The other night I drummed up a little conversation on Facebook when I posted something about a comment in the President’s State of the Union address about tackling childhood obesity. At the time, I was trying to pay attention to the speech but was getting the kids ready for bed and letting them kind of wind down and play so I just heard the snippet that literally just said something like, “We need to tackle childhood obesity” and I haven’t looked it back up to see what exactly Obama said.
I wrote that I know where I’d start, and I didn’t necessarily mean any type of government plan or anything, the line just stuck out to me.
The first thing that I really thought of was that parents need to learn how to read labels and buy food.
Every time I go to Wal-Mart, I pass the baby food section with Gerber’s large banner stating something like “First foods. I can sit up with some help”, thus advertising their pureed baby foods like apples and pears for children that are not yet sitting up by themselves. Then it says “Second Foods: I can sit up by myself.” There is also a third foods sign, but I don’t remember what it says. Probably pushes finger foods.
And every time I see this aisle, opposite the bottles, formulas and sippy cups, I get struck by the fact that parents are learning their parenting ideas and skills by companies that just want to make money. These signs are presented as if they are fact, but actually they are simply advertisements. Babies are indeed NOT ready for solids, even pureed, when they cannot sit up by themselves. They are not ready for baby cereal either. Outdated doctors and everyone else often says babies are ready for solids between 4 and 6 months.
The Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization both state that 6 months OR when they baby can sit up on their own are minimums. Putting cereal in a bottle is considered by the AAP to be an aspiration, or choking risk. The link lists some compelling reasons for delaying solids.
The guidelines for feeding solids are:
- Baby should be able to sit up, unsupported by any type of chair or adult.
- Baby should have lost the tongue thrust reflex, in which they will instinctively push any food or spoon out of their mouths with their tongue.
- Baby should have mastered the “pincer” grasp, meaning that they can pick up tiny pieces of food between their thumb and forefinger.
Pureed baby food was actually invented by these companies in order to make money. Before the 20th century, babies went from nursing to food. Now that method is sometimes called Baby Led Solids.
Anyway, what does all this have to do with childhood obesity?
It represents parent’s brainwashing by corporations from the earliest stages of life. Parents think they are doing the right thing for their kid, but actually what we think we know about taking care of our kids has been dictated by advertising! Also, one of the kellymom links I added has some references about early solids and their correlation to excess body fat in children.
I say this without judgment. I’m not trying to offend.
With Azita we fed the rice cereal and oat cereal and did everything we thought we were supposed to do. It’s with Ada that I’ve realized there are other, I believe, healthier, ways.
Grains are the hardest thing to digest, and yet we introduce that first with some processed, dehydrated, food-additived baby cereal, when we could go for mashed and cut up fruits and veggies, (not out of a bottle, but off of our healthy plate as adults). That would set up a lifelong taste for healthy foods a whole lot better than baby cereal and mixed purees of lentils and ham that taste about like it sounds.
Azita was smart; she never would eat the stuff.
Anyway, I’ll continue with my next post on some of the good points my friends brought up.