One of the many different responses I get when I decline offers of non-Paleo foods on Oliver’s behalf is “You know you’re not going to be able to keep him away from this stuff forever, right? Just wait until he goes to a ________ (birthday party, friend’s house, school, summer camp, etcetera). What are you going to do then, when you don’t have control?”
Allow me to explain: When I decline something that I don’t want Oliver to eat, I’m not saying that he will never be allowed to eat it; I’m saying that he doesn’t eat it. Right now, that is.
I know that junk food is ubiquitous. I understand that Oliver won’t get through his pre-school years — let alone elementary and secondary school — without tasting cookies, candies, ice cream, cake and soda. I’ll might even (gasp!) allow him to have this stuff, from time to time, on my watch .
However, when it comes to indulgences like junk food (and also screen time, electronics and expensive toys), I simply do not feel it necessary to introduce these things before Oliver has himself discovered their appeal. To put it more concisely, why give the baby a cookie when he is thrilled to have a banana? He’s not “missing out.” He doesn’t know what’s missing, because he hasn’t yet experienced it.
Babies and toddlers are not susceptible to peer pressure. Oliver’s not going to be ostracized if all of the other babies at play group get toddler sugar fruity puffs after class and he gets plain old steamed carrots. He loves steamed carrots! But when he’s old enough to go to birthday parties by himself, I’m not going to be the parent who sends him with a baggie of Paleo banana bread to eat while the other kids indulge in sickly, sticky confections. From a social standpoint, that could cause its own set of issues.
When indulgences do become a part of Oliver’s life, we will have boundaries, just as we do now, for ourselves. Treats will be permitted on occasion, in appropriate contexts. And they’ll be so much more special because of this.
Do do you feel that children should be introduced to treats — food or otherwise? At what age? What boundaries do or will you have in place to prevent indulgences from getting out of hand?