A Nanny Reflects

Spending time with small children offers constant reminders of how magical life can be.  Whether sorting through blocks or chasing pigeons in the park, my favorite part of working as a nanny is watching little ones make exciting discoveries as they explore the world.  Infants and toddlers are not only acquiring new words and fine-tuning their motor skills, they’re learning something else of crucial importance- how to eat!

Young children develop food preferences that can persist for the rest of their lives, so I’m alarmed by the popularity of sugar-loaded “natural” convenience foods intended for this age group.  Take freeze-dried yogurt snacks, for example.  Though these addictively tasty, neat-to-eat treats do contain real yogurt and fruit, organic sugar is the second ingredient listed on the package!   Neat and ‘natural’ as they are, these snacks are still loaded with sugar, naturally milled or not.  A quickly demolished 30-calorie serving contains 4 grams of sugar, almost a fourth of the daily amount recommended for toddlers by the American Heart Association.

 My five cents: Let’s encourage kids to eat nutritious foods early on, knowing that often means presenting a new food to them several times, rather than teaching them to crave foods offering quick but empty energy.  Unprocessed foods are the best bet whenever possible, but when we do need to toss a packaged snack in the stroller be sure to check ingredients first, since the front of the package often doesn’t tell us the full story.