Yum, yum yogurt!
It’s practically a law of nature.
It’s the law that says the more irritating you found all the warnings, admonishments and criticisms your mother hurled you, the higher the chances that you’re saying them to your own child right now.
(Trust me, you are.)
Like all natural laws, it’s dang powerful.
Take Isla’s adorable head of fine little baby fur, for instance. Nothing substantial enough to style or brush. Just enough to get a little out of place. Just enough out to have me ’tisk ’tisking that people might think she’s living in a barn. (Yes, I have actually muttered that antiquated little phrase in my head.)
Several times a day I resist the urge to reach for a brush. Several times a day I remind myself how much I loathed having my own curls fussed with or coiffed. I’ve worked hard to convince myself that there’s no reason little baby hairs need to be in perfect line with one another. No reason at all.
It was a struggle, though. I swear.
I channel my mom’s warnings in the kitchen, too. When I see Isla turn up her nose at spoonfuls of leafy greens we’ve pureed for her, I worry the stage is being set for some bad habits—I worry if she doesn’t like spinach, she’ll never get enough calcium. (Being the veggie lover that she was, my mom pushed lots of spinach. In fact, I new leafy greens were a good source of calcium and iron before I ever knew milk and beef were.)
In short, I was warned constantly that wasn’t I eating enough calcium.
Now I worry Isla isn’t getting enough calcium.
Unlike the situation with the brush, the hair, and the barn, in this case I don’t fight nature. In this case (this ONE case), I let my mother channel through me.
Sure, Isla’s not at risk of being calcium deficient now—for the first year, kids get adequate amounts of this mineral through breast milk and/or formula. However, if I don’t go out of my way to get her hooked on calcium-rich foods during this time, by the time she’s a toddler she probably will be.
Most 1 to 5 year olds get just 50% of the RDA of calcium.
Plus, as pre-teen and teen (yes! I’m thinking ahead) there will be an overwhelmingly high chance that she’ll be deficient in this mineral. Research shows that the majority of adolescents in U.S. aren’t eating the recommended intake of calcium either, especially girls.
That’s a big problem since 90% of bone formation occurs during adolescence. If kids miss out this crucial building block during a time of rapid bone growth and development, they put themselves at risk for unnecessary fractures, osteopenia and osteoporosis for the rest of their lives.
(You see, despite her petulance for perfectly groomed hair, my mom was ahead of her time when it came to foods and nutrition.)
What to do? Unfortunately, the leafy greens (spinach and kale) I offer Isla aren’t going down as easily as I’d like them to. We’ll work on that. Plus, while they do contain calcium, the amounts aren’t as bioavailable as what’s found in dairy products. It takes 15 cups of spinach, for example, to equal the amount of absorbable calcium in one 8 ounce glass of milk.
And, at 8 months, milk is out of the question. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until 1 year to introduce cow’s milk since it can displace crucial sources of iron (in breast milk and formula) so needed during this time.
No spinach, no milk? No problem! I discovered another calcium-rich food my little lady loves…
While straight milk can be tough to digest, yogurt is easier on tiny tummies (and big, sensitive ones too). You can thank the live active bacteria in yogurt, which help break down lactose, the sugar in milk that causes all the trouble.
Basically, yogurt’s a dairy product that’s been a little bit digested before your little one eats it. (Think momma bird feeding baby bird—but you don’t need to regurgitate anything. Peeling the seal off the container is work enough.)
This here is a dollop of uber creamy plain Greek yogurt—I’ve been alternating between this and plain full fat regular yogurt for Isla.
The reason I don’t pick one fave and stick to it? Much like the two charmers I simultaneously crushed on in 7th grade, they both have their strong points.
Traditional yogurt contains more calcium per serving and is more likely to be fortified with vitamin D, which is second important component of bone health that needs to paid attention to in infant and toddler diets. Greek yogurt, however, contains more protein and less sodium. Greek yogurt also has an extra thick and hearty (yum!) texture because it is strained more times than traditional yogurt, removing more of the liquid whey. (Unfortunately, that’s also when some of the calcium comes out.)
Regardless of which one we’re feeding Isla, we always, always opt for plain. That’s because we aim to get Isla hooked foods that are in-their-most-natural-state (opposed to those that have been doctored up with extra sodium or, in flavored-yogurt’s case, sugar) whenever possible. We want her to know what real food tastes like before she starts exploring the doctor’d up versions. Fingers crossed, she’ll have a natural preference for the authentic food flavors because of it.
(By the way, if you’re as big a glutton for Madison Avenue marketing as I am, beware of brands packaged to appeal to your sense of good health and kids. Many of the yogurt products geared towards kids are actually loaded with extra sugar. Double check by reading the ingredient list and also comparing the number of sugar grams on the nutrient label to the plain versions.)
Also important: we go for full fat versions for Isla, opposed to the 2% or non-fat versions I eat myself… I do this because fat is a crucial component of a baby’s diet—about 50% of a child’s diet should be comprised of fat until they’re two years old. Fat is essential when it comes to building a healthy brain, and it’s no secret that little their little brains are growing rapidly. (So much so that low and non-fat dairy products are not recommended by the AAP until a child turns two.)
Lastly, I go for brands that don’t use milk from cows treated with rGH, a growth hormone. (Another little fact you can easily find on the label, of course.)
The quick schtick: for best nutritional bang, look for traditional or Greek yogurt in plain flavors and full fat varieties that are vitamin D fortified (evidenced by the 20% or 30% vitamin D on the label) and made without rGH. (Oiy! A mouthful.)
Does Isla like it? She thought plain yogurt was lip-smacking good right from the very first spoonful. (Okay, maybe the second or third spoonful.) The important thing: yogurt was quickly and easily put on our list of favorites! And, I learned that maybe I don’t need to fight everything my momma said … I mean, maybe this photo could be made slightly better if that I had pushed those few hairs back down into place, no?