Are You Unknowingly Giving Your Toddler a Sweet Tooth?

Picking up prepackaged food at the grocery store for your little one can make snack- and meal-time so much easier. But a study came out this month that might make you second guess what you find on store shelves. Researchers looked at packaged food that’s geared towards toddlers including dinners, cereal bars and fruit snacks. They found that many of them are high in sodium and added sugar.

The reason this study is so concerning to medical experts is that the amount of sodium children have in their diets is directly connected to how likely they are to have high blood pressure as grown-ups (a health condition that causes heart disease). Meanwhile too much added sugar can lead to weight gain, tooth decay and other health problems.

So what’s a parent to do? The most important thing is to start looking at labels. Not all packaged foods are guilty of being high in sugar and sodium, so do some digging and see how your kids’ favorites rank. Toddlers (one- to three-year-olds) should have around 1,000 milligrams of sodium a day and no more than 1,500 milligrams. When checking the label, aim for food that has less than 210 milligrams of sodium per serving. As for sugar, the guidelines for kids is that only five to 15 percent of their total calories should come from the sweet stuff. Sugar is tricky though–it can show up on the ingredient list as corn syrup, malt syrup, fructose sweetener, honey, molasses, crystal dextrose, dextrin and more, so read the labels carefully.

If you’d rather go the DIY route and make healthy snacks yourself, check out these blogs. They are loaded with great ideas for kid-friendly food as well as advice on how to avoid giving your children sugary beverages:

This blog post is part of #MIKidsCan, an initiative created by Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan to promote positive change in the health and well-being of Michigan youth. To learn more about the campaign, visit http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/mikidscan

 

Photo credit: ThreeIfByBike

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