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High Sugar Treats

Hi Guys, 

I'm really interested to know what rules you guys all follow when it comes to high sugar/fat treats such as chocolate, sweets, cakes, biscuits and pastry? How old were your children when they were allowed to eat these items and how often have you allowed them? What portion sizes do you allow? 

Bert is only 7 months and he hasn't had any such foods yet - I plan on holding on as long as possible without him eating them but some of my mummy friends have allowed their children to have them freely from early on. I read a great book when I was pregnant called 'French Children Don't Throw Food' and I found it very inspiring - the French's attitude towards these treat foods is that they shouldn't be banned but should be allowed as part of a healthy/balanced attitude to all foods - for instance they give squares of chocolate and baguette with hot chocolate as an after school snack. The theory is that by limiting it and putting that food on a pedestal you make it seem more exciting. 

I'm determined to bring up Bert with a healthy attitude to food but I don't want him to be over weight (as I was as a child) my upbringing made me use food as a crutch and I ended up very overweight - I've just managed to lose 3.5 stones and I never ever want Bert to need to lose a large amount of weight like I've had to. 

I hope to use my judgement and common sense in terms of when to allow Bert to try these foods, and how much to allow him…I'd be interested in your input and to know what happens in your homes...


Lucy x



  • Shes allowed a little treat if she eats all her main meal at tea time then well give her yoghurt/raisins/breakfast bars too but if she leaves any dinner then she doesn't get a treat. X

  • ooh i like this thread!!

    ive 3 children aged 10,7 and almost 4 plus one on the way.

    ive always allowed treats but bare in mind my 3 are very slim and this is due to them not my feeding but ive always allowed the extra calories. that said sweets are not something they get every day. although i have to admit they get crisps in there lunch box. my youngest can be a pest about eating her lunch so i make her wait until shes eaten her main bit then she can choose her crisps. pudding is only if they have eaten all there tea. and biscuits genrally are given as a snack as well as some friut.

    i never made a big deal over not letting them have stuff and one of the reasons was i didnt want them to binge on it when they were allowed i was a fairly strurdy child who would spend all her pocket money on junk food and as a adult ive had a up and down relationship with food. when my eldest was about 3 i went to a childrens party with her and she put her food on her plate this included 2 sandwiches some crisps some cucumber and a mini roll i remember how she ate all the savory bits before starting her chocolate. another mum that was there was amazed as her child ploughed into the chocolate and biscuits like his life depended on it and she almost proudly told me she never allowed him that sort of food at like to think my daughters way was better as she didnt and still doesnt feel the need to grab at the bad stuff and is happy to eat well and end with a treat.

  • my little boy is 20 months old now and his first little treat was xmas time, but now he only gets some thing sweet at a weekend, if he eats his dinner he will have a yoghurt or some rice pudding or custard, by some thing sweet we give him the option or either a small milky way or milky bar thats to last the whole weekend.

    If we are out for a family meal then some times he will have ice cream as a treat apart from that he is not interested, my boy would rather have some crisps and fruit over chocolate and cakes.


  • Thanks for the responses so far - I find this all really interesting - and love to hear all your differing rules and opinions. Puddy I really agree with you about not banning the foods so that they end up gorging on them when they do have access to them (i.e - kids parties)…I so want Bert to have a healthy attitude towards all food in moderation. Here's a classic example of what stresses me out though - we went to dinner on sunday and took my son, my mum and sister came along, and when I went to the loo my mum gave my 7 month old spoonfuls of her ice cream dessert. She was trying to be a kind nanny, but he's only 7 months and just doesn't need it in my opinion. Of course, he gobbled it up and really enjoyed it. But I just want to be in control of what he has (while I can) and I hope that he'll come to enjoy all foods in moderation.

    We have a rule in our house that if we're going somewhere that's walkable then we walk there - and rarely use our car except for long journeys - I often walk around 18 miles in total in a week - so I hope this frame of mind will rub off on him as he grows up, and he'll get plenty of exercise to balance out any treats. 

    I'm well aware that I'm probably over thinking this - I'm Bert will learn by example and that moderate treats will be just fine. 

  • So….who gave their kids chocolate this easter? and did they enjoy it? I gave Bert a couple of very small tastes (mainly because he guilts me into it by salivating and kicking his legs in excitement when he see's that I have food that he doesn't!)…he loved the choc, and I was happy to give him a small taste. We had been gifted some eggs for him, but for me, he's definitely too small for any form of high sugar in large concentration (he's nearly 8 months) - so Daddy ate the big eggs! image Lucky Daddy! x

  • I'm of the opinion that chocolate shouldn't be a treat. Everything in moderation is ok. My little girls think that their fruit after their dinner/ lunch are a treat and will often pick melon or banana over chocolate. Don't get me wrong they both love chocolate but I hope I've taught them to love all food and as such have a healthy attitude towards it. Some weeks they will have a little chocolate every day and then some weeks they don't see it. They never ask for it.

  • It's so interesting isn't it? Do children love chocolate because it's forbidden or seen as a treat, or is it because it is just so bloody good!!!?

    Annabel is now 14 months (Wow that sound really old!) and she has had a few tastes of chocolate, and cake. I let her taste a bit of her first birthday cake, as this seemed the right thing to do. She also had a small lindt Easter bunny (the really small ones), but actually only ate half, (you can guess who ate the rest!) She enjoyed the 'treats' on both occasions but not more obviously than she does fruit or yogharts.  To be honest I think not making sugary treats a big deal and having them occasionally but not calling them 'treats' will hopefully make our little ones enjoy them but in moderation.  We never had a 'treat cupboard' when we were kids, but now as an adult I do, and I know it is because it was forbidden for me as a child. Now as an adult I have the worst sweet tooth, I could literally eat chocolate for breakfast (ok sometimes do!!).  I also worry as most prepared for packaged food has a lot of hidden sugars, natural and refined as do fruits and yogharts. So our little ones are exposed to high levels of sugar in their diet before we even start to give the 'treats' .  
  • Kids develop healthy habits at home, that doesnt mean that you have to be strict an ban all the junk food, it means that you interested your child to homemade food, new tastes, an give treats and sweets once in a few day as a reward image

  • When Emily (now 4) was at the childminders, there was a girl there a year older. Her mum wouldn't allow her anything! Not even sugar free squash nothing! It made it hard for the childminder, as like all you saw treats as part of a healthy well balanced diet.

    Anyway, one day the daughter of the childminder left her bag of chocolate on the side while she popped upstairs, and this little girl scoffed the lot so fast she ate the whole bag!

    I just think not letting them have any could cause an issue with food later in life?
  • ... me and Annabel shared a slice off chocolate cake yesterday at a friend's house. I was thinking about you all as we did ha ha. I obviously made sure it wasn't a 50, 50 share -- LOL. image

  • I think all your ladies are marvellous and have a really healthy attitude to food - I whole heartedly agree that our kids learn from us, and if we eat healthy balanced diets and don't binge, then hopefully they won't. I also agree that making the high fat/sugar foods "treat" foods is where a lot of parents can come across bother. If they are just standard foods that are part of a balanced diet and all eaten with moderation then I don't think it will cause any harm. That is certainly my plan with Bert. My husband and I eat with moderation, and enjoy all foods so fingers crossed Bert will be the same. As I've said before, and like you Nicola - I also have a sweet tooth because these foods were put on a pedestal as a child, and sometimes I had unfettered access to bad foods, and sometimes (when my mum was on a fad diet) they would be locked away and we wouldn't have them for weeks (until my mum had caved in on her diet and started binging again). It's definitely partly why I was extremely overweight as a child/teenager/early twenties. Now I'm working through my own issues with food, and losing weight (3 stone 12 lbs down wahoo!) I'm feeling much more positive about food and hoping that my new healthier attitude and moderation has come at the perfect time to rub off on my son! xx

  • Wow nearly 4st thats amazing Lucy. You should be so proud of yourself and I bet that Bert is going to have a fabulous balanced diet as he grows up. Well done.  xx

  • Thanks Emlowe - fingers crossed. You know when you're just so desperate not to make the same small mistakes your own parents did? My mum is still struggling with her weight and constantly on a diet at 57 years old, and I don't want to be in the same boat as her, and I don't want Bert to suffer all the rubbish that being young & over weight brings. Fingers crossed I continue with the losses, and stay on this healthier lifestyle for good now. I can't imagine ever going back to the weight I was before. xx

  • Unfortunately, my parents transferred bad habits to me and my sister, so I am  also afraid not to do the same for my little girl.

    Lucy, congrats on losing so much weight, now you have the hard task: (belive me image to sustain that weight adopt healthy habits and be disciplined! 

  • Hi Rebeca, and thanks for the congratulations! I'm afraid I still have a long way to go yet before I can work on sustaining my weight. I aim to lose another 2 stone from here - which will put me right slap bang in the middle of my "healthy weight" for my height…so a good old slog left to go yet. I'm looking forward to getting to my goal weight and being able to increase my calories - I'm currently on 1210 calories a day which is hard work. You're right though - it's changing your habits of a lifetime permanently thats really hard, and keeping the weight off long term - I guess it would be pretty easy to slip back into bad habits.

    Having my son is the best reason in the world to do it though, and he is what motivates me every day! I want him to have the happiest and healthiest life possible, so having a fit and healthy mum is very important - happy mum=happy baby and all that! image xxx

  • Keep going Lucy! Me and my husband have just started being good. And Emily asks why I'm going on the exercise bike, so I explained to her and she really understands about chocolate etc x x
  • My son is almost three and we've always adopted an "in moderation" diet. However, before the age of 1 he'd only ever have snacky things that were aimed at babies - Goodies crisps and biscuits etc because I was always conscious of the salt levels in things. My Mum gave him a box of chocolate fingers for his first Easter (he was 8/9 months) and I let him have one after his dinner. But all he'd do was stuck the chocolate off! They lasted absolutely ages.

    I think this is Easter is the first one where he had lots of eggs given to him. He has them as his morning snack - he has a bowl of "strawberries, choc choc, grapes". I don't think he sees the chocolate as any different from the fruit! He often eats the strawberries first.

    I still prefer him not to eat "adult" crisps, so I still buy Goodies ones so he can feel like he's having them.

    As a family, we're don't really have dessert regularly so that doesn't cause a problem.

    He's been bought up drinking water and 9 times out of 10 asks for water or milk rather than juice.

    As said before, I think everything in moderation and twice daily teeth brushing. There was a woman at one of my baby groups that kept harping on about this no sugar 1st birthday cake she was making her daughter. All I could think was "poor kid!". If you can't have a couple of mouthfuls of cake on your birthday, no matter how old you are, there's something seriously wrong!!!


    Oh and also, he's never touched actual "sweets", I draw the line at that. I think they can wait until he's older and asks if he can try them.

  • It's funny how everyone's different, my parents gave me bad habits as a kid I used to get whatever sweets I wanted every day and now I'm really not a sweet toothed person at all id rather have something savoury and love healthy food. I make sure my lo doesn't get whatever she wants when she wants but I dont ban treats completely. On the opposite side my oh has a real sweet tooth and eats loads of sweets but as a kid hardly ever had treats only ever ate bland food and is now really fussy about certain stuff x

  • Such a good thread!

    We do call it a treat (might change this) but don't ban it.  We allow a little in moderation, thinking like most above that banning them makes them want them more.  However we do have to limit them!  For example my daughter (2) is a cake monster, we went to a party yesterday and there was two birthday cakes so I got a slice of the chocolate one (ate most of it) then gave her the rest, then she asked for the "white cake" so had to say no!!

    We didn't give anything really sweet until their 1st birthday when they had a bit of birthday cake and generally they get something sweet as pudding if it's in the house or if we're out at a coffee shop.  But I know that they get things like croissants at nursery.  I just want to teach that everything is ok in moderation

  • Loving everybody's responses, and how each family regards and dishes out 'treat food' differently. I think that moderation seems to be the central theme here, and its good to read, as its what I intend to teach Bert- you can enjoy all foods as long as it is with moderation.

    I too plan to let Bert try cake for the first time on his first birthday - and agree that if you can't have a piece of cake on your birthday then it would be a very sad thing! image I plan to hold off on proper sweets and packets of adult crisps until he asks for them much later on (hopefully!) - but for now I'll allow him to continue to have the baby versions of these, and probably some proper chocolate next Easter maybe.

    As for ice cream etc I think that too can wait - maybe the odd try of ours if we are having it (we don't have it very often) and obviously I fully intend to allow him an ice cream from the ice cream man occasionally when he's older, and when we go to the seaside etc! 

    What are you opinions on processed foods such as fish/chicken fingers, potato waffles, chicken nuggets, oven chips etc? Do these count as treat foods in your house, do you avoid them completely, or are they an occasional dinner. 

    For us, they are an occasional dinner (my husband LOVES fish fingers, I'm not so keen) we never have oven chips as I dislike them and we have an Acti-fry so we make our own using potato and one tbsp oil (to serve 2) so they're pretty 'healthy'. Baked beans are a regular accompaniment in our house, and I will happily let Bert eat them when he's older. 

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