Should your one year old be allowed to eat sugar?
Easter wouldn’t be Easter without a visit from the Easter Bunny with some chocolatey treats. But do you allow your toddler to eat Easter Eggs?
The abundance of treats got me and Kate arguing again – should you restrict how much sugar your kid has?
Em: The argument for allowing sugar
The Boy loves a nibble of chocolate, a bit of a biscuit or a lick of ice cream. And don’t we all! We have allowed him to eat a taste or small amount of sugary food since he was about 9 months old.
So why don’t we limit sugar? In one sentence – because we believe that allowing everything in moderation will teach better eating habits in the future. Sugar itself isn’t inherently evil!
One of the biggest misconceptions around sugar is that it makes you hyper. It doesn’t! Scientists have show that neither sucrose (sugar) or aspartame (sweeteners) alter children’s behaviours. Reports of hyperactivity after sugar can be attributed to either artificial colouring or to parents expecting their children to act up after sugar. Even then – the link isn’t certain.
Another misconception is that your child will become a sugar monster to the detriment of eating other foods. Again, in my experience that hasn’t happened. The Boy is as happy eating paella as he is eating cake. In fact this is why we allow The Boy to have sugary treats – I believe that treating sugar as something “naughty” will teach him bad eating habits for the future and might cause him to have an unhealthy relationship with food. If you limit something often kids want it more creating unhealthy eating habits for the future.
All this having been said, please do not think The Boy is stuffing sweets all day long! We allow him to have a small amount of whatever we are eating as part of a balanced diet. In addition we limit any added sugar to food that does not need it – so no sugar or jam in his porridge, we buy no sugar added yoghurts and don’t add sugar to anything we cook. The Boy doesn’t drink any squash or fruit juices. We are also really strict on tooth brushing to protect his teeth.
Kate: The argument for not allowing sugar
Whether to give The Girl sugar or not is something I have considered at length. Growing up, my parents didn’t allow my brothers and I sugar. When I say didn’t allow, I mean they made their own ketchup because Heinz has sugar in it — they were strict! Once I grew up and became independent, when I was offered sugary treats at my friend’s house I had NO BOUNDARIES. To this day I still struggle with not eating the entire share-size-bag of peanut M&M’s. I don’t want The Girl to be like me!
So, what have I decided to do? I intentionally regulate her sugar — I don’t offer her any snacks that have sugar in them, I don’t put sugar in food. But, when we are with friends, if she is offered a biscuit or sugary something I let her have it in moderation – a few bites of a biscuit, but not the whole thing. I will do this until she’s at least 2 years old.
Why? It’s widely recognised that the first five years of a child’s life is a massive period of development mentally, physically and emotionally. Why would I not choose to fuel that development with the best? I cook fresh, whole, organic (when possible) food for her 90% of the time — there has been occasional fish finger and chips at the pub! Risking the chance of her getting used to sweet foods and rejecting others is a chance I don’t want to take. I know Em doesn’t think it’s something that impacts The Boy, but I don’t want to risk it whilst The Girl is growing.
I want to give The Girl an opportunity to learn how to self regulate sugar, but only when she’s old enough to understand that. Self regulation rather than a complete ban, like was recently suggested, is the approach I am taking.
What about you, do you allow your children sugar? Why? Let us know in the comments or on Instagram.