Teaching your baby healthy eating habits by introducing healthy and nutritious foods early on is important to get him on the right track when it comes to diet. Babies that become exposed to sugar-packed candy and chocolate at a much too young age can develop a taste solely for sweet and sugary foods. Giving your baby sweets at a young age can have serious outcomes later on life.
Sugar and Teeth
Sweets, such as candy, chocolate and dried fruits, contain high amounts of sugar. Processes that lead to tooth decay begin when your baby's teeth become exposed to sugar. Sugar enhances bacterial attachment and growth, and the acids produced by the bacteria can cause tooth decay. The typical age when babies get their first teeth is around 6 to 9 months, although some babies may get their teeth earlier or are even born with one or two teeth. No matter how many teeth your baby has, tooth decay can occur. In addition, introducing sweets to your baby's diet early can lead to overconsumption of sweets later on, when all the teeth have erupted.
Sweets are calorie-dense foods that are high in sugars and low in other nutrients, such as proteins, vitamins and minerals. Your growing 7-month-old needs a balanced and nutritious diet to provide all the essential nutrients needed for growth and development, which are not provided by sweets. In addition, introducing sweets to a 7-month-old baby can have serious health impacts later in life. Sweets are loaded with empty calories and can promote weight gain. Childhood obesity is a health condition that can increase the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, fatty liver disease and social problems later in life. As of 2011, approximately 17 percent of American children are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hard candy can be a choking hazard for small babies because it can easily slip down the throat and block the airway. Children before the age of 4 should not be given hard candies such as jelly beans and peppermints, according to the BabyCenter.
It is not advisable to give a 7-month-old baby sweets. Babies tend to prefer foods they get accustomed to eating. Serving them sweets at a young age is unnecessary and may result in a "sweet tooth" that lasts throughout life. Your baby needs high-quality food, such as fresh vegetables, fruit and grains, which contain essential nutrients and promote growth. Claudia Gonzales, a registered dietitian, recommends you hold off giving sweets to babies until they are at least 2 years old. If you cannot avoid giving your child sweets, opt for ice cream, which has calcium.
- MedlinePlus: Tooth Decay - Early Childhood
- "Your Baby's First Year"; The American Academy of Pediatrics; 2nd edition; 2005
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Obesity Rates Among all Children in the United States
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Basics about Childhood Obesity
- BabyCenter.com: When Can My Baby Eat Candy?