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Babies who are as young as five months old are already being fed junk food, according to a study.

The Daily Mail reports, researchers found children were becoming reliant on sugary and fatty foods before they were even able to chew.

The scientists followed the diets of 1,250 babies, and came across a number of shocking cases – including a baby whose first teeth were black when they came through because they had been fed cola in a bottle.

Lead researcher Professor Pinki Sahota, of Leeds Beckett University, said: ‘Some mums were giving children chips, crisps and sugary drinks at five months old.

‘The fact that children are having this kind of food at such an early age is concerning enough. But parents are establishing bad eating habits for life.’

Researchers looked at the diets of children in Bradford who were aged 12 to 18 months, the Daily Mirror reported.

Professor Sahota explained: ‘Low-educated younger mothers tended to be the worst.

‘A lot of them have not got the cooking skills. Parents are giving kids junk food because they are eating it themselves. Older, more educated parents knew the value of fruit and vegetables.

‘But many teenage mums were filling kids’ plates with chips and crisps seven times a week, or more, by the time they were 18 months.’

She added: ‘There’s a real need for education. Schools have a role, then midwives and local authorities.

‘But they need to be supported by the food industry. They could reformulate some of their high-fat and high-sugar products.’

The WHO (world health organisation) recommends –

  • exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life.
  • introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
  • start at 6 months with small amounts of food and increase gradually as the child gets older.
  • gradually increase food consistency and variety
  • increase the number of times that the child is fed: 2-3 meals per day for infants 6-8 months of age and 3-4 meals per day for infants 9-23 months of age, with 1-2 additional snacks as required
  • use fortified complementary foods or vitamin-mineral supplements as needed

Does this finding surprise you?

Share your comments below.

Image via Shutterstock

  • I don’t understand how people can do this to their children! Is it lack of education or just general laziness?? Makes me furious!

    Reply

  • The internet, local library and health centres are flooded with information on healthy eating for children and have been for many years. There really is no excuse. That picture makes me horrified.

    Reply

  • The survey was done in Bradford – so not surprising – lots of teenage Mums and a very poor area. But then again, it’s not that uncommon here, though (I hope) not to that extent. In food courts it’s not unusual to see a baby (less than 18 months) sucking on a McDonald’s fry. The look of delight on the baby’s face- you can see why the parents do it. Very sad.

    Reply

  • I was initially surprised at this article. I can’t understand how this happens. I was a first time mum starting to feed my child solids about 18 months ago and the information and support available to me through my Maternal Health Nurse and just generally online through the Raising Children Network was fantastic. My local council also had a session which I attended that talked through transitioning to solids. I had all the information and support I needed to make good, educated decisions for my child. I then realised this was not an Australian article. But on second thought I have witnessed a mum on a tray giving creamy soda in a bottle to a child not yet walking (so probably 12-18 months). I have also been aware of immigrant communities giving kids coke because it is cheaper than bottled water (and they don’t trust tap water because it is dangerous in the countries they came from. So I ultimately, despite all the information and support that is out there I think that not everyone chooses to, or knows how to, access these resources. Maybe more needs to be done to ensure that Mums are getting this information.

    Reply

  • Wow cola in a bottle! But in general we need to look beyond blaming individual parents and look at the food manufacturers, advertising, the availablity and price of fresh foods and support for young parents….

    Reply

  • I remember a health nurse tellong me of a young mum she was guiding and suggested to start baby on some solids soon – next visit the mum was pleased to report she had done so – but upon questioning, the health nurse discovered she fed her what she had – mcdonalds (put in a blender to make a puree). The young mum took it that she could puree whatever she ate. Poor baby

    Reply

  • Sadly it doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen all sorts of things in person including parents giving little ones Coke or Pepsi. And I see it on Facebook a lot…some parents think it is cute posting photos with captions like ‘daddy and xxxx sharing a zooper dooper’ when the little one isn’t even one yet!

    Reply

  • It doesnt suprise me, it horrified me.
    You don’t need brilliant cooking skills to feed a baby For goodness sake there are healthy baby pouch foods you can buy for $1.30 cheaper than chips

    Reply

  • I don’t drink Cola at all. Even if I did I wouldn’t even let the baby hold the bottle/can. Irresponsible parenting. I can’t understand parents that allow a little one to hold something, only if it is handed them but not other times. It must confuse a child regardless of whether he/she is 6 months old or 3 years old.

    Reply

  • It doesn’t surprise me but with the amount of information out there on nutrition, how easy it is to find, and cook, there really are no excuses for feeding your child junk food.

    Reply

  • There is no excuse for feeding babies junk food. Healthy, nutritious food is easily prepared at home.

    Reply

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