Should you make a child try something new at meal time?

Debbie - posted on 08/20/2010 ( 52 moms have responded )

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My five year old refuses to try new food at meal time. Tonight we made her try one small bite of shrimp scampi and you'd think we were making her try a dead rat. In the past, she has made herself throw up. This is getting old and I have no patients for this anymore. Any advice. She put herself to bed without dinner because she refused to eat.

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Jeri - posted on 08/29/2010

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I don't believe in making food an issue...leads for eating problems later on...however, I do encourage my kids to try different things but I don't force them. I came across a phrase that helps me keep things in perspective when encouraging kids to eat and try new foods. Hope it helps. "Continue to eat real food in front of your kids, breaking down the meals when you have to, pushing when you can, accepting when they won't. It works."

Jeanne - posted on 08/26/2010

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I agree with trying something...my daughter will try a bite and it's pretty obvious right away if she likes it or not. If not, I will try the same thing again in a few months..who knows...maybe she'll like it!

I also am not a short order cook, but I do try to have at least 1 thing at dinner that everyone enjoys. If not, I don't send to bed hungry. They can have a bowl of cereal.

Good luck!

Suzanne - posted on 09/03/2010

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it may sound like that but there are some things if a child does not eat they could get very sick, my son who is now almost 10 would eat nothing but meat (any kind) and potatos (cooked any way) he would not eat any fruit or veg, to the piont he stopped eating pasta and meat sause and ketchup when someone told him they where made from tomatos, we lisened to the dr and dietion give him the healthy healthy choises and let him choose what and how much he wanted. well that never worked his weight swelled to 99lbs by the time he was 6. we stoped doing what they said and started forcing him to eat the fruits and veggies and only letting him eat 1 proper portion of meat and potato. he now eats well rounded and enjoys things like salad and a wide asortment of fruits and vegtibles that he would not have even sat at the table with, so ya it may seem a bit like bullying but i would rather force my child to eat a couple bites of something than be morbidly over weight with rickets.

Jennifer - posted on 09/03/2010

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Keep it up. Make her realize dinner is dinner and that's what she has to eat. If she puts herself to bed hungry, save the food, and make her eat it for breakfast. This worked on my daughter because sooner or later she has to eat. Its not mean, it will reinforce that you are in charge and you make the decisions. Hope it helps.

Julie - posted on 08/31/2010

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I always make my kids try 2 bites of anything new because you dont always like the first one, but i always pair new food items with old favorites so they are still getting their meal if the dont like the new item and i do NOT make them special stuff they eat whats in front of them or they dont eat... and stay stern with this or before you know it all she will eat is pb &j and french fries!!

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♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 03/06/2013

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Never bribed my kids, and never gave them a choice. If it was on their plate, they were required to take at least 2 bites. Purposely puking it up was not tolerated, nor was fit throwing.

Amazingly, they both grew up just fine, and appreciate a variety of foods that they wouldn't have had I allowed them to decide what they "liked"

[deleted account]

i have started giving my 6 year old a quarter every time she tries something new. she soon found out that there were a lot of things out there that she really liked. by the way, stock up on quarters, because once she got started...she tried everything in the house. some may say it's bribery, but it worked. now i don't have to shell out so many quarters because she's tried almost everything. also, there really are some items that will trigger the gag reflex. my daughter gags and throws up when she eats green beans. some foods will do that to a child.

Lisa - posted on 09/04/2010

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i found this stage very stressful i am sure you have hears the saying about trying to make it fun i tried this and it worked but only for one of them .
i think i spent more time trying to decorate the plate than they took to eat it lol.
my daughter hated vegetables and maybe its not the right way to go but i used to mash carrot and parsnips through her mash potato after a while she started to love them i don,t think there is any right or wrong way you have to do what is right for you .
she will grow out of it.
good luck x

Kari - posted on 09/04/2010

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I think you did a great job! I have 4 girls, 7,5,3 and almost 2 and whatever I make for dinner is what is for dinner. If they don't want to try something new I just tell them that that will just have to wait until breakfast. If they are hungry enough they will eat it but I also always make sure when I do serve something that is new, I make it with with something I know they like, like mac and cheese, fruit salad, carrots and ranch. That way they will always have at least one thing at the table they like.

Paula - posted on 09/04/2010

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I am so glad it worked for your son. His weight and health must have really had you worried. I think with food as with anything concerning kids, it is all trial and error. There is only so much advise you can take before you feel like your head will explode. And you also have that guilty feeling that you, as a parent have failed your child in some way.. So which ever solution works for you and your child is the best one, there will always be someone who tells you "you can't do that" or "that's wrong" but if it works for you child then nobody has the right to say what you should or should not try. I am glad you now have a happy, healthy child. Paula

Paula - posted on 09/03/2010

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That is just a little Victorian in attitude don't you think. Bullying a child with food never works and I am proof of that.my mum made me eat ham and spam. If not cold she would grill it. I used to heave with every bite. After I don't know how long she stopped, but I have never eaten either again, and that's over 40 years. .

Michelle - posted on 09/03/2010

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my son is 8 and he used to refuse to try new food he would smell it then say he didnt like it .as he got older he ha got better and will now try different foods he know that as long as he trys it he can leave it if doesnt like it

[deleted account]

Following on from last answer I gave ...

I also reserve a meal at the next main meal if it has been refused - do this up to 3 times (if it is something which is safe to re-heat and keep) before throwing it out.
For concerns about a child not eating at all - we've had up to 5 days where our little one hasn't touched her dinner and hasn't been given any more than her usual amount for breakfast and lunch (with no afternoon snack on days she hasn't eaten).

As for cooking different meals. I disagree with it on principle, however, I've just changed to mainly vegan foods so am now cooking different meals. But to save sanity and time, I make a mix and match meal - one thing I know our daughter likes, one thing I know my husband wants and one thing to suit me - and between the three elements, we all have a complete and health meal. Pretty much along the concept of preparing a protein, carbohydrate and 2 vegetable main meal anyway.

Another way to introduce a food slowly is to sneak it in. Green beans, aubergine / eggplant, zucchini / courgette, and cauliflower will be eaten if a small amount is blended into an otherwise plain tomato sauce - but not on their own. I always say what is in the sauce though, so that she knows she's been eating it.

[deleted account]

Yes, definitely! We have a very picky eater too, but I'm making her eat more things. Some of our tactics:

- 1 mouthful of new / not liked food on plate with only very small portions of other things - the deal is: eat the 1 mouthful and then anything else wanted. After she can have more of her liked foods.

- no taste of the food, no sweet things for 24 hours (any treats, jam, honey, flavored yogurt or traditional cookies, cakes and candy)

- first time introducing - she only has to agree to smell it. Second time, lick it. Third time, eat it.

- eat it or go hungry - no food until next mealtime (and stick to it!).

They will try things .... eventually.

Brenda - posted on 09/02/2010

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Ask her to help you prepare the meal. If she sees how the food is made she might be excited to taste how it comes out. If she doesn't like it after one bite it's ok. My two children 5 & 7 have always tried one bite of everything new because I have never forced them to eat what they don't like. You have to build the trust with your kids so they know that you are on their side.

Betty Ann - posted on 09/02/2010

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I do believe that children should try new foods, because if they don't they will never know if they like it or not. However, if the child is making herself sick becasue of it, maybe you should wait a while. I am very lucky that my kids will try MOST things, and if they don't like it I will try it again at another time. My father was very old school, so what was put on the table was dinner and we had to have what he called "A No Thank You Portion" which meant that we must take a very little , regardless if we liked it or not. I do remember some serious fights with him and I over foods with Mayonase in it (which to this day I still won't eat), so I would never go that far, but trying thing at least once is important.

Lindsay - posted on 09/02/2010

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We make our 4yo try at least 2 bites of everything that we make. I am not going to sit there and slave over the stove for hours because everyone wants something else. If he really doesn't like it he either has the choice of finishing it and I won't make it again or he can get down and he gets nothing for dinner. It sounds mean but it's not going to kill her to go to bed hungry. Usually if our kids REALLY don't like it the first time I make it then I will give them an altenative the next time I make it, if there even is a next time.

Paula - posted on 09/02/2010

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When my three were babies they would eat anything. Then they got a little fussy. So when they started school I put them on school dinners, because I thought if they saw there friends eating different things that they would try them. It worked for the greater part, there are still some things they don't like, but we all have things we don't like to eat,don't we ? But try not to make to much of an issue of trying new foods at tea time as she may end up not eating foods she does like. Try asking her if she would like a taste off your plate or get her to help prepare the family evening meal. Her own curiosity may make her want to know what it tastes like. Also you could try giving the new food a child friendly name, maybe make a game of it with your child.

Teresa - posted on 09/01/2010

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Our five year old has gone through this phase and we persisted in making her try new things - just one bite - and let her wash it down with her favorite drink if she doesn't like it. We have found that it is best to let her start with some foods that she likes and get her blood sugar levels high enough to handle tough decisions. About 25% of the time she finds that she likes it (if her mind is open that night). We also try to tell her stories about the food she is about to try. Sometimes about famous people she knows who like it or sometimes about a memory that my husband or myself have about the food. She threw tantrums and gagged at the beginning but it has steadily gotten better over time. We just never make her try something unless we are prepared to back it up with the bed time promise (thus - not usually when company is over). Good luck and keep trying!

Trista - posted on 08/31/2010

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Hey Debbie,

I have a five year old boy and we battled with the same problem for a while. In my family we call it a "No Thank You" bite. I explained to my son that some of the yummiest looking foods can taste horrible and some of the not so good looking foods can taste really good. I Told him to never judge the food by how it looks and to always try it atleast once before not liking it. He has discovered that he likes alot more than he thought. If he doesnt like it and he has a hard time swallowing it hes allowed to spit it out in the trash. Your daughter is five so she is old enough to go to bed without dinner and be fine, so I'd say continue trying and if she decides to go to bed hungry thats her problem. If she gets hungry enough maybe you can have the food wrapped up in the fridge for her to eat later. She can either eat that or go back to being hungry until morning.

Good Luck

[deleted account]

No. Don't make her. I wouldn't. Is she starving? Is she deficient in a way that only this new food can provide? My neice is this way and it is frustrating but trying to make her eat is more frustrating and just makes dinnertime tense and unfun. Make food fun. If you want her to try new things how about making an afternoon of making fun food that incorporate new foods that you and her both sit and pick out? Let dinnertime be a time to share what happened during the day without the stress of wondering if she'll be forced to eat something she doesn't like. Her tastes will change. As long as she is healthy and a healthy weight why strain your relationship over something so simple as food? She'll be fine. If she's willing to go through throwing up which is extremely unpleasant I think that maybe it's time to change the approach.

Erin - posted on 08/31/2010

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I agree don't be a short order cook. Have her try one bite and if she doesn't like it don't make her eat it. If she doesn't like what you are serving I would only offer her a pb andj sandwich that way she isn't going to bed hungry.

Amanda - posted on 08/31/2010

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we always had to have a " no thank you helping" a small spoonful and then if we were "happy platters" we got our desserts or a treat :)

Suzanne - posted on 08/30/2010

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salsa is good to if your kids like to dip things we use tortila chips some times but also pita bread my oldest has been eating it since he was 3 because " it is salsa NOT vegatbles"

[deleted account]

If you're looking for ways to get her to eat stuff and you think she won't eat it "just because", then hide it in food. My kids hate ALL vegetables, so I puree vegetables and put it into stuff they like. They don't even know it's there. One time I made hamburgers with minced mushrooms instead of bread crumbs and they LOVED them, despite hating mushrooms.

Sherri - posted on 08/29/2010

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I am not a restaurant so one meal is made. Main course, side and veggie. I have 3 kids and will not cater to them. They are required to have a teaspoon size portion of the things they don't like. My older ones understand period. My younger one if he chooses not to eat then his plate will remain at the table till bedtime and if he gets hungry he can eat it. If not at bedtime it gets thrown away. He then has to wait till morning for breakfast.

[deleted account]

In all fairness there are foods I dont like and things even I wont try. But to protect my sanity (and keep my children from starving to death) I make foods that Im pretty sure everyone in my family will like.

My 5 year old hasnt wanted to try everything I've given him... but as his mother I can pretty much guess (correctly I might add) whether or not he'll like something. If I believe he'll like it and all he has to do is try it, I will not accomodate him... he will either eat it or not have dessert, an extra helping of something he does like, etc. It's not intended to be a punishment it's intended to make him want to atleast try it. I reassure him by comparing it to something he does like, or explaining to him that I really know he's going to like it!

Sometimes all I have to do is tell him that he's had it before and liked it by associating it with a place or person that he really likes "I'm pretty sure you had that at grandma's house when you were smaller and you liked it a lot!" 9 times out of 10 this works.

I have one child who doesnt like mushrooms, another who doesnt like seafood or spicy food... this is as far as my accomodations will go. If we have something with mushrooms my 12 year old can simply pick them out. If we have seafood or something spicy my 5 year old gets hotdogs or cereal.

As far as veggies go, we have an "eat it and like it" policy. I dont care HOW they get it in their tummy, that's where it's gotta go. They can mix it in with their potatoes, eat a pea with every bite of meatloaf, wash it down with their beverage, whatever... the veggies gotta go! Fortunately though there are only 2 people picky about their veggies at my house and we both eat the ones we dislike all the same. (one of them is me)

Sharon - posted on 08/28/2010

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I think it is good to get them to try something new. My 6yr old has got very good at it as I have always done it and now he is not fussy about his food at all.
Just put a little bit of something new on her plate and don't even mention it, don't make any fuss about it. If she tries it, good if she doesn't try something else the next day.
You could also try making a snack bowl. My little boy is constantly hungry so he has a snack bowl in the fridge full of little slices/cubes of cheese, peppers, cucumber etc all the things he likes and then slip in a few new bits. so he can pick at it when he likes. This is a good chance for her to try something new in a small quantity. hope this helps and be persistent, but keep calm.

Kimberly - posted on 08/28/2010

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I feel your pain! My oldest child (she's 8 1/2 now) was a horrible eater. She would only eat pasta (plain with butter), pizza or chicken strips and fries. For starters, I got tired of being a short order cook every night of the week and 2) I wanted her to eat some other things, expand her horizons and get a better variety of foods. Beginning of last year, my dh and I decided that once a week, she was going to eat what we were eating and try something new. We started out just making her take a few bites of it or a small piece. fast forward a year and a half later, she loves pork, ham steak, beef, turkey - she doesn't like ground meat but that's okay, she's so much better than she was. And 4-5 times a week, we eat as a family and I can show her a recipe and have her try a little bit of it.
I say yes have her try new things but start small - pork, turkey, etc. Fish can be a bit of a strong taste for some (my dh and I are not big seafood people). Good luck!

Felicia - posted on 08/27/2010

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I got lucky, my son will generally try foods at least once. I'm a picky eater myself so new and exciting foods rarely grace the table. However, he's well aware of the rule that he eats what I make or he doesn't have to eat at all. Missing dinner once in a while isn't going to kill him.

J - posted on 08/27/2010

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Be aware that kid’s portion sizes are about half the size as an adult portion. Large sizes may overwhelm a child

Gabrielle - posted on 08/27/2010

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From the beginning, we have had a rule - you have to try everything on your plate. At first, all she had to do was touch it to her tongue. Now that she's 4, she has to take a bite. It can be a small bite, but as long as she takes a bite, she doesn't have to eat any more if she doesn't like it. (We will let her spit it out if it's terrible, but we try to encourage her to swallow, for good manners.) Very often, she does like the new food and will eat more. And because of this, she is fairly adventurous when it comes to new foods. She constantly asks to try things.

Suzanne - posted on 08/27/2010

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i don't think i have really done anythingit was always something that was expected of them, they getsome of everything on the table some of which i know they like and they have to eat some of everything before they get any more of any one thing. IE beef potato and peasif they eat all the beef they must eat x# of bites of both potato and peas before they will get more beef if they don't they don't get any more to eat till the next meal absolutly no snacks

J - posted on 08/27/2010

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Kelly, i agree with you, it's bad enough forcing down medicine when they absolutely refuse it!

[deleted account]

I have a question for those of you who make the child try something new at each meal--HOW do you make them do it??

My son is a picky eater--he makes healthy choices, but there are only a few foods he will eat consistently. I can tell him he cannot leave the table until he takes a bite--he will sit there all night. I can tell him he cannot have anything other than what I give him--he will go for days without eating anything (4 days to be exact, then he gets sick). So what exactly are you doing to get the child to try the food? Short of holding his nose and shoving it in when he opens his mouth to breath, which I just find cruel all together.

Suzanne - posted on 08/26/2010

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i have a strict policy that they must try 2 bites and if they honestly don't like it they can have a peanut butter sandwich (the only alturnative) and if they refuse to try they go hungrey, they will not starve and will try it if they are hungery evough. once we even gane them new things seperate. like sheperds pie we gave them some meat the vegies and the potatos in 3 seperate piles once he tryied it that way we gave him a bit more andmixed them together after seeing each part seperate he was mor willing to try them together.

J - posted on 08/26/2010

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to Jolayne, our DD doesn't eat much meat, but will eat eggs. I say if he's eating a variety of veggies he's doing great! If your worried about protiens there are beans, cheese, yogurt -lots of options. Maybe something he found out about meat being animal based just freaked him out, kid's are easily opinionated. As I posted before, I just found out the reason my DD doesn't eat bananas is because her daddy told her she'd turn into a monkey, thanks dad! LOL

Don't worry, his tastes are likely to soon change

J - posted on 08/26/2010

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I posted something similar on another thread...Offer a variety of things and don't sweat it if they don't choose it, Variety is the spice of life...BTW My DD loves shrimp, but she HATES bananas!! weird kid LOL

Jolayne - posted on 08/26/2010

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I am having a very hard time with my 5 yr old son.

For the past few months he refuses to eat ANYTHING to do with meat (although he enjoys garlic sausage and will eat the odd hotdog) so he isn't a complete vegitarian.

other meals during the day he's fine but when dinner rolls around the fight is on.

Regardless of what happens he will make himself throw up .

I cannot send him to bed without eating as there are underlying issues (we adopted him at age 4 ).

I find myself leaving the table going into my room and screaming into a pillow while my husband will fix him something he likes to eat (mostly veggies).



Before this sudden change he used to be an excellent eater.

[deleted account]

Alright here is what I do and quite frankly your child WILL NOT starve from this.
YOU decide what you are cooking for dinner. If your child/children do not like it they have the choice of not eating. It is up to them. I make each of my kids a plate. IF I know they won't like it I make it a bit smaller but I still make it. At the end of the meal when everyone else is done we clear the dishes. I don't put up with the "I'm going to eat it." or whatever else excuse they come up with. My kids get at least 30minutes to eat each meal.
Of course if they don't eat their food they don't get a snack or anything until the next meal. Pretty soon your children will either get used to this and decide to eat what you serve or they will just not eat. However, they WILL eat when they get hungry.

I say stay strong and good luck.

Amanda - posted on 08/23/2010

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I would have to agree with everyone here. Our rule at the house is you have to try it. If you don’t like it you don’t have to eat it… But I have read it takes about 7 times of trying something to really determine if you like it or not. Of course I won’t make my kids take 7 bites of something they say they don’t like, but I will make it 7 different times and they will try a bite each time. If they still don’t like it after the 7th time trying it, they don’t have to eat it.
My son learned the hard way on what it is like to go to bed hungry. I felt bad on doing it, but I agree if we don’t start out early, we will be their maids, cooks and slaves as they grow. My kids have their own rules and chores and that also includes self discipline.
I refuse to make more than one meal for my kids, unless we are eating something that I know they don’t like, I will make one special occasion where I cook something just for the kids and cook something for the adults. That does not happen very often. The rest of the time if they don’t eat it, they go to bed hungry.

My advice is to let them know that if they don’t like it they don’t have to try it… but I would do at least two bites… Say “just try it and if you don’t like it you don’t have to eat it” nine times out of ten they will try it.
Amanda

User - posted on 08/23/2010

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The rule at our house is you have to try a bite. If you don't like it after that 1st bite, then they don't have to eat anymore....until next time. It can take many times of trying something before you develop a 'taste' for some things. If something is brand new, I usually add something to it. For example, if it's a new veggie I might let them try it with low-fat Ranch dressing, or maybe have a cheese sauce for it. Maybe I'll add it into a recipe. The first time my kids had black beans it was in chili. Next time it was in salsa, then on a salad. Plus I always think it makes it more likely that they will eat something if they had a hand in making it.
I didn't want picky eaters, so I never made more than one meal. My kids have always been pretty adventurous in eating, and even now that they're 10 and 8, people are amazed at the things they like and eat.

Crystal - posted on 08/23/2010

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I make my children take atleast a bite of something new or something they havent had in a while. Their taste buds change. Something they may of not liked a month ago they could enjoy. Nine times out of ten they like what they try. Tell her she will never know unless she tries it and if she doesn't like it she is a big girl for giving it a shot.

Krystal - posted on 08/22/2010

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I make my girls take as many bites as their age when I make something new. I do not cook more than one meal for everyone. I have told my kids this since they were little that if they don't like what is being fixed then they can go hungry. My girls will try anything that I put in front of them, somethings end up being gross to them and they won't eat it but at least they had to try it and I don't let them take these little tiny bites either, it has to be a regular bite or it doesn't count towards their count on bites. Now my girls will eat all veggies and fruits without a problem, I cannot keep most veggies and fruit in the house because once they know they're there they will eat them till its all gone.

Brandi - posted on 08/22/2010

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I myself am a very picky eater so it is hard for me to MAKE my son eat something he has never tried. I try to set an example and try it with him. I will always say to him "How do you know you don't like it if you haven't tried it? Why don't you take a little bite and tell me how it tastes". Usually he'll at least take a bite.

Angie - posted on 08/21/2010

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I've heard that it takes several tries of something new before you can really know if you like it. Keep it up, I think you're doing the right thing.

Debbie - posted on 08/21/2010

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Thank you all for the advice. My husband and I agree with all of it and are going to try the taste test and spit it out if you dont like it. Hopefully she will stop acting up. Thanks again.

[deleted account]

I always had a rule where they had to try it. If they honestly don't like it they don't need to eat it. I don't agree with moms making special meals for each kid. That's just teaching them they don't have to join the crowd or make do. When you want them to try something I find the key is to make it sound exciting & fun. If you are forceful & demanding they seem to rebel more.

One word of warning before making your child try any type of shellfish! Have them help you prepare it & touch the raw meat. Watch their hands prior to cooking & serving it to them. If their hands swell at all DO NOT serve it to them! It's a sign they are allergic to shellfish! Shellfish allergies are deadly!

I need to add that just because your child's hands do not swell does not mean they do not have an allergy. It would mean they have a severe allergy if there is swelling in their hands after handling the raw meat. Always watch your child carefully when trying any new foods especially nuts & shellfish! The two most popular foods for allergies!

Erin - posted on 08/20/2010

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I so agree with the part about not being a short order cook. I know people who will make separate meals for each kid and I think it's ridiculous lol. Not only is it expensive to make 4 different meals in one night, but it's not practical either. I have my kids at least try one bite. If they don't like it that's fine, but at least try. Not everyone is going to like the same things. But they can still eat whatever else I put on their plate besides. And if not, well then I suppose they will have a growling tummy come breakfast time! I know it's hard sometimes, but if you keep it up for a while, you'll see results. I still have nights where they didn't want to eat what I made, were hungry later of course, but I never give them any snacks to tie them over. I simply say, "That's too bad, you should have eaten your supper." If they've eaten well that night though, then they can have a treat or a snack later on with us no problem : )

Kim - posted on 08/20/2010

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I had a great deal with my son. He would take a bite and if he hated it he could spit it out. It got him to at least try things and he found he liked some of it. My MIL forced him to eat a carrot that I knew he hated and my deal with him was ruined :( I have found veggies under chairs, in corners, in the trash, under the couch!! But I do not see a problem with having him try a bite. Now that my son is older he knows its not an option.

Melissa - posted on 08/20/2010

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Yes, I make my 9-yr old try two bites of stuff - if he really doesn't like it fine, eat the rest of what's on your plate. Dinner is dinner, if you want to argue, go to bed hungry. I know it sounds harsh, but if you let it go on, soon you'll be a short-order cook! LOL Going to bed hungry a night here and there never hurt anyone... Good luck and stay strong!

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