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Toddlers & Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?

Raise your hand if your toddler has a sweet tooth! 🙋🏽‍♀️🙋🏻‍♂️

Everybody? Oh, great - we thought it was just ours!

We all know that too much sugar is bad for health and should be consumed in moderation. This is especially true for toddlers.

But despite your best efforts during weaning, it's pretty much a given that your toddler has a sweet tooth! And let's face it, chocolate, sweet and ice cream can make excellent bribes for toddlers who are prone to tantrums.

But how much harm is sugar actually causing your little one? And what does moderation actually mean? We asked our expert child nutritionist Jenna Hope to get the lockdown on all things sugar and toddlers.

How bad is sugar for toddlers?

 

We don't like to label foods as 'good' and 'bad'. But we recommend avoiding sugary foods and food that contains lots of added sugar.

High intakes of sugar may impact your toddlers concentration, energy, mood and oral health. Your toddler will sleep better, and be healthier and happier overall if they're consuming a balanced diet that's low in added sugar (and the same can be said for adults, too!)

Oral health in particular is an area of concern when it comes to toddlers and sugar consumption, as this can damage the delicate enamel of their teeth. In 2019, Public Health England (PHE) released a report that revealed that around one in four (23%) of 5-year-olds in had tooth decay.

Once their enamel has been damaged, it can't be repaired to it's important to look after their teeth by moderating sugar consumption and brushing their teeth.

It’s important to note that what you feed your child when they’re young can also impact what they eat later on in life.

Can I give my toddler chocolate, sweets or ice cream?

 

It’s important for food not to be off limits to children, as this can make the 'off limits' food even more desirable to your little one.

When it comes to giving your toddler sugar, it’s all about moderation and offering these foods alongside nutrient dense options too. This teaches them that all foods are equal, stops parents from using healthy food as a bribe, and removes the 'hierarchy' of savoury vs dessert. A great way to get into this habit is by offering a piece of fruit every time you offer a piece of chocolate.

But, it's still important to be mindful of how regularly you offer desserts or more sugary foods, and try to offer them no more than once per week.

How much sugar is too much sugar?

 

There’s no official recommendation for children under the age of 4, but added sugar should be limited. This includes chocolate, sweets, sugary drinks and ice cream. But be aware that you don't need to (and shouldn't!) eliminate sugar entirely. Your child will still consume some natural sugar from natural sources such as fruit and dried fruit too, and this is okay and hard to avoid.

Does sugar have a negative impact on the behaviour of toddlers?

 

Studies have shown that high intakes of sugar can cause excessive spikes in energy, which in turn may impact some toddlers behaviour.

This burst of energy can be shortly followed by a drop in blood sugar, which can result in moodiness and overtiredness (which in toddlers, is the worst!)

To avoid this, it's a good idea to moderate the amount of sugar consumed in one go to prevent any drastic spikes in blood sugar levels, and the bad behaviour that is caused by this. 

All Mamamade toddler meals, snacks and desserts are all naturally low-sugar and made with 100% organic, plant-based ingredients. Try your first bundle today.

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