Listen to this article
Have you closely looked at the nutrition label of a baby food product and been able to identify what each ingredient stands for? The answer is probably no. As parents, though most of us are aware about what’s good and what’s unhealthy for a child—we are far from having a deeper understanding of the nutritional value that baby food is meant to provide.
With a lot of information available on the internet, it’s quite easy to be misled and be overwhelmed with which source of information to trust.
Here is a quick guide to understand what’s in your baby’s food
1. Foods that are natural/organic: A lot of us tend to use this interchangeably. There is a significant difference between natural and organic ingredients. An organic product is strictly produced without the use of pesticides or any sort of chemicals. Any product that is labeled as organic will have to be certified organic through a certification process and from an industry regulator.
On the other hand, natural products do not contain artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners etc. So next time when you pick up an organic product make sure it’s certified. If it’s a natural product, make sure you read the ingredients label carefully.
2. Manufacturing date: Is your baby’s food older than your baby? Have you ever asked yourself this question while buying your baby’s formula food or puree? It’s a common sight to see baby food stacked on supermarket shelves for months together. Though it may be safe to consume till a particular period of time, would you really want to feed something that is manufactured months in advance and is probably much older than your infant? The possible solution for this is to look for brands that offer the benefit of ‘made to order’. The fresher the better with all the nutrition intact.
3. Sugar content: When checking the nutritional label, check if the product has sugar content such as saccharin or aspartame (artificial sweeteners). Over the last few years, there have been a lot of concerns around sugar content in commercial baby food products. A study of 8000 brands in Europe by WHO found that a majority of products provided more than 30% of their calories from sugar. Excessive sugar in the early years may impact teeth and may also result in obesity related complications in adulthood.
4. Chemicals: A recent report in the US indicated that a bunch of popular baby food brands in the US were found to have dangerously high levels of heavy metals. Can parents fully avoid any kind of heavy metals in food? Probably not! Mainly because some of these metals are present naturally in the environment around us or it may become a part of the product during the farming process or manufacturing. The ideal way to avoid this is to opt organic products with all the right certifications and labels.
While it may be difficult to have a complete understanding of what’s in your baby’s food, it’s important to follow due diligence. Simply because the packaging says it’s ‘natural’ ‘healthy’, don’t buy a product. Spend time researching the product as well as the company. Take time to research the brand, check with experts if required, consult other parents who have brought the product and then arrive at a decision.