Can I Add Sugar To Baby Formula? (Risk Factors & Substitutes)

According to WHO, even though baby formula has its natural sugars, consumption of sugar for babies should be avoided as excessive intake of it is harmful and can cause health problems such as tooth decay, decreased immunity, and childhood diabetes.

Babies don’t need refined sugar or added sugars in their diet as their sugar intake requirements can be met by foods rich in carbohydrates and other naturally sweet foods such as fruit purees.

Why should you avoid sugar in your baby’s formula?

Here are some harmful effects of adding sugar to your baby’s formula

1. Leads to malnutrition

It’s recommended to not add sugar to your baby’s formula because when your baby consumes sugar, she may feel full.

After all, the sugar content augments the blood glucose, which makes the anger urge subside, which may distance them from a proper and nutritious diet required for their proper body growth and mind.

2. Causes childhood diabetes

When sugar is introduced and served to babies at an early age in their formula, they may become vulnerable to developing serious diseases like diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes related to obesity in children.

3. Causes tooth cavities 

When babies consume sugar, the bacteria in their mouths react with the sugar to create acid, resulting in tooth decay.

The sugar-saliva-bacteria combination leads to the development of plaque on the baby’s teeth.

4. Leads to behavioral issues

Refined sugar amplifies aggressiveness in babies by increasing their adrenaline rush due to their weaker immunity.

Handling such situations can be difficult because the rush of hormones correlates with sugar, causing hyperactivity in children, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating, and crankiness.

5. Causes obesity in children

Lacing your baby’s formula with sugar can certainly lead to obesity due to empty-calorie consumption and fat build-up. 

6. Suppresses your baby’s immune system

Adding sugar to your baby’s formula can suppress their immune system and impair the body’s defense mechanism against infectious diseases making your child susceptible to all kinds of illnesses such as colds and flu.

7. Sugar can cause eczema in children

Pediatricians caution parents to watch their children’s sugar intake and never to add sugar in their formula. It can trigger eczema flare-ups because sugar causes insulin levels to spike, resulting in inflammation. 

8. May cause diarrhea

Sugar is the number one enemy of bowel movements in children because it stimulates the gut, which pulls out water and electrolytes, which loosens the bowel movement. Research shows that 70% of children who consume more than 40-80 grams of sugar per day will get diarrhea

9. Sugar can lead to allergies

Adding sugar to your baby’s formula can lead to anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, and fatal.

Yes, children can be allergic to sugar and have sugar allergies.

10. Sugar is linked to increased asthma attacks in children

Sugar is the culprit behind an increase in asthma attacks in babies because it exposes the immune system of the airways to allergic inflammation, which causes the narrowing of the airway and mucus production resulting in asthmatic symptoms, wheezing, and shortness of breath.


What are the substitutes for sugar for babies?

Many natural sweeteners can be used as sugar substitutes, including fruit purees, date syrup, and honey. However, honey and date syrup should not be given to babies under 12 months.

When do I start adding sugar to my baby’s food?

Giving sugar to infants under one year old is not recommended because baby food does not require any added sugars.

You can, however, substitute with natural sugars like fruit puree and honey even though the juices given to babies must be diluted to reduce the sugar content. 


If your baby is already on formula milk and is doing well, let her be. If she’s thriving, then you’ve found the perfect formula for her, and you should not in any way add sugar to it in any form.

Remember that breast milk is naturally sweet too, so babies are exposed to sweet enough flavors from the start. If you are concerned about your baby’s formula or have questions about feeding it to her, then talk to their pediatrician.

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Hello, I am Emelda from Nairobi, Kenya. They simply call me mama Lilly. A fun of long road trips and a very good cook, along with my mommy duties to a super active girl. She inspires and challenges me in equal measure, and that is how I get to share with you our journey of triumph as we grow and tag you along.

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