WHEN trying to wean your baby off breast milk and start them on solids it's hard to know which advice to follow.
The NHS suggests that you should start feeding your baby solid foods, including specialised baby foods, by about six months.
Parents shouldn't worry about how much food their baby eats at this point.
The reason we are actually told to start babies on food so early is so they can get used to the idea and feeling of eating, the NHS website explains.
The very general advice, currently offered by the NHS, is that parents should give their baby a variety of foods, alongside breast or formula milk.
However, a recent survey has revealed that one in ten parents struggle with what to feed their babies to make sure their nutritional needs are met.
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The same survey also found that over half (54 per cent) of parents were confused about how much sugar they should allow in their babies to eat.
Nutritionist, Priya Tew, explains everything parents need to know when it comes to what sort of foods we should be feeling our little ones.
Should I be letting my child eat baby food containing sugar?
There is no hard and fast rule which says that you shouldn’t be feeding your little one sugar.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the UK Government recommends that everyone should avoid sugary food and drinks entirely.
Sugar is not good for dental health, with almost a quarter of five year old children having been found to show signs of tooth decay.
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One of the biggest factors behind this is the sugar in their diet, Priya explains.
“Sugar is not good for trying to install healthy eating habits," Priya says. "Once sugary foods are enjoyed, all other foods taste sour in comparison so are likely to be rejected, leading to fussy eating."
“It’s vital that little ones gain maximum nutrition from every tiny mouthful, especially during the weaning process,” she adds.
How about naturally occurring sugars?
According to Priya, there are two different types of sugars which we come into contact with on a daily basis – these are called “free sugars” and “natural sugars”.
In this case, “free sugars” are the sugars which we want to try to avoid most.
These sugars are often found in what we think of as unhealthy foods and can cause health issues such as tooth decay.
These sugars are often added into a food or drink, such as biscuits, cakes, flavoured yoghurts, some breakfast cereals and cereal bars.
The sugars in fruit juice, smoothies, honey, agave, syrups and sweet nectars are also counted as free sugars.
“These are the sugars to avoid giving your little one as much as possible,” Priya says.
Natural sugars are those found in fruit, vegetables, milk, plain yoghurt, grains, pasta, rice, oats and flour. These are safe for your little one and can be included as part of a balanced diet.
How do I my baby doesn’t eat too much sugar?
Ideally, you aim to keep your little ones sugar intake to as low as possible, Priya says.
A good way to do this is by checking the baby food label.
She suggests you look at the “of which sugars” value — which is the total of both natural sugars and free sugars.
“This means that a fruit puree will look very high in sugar but those are natural sugars,” she explains. “So, you also need to check the ingredients list”.
Look for any added sugars, such as glucose, syrup, honey and of course sugar itself.
“You can compare products for sugar content by looking at the per 100g values, go for the lower sugar options," she adds.
There will always be times when you feel like you could make an exception; maybe at a birthday party when you're both surrounded by cakes and sweets.
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Priya says it's a good idea to take a tasty, but healthy alternative with you to have ready to offer.
“But do not panic if your little one has the odd bit of sugar. What really matters is that your child eats healthily and avoids sugars most of the time,” she explains.
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