Reshni Ratnam's baby Isla discovered she liked cake, until later that evening.
Reshni Ratnam's baby Isla discovered she liked cake, until later that evening.

You don’t decide what my baby eats. I do

FIRST birthdays are special to every parent.

They only come around once, and when they do a lot of effort is put into making them a milestone to remember.

Unfortunately at my daughter's first birthday party a fellow party goer crossed the line and a mistake was made.

Our daughter Isla was given a large piece of chocolate cake (with icing and smarties) without our consent.

It has come to our attention some loved ones think it is acceptable to feed our child food she has never previously eaten. Thoughts of our baby having an allergic reaction at her party, or choking keep entering my mind.

Our daughter Isla was born on November 3, 2017, she arrived at 29 weeks and she is our miracle baby.

Born at 1.2kg, every milestone is a big deal to us.

I know it's not the end of the world but this incident has hurt my husband and I dearly.

Feeding our premature daughter her first piece of cake was to be a special moment for us - when we decided the time was right.

I love cake. In fact Isla and I often go on cake dates with friends. But never have I given Isla a taste of cake. That would come later in life, so I thought.

We watch Isla's diet closely and rarely feed her packaged products. We don't add salt to her home cooked meals.

Isla was violently ill (projectile vomited everywhere) the night of her birthday and had a terrible tummy for several days after. Her body was not ready for a sugar rush.

In fact, we didn't want our dear daughter, who only weighs 8kg, to eat cake on her birthday.

No doubt the photos look good - it's definitely one for her photo album. She devoured the piece of chocolate cake. But a line was crossed that day.

It is not OK to feed a baby without their parent's consent. Adults should show some leadership and not encourage children to eat sugar loaded foods, especially at a young age.

We didn't think we had to inform our loved ones not to feed Isla cake or other sugary foods on her special day, or any other day.

Isla has not eaten muffins, sweet biscuits or cakes before. She is still a baby.

Since the incident, comments have been made like, "it's just cake", "it was her birthday", "why can't she have cake? Is she allergic to sugar or flour?"

Brisbane's Perpetual Wellbeing Natural Health Clinic clinical nutritionist Caryn Levick, who also has a young child, says it is not OK to feed someone else's child sugar, or any foods for that matter, without checking with a parent first, with allergies and food intolerances on the rise.

Isla enjoyed the cake, but she didn’t enjoy the several days that followed with a sick tummy and projectile vomiting.
Isla enjoyed the cake, but she didn’t enjoy the several days that followed with a sick tummy and projectile vomiting.

"One out of 10 babies born in Australia today will develop a food allergy before their first birthday that could be life-threatening and most foods containing sugar have other ingredients such as wheat, eggs, dairy or nuts - all of which are common allergens and could cause serious adverse health effects if the child has an allergy or intolerance," Mrs Levick says.

"Also, if the child has consumed very little sugar in their life, then suddenly having a big dose of sugary food can make them feel very unwell."

Allergies aside, 26 per cent of Aussie children were classified as overweight or obese in 2014-2015, and this continues to rise.

"It is so important to educate children and parents about the dangers of added sugar in foods," Mrs Levick says.

"The amount of patients I see in my clinic that do not understand the importance, or don't know how to read nutritional labels on packaged foods is alarming.

"If you start reading nutritional labels and ingredients of packaged foods, you will notice most of them contain added sugar.

"From bread to crackers and baked beans, to yoghurt and 'healthy' breakfast or snack bars, cereals, and poppers, all these contain added sugar.

"These are common foods that most children consume on a daily basis, which contain in total a very large amount of sugar. So any additional sugar (lollies or cake on special occasions) is really an excess."

As first-time parents we did not want our child to be fed sugary treats without our permission.

We know as she gets older this will change. But for now, we would like to call the shots, especially given her rough start to life.

While nothing malicious was intended by giving our one-year-old a sugar hit, we hope in future others are mindful before good intensions cause harm.

The fact our daughter was sick from ingesting so much cake is a sign her little body wasn't ready for sweet treats.

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