Some Baby Foods are Junk Says Consumer Group

Filed under: Feeding & Sleeping

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Babies love cookies, but are they a healthy choice?. Image: sxc.hu

Some baby foods might be as fatty as a cheeseburger, a British consumer group recently found, or contain as much sugar as a cookie. The Children's Food Campaign surveyed more than 100 different baby and toddler foods available in mainstream British supermarkets and found surprisingly high levels of saturated fat, sugar and salt.

Some even contained notorious trans fats, but were improperly labeled. "The results of this survey are staggering," says CFC coordinator Christine Haigh, "Many foods marketed for babies and young children are often advertised as "healthy". In reality, in terms of sugar and saturated fat content, some are worse than junk food. In particular, failing to correctly label products that contain dangerous trans fats is outrageous."

In the beginning, baby food is pretty straightforward. It's hard to mess up smashed peas, after all. But once babies and toddlers move up to chunkier textures, processed foods step in. That's when parents need to start really paying attention to food labels.

Nutritionist Stella Metsovas has advice for concerned parents who want to get babies and toddlers off to a nutritious start. Her biggest tip is this: Make at least 60 percent of baby's food at home. "In the past, women would purchase baby food in addition to the food made at home," says Metsovas. "Now days, people might believe the packaged variety is healthier. The fact is, nothing can replace the nutrient quality of homemade food."

Here are more feeding tips from Metsovas:

  • Don't restrict fat (babies need it for brain and spinal cord development). Instead, look at the sources of fat. For instance, avocado is a nutrient-rich food can be introduced as a first food. The naturally occurring fats found in avocados provide beneficial, calorie-dense fuel for the growing baby's brain and physical development.
  • When selecting a baby food, look for 15 grams of sugar or less, from a naturally occurring source.
  • Look for baby food products that use brown rice, rather than heavily processed white rice.
  • Include a variety of whole foods, appropriate for baby's age.
  • Forget those jarred baby food desserts. "Your baby doesn't need dessert to grow and maintain an optimal level of health," says Metsovas. "Most of the desert-style foods marketed contain over 20 grams of sugar per serving."

In fact, some of the products reviewed in the UK were up to 30 percent sugar. "I wouldn't advise anyone consume a food product that contains 30 percent sugar, let alone a baby!" says Metsovas.

Do you read baby food labels before buying them for your baby? And have you ever tried making baby food at home? Share your tips with us.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.