Category Archives: Toddler Nutrition

Our addictions to salt and sugar may start with baby food has been advocating for better childhood nutrition for quite some time. We’ve watched as commercially prepared baby food extended to include commercially prepared toddler food. Snacks for babies and toddlers increasingly include packaged products from our grocery stores. It’s a tough situation for parents as their schedules become busier and busier. In a two-parent working household, these products save time, which is the most precious commodity for any busy family in 2015. But it may come with a high price.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the majority of pre-packaged meals and snacks for toddlers in the US contain high levels of salt or sugar, which researchers say could be putting children’s health at risk.

Study leader Mary Cogswell, of the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and her team used a 2012 US nutrient database to analyze the sodium and sugar content of 1,074 commercial foods for infants and toddlers.

Within their analysis, they included pre-packaged dinners – such as macaroni cheese and mini hot dogs – snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts.

Their findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, revealed that 72% of the pre-packaged toddler meals assessed were high in sodium, containing an average of 361 milligrams (mg) per serving.

According to recommendations set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), toddlers should consume no more than 210 mg of sodium per food serving, meaning that the pre-packaged toddler meals analyzed in this study contained sodium at levels almost 1.5 times higher.

IOM recommendations for school foods also state that children should consume no more than 35% of calories from sugar in each food portion.

However, the researchers found that dry fruit-based snacks included in the study contained an average of 60 g of sugar per portion, meaning around 66% of calories were coming from sugar. Sugar made up an average of 47% of calories among mixed grains and fruit and accounted for more than 35% of calories in dairy-based desserts.

At least one added sugar – including glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose – was found in around 32% of pre-packaged infant and toddler meals, as well as the majority of dry-based fruit snacks, cereal/breakfast bars and pastries, desserts and fruit juices.

While around 7 out of 10 meals for toddlers contained too much sodium, the researchers found most foods for infants were low in sodium – only two of the 657 infant foods contained sodium at levels higher than 140 mg per serving.

It is estimated that 79% of children aged 1-3 years in the US consume sodium at levels higher than the recommended 1,500 mg per day, which can increase the risk of high blood pressure – a risk factor for heart attackand stroke. Approximately 1 in 6 children in the US have high blood pressure.

In addition, a 2009 study from the American Heart Association found that the average child aged 1-3 years consumes around 12 teaspoons of sugar each day, while recommendations from the organization state that children this age should consume no more than 3-4 teaspoons of sugar each day.

As well as high blood pressure, excess sugar and salt intake can increase the risk of obesity. In the US, more than a third of children and adolescents are obese.

As such, Cogswell and her team say the high sodium or sugar content of infant and toddler foods assessed in their study are worrying:

“Commercial toddler foods and infant or toddler snacks, desserts and juice drinks are of potential concern due to sodium or sugar content. Pediatricians should advise parents to look carefully at labels when selecting commercial toddler foods and to limit salty snacks, sweet desserts and juice drinks.”

The researchers add that excess intake of foods high in sugar and salt early in life may cause children to develop a preference for such foods later in life, increasing their risk of obesity and related diseases. Limiting the intake of these foods for infants and toddlers, however, may reduce this risk.

So what are busy parents supposed to do? Great advice is given right here. Read labels as carefully as you can. Take note of sodium and sugar levels in the products you buy for your children. And whenever you have time, make food for your children in your own kitchen. Before baby and toddler food ever existed in the grocery store, parents did exactly that. And toddlers can and should be eating whatever you are in smaller amounts and smaller pieces. Let’s do our best to make sure that our kids grow up without demanding additional salt and sugar in their diets because they’ve been over-exposed from the time they were first introduced to foods. They’ll be happier and healthier in the long run!

A new strategy for nutritional awareness in children knows that most of us find ourselves sounding just like our parents with our own children at the dinner table. “Eat your vegetables!” It’s the admonition most heard at dinner time, much to the chagrin of millions of children. We painstakingly prepare vegetables in manners we think will make them more palatable for kids, trying our hardest to get them used to the flavors we know are so important for their health and well-being.

So what’s the deal, anyway? Thinking back on it, we probably weren’t the best vegetable-eaters ourselves when we were children. Now we think they can be delicious components of meals, or even meals themselves! Perhaps our own nutritional awareness expanded (as well as our taste buds) as we grew older.

Now there’s new research that suggests that teaching children nutritional awareness may actually help them develop an appreciation for healthy foods earlier. Coming out of Stanford University and published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the research began by hypothesizing that preschoolers would be capable of understanding a more conceptual idea of nutrition.

Based on the idea that young children have a natural curiosity and desire to understand why and how things work, the researchers developed five storybooks that simplified various nutrition-related themes. These included dietary variety, digestion, food categories, microscopic nutrients and nutrients as fuel for biological functions.

The researchers assigned some preschool classrooms to read nutrition books during snack time for about 3 months, while other classrooms were assigned to conduct snack time as usual. Later, the preschoolers were asked questions about nutrition.

The children who had been read the nutrition books were more likely to understand that food had nutrients, and that different kinds of nutrients were important for various bodily functions (even functions that weren’t mentioned in the books). They were also more knowledgeable about digestive processes, understanding, for example, that the stomach breaks down food and blood carries nutrients.

These children also more than doubled their voluntary intake of vegetables during snack time after the three-month intervention, whereas the amount that the control group ate stayed about the same.

When the conceptual program was pitted against a more conventional teaching strategy focused on the enjoyment of healthy eating and trying new foods, the results showed that both interventions led to increased vegetable consumption. Yet, the children in the conceptual program showed more knowledge about nutrition and a greater overall increase in vegetable consumption.

Subsequent research is needed to confirm whether nutritional interventions like these can encourage healthy eating habits in children over the long-term, but the researchers are confident that these results show promise. knows that our children are smart, small humans. They grow increasingly smarter over the generations. We also believe strongly that nutritional awareness is the key to our population’s successful adaptation to healthier lifestyle habits. Teaching our young children the concepts of healthy eating at their own level may have more beneficial effects than simply telling them to eat their vegetables at every meal. And we’ll be empowering them for making a lifetime of healthy eating choices!

The Power of Salt is always interested in the latest information available to us regarding the alarming levels of sodium in our food supply. We devote a lot of blog space and Facebook posts to revealing that information and highlighting those products which contain far too much sodium and why we should all be so concerned.

There’s some interesting new information coming from the Institute of Medicine that is saying that there is really no reason to limit sodium to under 1500 milligrams per day. This is the current recommended daily intake for healthy adults. They went further and cited a level of 2300 milligrams as the acceptable limit. Unfortunately, Americans are consuming an average of 3400 milligrams of sodium every day – and the majority of that isn’t coming from a salt shaker. Instead it’s coming from processed foods.

The American Heart Association has no intention of changing the current recommendation for daily sodium consumption. In fact, they find many problems with this new information from the Institute of Medicine. We tend to agree. And we don’t want to forget a basic premise that really can’t be argued. The more salt we consume, the more salt we want. We crave it.

And that seems to be the logical conclusion for why manufacturers put so much of it in processed foods. It seems to keep us coming back for more. It appears that even babies can become addicted to the taste of salt. According to the National Institute of Health, babies who are exposed early to starchy, salty foods develop a preference for the salty taste by as early as six months old. Those babies exposed to salt consumed 55 percent more than their unexposed peers. The preference has been shown to last into the preschool years. These findings indicate the significant role of early dietary experiences in shaping taste preferences that last into childhood and could potentially influence taste preferences in adults. Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide points out some very disturbing sodium levels in products designed specifically for the youngest generations, effectively “hooking” the youngest among us on salty flavors before they’re old enough to know what they are. For adults, it’s been found that people who lower their sodium intake for just two or three months experience a significant decrease in salt cravings.

While studies on salt do tend to be conflicting in terms of safe levels of consumption, we do have enough information to understand clearly that high levels of sodium are a contributing factor for many chronic health conditions and can be dangerous to our well-being. We can also clearly understand that salt is pretty addictive – and that addiction seems to originate in our taste buds. It’s something that even babies and toddlers are vulnerable too. will continue with the concept that fresh food is the best food. The sodium levels that we find so disturbing aren’t coming from our home kitchens … they’re coming from processed foods that are much too prevalent in our pantries. The healthiest thing we can do for ourselves and our children is prepare foods at home, with the fresh ingredients we know and understand and the sodium levels we can gauge correctly for ourselves.

Carrageenan … it’s not seaweed and it is controversial, especially for babies has been receiving multiple emails requesting more information regarding the controversial ingredient, Carrageenan. We thought it would be a worthy blog post to provide some further information as to why this ingredient is something so many people in our community make a conscientious effort to avoid.

So what exactly is Carrageenan and why is it controversial? A few weeks ago, we featured Carrageenan on our Facebook page and reviewed products carrying the ingredient. One of our posters commented that Carrageenan “is just seaweed.” Actually it’s not just seaweed and we’d like to start with that clarification.

Carrageenans are a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from seaweed via a chemical solvent. Carrageenan has thickening and gelatin like qualities and is also a food stabilizer. In addition to its use as a food additive, it’s a key ingredient in the de-icing solutions used on airplanes, as well as cosmetics, pesticides, and room fresheners. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?

Carrageenan is linked to gastrointestinal disorders as well as certain cancers. It can also be a source of hidden MSG. It’s important for all of us to remember that there are certain food ingredients that contain free glutamic acids that aren’t Monosodium Glutamate, but act just like MSG when consumed.

Most concerning, however, has been the use of Carrageenan in infant formulas and baby and toddler food products. A 2007 joint FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)/WHO (World Health Organization) committee stated that “based on information available, it is inadvisable to use carrageenan or processed eucheuma seaweed in infant formulas.” While Carrageenan is “generally recognized as safe” in the US due to the very small amounts generally included in products, when it is included in formula, the infant tends to consume much more and is therefore at risk for negative health consequences, such as GI ulceration and intestinal inflammation. Carrageenan is banned for use in formula in the EU. Sadly, in the U.S., Carrageenan is a fairly common ingredient in infant formulas and toddler nutrition beverages.

If you haven’t already done so, you may want to update your membership profile to include Carrageenan on your avoid list for ingredients. If you don’t yet have a membership, you may want to sign up, so that you can begin tracking the ingredients you’d like to avoid in your diet. Membership is completely free and you’ll be able to see which products contain the controversial ingredients that most concern you. has also made it much easier for parents of babies and toddlers to keep track of those products on our grocery shelves contain ingredients that we’d like to keep out of the diets of the youngest among us. Our new Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide lists every baby and toddler product we have in our database with complete information on nutritional content, allergens and controversial ingredients, including Carrageenan. Click here to view our new Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide … it really simplifies food choices for new parents!


Packaged toddler meals contain unhealthy sodium levels for little ones has a wealth of information in our database regarding baby and toddler foods. We’ve kept track of these closely because of our strong beliefs in avoiding controversial ingredients and unhealthy, unbalanced nutritional content in foods. When it comes to baby and toddler foods, consumers need to be especially vigilant. That’s why we’ve recently published our own Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide. wants to share our knowledge of these products with parents everywhere. Today we found a new study that speaks directly to our concerns about packaged toddler foods.

It appears that almost 75 percent of these foods are high in sodium. In this first-ever study looking at the sodium content in baby and toddler foods available here in the U.S., researchers compared sodium content per serving of over 1,000 baby and toddler food products. The data was compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Baby food was defined as any product intended for children under one year old and toddler food was defined as any product intended for children between the ages of one and three.

Any product containing a sodium level of more than 210 mg of sodium per serving was categorized as high in sodium. It was noted that toddler meals had significantly higher sodium levels than baby foods. Some toddler meals contained as much as 630 mg of sodium per serving. That’s about 40 percent of the 1500 mg recommended limit.

Understanding that consuming excess amounts of sodium is linked to high blood pressure, it’s quite concerning that these levels exist in readily available foods for toddlers on our grocery store shelves. It raises questions regarding the early development of high blood pressure, as well as predisposing children to a preference for salty foods that can lead to high blood pressure later in life. It’s generally felt that keeping sodium levels low in an infant’s and toddler’s diet, the less that child will be likely to look for salty foods as they grow.

The study emphasizes the importance of parents and caregivers paying close attention to nutrition labels in order to choose the healthiest foods for their children.

While is a proponent of feeding toddlers the foods you prepare yourself from scratch in your own kitchen, we realize that many parents rely on packaged foods for their little ones. The sodium levels found in this study are not good for young children. It’s important to find the toddler foods in the grocery store whose nutrition labels read differently in order to protect the future health of children everywhere. And don’t forget about the ingredient lists, either. It’s our responsibility as parents and caregivers to provide the healthiest start in life for our children. releases first-ever Baby Nutrition Guide … detailed information on nutrition facts and ingredient content for hundreds of baby and toddler foods and beverages for new parents! has been hard at work compiling informative, educational and detailed content for new parents concerned about the nutrition of their growing families. Here, you’ll find the important information you need to give you baby the healthiest possible start in life, as well as the content that will continue to help you maintain the health of your child during the all-important toddler years.

Our Baby Nutrition Guide brings you all the nutrition content information from the database organized by product category for everything from infant formulas, to baby and toddler snacks to toddler meals … and much, much more. The information is presented in an easy-to-follow format, giving you a straightforward, identifiable grade for each product, as well as complete nutrition content, possible allergens like Peanuts, Eggs, Wheat, Shellfish, Dairy, Soy, Fish, Tree Nuts, Corn, Gluten, Sulfites and Nightshades that you need to be aware, as well as controversial items contained in product ingredient lists like MSG, Free Glutamates, Flavorings, Artificial Colors, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Sweeteners, Palm Olein Oil, Carrageenan and much more!

Our grocery aisles are lined with products designed for your baby. Just like products designed for other food consumers, there are some choices out there that might not meet the standards you’ve set for your family. The Baby Nutrition Guide was designed for the food-conscious consumer to help them make the decision-making process for brands and food categories for the newest additions to their families a more comfortable, confident experience.

Whether you have a new addition on the way, or your new baby is already in your arms, or you have a toddler exploring the world, the Baby Nutrition Guide was created to take the guess work out of providing the healthiest nutrition choices possible. It’s a book you’ll want to keep on hand as your baby grows and develops. is thrilled to be able to offer this first-ever Baby Nutrition Guide to you and your family. It would also make a great gift for parents-to-be in your own network who are concerned about baby and toddler nutrition.

We hope you’ll take a look: