Feeding a baby has to be one of the most confusing arenas a new mom is likely to encounter. A few of the issues that will be encountered by most moms are: Should I pursue breastfeeding even when it’s a challenge? How do I choose a formula if I go that route? When can I introduce solids?

Add into this mix of confusion, the question about "Jarred versus Fresh" Baby Food. To answer this question we need to look at the key deliverables we need to expect from the food we feed our babies:

  • Baby food must provide the right nutrients for health and resistance to disease as well as brain and body growth

  • Baby food must be healthy and not increase the risk of diseases such cancer, diabetes, allergies and obesity

  • Baby food must not carry hollow (non-nutritious calories)

  • Baby food must prepare a child to be an adventurous eater who enjoys eating

  • Baby food must sustain energy levels for exploration

When you start to weigh up these factors, you realise quickly that what you feed your baby needs serious consideration. Let’s look at how to ensure you do the best for your baby:

Nutritious Baby Food

Food that is raw or close to its original state carries the most nutrients for your baby. When possible, especially with fruit and vegetables offer raw or lightly steamed food. Many foods cannot be consumed raw – meat, quinoa, rice and eggs for instance – so must be well cooked to deliver their precious nutrients.

Healthy Choices

There are many additives that are regularly added to food that pose serious long term health issues; preservatives, pesticides, added sugar & salt and certain genetically modified foods are amongst the more sinister culprits; increasing the risk of diabetes, cancer and disease in general. When you home cook food, you get to control the ingredients and closely monitor what your baby takes in. When you open a packet of snacks, a jar of baby food or a fruit juice, you need to read the labels carefully and most of us lay-people cannot understand the labels sufficiently to make informed decisions regarding what risks we are exposing our babies to. Never mind the fact that labelling food is not always as transparent as one would wish.

Hollow Calories

Many processed foods carry bulking agents that make the food "more" without delivering more nutrients. This makes us feel full but really serves no positive purpose. Sugar and starch are examples of this, you can eat a sweet and feel satisfied for a short time but really derive no vitamins, minerals or micronutrients from the sweets. Hollow calories are hidden in many processed foods.

Healthy Eating Long Term

Feeding your baby food that is bland, with little flavour, indiscernible flavour and ultra smooth textures, is not good for toddler eating habits. If your baby gets used to bland flavours and textures, he is way more likely to be a fussy toddler eater. Babies that eat foods that look, taste and feel like the food they are, especially in the second six months of life are more likely to embrace a wide variety of foods later.

Food for Energy

Sugar and highly processed foods break down very easily providing rapid energy (measured by glycaemic index - GI) which drops as fast as it comes. High GH Foods such as sugar coated cereals, white bread and jams can quickly raise blood sugar levels, rather offer plenty fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, oats, green leafy vegetables, peas & pulses. 

It is essential that the company producing the food shares your concerns and monitors these 5 areas of baby food 

If this feels like an insurmountable task, it needn’t be. In a nutshell, home cooked or fresh food is much easier to monitor and control so is the best way to feed your baby. Having said that, as a busy mom of three, I know that convenience foods and jarred baby food has a role to play. So when choosing your jarred baby food, it is essential that the company producing the food shares your concerns and monitors these 5 areas of baby food very carefully.