My guy's just starting on solids (8mos) so I will be sending food that I feel comfortable with him eating.
As for sending food with a toddler it would depend on the menu. If I felt comfortable with the food they served then I wouldn't bother. If my kid was attending the daycare I worked at that served sugar-crystals as 'juice' and bought cheap processed foods- then I would definitely be sending food that met my standards.
We're going to start sending food with DS if he's there for lunchtime because the lunch foods at my daycare always have meat in them (we're vegetarian), so he ends up eating canned fruits or veggies for lunch, sometimes with bread or crackers, or the occasional peanut butter sandwich. My daycare is very good about not giving him meat or strawberries (allergic), but they're kind of at a loss as to what to give him when all their foods have meat. I plan on sending veggie sushi, fresh fruits and veggies, pita pockets, that sort of thing.
I definitely will send his lunch with him since I'm a little
about what he eats. But as for snacks, they serve fruit, popcorn, 100% juice-I guess I would rather send his food for snacks as well (it's only a couple days a week). Should I try to send similar snacks to those he's having at daycare? I don't want him to feel left out or wanting what the other kids have. That's the main issue I'm having.
I always send food with my dd (2). We're vegetarian AND live in Texas so they don't have a clue what to give her. My mom says that dd looks spoiled when she has her snacks because all the other kids are having animal crackers or something and she's got hummus and crackers and fruit!
I do try, though to not send anything with peanuts in it. Just in case...
I send food in for my toddler, same age as yours. Our center will provide AM/PM snacks and you can purchase the hot lunch for $3/day (with PBnJ and vegetarian options), but we feel better sending our own food so we know what the ingredients are and where they came from. For instance, if DS has a PBnJ sandwich, it is on sprouted multi-grain, with natural peanut butter and organic fruit spread.
I dropped off DS around AM snack time today and the other kids were getting a chunk of banana and two vanilla wafers. DS was having some organic applesauce and Kashi mighty bites. I don't think they mind getting different food at this age. Plus, there are a few other kids that will always get their own food due to allergies, so I don't think it will be all that uncommon as he grows. My DS does drink the milk provided by the center for AM snack and lunch, but he has water instead of juice in the afternoon.
ETA - I do send in peanut butter & jelly sandwiches once a week. Our center is not peanut free (they do have the PB&J option for their provided lunch as well).
My DS is going to start going to an in-home daycare (run by a friend) in two weeks, and the food issue is going to be a big one. She is insistent that I shouldn't bother with bringing him food because it's part of the cost I'll be paying for him to go there. I was pretty horrified after going over the menu with her though. She said, and this is a direct quote, "Pizza rolls aren't that unhealthy."
: Most of the meals were okay, if not exactly organic and health food. But pizza rolls? And when one of the snacks was listed as "oatmeal cookies" she said they'd probably actually have those Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies. Ack!
So I guess my answer is that, yes, I'm going to be sending food for my DS and having a loooong talk with my friend that she respects our wishes about what he eats while he's there. (She's the type who'd just feed him what she wanted and tell us it won't kill him.)
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