And What about Sugar?
Let’s talk about SUGAR!
With Easter being around the corner, the question around sugar and its consumption is likely to become the number 1 topic this week. So let’s sit for a minute and debunk this sugar question together.
A sweet start
Let’s start from the very beginning: when should my baby try sugar (or more accurately sweet) for the first time?
We often hear the same debate over and over again about which flavor to start with, fruits or veggies? A lot of people believe that starting with fruit will create a sweet tooth so it’s safer to start with veggies.
Well guess what? BREAKING NEWS: Breast milk and formula are both very sweet so it is likely that baby has already been exposed to sweet flavor. Also, it is 100% natural for humans to be drawn to sweets and exposing a baby to sweet flavor early won’t artificially create a need for it.
So what should you do, you may ask? Well what really matters is to expose your baby to a wide variety of foods early and often. In other words, if you start with let’s say banana, maybe offer broccoli or zucchini next, instead of sweet potato or apple. and don’t hesitate to alternate flavors!
When it comes to introducing ADDED sugar, we recommend avoiding it entirely when your baby is between 6 and 12 month of age and consider waiting until your baby is 24 month old +. However, note that the goal is for your baby to have a healthy relationship with food so don’t make it a big deal if you introduce it early as long as it is not an everyday thing.
Is sugar BAD? (And should I give it to my baby?)
Let’s just start by saying there’s no such thing as “GOOD” or “BAD” when it comes to food. There’s only food that makes you feel different. And different food might affect people differently. It is really a question of quantity, as well as identifying the best alternative possible. Eating too much sugar is not good for anyone. But in children, it is especially important to watch their sugar’s consumption because too much sugar can cause:
Added sugar does not have a lot of nutritional benefits and a high consumption of it will prevent children from eating foods that will actually support their needs.
So what should I do?
A few things to keep in mind when you are giving sugar to your baby:
- Avoid using sweets and candies as a reward. It might present the candy or sweet itself as a must have food and create struggles later in life.
- Provide alternatives! For Easter for example, you can create fun bunny veggie pancakes or an “Easter Garden” with dip and veggies. Or you can look into other activities as proposed in this Sugar-free Easter basket Ideas list.
- Be mindful of hidden sugars in all packaged foods, especially in ‘kids foods’ like boxed cereals, flavored yogurts, rusks/puffs, commercial fruit gummies, and granola bars.
- Encourage mindful eating and encourage your kids to listen to how eating certain food makes them FEEL: “Eating candy feels good but eating too much can hurt your tummy”.
- Babies should not be offered any sugar sweetened beverages and try to hold off introducing them for as long as possible.
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