A Parent’s Guide to Choosing the Best Baby Food for Your Baby
Choosing the best baby food for your little one can be overwhelming, especially with all those recent reports of popular baby food pouches containing more sugar than Coca-Cola.
As a mother of two and a self-proclaimed foodie, I have done extensive research on this topic and consulted with children’s dietitians to provide you with a comprehensive guide. In this article, we’ll explore different types of baby food and how to choose the best one for your baby’s health and development.
Pouches and jars (Ultra-High-Temperature Pasteurisation)
This is one of the most popular choices with well-established big brands like Ella’s kitchen, Heinz and Cow & Gate leading the category.
They all go through a process called UHT pasteurisation and that’s how they can stay on shelves for months and years.
They are indeed very convenient, especially when you are out and about. So let me give you a few tips over how to make the most out of these before I go over why I don’t like to use them on a regular basis.
- Choose savoury flavours for less sugar
The high sugar content in pouches that you have read about are typically from use of (concentrated) fruit juices. So try to stay away from them and choose the more savoury flavours. Many of them will still have sweet tasting vegetables such as swedes or sweet potato in there to sweeten the tastes but at least they will not have as high of a sugar content. Personally, I find some of the new brands to have a better balance than Ella’s pouches.
- Move away from the smooth puree (stage 1) quickly to practise chewing
I will talk more about texture later (spoiler alert: pouches don’t have the right ones!) – but if you are using pouches, try to move on from those smooth purees quickly as it’s important for them to learn to chew.
- Feed from a spoon to avoid overeating and learn eating skills
I know that sounds messy but hear me out. Sucking directly from those pouches do not help them with appetite regulation; neither does it help them with practising the all important skill of self-feeding. If you are using them while travelling, spoon feed them instead of letting them suck directly.
The key is not to rely on them (I know when live gets busy, it’s oh so tempting!) so let me lay outs why they are not a great alternative to home cooking:
- Lack of texture
If you’ve tried any of those pouches / jars yourself, you’d know that most of them have a smooth texture – I guess the manufacturers want your babies to love how easy it is to eat them. But easy things aren’t always the best. Babies need to learn to chew and have different textures of food – that oral motor skill is key to their language development down the line.
- Lack of finger food / self-feeding
We want babies to learn to self feed, not just because it helps them self-regulate appetite and build healthy relationship with food but it’s also an important opportunity to practise skills which will be important for them later on.
For instance, a key skill that should be practiced during meal time is the eye-hand coordination and pincer grasp. Those fine-motor skills are crucial for learning to write when they are toddlers.
Feeding from a pouch could mean we are wasting golden opportunities to help them practise this.
- Lack of real taste
Baby pouches or jars just don’t taste like real food.
Again, processed baby foods are too often engineered to make babies want more rather than staying true to what food should taste and feel like (or do).
I want them to grow up knowing what broccoli tastes like on its own and not think they always taste like mango or apple!
Cold pressed / HPP (High Pressure Pasteurisation)
A “fresher” approach to baby food is the process of “cold pressing” where high pressure is used for pasteurisation. These foods can typically live in your fridge for a few weeks.
Whilst this process circumvents the issues around heat treatment causing loss of heat sensitive vitamins, they still have most of the problems associated with the heat treated baby food. Most of them are still pouch based, encouraging babies to suck instead of eat; they still can’t really give you the texture you need for babies to practise chewing.
Additionally, the majority of cold-pressed baby foods consist of fruits and vegetables only, omitting meat, fish, and legumes. If you rely too much on those products, you risk not providing enough iron and omega-3 fatty acids for the health and cognitive development of your baby.
Finally, a common issue with processed baby foods is that they try to avoid allergens. This could be great if your baby does suffer from those specific allergies, but it’s very unlikely that your baby will be allergic to all allergens. When it comes to allergens, it is actually best practice to include them in your baby’s diets once it has been confirmed that they are not allergic
The only alternative to home cooking
Finally – let’s talk about the real alternative, because – let’s be honest, even if you love cooking, there are days you just… “can’t”.
If you don’t want any of the above and really want the best baby food without having to cook, look no further than V&Me’s delivery service. We cook everything from scratch each day and deliver a carefully curated menu to your door. We deliver three meals a day – so your whole day is sorted!
You can see a full ingredient list and even watch our chefs cook live on Instagram so you know exactly what goes in and who’s cooking for them! Furthermore, with the menus planned by leading children’s dietitians, you can rest assured that your baby is getting all the age-appropriate nutrients they need!
Give it a try if you haven’t already – I’m sure you won’t look back.