Many people would be surprised to find out how early our nutritional habits begin. New research shows that a baby’s “taste” for certain foods can begin even in the womb. For this reason, you want to eat a variety of healthy foods during your pregnancy and avoid sugars, salts and processed foods. Those same “tastes” develop as your baby enjoys your breast milk. Research also suggests that breastfed babies may be less picky eaters as kids (and into adulthood) than formula-fed infants, especially if their moms eat a balanced diet while nursing.
Many new moms are not sure what foods to feed baby when they start eating solid foods. So, they turn to processed baby foods and children’s menus. A study of more than 3,000 kids under age 2 found that large numbers of babies and toddlers have already developed an appetite for hot dogs, french fries, candy, and soda. This is very disconcerting considering that a child’s food preferences will set in the first three years of life.
KIDS MENUS BEWARE
Have you ever noticed the selection of foods on kids menus? Everything is fried and filled with saturated fats. Chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, burgers and fries. Why do we wonder about obesity rates in children? Kids should be eating whole (unprocessed) foods, and so should you. So, instead of ordering off the kiddie menu, you can probably order one regular entrée and split it with your child. Add extra veggies or something a la carte if more food is needed.
WHAT’S IN A LABEL?
What is your toddler eating? Have you read the labels on your child’s foods? Most are filled with hydrogenated oils, sugars, artificial colors and enriched flours. Throw out: goldfish crackers, chips and cookies. Replace with these snack options: “whole grain crackers, string cheese, yogurt, mini cottage cheese cups, fruit cups, dried fruit bits, raisins, whole grain “O’s” cereal.
I highly recommend Dr. Alan Greene's Feeding Baby Green as well as Dr. Natalie Digage Muth's book Eat Your Vegetables and Other Mistakes Parents Make.