Multigenerational Parenting: Food and Nutrition

Changes in the American diet — such as higher consumption of sugars, salt and fat — have prompted different approaches to food and nutrition for babies and children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity in children has tripled since the 1970s. Working to make healthy eating a habit and prevent childhood obesity can help your grandchild avoid other illnesses and be healthier throughout life. Here are some ways to do that:

Cut Down on Sugar and Fat

  • Check ingredients. Higher consumption of sugar means that more and more children are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes each year. Remember that sugar comes in many forms, and checking the ingredients in your grandchild’s food can help you avoid it. Sugar should never be the first ingredient on the label. If you see any high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup or evaporated cane juice on the label, avoid this food. These are all fancy names for sugar and should be avoided if possible.
  • If your grandchild is craving a sweet fix, cut up an apple with some nut butter, or freeze some banana chunks for a frozen treat.
  • Try substituting full-fat foods with lighter, lower-fat options for children 2 or older. Instead of whole milk, consider 2%, skim or almond milk. Opt for lower-fat cheeses and yogurts.

Make Smarter Choices

  • Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean giving up your grandchild’s favorite recipes. There are many substitutes for ingredients that you and your grandchild won’t even notice a difference with. Opt for whole grain over (processed) white breads and pastas. Instead of processed carbs, such as potato chips or french fries, try brown rice, quinoa or farro as a side.
  • Always dilute fruit juice. Even better, instead of giving your grandchild juice try sticking to water with some lemon or orange slices in it.
  • Try incorporating at least one whole fruit or vegetable into every meal that you give your grandchild.
  • Processed snack foods like chips and cookies are typically packed with sugar, salt and fat. Skip these foods in favor of a whole food option. A cut-up cucumber, carrot or celery with peanut butter is a great way to get some veggies in.
  • Remember, the small changes that you incorporate into your grandchild’s diet lead to bigger and more positive outcomes for their health, and yours!

Food Safety: Children 4 and Under

  • If your grandchild is a year old or younger, it’s important to remember to never give them honey. Honey can occasionally contain a spore that can lead to botulism poisoning in babies, which makes them very sick. Hold off on the honey until they are over a year old.
  • Solid food should not be introduced until your grandbaby can sit up without assistance.
  • According to the Medical Journal of Pediatrics, an average of 34 children per day are treated in emergency rooms for choking on food. When feeding a child 4 years old or younger, always remember to cut up their food into pieces ½ inch or smaller.
  • Don’t feed your little one marshmallows or cut-up hot dogs, which can get stuck and cause choking.
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