We all want to do the best by our children, making sure they grow up into happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults. A large part of this comes from making sure they eat nutritious meals from a young age – despite the constant requests for sugar-laden naughties! Here are just some of the foods you should never feed your child, in order to give them the best start in life.
Want to avoid your kids getting a sugar rush then the inevitable crash? Keep them away from fizzy drinks. In one 330ml can of cola, there can be as much as 35g of sugar; this equates to seven teaspoons. According to the NHS, children aged between four and six should have no more than 19g of sugar a day; this increases to 24g for seven to ten-year-olds. As well as concerns about obesity and type two diabetes, sugar is no good for their teeth, either.
The tragic story of two-year-old Jacob Jenkins, who died in 2015 after choking on a grape, highlighted just how vigilant parents have to be with their children’s meals and snacks.
Especially with toddlers, it’s important to cut up grapes and other food like cheese, cherry tomatoes and raw vegetables to avoid the possibility of choking. Similarly, it’s best to completely avoid boiled sweets, nuts and seeds, while peanut butter should always be spread thinly on toast or in sandwiches.
3Foods high in bad fats
Just like adults, children need essential fats in their diet from foods like avocado, fish, eggs and milk. This helps them grow and develop. But it’s important to avoid saturated and hydrogenated fats, which come from biscuits, takeaway food, crisps and chocolate amongst others. As well as causing weight gain, these bad fats can eventually lead to raised blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease.
4High sugar breakfast cereals
As the old saying goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day – so it’s important to choose wisely for your children. Giving them a bowl of cereal that’s full of sugar is setting them up for a day of metabolic highs and lows. Familiarise yourself with the nutritional information on the packet and check out the sugar content. For example, Weetabix contains 4.4 grams of sugar per 100g, while Kellogg’s Frosties has 35g – a big difference.
Some parents turn to rice milk if their child is found to be lactose intolerant. But studies have shown that this type of milk can contain high levels of arsenic. This is a naturally-occurring poison which has been linked to cancer, poor brain function in children and a weakened immune system. The NHS advises parents not to give children under five rice milk for this reason; alternatives are soya, oat and coconut milk.
A diet which is high in salt is not good for any of us, but particularly children whose kidneys have not yet developed enough to process it. Too much salt can also cause high blood pressure, osteoporosis and even stomach cancer. When cooking, avoid adding salt to your food, and look at nutritional information on shop-bought products. Children between four and six, for example, should only have 3g of salt a day, rising to 6g for those aged 11 and up.