My husband and I were born with a sweet tooth. We are the kinds you would find with a tub of ice cream on the couch on a weekend. That’s about us, what about our toddler?
When I started the weaning process I was definite there was room for sugar and salt in my baby’s food until he turns a year old. During that period I tried different ingredients to make his food sweet (not because he wouldn’t have had it anyway, only to enhance the flavour and break the monotony of husband meal patterns). After he turned a year old, I gradually began to add salt to food, but wasn’t hesitant to add sugar to his porridge. Why add sugar gene there are healthier substitutes?
Childeren are more likely to get addicted to sugar than adults. That is the reason behind their ice creams, chocolates, candies and milkshakes being loaded with the extra amount of sugar and empty calories. So, how do we curtail the sugar intake for the child? There are little you can do about the food served outdoors, however, at home you can cut down the sugar intake of your child by substituting it.
Jaggery is made of unrefined sugar, it is obtained by boiling raw, concentrated sugar cane until it solidifies. Jaggery is not only better than white sugar but also have several health benefits. It aids digestion, is a natural body detoxifying agent, and is loaded with minerals.
Honey can be added to meals prepared for children above the age of one year. Honey is a significant element used in several ancient medicines and Ayurvedic treatments. It is a cough suppressant, keeps infections related to cold at bay, cures throat irritation and aids sleep in kids.
Early age is a perfect time to begin feeding dates to a baby as they are packed with a plethora of nutrients. Dates not only provide instant energy but also contain essential vitamins and minerals that are much needed for a child’s growth. Some of the health benefits of dates include remedy for gastrointestinal disturbances like ulcers, protection of liver, promotion of dental health, nourishment in fevers, remedy for dysentery and their natural laxative property.
As the name suggests this sweet veggie can be added to other preparations to make it sweet. I liked giving only sweet potatoes to my baby. But they can be added to other veggies or a variety of baked foods. They aren’t just delicious but are loaded with Vitamin A and Vitamin E. This super food also aids digestion and boosts the immunity of a child.
Bananas not only add sweetness to the food but a peculiar flavour to it. They aren’t potassium packed and ready to eat. A mashed banana can be added to porridge, any other fruit, baked dishes and to milk shakes and smoothies.
Carrots are not as sweet as bananas or sweet potatoes, but they add the needed dash of sweetness to any other preparation. I have been adding one whole carrot to my son’s khichadi since he was eight months old. Carrots can be added to sweet preparations like kheer, porridge, halwa and also to salty dishes like dal, khichadi, Sabzi etc. Carrots are a rich source of Vitamin A.
I have been serving stewed apple as a meal and also add peices of apple to other meals to add a flavour. Smoothies, pancakes, porridge etc, apples can be combined with a variety of other food groups. EVer since my paediatrician busted the myth that apples cause constipation in babies, I have been using it without apprehension.
Blueberries and sweet, ripe strawberries are a tremendous way of adding sweetness, flavour and whole range of nutrients to a meal. They can be added to a variety of foods like dairy, baked foods and even meat.
Maple syrup is sweet and tasty and the taste is loved by the kids. It is loaded with antioxidants, which are proven to prevent cancer. This is easily available in the markets and can be substituted for sugar in milk, bread, cookies, cakes and other food items.
What do you add to your baby’s meal instead of the nasty white sugar. Do share in the comments below.