More than a third of baby food deemed “healthy” could be set to receive a label for unnecessary sugar levels, according to a new study.

Action on Sugar (AoS) has analysed 73 baby sweet snacks including Heinz Farley’s Mini Rusks and Organix Banana Soft Oaty Bars and found they contained as much as two teaspoons of unnecessary sugar, despite “healthy sounding” claims on packaging.

Of the 73 products analysed as part of Sugar Awareness Week, more than a third (37%) could receive a red traffic-light label for sugar content.

AoS is calling for the removal of misleading nutrition and health claims on-snack packs, especially around ‘no added sugar/refined sugar’ when such ingredients are replaced by fruit concentrates.

Nutritionist Katharine Jenner, campaign director at AoS warns these are still a type of free sugars and should be limited.

She said: “Product packaging is often coupled with health messages that put parents’ minds at rest, distracting them from seeing the high hidden sugars content.

“Baby foods have the potential to make life easier for stressed parents and support the needs of the growing baby.

"But they must do just that: support the growth of the baby, not put their future health at risk, and the parents must have the information to know what they’re buying.”

NHS guidance on feeding sugar to children

The Northern Echo: Action on Sugar analysed 73 baby sweet snacks and found that 37% could receive a red traffic light-style label for sugar content. (PA)Action on Sugar analysed 73 baby sweet snacks and found that 37% could receive a red traffic light-style label for sugar content. (PA)

The NHS warns: “Your baby does not need sugar” and paediatric dietitian Lucy Upton(thechildrensdietician) says consuming sugars means they could miss out on other nutrients.

She warned: “It’s recommended that babies and young children six months to two years of age generally avoid any added or free sugars for multiple reasons, from a health and development perspective.

“There’s potential for increased energy intake, and crucially for children this risks displacement of other nutrients they require for health and development.”

Warning to parents over feeding babies snacks

Jenner says young children shouldn’t need snacks, especially sugary ones.

She said: “Babies under 12 months old do not need snacks at all, but ‘mini-meals’ to complement their milk-based diets. Yet there’s a growing market of snack products aimed at babies aged six months and over, which [can] state on the pack that they are suitable for babies aged 6+ months.

“This age criterion is often mistaken as a dietary requirement, when in fact it relates to food safety.”