Finding the Best Baby Food (without losing your mind)
Every parent wants to feed their baby the best food they can. Breastmilk is always best, but there is a point where your baby food will start to transition to solid foods and you will have to find and choose the best baby food option for your little one. So when your baby is ready for baby food, how do you choose from all of the options? This short guide will help you out. We also published a baby food dictionary and an introduction to solids from our nutritionist that are deeper dives into the baby food choices. Here is a quick look into the choices you have when feeding your baby:
The very first thing and best thing to look for is real food. Would it be something you would eat if you were on a healthy diet? Look at the ingredient label. Are there a lot of preservatives and things you can’t pronounce or don’t know what they are? If so, it’s probably not the best option.
Make sure you pay attention to the order of the ingredients listed on the back (not on the front - that's marketing) too. On the back they have to be listed by the amount in the baby food, so if apple puree or banana puree is one of the first ingredients in a vegetable pouch, skip it. It's mostly sugary apple concentrate and not those vegetables you thought it was.
Don’t be fooled by the natural label. The only food label you can trust for that sort of thing is organic. Give your baby real food and if you can't make it a home, learn to distinguish between the different types of baby food there is available in your supermarket.
The age of the baby determines how solid food can be so that it’s safe enough to eat. The older the baby, the more solid the food can be. That’s why baby food is divided up into stages. It’s important that babies be given stage-appropriate food, though it is okay to go to earlier stages on occasion for variety. Just don’t jump to later ones too quick.
With each stage, baby learns how to chew, to use a spoon, pinch with their fingers, and many other important skills in feeding. Don’t just give your baby pouches all the time, even if it’s easy. Sure, they’ll eat, but they’ll miss out on this important training and fine motor skills and it can cause problems later.
You have to ensure that your baby gets enough exposure to textures and flavors so they don’t become picky eaters. This is easily done by giving them lots of different and appropriate foods. It’s best to introduce new foods on their own at first to check for allergies, but once they pass that test then you can introduce them to a variety of different vegetables, fruits, cereals and legumes. Also, it’s important that your baby sees you enjoying the food as well. If Mommy and Daddy like it, they’ll be a lot more likely to eat it.
Lastly, and probably most important. Process matters, make sure you understand what the manufacturer did to get those fruits and vegetables in the pouch or jar. Most likely, it's a repeated high heat process that concentrates a lot of those sugars. Read more about that that ugly truth here.
Choosing baby food isn’t so hard once you know all the options out there. Just follow these steps and let your child’s appetite be the guide for how much to feed them. Remember that baby is growing very fast and needs the best food they can to grow up strong and smart! Plus, always remember that it's an adventure, some days your baby will eat all his food, and other days your baby may not be interested. Don't worry, it's all part of the adventure.
At Amara Organic Foods, we offer an introduction to solids variety pack of fruits and vegetables as well as an introduction to textures variety pack to help you start exploring the best baby food for your little one!