When preparing meals for babies and toddlers it’s really important to avoid adding unnecessary sugar into foods. Babies just don’t need the extra refined sugar that has become so prevalent in our society and the best way to avoid added sugars is to prepare your own fresh ingredients, that way you know exactly what’s going in. But unless you fully embrace a wholefoods or raw approach to eating, it is hard to completely avoid sugar so don’t be too tough on yourself.
Whilst sugars do play a role in our diet, the reason for avoiding them initially is that our taste buds detect four primary taste qualities: Sweet, Bitter, Salt, Sour.
Sweet is a preference we are born with, even newborns would happily devour sweet food, so in order to balance this natural preference it’s important not to introduce excess sugar into their diet allowing them to experience and learn to enjoy other flavours before coming back to sweet.
Many foods naturally contain sugars so it’s the refined added sugars that you need to avoid.
Your baby or toddler only needs to have fresh natural foods until well over 12 months, with the occasional home baked treat following that.
The benefit of home baking is you can control the amount of sugar you add. Most recipes will not suffer too much if you halve the sugar component.
If you use prepared baby foods make sure that there are no additives and also limit the varieties that rely on the natural sweetness of fruit. You need to ensure a balance of flavour profiles and ingredients, regardless of whether they seem to like it or not.
Remember it can take up to 10 times of presenting a food before your baby may taste it.
When cooking for your baby or toddler the best advice I can give to ensure a healthy and varied diet is to meal plan. Choose 4 or 5 meals to make and rotate throughout the week, do one shop and one cooking session so that you are ready to relax into mealtimes and enjoy being with your child. Planning will also help to avoid getting caught short and falling back on quick-fix solutions that are more likely to have added sugar, and salt. But that’s another topic….