Why Artificial Flavorings Are Bad For Babies
Our children’s first experiences with food are formative ones. They lay the foundation for a lifetime of eating habits––good or bad. As parents, we want to give our babies foods that they will enjoy, but we need to be mindful that in the process, we’re also shaping their expectations for what food should taste, look, and smell like. This is why avoiding artificial colors and flavors for young children is a good idea.
What Artificial Colors and Flavors Teach Kids About Food
Think about some common fruit-flavored candies. Does a cherry Skittle resemble an actual cherry in color or taste? How about a Strawberry Starburst? Here’s another thing to think about: what does pumpkin taste like? If you’re like most people, you’re probably imagining that unmistakable combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger––in other words, not pumpkin, but the spices.
Foods that have artificial colors and flavors can play tricks on the mind. This is particularly true for young children. We do them a disservice when their perceptions of foods are shaped around flavors and colors that don’t appear in nature. Instead of chewy fruit snacks and candy, brightly colored juices and ice pops, children should be given real fruits and vegetables in their natural form as much as possible so they learn to appreciate their real flavors and colors.
Why Artificial Colors and Flavors Are Unhealthy
Artificial colors and flavors are a common component of processed food––and processed food is usually made with more sugar, salt, or fat than a child should be eating. Cut artificial colors and flavors from your child’s diet, and you’re also cutting out a whole host of unhealthy foods by default.
There’s another reason why artificial colors should be avoided. While parents often blame sugar for kids’ rowdiness at birthday parties or after a few hours of trick-or-treating, there’s another ingredient in candy and treats that’s impacting their behavior: artificial food dyes. It’s not the sugar in the candy that makes kids hyper, it’s the color.
Food dye isn’t the cause of ADHD, but children with sensitivities to these dyes have ADHD-like symptoms after consuming them. Considering that we eat four times the amount of artificial coloring today as we did 50 years ago, it’s no wonder we’re seeing harmful effects or artificial food colors in our children.
There’s less research on flavors, but anytime you see “natural flavors” or “artificial flavors” on a food label, know that those two words are standing in for a list of potentially hundreds of different ingredients being used to make that purple Skittle taste like “grape.” While it’s likely that most of them are safe, there’s no guarantee because there’s very little oversight into the usage of these additives.
What to Do Instead
Be a good role model; eat unprocessed whole foods––grains, fruits, vegetables, and clean protein––and feed your children the same. Avoid artificial colors and flavors, particularly if you suspect your child has a sensitivity.
At Dr. Simon’s Remedy, we believe babies don’t need artificial flavors or colors to coax them to take our colic remedy. Try our 14-Day Plan to Treat Colic, which uses bay leaves, chamomile, and fennel to soothe fussy babies naturally.