I found this article quite relevant based on recent experiences on a trip to the Motherland…
In Australia, where we live, parents are often well-informed (sometimes obsessively so!) about the nutritional content of kiddie food. Most parents I know don’t stuff their children full of sugar/ salt/ additives, preferring them to eat au naturel as much as possible
Hong Kong on the other hand is totally different. You sit down at a cafe or restaurant and within 2 seconds there is a plate of sweet biscuits placed within your child’s reach. Kids habitually snack on sweets, chips, sugary breads and other processed and packaged foods.
A conversation I had with my Mum’s hairdresser really summed it up for me:
Lady: AEIYAAA, your baby so cute! Can I give him sweeties? (Well, at least she asked…!)
Me: No thanks, we don’t feed him sweets.
Lady: AEIYAAA, no sweets? How about lollies then?
Me (er, aren’t sweets and lollies the same?): No thanks.
Lady: NO LOLLIES? OK, maybe just some chips then?
Me: No thank you.
Lady: NO LOLLIES AND NO CHIPS? What can he eat then?
Me: Well, we’re not super restrictive, but whatever’s healthy for us, is generally healthy for him.
Lady: AEIYAAA, not much choice then.
Anyway, the article I was referring to was recently published in Pediatrics – researchers examined the nutrition labels of over 1000 commercial foods marketed for infants or toddlers in the U.S. in 2012 (although I suspect the findings could be extrapolated to most developed nations).
- Salt: most infant foods are low in salt whereas most toddler foods are HIGH in salt;
- Sugar: most infant foods do not contain added sugar however most toddler foods have ADDED or HIGH sugars;
- For the toddler foods, these included dinners, fruit/ vegetable-based snacks, and cereal bars.
They conclude (wait for it)… “Paediatricians should advise parents to look carefully at labels when selecting commercial toddler foods and to limit salty snacks, sweet desserts, and juice drinks.”
Let’s not even get into the fact that this information can be given by a maternal-child-health nurse or general practitioner… The conclusion is pretty common sense.
But if baby food is made without all that crap, then why is toddler food exempt from the same control? Hellooo? Legislation?
Cogswell ME, Gunn JP, Yuan K, Park S, Merritt R. Sodium and Sugar in Complementary Infant and Toddler Foods Sold in the United States. Pediatrics. 2015 Feb 2. pii: peds.2014-3251. PubMed abstract.