There is so much nutrition related advice out there it’s tough to know what to follow for myself, let alone Sunny. We caught up with NYC mom and Premier Pediatrics pediatrician, Deena Blanchard MD, MPH who answered a few of our food-related questions. And she knows her stuff!
Deena, let’s start with a mom favorite – allergies! If a parent is allergic to a certain food is it more likely that the child will be as well?
We do know that genetics can play a role in the development of food allergies. This is true between parents and children but even stronger between siblings. A child is over 2.5 times more likely to develop a food allergy if they have a sibling with food allergies.
Is a multivitamin a good idea for toddlers and little kids? I’m especially thinking of a particular little princess I may or may not know who is only wanting to eat three types of foods lately.
Developing healthy eating habits is one of the most important goals of early childhood. That said, it is not uncommon for children to go through phases where they reject certain foods, even foods they may have previously loved. I really encourage children to get their nutrients from food. Therefore, routine supplementation of vitamins is not recommended for healthy kids. Having on multivitamin a day is generally not harmful to children, but parents should avoid excess dosing of vitamins. In addition, many vitamins for kids taste like candy so it is important to keep them out of reach from children to avoid accidental overdose. A few important vitamin/minerals that if your child is not consuming you will want to supplement are calcium and vitamin D and iron.
How often should parents reintroduce foods that their kids originally rejected?
It is important when introducing new foods to your little one to offer them the same food multiple times as it can take 10-15 attempts for a child to accept a new taste. As children get older, they will often start to develop food preferences and may reject foods they previously loved. With a little creativity and patience, you can likely get your little one eating these wholesome foods again. Some tips include: being a good role model and eating healthy yourself, engaging your toddler in the food preparation and introducing new or rejected foods with foods your child already likes. Eating should be enjoyable and fun. Try to avoid getting into food battles with your little one and allowing them to self-regulate their food intake. Lastly – try to build on the road to solids from the start. If your child likes peas, for example, try Ella’s broccoli pears and peas pouch. Expanding a little ones palate from the start is important to create a little foodie as they grow.
When reading labels how concerned should parents be with the sodium and sugar content? Any guidelines?
It is important to avoiding giving excess sugar and salt to children. Added sugar and sugary drinks are not recommended. Looking for a juice alternative that is not high in sugar, like the new Ella’s Kitchen® Lunch Box drinks such as Blueberry-Apple juice blend drink with hydrating aloe and only 5 Grams of sugar available at Target. Try to minimize the amount of salt you expose your little one to. Try using herbs and spices to create an expanded flavor palate, avoid processed and canned foods that are high in sodium.
I know organic is healthy but it’s not practical for most parents to buy all organic food. What are the most important foods to buy organic?
The good news is that organic foods are more affordable and widely available than they used to be. For parents on a budget, I would suggest looking at the Environmental Working Group dirty dozen and avoiding those foods. IF your child eats a lot of a specific fruit or veggie that isn’t on that list I would shop organic for that food as well.
What is your favorite restaurant to go to with your kids?
As hard as it is for my kids to sit still in restaurants, I still try to get them out and about and be adventurous eaters! They do like to go for Sunday Brunch. One of neighborhood favorites is Blossom. When I was nursing my youngest son, I was off all dairy so we were looking for vegan restaurants and this one was a winner. They always accommodate us with the kids and the stroller and have good food options for kids.
MORE ABOUT DR. DEENA BLANCHARD, Partner, Premier Pediatrics
Deena Blanchard MD, MPH is a board certified pediatrician working at Premier Pediatrics. Dr. Deena has provided health/parenting tips for outlets such as AOL, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, The Bump, The Daily News, and appeared on CBS and CUNY-TV. She is also a regular contributor for Big City Moms, Well Rounded NY, The Stir by Cafemom, and Momtastic. Dr. Blanchard joined Premier, after completing her residency training at Columbia University. There she served as a physician advocate for families as part of the family advisory committee and was awarded physician of the year in 2007. Prior to going to medical school she completed a Masters of Public Health at Temple University with a specific focus in health education. Dr. Blanchard attended medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she was awarded both Alpha Omega Alpha and the American Medical Women’s Association Glascow-Rubin Achievement award. Dr. Deena Blanchard serves as a pediatric expert for brands including Ella’s Kitchen and Newton.
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