17/03/2017 11:54 GMT | Updated 18/03/2018 05:12 GMT

Why I Feed My Baby Cake

Malcolm MacGregor via Getty Images

Dear Mums in the play center,

I overheard your conversation the other week. I didn't mean to, but you weren't exactly being discreet. It went something like this:

Mum 1: It drives me mad, people giving their children those fruit yoghurts.

Mum 2: I know! They think just because it's sweetened with fruit juice it's healthy!

M1: I wish they cared enough to bother reading the label, there's spoonfuls of sugar in them.

M2: How can they do it to little babies?

M1: Mine have only ever had natural Greek yoghurt.

Now let's get one thing straight, you have every right to not allow your children to eat anything containing sugar of any sort. You get to do your research and make the decision about what healthy eating looks like for your family and I promise I will never give your toddler a sneaky forbidden "treat" behind your back. But can we tone down the judgement a little (OK, a lot)?

First of all, there isn't actually any definitive answer to what makes a healthy diet. There are some basics, lots of fruit and veg, not too much chocolate, but beyond that it's all pretty much open to interpretation. One expert might encourage avoiding sugars of all types, including fruit sugar, while another thinks vegan is the way to go and a third flies in the face of years of low fat advice and tells us to eat butter. If you want to avoid rice because you saw a blog post about it last month that is absolutely up to you, but know that there will be millions of people who carry on believing that plain boiled rice is a healthy food. You can't expect the whole world to always agree with you and using phrases like "how can they do that" and "don't they care?" is offensive.

Secondly, you have no idea what the background is or what those children's overall diet is like. Maybe they eat nothing but fast food, or maybe this was a special occasion and they were given fruit yoghurt as a treat. My son eats lots of things that I wouldn't normally give a baby under one, like cake, biscuits, crisps, and peanuts. He has them because a dietician has advised it. You see, he has allergies and the best way to treat his allergies is to give him small quantities of those foods and gradually build up to larger quantities. Currently he doesn't have much more than a crumb of cake or biscuit but I'm really looking forward to the time when he has a whole biscuit every day. It will mean we have made pretty good progress! And yes, it does have to be in that format. We were even told exactly which brand of biscuit to buy and given a specific cake recipe to use.

That child eating high fat foods might have problems with low weight gain. The one tucking into a jam sandwich might be recovering from an illness and doing well to eat anything at all. The child devouring an adult portion could be going through a growth spurt. You just don't know, so next time you see a mum feeding her child something you don't agree with please suspend judgement, feeding toddlers is hard enough as it is without us mamas turning on each other.

On the other hand if you fancy a discussion on child nutrition do come over and say hi. I'm the one in the corner hiding cake crumbs in yoghurt to try to get my baby to eat them.


PS if you know someone who needs help navigating the many varied opinions and who would appreciate support without judgement, take a look at my First Foods course. I even do gift cards.