Kids’ bodies need sugar—within limits. The American Heart Association recommends that preschoolers eat no more than 4 teaspoons of added sugar a day, and no more than 3 teaspoons a day for children ages 4–8. However, children as young as 1–3 years typically get three times the recommended amount or 12 teaspoons! But before you institute a ban on cookies and milk, consider ways to satisfy your child’s sugar needs without tipping the scales in the wrong direction.
You can limit your child’s sugar intake by:
• Making water (or reduced fat milk) the drink of choice. Avoid sugary drinks such as full-calorie sodas, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and energy drinks. Even 100 percent fruit juice is packed with sugar and calories, parents avoid giving their babies juice until they are at least 6 months of age, and then to give no more than 4–6 ounces a day.
• Having sweets for special occasions. Kids want what they can’t have, so think long and hard before you ban sweets. Instead, consider limiting them to birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions.
• Offering healthy sweets. Satisfy your child’s craving for something sweet with homemade fruit smoothies or frozen fruit popsicles.
• Avoiding sweets (or any food) as rewards. Our bodies signal us to eat when hungry and to stop eating when full. When parents use food as a reward, they override their children’s hunger and satiety cues and increase the risk of overweight and obesity. Choose instead to reward your children with an activity such as a trip to a nearby park .
• Controlling your child’s surroundings. By being aware of the people, places, and things that influence your child’s eating habits—family, friends, school, child care centers, television, movies, and books—you can better control what your child eats and how your child behaves.
Baby Gooroo Editorial Team. (No Date). Sugar & The Hyperactive Child. Baby Gooroo [Online]. Available: https://babygooroo.com/2013/03/does-sugar-make-kids-hyperactive/