Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

She Fed Them What?

Today’s New York Times has a New Yorky take on what’s happening in the homes of those who want their children to eat highly healthy food, but whose careers necessitate employing babysitters who may not share their whole foods philosophy.

You’ll cringe because the story brings out a painful class divide quite evident these days–we’ve got the Eat Divinely Wells and the Eat What You Can Affords. Organic, hyper-healthy dining is assuming an obsessive “prissy” image that I find unfortunate. Believe me, I’m as organic as I can get, but I also let my two sons eat fried foods I’d never touch in kid-friendly restaurants. If I argued over every piece of pizza, I’d make myself and my kids nuts. What to do?


You can talk to your children about their food choices, and discuss as a family what really tastes delicious. Everybody’s different. My guys went through a Happy Meal phase, but they no longer jump for glee when we pass a McDonald’s. Intriguingly, the 10-year-old Chattering recently listed “sushi” as his favorite food on a school getting-to-know-you project. He also balked when we decided to hold his birthday at a bowling alley this coming weekend because the pizza there might be “of low quality.” Hmmm. What have I wrought?

I do think discussing what passes as a good meal should be reviewed with any sitter you employ. And questions like “What do you eat?” or “How can I stock the refrigerator to keep you healthy?” or even “How do people feed babies in your country?” (if that question applies) are nice things to ask sitters (you might even soak up helpful wisdom).


I employed sitters three days a week when my sons were young. Two women over a period of five years came into the house while I wrote at home. And I treated both of them like queens. Maybe too much so. But I was so grateful, and they returned the love. There was only one time when I thought the whole love-your-nanny-thing was lopsided: I once found myself rushing out to buy a surprise going-away cake for the sitter who was returning to Guatemala for a month’s vacation on the tax refund she received from our on-the-books wages. Where was she as I made the mad dash to buy cake for her going-away party?

Taking care of my kids, of course.

Got any good stories about food, babysitters and love?

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Stacey-Robin H. Johnson

posted September 29, 2006 at 3:53 pm

The reality of the class divide is that NOONE will care for your children as you will. If you truly to ensure that your children eat as you wish them eat, then be prepared to be around to feed them. The other alternative is to accept that the occasional Happy Meal, chicken nugget and mystery-meat hotdog will rear its ugly head in your absence. There’s definitely a trade off. Aside from what children eat in the care of babysitters, the more important issue is how they are treated and cared for. There are enough baby-abusing Wack-a-doos around to warrant purchase of a nanny-cam.

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Sarah Ehrlich

posted September 10, 2007 at 12:32 pm

I trained my nanny to only cook organic healthy food for my son. However if your nanny like my nanny didn’t read the 5,000 books and articles that we have read on diet, health and nutrition it will be an ongoing process of training. For instance, I only allow my son to have low-sodium chicken or turkey hot dogs. However, my husband occassionally likes a real hotdog right off the grill. So my nanny cooked my son a regular hotdog the other day. She doesn’t get that a child shouldn’t have a 500mg of sodium, garbage dog.
Her daughter who has a child the same age as mine gives her cola. I think the bottom line is with the extreme cultural differences between you and your nanny you need to train train train.

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