With so many foods being marketed to parents of babies, it can be hard to figure out what really is appropriate baby food.
That's why the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (which makes recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture) released its first-ever guidelines for infants and toddlers this week.
The big takeaway: No added sugar is best for little brains.
As CNN reports, apples, bananas and even breastmilk all have natural sugars in them, sugars that are good for babies' development. That's not what the committee is worried about. It is talking about added sugars in products like juices (which babies should not drink) and processed foods.
"Nutritional exposures during the first 1,000 days of life not only contribute to long-term health but also help shape taste preferences and food choices," the report states, adding that parents need to avoid foods and beverages with added sugars during the first 2 years of life," because adding sugars so early can be detrimental to a child's short and long-term health.
"The energy in such products is likely to displace energy from nutrient-dense foods, increasing the risk of nutrient inadequacies," the committee explains, urging parents to serve less sugar.
Research suggests that the average infant consumes a teaspoon of added sugar a day, and toddlers eat about six times as much added sugar.
According to the committee, these "early life nutritional exposures have emerged as an etiological risk factor associated with later-life chronic disease risk."
Parents often don't realize sugar might be served up, but it can sneak into our diets in foods like yogurt and cereal. It can also sneak into the rest of the family's diet.
The committee says about 70% "of added sugars intake comes from five food categories: sweetened beverages, desserts and sweet snacks, coffee and tea (with their additions), candy and sugars, and breakfast cereals and bars."
Bottom line: Babies don't need juice and cookies, and while a sweet coffee is fine for mama once in a while, we all ought to cut back on the refined sugars.
Here are some of our favorite products to make feeding babies and toddlers a little easier:
Leave menu making to the pros. Designed by nutritionists and pediatricians to be rich in nutrients and to support every critical stage during a little one's first 1,000 days, the Intro to Solids Kit from Yumi delivers 16 fresh, no sugar added organic meals directly to your door. They also provide a 15 minute consultation with a registered nutrition coach to answer any of your feeding questions!
Minimalist and sustainable, we love this simple feeding set that comes with a pint-sized sippy cup, ergonomic spoon and bowl with non-slip base.
Babies can manage to have sweet potatoes up to their hairline and still look adorable. But corralling the mess is a fine idea as well. These kerchief style bibs are great for mealtime but also the perfect drool catching teething accessory.
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