Is It Okay to Give My Baby Jello? [Make Your Own Healthy Alternative!]

As your baby grows and begins to eat solid foods, it can be a fun experience for the both of you as your baby begins to try new things. Jello is a snack that seems to provide a fun sensory experience as well as taste due to its jiggly properties and fun colors. But can babies eat Jello?

Jello contains no nutritional value and has tons of added sugar which is best for babies under two years old to avoid. The empty calories Jello provides takes the place of more nutrient-rich calories that your growing baby needs. If you think your child would enjoy a jiggly snack, you can make your own at home using gelatin, juice, and a sweetener.

Read on to find out what ingredients exactly make up this gelatin snack as well as a healthy homemade recipe you can give in its place. 

Can I give my baby Jello?

Jello can seem like a convenient snack option for your little one but have you ever looked closely at what’s in it?

It consists of mainly four ingredients: gelatin, water, sugar or artificial sweetener, and food coloring. Jello also contains very little protein, around 17 grams of carbs and 17 grams of sugar. The calories it does contain are empty calories meaning your child is receiving no nutrition from the consumption of this food. At this young age, babies need all of their calories to contain nutrients to help their young bodies grow and develop.

The American Heart Association advises against giving any babies or children under the age of 2 any added sugar in their diet. A snack cup of Jello contains 16 grams of added sugar, meaning the sugar is added when the food is processed.

Another concern with giving an infant Jello is the risk of choking. Jello is a very sticky substance due to the gelatin it contains which can cause it to clump together. If your child doesn’t properly chew the Jello, one of these large clumps could be swallowed and could potentially cause your child to choke. 

Can babies have sugar-free Jello?

Sugar-free Jello may seem like a healthier alternative to its sugary counterpart.

However, oftentimes the chemicals that are added to replace the original sugar can be worse than the sugar itself. Manufacturers aren’t required to disclose how much artificial sweetener is used in their products so it can be hard to know how much of these artificial sweeteners you are feeding your child. 

Is Jello safe for babies?

Jello is a high sugar snack with little nutritional value not to mention it could potentially be a choking hazard for younger babies.

Consuming too much sugar can affect your child’s mood, behavior, and causes a greater chance of developing Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance later in life. As children under two are advised to stay away from any added sugars in their diet, it is best to stay away from Jello completely until your child is at least two years of age, and then only in moderation after that. 

Choking risk

Jello should not pose much of a choking risk for children over one who are able to eat most table foods and able to chew their foods properly. J

Jello may pose more of a choking risk to babies under one due to the gelatinous nature of the snack which can cause it to clump together. If a baby swallowed a large bite without chewing correctly there could be a chance the Jello could lodge in their throat.  

Nutrition

Each individual jello cup contains 70 calories, 1 gram of protein, 40 mg of sodium, 17 grams of sugar, and 17 carbohydrates. It contains no fat grams, no Vitamin D, no calcium, no iron, and no potassium.

In short, Jello holds no nutritional value for your baby. While adults may be able to “waste” 70 calories on a snack treat, your little one needs all of their calories to contain nutrients that aid in development.

When can babies eat Jello?

According to the American Heart Association, children younger than 24 months of age should not be given any added sugars in their diet, meaning they should not be given any food that has sugar added during processing.

Considering your typical Jello snack cup contains 17 grams of sugar with 16 of those grams coming from added sugar, Jello should probably be avoided until after two years of age.

You can then start to give snacks or foods with added sugars sparingly after two years of age. 

Can a six-month-old eat Jello?

A six-month-old baby is just learning how to eat and likely only has a few, if any, teeth.

You may be tempted to give him or her some Jello as it can seem like a food that is pretty easy to eat. While there aren’t any clear-cut guidelines on what age is safe to give a baby Jello, six months old is probably too young for a couple of reasons.

Reason one is that since Jello is a sticky substance it has a tendency to clump together. At that age, a baby doesn’t always gum or chew his food correctly and there could be a chance that your baby could get choked.

Reason two why Jello isn’t a great idea for a six-month-old is the sugar content. Not only does Jello not have any nutritional value, but it also has 16 of its 17 grams of sugar coming from added sugar. Children under the age of two are recommended to not have any added sugars in their food.

Can a one-year-old eat Jello?

A typical one-year-old has mastered eating finger foods and is probably able to gobble down most of what is put in front of him, provided the food is cut into small pieces.

While Jello likely won’t pose a choking hazard for your one-year-old, it still doesn’t make the best snack option. Jello has no nutritional value and it contains nothing but empty calories. At this point in your child’s life, her body will be using nutrients from all calories she consumes to help her thrive and grow.

Considering that of the 17 grams of sugar a typical Jello cup snack contains, 16 of those grams come from added sugar. Children under the age of two are recommended to abstain from any added sugar in their diet. 

Can a two-year-old-old eat Jello?

The American Heart Association recommends that kids ages two and older have less than 25 grams (or 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day to maintain a healthy heart.

A Jello cup usually contains somewhere around 16 grams of added sugar. Provided your two-year-old doesn’t eat any other sugary snacks or drink a lot of fruit juice, there is nothing wrong with giving them some Jello as an occasional treat. 

Healthier homemade “Jello”

The problem with limiting Jello is that kids of all ages seem to love it. It’s cool, refreshing, fun to eat, and comes in a rainbow of colors.

As a healthier alternative to store-bought Jello, consider making a homemade version like this recipe from One Lovely Life. (Please remember, honey should never be given to infants under 12 months of age due to the risk of botulism.)

Healthy Homemade Jello [One Lovely Life]

You need:

  • 4 c juice
  • 2 Tbsp unflavored beef gelatin
  • 2 Tbsp honey or agave (optional – do not use honey if child is under one year)

Directions:

  1. Add ½ – ¾ cup of the juice to a bowl or liquid measuring cup and sprinkle with gelatin powder.
  2. Whisk together to combine and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes until the juice thickens.
  3. Pour the remaining juice into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until almost boiling.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in honey and the juice mixture. Stir to dissolve.
  5. Pour into an 8×8″ (2 quart) baking dish for thicker squares or a 9×13″ baking dish for thin, or into individual glasses or jars for individual portions.
  6. Refrigerate for about 4 hours, or until set.

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