Feb 11, 2015

How Much Sugar is in That? Feeding our Infants and Toddlers

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger: Robin Slawnyk - owner of Crunchy Goddess

What is low in nutrients but high in sugar?
The answer might shock you:
Pre-Packaged Baby and Toddler Foods.

Sugar is lurking everywhere! It is added to everything to “enhance” flavor, but it's now showing up in places that it doesn't belong. When you make green beans for dinner, do you serve it in a sugar sauce? You do if you're serving it from a jar! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the majority of pre-packaged meals and snacks for toddlers contain high levels of salt or sugar.

Baby food has an alarming amount of sugar. Consuming this much sugar at a young age is setting these sweet little ones up for a lifetime of battling things like sugar addiction, obesity, diabetes, and many other diseases. It's scary and it needs to stop! 

The average American baby consumes over 350 jars of baby food in their first year of life. With a modest average of 9 grams of sugar per jar, they are consuming 3,150 grams of sugar in a 6-9 month time frame. That is equal to 111 ounces, or almost 7 pounds of sugar.  It's mind-blowing. Why is this happening? And that's not accounting for the foods eaten in addition to baby food – such as yogurt melts, puffs, crackers and teething cookies.

There is almost equal amounts of sugar per tbsp of puffs as there are chocolate chips!

The average toddler (ages one to three) consumes about 12 teaspoons of sugar each day, or about 91 cups a year.  That is over eight (five pound) bags of sugar.  

Let's take a look at these popular pouch foods that are sold everywhere. Parents love them because no spoon or bowl is required, and they seem to be perfect for traveling and eating on the go. These pouches sport 9, 10 and 14 grams of sugar each. Note in the photos below, that your child could consume less sugar by eating 4-8 cookies (depending on which pouch is chosen) and consume LESS sugar than from eating the baby food pouches.


Jarred baby food is not much better! Have you ever wondered why/how baby food stays fresh for so long? Sometimes your jar of baby food is older than your baby! The “food” in these jars has to be heated for a long time at very high temperatures to destroy bacteria during production. This also destroys the nutrients. So basically, the end product is food with no nutritional value – just sugar and calories. (It looks like carrots, smells like carrots – but really it's just carrot flavored sugar and empty calories). Babies bodies are small and they do not require the amount of food intake as older children or adults. They rely on nutritious foods to keep their little bodies healthy. However, when you are feeding a baby jarred baby food – the calories that they really need from nutrition are being given to them instead in the form of sugar.

I looked at about 20 jars of baby food and found the sugar content to be 5g-10g per jar. Some babies eat 2-3 jars per day. This is basically the same as spoon feeding your child teaspoons of sugar outright.

Let's look at sweet potatoes: 

In the first column we have home cooked sweet potatoes, row two and three are baby foods.  What happened to all the nutrition?  
Even if you adjust for serving size, a serious amount of nutrition is lost in these foods.
For easy comparison, the Orchard Blend is a little over half of the serving size of the baked sweet potato. Other values should therefore be a little more than half of the values of the baked sweet potato.
The dietary fiber is 2g (baby food) compared to 7g (baked sweet potato), it should be over 3.5g.  The protein is 1g and should be over 2g, Vitamin A should be almost 400%, although Vitamin C  and Iron were well maintained, the calcium should be 4%.  

Take a look at this nutritional supplement drink designed for older babies and toddlers. It has a whopping 18 grams of sugar in one serving. This is equivalent to eating 8 of the previously mentioned cookies and a serving of chocolate chips, to boot, or an entire package of Reeses Peanut Butter cups.  

Processed food not only loses nutritional value, but then the manufacturers are adding salt and sugar to toddler foods.

Why is this happening? The priority of baby food manufacturers is not your baby’s health, rather their main concern is profits. This is basic company law. “The purpose of a company is to generate profits for its shareholders” (Companies Act 2006)

The bottom line is, the cheaper it's made, the longer it lasts and the “tastier” it is, the more profits for the company.

So, what do we do?

It's time to look within your own kitchen. Making your own baby food is quick, easy and cost efficient! You can cook, steam or use raw fruits and veggies. Make your own blends and even use spices and different flavors! Here is a great recipe book for your reference. You can also very easily and affordably make your own baby food pouches! You can blend up the food using the Baby Bullet, a Ninja or just a traditional Blender. Add a little lemon juice for preservative effect and mix a blend of fruits and vegetables. Pour them into re-usable pouches or disposable food pouches and you are good to go. They will be packed full of more nutrition, and no additives or sugar!

It's also time to speak out! Us parents need to stick together and spread the awareness of the danger lurking around all of our precious children! Don't be green-washed or fooled by labels claiming to be all-natural and organic. Organic might mean there are no artificial chemical ingredients or pesticides, but there is still no nutrition and sugar that your baby just does not need.

Wishing the best for your baby, always!
Robin Slawnyk
Metro Detroit Mommy  Blogger

Robin is a busy Wife and Mom of 4 and owner of Crunchy Goddess and Wonder Box. She considers herself a stay-at-home Mom even though she is a Photographer and Holistic Practitioner working in her community. Robin homeschools her children and leads a very natural and organic lifestyle. You might consider her the "crunchy" one of the group, as her focus will be on the natural products and services available to us and like-minded families. 


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