How much have you been worrying about your child choosing junk over vegetables? As parents, we all know that there are certain unhealthy foods for toddlers that we must refrain from giving to our kids. The truth is that no parent gives it voluntarily to their child.
Ask any parent about how tough meal times are when it comes to feeding a toddler. Their favorite food for today may be the one most hated tomorrow. So, parents end up giving what the child wants, just to keep the little one’s tummy filled.
Let us see in detail about the healthy and unhealthy food for kids and what all foods you shouldn’t feed your toddlers.
15 Most Common Unhealthy Foods For Toddlers
There are a few common foods that can be unsafe for babies/toddlers as they are generally unhealthy. Most of the pre-packaged foods are dangerous for kids as they come with huge sugar and sodium content. These contents could be higher than what your little one needs to consume on a day.
It could be tough to constantly keep your baby’s food interesting all the time. Offering some unhealthy snacks for kids once in a while doesn’t make you a bad parent. But the idea is to offer your kids some homemade healthy snacks.
Listed below are the unhealthiest foods for kids that we recommend you to stay away from.
1. Fruit gummies
Prefixing the product name with “fruit” doesn’t make it a healthy one. Fruit gummies are usually made with a lot of sugar content which doesn’t add any nutritional value. This being on one of the unhealthiest food’s lists, we suggest you avoid offering it to your kid as it is made with artificial flavors mostly. Fruit gummies contain only fruit purees and not the real fruit.
Go for real fruit or dry fruits as the ones that come with the ad “made with real fruit” are usually sugar content.
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2. Fruit juice
Don’t be surprised by seeing this on the list of unhealthy foods for kindergartners. Juice is something every kid loves to have and it is also mostly marketed item aiming at the kid’s population.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not to offer fruit juice to kids for less than one year as it has no value-added. Also, offering juice in sippy cups and consuming it throughout the day leads to tooth decay.
It is better to avoid fruit juice for your kid and replace it with milk, water, or homemade fresh juice.
3. Sugary breakfast cereals
Some breakfast cereals are marketed towards kids with different characters, shapes, and flavors making them more attractive. Appearances could be deceptive as these foods are dangerous for toddlers as they come with high levels of sugar.
According to research conducted in 2011, having sugary breakfast content was seen to add no nutritional value to the kids. Rather, kids also enjoyed the low sugar breakfast cereal options when offered.
4. Hot dogs
Hot dogs are one of the foods that are dangerous for toddlers. Being on the list of unhealthy foods for kids, hot dogs and processed meat do not fit in the ideal food or healthy food for kids.
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According to the World Cancer Research Fund, foods such as hot dogs, hams, salami, and bacon aren’t healthy foods and also increase the risk of cancer.
Also, Johns Hopkins Medicines confirms hot dogs as one of the top unhealthy foods for toddlers owing to their choking hazard.
5. Packed macaroni and cheese
Prepacked foods are not healthy for kindergartners. Boxed macaroni and cheese are not only easy to offer but are tasty for kids too. However, it is suggested not to give this regularly to your little one due to the high content of preservatives, sodium, etc.
According to a 2017 New York Times report, it was believed that this boxed macaroni and cheese had phthalate added to it. This was believed to be banned in the country.
We recommend you to make your macaroni and cheese at home using healthy options.
6. Instant noodles
The MSG in instant noodles is considered to be more dangerous for your little one and is on the list of unhealthy foods for toddlers. Instant noodles come with flavors that have more sodium content. Thereby, the salt recommended for a day for your toddler will be met in a single serving by eating these foods.
While noodles are usually coated with preservatives and chemicals to keep them fresh and tasty. Also, the nutritional content is very low in this food.
We suggest you make it healthy by adding vegetables or cheese to make it healthy.
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7. Flavored yogurt
Yes, yogurts are healthy, but only if they are made out of natural ingredients. Eating flavored yogurt every day doesn’t make it a healthy food as they are made out of high sugar and artificial flavors.
Flavored yogurt becomes an unhealthy food for kids as per a study conducted in 2007. It is found to trigger hyperactivity and behavioral issues in kids.
Always opt for plain yogurt or go with the ones with less sugar. You may check the label for the levels.
8. Microwave popcorn
Movie nights are great with popcorn! Though it is easy to prepare, it doesn’t mean it is healthy food. Yes, popcorn comes with less salt and has good fiber content too. But the ready-to-make ones aren’t healthy though.
Popcorn is categorized as unhealthy food for toddlers as the bag used for heating comes with chemicals like per fluorinated which emit components that are unhealthy for kids.
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Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics has categorized popcorn as a choking hazard food and suggests not to give it to kids less than 4.
9. French fries
It is seen that children don’t like to eat a single serving of any vegetable offered to them on a day. However, in 2018, a Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study found French fries to be the most consumed food/vegetable by toddlers.
Undoubtedly, French fries are amongst the unhealthy foods for kindergartners owing to their salt content. However, it is ok to offer them occasionally. Alternatively, you can make them at your home and offer them to your little one with less salt.
Pizza is of course the favorite food for all, even for adults. So how can kids forgo it? We all know that it’s not a healthy option for kids to eat pizza and this was specifically confirmed in a 2015 study.
Kids end up eating more calories with salt and saturated foods by consuming pizza. This is equal to a child eating fast foods. Make your pizza by adding a variety of vegetables and cheese and limiting oil content. Make a side with a healthy ingredients.
11. Potato chips
Potato chips are an all-time favorite snack. Yet this unhealthy food is not recommended much. This looks good and tastes yum! Yes. But the cost of it is your child’s health.
Potato chips contain high saturated fat and sodium content which is not good for your little one. Try giving them baked chips, crispy vegetables instead.
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12. Lollipops/Hard Candies
Lollipops and hard candles are more prone to choking hazards in kids which makes them fall for unhealthy foods for kids. Not only that, but they also have high sugar contents and artificial flavors which are not recommended for kids.
These candles also stick to teeth and cause tooth decay.
You might be surprised to find honey on the unhealthy foods list, but yes, it is. This highly nutritious food can be extremely dangerous for kids who are less than one year old. A toxic bacterium in honey causes infant botulism that leads to immune system problems, muscle weakness, and breathing issues. This is seen to be very prevalent in the US.
It is better to avoid honey for kids below one year. Instead, offer them mashed fruits for a sweetened taste. And yes, do include honey to your kids once he/she is 2 years old.
14. Rice bars and rice cereal
Yet again a surprise in the list of unhealthy foods for toddlers. We know that most kids eat rice or rice-based products. According to the FDA, there is a poisonous content — inorganic arsenic which is present in kids’ rice cereal.
Giving them rice cereal often makes their intake level high which has adverse effects on their learning ability and overall development. You can make your own oats bar or fruit bars or bars made with quinoa.
15. Raw milk
Though it is said and told that raw milk is healthy, it is not recommended to consume raw milk — even for adults. Any unpasteurized milk can be extremely dangerous for anyone. Raw milk contains dangerous bacteria, parasites, and viruses.
It is recommended to feed your baby with pasteurized milk that is sold in its store. The better way is to boil the milk and offer it warm. You can also offer plain yogurts and other dairy products to your little one.
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In our daily lives, we consume a variety of foods. So it is, we offer it to our little ones. But how much do we know if the offered one is healthy or unhealthy food for kids? Unhealthy food usually makes the kids lazy and they don’t contain the necessary nutrients that are required for the toddler’s growth.
We often let children eat whatever they find. As parents, we only think about the moment that they enjoy the food. We must know about the adverse health effects of unhealthy foods for kids and monitor their eating habits.
Children need to have proper nutrition whereas unhealthy foods are nowhere near it. Remember, just like teaching your child good habits, it’s important that they know to choose good and healthy food too.