Don't take this post personally if you feed your toddler chocolate (or vanilla!)flavored formula, whiskey, cigarettes, espresso, and a ton of junk food. I have no idea what you feed your child and this isn't about anyone that I know.
I was perusing headlines to come up with a blog post tonight and I am stunned at this item:
For those who don't want to clicky the linky, it's about flavored formula. Mead Johnson, makers of Enfagrow Premium formula, was offering flavored formula. Loving parents could choose between loading their toddler up with sugary vanilla or sugary chocolate flavored formula. Geez man, let that sink in for a moment: Chocolate flavored formula was marketed as suitable for 12-month old children. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, as they say.
There is so much wrong with this that I just don't know where to start. For starters, why in the world could a toddler possibly require chocolate flavored formula? And what parent would purchase it to feed to their new toddler? To get them hooked on fatty sweets at a tender age?
It reminds me of this story from the other day:
This item is cautioning parents against giving soda to their offspring as long as the children are under age 5. Say what? Who in the heck gives soda to such a young child? What do they do with it? Put it in the sippy cup? The baby bottle? And what can possibly be their rationale behind feeding their child something that has absolutely zero nutritional value?
Items like these two make me think that we're doomed as a society. Where does the stupidity (perhaps it's ignorance, perhaps it's outright negligence) end? What else will these parents do? Give their kid a belt of whiskey if the little one can't sleep? Set the kid up with a pack of Marlboros to break the little one's thumb-sucking habit? Make the kid take a shot of espresso if the little one is sluggish? Feed the kid french fries and try to claim it's a vegetable because, "It comes from a tater?"
We all know there are certain things that just aren't appropriate for growing bodies and brains. So why do some parents throw that wisdom out the window while shoveling empty calories in their child's maw? Is it just easier than doing your best to make sure that they have the best start in life?
Maybe I'm biased because I was raised a certain way. My parents were the rulers and there could never be an uprising because they stood together in all things. Lest you take that as a complaint, understand that they were firm, but loving.
My parents both worked, but we rarely dined out in restaurants and fast food was virtually never purchased. I'm guessing it was more about cost than nutrition and I think they realized that it was cheaper to make burgers at home and bake some fries (or have potato chips or potato salad) than to buy dinner out for the entire fam. They made one meal, Mom said that she wasn't a short order cook, and that was what you could eat. If you didn't want to eat dinner, well, you weren't going to starve if you missed a meal. I seem to recall being allowed to make a peanut butter sandwich a time or two when dinner was truly awful.
They bought snacks (fruit or raisins) and the occasional packet of Kool-Aid. They would have had our heads if we took their soda, Mom drank Pepsi Light as I recall, so we didn't have soda regularly. I guess they figured that the kids could drink milk or water. Sometimes they had ice cream in the freezer and that was so awesome! I can still remember how delicious those very rare treats tasted on my tongue.
I'm taking a lot of my cues on feeding my son from how I was fed. I include a far wider variety of cuisines and vegetables, but I put the meal in front of him and he typically eats it. If he doesn't like it, or if he isn't hungry, I figure that he won't starve from missing one meal. I certainly wouldn't try to appeal to his sweet tooth by offering crap in place of something nutritious.
A toddler only has so much hunger each day and their appetites can vary wildly from day to day. Make the calories count and don't start them off on eating garbage. Trust me, they will eat plenty of crap when they make their own money and can buy their own food, snacks, and beverages. Until then, be the parent and make healthy choices for them. Kids can't eat crap unless you buy it for them, give it to them, or give them the money to buy it themselves.
I'm sorry if this comes across like I'm a smug jerk who only feeds my child the most nutritious foods because that's definitely not the case. My son has had junk every now and then - granola bars are a particular favorite at the moment. He's had far more french fries than I'd prefer and he loves taquitos & burgers. But I try my best to make the best choices for him because he can't yet make those choices for himself. I hope that, by offering healthy foods and modeling healthy eating habits myself, he makes healthy choices for himself once he's on his own. I realize that I probably overthink the responsibilities of parenthood, but there you go.