According to a study by Bristol University, toddlers fed a diet of junk food can suffer lasting damage to their brainpower. Researchers warn that children who eat more chips, crisps, biscuits and pizza before the age of three have a lower IQ five years later, a study showed.
Aren’t there always messes being a parent? For me there’s now more non-food clean up such as mud (including occassional dog poop on shoes), dirt, paint, glitter, glue, etc. Although we still make messes with colored sugars (making cookies), cherry pits (remember my pitting experiences) and spills (usually milk). However looking back I’d take the first food messes any day. In fact some times I would strip my kids down to a diaper to eat something messy (my daughter and soup), so they could have fun and do it themselves. Then it was bath or hose down time after, of course.
I have friends who think nothing of letting their children draw and paint at the kitchen or even dining room table, but will not give their toddler a spoon and let them feed themself. Why? Isn’t this what hardwood and laminate floors are for? Or how about a splat mat? I’m not saying there shouldn’t be rules with food and drink. I always like “Food stays in the kitchen or dining area and you eat it in a high or other safe chair”. I didn’t grow up running all over the house with food and cups (sippy or otherwise). Choose what works for you, but I’m asking you to try to indulge your child. Why? Because they…
1. want control
2. are testing cause and effect
3. need to develop
4. are learning independence
5. want you to react
6. are testing boundaries
7. think it’s fun
8. won’t get a date (or into preschool) with you hand feeding them
9. will gain positive eating eating habits
10. need help to gain confidence
Here’s a few of my messy faced babes back in the day. When I was looking for photos I remembered it really was my daughter who liked mess with food (and anything). My son was never big on getting messy. Some kids don’t like the feeling of stuff (be it food, sand, whatever) on their hands. He had his moments. I remember with oatmeal (but can’t find the pic). But here’s a few of my gal.
From Lisa Barnes
I see many questions and myths shared about food for babies on parenting websites and blogs. The ones that are most alarming to me are those regarding food safety and proper food handling, and all the “my grandmother used to_______” (the ______ was something like “put Brandy in a bottle” or “put honey in the cereal”.
Babies usually triple their birth weight the first year. That’s why nutritious and safely handled food, served in an age-appropriate way, is so important. Being aware of safe food handling practices and potential feeding dangers are the best ways to protect your family from food illnesses and accidents, while also giving your child a healthy start on development and growth. Here are a few important tips and reminders. (of course you know the final one – that’s why you’re reading it on this blog)
1. Wash Hands. It’s important to wash your hands before preparing food or beverages, especially when feeding babies. According to a Penn State University study of mothers with infants less than 4 months old many moms said they routinely forget to wash their hands after changing baby’s diaper, and using the bathroom. Not washing hands could result in infant diarrhea from the bacteria transferred while engaging in these activities.
2. Handle Bottles Carefully. Although some babies will drink a bottle straight from the refrigerator, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises most babies prefer milk warmed to room temperature. Warm the bottle by holding it under a running hot-water faucet or putting it in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes. Shake well and test milk temperature to make sure it’s not too hot before feeding. Microwaves can heat unevenly. Children’s mouths and throats can be severely burned by bottles heated in the microwave. Always discard leftover milk in bottle to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria.
3. Cow’s Milk. Avoid serving regular cow’s milk until infants are 1-year-old. Before then, infants may experience an allergic reaction, stomachache and low blood iron. When you begin serving regular cow’s milk, serve whole milk. Do not switch to lower fat milk until the baby’s doctor recommends this change usually around age 2.
4. Mixing Cereal and Formula in the Bottle. Do not serve cereal mixed with formula from a bottle. Many think this practice helps babies sleep better through the night, however there is no evidence of this. Plus, there is a possibility of a baby choking.
5. Hold Baby When Bottle-Feeding. Babies who are put to bed with a bottle are more likely to have cavities. This practice also increases the potential of choking.
6. Limit Juice. Serve only 100 percent juice and in small quantities so it doesn’t interfere with the infant eating other nutritious foods. AAP recommends giving juice diluted with water only to infants who are approximately 6 months or older and who can drink from a cup. AAP recommends offering no more than a TOTAL of 4 to 6 ounces of juice a day to infants. (Source: American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition)
7. Avoid Honey And Corn Syrup. Do not serve infants honey or corn syrup during the first year of life. These foods may contain botulism spores that could cause illness or death in infants.
8. Food Introductions. When introducing new foods, try only one at a time, and start with single-ingredient foods. Avoid serving mixed ingredient foods until each food has been given separately. Begin by serving about 1 to 2 tablespoons and then increase the amount as baby wants more. Wait at least 3 days before trying another new food so you can tell if there are any adverse reactions.
Iron-fortified rice cereal is usually the first food offered, as this is easily digested. It’s frequently recommended to continue fortified baby cereal through the first year of life.
Remember your baby will still be receiving the majority of nutrition from breast milk or formula during the first year.
9. Serve Solids Safely. Transfer an amount you feel baby will eat from the baby food jar to a dish. Throw away any food left uneaten in the dish. Avoid feeding directly from the baby food jar. Bacteria from a baby’s mouth can grow and multiply in the food before it is served again. Use refrigerated jarred baby foods within 1 to 2 days after opening.
Once opened, do not leave baby food solids or liquids (breast milk or formula) at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Bacteria can grow to harmful levels when food is left out longer than this.
10. Choking Hazards. Avoid serving foods that may choke an infant, such as nuts and seeds, raw carrots and celery, whole kernel corn, raisins, large chunks of meat or cheese, popcorn, chips, pretzels, grapes, whole berries, cherries, unpeeled fruits and vegetables, hard candies, pickles, hot dogs, marshmallows (regular or miniature), and peanut butter. In general, avoid foods that are round and firm, sticky and chewy or cut in large chunks.
As infants grow into toddlers, they can begin eating the foods above, if cut into small pieces. Most pediatricians advise foods should be no larger than 1/4 inch for toddlers and 1/2 inch for preschoolers.
Finally my continuing tip and philosophy is to serve organic. Try to purchase organic foods for babies and children whenever possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful pesticides and chemicals. According to the US EPA Department of Health and Human Services, the greatest exposure to pesticides and chemicals is in a child’s first 4 years. See my post Why Organic for Kids.
See also Lisa’s Introducing Solids To Baby (with Organic Sweet Potato Puree Recipe)
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Lisa Barnes (her babies tasting their first food)
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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