Types of baby food
Manufactured baby foods come in two sorts: ‘wet’, pre-prepared meals, mainly in containers and cans; and dry foods within packs (these have to be combined with water or even milk). The meals are labelled or classified depending on exactly what age of infant they are targeted at. Within these types you can choose from the progressively popular natural ranges or even non-organic kinds. Then you’ve got a choice from the vast range of flavours and recipes — from ‘turkey dinner’ and ‘apple pie dessert’ to chicken korma and courgette risotto with blueberry.
Babies can begin consuming solid meals at close to four months. Prior to this age, their own fragile digestive systems are not fully developed enough to deal easily with anything besides milk or water. The majority of parents begin by giving their babies baby rice, that you simply buy in packets and mix along with boiled water or milk. Baby rice is very dull, so your baby gets accustomed to the texture of food before experiencing any real taste. Formula or breast milk should still be the primary source of nutrition. By the time your child is about 6 months old, so long as everything is mashed up or even puréed, his / her taste buds as well as stomach tend to be more or less prepared for the majority of the foods you consume.
The big question confronted by the majority of parents once they start correct weaning is whether or not to go for store-purchased packets and jars of food, to make home-made baby meals, or to perform a bit of each. Manufactured baby foods possess clear benefits in terms of convenience. You don’t have to do any scraping, boiling or puréeing — you just pop open the jar and down it goes (with some infants, without any requirement for heating up either). If you feed straight from the jar, you don’t even need to do any cleaning-up.
For many mothers and fathers, on the other hand, this sort of convenience is not the be-all and end-all. Home-made meals also have obvious advantages, not least because you have total control over precisely what your baby consumes. You know where the food originates from and that it doesn’t include any ingredients you have no idea about.
You are able to alter the consistency of the meals and test out different preferences and blends to suit your infant’s progress (use either a special blender for baby meals or a portable blender; or else you can mash soft meals, such as plums, up with the fork). Home-made meals could be cheaper if you are using the same meals that the rest of the family is consuming, and can additionally help babies get used to the flavour of home-prepared food. Nor does home-made food have to be much less convenient — you are able to, for example, make batches of food to freeze in ice-cube trays and defrost small amounts when it’s needed.
But what ever your motives, it is pretty likely that you’ll buy at least some manufactured baby meals, even if only to keep in the cupboard for an unexpected emergency or when you are travelling. So how do you choose from the many brands as well as types obtainable?
Investigating the labeling on baby food
Beyond ensuring the meal is the correct one for your infant’s age, exactly what you opt for is actually a matter of your personal and your baby’s preferences. What many parents may neglect to do, nevertheless, is to check out the ingredients on the jar or packet. If you do study these, what you see might influence your decision.
More starch than food
Other ingredients in baby foods that may give reason to be concerned are chemicals such as starches, gums as well as maltodextrin, that are used by a few manufacturers in order to thicken as well as alter the consistency of meals. In a Government Report, 40 per cent of foods were found to contain some form of starch. This may stop a food separating out, but experts feel that simply because starches soak up water this could ‘pad out’ the dinner so there is less ‘real’ food inside it. Some manufacturers clearly state that they don’t include starches, while some contain much more starch compared to ingredients featured in the name of the product. For instance, the researchers discovered that Sainsbury’s Sunshine Blueberry had much more maltodextrin as well as sugar compared to blueberry. Look into the label with regard to starch content if you want more food for the money.
Too much Sugar in baby food?
Government suggestions are that baby meals should generally be free from, or low in, sugar, including those from juice. In a Report in May 2000, the components of 420 baby meals were evaluated to find, particularly, how many had been sweetened with sugar or even fruit juice. They discovered that almost 40 percent of the meals examined included sugar, juice or both. The meal most likely to contain sugars was breakfast — almost 60 percent had additional sugar. 6 ‘savoury’ meals contained glucose syrup, a kind of sugar, as well as half the desserts included some form of additional sugar. Sucrose, glucose, dextrose, glucose syrup, honey, juice concentrates as well as fruit syrups are all kinds of sugar to look out for on the label.
Evaluating brands of baby food
Various brands as well as ranges of baby food will incorporate various levels of starchy foods and sugars. Try to get into the practice of exploring the labels to determine what kinds of ingredients baby foods contain. Ingredients are indexed by order of weight, with the greatest first (the precise percentage doesn’t have to be labelled — so it’s this order that is the answer to how much sugars, starch, and so on. is in an item). Added sugar and fruit juices can motivate a sweet tooth, and water, in addition to starch, enables you to ‘pad out’ a meal.
Additional ingredients in baby food along with health ramifications
Babies below six months old ought to steer clear of wheat-based cereal products because these retain the protein gluten, which can result in a reaction in certain people. The Report discovered that a few foods for babies below six months were not gluten free. The presence of gluten as an ingredient has to be mentioned on the content label, so check this if you are worried.
- Salty meals should not be consumed by babies, and the quantity of salt which manufacturers can add to baby food is controlled.
- Pesticide deposits can be present in many meals. From July 2002, what the law states will require that baby food meets more stringent limits on pesticides, and some pesticides will be banned from crops utilized in baby meals.
- As doubt remains over whether or not BSE could have passed to lambs, Consumers’ Organization is campaigning for the Food Standards Agency to publish guidance to help parents make the best choice regarding lamb within baby meals.
Some baby food producers exploit the worries that lots of parents possess about the meals they are providing their children by making claims about the label which, although accurate, are totally meaningless. Treat with a pinch of salt baby-food labeling that makes these claims.
- No artificial flavourings — official recommendations are that baby foods are flavoured just with natural foods, or food extracts and oils.
- Absolutely no preservatives’ — Preservatives aren’t allowed within baby meals (although some anti-oxidants, such as ascorbic acid, are added to stop meals going off).
- No added sugar — This does not mean absolutely no added fruit juice.
- No artificial colours — these are prohibited in baby food anyhow.’
- No added salt — The quantity of salt that may be added to baby food is managed by law.
Milk as well as water are the best drinks for your baby or toddler, however it’s not really realistic or even practical to expect parents to stick to these and these alone. Young children like juice and it can give them important nutritional vitamins. Fruit juice will contain naturally present sugars, however, therefore it is advisable to water the juice down. Some fruit drinks are marketed specifically for babies and are generally some sort of non-citrus fruit juice, for example apple, combined with water — Cow & Gate, for instance, produce this type of range.
Even though products like these may be useful for travelling, it is much cheaper to merely water down your own packages of fruit juice and give this to your infant in a mug (juice within bottles isn’t recommended as it can certainly encourage tooth decay).