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Babysittter Quits After Mom Forbids Her From Giving Son 'Processed' After-School Snacks

Photo: ucchie79 / Shutterstock
kid eating a snack

Many parents and childcare workers have differing ideas on what's best when it comes to kids' eating habits. But one mom on Reddit had such strong opinions that it resulted in a major conflict — and some parenting choices that many experts say are simply bad ideas.

The mom forbade the babysitter from giving her son snacks after school, so she quit.

Nutrition is a major concern for lots of parents, and keeping their kids from eating nothing but junk food and sugar all day can be a huge challenge. But this mom has a pretty extreme take on the whole thing. 

In her post, she wrote that she recently found out her 5-year-old son's babysitter "has a bin full of snacks in her car and he gets to pick out whatever he wants when she picks him up from school or practice." That quickly became a problem for this mother.

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The mom was angry about the processed snacks and made a rule that her son was not allowed to eat until dinnertime.

Many parents would appreciate a babysitter making this gesture — out of her own money, no less. This mom was not among them. 

Instead, she was angry that the babysitter had been giving him "chocolate, granola bars, fruit snacks, bags of chips, goldfish and applesauce," calling these foods "processed crap." Even more extreme was the mom's solution to the problem.

When she questioned the babysitter about it, she reported that she'd been providing the snacks because her son was always hungry after school. The mom insisted she stop this, and the babysitter said she'd be happy to do so if the mom packed him a snack instead.

   

   

The mom refused, saying, "I told her it would only be a couple of hours and she can just have him wait until they get home." The babysitter refused to work this way, telling the mom, "She will not be working with a hangry 5-year-old for two to four hours" — a relatable response for anyone who's ever had to manage a "hangry" kid.

Even the mom's husband told her she was being unreasonable, noting that nothing the babysitter fed their boy was that bad. The dad even texted the babysitter offering to reimburse her for the snacks, but the mom refused to relent, so the babysitter quit immediately.

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Parenting and nutrition experts say the mom's extreme approach can be damaging to a child's relationship with food.

Most parents would probably object to their kid being fed cupcakes and chips, but granola bars and Goldfish? Applesauce? "Processed crap" is a pretty extreme way to describe these foods. 

And experts like pediatricians and dietitians say that these kinds of value judgments can result in a negative relationship with food that can lead to issues like poor body image and even eating disorders, the second deadliest form of mental illness according to the Eating Disorders Coalition.

   

   

Experts like Boston Children's Hospital nurse practitioner Sarah Zombek say that how parents talk about this topic is vitally important and that the focus should be on how some foods are nourishing, while others are just enjoyable and tasty.

“There really is no such thing as bad food," Zombek said. Instead, "there are foods that are there for fuel and give us the energy for the day and other foods that do not.” 

Even more important, small children literally need to eat snacks for their developing bodies and brains to properly function.

It turns out that this mom would be better off just letting her kid eat "processed crap" like chocolate than letting him go "hangry" since it's "only a couple hours."

Pediatricians say that children and teens actually need to eat every three to four hours to fuel their growing brains and bodies. This also has a major impact on their cognitive functions, behavior, and mood — as this woman's babysitter knows all too well.

Mom Forbade The Babysitter From Giving Her Son Snacks, So She Quit On The SpotPhoto: Anna Nahabed / Shutterstock.com

And as for the "processed crap" her son likes? Listen up, almond moms: Registered dietitian Elizabeth Davenport would like a word.

She told The New York Times that Goldfish crackers have "all kinds of good nutrients in them," that fruit purees like applesauce are an important way to get small kids to eat produce and that even cookies and milk are a decent snack.

“People say, ‘I don’t want my kids eating empty calories,'" Davenport told the Times, "[but] any guilt parents have about these foods is coming from diet culture." So give the kid his Goldfish already! And maybe call that babysitter and offer her her job back.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.