Many kids will take a bowl of candy or cookies over a bowl of broccoli. It’s not just because gummy worms taste better, but it is also essential for their survival. Babies and children are generally born preferring natural sweet tastes.
This sense of sweetness attracts them to their mother’s milk and food that is rich in carbohydrates and nutrients, essential to growing.
Pediatricians understand why adults give children food that tastes good. The concern among nutritionists is how much.
A new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, published by Elsevier, found that nearly two-thirds of infants (61 percent) and almost all toddlers (98 percent) consumed added sugars in their average daily diets, primarily in the form of flavored yogurts (infants) and fruit drinks (toddlers). Infants were 6-11 months, and toddlers were 12-23 months.
The problem with this research is that it goes against health experts’ recommendations.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the earlier a baby is introduced to added sugars, the more likely they will prefer and choose sweet foods into childhood and throughout life. This puts kids at risk for tooth decay, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease among other chronic health conditions.
If you are confused about what a young child should be eating, here are a list of suggestions offered p by a panel of experts working along side the American Heart Association.
- Infants six months and younger need only breast milk or infant formula.
- Avoid giving children younger than twelve months fruit juice, even 100% fruit juice.
- Avoid giving children younger than two years old added sugar.
- Children six months to a year old can and should begin drinking a small amount of plain water once solid foods are introduced into the diet. This helps children get used to the taste of water.
- Begin adding whole milk with plain water between 12 and 24 months. Unsweetened and fortified soy milk is an option for kids who are allergic to cow milk or lactose intolerant. At this point small pieces of real fruit are healthier than fruit juice.
If you still have questions work with your pediatrician to make sure your children are getting the vitamins they need. The bottom line, newborns to five-year-old do not need added sugar. Doctors recommend parents read all food labels for signs of artificial sugar. The goal is to help shape healthy preferences for childhood and life.
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