The CDC states that 18% of children ages 6-11 are obese. This rate has nearly doubled since 1980. (CDC). There is such a stigma in our society about weight and it is not my intention to add to that. The big problem as I see it is less about appearance than it is about health. Obesity puts those children at greater risk of experiencing potentially life-threatening diet-related disease.
I believe that we all want to do the best things for our children but sometimes the right choices are unclear. There are too many contradictory messages! During all those well-check visits in the initial months of my baby's life, I remember placing my baby on the scale and crossing my fingers that she had gained enough weight. It can be so stressful. Then there are messages about making sure that babies don't overeat, especially as they get older and start on solid foods.
The more I learn, the more I am convinced that the best way to do that is to eliminate added sugar and salt from your baby's diet as much as possible. Unfortunately, many of the packaged foods that are marketed for babies and toddlers have too much of both. As babies grow, if these are the foods they receive, they will crave more and more of them. I'm all about balance and sometimes a little sugar or salt is okay. It isn't the end of the world if packaged foods are your best option. I admit that I often have some on hand as backup on busy days. And, I have noticed that my baby asks for them more frequently with a strange frantic plea. It concerns me. If you are going to buy packaged foods, look for those with the least sugar and sodium and be aware of what you are giving your child. If it helps, set limits for yourself about how much you'll allow in a week.
When I was pregnant, I read about the crazy amount of sugar in most flavored yogurts. I was shocked! Have you ever looked at the nutrition label on yogurt? If you think you might opt for a tub of low-fat vanilla yogurt, think again. The Whole Foods 365 brand has 29 grams of sugar per serving! On Stoneyfield Organic YoBaby Blueberry Apple Yogurt, sugar is the second ingredient listed. This is important because ingredients are listed by weight. There are 11 grams of sugar in this product, some of which do come from the milk. Not as bad as the vanilla, but not great either.
So, here is my recommendation. Make your own fruit yogurt! Follow the recipe below for my version of strawberry banana yogurt without the added sugar. Do your best to provide fresh fruits and veggies whenever possible and reduce the packaged foods your baby and for that matter, you, consume. I'm sure you're doing great!
Baby Banana Berry Yogurt
3/4 cup full fat, plain, Greek Yogurt
2-3 medium bananas, peeled
1/4 cup strawberries, washed and tops cut off
1/4 cup blueberries, washed
1 handful spinach, about 1/2 cup, stems removed
1. Place yogurt, bananas, strawberries and blueberries in blender.
2. Coarsely chop spinach and add to blender or small food processor.
3. Blend until smooth, about 15-30 seconds.
4. Portion yogurt into baby food containers.