Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Are There New Regulations For Home Made Baby Food at Daycare Centers?

From a blog by Tanalicious
By Anonymous Guest Blogger
I always dreamed of being a stay-at-home-mom but that is not how my career choice worked out.  Now, as a working mommy of two children, a four year old and a seven month old, I want to provide and do all I can for my children (like most moms) regardless of the hours I work.  One of my personal desires is to make and provide my own baby food for my children. Other than the 10 jars of organic baby food as “just in case” items in the cupboard, my oldest exclusively ate baby food I made.  I gladly gave those remaining 10 jars to a coworker when they were no longer needed as potential back up. 


Both children enjoy homemade food, the youngest still enjoys the pureed version.  When my oldest was younger, we were fortunate to have a daycare that allowed me to bring in homemade food and even pack him a lunch until he was about 18 months old.  However, at 18 months the tides turned and they have remained turned!

New Rules

From Baby Recipes.com
I was told the facility could no longer allow me to pack a lunch “because other children were wanting his food, and he was grabbing for other kids' food.”  I was very frustrated and thought this kind of assimilation request was a bit ridiculous considering the excuse I was given was something absolutely age appropriate…grabbing.  I would have had no problem with them seating my child a seat away from the other children because heaven forbid a piece of food would end up in the wrong hands.  And of course, I made certain to adhere to the “no peanut” policy, and even went as far as to make foods as similar as possible to what the center was providing; however, my homemade foods were much healthier versions that omitted the over-processed, sugar added, nutrient lacking re-fortified gunk!  My child enjoyed chicken and fish breaded with homemade breadcrumbs from whole wheat bread, ground flax seed, and wheat germ.  Ground dried lentils and beans were also regular additions to foods.  He also enjoyed fresh fruit instead of jarred sugar-added fruits, and fresh vegetables instead of canned salt-added vegetables. 

Recently, I have been fighting a fight that seems to be leading nowhere.  Days prior to starting my then six month old at the same daycare, I was told I would not be able to provide homemade baby food.  Ironically, we are still at the same daycare, the director and assistant director as well as many of the teachers have remained the same during our time with the center, but apparently “regulations” have changed.  However, in my opinion, “desire” has changed. Nevertheless, the center insists that “regulations” have changed. 


So What Has Changed?

From Win and Glue.com
I have looked into the “changed” regulations, which apparently include both the Department of Human Resources (DHR) and the local health department. I have not yet been able to determine what has changed in the past few years to prevent baby #2 from enjoying and being nourished with homemade baby food just the same as baby #1 was allowed to do.  I have read the DHR regulations online; the regulation apparently “Effective January 22, 2001/Reprinted April, 2009” is indeed the same one that was in effect when my first child started day care in May, 2010.  

I find it quite interesting to read the DHR “Minimum Standards For Day Care Centers And Nighttime Centers Regulations And Procedures” that specifically states on page 73 “Formula and foods to be provided by the licensee to infants shall be planned with the infant's parent(s)/guardian(s) or by the child's physician with the parent(s)/guardian(s) knowledge and consent.”  I found this so mind-boggling that I called DHR and talked to the area representative who also talked to her supervisor and confirmed that indeed I am allowed to make and provide the daycare with homemade food to be served to my baby at the center.  They stated they would even get in contact with my daycare to inform them of this right.  After recent discussions with the daycare, I am not sure if this took place or if my daycare is quoting additional regulations from yet another agency or if my daycare is simply taking a stance against this right that I know is indeed supported by DHR. 

Prior to my second child starting at the daycare center, I provided the center with a note from the doctor specifically stating my child is to receive food prepared from home, just like I had done with my first child.  Not even a doctor’s note will suffice this time around as an exception to the apparent daycare rules.How can it be that moms can pump and provide “bodily fluids” (a.k.a. breast milk) to a daycare to be administered to their child, but homemade baby food is not allowed to be administered to their child?  


Whose Requirement Is It?

From Daily Women Talks

Is it DHR?  Is it the health department?  Is it new regulations?  Is it a daycare center that wants to limit additional duties?  Or is it unknown food preparation methods apparently now regulated by ServSafe (that administers a serving food safely certification course)?  Perhaps it is a need for labeling. Do I need to list the ingredients, additives, calorie, fat, protein, carbohydrate, sodium…contents of my homemade food? I am not sure if I am losing my mind, but wouldn't a parent providing food for their child at daycare be the same as a parent providing food for their child in grade school?  Do I need to take a ServSafe certification course to “pack” food for my child as a baby or even as a toddler?  Will this become a requirement for parents who opt to pack school lunches rather than have their child purchase a lunch prepared on the premises? 

In my current situation, the daycare center, DHR, health department, whomever has no idea how I maintain my “bodily fluids” from the time of production to excretion to storage to consumption!  I imagine there is some sort of trust that must be involved in knowing a parent would not do anything to tamper with the integrity of the “fluid”, either from a powder, can, jar, or natural source, to be provided to their child at a daycare.  The same would hold true regarding the integrity of homemade baby food to be provided to their child at a daycare. 


One Mother's Battle

From the blog I Want to Be a Homemaker
My battle is for homemade food to be provided to my baby, but this may easily extend to my desire to also provide a packed lunch during the toddler years.  Unfortunately, with my oldest child, I did back down when at 18 months I was told “you can no longer pack a lunch.” While I thought the “grabbing” excuse was just that, I also felt pleased with the start I was able to provide by introducing my child to whole foods rather than processed foods.  I do think about how I would prefer to pack my oldest a lunch, but I opted to end the battle in hopes of not pushing the issue too much, knowing I would have a second child. I knew I would want her to have the ability to enjoy homemade food and packed lunches just like her older sibling did through 18 months.

My conviction on this food front is not to make food an “issue” but rather to allow parents to have the opportunity to be as involved as they can in whatever areas they desire to be involved in their child’s well being, even when they are in the care of others.  My personal goal regarding foods is simply to introduce my children to the wonders of food and to enjoy a diverse naturally nutritional diet to the best of my ability rather than simply letting them think everything has to have a certain sugar or salt flavor to it.

6/18/2014 Update: DHR has confirmed that they do indeed allow homemade baby food to be brought into a day care facility. However, they were not willingly providing this updated information to all daycares. The daycare in question in this article sought out further clarification in response to this post, and we are thrilled to report that they are letting mamas bring in their own baby food for 6-12 month old babies! 

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