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Eating Green

From 6 to 12 Months

You're probably getting ready to make the transition to solids, if you haven't started already. If you're not buying organic, don't feel guilty. Most experts agree that parents really don't need to spend money on organic jarred baby food unless they want to. Although the standards for ingredients used in baby food are the same as those for everything else, most major manufacturers voluntarily maintain stricter agricultural and cooking practices. And indeed, numerous tests have shown that the levels of pesticide residue in baby food are consistently lower than government standards. That said, some organic proponents, such as The Environmental Working Group, believe that there are still too many residual toxins in baby food ? even if they are lower than the standards. Feeling whipsawed? Keep in mind that it's perfectly fine to straddle the line, going green in some places and not others. In this case, if your child loves, loves, loves peaches or some other food high on the pesticide chart, you can always just buy that food organic.

There is one exception to all of this: making your own food. If you choose to be your baby's personal chef, it's always best to buy organic. That's because, pound for pound, babies eat and drink more than adults, which means they tend to be exposed to a higher concentration of toxins than we are, says Dr. Greene.

 

From 1 Year to 18 Months

Once your baby graduates to a grown-up diet, you may consider adding a few organic items to his menu some of the time. Organic whole cow's milk or whole-bean soy milk are good places to start ? for exactly the same reasons you might choose them in pregnancy. "Because high-fat whole milk is such a big part of a

toddler's diet and because environmental chemicals are stored in fat, I'd try to buy organic milk when a baby is switched from breast milk or formula," says Swinney. Three other popular organic choices for toddlers are

potatoes, apples, and ketchup, again because kids eat so much of them. Plus, organic ketchup has double the level of antioxidants, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Davis.

Just in case you need to hear it again: Eating green is never an all-or-nothing proposition. Dr. Greene suggests you do a little at a time, and whatever you can afford. Your baby will thrive as long as you aim to feed him a well-balanced healthy diet, free of as many processed foods as possible, organic or not. And preserving the environment for your child is just like politics: Every little vote for the future counts.

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