The 6 Worst Pre-packaged Kids Foods

Pre-Packaged Kids Foods: The 6 Worst OffendersPre-Packaged Kids Foods: The 6 Worst OffendersAs my two kids get older, I'm starting to feel like there are fewer and fewer moments in the day. I'm also feeling like feeding them both is a full time job all by itself. So, I've started wondering about some common convenience, pre-packaged foods - are they healthy for my kids? For some foods, the answer is yes. But there are also a lot of surprisingly unhealthy options out there. Hidden salt, sugar, and trans fat abounds, not to mention lengthy lists of unpronounceable chemical ingredients. Just because the food industry wants our kids to eat this stuff, doesn't mean they should. Below the jump are 6 of the worst pre-packaged kids' food offenders.

Sugary CerealsSugary Cereals1. Cereals
While a lot of kid-friendly cereals are made with whole grains and packed with fiber, not all cereals are created equal. Brightly colored, sugary cereals are made for and marketed to kids, but are not the best way for your kids to start their day. Many sugary kids' cereals are over 50 percent sugar by weight.

Pre-Made LunchPre-Made Lunch2. Pre-made Lunch Kits
For busy parents, a pre-made lunch in a box, and especially one that kids actually love, can be a godsend. But the truth is, this is a pretty unhealthy option, for kids or anyone, for a myriad of reasons. Start with sodium, even so-called "healthier" versions can have up to 25 percent DV of sodium. There's also the relative dearth of nutrients, an epic list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients, and lots and lots of sugar -- as much as 33 grams. So next time, you might want to skip the package and make a turkey sandwich.
Make your own lunchables

Related: 7 food additives you should think twice about before eating

Sport of Fruit DrinksSport of Fruit Drinks3. Sport or Fruit Drinks
Regular fruit juice can have a lot of (naturally occurring) sugar -- so much so that many doctors say it's comparable to soda -- but punch, energy, or sports drinks are even worse. In fact, some of these drinks, which target kids in their advertising and falsely claim health benefits, have been linked with childhood obesity and tooth decay, and some doctors suggest these drinks should only be offered to children during or after vigorous exercise.

Cereal BarsCereal Bars4. Cereal Bars
Parents love cereal bars because they're an easy grab and go snack or breakfast, and made right, they can be a life saver. But some bars can have loads of sugar, fat, trans fat, and little to no fiber or protein. Look for a balanced bar that's easy on the sugar and big on whole grains, fiber, and protein.

Related: 8 homemade Girl Scout cookie recipes - Samoas, Thin Mints, and more

Yogurt SmoothieYogurt Smoothie5. Yogurt Smoothies
Smoothies are a great way to give kids a fruity sweet drink that they'll love, while also ensuring that they're getting valuable nutrients like calcium and protein. And, if you can't always make your own, picking up pre-made smoothies can be a real time saver. But beware, some smoothie drinks marketed to kids sneak in ingredients like high fructose corn syrup or lots of plain old sugar (a few smoothies have a jaw-dropping 47 grams of sugar per serving -- 10 grams more than a can of Coke), artificial food dyes, and other sketchy additives. Look for a smoothie that's sweetened with fruit juice and has a relatively short list of ingredients. Make your own smoothies at home

Cheese and Sandwich CrackersCheese and Sandwich Crackers6. Cheese and Sandwich Crackers
Cheese-flavored and sandwich crackers can seem like a satisfying and quick snack option, but beware -- even a single serving of these little crackers can have nearly 15 percent of the DV for fat and almost 10 percent of the DV for sodium, and many are loaded with trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and artificial dyes. Next time you kiddo needs a quick snack, put a slice of real cheese to a whole grain cracker with plenty of fiber.
Make your own whole grain cheese crackers

- By Elizabeth Stark and Brian Campbell
Follow Elizabeth and Brian on Babble

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