Quick background: my mother is my daycare for my eight month old daughter. She doesn't work and my father passed away when I was young so this arrangement works out for us financially and emotionally (no caregiver will love my daughter as much as grandma).
Tonight I found my mom feeding my daughter graham crackers. The only reason I even have them in the house is because my mother isn't paleo and I'm not trying to force it on her. However, I have made my desires about my daughter's nutrition VERY clear: breastmilk, protein, fruit/veg. That's it. I do all the babyfood prep over the weekend and she sees the time and effort I put into it. So this incident really just felt like a slap in the face. What would you say to her? This sort of thing has happened before except she was giving my daughter juice as a four month old and I tried to explain about the sugar and insulin but everything is in one ear and out the other... I don't want this to be a battle of wills and I don't want her to continue to hide things like this, I just need her to respect my wishes. Because I also don't want to resort to putting my child in a daycare that serves USDA snacks...
She wants to give the kid a treat. Explain to Grandma that that's ok, but they have to be the treats you specify. "Mom, I love you, but I want my daughter to have the best start possible, and that means no grains. If you want to give her a treat, feed her __" and list what you would like her to have.
I would continue to buy things for you Mom that she likes that are not on your diet, but I would not buy the graham crackers anymore. Don't say anything else, just don't bring them in the house. If she says something about it, say you'll buy them if she agrees not to give them to your daughter. Doing it this way may make her realize that, Oh, she really DOESN'T want the baby to have these foods, and you aren't shoving her face in it. She probably thinks graham crackers are healthy and that they were OK.
Grandma thinks she is doing a small thing, no harm, so don't blow it out of proportion. Just let her know, firmly and without anger, that it's important to you that your child is raised this way. Your relationship with your mother is also important, and you don't want to damage that.
Personally, I wouldn't do anything beyond just making sure you aren't providing foods you don't want fed to your daughter. I wouldn't worry too much about a little exposure to grain in an 8 month old, certainly not ideal, but the "exposed too early" allergy concept seems to be unraveling if that is what was worrying you.
I go round and round with this whole concept of "correct eating" and how it pertains to children in my head because I have a little guy of my own.
I think I've finally decided on my course of action. First and foremost, trying to foster an environment where food isn't an emotional trigger. Kids can definitely sense the tension when you are shooting laser beams out of your eyes at someone for giving them a piece of candy or crackers. They might not remember the incident, but they will have an emotional imprint of the event, and having the imprint of lots of situations like that is going pave the path for either orthorexia, rebellion, or just free floating guilt. I guess I'm more worried about giving my kid a complex than whether he eats a grilled cheese sandwich or a cookie every so often.
The basis for my laissez-faire attitude about this is mostly because of the quick turnarounds I have seen when people start eating well, even after a lifetime of junk food. I will do my best to fortify him and build his body with quality building blocks when he is in my care, but unless he develops a strong allergy to something, no food is verboten. I want him to learn for himself which fuel works best for his body. Eating junk and then feeling yucky just opens the door for a conversation about why we eat the way we do.
I may not say anything, but make it a point that she sees me take the rest of the crackers straight to the garbage. Hopefully its a full box too.
I'd not worry too much about it. I know that you want the best possible diet for your daughter, and I applaud you, but unless your mum is feeding her LOADS of this stuff, all the time, I wouldn't risk your relationship with her (or your daughter's relationship with her!) over a wee bit of non-compliance.
Perhaps you could start by helping your mum realise how ancestral eating will lengthen HER life too. You want her around as long as possible I'm sure. (I lost both my parents too early, 68 and 76, both to avoidable cancer. ) If she learns how it'll help HER, then she'll be MORE than willing to apply it in her grand-daughter's life!
Perhaps get her top read this: http://www.robbwolf.com/healthybaby/
PS: Your daughter's going to eat crap all by herself eventually, now and then. She'll drink beer and eat a Twinkie or two as well.
If they're in your house, throw them out. If you feel you must have graham crackers or the like, make them yourself from coconut or almond flour and put them in a jar. When gradma looks for them and finds the ones you've made, those are the ones your daughter will wind up eating - well unless she buys them and brings them with her.
I'm in a similar situation. My mother is my daughter's daycare, but the difference is that my mother actually runs a daycare out of her home. I'm getting free daycare for my daughter out of it.
My mom has been amazed at my improvements. I got my mom to adopt a bunch of the paleo ideas, she lost some weight but stalled out. Her diabetes seriously diminished but her high blood pressure remained. She got disenchanted with it. I wish there was a Paleo-friendly doc I could send her to to get her advice from the "pro" that she might listen too rather than me, her well-red son.
Still, my mother has a pantry stocked with crackers and snacks for all of the daycare kids. She doesn't know any alternative to providing snacks but the cracks.
I grew up in the home with the daycare kids running around, and I heard all sorts of griping when a parent came in with some whacked-out request that overturned her routine and made lunchtime preparation utter hell because that one child had different needs. For this reason she rarely accepted kids with special nutrition requirements. I don't want to be that parent.
My daughter has developed scaly eczema on her legs and arms, I think my only solution is to bring my mother snacks I approve. Otherwise, my free daycare ride is just going to be a source of family strife.
My parents aren't my boys daycare/nursery school, but they spend a lot of time with my 3.5 year-old sons and often have them alone for a few hours at a time. No one else could love my kids as much as they do, but my mom also gives my boys snacks and meals I don't approve of. The thing is, my mom is very concerned about nutrition and fitness. She just has spent 70 years of her life believing fat was bad and bread was good and that's so hard to change. She doesn't give my boys crap by most people's standards -- she feeds them things like scrambled eggs with fruit and whole wheat toast. Very nutritious by most American's standards. When I started transitioning my boys to a Paleo Diet, I talked to her a lot about why I was doing it and what I didn't want them eating anymore but she doesn't believe I need to be that strict with the Paleo for the boys. She strongly believes that more meat, veggies and fruit is a good thing -- but she can't stand seeing them eat loads of butter or fat on their meat. And she doesn't see why they can't have a piece of toast now and then.
I had to compromise a lot at the beginning and am still compromising. It just wasn't worth jeopardizing our relationship for. We are slowly finding our way toward a whole foods "Paleo-inspired" diet, but we eat together at least three meals a week and it's extremely hard to keep your kids from eating crackers in their chili when Papa puts half a box in his. My boys used to eat like Grandma and Papa and they don't understand why Grandma gets a roll with lunch and they don't. It's just too hard to fight that and the hurt feelings with the kids and the grandparents are not worth it.
When the boys are with me only they eat Paleo. When my parents come to my house for dinner - we all eat Paleo (with Dairy). When my kids are with my grandparents they eat "our compromise diet." She still won't give them a lot of fat, but she's willing to feed them mostly meat, eggs, dairy, and veggies, although they still are going to get beans, rice, potatoes or bread. At first she was still feeding them a lot of bread -- now it's one or two pieces. It's getting better. But even today, we were out for lunch as a family and we all got the salad bar--lots of fruit, meat, and veggies. Then my dad got a bowl of the corn chowder and at least 10 packs of saltine crackers which of course my boys begged for. My Dad said he was saving one pack for each of them but "they'd have to ask mom." Okay, that's better than two months ago when he would have just given them the crackers, but if I had said no, I would have had to leave the lunch with two crying and screaming boys. I chose not to do that, but it's a hard balance. My dad loves crackers. He will probably continue to eat crackers in front of my boys and they are too young to understand why we eat differently than Papa. For me, I think we are doing well to have slow progress. It's so much better now than three months ago and I keep working at slowly converting my parents.
The bottom line is my relationship and my boys' relationships with my parents are more important than Paleo nutrition. I am slowly working to convert them or to at least have them feed the boys rice or corn instead of bread. Small victories--that's what I'm going for here! If it takes a few years, then so be it. We're learning and growing and taking things slowly.
I have inlaws who feed my children junk. I have accepted that I cannot stop them. I can choose whether they watch my children, but once I have made that decision, I have to understand that I have only limited control over what happens.
If it were my home, I'd get rid of all foods that weren't ok with me, I'd let my mom know my wishes, and then, if she continued to feed my child foods that I didn't want, I would have to decide whether I could accept her continuing to watch my child. Unfortunately, we have to make compromises every day, and if she's taking care of my child with great love and care, I'd probably let the occasional dietary non paleo treat go.
But you'll have to make your own choices.
I'm in the exact opposite situation - my stepdaughter and her 2-year-old son are living with us temporarily, and she keeps bringing crap into the house because she "can't live without sugar." She feeds him a horrendous diet - he eats almost nothing but fruit (mostly bananas), crackers, cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sweetened low fat yogurt, cereal and carries a (large) sippy cup of flavored milk with him ALL DAY. It drives me and my husband absolutely bugshit.
As for you, I agree with Graciel - since your mother lives with you and you purchase groceries just for her consumption, stop buying things that an 8-month-old can consume - i.e. graham crackers and fruit juice. If your she comments on their absence, you can explain that you REALLY do not want your daughter eating them, and your mother has enough other snacks of her own. If, when your daughter is two, your mother gives her unapproved snacks and encourages her to hide that from you, then it WILL be time to find a new caregiver. She's your child, and your wishes should prevail.
I think for your part, realizing that your mom wants to do the normal spoiling of her grandchild might be key to understanding why she's giving your daughter what we consider crap. Your mom may not consider fruit a treat, so she doesn't see how you or your daughter could actually consider it as such. Offering acceptable treats/snacks in place of SAD foods will give her more options. Sure, paleo "treats" are still treats, but it'll be better than graham crackers.
Best of all, she won't have to hide these treats from you and you can avoid her teaching your daughter to keep secrets from you.
If you're doing the buying, only buy things you find acceptable for your daughter to eat. Maybe instead of graham crackers or cookies, buy/make some "paleo substitute" snacks, like Paleonola or paleo granola bars or something like that...a quick treat your mom can grab and enjoy with your daughter. You might even have a few things with dark chocolate, as that makes it even more of a "treat" in most people's minds but it won't have the wheat/gluten and other processed ingredients.
Here are some ideas to get you started: