Babies are beautiful, and no one believes this more than the parents of their babies. We revel in compliments of how cute they are; delight in hearing how advanced they are and provide them with a more balanced life than we give to ourselves. They have story time, art time, play time, music time, outdoor time, cuddle time – what a privileged existence. And rightfully so because once they grow up, life is pretty damn hard. So we teach our kids to be respectful and polite, sweet but tough. I know this because I do it too. But for me, the lesson I obsess over most is teaching my girls to nourish their bodies through good food choices because when they hit adolescents, peer group influences take over with everything – food not being lost.
Eating patterns are set when we are young and it’s our responsibility to teach a new generation a healthy relationship with food. We read the headlines, we know that childhood obesity rates are increasing every year. In the past two decades, they’ve jumped from 5% of the population to 16% with the most recent research pointing the finger at parents for this epidemic. As parents, we want to get it right – we are sponges for information and looking everywhere for it. But between our busy work schedules, and the incredibly confusing and often conflicting information available on infant and toddler nutrition, how can we ensure our kids are getting proper nutrition and avoiding bad eating habits.
One way is to be uncompromising when it comes to the health and nutrition of your child. The way we think about food needs to change because food itself has changed. Babies are fed ice cream and fried foods before they can walk. They are weaned on rice cereal, followed quickly by wheat and gluten products. We know the effects these foods have on our bodies, so imagine the irritation they might cause on tiny digestive tracts. Possibly, if not partly responsible for the whole slew of increasing childhood issues like asthma and allergies, ADHD and autoimmune conditions.
I recently spoke to a well known childcare expert, while researching infant sleep patterns. She mentioned baby rice is often used to help infants sleep through the night. I hesitated, explaining that as a nutritionist, I think there are better first foods to wean a child on, like an egg yolk. She told me that when she trained as a midwife in the sixties, that was exactly what they advised as a first weaning food. Makes sense doesn’t it? A rich tasting natural food, containing three grams of quality protein and a fat content almost identical to the fat content in breastmilk. A wondrous food to help develop a baby’s palate right from the start.
It’s time to change the narrative. That’s why I’m here. There are so many small changes we can make that can have a big impact. I want to help create a new generation of good food eaters, living a preventative lifestyle with hopefully less chance of developing illness. It’s actually easier than we think.