The best gift you can give your baby

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nutrimom. All opinions are 100% mine.

There’s a trend I noticed among parents I know. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to judge, criticize, or condemn. I’m just bemoaning the fact that in my own efforts to ensure proper nutrition for my son, I seem to encounter more negativity than support.

The best gift a mother can give her baby isn't toys, objects, or sweets. Click to see what it is, and for some parenting tips and inspiration for parenting toddlers.

It happens often. We’re at an event with my son. Someone offers him a sweet. I smile, and say “please don’t give it to him. He doesn’t even know what it is.” The generous candy-contributor reacts with surprise, even hoping to see that magical “first taste” of something so delicious and sweet.

What usually follows is that I beg that person not to. I try to locate a fruit to give him instead. And the person warns me that “when he goes to school and all his friends have candy, he’s going to turn into a massive candy monster, because of all the candy he was deprived of.”

No he won’t.

He’s not deprived.

Not unless you make him feel deprived.

M doesn’t know what a candy is. I can eat it in front of him, and he won’t bat an eyelash. That’s because I haven’t introduced candy to him yet. 

Yet, I have experienced that “magical” moment of watching a child taste something delicious and sweet. I saw that excitement when I first gave him mango. I watched his eyes light up when I gave him some raisins to snack on. And I lovingly split my apple to share with my begging toddler. 

The best gift a mother can give her baby isn't toys, objects, or sweets. Click to see what it is, and for some parenting tips and inspiration for parenting toddlers.

And there is no greater gift that I can give my child, than a healthy start. 

There seems to be a trend in the parenting community. Moms seem to think that they are doing something good, giving to their child, when they hand over something delicious and sweet. Sometimes I feel like it might be because of our increasing awareness and resistance to helicopter parenting.  Maybe we feel like if we give it we can control it. (Obviously, when we think that it’s clear that we have never attempted to “control” a toddler….)

But why have we given up before we tried?

Why do we have such a negative outlook on child nutrition? 

It’s really not that hard! Children are born not knowing what a candy is – until they taste it. Babies don’t know the difference between a piece of cake and a piece of whole grain bread – until we teach them. So why not wait and delay it? 

In any case, I have found myself to be almost a lone wolf, isolated in my ambition to keep my child from tasting junk food for those first few years. I don’t have fellow moms to commiserate with. I don’t have moms to talk with about solutions, alternatives, snack ideas. 

It was only through the support of my husband (who isn’t necessarily around to defend me all the time) that we managed to keep M from having a single sugary sweet until around his second birthday (some “kind” fellow handed my child a sweet right behind my back.) And even now that he knows what a sweet is, we are simply more careful to keep it out of his sight and his mind. And he is perfectly happy.

The best gift a mother can give her baby isn't toys, objects, or sweets. Click to see what it is, and for some parenting tips and inspiration for parenting toddlers.

So how did we manage? How did we succeed in going against the flow, and giving my toddler the gift of a healthy first few years?

To tell you the truth, it hasn’t been easy. One of my biggest tricks is having replacements handy. Yet a I run out of ideas.

Recently, I got to try out the new Nutrimom program. It’s a perfect solution for moms like me.

This program is focused on helping moms get through those first 1000 days – from first day of pregnancy through the second birthday – while ensuring proper nutrition. I got to speak to a mom like me, and suddenly I didn’t feel like I was alone in my mission.

I spoke with a dietitian twice so far, in one-on-one phone conference sessions, discussing my child’s particular needs. 

The best gift a mother can give her baby isn't toys, objects, or sweets. Click to see what it is, and for some parenting tips and inspiration for parenting toddlers.

She gave me ideas for meals for  when he gets fussy.

She game me solutions for adding nutrients into his every day snacks.

And she even helped me sort out in my mind which foods were “good, better, and best.”

But, most of all, she offered me support. She backed me up. She sent me articles to read that were relevant to my specific situation. She is available for me to message at any time I have a concern, or need new ideas.

And I can rest assured that she is a registered dietitian, and a mom like me. So she knows what she’s talking about, and she also knows where I’m at.

To tell you the truth, I was considering visiting a nutritionist myself for some time – to help me with my own nutrition as I try to conceive, and with my toddler’s fussy eating habits. But I simply didn’t have the time. With Nutrimom, I can fold laundry, wash the dishes, or do whatever it is I’m behind on while I discuss things on the phone.

The program offers me more than just coaching. I have a library of articles, written by experts, at my fingertips. I got actual recipes, with more available to look through. I will soon receive a subscription box through their program that I will share more about when I receive it. I will be continuing with my Nutrimom subscription for some time and share with you all that they have to offer. 

The best gift a mother can give her baby isn't toys, objects, or sweets. Click to see what it is, and for some parenting tips and inspiration for parenting toddlers.

Meanwhile, I am reveling in the backup, and hope to pay it forward! Stay tuned, as I will share with you some practical tips to help you ensure proper childhood nutrition. 

I am finally able to confidently give my little one that amazing head start on a healthy lifestyle, with a little effort and a lot of support.

So please, moms. Don’t give up. Give proper nutrition a chance. Seek the help you need. Offer support to fellow moms. You can do it.

Because the best gift you can give your little one is a healthy, wholesome start.

Have you faced challenges when dealing with early childhood nutrition? Which  challenges did you face? Have you seen a similar trend, with parents giving up on the sweets battle before they even try?

The best gift a mother can give her baby isn't toys, objects, or sweets. Click to see what it is, and for some parenting tips and inspiration for parenting toddlers.

Disclaimer: I know that there are many “best gifts” we can give our children. We can give them time, attention, books, an education, and lots and lots of love. It’s hard – probably impossible – to weigh them against each other. This article has been titled for the purposes of bringing across my point – what an amazing head start we can give our little ones, if we put in a little effort. 

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12 Comments

  1. I could really relate to this post.

    I am also in the same boat as you where I feel better food (and drink) choices are always a more positive option.

    My LO loves her fruit, healthy snacks and most of her vegetables. She enjoys her food and I do believe that’s down to the start in life we have given her.

    I believe sweets and treats in moderation if at all. If your child is happy with healthier options I vote for that everytime.

  2. I’m there with you sister! My daughter is 26 months and she just had her first candy (an organic sucker) the other day. She has a condition called FPIES (food protein induced entercolitis syndrome). Which basically means she has terrible food allergies to a large range of foods that make her colon bleed. When she was 6 months old my MIL gave me a sucker to give to her and was upset when I wouldn’t. Not only was she SIX MONTHS old, but she was allergic to it! And my MIL didn’t care! People just want everyone else to be “normal” along with them. Even if that means making unhealthy choices for your own child. Crazy!! Good for you for giving your child his best start with health. My child loves healthy food because that’s all she knows!

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  4. It was nice reading this. My son’s nutrition is very important to me too. It does seem like I’m alone. When I ask other people to not give my son candy juice or soda. He definitely knows what all these things are at 2 already because I’m a single working in college mom and I can’t always control what his grandparents or daycare feed him but I try. My mom for example gives him juice it’s sugar free but I’ rather him just drink water . This makes it hard for me to get him to drink water but he knows I won’t give him juice so eventually he drinks it. Anyway if I even talk about to other parents they are always really surprised when I say how strict I am about food or nutrition. I will try to defend myself but they usual just try to ignore me from there. I can tell they think I’m overacting. So Goodluck to you I’m super glad I read this.

  5. Thank you for writing this post! I’ve struggled as well to give my little guys a good start. People think I’m crazy when I say that my three year old only eats organic, whole grain, real food. He has never had a candy (to my knowledge) and enjoys organic dark chocolate occasionally and thinks it’s amazing. He enjoys ice cream I’ve found that’s been sweetened with honey and ice pops I’ve made from 100% juice. There is simply no need to introduce him to ‘treats’ that are not healthy over teaching him about treating his body well and making better food choices. I’ve especially had to fight my in,was and recently my husband to keep things this way for as long as possible. I don’t understand why people feel sorry for him when he is getting the best of the best we can afford and is super healthy and happy. He doesn’t know he is missing out. When he is at the coffee shop he asks for a raisin bran muffin or a bagel and completely skips over the donuts and cookies like they don’t exist. To offer him these treats when he doesn’t even want them seems ridiculous to me. Now he is at nursery school and I am just shocked at the “healthy snacks” that are brought in for the kids. My son came home with Oreo cookie all over his face the other day. He told me he had “chocolate coin cookies with white icing.” How is this a healthy snack?! *sigh*. I know I have to let go a bit sometime, but I don’t understand why the majority of parents aren’t more concerned with teaching our children about healthy nutrition. It may be more work, but it is soooo worth it to have a child who loves food. He now has these sorts of treats outside of our house, but even at parties, we talk about making better choices. Like choosing the pretzels over the cheesies and eating the veggie arias pizza over the cheese pizza. I feel such a sense of pride when my son says to someone, “no thank you, it’s not organic.” Inside I’m absolutely beaming!

    • It’s so frustrating when kids start going to school and all hard work is undone. Some “healthy” snack policies mean no candy, but any cookie is fine. It’s really hard to find support, and it’s inspiring to hear that you are managing to get HIM to learn to choose well.

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  7. I remember the first time my son had chocolate. I was preparing dinner while he was playing with his toys behind me. All of a sudden I heard a big “mmmm!” And turned around to see that he had inadvertently discovered a bag of chocolates from an Easter basket (that I hadn’t realized was even there). At first, I thought “oh no!” thinking his whole nutrition would be ruined. He was a couple months shy of his first birthday and I was waiting as long as possible (preferably over a year, not including his first cake smash) to be introduced to those kinds of sweets. My second thought was to take a picture, because the scene was too cute and funny to not remember.
    Honestly, I was worried for nothing. I’d like to think that we’re healthy eaters here in my home and we really don’t keep candy around the house too much. Now my son is 2 1/2 and knows and loves candy and, when we do have some, he eats it in moderation. That said, he is an incredible eater — the only thing that I’ve ever seen him fuss about is green beans in any dish that I had ever given him. He loves his sweets, but would happily reach for an orange or apple as a snack instead. Aside from him being 2 and easily distracted, I never have to fight with him to finish a meal.
    I used to be a lot more strict about him eating sweets, mostly getting mad at my parents for spoiling him the way they do (I wonder how you dealt with that in your own family?), but the more I realized that he is a good eater, the more lenient I became.
    Another good compromise I think is home baked sweets. He and I bake together and have lately been more experimenting then following recipes, but it has allowed us to make healthy substitutions (avocados in cookies or flaxseed meal in cakes or honey powder in place of white sugar) and I feel better about him eating that.

    What I’m trying to say is I absolutely believe in giving my sons (younger one is still a newborn, so no sweets yet!) the most nutritional start in life, but it’s not the end of he world if they have a couple of sweets. It may not be the best thing, but it certainly isn’t the worst. Still, I respect your view in waiting as long as possible until your son one day eats some sugary nonsense. 😉

    • Hi Samantha! Thank you for your story 🙂 I love hearing how it worked for other moms. I think that when I say “a healthy start” it really can be relative. And each child is different. Meaning, there are some children who are pickier and have their appetites really easily spoiled. There’s also a huge difference between trying your best to delay sweets and not even bothering. I think that the fact that you set a good example for your child is really a deal-maker. Meaning, I don’t think (and I don’t think most nutritionists or doctors will tell you this either) that kids can’t have any candy. It needs to be in moderation, after meals, etc. So waiting until a child is at an age (especially if the adults do have candy 😉 ) where negotiations, “after you eat your dinner” can happen can really benefit the child in a huge way. At the same time, I am a HUGE believer in “replacement foods” as you mentioned – like home baked goods that use honey instead of sugar. We do juice and seltzer instead of soda (the adults do this as well, and even that we only do at meals, not as our main liquid). He is now eating more and more of the cookie/cake type of sugar, but we’re holding our breath he still doesnt’ know what a lollipop is! (Just wait till we send him to preschool next year… 😉 )

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