Knowing baby food content Sugar content

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This article, Knowing baby food content, was last updated on 02 June 2008 and is now out of date and held in our online archive for reference. Explore our latest Baby & child articles.

A reduced sugar Farley's rusk contains more sugar than a McVitie's HobNob

Right top: One Farley's rusk (reduced sugar); right below: One HobNob

Advice from the Department of Health (DoH) is not to add sugar to babies' food, yet manufacturers do just that. There are limits on the sugar allowed in babies' puddings, desserts and drinks but, in cereal-based foods, only sugar added during manufacture is restricted - not the total amount.

There are some baby products which exceed the Food Standard Agency's advice that adult food containing 'a lot' of sugar has 10% or more. For example, the reduced-sugar version of the Farley's rusk contains 21% sugar and the original has 29%. A McVitie's HobNob biscuit has about 23% sugar, (pictured right).

We looked at some babies' breakfast cereals and found a big variation in the sugar content. The table below compares the sugar and fruit content of different dried fruit breakfasts. Sugar will come from fruit and milk, but some manufacturers also add it. The problem is that companies don't have to tell you how much sugar they've added to their product - just the total amount.

So check the sugar content (it should be in the carbohydrates) and the ingredients to see whether sugar's on the list and where it is positioned. Check the position of the fruit, too, as that will indicate how much there is.

Sugar and fruit content
Product Position of sugar in ingredients list Position of first fruit Total sugar Approx sugar content of made-up fooda
Baby Organix First Apple and Raspberry Cereal none added 2nd 22.5% 3.1%
Boots Organic Fruit and Yogurt none added 2nd 25% 5%
Heinz Fruit and Yogurt 3rd 5thb 25.9% 6.5%
Cow & Gate Yogurt with Orange and Banana 4th 2nd 39% 6%
HiPP Organic Sunshine Fruit Breakfast 4th 5th 41.4% 11.8%

Table notes

  1. After adding water according to manufacturers' directions
  2. First fruit is raspberry juice; dried fruit is seventh