First Monday Menu March: Adapting for Children

This month’s menu is from the May 1939 issue of Woman’s Day. I know that it is a little earlier than I usually write about, but I have been looking at how the magazine changed from it’s early issues to the war-time ones. I think it is also worth looking at how people lived both in the years leading to the United States’ involvement in WWII and the years immediately following so we can compare that to life during the war years.

This set of menus followed an article that explained current guidelines for feeding children. The magazine assumed that children under five would have special meals prepared for them, but by the ages of five to eight, the children could eat an adapted meal based on the adult menu. They also included a sidebar with a smaller menu that consisted of only foods children would or should eat, but the magazine did not recommend this due to the limited food selection for adults.

I am including the weekly menu with adaptations for five to eight year olds. I find the changes interesting. I have two children that fall in the age range and I am not sure I agree with some of the things they switch. These menus also seem to have a lot of food compared to the way my family usually eats now, something else that I want to explore in a future post. If you scroll down, there are a few of the recipes for you to try as well.

4 thoughts

  1. The changes are similar to ones I have seen in books on raising children in the tropics. I don’t know what the American school of child nutrition was at the time but in the tropics the idea was bland = nutritious and easy to digest. So plain potatoes instead of potato salad which would be made with mayonnaise, plain fruit as pastry was thought to be too rich but an emphasis on milk.

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    1. It’s fascinating to me how much these ideas change. I wonder what children thought about the bland foods? Did they look longingly at their parents’ potato salad and pastries? My kids love spicy foods, but they have been raised on them. Maybe since the kids raised on bland foods didn’t know any different, they would have been fine with it? I’ll have to do some more research on this topic.


      1. The idea was to gradually introduce children to their parents’ food and of course since society was different at the time, I don’t think the child’s opinion was asked for! In the tropics, the idea was that children would have trouble digesting the heavy food their parents were accustomed to, so they were given blander, easier to digest foods with a heavy emphasis on milk, fruits and vegetables, steamed fish and grilled meats when they were old enough for them and had the teeth to chew them. They would be accustomed to spices and spicier food in a gradual process of time. You might find “The Management of Children in India” by Edward A. Birch interesting to read as it goes into detail regarding the weaning process.
        Mothercraft in the Tropics by Kennie Macpherson was written in 1947 and goes into even greater detail regarding a child’s diet and complete meal plans for children for an entire week, up to the age of 5. I have not found an online source for this book, but I could send you some scans if you are interested.
        I did use Mothercraft in the Tropics when I lived in Sri Lanka where my son was born. Although outdated, the book gave me, a new mother raising a baby in the tropics and since we were living far away from Colombo without electricity some excellent advice regarding planning a baby’s day, dressing a baby and feeding a baby in a very hot climate!

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      2. I have been thinking about how different it must have been to raise a baby in the tropics than where I live. It’s very hot here a good chunk of the year, but incredibly dry and dusty. Currently we are dealing with sand storms and horrible winds. I’m going to look for a copy of that book. I think it would be interesting to read about what people did differently in that kind of an environment.


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