Today, I’m super excited to share with you this Q&A with Kiyah Duffey, PhD. Kiyah is a child nutrition expert, mom to three kids and co-founder of Kizingo Kids, which makes the coolest baby spoon on the planet.

 

Kiyah Duffey, co-founder of Kizingo Kids, with her 3 kids


Q

Why is it important for babies and toddler to self-feed rather than being spoon-fed?

A

When babies are born, they are very good at listening to internal signals telling them when they are hungry and when they are full. And when they are full, they will stop eating. Researchers have actually shown that this ability is so finely tuned that babies will eat to within a few calories of what their energy needs are each day.

As soon as we start feeding them, which happens when the tools – the utensils! – they have don’t work well, they begin to listen to our signals that they should stop eating rather than listening to their own. Something else we’ve seen is that feeding our kids can also lead to picky eating. Kids want to do things themselves, they want to be independent, and when we take over feeding them, when we take that away from them, they often assert that independence in other ways. Like by deciding what they will and won’t eat.

Photo courtesy of Kizingo Kids


 

Q

How does Kizingo Kids make it easier for kids to self-feed?

A

When kids are first learning to eat, their motor skills are still developing. They hold things palm down. With traditional spoons, which are on the straight plain, and because their motor skills are still developing, they have to turn and twist their arm, shoulder, and wrist in a way that makes it hard for them to get the food into their mouths. It gets frustrating for kids and messy for parents.

Our spoons are different. The handles of our spoons are wider, which makes it easier for kids to hold onto and because they are shorter too it brings the bowl of the spoon closer to the child’s hand, which improves their control over the spoon and the food on it. The bowl of the spoon is also turned off that straight plain, so that the bowl faces the child when they are holding it. This puts the food into the position kids need so they don’t have to twist and turn to get the food into their mouths.

Photo courtesy of Kizingo Kids


 

Q

Sometimes toddlers aren’t the best communicators. How can parents better recognize hunger cues?

A

Reading your child’s hunger cues is more art than science! What I mean by that is that there aren’t rules you can follow, and have a guaranteed outcome. But there are some signs you can look for. When kids are very young, and preverbal, opening their mouth and turning toward the food is a pretty good sign that they are hungry or still hungry. Pursing their lips, closing their mouth and turning away from food tend to indicate meal completion.

As kids get older it gets more complicated. They’re growing and active so they are hungry more often, but, if you’re anything like me, you also want to help them establish healthy relationships with food … and to have them eat the meals you make rather than filling up on snacks! I don’t know about you, but my kids always seem to be starving as soon as I go into the kitchen to make dinner! And sometimes I don’t know if they are actually hungry or just think they are. Or think they ought to be because it’s close to dinner.

This is a topic that we could have a couple weeks worth of conversations around, but I will say this: when I doubt whether or not my kids are really (truly) hungry, or it’s right before dinner, I put out a plate of vegetables. If they really are hungry, they’ll eat their vegetables. And if they eat a bunch before dinner, at least I can feel good that it was something healthy for them!

Photo courtesy of Kizingo Kids


 

Q

At what age can kids start using Kizingo?

A

Between 6 and 9 months kids could start having utensils around at mealtime, but depending on motor skill development they won’t necessarily start using a spoon the way that we do until 12-16 month. But giving them practice with the utensil is good practice, and having one that they can immediately use means that they will learn to self-feeding more quickly and smoothly.

Photo courtesy of Kizingo Kids


 

Q

What are Kizingo Kids spoons made of? 

A

Our spoons are made right here in the USA, in NY State, of an FDA approved plastic. They are dishwasher safe and have passed the most rigorous safety standards in the US and EU.

Photo courtesy of Kizingo Kids


 

Q

Where can people buy Kizingo?

A

Our spoons are available directly from our website, www.kizingokids.com. You can also buy our products on Amazon.com and diapers.com and we’re working on the onboarding process to sell on Walmart.com. We are also available in a number of smaller independent boutique baby and toy stores and we are now selling in 23 countries around the world.

Photo courtesy of Kizingo Kids


 

Q

Do you have any other products in the works?

A

We do! We actually launched a Kickstarter campaign for our left-handed spoons on Saturday and we reached our funding goal in less than 24 hours! So those will be available in July of this year. Any extra funds we raise will help us further our next couple products, which will also be rooted in science and further promote our mission to support health in families and independence in kids!


 

Q

You have 3 kids and have still managed to build this company from the ground up? What’s your secret?

A

Ha, ha! With a lot of help! Seriously. I have a very supportive husband, and family and friends who help me process (and are my product prototype testers)! My kids have incredible pre-school teachers, which helps me have time during the day to focus on the company. And I have learned to prioritize: to look at my task list, determine what needs to be done first, and learned to let go of the things that aren’t critical and can wait. I have also learned not to be afraid to ask questions. I don’t have a background in engineering or manufacturing or product design or business or marketing … or really any aspect of running this business! But I’m not afraid to ask questions when I don’t understand something and this has opened a lot of doors for me and Kizingo.

Photo courtesy of Kizingo Kids

 


 

Q

Just for fun….what favorite meals have been in your family’s mealtime rotation lately?

A

Oh boy! I feel like I’ve been in a serious meal rut right now! But one of my families favorite (and super simple) meals is a white bean and cabbage one-pot dish from Heidi Swanson, the author of 101 Cookbooks. We often have a simple roasted fish or chicken, vegetable, and green salad meal each week too. Sometimes I get creative with the vegetable dish, sometimes I just roast broccoli in the oven (which is my absolute favorite way to cook broccoli. Roast it at 475 degrees with a little olive oil and salt until it starts to get brown … even people who don’t like broccoli will love this!). {For a similar recipe, check out this Smart Eating for Kids version of Roasted Lemon Broccoli.} I did just get a new cookbook – A New Way to Dinner – which I’m excited to explore!

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