Us Australians are lucky to have access to so many high-quality baby foods. But it can be hard to know what’s healthy and what’s not. Read on for some tips on what to look for and what to avoid when trying to pick the healthiest options for your little one.
Fruit and vegetables are an essential part of your baby’s diet. But commercially grown fruit and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides to protect them from being destroyed by bugs. While fruits and vegetables are washed before being sold local fruit shop, supermarket or favourite pre-prepared foods, pesticide residue (which have been linked to a number of conditions) may still be present.
The best way to avoid pesticides is to choose organic foods. Always look for foods that are 100% organic (like Bubs Australia) and make sure you read the label carefully to see what percentage of the ingredients are actually organic.
Look for baby foods that contain real ingredients – fruits, vegetables and proteins that you know and recognise. Avoid anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognise and ingredients you can’t spell.
It’s also a good idea to look at the percentage of each ingredient in the food. Under Australian food labelling laws, ingredients are listed in descending order – so the ones listed first make up the bulk of the product.
What’s not healthy?
Unfortunately, some manufactured baby-foods contain preservatives, fillers and other nasties. Here are some of the not so healthy ingredients to try and avoid:
Your baby doesn’t need sugar added to their food. They’re just learning different tastes and textures, and natural ingredients like apples and pears are already very sweet for those new little tastebuds. Ensure you read labels carefully as sugar won’t always be listed as such.
There’s no need for salt to be added to your baby’s food. Your little one has just been introduced to the wonderful world of food so there’s no need for flavour enhancers. Too much sodium can also have a negative impact on their health.
It can be difficult to avoid preservatives altogether, and while most of them are deemed ‘safe’ by governing bodies, they’re best kept away from growing little bodies. The best way to avoid preservatives is to eat certified organic foods.
Thickeners and fillers
Some baby foods will have thickeners like water, maize starch, rice flour or ground rice added to improve the texture. While these ingredients are natural, they’re replacing more nutritious ingredients. The more nutrient-dense ingredients in your baby’s food – the better!
Artificial flavourings have no place in baby foods. As your little one’s palate is just developing and they need exposure to real foods – not artificially made tastes.