Thursday, July 22, 2010

Starting Solids: The Problem with Baby Food


When most of us were infants and ready to eat solid foods, our parents had only limited options in the baby food department: some  jarred vegetables, fuits, meat, and chicken, and of course baby rice cereal.  When those were exhausted, we started  eating real food.  Today, those same brands now offer a dizzying array of stage-1, stage-2, stage-3, Graduates, and Toddler versions of foods and snacks .  You can even  buy omega-3 versions of cereal, yogurt with fiber, and fish sticks in the shape of Dora.

What is so bad about that you might ask?
There are a few problems with buying your kids all these foods:

1- You are spending a lot of money that could be spent buying real food

2- Your kids get used to having special foods at all times, instead of transitioning to table foods.  

3- These foods are usually not as healthy as the real version (Eat a real banana, have some chunk light tuna for omega-3’s, eat whole grains for fiber!)

4- Your kids may get used to eating the same (plain and processed) tastes over and over and  lose taste buds for other foods.  You all know some kids who only eat mac n’ cheese and chicken nuggets, right?  Pretty soon, you need to go buy the Next Step formula in Chocolate flavor to make sure he is getting all his nutrients.  These companies, and their advertising firms,  know exactly what they are doing

5- Infants get overly used to having mushy food and have trouble to progressing  to a variety of textures, either because they do not like it or they do not have the facial muscles or coordination to do so.  

6- These food are limited.  Have you ever seen jarred broccoli?  Infant quinoa?   Baby steak? Babies can eat these foods with very little modification, if any.  Just rip some of the soft part of the broccoli off and put it on a spoon or your finger.  Quinoa, buckwheat, oatmeal, brown rice? No modification necessary for most babies.  Small pieces of meat  (or process in a mini food process for very young infants) are great for infants and provide much-needed iron and other minerals.

Sometimes, parents are even giving their kids jars of meat while they are eating meatballs, or jarred pasta and cheese while they eating their own pasta., when instead they could just give their kid what they are eating. There is nothing magical about home-made baby food.

I do understand that many times, parents will find it easier to buy a jar of  vegetables than to make their own.  But what better time to make some changes to your diet than right now, in order to teach your child how to eat real foods?  Expectant mothers often  make some dietary changes during pregnancy and then immediately revert to their previous diets after giving birth, believing that eating well it is not as important since the baby has been born.  But right now, your kids are growing at the fastest rate they will ever grow in their life.  Their cells are growing, dividing, building tissues, and growing organs that will stay with them for life.  Eating healthy is one of the few things you can do maximize your DNA and be the healthiest version of you.

4 comments:

Rivki said...

I've seen the effects of these "snacks" on my 18-month-old. There was a period of time where he would refuse to eat the real food and hold out for Graduates snacks. So, I stopped buying the snacks and made a more concerted effort to give him a wider variety of real food. And you know what? It worked!

Debra @ BeyondPrenatals said...

Thanks for sharing Rivki! Glad to hear that you took charge and it worked!

Amanda said...

I love it! My last baby never had “baby food”, when he was interested he went right for the grown up stuff.Thank you for sharing..
starting solids babies

(Mostly) Healthy Mom said...

Not sure how I ever missed this post...thanks for re-tweeting the link! Anyway, I absolutely agree! I made all of Henry's food when he first started eating, and after I saw he was okay with a plain fruit or vegetable, I started seasoning it so he would get used to different flavors (i.e. cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, etc.). He's now in a picky stage, but he still loves flavorful (and sometimes pretty spicy!) foods. Plus, jarred meats? Totally skeeves me out!