Whether you are on the go, packing snacks for a playgroup or lunch; toddlers tend to gravitate to foods that are brightly colored, bite-sized, and that they can easily grab onto and place into their little mouths. Naturally, most parents today reach for pre-packed toddler-focused snacks, cereal bars, desserts, juice and meals when it comes to their little ones; with the underlining thought that these foods will not only satisfy their child’s appetite, but also nutritional needs. Well, we may all want to re-think this idea, as a recent study has revealed that these foods contain high amounts of sodium and sugar.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) approximately 72 per cent of toddler dinners that they reviewed, had more than 210 milligrams of sodium per single serving. On average these meals contain between 100 milligrams to 950 milligrams. According to health experts, the daily sodium intake for toddlers should not exceed 1,500 milligrams. Furthermore 32 percent of toddler-focused dinners, along with pre-packaged snacks and juices had additional sugars added, with 35 percent of the calories within these foods coming from sugar. The CDCP study reviewed sodium and sugar quantities in 1,074 infant and toddler dinners, snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts.
Unfortunately, high sodium and sugar intake can affect a child’s health as they grow into adults. Excessive sodium can cause high blood pressure, osteoporosis, respiratory illnesses like asthma, stomach cancer, and obesity. Alternatively while high amounts of sugar can affect a young one’s immune system, cause tooth decay, weight issues, and increase their risk of Type 2 diabetes.
So what can parents do to ensure their children are eating healthy and enjoying meals? First and foremost, reading labels at the grocery store before purchasing items can really help a parent iron out nutritional contents. Secondly, creating homemade alternatives to theses pre-packaged toddler foods. If your little one enjoys eating those sugary candies, simply freeze their favorite fruits into bite-sized snacks to munch on. If they love the individual dinner options; make a meal from scratch, using bow-tie pasta, macaroni, or cut-up spaghetti. Not only will your toddlers be eating a healthy balanced diet, you will also set them up for proper nutritional eating habits they will take with them in adulthood.