Child Friendly Foods? Kids might eat them, but they’re decidedly unfriendly. They should be called Ruin-Your-Child-For-Real-Food Foods instead.

One study examined 367 “child-friendly” foods and found that …

  • 70% have too much sugar.
  • 23% have too much fat.
  • 17% have too much salt.

Only 11% provide good nutritional value.

But poor nutrition isn’t the only reason to limit “child-friendly” foods.  They damage your kids’ habits as well.

Kids who get used to sweet, salty and high-fat foods, are more likely to reject the fruits and vegetables you’re always trying to get them to eat because they are on the opposite end of the taste spectrum.

There’s nothing wrong with an occasional chicken nugget, bowl of mac ‘n cheese, or even a hot dog.  But when “child-friendly” foods make up the bulk of your kids’ diet, they end up shrinking your kids’ palates.

Experientially, all kids-foods are basically the same.  They’re usually sweet, often quite soft (although sometimes they’re crunchy) and they are always relatively bland.

If you want to introduce your kids to new foods, start by substituting “child-friendly” foods for “real” versions of the same stuff.

51% of children’s food products have pictures of fruit on the package, but no actual fruit inside.  But even those that do contain real fruit rarely resemble the real deal.

For instance, Dole Mandarins in Orange Gel has two tablespoons of added sugar (so twice the calories) and half the fiber of a real mandarin orange.

In other words, eating Dole Mandarins in Orange Gel – this ultra sweet, gooey, glob of stuff that sort of resembles an orange — is an entirely different experience than eating an actual mandarin orange.  And it’s the experience that matters most.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~

See The Variety Masquerade and How Brands Bite You in the Butt! for more on this topic.



Wiley-Blackwell (2008, July 15). 89 Percent of Children’s Food Products Provide Poor Nutritional Quality, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 30, 2009, from

Zinczenko, D. and M. Goulding, 2008. Eat This Not That for Kids. New York, NY: Rodale. pp. 151 & 158.