I hate to say this to parents, but, for the most part, WE are the “last location” before most food is consumed by our kids (especially when we are talking about babies and toddlers). We are the ones who make sure what they eat is safe and healthful. Either we have chosen their food in the food store, brought it home and prepared it for them ourselves, or our children have consumed it at someone else’s home in their kitchen or while sitting at a table in a fast food, or other restaurant, with us, a babysitter, or family member.
As our kids grow older, they will consume more food at school and outside the home. But, whatever the case, their eating patterns are established usually by us, and early in life. And while we may not have to worry about what they eat at every single meal, perhaps we should seriously consider what they are eating in total, and how it is building their bodies so they can experience a healthier and safer tomorrow.
One question we need to ask ourselves is: Are we buying nutritious foods for our children to eat or are we giving in to food choices that are not as healthy but are easy to fix and are pre-prepared (food that might contain more preservatives and fat), things that save us time?
Looking at the new food pyramid can give us some safe guidelines how to feed our little ones. Is the new food pyramid even in our vocabulary? If not, there are several places we can find it, such as the USDA’s website www.MyPyramid.gov
MyPyramid.gov has food safety and preparation advice for moms-to-be as well as moms of babies and toddlers. There is an interactive page for parents of preschoolers where you can fill in the age of your child and it will give you a sample recommended food pyramid listing the amounts of grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat and beans recommended, plus some safe snacking ideas and smart beverage choices for them. (You can print and paste it on the refrigerator as a reminder.) Clicking on “Inside the Pyramid” will tell you more about why certain food groups for your child are so important!
As parents, we worry about whether our children are getting what they need nutritionally to build strong, healthy bodies, in the way of vitamins and minerals–especially with processed food–or if there is any nutritional value in the food they eat at all! If you are considering vitamin supplements for your child, begin by checking with your family doctor first to make sure you are giving your child the right vitamin in the correct amount or dosage. Vince Iannelli, MD, of About.com’s Pediatrics says that it is “a much better practice to provide these nutrients to your child through the foods they eat” by choosing foods rich in: