As of 2011, there are several brands of baby food available as well as the option of homemade baby food. This may make it difficult for a parent or guardian to decide on the best healthy baby food. Generally speaking, homemade baby food should be made with in-season fruits and vegetables. Jarred baby food should be higher in calories, with no added preservatives, sugars, or salts. Although there is a debate over choosing organic or non-organic baby foods, it is usually recommended to choose organic if budget permits.
Homemade healthy baby food may make it easier for some people to ensure there are as little additives in the food as possible. As with food for adults, it is generally recommended that you choose fresh foods that are in season and preferably locally grown. This is to ensure that the fruits and vegetables are fresh which in turn means they still contain most of their nutrients. Frozen options are also suitable if they were frozen within hours of picking. This may be a good option for making homemade foods that are not yet in-season.
More caution is usually needed when choosing jarred healthy baby food. This is because some companies may add preservatives, sugars and salts to the food. Many brands may also dilute the baby food with a lot of water. It is important to read each label before choosing any particular jarred baby food because not all labels may clearly state which additives, such as natural sugars, artificial sweeteners or salt, have been added to the food.
Fruits may show a high level of sugars, but this may also be due to the natural sugar in the fruit. Typically, sugars or artificial sweeteners are added to various food combinations as opposed to the single food versions. Salts and preservatives are typically added to extend shelf life, but may be harmful to the baby’s health. Some trans-fats may also be found in certain jarred baby foods, so it is usually recommended when choosing healthy baby food to avoid anything that mentions the word hydrogenated.
Although not everyone may agree that organic options are essential for healthy baby food, it is recommended over other types if the parent or guardian is able to afford it. This is because organic food normally contains fewer toxins, which may hinder the child’s growth. The concentration of toxins may also be greater in children due to their smaller bodies. When choosing organic baby food, the label should clearly state that it is certified organic.