learn more, I can figure this out and do this. And when it comes to parenting, having that village is so essential for our mental health and for our ability to be some of the best parents that we can be.

Speaker 1:

I love that. I've learned that the hard way and I think that's where a lot of we do we learn the hard way, right, we got to fall on our face a little bit and go. I can't do this myself. So that is. Our pregnant mom is just here us and say we both learned it and this is what it is. But, carrie, you have been a joy and again, I wish Sarah 2018, when I was trying to feed will for the first time, would have heard this podcast. So I know it's gonna make huge impacts and we're so thankful you guys are out there doing the hard work. To give our mom is information and power. So we'll make sure we link everything and we guys will subscribe, publish a true, essential Instagram page and thank you again for your time. We really appreciate it.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much, sara. This was a lot of fun and I am just totally in all the work you guys do.

Speaker 1:

I think it's incredibly important, so it's been a total joy to be on here with you. This is Portnest Physical Health. The Previous Alliance podcast was created for and by moms dealing with postpartum depression in all its variables, like anxiety, anger and even apathy. Hosted by CEO founder Sarah Parkhurst and licensed clinical social worker Whitney Gaye, each episode focuses on specific issues relevant to pregnancy and postpartum. Join us and hear how other moms have overcome mental health challenges, as well as access tips and suggestions on dealing with your own challenges as moms. You can also browse our podcast library and listen to previous episodes at any time. Please know you're not alone on this journey. We're here to help.

Solid Starts
Gagging vs. Choking and Introducing Solids
Introducing Allergenic Foods to Toddlers
Seeking Help for Feeding Issues
Postpartum Depression Support Podcast