Eating mindfully is something we were born knowing how to do. Noticing how food makes us feel while we’re eating it and how satisfied we are afterwards is not a special talent. We all started out with this ability. Somewhere along the way, though, most of us were socialized to focus more on external signals as opposed to what’s going on internally. So as I amusedly watch my babies’ gleeful faces as they squish and smash their way through their gloriously messy mealtime, I can’t help but think, “Hey…they’ve got a point!”
I’m learning that the only predictable part of this process is the work I put in. I’m going to keep doing what I can to ensure that the girls get the best possible start, but I realize that that’s all I can do – set the stage. My babies will eat the way they want to eat and grow the way they’re destined to grow. And while they’re busy experiencing new tastes and flavors, their mom is savoring the sweetness of stepping back and letting go.
I have a love/hate relationship with feeding my son. I love watching him try new foods and learn skills like grabbing food in his hand. But on the other side, I am scared he will choke on something (he always seems to gag a lot) and I’ve had many moments of “am I doing this right?”
Early last week, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with founder and president of Today I Ate a Rainbow, Kia Robertson. Today I Ate a Rainbow is an interactive program, developed by Robertson, working to increase daily consumption of fruits and vegetables by encouraging children—and parents—to attempt to consume a full rainbow daily.
Many parents feel overwhelmed at the thought of bringing their child with food allergies to any restaurant for fear of exposing him/her to an allergen that could make them horribly ill or worse. Yet, according to Restaurants USA Magazine, Americans eat out for 4.2 meals per week! Dining out with our families and friends is part of our social routine. It’s possible to enjoy this time together as a family, but it requires a bit of planning. One strategy that may soothe some fears is assembling your own “Restaurant Backpack” filled with everything you need to create a safe and fun dining experience for your entire family.
My friend asked a simple question “I don’t personally like cow’s milk so do I have to give it to my baby when she turns 1?”. The question slowly turn into a conversation with other moms about organic vs. non-organic, grass-fed vs. non grass-fed cows, and why other milk options are or aren’t as beneficial to babies. Every mom involved had a strong opinion! Who knew a simple question could spark a debate?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children delay receiving cow’s milk until after they are 12 months old. The organization recommends pasteurized, whole cow’s milk for most babies because of the high fat content helping to absorb vitamins and minerals and for brain development. If there is a history of childhood obesity, 2% milk may be recommended but families should talk to their pediatrician. (Source: www.aap.org)
But what to do if you’re not a fan of cow’s milk? Or worse, what if your baby has a milk allergy or intolerance? Cow’s milk is important for calcium, vitamin D, protein, fat, and hydration. There are so many milk options out there: soy milk, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, and more coming to a store near you! Their nutrient compositions are similar to cow’s milk but nothing is exactly the same. It’s a very personal decision how to feed your child, and one that you should talk about with your pediatrician and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. If you decide to switch to an alternative milk, make sure you supplement with other foods that contain the important nutrients your baby needs.
I was shocked that some moms would argue against cow’s milk, but why not try to see where they are coming from? There are a lot of nutrition myths out there about food and I heard a lot of them that day, ranging from hormones in milk to absorbable calcium. Nutrition information is everywhere, but moms should really look to pediatricians and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists for advice. I took the opportunity to educate my friends about dairy products and nutrition, and also stressed the importance that all foods fit into a healthy diet. Moms and dads shouldn’t feel ashamed about any nutrition decision they make for their family. After all, it’s a very personal decision as to how to feed your children. So what is this dietitian going to do? I will give my baby whole cow’s milk when he turns one year old. I will also let him try different kinds of milk with an attitude that all foods fit into a healthy lifestyle.
In a nutshell, BLW centers on the philosophy that babies are developmentally capable of reaching for food and putting it in their mouths at about 6 months of age. As stated on the BLW website “You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t.” Please note that the word “wean” is not referring to weaning from breast or bottle, but instead refers to a term commonly used in the United Kingdom for adding complementary foods to the baby’s current diet of breast milk or formula. According to the BLW website, ideas for first foods include “chip size” steamed vegetables such as a broccoli spear with the stem as a handle, roasted potato wedges, meat in large enough pieces for the baby to grasp and chew, rice cakes, cucumber, celery and dried apricots.