When your baby is born, the first foods that they will eat will either be breast milk or formula. But as they get older, their nutritional needs will change, and only soft or mashed foods can fill them. The question is, how do you know what the best baby foods are for your child?
In reality, finding the best baby foods that contain most—if not all—the nutrients that an infant need is not too tricky. A lot of brands are coming out with healthy, non-GMO products nowadays. You can even serve them to your little one for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. They are also available in various flavors and containers.
If you decide that you want to get food for infants, allow us to give you a hand by offering some advice on what to look for on the market today.
How To Choose A Baby Food – Buying Guide
Finding the best baby food for your child is not a walk in the park. You need to consider everything from the ingredients down to the type of containers where the food is stored. Here a few tips for fine-tuning your best baby food choices.
Keep An Eye Out For Iron
Your little one should receive an adequate amount of iron from natural sources every day so that their body and brain can develop well. It can typically come from meats or iron-fortified cereals, but there are some caveats to remember.
- Meat: Be sure to look for single meats (e.g., chicken, turkey, or beef) that do not have additional ingredients. Adding water is acceptable, though.
- Cereal: Opt for plain, single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal. Skip flavored cereals that are filled with sugar and other components that your baby does not need. To add flavor to it, you can mix fruits or veggies instead.
Look For Real Vegetables
If the supposedly best organic baby food has anything other than vegetables and water, you should put it back on the shelf or return it. No one benefits from added sugar or preservatives—not even an adult like you. You may also decide to avoid fruit-and-vegetable purees if you wish to teach your child that the latter can taste good even on their own.
Stay Away From Juices
When you go shopping, we know that those small bottles of fruit juice look enticing enough to give to your little one. However, you should not do that. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies can only drink juices after their first birthday. Even then, their bodies don’t need it. In case you turn a blind eye to this recommendation, it may lead to the following:
- Poor nutrition
- Increased risk of tooth decay
- Increased risk of diarrhea, gas, and bloating
- Increased risk of exposure to bacteria in unpasteurized juices
Understand Food Labels
While you should check the food labels for the things that you eat, it is a must for whatever you feed to your baby. Doing so can help you keep your baby from consuming the additives below:
- Extra Sugar: It is generally listed as sugar, cane sugar, fruit juice, or syrup on the label. None of them is suitable for your growing child, so try not to even think of buying anything with extra sugar in the ingredients.
- Salt: Giving your baby salt from 6 months onwards will mean that they will want more of it later on, and that is not healthy at all. With their kidneys still developing, their body cannot handle too much salt at this point.
- Thickening Agents (e.g., flours and starches): These can be really tough on a young tummy, but they also replace the healthy food that you’re trying to give to your infant.
Look Past Advertisements
From how the labels look to how much space the baby meal takes up on the shelf, everything is decided by marketers. You may see the words’ organic’ or ‘all-natural’ on the packaging as well, while others try to boast about some trendy health foods such as kale or pomegranate.
Well, honest advice: don’t let all that fancy artwork and wording fool you. Such claims do not necessarily mean that those products are the best organic baby food. Scrutinize the label to make sure that they are truthful.
Opt For Glass
Glass is a more convenient and less expensive container for your babies’ food than pouches that some manufacturers use. Aside from being able to pop the top, you can warm the former in the microwave before feeding time, transfer a portion of it in a bowl, and then save what’s left of the puree for later. This will ensure that no bacteria will get in the glass jar.
Another reason why using pouches is less desirable than using a glass jar is that slurping food from the plastic container does not teach your little ones the importance of eating. Plus, you cannot see through the pouch, so you have no idea what the meal looks like. If this is your only option, it will still be best to squeeze the baby food into a bowl to be sure.
Q: Is Baby Food Safe?
A: Before getting packed and sold at the stores, manufacturers of baby food conduct various tests to make sure that their products are safe to be consumed by infants. Getting a seal of approval from USDA and other governing bodies in the business is one indication that particular baby food has ticked off most-if not all-of the food safety requirements.
Still, since organic baby foods are usually made from all-natural ingredients, they should be eaten as soon as you open the container. Otherwise, your child’s meal may get spoiled and become unsafe to consume.
Q: What Are The Benefits Of Pre-Made Baby Food?
A: Having store-bought food for baby within reach can make parenting duties not too stressful. Imagine, you do not need to learn how to prepare it. Once your little ones feel hungry, you only have to get a tub and a spoon and start feeding them. Some parents like to warm their meals in the microwave, but that is not necessary.
Another benefit of buying pre-made meals for infants is that you can get them in variety packs. Meaning, instead of boring your baby with pureed sweet potatoes for an entire week, you can swap it with apples, pears, carrots, and other combinations.
Q: Is Pre-Made Baby Food Better Than Homemade Food?
A: Some parents tend to avoid buying baby food since they think that making the meal at home is the healthiest option for the child.
Technically, that is true because the process of getting the food into the babies’ mouth only consists of grocery shopping and cooking. You are sure that no preservatives are added to the mixture. However, pre-made baby food is better than the homemade version in the sense that the former will not increase an infant’s calorie intake. Cost-wise, it is cheaper to get the best organic baby food from the supermarket than to buy the ingredients from a farmer’s market.
Q: Are There Additives In Pre-Made Food?
A: The reality is that a lot of pre-made baby foods do not have artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Some pureed vegetables and fruits typically have water added to thin them out or preserve their nutritional content. Others can get blended without water at all.
If there is one additive that you will find in most infant foods, it will be the juice from citrus products like lemon, orange, or lime. This natural preservative not only extends the product’s shelf life but also prevents the ingredients from oxidizing once you crack the baby food container open.
Still, if you notice chemical names in the ingredient list (e.g., citric acid or ascorbic acid), they are likely additives. Although there is nothing wrong with them, you are better off with organic preservatives.
Q: What Are The Benefits Of Buying Baby Food?
A: Your child can get enough vitamins and minerals from organic baby foods. This feat used to be effortless for them when all they had to do was drink milk and sleep throughout the day. Since they try more exhausting activities past the age of six months and may start to become picky with what they eat, though, they need foods that have been tried and tested by other infants.
- Your baby’s food is much more inexpensive than whatever meal you put on the table because. With its small portion sizes and compact packaging, many parents will stock up so that they can have food on hand for whenever their child is hungry and also have multiple options to help calm their child’s cravings.
- Baby food can make feeding your child as easy as possible. Just open the container, and your child already has a nutritious food waiting to be eaten. This is ideal for many parents who have full-time jobs during the day and may not have enough time to prepare a homemade nutritious meal for their kid.
- Baby food tends to come in either small jars or plastic containers, which can make them a very convenient way to carry around your child’s meal. Whether or not you are feeding your little one at home, you can easily take their food with you by tossing a jar or container into their diaper bag on the way to the grandparents or your purse if you and your little one are going out for the day.
Q: What Are The Different Stages Of Baby Food?
A: Stage 1: From 4 to 6 months
You might want to start introducing single-ingredient foods such as rice cereal or pureed fruits or vegetables to help them get comfortable with the taste and texture.
- Stage 2: From 7 to 8 months
Once your baby is seven to eight months old, they can eat Stage 2 foods, which can include a single ingredient, as well as combination foods that are strained instead of being pureed. Examples can include fruits and vegetables.
- Stage 3: From 9 to 12 months
At this stage, they can start eating foods that may have more texture and small chunks to them to make them easier to digest.
The jars for Stage three can be much easier to spot on store shelves because they are usually bigger than the ones for Stage one or two. After all, by the time your child has reached Stage three, they are likely to have a bigger appetite.
- Stage 4: 12 months and beyond
At this point, you may also be feeding your child the food that the rest of the family is eating or even buy toddler foods for them.
My Babies Planet Overview
Finding the best baby food can be as challenging as looking for the best formula milk for your child. You cannot decide on the first product that you see without checking out its ingredients. You need to think of food sensitivities that the little one might have, as well as which baby food will give them enough nutrients without costing an arm and a leg.
Hopefully, you can use the reviews and the buying guide above to find the best baby food for a precious child. Good luck!
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