Primarily Paleo

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The Paleo Toddler Goes to Preschool

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I am going to be sending my Paleo toddler to preschool next year. Most parents care about the curriculum that will be taught or whether the kids get to play outside everyday. I just want her to have fun and not eat grains or legumes. One of my most burning issues has been how to navigate school offered foods, birthday treats, and other food based learning activities. I am really firm on her not eating any grains at least until she is closer to three. There is a lot of research that the digestive system is not mature enough to handle grains before this age. I also want her to be exploring other foods and developing a broader palette than foods that come in a box. I don’t want to be hyper vigilant and crazy with worry, but I am firm that we don’t eat certain foods. Just like a vegan who doesn’t want their child eating animal products or a kid with nut allergies who can’t be exposed to nuts. Gluten is gaining plenty of awareness as an allergen, but all grains is pretty much uncharted radical territory among the toddler sect.

I looked at a few different school options. One of them provides all organic meals and snacks, including a breakfast porridge every morning and they make bread daily. This was going to be too much for me to tackle. Making bread every day? I didn’t feel there was any way to avoid her having exposure in this environment. I continued my search; you’d be surprised how many preschools there are in Seattle.

I finally found a school that seemed like the right fit- the teachers, the environment, the energy all felt right. However (sigh), they too provide a snack which usually includes a grain. On the day I was visiting, this processed animal shaped grain product came from a large warehouse store and not only contained cane sugar but also cane juice. I was greatly disappointed. Not so much in the school for offering such a snack, but that in general this is considered the appropriate fuel source for small children. By providing a cookie for a pre lunch snack, we are missing such a huge opportunity to introduce foods to kids in a social setting where they are more likely to try the food if their friend does and they are hungry enough to eat something new after running around all morning.

I don’t want my Paleo toddler’s dietary requirements to be a hindrance for the teachers, who didn’t seemed fazed or bothered by our grain free status. I am willing to provide anything, including homemade grain free animal shaped biscuits if need be, to make it easier on them and to provide my toddler with a snack that looks similar to what her friends are eating, while still providing the quality of food that meets my standards. I am hoping that a greater dialogue can be started with the other parents, as well as the teachers regarding sound nutrient dense foods for growing bodies and brains.

I’d love to hear from other Paleo and/ or grain free parents on what has worked for their families.

5 Comments

  1. My daughter is wheat free / dairy free. She breaks out in a rash from wheat, and dairy causes severe constipation. I ordered labels for her cups that say “ALLERGIES – snacks from my bag only”. I make almond flour cookies/crackers packed with nutrition for snack time (and also send fresh or dried fruit). While it wouldn’t be the end of the world if she ate an animal cracker, I make a big deal out of educating the childcare people. One Wed night, I was in a hurry and I left her with someone new at church. I said no wheat. Childcare worker thought that white bread did not have wheat and fed her several pieces. People just don’t know! Polite education ahead of time is best. If you communicate your expectations clearly, I think it’s not unreasonable to ask for paleo at preschool.

    • Hi Meryl, Education is important especially with so many families facing food allergies. It is always surprising to me how often people are unaware what is in a food. Such as wheat being in bread 🙂 Thanks for reading! Stephanie

  2. Today out of curiousity, I picked up a packaged meal for toddlers and took a peek at the ingredients. Suffice it to say I was horrified. The ingredients list was about five paragraphs, tiny print! Every component of the meal contained MSG. Despite the fact that MSG causes brain damage in test animals.
    Anyway, I’m so relieved to see that some people truly care about nutrition for their kids 🙂

    • Thanks for reading the blog and for paying attention to the nutrition labels. If more people did that, we might not have so many inedible things in our food! Stephanie

  3. Pingback: Grains and the Paleo Toddler | Primarily Paleo

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