Panorama discussed the issues surrounding foods marketed at toddlers as well as the challenges of feeding toddlers today. The Infant & Toddler Forum and drivers of the Little Peoples Plates initiative for healthier eating for the under threes, have been working to put toddler nutrition on the agenda of politicians, healthcare professionals and parents for over five years. The Infant & Toddler Forum are committed to helping parents make informed choices about how to feed their toddler whether food is home cooked or pre prepared and have developed two new Factsheets to provide healthcare professionals and parents with guidance on how to select foods, including convenience foods that can be a nutritious option suitable for toddlers.
Convenience foods are now part of everyday life for most households in the UK. The combination of a lack of time, inadequate cooking skills and for some families, limited access to shops where affordable fresh produce is sold, means that convenience foods often become the default family food. Convenience foods vary in their suitability for toddlers. Some are less nutritious containing few of the key nutrients toddlers need and they may have high amounts of added salt, fat and sugar. Knowing which convenience foods to use and which to avoid is never easy. Helping parents to make this decision is a key aim of these Factsheets entitled Understanding food labels and How to choose nutritious fresh or convenience foods.
The Factsheets also provide advice on how to better understand food labelling. They explain the difference between foods marketed at toddlers, which do not have to comply with any regulations; and those labelled specifically as suitable for an infant or toddler under three years of age (e.g. 12+ months) which must comply with regulations requiring a minimum nutrient content and a maximum limit on salt, sodium, fat, sugar and pesticides. Advice is also given on how to interpret the information on labels when trying to make healthy food choices for toddlers.
Health and childcare professionals can visit www.infantandtoddlerforum.org to download factsheets