Baby food isn’t only what you buy in a jar at the grocery store. It is defined as any soft and easily consumed food, apart from infant formula or breast milk, that is prepared specifically for infants aged between six months and twenty-four months. Baby food comes in several flavors and varieties.
It can be purchased ready made from producers, or it can be table food that has been mashed or broken down, like steamed or boiled carrots. Baby food of all types tends to be highly nutritious in nature as it should and most often does contain the essential nutrients needed by your child for healthy growth and development.
When Should I Start Feeding my Little One Solid Foods?
While there is still some debate about this question, most sources agree that solid foods may be introduced to babies between four and six months, but most medical professionals lean more towards six months. Before that age, the digestive system of the baby is fragile and not ready to handle the task of breaking down and processing solid foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding of babies exclusively for six months at least. Before making the decision to start your baby on solid foods, it’s best to consult your family doctor.
What Type’s of Baby Food are There?
In regards to store-bought baby food, like formula, there is standard or regular food and there is organically produced baby food. There is quite a number of differences between organic baby food and the conventional food for your baby you most often see on store shelves and on TV.
Organic foods are produced by use of organic means. What that means is that fewer pesticides and other chemicals are used in the manufacturing process. Some standard baby food brands are known to use a fairly high amount of chemicals in their production, so if you do not buy organic, make sure to research what goes into the food that you are feeding your child.
What are the Best Organic Baby Food Brands?
If you do choose to buy organic, luckily you have lots of options. There are some very ethical and very well made baby foods that are produced as naturally as possible. Here is a brief list of some of the highest rated brands according to parents who have actually used them.
Happy Baby is an organic baby food brand under the Happy Family organic foods company. They are a relatively new player as they were found only a short time ago in 2006. They have a strong passion to organic foods and even go above and beyond standard recipes. They try to not only provide basic nutrition, but to really fulfill and stimulate all of your child’s developmental needs by using foods such as quinoa and others that contain plant-based DHA and probiotics. If that sounds good to you then consider getting started with their stage 1 starting solids variety pack.
Plum Organics is headquartered in Emeryville, California and was founded by CEO Neil Grimmer along with Gigi Lee Chang and Sheryl O’Loughlin in 2007. Like Happy Family, you can see that Plum Organics is a fairly young company. While they may be young, they are very well respected in the industry, and they take organics seriously; so seriously that it’s part of their name. They strive to use the best quality organic ingredients that they can, and do as much food sourcing and manufacturing in North America as possible. They claim to make their products following five specific values which are flavor (yum), purity, inventive design, convenience (easy), and ethical behavior (caring). Give some of their stage 1 sweet peas with mint a try today.
We already reviewed some Earth’s Best baby formula options, but did you know they are also an extremely popular baby food producer? Earth’s Best has been around considerably longer than the two aforementioned companies, getting their start in 1985. They are huge in the industry and overall, a big favorite to many parents and children. They are USDA certified organic, and they are GMO free. Another great aspect of their product line-up that is often overlooked is that it’s quite large due to all the time and experience they have in the industry. Why not give one of their stage 1 fruit starter kits a try today?
What are Some of the Main Pros and Cons?
Sure, all natural, healthy and tons of nutrition is great, but that doesn’t always come without a price. Let’s look at the benefits versus the drawbacks of going organic.
A lot of times when parents hear the word organic, they think of buying some vegetables from the local farmer’s market or getting something that has been unprocessed or minimally processed, but they also worry that it might not be very well regulated. With baby foods that is not a problem.
Most people are unaware that organic foods are heavily regulated compared to the conventional foods. Nutritionally, there is an ongoing debate as to whether organic foods are more nutritional than conventional foods or they are similar nutritionally. Organic food is believed to be beneficial for the baby especially below the age of two. At this time of your child’s development, the organs are extremely sensitive when exposed to harmful substances, and the brain is developing at an amazingly quick rate which makes it that much more sensitive to neurotoxins. Organic foods offer the benefit of reduced exposure to pesticides and antibiotics that cause increased health hazards to the baby.
Aside from the potential health benefits, there are some other pleasant bonuses as well. Some parents believe food products that are produced organically tastes better, and even better, it is also environment friendly. Generally, naturally grown and manufactured foods are beneficial because they offer minimum exposure of toxic substances to the growing baby while being produced in an ethical and sustainable manner.
There are of course other considerations that a parent must be aware of when choosing to go the organic route. Organic baby foods are sometimes more expensive than their conventional counterparts; sometimes even as much as fifty percent more. Because your child may develop a particular fondness to certain foods, it’s wise to make sure your budget allows for the sustained use of a particular brand before deciding to try it out.
Also, as mentioned earlier, there is still a lot of debate about whether or not their is a benefit to eating organically. While many health professionals believe that there is, it is not a 100% proven fact. Also, it’s quite possible that you child simply does not like any of the available flavors that are either easy for you to get or that are within your budget.
How do I Get My Baby Started on Solids?
Just discussing which baby food is best helps us make informed decisions, but if you have never actually fed you child solid foods, you might want to know how to do it.
Baby food is very soft, and the first few weeks of adding it into your baby’s diet, it should almost be paste-like. It will be easy enough for him or her to swallow and digest, but it will allow them to get used to the denser texture and different flavors. After the first weeks of adapting to eat rather than drinking their food, the baby should be able to handle a little bit more texture in their solid foods.
The overall process usually involves three stages where the first stage involves taking smooth puree. The second stage, which is slightly thicker and often includes food blends as opposed to single food meals. Then, stage three is the chunkiest stage where your child is almost eating something similar to soft adult foods as far as consistency is concerned. Typically, your baby should be around nine to eleven months before starting on stage three.
The Big Wrap Up
Whether you choose to go a more natural route or not it a choice that only you can make with the consent of your family doctor. As with everything, there are always a mix of potential benefits and potential drawbacks. Each family is tasked with decided in the good outweighs the bad in their particular situation.
The best we can do as parents is to make informed choices in regards to our child’s health and development. If you feel that organic baby food is the best option, then hopefully you found something above useful. No matter what you choose, by simply taking the time to research your options before making a decision is the first step in being the best parent that you can be.