With so much age-specific and adapted product it seems as if the little ones in the house are not sufficiently fed with a conventional diet. Are all these products necessary?
As we walk through the food aisles of the supermarkets we find many products for the smallest ones loaded with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients apparently essential for their growth. With so much product adapted and specific by ages it seems as if the small ones of the house were not fed sufficiently with a conventional diet based on “normal” foods, and it was necessary to complement their diet with all type of products.
The new food aimed at the youngest members of the household is olive oil specifically for children. Is it any different from the olive oils already on the market?
The producers state that it is specially formulated for children up to four years of age, due to its high content in oleic acid, vitamin E, antioxidants and its degree of acidity (between 0.01-0.02) that help the growth of the bones, the brain and the nervous system.
Pediatricians and nutritionists affirm that extra virgin olive oil provides the same properties, and that there is no evidence that the degree of acidity influences the improvement of health, it simply gives the characteristic of a softer flavor.
So it is not necessary to opt for this type of oil, if you are looking to improve the health of children. The benefits of the extra virgin olive oil for the health are more than contrasted, it only remains that the child accepts its flavor, sometimes too “strong”, but it is enough to choose soft varieties like the arbequina olive.
In recent years several advertising campaigns have been launched recommending growth milks for children from one to three years, promoting the idea of being ideal milks and necessary for optimal growth, as well as encouraging greater intellectual development of the youngest. From the year on, the child’s body is prepared to assimilate a varied diet that includes cow’s milk (unless there are intolerance or allergy problems).
Several reasons suggest that growth milks are not necessary:
- The caloric contribution of many of them is very high.
- The nutrients that these milks can be enriched with are not nutrients that the children of the European Union have in a deficient way, so they are not necessary at all.
- The nutrients that can appear as deficient in some children in the EU, can be obtained through a balanced diet without the need to supplement.
That is why, as with olive oil for children, it makes no sense to pay two or three times as much for a product which, although not unhealthy, is not necessary. In addition, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a report evaluating the effects of enriched or growing infant milks on children, concluding the same as many nutrition professionals, considering that such milks are not necessary in the healthy population.
Cereal porridge is almost a must when it comes to complementary feeding. They are comfortable, they carry everything your baby needs and that’s what almost everyone has to offer. So where’s the problem? No more and no less, in the large amount of sugar provided by many of them.
If you read the ingredients and find the word: sugar, honey or similar should be absolutely discarded. In the case of porridge without added sugar, we must take into account another factor, as it may be dextrinated porridge.
These porridges have been subjected to the dextrin process, by which the starch is “broken” to facilitate its digestion. Breaking the carbohydrate in molecules of different sugars the pap is transformed into a much sweeter food, no sugar is added, but contains it naturally in a much higher percentage.
In addition, the baby becomes accustomed to the much sweeter taste that these foods actually have. We can also find porridge without dextrinar, and even with whole grain cereal, which would be the most appropriate option if we decide to choose from commercial ready-to-eat porridge. Its taste is not sweet, it is a good quality cereal and it can be a child product suitable for children, but much more expensive than buying the cereal and preparing it at home.
You can also prepare porridge with oats, rice, corn, millet… and mix it with milk once cooked. You can also buy roasted cereals, without additives, and mix them with milk, corn or roasted wheat, “puffed” rice… easy to find in bulk stores.
In the same way that the rest of baby food we are faced with a product totally dispensable and not recommended at all, because its sugar content is very high. Until you can have natural yogurt without sugar from nine or ten months in small amounts, the choice should always be milk. Baby yoghurts are not made with 100% follow-on milk and also have other additives, and again we are getting used to the sweet taste, so their consumption does not provide any benefit.
The fruit potito appears as the magic solution for children who do not eat fruit want to eat it, making families believe that it is a good solution. But it is not. Once again, the high content of added sugar is exaggerated and we do not teach our children how to eat. Offer him the natural fruit, whole or crushed, sooner or later if he sees you eating it, he will eat it.
If from the point of view of healthy eating, biscuits should be totally sporadic food consumption, offering a biscuit to a baby under six months is meaningless. As recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other official bodies, the baby should be fed breast milk or formula up to six months. So what’s the point of offering superfluous foods, loaded with saturated fats and sugars, just because they start chewing? None at all.
Differentiating between foods that are not necessary, but not harmful, such as olive oil for children, follow-on milk or unrefined, non-dextrinated and sugar-free porridge, is one thing, as you pay more for the product due to the packaging or the convenience of its immediate consumption.
And another is to make believe that unhealthy foods such as biscuits, fruit potitos or yogurts for babies are necessary for optimal growth, when clearly the opposite is true, because its relationship with a major health problem is more than proven in our society.