With all the talk about skipping processed foods to improve health, many mothers are thinking twice about picking up those tiny jars of baby food. It is a common myth that babies need to consume foods made specifically for growing tummies; all they need is healthy, normal foods pureed without added sugars, salt or flavors. 

The Low Down on Store-Bought Baby FoodBaby Food
Take a look at the label of that baby food you’ve been feeding your infant every day and you may be surprised by what you see. Some baby foods used to contain added sugars, sodium and preservatives, but after researchers studied various companies and released detailed information on companies that offered health and not so healthy options. Big companies like Gerber and Beechnut hit the ground running, changing up baby food ingredients to meet the expectations of parents and the results were quite amazing. 

Both Gerber and Beechnut offer healthy store-bought baby foods for infants and toddlers, but that doesn’t mean all baby foods are healthy. 

Looking at the Overall Picture and Making the Best Decision for Baby
If you look at foods like Gerber Graduates you will notice there are no added preservatives or sugars in most varieties, but what you may not notice is the caloric and vitamin profiles. For instance, the Gerber Graduates Dinosaur Pasta meal contains just 35 calories and provides no vitamin A, vitamin C or calcium. The average toddler needs up to 1,400 calories per day – 35 calories is not enough for one meal. 

Meat sticks, also from Gerber, do much better in terms of calories (110 per serving) but the sticks contain a whopping 320 mg of sodium. Toddlers need about 1,000 mg of sodium per day so one serving of Gerber Meat Sticks accounts for about 1/3 of the recommended daily intake. 

Feeding Your Child the Right Way
From the start, breastfeeding is best for the first four to six months. When it comes time to add solid foods, start with single-ingredient cereals and watch those labels. Add vegetables and fruits next, but wait a few days between each new food so you can recognize a food allergy if one occurs. Always feed your infant and toddler healthy, natural foods as nature provided. Never add butter, salt, sugar or other seasonings to your child’s food.