What is sugar’s role in your child’s diet?

Sugar : A boon or a curse? As addictive and delicious sugary foods are, lets fact it; they are THE MOST HARMFUL to health in the long term. Knowing how bad additional sugar can be, which mother would resist shielding her child from this universally accepted disease magnet? We know you would want to do everything in your power to make sure that your baby gets only the foods that help them grow into healthy big boys/girls. 

So let’s get back to basics, shall we?

What is sugar ? And why is it an IMPORTANT part of everyone’s daily diet?

Sugar is a form of carbohydrate and provides our body with kilojoules (energy). It is a naturally occurring substance in many foods such as fruit, honey, vegetables, legumes and milk and is also added to many processed foods to improve taste and texture. No matter what form it takes – raw, white, brown etc., all sugar provides the same energy per gram and no significant amounts of vitamins and minerals.


Apart from fibre, sugar has no more calories than any other ingredient. Sugar has four calories per gram, which compares to protein (four calories), alcohol (seven calories) and fat (nine calories). 

So products with ‘reduced sugars’ or ‘no added sugars’ will only have fewer calories overall when compared to the original product, if the sugar is replaced with other ingredients containing fewer amounts of calories. This is something to check because it is not always the case – for example, if a manufacturer reduces the amount of sugar in a biscuit or cake the product still contains fat. This can often result in fat then making up a higher proportion of the total product weight. Because fat contains twice as many calories as sugar, the new product containing less sugar could contain more calories per 100g than the original.


The real danger comes from what’s known as ‘added sugar’. This means sugar, most commonly table sugar (the white, powdery stuff), honey and syrups, which is added to food and drinks while they are being made. Some foods in which you might find added sugar are fizzy drinks, chocolate, cake and ketchup. However, added sugar is lurking in all sorts of surprising places so we need to make sure we know how to spot it. 

The high content of sugar in junk food can cause fluctuations in your baby’s blood glucose levels. This makes them edgy, sleepy and irritable throughout the day and leaves them with no motivation to be active. 

Sugar is a major ingredient used in various types of biscuits, apart from imparting a sweet taste it also serves various functional properties in the processing of the biscuit dough. Cookies also have high sugar levels, here glucose or invert syrups are used together with sugar to keep the cookie texture soft and avoid the crisp texture which would be obtained with the use of sucrose alone. Sugar is also used in biscuit cream fillings in the form of icing sugar since the finer particle size gives a smoother mouth feel and a rapid dissolution of the sugar in the mouth. THAT IS A LOT OF SUGAR IN THE MAKING OF EVERY SINGLE BISCUIT.

We have listed some super easy alternatives to give the sugar a tough fight & not compromise of the taste of your baby’s food.

  Instead ofOffer
  Pop, fruit punch and sports drinksWater (try adding lemon, lime, orange, or cucumbers slices or fresh or frozen berries)
  Sweetened milk and yogurt drinksWhite milk or unflavoured soy, rice or almond BeveragesHomemade smoothies made with milk, yogurt and fruit Frog smoothie (spinach and fruit)
  Sugary cereals and   flavoured oatmealPlain cereals such as bran flakes, oat “o” cereal, shredded wheat and plain oatmealAdd sliced banana or berries for sweetness
  Flavoured yogurt, pudding and   ice creamPlain yogurt with whole or pureed fresh or frozen fruit for sweetnessHomemade pudding with less sugar addedLayered yogurt pops
  Cookies, packaged desserts, muffins    and cereal barsHomemade baked goods made with less sugarTry pureed fruit like applesauce, prunes or 100% fruit juice as a sweetener instead of sugarBanana muffins two ways
  Fruit gummies, chews or roll upsFruit with yogurt dipDried fruit like apple, mango or pineapple slices with no added sugarAlmond butter spiced apple
  Canned fruit in syrupCanned fruit in juice or waterFresh or frozen fruit

If you offer your baby any juice, we suggest that you offer 100% juice and give small amounts:

  • 1-6 year olds:  no more than 125-175 mL (4-6 oz) juice per day
  • 7-11 year olds:  no more than 250-375 mL (8-12 oz) juice per day


Added sugars aren’t a necessary nutrient in your baby’s diet. Although small amounts are fine, they can cause serious harm if eaten in large amounts on a regular basis.

The best way to avoid hidden sugars in your baby’s meals is to make them at home so you know exactly what’s in them. 

However, if you need to buy pre-packaged food, make sure you check the label to identify any hidden added sugars, especially when buying foods that are in the alarming sugar amount category.

MKB Team
MomsKnowBest is a fast-growing vibrant community of moms, for moms, by moms. Motherhood is complex fun, fulfilling, grueling, exhausting and very complex. There’s no handbook to it. And let’s face it – moms are put under just too much pressure. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through it alone. We’re here to help you and be your friend and guide through it all. At MomsKnowBest you’ll find a wide variety of resources spanning from parenting hacks, nutrition for kids, fitness tips, shopping lists, must-haves, tips and tricks for busy moms, support articles and much more. Everything here is curated and approved by moms, so you know you’re getting all the helpful stuff. We’re here to empower each other, grow together and have some fun along the way. Are you in?


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