Nutrition for Babies

I don’t need to say anything about the epidemic of obesity, or about the rapidly rising obesity rate among children. It’s splashed all over the newspapers, debated in Parliament and discussed in schools. Nor do I need to comment on likely causes like sedentary lifestyles, junk food advertising and nutritionally poor school canteen options.

Let’s go further back than this and look at the moment we introduce solid foods to our precious children’s tummies. I have been astounded at the things that I have witnessed being passed through six month olds’ lips. Chips, chocolate, cake, pizza, tea, and even wine and beer.

What hope have children got when they’re literally being spoon-fed sugary, fatty, caffeine-rich and alcoholic food and drink? And what do the maternal health centres do to help? More to the point, what are they doing to make this an even bigger problem?

A few months ago I took my then 12-month-old daughter for her regular health centre check-up. For the discussion about food the nurse said that my daughter “should be eating what you’re eating by now.” Taken literally, I could have gone home and served her a slice of pizza with a glass of red wine and a chocolate for dessert. It’s a huge assumption that I eat healthily let alone know what eating the same as myself means.

Then there was the even more shocking 6-month-old check-up my sister took her daughter to. My sister was given a handout on introducing solids. There were two categories of food: what should be given as every day foods and what should be given only occasionally. “Only occasionally” included such things as donuts pizza and chips. “Every day” foods included cakes and biscuits, homemade of course. There was no mention of meat, cheese, milk, fruit or vegetables.

It made me think that it’s not so much an issue of children eating the wrong foods as parents not being taught about providing nutritional foods for their children.

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