How much sugar and sweets should my child have? It’s difficult to say how much sugar is too much, but sweets are essentially unnecessary for the body as they provide few vitamins, minerals or other nutrients.
Most paediatricians recommend not adding sugar or salt to your child’s food in her first year of life.
But it’s normal for your child to prefer sweet flavours, because breastmilk contains milk sugars so it is one of the first flavours your baby will learn to taste. But with all the sweets in the market, it is important that you keep a track of how much sugar your child is having and encourage her to discover a variety of tastes in her food.
Sugar can be addictive and if your child becomes too much of a sweet tooth, she might get into the habit of having more sugar than is good for her. So, it’s a good idea not to make desserts, sweets and mithai a part of your child’s daily diet. If you do want to offer a desert, opt for a healthy option such as a fruit.
Sugars are often also added to drinks. You can offer unsweetened milk and diluted or 100 per cent “no sugar added” fruit juices.
Are there any health effects from having a high sugar intake? On a day to day basis, a high sugar intake may make your child cranky and irritated when the sugar level in her body drops after a few hours of eating sweets.
In the long run, having too much of sugary foods can cause serious problems such as:
- Tooth decay.
- A higher risk of becoming overweight or obese, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers in later life.
- Behaviour problems such as tantrums and persistent pestering. You may also find your child is more likely to keep crying or asking for sugary things once she gets into the habit of eating sweets regularly.
- Some experts also feel that too much sugar makes children hyperactive though this belief is controversial.
What types of sugars are better for my child? White sugar contains what is called ‘naked calories’, it provides energy but has no other nutrients.
Less refined forms of sugar like jaggery (gur) or brown sugar provide the same energy as white sugar but they also contain nutrients and have protective and antioxidant properties. Jaggery has minerals like chromium, magnesium, manganese and zinc. While brown sugar contains chlorine, iron, potassium and sodium.
Organic sugar can be either white sugar or brown sugar and refers to sugar that is derived from raw sugar cane. Organic white sugar doesn’t have any more nutrients than ordinary white sugar.
Some mums also use honey to add more flavour to the food. Honey has several vitamins and minerals including iron. So it is a good choice to sweeten food if your child is over a year old.
What kinds of sweets and desserts should my toddler not eat? It is fine for your child to have sweets and deserts from time to time. But with the large varieties of sweets available, it is good to know which ones are relatively healthier options and which are best avoided.
Here are some treats you should avoid or limit to special occasions only:
Chocolate Though it might be a favourite with your child, chocolate is high in fat and contains a fair amount of caffeine so it is unsuitable for toddlers.
Lollipops and hard sweets Keeping hard sweets in her mouth until they dissolve means that your child’s teeth are exposed to sugars for a long time. This can increase the risk of cavities and lead to tooth decay. Hard sweets can also pose a choking hazard.
Chewy toffees and jelly-based sweets These are the worst of the lot with respect to your toddler’s teeth as they stick to the teeth long after they have been swallowed. Other sticky foods include Karachi halwa, guava jelly and aam papad.
Iced cakes, certain biscuits and doughnuts These are low in nutrients and high in sugar and saturated fat, which may make your baby overweight if she eats them regularly, as well as damage her teeth.
Deep fried mithais soaked in sugar syrupJalebi, imarti, ghevar boondi, gulab jamun and malpua are not only deep fried, they are also soaked in sugar syrup, which makes them extremely unhealthy. They are high both in fat and sugar and offer very little nutrients.
Sugary and flavoured breakfast cereals These are often high in sugars but if they are the only sugary food your child is having in the day, they can fit into a healthy diet. But avoid adding sugar to already sweetened cereals. If you are looking for a healthier alternative, you can offer porridge (dalia), oats cooked in milk, plain cornflakes and (for older children) unsweetened muesli. You could add freshly pureed or chopped fruits for added flavour.
Sweets that are hard to digest Some mithais might have healthy ingredients such as nuts or dried fruit, but if these are coupled with a lot of ghee or heavy khoya, they become high in calories and more difficult for your toddler to digest.
What are good sweet treats for my toddler? There are some sweet dishes that your child will like that also offer some nutrients. But even healthier sweet options are often high in sugar and shouldn’t be given on a daily basis. Some examples of healthier sweet dishes include:
Fresh fruit Every season comes with a few very sweet fruit and these can be given as often as your child wants. Though these might have sugar, they are also packed with vitamins and minerals that are good for your child. You can make several sweet dishes using fruit such as fruit shrikhand or curd sweetened with blended or pureed fruit, fruit smoothies, a tart or pie topped with fruit, mixed fruit salad with mint leaves or custard with mixed fruit.
Kheer There is a large variety of ways to make kheer. You can have rice, vermicelli (sevaiya) or semolina (sooji) kheer and add dried fruit like dates (khajoor), raisins (kishmish) or fig (anjeer) for more nutrition. The milk and dried fruit will provide plenty of nutrition.
Plain cakes or biscuits Though not healthy on their own, these are better alternatives to cake with cream and icing or biscuits with fillings.
Take our pollHow often does your toddler eat sweets? Vote now!
Read more on:
- Your child’s feeding timeline.
- I think my toddler is overweight. What should I do?
- Slideshow: Best and worst drinks for thirst kids.
Last reviewed August 2014
Brownell KD et al (2009) ‘The Public Health and Economic Benefits of Taxing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages’, N Engl J Med. 2009 October 15; 361(16): 1599–1605.
Food and nutrition Board, US. (2002) Dietary reference intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein and amino acids, consensus report. Nayaka MA H et al. (2008). ‘Cytoprotective and antioxidant activity studies of jaggery sugar’, Food Chemistry 115 (2009) 113–118; WHO (2003) Guiding principles for complementary feeding of the breastfed child />
Diet for underweight toddler, baby and kids
How to help my toddler, kid gain weight?
Top foods for weight gain in babies, toddlers and kids
Can I add ghee to baby’s diet for weight gain?
Diet for underweight toddler – Many parents worry about their children being underweight or their failure to thrive. They try to find ways to help weight gain in their children. Find where your child stands using this Growth chart calculator based on WHO standards. Most often it could be unnecessary stress, as kids usually know what they want to eat and when.
However, there can be various reasons for your child not gaining as the kid next door. One very important reason is heredity. If you or your partner or both of you were skinny as kids, it would show its effect on your kid as well. Children after two years of age would gain between 1.5 to 3 kgs per year, so do not expect too much and be hell-bent on making your child roly-poly. If your child has some eating disorder, make sure to discuss it with your tot’s doctor.
Check out diet plans for toddlers here.
Some kids are very active or have high metabolism and do not gain considerable weight despite eating well. One mistake that many parents make is to feed sugary, sweet, fat-laden items to kids in hopes of making them gain weight. This will only reduce her appetite for healthier food and it not a good option. You may introduce extra calories into your child’s regular food in a healthy way without hampering her appetite. Here are some suggestions to introduce more calories to help your child gain weight.
Foods to help weight gain in babies
- Breastmilk is the best balanced and healthy food for baby. It is also rich in fats and helps weight gain. My daughter was a small baby born at 2.7 kilograms. Her doctor suggested breastfeeding frequently and at her 3 months check up, she had caught up and was in the healthy 50 percentile on weight chart.
Check out weight and height chart for babies
Thus breastmilk is the best for your baby’s weight gain and you may continue breastfeeding your child as long as you and your baby wants to.
- Eggs are great for weight gain. You can introduce egg yolk in baby’s diet after 8 months. Doctors advice avoiding egg white till 1 year. If you are not sure how to give egg yolk to baby, check 5 recipes to introduce egg yolk in baby’s diet.
- Khichdi is a wholesome meal of lentils and rice and is great for healthy weight gain. There are plenty of variations of khichdi too. Here are 10 khichdi recipes for babies and toddlers.
- Add potatoes and other starchy vegetables in baby’s diet.
Here is a no salt Pumpkin and potato soup recipe for babies.
Foods for weight gain in Toddlers, kids
- Serve 5-6 meals to toddlers. They are very active and three meals alone are not enough to give all the energy they need. So couple of snack other than the regular meals are important. Follow below options when you are planning diet for underweight toddler
- Serve full fat milk and curd to your child. Do not skim cream out of milk. This extra fat is good for your growing child.
You may milk and curd in your child’s diet in the form of smoothies, milk shakes, lassi or curd rice.
- You could add a little ghee, butter or olive oil to your child’s dal or veggies. Start with just a few drops of ghee in baby’s food and then you may add upto 1-2 teaspoons a day to a toddler’s food.
- You may add cheese to pizzas, pastas and sandwiches. Children love cheese and it helps in weight gain. However, try and take unprocessed cheese as much as possible. Processed cheese has too much salt.
Cheesy pasta for kids
- You may also add paneer to your baby / toddler’s diet. Paneer is very good for weight gain.
- You could also add cream to soups, jam sandwiches, mashed potatoes etc. when you make these for your underweight toddler.
- Make healthy desserts like kheer or carrot halwa with full fat cream.
- Add nuts to your underweight kid’s diet. Almonds and cashew nuts can be added to your child’s cereal. Raisins can be given for snacking. Peanut or coconut chutney can be given with idlis and dosas. However, nuts should be powdered or chopped fine as they can pose choking risk. Read more on how to add nuts to your toddler’s diet.
Almonds are considered very healthy and you might remember how our mothers used to soak almonds overnight and give them early morning.
If you child does not like eating almonds straight like my daughter, make this delicious almond milk powder to kill two birds with one arrow.
- Along with nuts, you may add seeds too to your toddler’s diet. Seeds like sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, flaxseeds etc. are rich in healthy fats as well as fiber and protein.
- You can give peanut butter to your child. Children usually love the toasted peanut taste and it is good for them in limited quantities. You can make your own peanut butter for a healthier and more economical option.
- Avocados are rich in healthy fat and are one of the best sources of vegetarian fat.
5 healthy Avocado recipes for babies, toddlers and kids
- Add eggs and chicken to child’s diet if you are non-vegetarian. Red meat is also great for weight gain.
Jaggery or gur is a trational, non-refined sugar in India and other parts of Asia. It is commonly prepared from sugarcane juice and date palm. It is healthier than refined sugar and used in plenty of traditional recipes. Add organic jaggery to your child’s diet to add some extra calories.
- Not all sweets are bad and you can let your underweight toddler enjoy these sweet treats without any guilt.
4 Healthy sweets for weight gain in kids
- Soy milk or nut milks like almond milk or coconut milk are also great for weight gain in children, specially if your child is allergic to milk.
Homemade soy milk recipe
- Serve variety of food items to make meals enticing for your toddler. Do not keep serving same things every day.
- Add fruits like banana, cheeku and mangoes to your child’s diet. These fruits are naturally rich in calories and are help in weight gain.
- Ragi or nachni is a very nutritious millet and it is advised to be included in diet of babies and toddlers.
3 ways to make ragi prorridge for babies
10 healthy ragi breakfast options for kids
Above all, make mealtimes pleasant and not a power struggle between you and your child. Do not force her to finish everything on the plate. Ensure that your child is not getting all her calories from junk food or juice.
Is juice good for toddlers?
Hope this will help you in planning your baby’s food. If you like it, please share it in your circle. Please leave a comment to ask a question or let us know your feedback. You can follow us on Facebook, twitter and pinterest.
Top 10 foods for weight gain in toddlers
10 tips to encourage children to eat more vegetables
Sample diet plans for toddlers
ShishuWorld TV – Recipes / Home Remedies for babies, Kids Subscribe For New Videos Every Week
Aside from the foods listed on the PDF, you can also incorporate supplements in your child’s diet to increase calories, such as Pediasure, Boost Kids Essentials, or Organic Pediasmart. If your child has a milk allergy, Soy Bright Beginnings and Organic Pediasmart Soy are also available.
I recommend starting with one or two of these supplements per day as the overuse can cause your child to lose interest in eating. I gave my son a pediatric supplement while we worked on increasing his daily calories and eating a wider variety of foods. He had about four ounces of it at snack time because he got more calories from the supplement than from the few crackers or pieces of fruit he would eat.
After reviewing the high calorie food list, here are some additional tips to help you increase your child’s calories:
Make food for the child that needs extra calories without giving it to the whole family. Some ideas to accomplish this are adding extra oil and butter to one serving of pasta, using extra nut butter on your child’s bread, serving whole milk to your underweight child with meals, and adding extra cream and maple syrup to oatmeal.
Purchase small packages and individual servings. This will help you avoid food waste while you’re experimenting with different types of foods.
Young children have smaller tummies and therefore are not able to eat a large volume of food. In this case you will want to choose foods on this list that will have the most calories in a small volume. For example hummus is 25 calories per tablespoon, but cream cheese is 50 calories per tablespoon and peanut butter is 100 calories per tablespoon. Therefore if your child eats only small amounts and you’re looking for a good dip to have with celery, serve it with cream cheese or peanut butter.
Balancing a healthy diet with high calories foods. Many families feel like their child is not eating healthy when calories are increased. There are ways to make the diet balanced by using the foods listed on the high calorie foods PDF. For example, if your family is having grilled chicken for dinner you can offer a high calorie side item with it, such as sweet potato fries and steamed broccoli and melt butter on the portion for the child who needs the extra calories.
If your child has never been diagnosed as being underweight but you are concerned, discuss it with your pediatrician. He or she can review the growth history and determine if there is reason for concern. If it is recommended that your child needs to eats more calories, consider a referral to a registered dietitian.
For more information or to speak to one of our Pediatric Nutrition Specialists, contact our
- Former Member
is that from the sweet poison book?
- NSW, Australia
- Total posts: 2679
ive never heard of it?
this is what i was told at the GPs today
- WA, Australia
- Total posts: 1053
My friend has her DS on a fructose/sucrose free diet – it always seemed like he had diarrhea and was still wearing nappies and having #2 accidents at kindy. Turns out he is intolerant to fructose and sucrose so can’t eat a lot of fruit. I’ll ask her what she was giving him, but I do know he was allowed bananas. Now, they have found out he is also intolerant to diary, wheat, gluten and a couple of other things which I can’t remember but they were over today and had bananas and cupcakes which my friend made.
- Former Member
Sorry to hear she is STILL having issues, poor chicken (and poor mummy!)
page has some guidelines as to what she could/couldn’t eat. It appears to be about fructose intolerance – so is this what the GP suspects is the problem??
Reading through some of the stuff there, I think you’d have to check out everything thoroughly first, but some suggestions I can think of that might be ok for snacks…
Natural yoghurt. (check into flavoured ones (like vanilla) clearly fruit ones are out, but I read that fructose is able to be labelled as “natural flavourings” so would pay to check if that’s true in Aus too!)
Rice cakes or crackers (surely not all crackers contain sugar!)
natural peanut butter
vegetable juices (not tomato) You could freeze them into iceblocks too smile
There is a lot more variety these days in foods, so hopefully you can find things that she can eat. It looks like it will be bloody hard to stick to, especially for a 2 year old, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that this ISN’T the problem (as long as that doesn’t mean it’s something worse!)
- NSW, Australia
- Total posts: 2679
eek just reading those lists of things they can/cant have, there are heaps of vegetables that they cant have! geez…
- NSW, Australia
- Total posts: 2679
thanks for the advice.
my appt with the paed is mid january. i feel bad just not doing anything in the interim. i might just try cutting back her fruit to one piece a day or something and see if it makes a slight improvement as opposed to eliminating it all together if it could be detrimental to her appointment outcome.