CHOICE have investigated over 80 packaged baby and toddler snacks and found big name brands are offering significantly smaller amounts of fruit and vegetables than you might expect from their product names.
CHOICE writes, in one example, Rafferty’s Garden Yoghurt Buttons are 93.5% yoghurt, but sugar is the third ingredient in this yoghurt, resulting in a product that’s more than 60% sugars!
CHOICE collected nutrition and ingredient information from more than 80 baby and toddler snack products and asked three experts – accredited practising dietitians Laura Ryan and Joan Breakey, and nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton to review the details.
Overall the experts were NOT impressed with the offering.
CHOICE noted Heinz Little Kids Wholegrain Cereal Bars Apple & Blueberry and Rafferty’s Garden Fruit Snack Bar Apple, for example, have more than 40% total sugars. (For comparison, popular mainstream snack bars Kellogg’s K-Time Baked Twists Raspberry & Apple are 35.6% sugar). Fruit ingredients contribute to this total, but sugar and glucose also feature high up in the ingredients list of both.
“Young children do not require excessively sweet foods and promoting consumption of these foods will only encourage a taste for sweet foods and can be hazardous for young teeth,” says dietitian Laura Ryan.
“Naturally sweetened with fruit ingredients” claims the packaging of Heinz Little Kids Fruit & Chia Shredz, but the product is 35% apple juice concentrate – and a small 18g serve contains the equivalent of more than three teaspoons of sugar.
Little Bellies Mini Gingerbread Men are “sweetened only with grape juice”, but grape juice concentrate – aka sugar – makes up 29% of the product.
“I wouldn’t recommend any product with added sugar, salt or fruit juice concentrates or fruit juice,” says nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton.
“Babies (and all children) need to eat more fruits, vegetables, wholegrains – as real foods, not as puffs, bars and snack foods that bear little resemblance either in appearance or consumption to anything that actually they would recognise as a basic food,” says Stanton.
Ryan encourages parents to consider snacks as ‘mini’ meals, and offer a selection of foods from all food groups. “Keep it simple and easy,” she says. “Children do not need fancy products to enjoy what they eat.”
For a simple, nutritious snack for babies and toddlers, CHOICE experts suggest the following:
•Fresh fruit pieces (offer a variety of colours and types)
•Veggie sticks (offer a variety of colours and types)
•Wholemeal bread or toast fingers with a nut spread (allergies permitting)
•Plain yoghurt or cheese pieces
•Boiled eggs, cold cooked meats, baked beans
•Plain rice cakes, corn thins, wholemeal mini pikelets with grated vegies, cooked pasta pieces, dry cereal pieces
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