Let Them Eat Cake? 1 in 4 Moms Give Babies Sweet Treats

Julie Ryan Evans

CupcakesYou may tout the breast is best party line with the best of them, but when no one is around, what else are you slipping your baby?

A study in Australia found that 25 percent of mothers feed their infants biscuits, cakes, and fruit juice before they're 6 months old. Some gave junk food to infants as young as 4 weeks old!

Are you gasping in horror ... or feeling a few pangs of guilt?

Researchers say early exposure to such foods is problematic and can establish unhealthy eating habits that can result in obesity later in life. They stress the importance of a breast-milk only diet for at least six months and getting children off to the right start.

I agree with all of that, but I also wonder just how much of these forbidden foods the women give their babies. Was it just a taste here or there, or part of a regular diet?

If it's the latter, then it's an obvious, big problem in my book. But if it's just a lick of ice cream here and a taste of a cookie there, then I'm less judgmental.

With my first child, he didn't even breathe the same air as sugar until his first birthday when he had his own little smash cake. I let him have it for a few pictures as I panicked nearby about the effects of the sugar and artificial colors entering his blood stream.

He was fine, but for the next couple years, I did everything I could to keep sugar at bay. When my mom would question how I could deprive him of a little cookie, I'd firmly tell her that he didn't miss it, so why give it to him.

But the older he got, the more birthday parties there were and the more class celebrations, and somehow dessert has now pretty much become part of our daily menu -- as long as he eats the healthy stuff, he can have a treat. And he does -- he's a great eater.

So when my daughter came along, the thought of keeping her away from sugar for an entire year just seemed unrealistic ... and not quite so important this time around.

Plus, I admit I adore watching her face as she tastes new and delicious food. And while her reactions to asparagus and brown rice were great, I can't say they came anywhere close to the delight I saw when she first tasted chocolate -- which she did well before she was a year old.

Sure, once they taste a yummy food, they want more, but that's where the word "no" comes in handy. Sooner or later children are going to be exposed to sinful foods, so why not start early in helping them learn when and how much is OK?

Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I know the foods I bring into my house and the healthy standards I insist we maintain (e.g., my 7-year-old has never had a can of soda), and I don't feel like my slipping my baby a treat once in awhile is putting us on a slippery slope to nutritional disaster.

What about you? Do you slip your baby treats?


Image via StuartWebster/Flickr

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