Why A Mom Feeding Her Child McDonald's Caused An Uproar Online

A mom feeding her kid McDonald's? That doesn't sound very interesting or remotely strange. You probably had your mom get you some Mickey Dee's when you were a kid. What could possibly be so bad about a mother and her child eating some McDonald's together?

According to Mumsnet, a United Kingdom-based parenting forum, a user named "Benji4Ever" posted about a particular experience she had with her 18-month-year old at a local McDonald's. According to her, she takes her two children (an 18-month-old and a 3-year-old) to swim classes twice every month. After classes, the mother takes her children to McDonald's for lunch. While there, the 3-year-old orders a Happy Meal and gets "chips" (the U.K. term for fries) with it. The mother decides to feed her 18-month-old some fries, only to receive a judgmental look from another mother at the restaurant. The question raised is this: Was this mother right to feed her 18-month-old fries from McDonald's?

Newsweek notes the two sides of the debate: One side believes that the mother did nothing wrong, while the other believes that feeding the child fast food at that stage was too unhealthy. While both sides make fair and reasonable points, is one side truly correct, or is the answer based on one's personal beliefs in health and nutrition?

Is feeding McDonald's to an 18-month-old safe?

While the mother certainly meant no harm to her child, the idea that young children should be exposed to junk food is a concerning issue. According to Healthychildren.org, the first two years of a child's life are when food preferences begin to form, and the child learns from their environment and the parent's habits. If a child is exposed to large amounts of unhealthy foods such as processed sugar or fast food early in life, they will gravitate to these options more as they mature.

The argument on why the mother was wrong also notes that children, including her 3-year-old, shouldn't even be eating McDonald's anyway due to the highly processed food and the amounts of salt and sugar. While this is a practical standpoint, it's incorrect to assume that McDonald's and other fast food places are the only places where a baby could get health issues. For example, some baby food brands can contain toxic metals or be filled with sugars, sodium, and saturated fat. Jennifer Harris, a leader of a research team at the University of Connecticut who studies food marketing for children and how it affects their health, says, "You wouldn't give your toddler Cheetos, but you would give them Gerber puffs, which are basically the same thing" (via The Washington Post).

Ultimately, it's up to the parents to ensure that their children can enjoy a healthy and balanced nutritional lifestyle.