"I'm worried my child will grow up to be overweight."
The statistics -- childhood obesity has tripled during the past three decades and two thirds of American adults are overweight or obese--say she probably will be unless you take action. Start by serving a healthy breakfast. Research shows that kids who begin the day with something nutritious in their belly have a lower body mass index than those who don't. Limit sugary beverages (including juice), replace sweets with healthy snacks, and encourage proper portion size by plating her meal rather than letting her serve herself, suggests Parents advisor Elisa Zied, R.D., author of Feed Your Family Right. Your child should be active for at least an hour every day, and so should you.
"I'm freaked out by all the chemicals my kid is exposed to in his toys, bottles, and food."
No matter what lengths you go to, you can't shelter your child completely from environmental toxins. But taking these steps will minimize his exposure.
Choose safer plastics. Reduce his exposure to hormone-disrupting bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates by avoiding plastic containers with the numbers 3, 6, or 7 on the bottom. Pick glass or stainless-steel ones instead. Use only baby bottles labeled "BPA-free." And don't let your child play with toys that contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Opt for organic produce. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit consumer watchdog organization in Washington, D.C., encourages splurging for the extra cost when buying the "dirty dozen" of produce apples, bell peppers, blueberries, celery, cherries, imported grapes, kale, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, and strawberries, which have the highest levels of pesticide residue.
Protect him from poisons. To prevent a bug or vermin infestation, focus on eliminating food sources (be sure to sweep up crumbs and store pantry items in sealed containers) and plugging holes with steel wool to prevent the little critters from getting in, says Jerome Paulson, M.D., codirector of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment, in Washington, D.C. If pesticides are unavoidable, stick with natural ones, such as diatomaceous earth for bugs and plain old wooden traps for rodents. Stay away from sprays designed to kill insects or vermin, especially those containing allethrin and carbaryl. These can land on the floor or on toys and wind up in a child's mouth.