Our research with the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne found that 45% of children aged between 4 and 36 months are eating ready-made baby and toddler foods for at least half or more of their meals and snacks. For 15% of these children, these foods make up most or all of their dietary intake. Given the high levels of consumption of these foods, consideration must be given to whether they reflect optimal nutrition in the early years of life.
One in three ready-made baby and toddler foods has a name that does not accurately reflect ingredients. These product names often include fruits or vegetables, yet in many cases only contain flavouring or powder and no beneficial vegetable or fruit ingredients.
With two in three parents reporting that the name of a product guides their choices, it is important that product names are accurate and do not mislead or confuse them about the actual health and nutritional benefits of the product.
There are some limited regulations for babies, including limits on how much sodium and iron can be in foods for children under 12 months of age. But there are no limits on how much sugar can be added to foods for babies and no overarching requirement that these foods are good for babies’ health or in line with infant feeding guidelines.
There are currently no specific regulations for foods for toddlers – no limits on how much sugar, salt or fat can be in foods sold specifically for toddlers and no overarching requirement that these foods are good for toddlers’ health.
No. There is no need for toddler specific foods. Toddlers can just eat regular family foods. Toddlers should eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from the main food groups:
Plenty of vegetables
Grains – preferably wholegrains
Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes
Dairy – milk, cheese, yoghurt and their alternatives