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Onyinye Nwanna-Iwuoha: Don’t Give My Child Food From Your Mouth

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I went to visit a good friend of mine last weekend. Her siblings and her mother-in-law were around, so it was a full house. She also has a rambunctious 2 year old; so as you would expect, there was a lot of “don’t touch this”, “come down from there”, “leave that phone” etc.

My friend is one of those people who are very particular about what her son eats and/or drinks. She meticulously prepares his meals and certain things are outlawed in her house. Matter of fact, her son has not, since he was born, tasted any soft drink e.g. coke, fanta etc.

So you can imagine the comical look on her face when her mother-in-law took a bite out of a piece of chicken, chewed it very well, then brought it out and fed her son (sorry to gross you out). While my friend’s jaw was still open, she (mother-in-law) gave the toddler wine from her wine glass.

At that point, my friend stood up from where she sat and told her mother-in-law not to give the child wine or feed him meat straight from her mouth. Her mother-in-law disagreed, and told her that she raised seven children and fed them food from her mouth and none of them died.

I quietly took my leave. But on my way home, I couldn’t get their argument out of my mind. In fact, it made me remember when my nephew was about 10 months old and my sister had this rule that we should not give her son “pure” water. One of our aunts came visiting and after drinking pure water, gave the left over to the baby. She didn’t put it in his cup, nope. Just gave him directly from where she drank. It was World War III that day.

One of my colleagues said that whenever she visits anyone who has children, she always asks the parents if the child is allowed to eat or drink xyz. This is good and true. You ordinarily should not give any child food/drink without the permission of the parents. Who knows, the child may have food allergies.

To show how important this is, some schools do not allow children celebrate birthdays in school. Those that do, will not share cakes and drinks to the children in class. Gifts and food/drinks are packed and given to the parents when they come to pick up their children from school.

We all know that family members are the worst culprits, especially the elderly ones who are self-acclaimed experts on all things children. So, how do you get them to follow your rules?

My cousin used to have this list of food for her children that she pasted on her fridge. It had so many the dos and don’ts and was strictly enforced by both her and her husband. But when her parents and/or in-laws come over, she said they never do what’s on the list. She has complained and complained, and one day her mum told her that “if you don’t give them these foods now, in the future they will eat it. So, you can’t control them forever”.

If making a list doesn’t work, quietly telling them doesn’t work, what then can a mum do to ensure that “well-meaning” family members don’t overstep their boundaries and give her kids food that is not allowed?

Photo Credit: Yunuli123 | Dreamstime.com

Hi, I’m Onyinyechi, a corporate lawyer by day and a budding blogger by night. Outside of law and blogging, I love reading and daydreaming. My blog www.onyixtus.com is a lifestyle blog – light-hearted and entertaining. We talk about everything from lifestyle to practically anything that makes up life as we know it.

18 Comments

  1. Dr.N

    June 1, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Gini ka I na ako ihe a?
    Cheers what and gave who?
    Anyway….
    I was at a school event for my older kids and d 2 year old was sitting by me munching a snack. Said snack fell down and nice grandpa picked it and gave him to continue eating. I gave him a glare but papa refused to respect himself so I slapped d snack out of my son’s hand and turned my back on grandpa
    He won’t be there when we are running about treating diarrhoea
    So no, I am unapologetic about hygiene

    • Dr.N

      June 1, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      *chewed*

    • Authentic Sunshine

      June 1, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      My son has special needs and nut allergy but this right here is absolute arrant nonsense. The world is evolving and shifting emphasis on what’s not really important. Yes inform everyone of your child’s allergy and yes ask nicely that they maintain good hygiene. But is it a valid reason for WWWIII? I don’t think so. Children will always have new experiences. There is only so much you can. Do your best and leave the rest to God.
      I visited my frienld the other day and her daughter had been suffering cattargh for yons. She was flipping using cotton buds and tissues. After I sucked the phlegm from the baby’s skull, gave her a warm bath and eucalyptused her pillow, the baby slept like a baby.

  2. Lliki

    June 1, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    I personally cook the food that my son eat right from when he started eating cooked meal.
    I have never given my son soft drinks or any kind of juice, I have juice making machine at home, so I usually give him homemade juice (I hate those juice that contains preservatives) and I don’t give him ice cream nor popsicle from outside, I prepared everything myself for him (yeah, I’m that cautious with what my son, husband and I put in our stomach).

    Most grandmothers do that, not only Nigerians because I’ve seen Caucasians do it too, my mother in law will take saliva with one of her fingers and use it to straightens the eyebrows of her great granddaughter’s, I feel disgusted by the act; but, hey; she’s not my daughter and her mother doesn’t kicked against it. (They are all Caucasians)

  3. Sisi

    June 1, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    You must always respect a parents wishes for their under aged child regardless of your opinion about the specific issue. I will say though that health conscious parents are one thing – it makes every sense and is entirely reasonable to want to protect your child from ‘bad’ things. Those pedantic OCD parents that want to wrap their child in cotton wool are the ones I pity because aside their immune system shock when real world hits it’s not practical – that’s even how some allergies start from things I have read.

    • BlueEyed

      June 1, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      Thank you @ Sisi, I personally ask the parents before I do anything for their kids (even buying gifts) which is only normal for me.
      But all these overly protectiveness that parents are adopting these days comes with a price. While I agree that it is important to moderate and regulate what your children eat, it won’t hurt if they rolled in the dirt a little, in fact it helps their immune system, I see adults who have illnesses now that they should’ve contracted in their youth and would’ve built their immune system to combat it…..so whilst you own the rights to protect your kids, please allow them to be kids! Ice cream and candy will not kill them if you’re not a negligent parent.

    • LemmeRant

      June 1, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      This made a lot of sense.

  4. Anon

    June 1, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Her mother-in-law is her child’s grandmother and I’m sure she won’t mind her sucking the phlegm out of her grandchild’s nostrils when it is running.

    I agree with the no fizzy drinks because it makes them hyperactive among others.

    We also have to build up children’s immunity by allowing them roll in the dirt a bit (don’t take that literally.)

    It’s like a no win situation where there’s a generational gap.

  5. temi

    June 1, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    How about you keep your child away from me and my food while I’m eating? Problem solved yeah?

  6. Deleke

    June 1, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Our son loves his home cooked meals ehn that even in nursery he does not eat at all. He always takes a bit, tastes it and exclaims YUCK I don’t like it. But would eat the exact same things at home. Maybe cos mommy dashes a lil extra gravy on his mashed potatoes or his grilled chicken is well seasoned and marinated. Who knows sef, picky picky boy

  7. Xplorenollywood.com

    June 1, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I love this article, nice one! Just like you said, i would ask parents before i hand kids anything as i don’t want to be told off, especially since i don’t have mine. However, i have helped raise 5 kids, 2 nieces and 3 nephews! And they ate everything that’s anything. Of course i wont give wine, but having those things stops ‘long throat’ too…

  8. MissB

    June 1, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    As a mum to a young child with multiple food allergies, i cannot stress how important it is to respect the decision and requests of a parent as far as what their child can or cannot eat. In my experience many Nigerians have very little understanding or appreciation of the growing number of kids (yes! Nigerian kids!) with severe allergies and a flippant disregard of parental instructions can have grave consequences. So please; when someone says “my child cannot have x,y,z”…just respect that. You don’t need to understand it and they don’t need to explain why. Afterall, it is their child.

  9. Anonymous

    June 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    There was a time I freaked out over what my son ate but I can’t control him forever, however that being said when you come to my house and ask my Son to bring his cup to have some of whatever drink you are having I just politely tell you he is not allowed. However with my mum the war is tougher ! My Son didn’t even know what sugar was till my mum came to spend some time with us, Ha the struggle was real at some point I gave up o.

  10. Tobe

    June 1, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    It’s important to ask what the child can and can’t eat. I was eating a peanut butter sandwich a few years ago and my then 4 year old nephew said he wanted a sandwich. I made him one and he dug in. The way his face and neck got swollen right before me a short while later, is one of the scariest things I have seen. I had no idea he was allergic to peanuts. I am thankful he only got to take a few bites before he realized the thing he was tasting wasn’t something he was meant to eat, and he threw it down.

    Kids will experience new tastes but please, give them the new taste only with the permission of their parents.

  11. anonymous

    June 1, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Honestly growing up, I used to think having allergies was one tush thing. I swear cos my classmates be like I’m allergic to this, I’m lactose intolerant while in my household, I had never heard of stuff like that. It was simply ‘she doesn’t like fried eggs’

    To the matter at hand, if it’s a grand parent, I’ll tactfully explain the need to be healthy for the safety of the child but as per the chewing meat and handing over to the child, my own mother will do it . I’m so sure she will and if I dare stop her, she’ll go all emotional on me so why can’t my mum-in-law do it.

    May God grant us wisdom and protect our babies

  12. Lols

    June 1, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    I don’t have kids but boy do I stare down pple that ask kids for biscuit after taking it in thr filthy (unwashed hands) say thank you and give it back to the kid!!!!! Or kiss a lil kid that’s not yours on the lips, thank God more pple are noticing this stuff

    • Mama

      June 2, 2017 at 2:47 am

      That kissing on irks me ehn…I don’t even do it with my nephews and nieces. For God sake don’t kiss a child that isn’t yours on the lips, or feed them food from your mouth. Just gross!

  13. hannah

    June 2, 2017 at 10:59 am

    we are only talking about what people give to your children in your presence. how about when they pick stuffs from the floor when you are not observant? some children play in the toilet, lick detergents etc but nothing happens to them. most parents are too overprotective and it doesn’t help the children at the long run. jst do ur little part and leave the rest. #my take#

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