Try to avoid feeding your baby sugary foods to guard against problems when they're older

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Sweet as they are - how to avoid giving your baby a sweet tooth

Babies who are given sweet things to eat or drink are more likely to get a taste for sweet foods than babies who are not. Giving babies food with added sugar can cause these serious problems:

  • It can rot their tiny teeth, and lead to fillings and even lost teeth (drinks with added sugar are particularly bad for babies’ teeth – it’s like giving a baby a lolly to suck on all day).
  • It can put them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers in later life.
  • Giving your baby a sweet tooth also means that they are more likely to keep pestering and crying for sugary things. This makes it difficult to say ‘no’ to but means that your baby learns that crying and pestering will get them what they want.

The right track

It's much easier to get your baby on the right track now than to try and change what they eat later.

Healthy snacks

Instead of:

  • Chocolate bars
  • Sweets
  • Biscuits
  • Cakes
  • Pastries
  • Ice cream
  • Sugared or toffee popcorn
  • Crisps

Try these instead:

  • Canned fruit: toddlers love peach, pear and pineapple slices. Make sure it is in its own juice and not syrup.
  • Fresh fruit: look out for fruit that's in season, it's cheaper!
  • Yoghurt: make sure it's unsweetened, and then add fruit for a delicious snack or pudding.
  • Frozen yoghurt: make sure it's unsweetened.
  • Frozen fruit: defrost slices of fruit and veg.
  • Rice pudding
  • Porridge
  • Bread rolls or toasted bread, bagels, potato cakes or rice cakes.
  • Dry cereal without added sugar.

Sneaky sugars

Some sugars are found in obvious places like fizzy drinks or squash, sweets, cakes, biscuits, pastries and chocolate. But some are found in food and drinks that many people think are healthy, so keep an eye on the sugar content of food and drink you give to the kids.

Foods like rusks, dried fruit, baked beans, some baby food, and drinks like sweetened fruit juice, cordial, milk shakes and flavoured water can actually contain lots of sugar. Unsweetened fruit juice is a healthier option when it's been diluted, but better served with a meal as it's still high in sugar.

Research shows that it's best to give little ones milk (although not cow’s milk as a drink until 12 months) and water to drink, and things like fruit, toast, and rice cakes instead of sugary snacks.

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