Q: Should ‘Pudding’ be given to children as part of a Healthy Balanced Diet?

Excerpt of Email sent by Emma Tennant our Director to Children’s Food Trust:

‘We have observed that parents, especially of very young babies, are saying no to any kind of pudding; it is to be fruit only.  Obviously this will affect the child’s calorific intake for the day and I wondered if you could help me and point me in the right direction.  Is there any research please on when, or if, a healthy diet is too healthy for a small child?

Response from Children’s Food Trust:

We have done lots of work with early years settings and practitioners around the country, and provision of puddings as part of a meal for children is something that is raised frequently, with lots of people reporting that they have parents who request that their children are only given fruit/fruit and yoghurt as a dessert option.

A healthy diet for young children (and particularly children under 2 years) is different from that of older children and adults – they need more fat in their diet, and less fibre, to ensure that they have sufficient intakes of calories, fat and nutrients to meet their relatively high needs. Therefore, the diet shown by the Eatwell plate, which is developed for children over five years and adults, is not appropriate.

Puddings can provide a really important part of children’s diets – milk-based puddings provide a portion of dairy foods (providing calcium, zinc and protein), and desserts made with flour will provide carbohydrate, energy and iron. Therefore we do recommend that desserts are provided for children with main meals each day. Desserts can be varied to include a mixture of hot fruit-based desserts, milk-based puddings, yoghurt/fromage frais, cakes and biscuits and cold desserts such as fruit salad across the week, so that children get a good variety. Cakes and puddings can include fruit to sweeten them, and reduce the need for sugar to be added.

Cakes, puddings and other sweet foods should all be avoided between meals to help protect children’s teeth.

When the Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings in England were being developed, we nutritionally analysed nursery menus, and found that where settings were only providing fruit as a dessert option, children often weren’t getting enough calories, carbohydrate or nutrients such as iron as part of their diets, and the desserts were important to ensure that levels of these nutrients were sufficient.

For More Information:

Food groups and the Eatwell Guide – Food and nutrition for good health – CCEA – GCSE Home Economics: Food and Nutrition (CCEA) Revision – BBC Bitesize

Our Homecooked Nutritional Meals | Teepee Day Nursery