The baby food industry has been plagued with concerning headlines over the past several years. Whether the Congressional investigation into baby food or the subsequent introduction of the Baby Food Safety Act on the floor of the Congress, there has been no shortage of attention being paid to “safety” when it comes to “baby food”….or has there? However, it’s important to factor in what is implied by “baby” as well as “food safety.” For our kiddos, it’s about making sure they consume more of the good stuff, like the vitamins they need to grow and thrive as well as minimizing any exposure to the bad stuff, like heavy metals, pesticides and plastics. Whatever the case may be, the Baby Food Safety Act has not yet made its way through legislation. While it shouldn’t take an act of Congress to make sure that baby food brands are proactively solving for food safety issues that could affect my family and yours, here’s a few tips on what you can do now to set your child up for a lifetime of health.
1. The first 1,000 days begins at conception…arguably before.
The World Health Organization says that the first 1000 days of life (the period from conception until the second birthday) is the critical period of immune system and brain development. All moms, moms to be, and aspiring moms should consider the important role that healthy nutrition plays in both fertility, your growing unborn baby, as well as your infant and toddler.
2. Don’t stop caring at day 1,001.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first 8 years can build a foundation for future learning, health and life success. Nurturing a child’s development starting before birth and continuing through childhood, ensures that the child’s brain grows well and reaches its full potential.
3. Be a conscious consumer. Ask questions and demand answers.
When it comes to ensuring the health and safety of your family’s favorite food, sometimes you need to be the advocate. Parents are the new “Chief Operating Officers” of their households. Brands can make bold claims and promises about what’s in a product and marketers know what works. If you have questions about claims, testing, or certain ingredients, social media is a great way to ask questions and demand answers. It also is a public forum so others can learn from you too. Is This Normal’s Digital Community is a great resource and parenting group to get all of your parenting questions answered.
4. Vote for the food systems you believe in.
Different certifications resonate with different people, which is why you will see some brands carrying several. Some parents reach for Clean Label Project Purity Award winning products because of concern over heavy metals, others reach for certified Kosher or certified Halal to align with their religious beliefs, others are most concerned with cost or convenience. Whatever your motivation may be, consider your dollar a vote for the food system you believe in and the change that you want to see in the world for both you and your child. Consider your budget and support the brands that best align with your nutritional, environmental and philosophical expectations.
5. Work with your pediatrician on the unique nutritional needs of your child.
When it comes to nutrition, everyone is unique. Your doctor can factor in any unique needs your child may have given their medical history. Your pediatrician or family doctor is a great resource when it comes to making sure that your child is getting all they need to grow and thrive.