I didn’t mean to write a post about this theme. I don’t mean to target my day nursery either because I think they’re sweet and take good care of my son. I just want to share my opinion and talk about it. I take my son’s diet very seriously and like every parent I want the best for him. This is my honest opinion, I’m not perfect, I might be doing something wrong, there might be a solution I cannot think of right now… you tell me.
How a balance diet work for me
Since he’s 6 months old, I’ve tried to give my son the most balanced diet, using a wide variety of fresh vegetables, looking for different types of cereals (pasta/couscous/bulgur, rice, millet, amaranth, oat,…) varying proteins from meat, fish, egg to cheese, dried pulses and beans. So every meal – or almost -, always contained one of these 3 categories. I also tried to avoid salt and sugar as much as possible. Needless to say, everything was homemade cooked.
How it really worked for my Lobster
It hasn’t been easy every day. It has been time-consuming and I’m aware that if I had been working during that time, things would have been different, but if I had to do it again I would do exactly the same. That being say, I had a hard time feeding him. When I was hearing all around me about greedy babies putting too much weight, mine has never been a big eater and has always been slim.
I still remember when at some point (which seemed like eternity!) I was spending about 2 hours in the kitchen just for lunch between cooking and feeding so that I wouldn’t even eat after that because I was too exhausted. I didn’t give up though and he gradually started to eat more and more. Then when he turned 9 months old and I had to introduce formula milk and baby bottle, the nightmare started again. He refused to drink his milk, so about 6 hours of my day was about trying to make him eat his food and drink his milk, inventing all kind of games and tricks and using all the cups/glasses in the house. It lasted TWO MONTHS. Six hours e-v-e-r-y day during two months. Then eventually he started to drink it all by himself.
Day Nursery: I knew what to expect
I’ve seen a menu when I registered him so I knew what to expect and it seemed alright. Especially compared to another nursery I had visited before that where the weekly menu mentioned nuggets, fish fingers, fries plus they were having samosa for snack time when I came. That was just too much for me.
Day Nursery: the reality
Obviously everything is different from home, not only the food but the way they feed him. There are other toddlers so he doesn’t have all the attention like at home and it’s normal. From what I heard he doesn’t miss an opportunity to throw his food on the floor (I’ve been struggling against that at home too for a while). When he’s not eating his food they give him a yogurt, which happens frequently.
Sometimes I hear: he didn’t eat his sausages, he didn’t want the chicken and corn sauce, he didn’t eat his fish pie, he didn’t eat his rice… My first concern is: I know my chicken, he’s crazy about meat and fish. Then about rice, for example, he’s not able to eat it on his own so I can only guess that if he’s left unattended, he’ll play with it. Sausages are processed food with preservatives, additives, too much salt and other stuff I don’t want to know about. Now going against sausages and fish pie you probably think I’m overreacting.
He’s not eating lunch, what am I doing about it?
- I give him food when I pick him up at 1pm and he’s almost always hungry.
- When I registered him, the nursery told me parents were allowed to make suggestions to improve the menu. So last week I happily gave them a list of food suggestions: from more bite-size food to ideas picked from his favourite meals. The menu should change shortly so we’ll see.
- I will ask friends from Italy to send me their Nursery menu type. Maybe my “ideal menu” is exaggerated but if I can show some other Nursery menus I could discuss it with my Nursery for further improvements.
- I’ll discuss with the staff and try different methods, for instance, skip 10am morning snack so he might be hungrier at 11am, who knows?
What I won’t do.
- Nothing. That’s not in my blood. At this point I feel in my bones that I have to do something. May the result be that my son will start eating lunch again next week for no apparent reason, fine. May the result be that he will never eat much at lunch even the healthiest food, I don’t care. I have to try something, no?
- Prepare his lunch and bring it to the Nursery. That could be a solution for some but I disagree. I disagree because we pay an extravagant amount of money so they take care of our child and feeding him is part of it. I disagree because it can’t be a long-term solution. I can’t keep him with me forever and make him eat only what I cook.
- Leave the country if I’m not happy about it. I might do it at some point but for now it’s not in my plan. You don’t just leave the room when you disagree with someone, do you? You exchange opinion and you try to make your point.
All this to say that I do think something can be done on a higher level, not only for my child but for every child. Now I’m not saying I, on my own, can change my Nursery’s eating habits, let alone the whole system, but I can’t hear either: “It’s the way it is, you can’t do nothing about it”. I do think that talking about it is a start.