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Tooth-friendly snacks for your child

Getting the healthiest diet for your child can be a difficult endeavour. Rare instances of allowing your child that ice cream or chocolate is all right. But what if you find your child indulging in sweet snacks or drinks daily? The key is moderation and finding the alternatives to introduce your child to a wider variety of healthy foods. For the teeth, there are always better alternatives (not necessarily the healthiest but healthier) to a high-sugar diet. Allowing children frequent access to sweet snacks and drinks leads to teeth cavities or dental decay. It is important to teach children good eating habits from young. The Scandinavians do it well…that’s why they have one of the lowest dental decay rates in the world. Here we will explore some common foods that children love and what are the better alternatives.

Kids love this: Flavoured yogurt

Pick this instead: Plain yogurt topped with nuts and fresh fruits

Flavoured yogurt bought from stores are usually loaded with lots of sugars, I really mean a lot. And these sugars are mostly derived from flavoured syrups and not from the actual fruits. With the lack of fibre and good nutrition, your child is actually consuming just mostly sugars from the flavoured yogurt. An alternative would be to use plain yogurt as the base and sweeten it up with diced fresh fruits (no dried fruits like raisins please), nuts, seeds, cinnamon, pureed pumpkin, butternut squash, wholegrain cereal like Weetabix and bran flakes.

Kids love this: Cookies

Pick this instead: Plain crackers with cheese or peanut butter spread

Cookies are always a favourite with children but we all know how much sugar they contain. Cookies are bad for the teeth because not only are they sweet but they also stick to the teeth. Opt for plain crackers with cheese or peanut butter spread. Go for peanut butter that is unsalted and has no added sugars.

Kids love this: Breakfast cereals (eg Cheerios, Coco Crunch, Frosties)

Pick this instead: Oatmeal porridge with fresh fruits, nuts

Admittedly, instant breakfast cereals are easy to prepare for kids. Despite the added vitamins to these cereals, they are heavily processed with sugars added into them. Look carefully at the nutrition label to ensure that there is minimal sugar added. For something even healthier, make a bowl of oatmeal porridge topped with your kids’ fresh fruits and nuts. You can put in some cinnamon and a little honey to make it a little more palatable. Remember, just a little drizzle per portion. You can prepare overnight oats to make it more convenient to prepare in the mornings.

Kids love this: Processed fruit snacks (eg gummies, raisins, dried fruits)

Pick this instead: Fresh fruits

Whole, unprocessed foods are the best. Fresh fruits are the overwhelming favourites over any fruit-based foods. Children snacks such as fruit gummies, raisins and fruit juices sold in the supermarkets do not contain the right kind of nutrition that your child needs. These processed foods contain more sugar than the essential vitamins and fibres usually found in actual fresh fruits. Furthermore, gummies and dried fruits are sticky, making them very unhealthy for the teeth.

Kids love this: Fruit juice, flavoured water, bottled/packet drinks, soda

Pick this instead: Water, home-made vegetable/fruit juice, plain fresh milk

It’s tricky for this one with kids, but the less the better. You can treat your child once in a while to these sweetened beverages on a day out during a mealtime. However, making your own vegetable/fruit juice is better than purchasing juices from the supermarkets. Often, bottled or packet beverages have a lot of sugars added. Bathing your teeth often with these sugary drinks will lead to dental cavities. Don’t make it a habit to stock these sugary drinks in your fridge such that your child drinks these sweetened drinks more than water on a daily basis. Train your child to go for water if he/she is thirsty.

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