By, Justine Lorelle LoMonaco.
There should be nothing simpler than keeping your baby healthy and fed. Oh wait, that’s just the perfect dream world we live in over here! In reality, baby food companies use inaccurate claims and tricky marketing tactics on the daily to get you to try to get you to buy their products. But don’t despair! You don’t need a degree in nutrition to make informed choices about what goes on your tiny human’s spoon.
Here are a few quick tips to decipher the health from the hype on your baby food pouch.
The front and back should match.
Many baby food pouches list their “primary ingredients” on the front of the pouch—implying that the puree is made from whole ingredients—but the actual ingredient list tells a different story. If the first three ingredients don’t match the front side’s claims, put it right back on the shelf.
Know how it’s made.
Commercially made baby food is designed to last for years on the shelf. (Yep, that’s probably longer than your baby has been alive.) As a result, they boil down the produce into a puree, then process it again with extreme heat to preserve it in the pouch. The final result? A syrupy mess, oozing with sugar and low in any real nutrients.
Speaking of sugar…
You might never know the real sugar content of your baby food pouch. Studies show that big brands underreport sugar content by as much as 87 percent, so the safest way to feed your baby is to make the food yourself. (Sorry, even “organic” sugar is still just sugar.).
Do your research.
In October 2017, The Clean Label Project released a study that showed the unexpected amounts of lead and arsenic in commercial baby foods—even those with “certified organic” labels. While many times this occurs due to pollutants in the ground, it’s up to the parent to do their due diligence about what goes in their baby’s belly. The Clean Label Project maintains a list of the safest baby food products, but making food from scratch is still the safest, healthiest way to ensure your tiny human gets a variety of healthy, whole food with no unpleasant additives.