A Fairfield mother is using modern technology to help parents and kids with a dietary transition.
“When Sophia turned 5 months old, I ran into the issue of needing to worry about feeding her solid foods and also needing to wait three days before introducing new foods,” says Melissa Whitehead, referencing pediatricians’ recommendations for ruling out food allergies and sensitivities. “I found myself struggling just to keep track of the foods I had fed her, and I was literally scribbling it down on a piece of paper.”
The software developer, with a passion for cooking and nutrition, created a solution called Little Bites, an easy-to-use app, available to parents on their phones.
“When you first launch the app, you’ll enter your child’s name,” Whitehead says, scrolling through the screen that can track a kid’s food repertoire. “You can start saying, ‘I fed almonds to my child, no reaction. Cashews, no reaction’.”
A simple “thumbs-up” icon signals a meat, nut, fruit or veggie that has elicited no sign of allergy. Two-hundred and fifty foods are broken into groups. Parents can eventually build a record of options their child can safely eat, stored privately on the phone and emailed to doctors, caregivers and grandparents.
“My goal is basically to make the introduction of solid foods not stressful for new moms,” says Whitehead.
The app also links to recipes for nutritious, quick-prep dishes involving the foods that work for the child, which are also included on Whitehead’s blog (www.littlebitesrecipes.com) to help parents get creative with daily cooking.
“Moms definitely get stuck in a rut with it,” says Whitehead, noting that ideas go beyond infant purees. “I also have recipes in there for kids 12 months old and even older than that,” and family-friendly meals.
A big fan of the slow-cooker, Whitehead believes in involving children in choosing and making nutritious foods as a way to jump-start good eating habits and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Whitehead, an amateur chef, provides instruction for Greenie Smoothies, Yummy Hummus and Sunny Date Squares (filled with sunflower seed butter, flax seeds and coconut flakes).
“Knock on wood, I have a great eater so far. She eats steamed broccoli, straight from the plate,” says Whitehead, a stay-at-home mom, as she stands at the counter with Sophia. “She really does come to appreciate what’s in the food; I don’t hide anything on her.”
“Little Bites” launched last summer. Whitehead’s hopes to reach 1,000 moms through the app and then gather feedback about what works and what needs improvement. Hoping to increase her “mompreneurial spirit,” she also has a “top secret” idea for the future, involving easing the stress of meal planning: “Being able to create a tool for new moms or for families, as well, is really rewarding for me.”