03 November 2008

If your baby likes to rip paper and chew it, give her a sheet of nori instead

Seaweed hacks! Brook's suggestion works in the best "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" way:

Give your kids big sheets of nori seaweed when they're at the age to rip up paper and stick it in their mouths. Same ripping and exploration experience, no choking hazard (the seaweed literally melts in their mouths), some phytonutrients get ingested, and they might maintain a taste for sea vegetables. At fifteen, my daughter will still choose to eat a snack of nori!

Amazing. My kids shun eating "leaves" of any kind except seaweed. When wrapped around vegie sushi, they gobble it up. And yet salad is looked upon with scorn. Go figure.

You should be able to find nori in any natural foods or Asian grocery store.

Related: Let them eat seaweed

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Any suggestions for seaweed allergy households?

It does make kind of a horrific mess, though. The nori falls apart when it gets wet and if your kid doesn't actually swallow it, the soggy, smelly black specks get all over. We confine it to the high chair with a bib.

There's also a soy-based paper called mamenori. You can find it in Japanese markets or online. It even comes in different colors!

Jen: Rice paper?

I appreciate the desire to replace the paper with something less dangerous and more healthy, but if the baby doesn't know the difference, won't this just send the message that it is, in fact, ok to eat paper? It sounds very similar to the company that made little gummy candies in the shape of Lego blocks. Fine idea, until the kids end up eating the real blocks because they don't understand the difference.

I echo Duane's comment. You've got to be consistent with the message you send to your child. At the paper-eating-stage you cannot expect them to differentiate between "OK paper" and "no-no paper".

Hmm... I'm Korean and we eat the same stuff (but we call it "gim") all the time. And I've never confused it with paper, probably because of its color, but more likely because my parents never called it paper -- they always called it "gim" -- and I grew up knowing that it's edible food, not paper.

But I do agree, it's a huge mess to eat like this. We cut ours up into credit card-size rectangles, which helps with the mess factor. That, and we keep it limited to the kitchen table. Never on the floor or couch.

I love nori. We give it to the kids too, in small rectangles, and keep it to when they are at the table. They absolutely love it. They beg for it, actually - it's great!

What age can they actually start trying this?? I have a 14 month old. Is that too young??

Just be careful of the high beta carotene content. We gave it to our baby all the time and the pediatrician kept pointing out that we must be giving her a high beta carotene food because her face was orangish. We had no idea what it was until we looked at a US-labeled product (which has nutritional information). The orange tint is harmless but just so you know where it's coming from if it happens

This worked for us in an entirely different way. My daughter hated the taste so much she now doesn't chew paper at all. I thought she might forget about it but it's been 3 months and so far so good.

I would not recommend giving nori to a child because it can get very sticky once it's in their mouth and they can choke on it when trying to swallow it and unlike something chunky you can't expel it with pressure.

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