Why avoid sugar before age 2? What happens when a child eats too much sugar? What are the recommendations for sugar intake from the most prestigious organizations in the world?
These are some of the questions I was faced with when my first baby started eating solids. And YOU.…do you know the answers to these questions? Keep reading “Why avoid sugar before age 2” to find out more!
I am here to help you by sharing what I learned and some of the challenges I had along the way.
So let’s start with a very basic question….
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Table of Contents
WHAT IS SUGAR?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states: “It comes in many forms, including brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey dextrose, fruit juice concentrates, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, turbinado and ingredients ending in “-ose.
I see many recipes for babies under 2 years old that have honey or maple syrup in the composition. We need to remember that these are forms of SUGAR and must be avoided in the first 2 years of life of the child.
The recipes you will find here on Goldenbearmama.com that are suitable for babies under 2 years old are naturally sweetened with fruit. I mostly use apples, bananas and on some occasion’s raisings and date paste. Dried fruit can be used in moderation in recipes for babies, however, most recipes should not be overly sweet.
Babies are exploring and enjoy all sorts of flavors including sour. Our job as care givers is to offer as much VARIETY as possible. If sugary foods and drinks are offered, it will likely become a preference and the child will start to refuse to eat veggies and other non-sweet preparations.
The AAP also suggests that we should avoid serving foods and drinks with added sugar to children under 2 years of age and to watch out for “hidden” sources of sugar in processed foods like ketchup, baked beans and salad dressing.
The Brazilian Health Ministry, in its 2021 guide for feeding children, also states that sugar should not be offered to children under 2 years of age.
In United Kingdom, the Public Health England (PHE) also advises: “sugar and salt should not be added to foods, the amount and frequency of consumption of sugary foods and drinks should be reduced, and sugary foods (including dried fruit), should not be provided between meals”.
“Fruit and vegetables are recommended first foods for infants and young children. Advice is to start feeding infants with single vegetables and fruits, and vegetables that are less sweet”.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CHILD EATS TOO MUCH SUGAR?
“Eating and drinking too much added sugar puts kids at risk for obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, among other health problems”, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Families should focus on foods and drinks that do not have added sugar, the AAP advises.
CHALLENGES TO ACHIEVE A SUGAR FREE DIET FOR UNDER 2’S.
I faced many challenges trying to offer a sugar free diet to my son until 2 years of age. I can say that it was not easy, but worth it.
I will start by saying that you as a mother, father, care giver, YOU have the right to choose what is best for your child. Unfortunately, it is normal to have family members and even complete strangers offer sugary foods and drinks to little ones without asking for permission.
If you have older children at home, it may be hard to avoid exposure to sweets, candy, sugary drinks etc. However, you can always have an alternative handy so that you can offer to your little one when everyone is having their dessert. Remember that babies will ask for all types of food, if you are eating ice cream and your baby asks for it you can offer an alternative such as a sugar free popsicle or ice cream if at home (see some recipes here), OR fresh fruit.
TIPS TO A SUGAR FREE DIET FOR UNDER 2’S.
Here are some tips to help you in this journey of avoiding added sugar in your child’s diet before their 2nd birthday:
- Offer fruits and water instead of juice. The AAP recommends no more than 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day for children ages 1 through 3 years and no fruit juice to infants under 1 year old.
- When shopping for snacks always read your labels. Prefer offering plain whole yogurt, some children’s yogurt contain sugar. There is a lot of marketing for baby foods, and these are not necessarily the healthiest option for your little ones.
- Avoid offering processed snacks such as cakes and cookies. You can find some easy baby friendly recipes on goldenbearmama.com that require minimum ingredients and you can bake at home on a budget.
- When searching for childcare ask about menu offerings and if they have sugar added to recipes. If possible, use this as a criterion for selection.
- Don’t be afraid to say NO when someone is offering food with sugar or juice to your baby or toddler.
- Watch out for recipes claiming to be baby friendly, if they have honey, syrup, or any form of “hidden” sugars it is NOT suitable for babies under 2 years of age.
I hope that this article was informational, feel free to leave your questions, concerns and comments below. I would love to hear your opinions and experiences on this topic!