Sometimes pouches of ready made baby food are a lifesaver. Those times you go away for a weekend and don’t know what the kitchens will be like. Or the time you’re at a friends house but your baby is hungry for their dinner.
Giving a pouch of ready made food to your baby to eat in moderation is completely fine, but recent research showed that many of these baby foods are high in sugar, and more than they advertise!
We wrote about this a few years ago when a baby weaning class attendee asked us a question and we were surprised by the analysis.
A recent report by the Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health (RCPCH) investigated the content of baby food and recommends:
The Government should develop mandatory guidelines on the free sugar content of infant foods for under 2s to encourage reformulation of baby food, including commercial weaning foods, supporting greater exposure of babies to a wider range of tastes, rather than predominantly sweet flavours.
Public Health England analysed the content of 1,120 baby food and drink products and found many of them had more sugar than advertised on the packet.
This is worrying because about one in five children aged two to four years are overweight or obese, and 12% of three-year-olds have visible tooth decay.
We need to do something about our sugar consumption as a nation, and small changes you make at home will help.
Does baby food contain sugar?
The report highlighted snack foods make up one third of the baby food market, and two thirds of the snacks were sweet.
Many commercial baby snacks were higher in salt and sugar than they should be, and were often sweetened with fruit juice so they can be labelled sugar free.
However our body treats all sugars the same. So foods sweetened with fruit juice will still cause tooth decay, and may contribute to obesity when eaten in excess.
How much sugar can my baby have?
The advice is sugar should be no more than 5% of daily total energy intake for those aged two and over. For babies this should be less. It’s a tiny amount.
The report criticised manufacturers who advertise fruit juice drinks to the under 12 month market, because the advice is to only give them water, or milk. There are also lots of products that advertise food for the 4 month old baby, and the NHS advise is to wait to start weaning until around 6 months.
Baby Weaning Top Tips – Avoiding Sugars
- Making your own baby food at home is preferable, this will be fresher and you know exactly what’s gone into it
- Offer bitter foods as well as fruits, give broccoli, spinach and other green foods
- Don’t allow your baby to suck from a pouch of ready made food as this can allow over eating (as they drink it in so quickly they may eat more than needed)
- Check packets of prepared baby food to see ingredients and sugar quantities
- Don’t give your baby fruit juice – water and milk are enough (cow’s milk shouldn’t be given as a drink to babies under 12 months).
Anna is our registered Nutritional Therapist specialising in Baby Weaning and Children’s Health. Click the Book Now button to attend a weaning class in Bristol, or book a Skype consultation to find out how to start your baby on solids to create a healthy foundation for eating.
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