Doctors and reputed health organizations have advised parents to not feed babies anything other than breast milk or infant formula. This also includes water, which should be introduced strictly after the infant is six months old. But when it comes to complementary feeding after six months, parents are opting for convenience over nutrition inadvertently (and majorly) in the form of readily available baby foods. These baby foods- which claim to be a healthy alternative to home-made meals- contain an excess quantity of sugars, salts and fat.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that nearly 14 percent of two to five-year-olds suffer from obesity. This percentage is higher for African Americans, Hispanics, and low-income Americans. According to another study, childhood obesity in just the United States is estimated to cost $14 billion annually in direct health expenses.
This infant-centric factor is being used as bait by companies manufacturing these foods. High income and less time on hand are indirectly another reason for parents to opt for them instead of homemade baby food. However, these are causing a lot of damage by depriving the infants of the required amount of nutrition. Instant baby foods are instead filling them up with the unwanted sugars and salts, leading them into obesity and similar diseases as they grow up.
As babies grow into toddlers, they require high energy. Failing to provide for that energy during this period will hamper their development significantly. Hence why there's the concern of parents to provide enough supply to get their toddler up and going energetically. Though these foods claim to be healthier, when health investigators delved more profound, they learned that health benefits aren't the reason behind their increased sales. Rather, advertisements are playing a primary role in attracting consumers. There's hardly any nutritional guidance for new parents- who garner what they can from parenting chat rooms, family tradition, and pediatricians. Many of those same pediatricians only had a single class about nutrition during their stint in medical school.
Mary Story, a professor of global health, family medicine and community health at Duke’s Global Health Institute says, “Americans are snackers, and the food industry is always looking for novel ways to market their products and increase demand.”
For a scientific report for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, she and her team found that 29 percent of toddlers' calories were coming from snacks. These same snacks were primarily salty or sweetened processed foods- not healthy fruits and vegetables.
Though The U.s. government's guidelines specify the quantity of daily sugar intake for infants, there aren't many specifications for children between two to 18 years old. Food manufacturers take advantage of the same- according to recent research of 469 baby foods in the U.S., 35 percent contained more than 10 grams of total sugar in a four-ounce serving.
Researchers have also provided us with useful insights. As parents, we need to be careful with everything that goes into our precious tiny tots. There's an increase in the number of breastfed babies, but the food habits of toddlers also need to be monitored carefully. The right choices now will result in long-term benefits for years to come.