Infant and Toddler Forum Position Statement in response to coverage – Going Against the Grain-Which? Cereals Report 2009

Food and nutrition for the under threes highlights results of a survey of what parents are feeding their toddlers. It reveals a heavy reliance on convenience foods and takeaways which can often be inappropriately high in salt, fat and sugar, but low in some key nutrients. Nevertheless many parents still feel that they are providing a healthy diet for their child. With increasing levels of obesity and its associated health problems, it is more important than ever that parents have a clear understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet for their young children. This can be a challenge, especially because much nutritional information on food labels can be confusing. The recently published Which? Cereals Report-Going Against the Grain confirms this problem, pointing out that despite making health claims many cereals are still very high in sugar. In addition, it questions the use of cartoon characters to advertise cereals which are high in sugar and salt. It is preferable to add fruit rather than sugar to cereal, to give it some sweetness for toddlers.

More support and information are needed to help parents choose foods that are nutritious for their children. Parents also need help to understand food labels so that they can easily identify `hidden` salt, sugar or fats.

A diet with excessive amounts of salt, saturated fat and sugar can increase the risk of obesity and of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes in later life. We also know that overweight and obesity start in the preschool years and obese children are more likely to become obese adults.

The Infant & Toddler Forum believe that clear nutritional guidance for parents and carers of all children should be a key public health strategy to ensure children are able to meet their full potential to grow into healthy adults. To help parents and carers make informed food choices, the Forum are committed to providing reliable, practical information on how to make the right food choices using either home-cooked or pre-prepared food.

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Further Reading

  • By Melanie Pilcher and Dr. Gillian Harris Establishing bedtime routines for toddlers and young children
  • By Dr. Gillian Harris, Honorary Senior Lecturer in Applied Developmental Psychology at the University of Birmingham and ITF member Most parents will struggle at some point to get their toddlers to eat certain foods. Is toddler food refusal a sign of an eating disorder. or is it merely a phase? In the run up to Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Gill Harris provides practical advice to help parents tackle fussy eating in toddlers.  
  • By Lucy Upton, on behalf of the Infant and Toddler Forum On behalf of the members of the Infant and Toddler Forum, I am proud to announce the launch of a new infant feeding educational programme, which includes practical resources for frontline healthcare professionals (HCPs) working with parents and infants.