We all know that preparing and cooking food for your baby is the best way of ensuring that he/she gets the best ingredients and the nutrients they need. However, with more and more parents out at work and less time available to spend on food preparation it is understandable that we rely on ready made meals.
Commercial baby foods are easy to use and convenient, especially when you are out with your baby, but how confident can you be that what you see on the label is what you get.
The Consumers Association offers some simple advice:
- Always use products for the right age and follow the instructions carefully.
- Use shop bought baby food as part of a mixed weaning diet that contains home made food.
- Check labels carefully for added sugars and fruit juices.
- If you want more food for your money, opt for brands that don’t contain starch.
- Check labels for food content; ingredients are listed in order of weight, with the biggest first.
It can be very confusing, so to help parents new regulations have been set for the nutritional content and labeling of baby foods. These rules govern the amount of protein, fats, carbohydrates and certain vitamins and minerals in them. In addition a baby food label must state what age it is suitable for.
There are also government rules on the amount of salt used in baby food. Babies shouldn’t eat salty food and this should be remembered if preparing your own meals for your baby. It is a good idea to ask your GP or health visitor for advice on suitable foods for your baby.
The Consumers Association has recently carried out a study on the use of added sugar and additives on 420 baby foods. Surprisingly their findings showed that breakfasts were most likely to have added sugar. Deserts were just under half and 6 ‘savory’ meals contained glucose syrup, which is a form of sugar. Look out for sucrose, glucose, dextrose, glucose syrup, fruit syrups and honey on labeling.