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Parenting: What Does It Mean to Raise a Child in a Green World?

Making Green Decisions continued...

However, according to studies done so far, some general trends have emerged. On average, organic foods contain slightly higher levels of trace minerals, vitamin C, and antioxidant phytonutrients than conventionally grown crops. However, the studies point out, measuring the nutrient content of food is only partly indicative of how healthy a food is. It's also worthy to note that children may be more sensitive to pesticides because they are still growing. And by comparison, children eat more food for their weight than adults do.

When it comes to deciding what food products to buy for your baby, Horowitz says it depends. He recommends organic milk products. Horowitz also says he's a big fan of eating seasonal fruits and vegetables purchased locally, which are generally fresher, not to mention better for the environment because they haven't traveled half way across the world to get to you.

No matter who you speak to, going green does not have to be an all-or-nothing prospect. Organic products often cost more, and there are plenty of ways you can reduce your baby's exposure to toxins and do your part for the environment without breaking the bank.

Food Choices for Baby

Breast or bottle? Right from the start, you can begin with the most organic activity there is – breastfeeding. You don't need to clog landfills with formula containers and use countless gallons of water to wash hundreds of baby bottles. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeedingfor your baby's first six months.

Infant formula. If you choose not to breastfeed your baby, infant formulas are available that display the USDA Organic Seal, which certifies that the ingredients are grown without the use of certain pesticides, and that milk-based formulas come from cows that aren't given hormones, antibiotics, or other chemicals. Don't use bottled water to mix with your formula, you're only adding to the local landfill -- tap water is fine. Try using glass baby bottles or try BPA-free plastic baby bottles.

Solid foods. Once your baby is on solids, if you want to try making your own baby food, you can peel and boil, bake, or steam the food and blend it with some extra water, breast milk, or formula until it reaches a texture suitable for your baby's age -- the younger the baby, the smoother the texture. Make individual portions that are easy to remove by pouring it into silicone ice cube trays, cover with freezer bags, label them, and store in the freezer, Kelley says.

Fresh fruits and veggies. If you can't see the extra cost to buy all organic fruits and vegetables, you can lower your child's pesticide consumption by nearly 80% by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce, according to the Environmental Working Group. The EWG recommends the organic versions of the following produce items:

  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes

Non-organic produce items that are lowest in pesticides include:

  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapple
  • Mangos
  • Sweet peas
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Sweet potato
  • Honeydew

You can also go organic on only the foods your child eats most, like milk and apple juice.

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