As a mom, I am constantly trying to make sure my kids are healthy, doing the right thing, moving their bodies enough, eating the right foods, not watching too much TV, and the list goes on and on. A lot of the time, my basis for what’s right and wrong is just my natural instinct, or my gut feeling- which my mom has always told me is really my best tactic. Especially when my kids were babies, the bottom line is you really can’t love them enough, so if you hold your baby a little past their regular naptime, you probably won’t ruin their sleeping patterns forever. Now that my kids are older, I have different concerns for them. When it comes to issues like screen time (how much is too much?), plastic containers (should we drink out of them, freeze them, microwave them?) or organic foods (can I only by organic?), I am constantly perplexed, so I thought I would do some investigating and see what some experts are saying and share the knowledge. Here is what I found out:
Screen Time: iPods, iPads, Nintendo DS, TV, Wii, Kinect, computer time, etc. Kids are constantly coming in contact with some sort of screen all day long. Although it usually does keep them busy and entertained, is it very good for them? According the Mayo Clinic, children should only have one to two hours of screen time a day. Other reports I found state children under two should have NO screen time at all, and definitely not by themselves, it should always be with family members. The main concern for too much screen time is that it means kids are being more sedentary and not as active as they should be. Which brings up the question of newer video games like Kinect and Wii, our family loves Just Dance 4 and I don’t really count that as screen time, I consider it aerobic activity, if we are dancing around like crazy people for an hour, how bad can it be? What I do agree with is finding alternatives to screen time; playing games, reading books, playing outside, arts and crafts, baking or cooking, there are plenty of other options to fill the other 22 hours of the day.
Plastic Containers: I am guilty of having a huge drawer of plastic Tupperware with loads of containers for leftovers, water bottles, etc. It was an excellent, safe distraction for my kids when they were toddlers and I was in the kitchen cooking. But now that they are big kids and I don’t really need the distraction drawer (except for visiting cousins and friends), I am curious do I need to toss out all the old Tupperware and replace it with glass or is it okay to still use? One of my favorite websites (Snopes.com) to debunk any crazy emails that go around has once again come in handy to inform us that, No, microwaving your plastic containers will not cause cancer. It does recommend using microwave safe containers in the microwave, and that yes some chemicals may come out when the food and container are heated up, but it won’t hurt you. Good to know! I also like this article, which ensures us that the FDA requires that manufacturers test these containers and that those tests must meet FDA standards and specifications. It then reviews the test data before approving a container. Great, I don’t think I am going to be getting rid of distraction drawer anytime soon – maybe I should organize it though!
Organic vs Non-Organic: This is something that has been debated back and forth for quite some time. Is organic really that much better for you than non-organic? I think that Joy Bauer says it pretty well in this video, the main points are that if you can’t afford organic, you should still eat healthy, do not avoid produce because you are concerned that non-organic is bad for you. Yes, organic farmers do use natural products on their crops and there are less pesticides and chemicals in the ground of organic produce, but if you are able to rinse your produce (even produce that says “pre-washed”), you will still be safe. Another tip, is that vegetables and fruit with thicker skins that you will not be eating, like bananas and yams are probably okay to buy non-organic, because they are protected by the skin. Apples on the hand, if you can buy organic, may be a better choice. This is another good article that lists the organic foods you should buy and information about the amount of pesticides in some common foods. One more reason to buy organic, is to support your local farmers. Heading out to the Farmers Market on the weekends is a great way to ensure you are getting fresh, local and organic foods and you are supporting your local community.
Like anything else, as my mom always says, moderation with everything is really what is most important. Take all this information with a grain of salt and make sure to remember what is right for you and your family might not work for everyone else. I just needed to get some clarity on a few things and I happy that there is so much information available to help make clear choices. If you have other questions that need some investigating… let me know!