Are you weaning and want to avoid giving your child a sweet tooth?
Here’s our guide to helping your little one love those savouries!
At a glance
- The first food a baby has is milk which is sweet so it's not surprising that they love sweet things
- Get your baby used to eating a variety of savoury and sweet foods right from the start
- Cakes and biscuits are low in nutrients so try healthier snacks like bread sticks or toast fingers
"I've always had a sweet tooth. Chocolate, puddings, cakes, sweets, fizzy drinks you name it, I love them all! Trouble is, my teeth have decayed with years of eating sugary snacks. So how can I make sure my baby doesn't inherit my sugar cravings and ruin her teeth too?"
The first food babies have – milk - is sweet, so it’s not surprising that they love sweet things. They’re a familiar, comforting taste. You can keep going with sweet foods – things like fruit purées are packed full of healthy vitamins and minerals. But it’s important to get your baby used to savoury flavours, too.
"If you only offer your baby sweet fruits you may find they don’t fancy savoury foods when they do taste them,” says Bounty’s Paediatric Dietician, Judy More. “Offering your baby a variety of foods also means they will learn to like savoury foods as well as sweet foods.”
So how can you do this?
The best thing is to start as you mean to go on. It’s hard to change eating habits when they’ve become established, so get your baby used to eating a variety of savoury foods right from the very start of weaning.
When you can offer your baby smooth mashes or purées of fruit or sweetish vegetables like:
- Red Pepper
They will eat more. But make sure you also offer those with more ‘savoury’ flavours like:
These take a little getting used to though, so mix these with potato or sweet potato.
Remember the first time you ate an olive? It probably tasted a bit bitter - but the more you tried them, the tastier they became? And this principle applies to your baby too, when they’re faced with new foods. So keep offering them, and they will eventually learn to enjoy them.
“You may need to offer your baby a new food several times before they accept them,” says Judy More. ‘ the younger they are the quicker they learn to like savoury tastes.
Avoid sweet snacks
High-sugar snacks like rusks, biscuits and cakes are sweet and low in nutrients. So give your baby healthier finger foods, like bread sticks or toast fingers.
Avoid adding sugar to your cooking
If you’re preparing tart fruits like rhubarb or cooking apples, you can use a little bit of sugar to overcome the tartness. For plain yogurt or milk puddings like custard, try mixing them with either puréed, mashed or stewed fruit instead. Steer clear of honey though – it isn’t safe for babies below the age of one.
Check food labels
It’s not only the word ‘sugar’ that you need to watch out for on food labels. On packaging, keep an eye out for the following:
- Fruit juice concentrate
They are forms of sugar. Even foods containing sweeteners can encourage a sweet tooth by making sweet flavours desirable.
Avoid sugary drinks between meals
Sugary drinks including fruit juices, baby juices and baby herbal drinks are a major cause of tooth decay. If given between meals, they can fill your baby up so they aren't hungry at mealtimes. Just offer water as an extra drink so that your baby learns to like the taste of water.