Packaged snacks are becoming a popular option with busy parents and kids these days. The range of children snacks in the supermarket aisle is rapidly expanding, with most of these snacks targeted at the health conscious parent wanting the best for their kids. Manufacturers are cleverly marketing their products as ‘organic’ and ‘all natural’, portraying their products as healthy and full of wholesome goodness for your child. But are they really?
I often get asked by parents about packaged snacks for kids and what I thought about them. So over the next few weeks, I will be looking at some popular supermarket snacks targeted at babies and toddlers, giving you my honest and unbiased review.
Baby Mum-Mum Rice Rusks
I will kick off this week’s review with the Baby Mum-Mum Rice Rusks, a very popular snack well loved by many parents and children. For many, it is a staple in the pantry and parents often have it in the bag for use as a distraction when out and about.
If you are not familiar with Baby Mum-Mum, they comes in a few different flavours:
- First rice rusks (8+ months):
- Vegetable (kale, spinach, carrot, cabbage)
- Apple & pumpkin
- Premium rice rusks (12+ months):
- Blueberry & carrot
- Sweet potato & carrot
- Junior mum-mums (1-5 years)
- Mixed berries
- 3 Vegetables (sweet potato, kale, carrot)
The Nutrition Low-Down
Baby Mum-Mum is a popular option for teething babies and children with allergies or intolerances. The manufacturer claims the product to be:
- All natural
- Free from the top 9 common allergens listed below
- Made in a nut-free environment
- No added preservatives, colours or flavours
The Baby Mum-Mum rusks are marketed to be healthy and nutritious with pictures of fruits and vegetables on the front of the packaging. The Vegetable Rice Rusk boosts an impressive range of vegetables added (kale, carrot, cabbage and spinach) – sounds like a nutritional powerhouse right? But if you read the ingredients list carefully, you will see that the vegetables added are in powdered form and they make up less than 2% of the product, which is equivalent to less than 0.06g in a serve (2 rusks). Protein is in miniscule amounts too, with each serve providing less than 1g of protein.
The Original rice rusks can’t be too bad right? MAYBE. The Original rusks contain 13.5g sugar per 100g, the highest among all the products in the range. In fact, sugar is added to all the rusks in the Premium range for 12+ months, appearing 2nd or 3rd on the ingredients list. Some of the Baby Mum-Mum products claim to be ‘naturally sweetened with fruit juice’ or have ‘organic sugar’ – this is deceiving as it can trick parents into thinking the product is healthier. Well… the great news is the sugar content of all the rice rusks are below the guideline cut-off of less than 15g sugar per 100g, and they all have less than 1g sugar per serve. However, it is important to note that having sugary foods regularly can promote a taste and preference for sweet foods and cause damages to the developing teeth.
Most of the rusks in the Baby Mum-Mum range are certified organic, using ingredients such as organic rice, organic fruit powder and organic sugar. Good on the manufacturers for using organic ingredients, but you need to know that having organic ingredients does NOT make the product any healthier. Organic sugar is still sugar at the end of the day.
The sodium/salt content in the First Rice Rusks (8+months) is the lowest in the whole range, containing less than 5mg sodium per 100g. This increases to 352mg per 100g in the Junior Mum-Mum range which has salt added to the rusks. Nonetheless, they are all still within the guideline of less than 400mg sodium per 100g.
“Stimulates inquisitive minds and busy hands”
The manufacturer claims that the Baby Mum-Mum rice rusks help with “transition to complex textures and assists with the development of fine oral and motor skills”. The rice rusks are crunchy, easy to bite off and dissolve easily in the mouth. Yes it does promote autonomy with feeding, but there are so many other nutritious alternatives that can promote self-feeding skills too.
Well….I am debunking the ‘no mess” claim on the packaging. Be warned – they can get very messy and they pretty much stick to everything (think sticky pram and car seats!!). In saying that, I am not against mess and I strongly believe that mess is an important part of feeding and exploratory play.
Be Snack Savvy
There is no doubt these rice rusks can be an easy solution while you are on the go. It is fine to offer it to your child sometimes, as long as it does not displace their appetite for other nutritious foods in their diet. I do offer the rusks to my hungry 10 month old to keep her entertained while I am getting dinner ready but this is only on the odd occasion. She loves it and devours it quickly so I can see how babies can munch on them all day.
Instead of the rusks, consider offering these healthier and nutritious snacks:
- Grated or chopped vegetables (try with hummus dip)
- Wholemeal bread or toast with natural peanut butter or avocado
- Plain rice cakes or crackers with cream cheese
- Mini homemade pikelets or corn + zucchini fritters
- Fresh fruit
- Boiled egg
Overall, Baby Mum-Mum should be a “sometimes” snack only – they offer minimal nutrients, fibre and vitamins. These rice rusks are not considered an unhealthy snack, but it is also not an impressive snack nutritionally. If you choose to offer it to your child, I would suggest going for the First Rice Rusks (8+ months) range which does not have added salt and sugar (except pear juice). I recommend that you don’t offer these snacks to an older child, it doesn’t really offer much and there are so many other nutritious options you can choose from.
Charlyn’s Rating: 3/5
Stay tuned for next week’s Dietitian’s Review – I will be looking at another popular baby and toddler yoghurt snack.
Specialist Dietitian Consultancy is a premium nutrition clinic based in Ardross, Perth WA. This blog post is written by Charlyn Ooi (Paediatric & Neonatal Dietitian and Credentialled Diabetes Educator). All content written is based on my own opinion and not sponsored in any way. The information provided is general advice and not applicable if you or your child have any specific dietary requirements. For further information or to book an appointment, please click on the Contact Us page above.
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