Monday, February 28, 2011

Gerber Is Undermining My Credibility

I don't do well with contradictory information. Not when I have no idea wtf I'm doing.

Hello, parenthood!

Shortly before my son was born, I went out and bought What To Expect the First Year. I figured, "Why not? I mean, I have no idea what to expect!" I have never treated it like a bible, but I've used it pretty consistently as a guideline for things I don't want to bother my awesome pediatrician with.

Like beginning to feed D solids. Most of it is pretty simple and straightforward - start with cereals and simple fruit & vegetable purees, move up to the mixed stuff and thicker purees, feed the baby the same thing 2-3 days in a row and check for reactions. Did all that.

Now D is 8 months old, has 2 bottom teeth, and we've started giving him little bits of table food in addition to his regular baby food. (He LOVES my Italian Beef Stew!) I had wanted to venture into making my own baby food for him so I went out and bought Cooking Light: First Foods because, as you all know, I am obsessed with Cooking Light.

Nothing particularly interesting or controversial here, just basic baby food recipes. It gets really good when you get to the toddler stage. But I digress.

So What To Expect gives you a list of things you are not supposed to feed a baby until they reach a certain age - nuts, honey, certain fish and shellfish, egg whites, citrus fruits and juices, etc. I was like "Okay, no big deal. There's plenty of other things to try in the meantime."

But my husband is convinced that this book is bullshit. All baby books, actually. He wants to feed D scrambled eggs when he makes breakfast on the weekends. He wants to give him little bits of orange and strawberry. He wants to let him try peanut butter and lick the salt off of his snack peanuts. And I'm all "Oh noes! You can't do that! WTE says you can't do it because of food allergies and blah blah blah and ZOMG please don't!!!"

He just gives me a withering look and says "Helicopter much?" Which really pisses me off because if I have one single goal as a parent, it is to not become a so-called Helicopter Parent.

I managed to convince him to just let it go, at least for now, by arguing that there are so many other things we can feed him, we don't need to be in a hurry for those specific allergy-risk foods. He rolled his eyes, but let it go.

On a recent trip to the grocery store during which I needed to stock up on some jar baby food, I noticed a couple of things. First, Gerber makes level 2 purees that include fruits from the no-no list - oranges, pineapple, strawberries. Second, many of the level 2 mixed foods such as mixed veggies with whole wheat pasta contain EGG WHITES and TUNA OIL.


So now I'm kinda pissed. Why does WTE tell me that I can't feed my kid oranges, but it's okay for Gerber to do it? Why do they tell me to only feed him egg yolks, not the whites, but it's okay for Gerber to do it? And most importantly....

What the hell do I say to my husband NOW??? (Besides you were right. Ugh, I gag just typing that!)

The bastards.

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Micro Dr. O said...

My good friend who's a pediatrician and mom says, while she loved 'what to expect while expecting', she thought 'what to expect the first year' was pretty poor. Don't know what her thoughts on eggs and stuff would be right now; I'll have to ask her opinion. But her opinion of the book makes me wonder a little about their advice. I'll check my Amer. Acad. of Pediatrics book tonight when I get home.

Becca said...

AH! I remember this problem!

The one-food-at-a-time thing is valuable in the beginning (and the logic really appealed to my scientific mindset), but once my son had consumed all the major risk foods at least once we stopped it. That said, some mysterious thing gives my kid a very mild rash from time to time, so maybe we should have been more careful.

It helps a lot to understand *why* things are 'not recommended'. Oranges and other citrus fruits are thought to be too acidic for little tummies... I think this is bollocks, but I wouldn't feed a kid a metric ass tone of oranges and nothing else. My kid likes to suck on lemons though, go fig.

The honey thing is real. There's a minute botulism risk until the age of about 1 when the microflora are well enough established no slow growing clostridium is going to compete in that ecosystem. It's not worth a risk, so don't feed infants under age 1 honey.

Sometimes, there are specific problematic compounds in food (I remember with spinach in particular) that can be high, but may also not be depending on the source of the food and/or how it was processed. For that, the gerber version fine, whereas a random home-made version is more *likely* to be a problem. So the fact that it's in a Gerber product does not mean it's a great thing to introduce.

The reason fish oil is ending up in Gerber products is because of the food fadism obsession with Omega oils. I avoided them for a little while, but I think they are generally pretty good for kids. My advice would be to do the food-allergy check but don't worry about adding that in.

As far as peanuts- they found out that food allergies were getting worse, and so people started arguing in favor of caution. And *then* they started to do scientific studies... and found early peanut consumption is associated with *low* incidence of allergies (see Du Tolt et al 2008 in the J Allergy and Clin Immunol). You probably be better off giving your kids peanut butter; the book is just out of date in this respect. That said, there is some conflicting data out there.

My kid also loves eggs, and if there's anything I'm sorry I waited so long on, that was it. And there's some science for that one too ("Introduction of cooked egg at 4 to 6 months of age might protect against egg allergy."- Koplin 2010 in the same Journal as the last study)

JLK said...

Dr. O - definitely see what her opinion is, I'm very curious! Is your AAP book the "First Year" one too? If so, I've got it on a shelf somewhere. I read it cover to cover but didn't think it was one of those "peek at it every month" titles, unlike WTE. I should really pull it out. I'm pretty sure it says the same things as WTE about the food stuff.

Becca - Seriously, what would I do without you? I had the gist of many of the things you said, like about the peanuts and I knew the honey thing was real but I didn't know why. My husband's problem with all of it, which I understand, is "What is so magic about turning 1 year old that all of a sudden he won't be at risk for all these allergies?" He and I go back and forth because we both want to be Free-Range-type parents who don't freak out over stupid shit and look at things in terms of measured risk.

What we're finding though is that figuring out the "measured risk" is not as easy as we thought. And I tend toward the more cautious side of things - "Well if we don't know, then let's just NOT" and my husband tends more toward the "Well, since we don't know, fuck it. We can't worry about every little thing."

You can see the dilemma. lol

Becca said...

Yeah, there is nothing magical about one year of age... my source on the honey thing relating to the microflora competition is just my memory from college level micro classes (and the internet actually says various other things, but no explanation strikes me as more plausible than the microflora issue). If I was correctly informed in microbiology class, then probably the honey thing *ought* to be worded "at X months after the introduction of a diverse array of table foods" (and accompanying diverse microflora). Or maybe just take pictures of babypoop at various stages. When it looks like this you're ready!
(wouldn't a babybook with pictures of babypoop for purposes of diagnosis really be the most useful and disgusting thing ever?)

That said, it's a very tiny risk, particularly since a lot of honey is pasteurized now (though in theory that could still be a problem- spores are very hardy).

But the overall situation you are in is funny to me, because Carebear and I were reasonably analogous to your husband and you. He was much less cautious about food (although interestingly more cautious about other things, like electrical cords).

JLK said...

Yes, a baby book about poop with pictures WOULD be the most useful, disgusting thing ever. I would totally buy it right now.

Your sentence in the first comment about microflora and all that was so priceless I almost made it my FB status. I didn't, because if anyone asked wtf I was talking about, I wouldn't know the answer. LOL

It does sound like you guys were like us. To me, I'm not so worried about plugs, outlets, and the like because I am confident in my ability to supervise the baby. Our house is childproofed to the point where he can pretty much go where he pleases without me needing to chase him all over, but I check on him every few minutes when he's not in my sight. So I don't worry as much about that kind of stuff.

But the food thing - there's no warning, no quick fix like removing the offending substance if your baby goes into anaphylaxis! And I've been known to develop sudden, life-threatening anaphylaxis to substances I was never previously allergic to and then never allergic to again after that - specifically orange juice and swordfish. So while I don't have any chronic food allergies, I get nervous thinking about the baby's throat suddenly closing up because he ate a strawberry.

However, I admit I don't understand the food allergy thing. If they're going to be allergic to something, aren't they just going to be allergic to it? Aren't most allergies genetic and isn't that why they say if allergies run in your family you should be more cautious introducing foods?

And if that isn't the case and it's just a genetic predisposition, isn't exposure the best "vaccine" against allergies? I mean, that's what allergy shots are for.

I don't know....this stuff is way beyond my pay grade.

viagra online said...

I think Gerber is saying that because the TFP, according to her, is increasing its readership, those who would question the "well researched news stories" of certain "reporters" can take a hike.

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