This wasn’t even something that I was going to give a thought to as a new mom. Of course, I’ll buy the canned baby food I thought. I mean, why would I waste my time making my child’s food when I can buy it already prepared? Not to mention the fact that all the people that I knew with kids bought canned baby food, so why shouldn’t I do the same?
So when my daughter was about 4 months old I purchased my first can of baby food. I hadn’t done much research on which kinds of foods to feed her so I went by the cans. Beech Nut’s cans are clearly labeled by stages, so I went with a couple Stage 1 cans. I bought a can of peas, a can of carrots and a can of bananas. I was so excited to get home and introduce my girl to a new aspect of life, real food.
A little later that night, I strapped my baby into her high chair and lined all her cans up in a row in front of her, a baby smorgasbord of sorts. We decided to try the carrots first. When the carrots hit her tongue, her angelic face scrunched up like I had just fed her a spoonful of dirt. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t laugh a little at her reaction. She was disgusted. I proceeded to give her another spoonful, after all this was her first taste of food. Her second reaction was very similar to the first. “Let’s try the peas”, I told her. By the look on her face, she thought these were even worse than the carrots. Onto the next I thought, she has to like the bananas. Wrong again. She hated all of these age approved canned baby foods.
Sitting there starring at each other, something has got to give, I told her. So I started doing a little bit of reading about what was in baby food that could make it so gross to my girl. I was shocked by what I found out. Jarred baby food is very processed and it lacks the freshness of freshly prepared foods. I mean after all, jarred baby food doesn’t expire for a year or more and that’s being stored at room temperature. In my research I found that jarred baby food does have all the ingredients listed on its labels but not at the percentages that most parents think. The ingredients used for baby foods are boiled and pureed so much that they lose a lot of their nutrients. For example when you see a jar of food that says “Chicken with carrots and peas” you figure there would be about 70% veggies and 30% meat right? Wrong. The EU Regulation states that if a source of protein is mentioned first in a product name then they have to constitute for at least 10% of the product. This means that in a 3.5 oz jar of food there is a maximum of 10gr of meat! So what are the main ingredients in a jar of baby food?
Take a look at this jar of Gerber baby food nutrition facts. I’d say the main ingredient here is none other than water. That’s right we are paying high prices for empty calories. The secondary ingredient that is being used is rice flour, which is used mostly as filler. This can of baby food also contains 25g of sugar! Holy smokes! I don’t know about everyone else, but I most definitely didn’t want my sweet baby ingesting these things!
So I found an alternative, I would make my daughters baby food at home. Homemade baby food is higher in nutrients, tastes way better and has an enticing aroma that will make your baby excited to eat. It retains most of its nutritional value, taste, color and texture because it is only lightly steamed and not over cooked like its store bought counterparts. Not only is it way better for our babies, its way better for our pockets too. Depending on the brand, store bought baby food can cost 2-3 times more than homemade! Studies also show that babies that ate homemade baby food were far more likely to be less picky eaters as they entered the toddler stage. Many moms think that homemade baby food isn’t as convenient as prepared jarred foods but that is actually not the case. I make my daughters food in batches once a week or a couple times a month and then freeze in portion sized containers. These are just as grab and go friendly as the store bought jars, but packed with 3 times as many nutrients!