At What Age Did You Start Giving Your Child Cake, Ice Cream, Chocolate Etc.?

Updated on August 10, 2012
M.T. asks from Saint Paul, MN
19 answers

Hi, my son is 2 years 9 months, and we haven't been giving him anything sugary except Annie's honey graham crackers for snack occasionally (not sure how or why we started giving him these crackers but we do give them to him). For his birthday he's had lightly sugared custard tarte with fruits on top. We try to give him fruits, yogurt with apple sauce etc. for snack. We just thought that we don't want him to get used to sugar too early. And it's been a struggle to brush his teeth well each night and I had so much trouble with cavities when I was a kid!

But it seems like this is not common. Yesterday I saw parents giving their 14 months old root beer float... At what age did you start giving your child sweet stuff and any other parents who decided not to give sugar while the child was young? If so at what age was your child allowed to have chocolate chip cookies, ice cream etc. and on what occasions?

Thank you!

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answers from Topeka on

They had birthday cakes for their 1st parties after that everything is in moderation I set the guidelines for them,and they eat a well balanced diet for meals.I order for them for the most part and they don't get super sized meals unless they share it to save money in my wallet.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

We ban sweets and fried foods before 1 year, after that it's all about moderation. The first real sugar-bomb either of my kids had was their first birthday cake.
Now that my son is 16 months, he can join the rest of us in a few bites of dessert when we're all having a special treat. My 3 year old daughter has a small piece of dessert to herself or a piece or two of candy every once in a while, but nothing regularly. We don't make a big deal about junk food so as not to place even more importance on it, but she knows what's healthy and what's not, what's sometimes food and what's all-the-time food. Actually, the other day I offered her a special sweet treat for snack and she asked me for "real food" instead. :-)

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answers from Dallas on

I met my daughter in the orphanage when she was about 16 months old. They sent her in carrying a sugar coated jelly candy (kind of like Chuckles if you're old enough to remember them). When that candy wasn't enough of a bribe to meet me without crying (she threw it as hard as possible), they came in with a piece of chocolate candy. For the record, she also threw that as far as possible.

The first time I ever saw my daughter eat was in the orphanage on her 2nd birthday. They had allowed me to bring fruit to cut up for her group and those sugar coated jelly candies. They opened the candy to let her have a piece with me, and it was just like a vacuum cleaner sucking it up. I've never seen anything like it in my life....she turned to me, and her little cheeks were stuffed as full as possible, like a little chipmunk. That was also the first time in her life that she'd ever seen whole had always arrived to them cut up. She was way more fascinated by the whole fruit than by the candy. When she arrived home, her daycare fed sugary treats for holiday parties and birthdays, as well as m&ms for potty training. Fig newtons were part of the snack rotation, too.

If I were you, I'd wait as long as possible to start giving him unnecessary sugar, since he doesn't already have it and isn't asking for it. For me, my daughter had sugar from an early age, not necessarily introduced by me. Even so, she she still loves healthy foods, and I believe in allowing everything in moderation.

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answers from Grand Forks on

My kids had everything in moderation. Before they were a year old they might have a little lick of our ice cream, or a bite of our cake. They had their own pieces of birthday cake on their first birthday. From then on they had cake at birthday parties, ice cream if we went out for ice cream, the free chocolate chip cookie most grocery stores give to kids when we shopped, they got to have their Halloween candy etc. (Their Halloween candy lasts them until Easter and their Easter candy last until Halloween) They had all of these things in small portions, and usually only one treat per day. The only thing I banned were soft drinks, but once they were school age I allowed soft drinks from time to time as well, such as at the movie theatre or birthday parties.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

The kids ate whatever we had and I did not limit them too much. They do not drink as much pop as I do for sure. They probably forget what it tastes like between times they get Otherwise if we are having brownie's the kids get brownies.

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answers from Bloomington on

I also believe in moderation, but your definition and mine may be completely different! Lol. My SIL would say she only gives treats at special occasions, but they seem to have more special occasion than we do.

My kids (ages 2 and 4) may have a cookie once a week when we go to the grocery store. My youngest barely finishes it. In fact, she doesn't seem to enjoy sweets like her older sister.

We went to the state fair two days ago and the kids ate the food we brought....watermelon, grapes, apples, cheese/crackers, trail mix (that had M&M's), and Nilla wafers. And yes, we had some ice-cream. We split one huge cup (12 oz.) between the four of us. My SIL gave each kid their own cup.

I see nothing wrong with limiting their sweet in-take. We also did a better job with our oldest. It's just hard now to give the oldest a treat and not her sister. We just do it much less often than others around us. I think a bite here and there isn't so bad either. A lot of times they don't even like it! It takes the curiosity out of it and allows them the choice if they want to say no thank you! Why not control it while you can (within reason so they aren't sneaking it!)?

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answers from Washington DC on

like most people, i was way better with #1 son than #2. my older didn't get any sugar, really, until after his 1st birthday, and then only as an occasional treat. i wish i'd been as diligent with the next baby, but i was pretty far into the overwhelmed exhausted stage of motherhood by then.
i think you're doing great. absolute denial of all sweet treats can surely backfire, but a sensible approach like yours that incorporates lots of fruit and lightly sweet healthy snacks is just creating good habits.

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answers from Chicago on

1st bday. I limited it with my first, but not with my second.

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answers from Los Angeles on

The first kid we held off a pretty long time. Well over one year. Then it becomes impossible because they become social and attend birthday parties with cake and pinatas and they want in on it.

The second kid we didn't really hold off as much... by then we knew it was inevitable and the older one was receiving treats now and then so it didn't seem fair. The second one actually doesn't seem to crave sweets as much.

Who doesn't like sweets now and then? Why should kids be denied anymore than adults allow themselves to indulge. We don't keep too many sweets around the house and I never say no on special occasions as long as behavior has been in line (usually not an issue with my girls)...
Basically, I started letting them partake in the desserts when they got old enough to notice and be interested.

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answers from Columbus on

I think I've raised my kids pretty much like my parents did...I know my kids had cake for their first birthday parties. Before that, I really can't remember but I'm sure they had a sucker or two. I've always allowed them to have sweets but in moderation! We've never made a big deal about it. We also never had a problem with them brushing their teeth. And they're not fat!!! They are both in high school now and In fact, they always get comments on how skinny they are. These are also the same two kids that grew up eating all kinds of vegetables because there again, I never made a big deal about it. They saw us (their parents) eating them and they would dig right in.

My sister, on the other hand, got the bright idea from her idiot husband to not let her kids have ANY sugar!!! And I mean NONE - not in their food, no candy, no treats of any kind, etc. They were so emphatic about it her kids would sneak stuff when they were out and/or their parents weren't around. And then they would lie about it!! It was horrible!!!! I would not be surprised if they also stole stuff from stores.

I have a sister-in-law that lets her son have just about anything he wants, whenever he wants and he IS fat!!! It's sad to see because he's such a cute little boy.

So, to answer your question....I don't have a problem with little kids having a cookie once in awhile but like I said everything in MODERATION!!!

Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

My daughter did not get sweets until after 2 also. She is 5 now (almost 6) and will choose fruits over candy and junk and likes to eat veggies. She does have treats once in a while but I don't usually buy them. I have seen parents putting coke in to sippy cups and feeding candy to babies under one year old. I did not want my daughter getting a taste for junk foods before regular foods.

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answers from Portland on

Hi M.,

We 'started late' with our kiddo on sweets,(around three) and I'm glad we did. I can see clear behavioral changes with him when he's had too much sugar or chocolate, and certainly with corn syrup. This doesn't have to do with just sweets consumed at events (birthday parties, etc.) where they're already excited, but also with what we see when he has the occasional really sweet treat unrelated to a party or other fun activity. When he was younger, he was allowed to have A cookie (1) or a small dish of ice cream while the cousins were having floats... that sort of thing.

I don't want him to feel he's completely missing out. Now he's five and we let him have a natural soda once every three weeks or so (no corn syrup sweetened stuff, just sugar/fruit sweetened and no artificial colors), a few chocolate chips at a time, a small dish of gelato or some all-natural ice cream. He loves 'hidden treasures' ice cream cones-- vanilla ice cream with frozen berries or a few chocolate chips hidden inside. As long as we keep the treats small and within reason, we do okay. I will say this-- I really prefer the portion sizes of gelato compared to frozen yogurt... we had a major meltdown Monday afternoon after a 'small' frozen yogurt, which was way more than would have fit into a small cone. :(

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answers from Atlanta on

I started giving my child sweets at his first birthday party. We have traditon where the birthday child get ther own personal cake and is allowed to dig in, make a mess and eat it with their hands. lol.

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answers from Muncie on

I never banned sugar/junk food from my daughter, before she had teeth she had cheesey poofies, I have photo evidence. I have however limited how much she has. 4 or 5 from the bag if I had bought them for myself, it's a weakness. I figured a little isn't going to hurt her, it's not an everyday thing, it's always a special treat.

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answers from Madison on

Well... I'm guessing this is your first child, and good for you for keeping it healthy for so long. We were also conscientous of this with our first. However, with the second, they usually start with the sweet stuff a little earlier. Not because you care less or love them less, but they see the older one having it and will get a taste of it, and then it seems like you're just being mean to withhold it! :) Now, that said, even my six year old doesn't get rootbeer, or any other soda for that matter!



answers from Spokane on

With my oldest, we only gave her cake and ice cream on her birthday and then maybe a few bites of my dessert once or twice a week. NO fast food until past age 2 and the first time she had pop was at the movie theatre when she was 3.

My second was a little earlier on everything, except the pop - also for the first time at age 3 at the theatre.

My youngest was earlier still on everything, except the pop. She started having bites of our desserts around 11 months. She's had chicken nuggests and fries (I know, I know!) and she's 21 months old. She still has NOT had pop! hahaha



answers from Seattle on

First cake @ first birthday.

We're not big fruit people, here. We eat fruit in general about as much as we eat other sweets, which is special occasions. Meaning I'm as likely to do root beer floats as I am to go pick up a container of ______ (strawberries, apples, oranges, mango, pineapple, etc.) with the EXCEPTION of bananas. The potassium in bananas really helps my son's growing pains.

Unless you're counting savory fruits, like tomatoes.

We're just not big on sweets.

Nothing against them, just not very keen, either.

We do veg instead. Veg with 4 out of 5 meals, and veg as snacks or meals themselves.



answers from Washington DC on

DD first got cake at her first birthday party. Soda, candy, cake and ice cream remain treats. Yesterday we were out to eat and I offered her lemonade (low sugar at this venue) or ginger ale. She chose the lemonade. She's much more likely to ask for berries and fruit. I mix up sugar cereals with low sugar cereals and call it "mixed up cereal" so she thinks it's awesome.

I think everything in moderation and with explanation where appropriate. She knows that she doesn't get candy without eating healthy food but sometimes it's OK to eat sugary (or greasy or fatty) foods now and then. I didn't have a specific age in mind, other than first cake at 1 yr old. I'm not a big sweets person myself, so it's not often in the house other than a few gummy treats and DH's oreos. And like someone else posted, it's kid-sized. She doesn't typically get 3 scoops of ice cream when we get some. She gets a kiddie cone.



answers from Rochester on

I don't remember specifically when but I know it was before a year. I think our daughter was about 9 months when we caught her taking sips from her daddy's pop through the straw. Our son was probably around that same age, a little younger, when his big sister shared her ice cream with him. I'm sure some parents would say we give our kids more sugary foods than they should have, but my kids (3 and 5) have learned how to regulate themselves. They rarely eat an entire ice cream treat or piece of cake. My daughter doesn't even eat an entire Oreo. We have a huge bag of candy that has been collected at parades and pinatas this summer. It is within reach of the kids and they haven't touched it or asked about it in over a month. They never drink pop and rarely drink juice. They drink milk, water, and sometimes lemonade. They will choose fruit and crackers over sweets most of the time. Sometimes if I offer a sweet as a treat they will still choose fruit. Like many others have said, moderation is the key. I think it is more important to teach kids how to moderate what they eat than to keep it away from them completely.

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