How Often Do Your Kids Have Sweets?

Updated on September 08, 2012
T.B. asks from Springfield, VA
27 answers

I have four kids that are 10, 8, 3, and 3. They are all in good health. I am struggling trying to figure out how much and how often I should allow them to have a sweet treat like cookies, ice cream, or cake.

My husband is always struggling with his weight and his ENTIRE family is obese. Heart disease also runs on both sides of the families. We buy a lot of organic and whole foods and try to avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup or dyes. Many of the times we have treats, they are things I make at home.

The problem is that when the kids know we have sweets in the house, they will ask for it all day want want to eat all of it at once. So most of the time, I avoid making sweets so I am not hounded by them to have some. I want to teach them it is perfectly fine to have treats, but in moderation and I am struggling to do this. I want them to learn self control, so that they can make good choices and stay healthy.

Any suggestions??? THANKS!!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Anchorage on

My kids get a treat every day, sometimes twice a day. The fastest way to create food issues is to make food an issue! They know that junky food needs to be eaten in moderation and it has never really been a huge issue for them. Sometimes they ask for more, and I say no. If they keep begging or bugging me about it they get in trouble.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I allow one sweet treat per day. But I am very lucky in that my GD doesn't really like sweets. If she has a choice of leftover dinner or ice cream at night, she will usually opt for the leftovers. She's just not a sweet-eating kid. Not to say that she NEVER eats sweets, but just not very often. So when she does want something, I have no problem letting her have it.

I consider myself to be very lucky with regard to her eating habits. She loves fruits and veggies!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

my 9 yo and 7 yo, might have two oreos with their pb and j at lunch, and then a scoop of icecream after dinner as a dessert.

I don't really serve it as a snack, but more as after a meal.

so brownies left over from a picnic, or bday cake for someone's bday, or the icecream grandma brought over. Personally, I know it would be better for them to have just one dessert a day, but they are in ahealthy weigh range soooo I just don't fight it too much.

Can you subsitute some sweet fruit??

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on

I think its good to let them have some treats. When I was little my parents did not let us have anything sweet and I feel that two things happened because of that 1) I learned how to sneak them 2) when I moved out around age 20 I gained a bunch of weight because it was like all of the sudden I could have whatever I wanted after having been restricted so long.
Of course they should not have unlimited access or anything like that but if they are able to have it more often it will lose some of the forbidden appeal...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

everyday, their overall food intake is healthy so I don't see the problem in some cookies and milk at night or an occasional bowl of ice cream. when I make sweets at home, i have more control over it so I tend to make them instead of buying them.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Okay... just as a heads up:

My family splits into 2 groups:

Those who are obese, and those who are athlete slim/fit.

The obese side SEVERELY RESTRICTS sweets, treats, etc.
The athlete slim side? Whatever, whenever.

Is it causal? Nope. But there ARE contributing factors. The athlete side rarely binges on treats. No biggie. Can have them whenever. The obese side severely restricts them, and then GORGES.

I'm a fan of 'all things in moderation'. So we have whatever, whenever ALTHOUGH I strongly prefer brownies for breakfast over dessert. Why? Because I don't run around a lot after I go to sleep at night. When I have fruit, cookies, brownies, etc. EARLY, then they get burned off during the day.


DO include fruit in your 'sweets' list. It blows my mind how many people don't realize that fruit is crammed with sugar. My neice was eating over 3000 calories a day in fruit at one point (because my SIL had a 'as much fruit as you want, but nothing else except at meals)... and my lovely SIL was baffled as to why my neice was packing on the pounds when 'all she eats is fruit'. Honey. Um.....

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New London on

I was an obese child. It was horrible.

I am always watching my weight and food intake ! Excercise is key !

I eat healthy 90% of the time. I avoid HFCS, too. I read the research on HFCS or corn syrup...It's highly processed and it is "manufactured" to make you crave more of it. Plus, it's a cheap ingredient. I use pure, organic cane sugar only.

With my own kids, I let them have a small dessert at night.

After school, I do not allow sweets.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If the sweets are in the house, my kids want them all day long. Makes me sad because I can't have any either. :) I do NOT want them eating all that junk, and I don't want to listen to them beg for it all day. So we can't have it around. But there is a shelf of special snacks for when we go places (portable stuff like squeezable applesauce). Nothing too unhealthy, just not for eating at home.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We have three 'treat days' in our week; Tues, Thurs and Saturday. Are we flexible on this? Yep. But this ensures that A. he's not getting too many treats, B. we have an excuse to fall back on (not a treat day) and C. he's getting treats often enough that it doesn't feel completely forbidden.

Treats in our house range from a dish of fruit and greek yogurt to a mini-scone, or a cup/cone of ice cream with some frozen berries or chocolate chips hidden inside it.

When I make cookies or muffins, I always plan to give away a third of them. Sometimes, my neighbors get a treat, or my husband takes them in to work. This way, I don't have begging all day-- the get out of the house quickly. I also will accommodate my son's desire to 'keep some' by freezing some of them. (with muffins, I cut them into quarters and freeze them this way; then it defrosts more easily and I can serve a quarter-sized piece to him with a dollop of ice cream... it seems like 'more' dessert, but it's really less.)

Also, for post Halloween, many local dentists do a candy buy-back from kids, where they get paid per pound of candy. The candy is sent overseas through USO services. At our house, the Halloween Fairy visits, and 'buys' Kiddo's candy for a present we know he wants (much like the tooth fairy paying for teeth). I'm sure your kids are a bit old for this one...:)

And I don't know if this helps, but I always serve dessert in the afternoon, right after a healthy snack. This way, there's no 'food power struggles' going on at dinner, when we are trying to come together as a family. If I serve the dessert early on, he's plenty hungry for dinner.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

A few times a week if she asks, nothing set in stone. We never have lots of sweets on hand, maybe a carton of ice cream and some cookies. I'm not really a daily sweets kind of mom. I guess because I didn't grow up with them myself, I don't care for sweets too much. When my daughter starts asking every day, I just say no. Then she stops asking and it goes back to just a few times a week.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

My kids get a sweet treat (cookie, jelly beans, graham crackers) two or three times a week, and the way we get them to not whine for sweets all the time is to not make them a big deal. So we'll have cookies, but we don't use the cookies as bribes or something special. No talking all day about if they're good we'll have dessert.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Every. Single. Day. UGH!! They get something like 2 oreos in their lunch. And we just finished dinner and they had 2 fudge stripes. Other than that we're healthy. And they're at normal weights. I don't really think too much about it. Since your post made me think about it, I guess I'm hoping they don't go hog wild when they're not with me. Sort of like my room mate in college, who went to a catholic high school and NEVER did anything wrong, until freshman year. Man, that girl could drink like a fish...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

My children think fruit is a treat. :-) They get fruit as often as they like. They think fruit salad is manna from heaven.

If you mean sweets, those are much less frequent but the girls don't really miss them. I would say "occasionally" and I don't keep track of how often. For instance, today my mother came to have lunch with me and brought some doughnuts for the girls. I let them have some after supper for dessert. They won't have doughnuts again for a while, maybe a few weeks.

But I did let them have a brownie or two on Sunday at a picnic. On Monday I let them have a little ice cream at another picnic.

Actually, I do know when their next sweets will be... my eldest daughter's birthday party when I make her cake in two weeks.

I just don't make it an issue. We follow the Feingold Diet due to dietary restrictions (modified to fit our needs, but we follow it pretty closely as of late). There's no reason not to have treats but what matters is how we define them. What's nice is that when my girls have a choice between sweets and fruit, they've been choosing fruit. With my middle daughter, if she has a choice between a sweet and an oat bar, she chooses her oat bar. They don't like overly sweet things, overly heavy things.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Dinner and dessert. I control the dessert. You could do the same since you are health concious. Sweets are never a problem if they are within proportion. If you serve it daily after dinner only, you control it, you make it, you distribute appropriate proportions. Sweets can be healthy as well.....thin slice of pound cake with berry compote you make yourself, on top. Fresh fruit salad. 1 small scoop of frozen yogurt with berries on top.
YOu can come up with very healthy desserts & satisfy the craving. The sad reality may be that if you do not allow desserts, they will get them out of the home any way they can.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

There's the argument about depriving them makes them want sweets even more and go crazy when they're older and can get them on their own so we've opted to allow a small treat every night after dinner if they eat their vegetables. On special occassions or a weekend, it might be an ice cream cone but typically it's 2 very small cookies or one/two oreos. If they have a treat during the day because they're at a bday party or something like that, then they know that's their treat for the day. Not sure if it's the right approach but that's what we do. I'm trying to teach moderation. It's ok to have a little bit but not a lot often. And now that they're older, I will say sometimes if we just bought something that they can have their treat earlier in the day and then not after dinner. I let them have the choice and they know they have to eat their vegetables that night anyway. I figure I like a sweet everyday so it's hypocritical if i ban them... I also try not to do the "reward" with food thing though. ie: bad day = treat or accomplishment even = treat. Almost never to make up for something bad and only very occassionally for a reward. I've heard that too can lead to eating problems later.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I give DD treats on the occasion. If she eats all her dinner, then maybe she can have 2 pieces of her leftover birthday candy. If they hound you for sweets and want to eat it all, then maybe don't have sweets or save it for special occasions only. I tell DD that if she hassles me about the sweet treat, she gets nothing. So she'll take her 2 pieces and be happy about it. She knows that she doesn't get treats if she doesn't eat healthy food. And sometimes she's happy not to have treats at all. I've explained (for example) that she cannot just have juice all day. She gets 3 glasses. Then she drinks milk or water. What does she want?

Have you told them that you don't like how they behave when treats are involved so you don't make them? The older kids can understand this. "Having a treat also depends on how you behave. If you cannot behave, take an appropriate amount only, and hassle/hound me about the treat, then your behavior is not earning you the treat."

My SD has a huge sweet tooth and in her teens we let her have whatever -she bought most of it. But when she had serious tooth problems and several bad cavities we said we were clearing out the sweets because her inability to manage both her diet and her teeth was costing us a lot of time and money.

So, IMO, it's two-fold. Did they eat healthy? AND Did they behave? Then they can have a treat. But maybe you serve it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I have 4 little ones and I try to keep healthy foods and snacks around the house so they are not tempted by the sweets that are out there. But, they have grandparents and they love to spoil them... And sometimes they give them the wrong things... ( which is a set back). But, it's important that if there is sweets in the home that it is given in monaration. But, if health issues like obesity is a problem in your family I would eliminate sweets all together and just try and look up healthy alternatives... Homemade (healthy cookies, cakes, etc). Go to and look up healthy cook books for kids... And start making things they love... With a healthy twist. I do that for my kids all the time... And they have no idea they are eating healthy ;)
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

On the weekends as an after dinner dessert...ONLY if they eat their meal. No eat No treat!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Just don't buy sweets.....if you don't have them in your pantry, they will never get them...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Sweets are like drugs to kids. lol. My daughter started having a weight issue so I limited her sweets to weekends only.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

We keep our Halloween candy until Easter and our Easter candy until Halloween. They each have one piece of candy (treat size portion) a day. They will have cookies after a meal a couple of times a week, and once a week, usually on Sunday, I will make a dessert. We go out for ice cream once in a blue moon, they have cake at parties. They each get a free cookie when we go to the grocery store, and if they are offered a treat anyplace else we go we wouldn't refuse it. They are both active, healthy weight, have reasonably healthy diets and brush their teeth twice a day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

You can try scheduling treats, maybe after dinner that they eat everything healthy on their plates, or just Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday's after dinner (something you've made), treats for good report cards/behavior, Birthday Treats, One/Two Days a Week Just Because Treat. Write these down and post them where they all can see. The 3 year old may still beg, but once it's written and posted your readers can't say they don't know the " treat rules".

My daughter gets treats for super good behavior and only after meals if she's eaten EVERYTHING (or makes an honest effort to eat everything) and thinks to ask for them. We also use try to use non-food "treats", a show before bedtime or a later bedtime, bubbles in the bath (she can pick how many cap fulls, but no more then 4), a "date" with mommy or daddy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We usually don't keep sweets in the house. Once in awhile I'll bake a batch of cookies, but that's rare. When we go to my mom's, she always has dessert, or some other treat, and the kids are free to indulge, and occasionally we will splurge and get dessert when we eat out, but not often. We don't keep soda in the house either.

I agree with you completely about teaching them to make healthy choices. We don't make a big deal of it when they eat sweets, and we don't forbid them from eating them. We have just taught them from a young age that our bodies need good nutrition, so we don't eat a lot of sugar. My boys are 8 and 14, and they both regularly make good food decisions without my input. They think about what they are eating.

*My husband and oldest son are both healthy weights, and my youngest son and I are underweight.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Make smaller batches of your special treats. A lot of from scratch cupcake recipes, for example, are for a dozen cupcakes. Or use sites like, where you can adjust the recipe for the number of servings that works best for you.

Also, we've recently discovered some excellent dried fruit treats. Our current favorite is this apricot "log" rolled in coconut shavings. OMG, it's good.



answers from Los Angeles on

I pack a small treat in my daughters lunch everyday - maybe a cookie or a handful of m&m's and I might let her have a dessert a few times a week also. There is not a rigid schedule or idea. I've done this for a while. She is now 12 and in great shape & health. She exercises at least 3-4 times a week which I'm sure helps. She loves sugar but seems to understand it is to be enjoyed in moderation as it is not healthy. I've found that her friends whose parents were strict about sugar or had rules (only on the weekends) would be the ones at birthday parties who would gorge on sweets and soda. Creating a healthy relationship with food is key and restricting foods (whatever they are) in a strict manner will only make kids go nuts when they get that food. Those kids being restricted are also usually the ones that go off to college and go crazy with food.



answers from Provo on

Because of my family's health background and my own health and diet issues, I have begun to battle yeast and the resulting addiction to sugar that it causes in me. I am replacing sugar, corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners a little at a time with things like xylitol, maltitol and stevia, which all come from plants. I am loving it because I feel so much better after eating a xylitol sweetened lollipop or a maltitol sweetened truffle than I do after eating a typical candy. I don't feel the need to over eat or binge when eating these alternately sweetened things. I don't feel like I have to have more. A big part of that is the yeast. When too much candida is in me, I crave sugar and chocolate like crazy and sometimes cannot control it and end up binging. If I keep the yeast under control through non sugar natural sweeteners and probiotics, I feel better, eat better, and keep the weight lower. My kids like the xylitol candies as well. As far as homemade baked goods go, I substitute honey for at least half the sugar. It takes only a couple tablespoons of honey to equal the same sweetness as a 1/2 cup of sugar. Good luck and God bless!



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi T., thanks for the question! It inspired a blog post that was long over due. You can read it here:

Bottom line is SWEETS should be eaten every day...every up to 5 times a day!

Sweet apples, sweet corn, sweet carrots, sweet bananas, sweet get the idea.

You may find my blod interesting.


For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions