Health Team

Choosing right baby food is child's play for label readers

Posted April 5, 2013

Choosing baby foods used to be easier because there were just a few brand names, and they all came in jars. Now, store shelves offer more choices in different packages, making it tough to figure out the healthiest options.

Seventeen-month-old Olivia Wilkins loves meal time.

As a toddler her stomach is still small, so she needs the most out of what goes in it.

“It needs to be a good source of calories. It has to have a good source of carbohydrate and protein and fiber,” said Shelley Wilkins, a WakeMed registered dietician who is also Olivia’s mom.

Shelley Wilkins is an expert in shopping for the best baby food on store shelves.

“First, look for the serving size. Some of these pouches or these jars may have more than one serving in there,” she said.

Second, look for calories. Then check for fiber, which will help keep baby’s stool soft.

Last, look for protein.

Wilkins says little jars are still out there, but you can also buy foil-top cups and convenient squeeze pouches with a resealable cap.

Read labels to pick healthiest baby food Read labels to pick healthiest baby food

She showed one pouch that sneaks in spinach and peas with sweet pears, which may eventually present a problem.

“Part of being an adult is learning how food actually tastes, and so we're masking all these tastes,” she said.

And kids may prefer to suck food straight from the pouch, which could bypass a learning skill.

“Spoon-feeding is a skill that we learn because adults aren't walking around eating from packets,” Wilkins said.

That's why she gives Olivia a spoon or fork to hold even while she's eating finger food. She says her favorite finger food for her daughter is the same as when she was a little girl – Cherrios.


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  • Killian Apr 11, 2013

    Baby food in general is a scam. Kids do not NEED solids as early as they're shoveled into their mouths, and they don't need manufactured junk filled with fillers. Grind up the healthy food that the rest of the family should be eating, and voila. "Baby" food.

  • JohnnyMcRonny Apr 11, 2013

    This article is laughable. It says nothing about the types of carbs and proteins to look for/avoid. And there isn't one word about fat.

  • JohnnyMcRonny Apr 11, 2013

    "I go out of my way to make sure that my child diet is about 95% organic." - RunnerMama

    Unfortunately in this country "organic" means nothing. An "organic" product can contain up to 25% conventional ingredients. So that bag of organic corn chips could still have 25% GMO corn.

    Best thing to do short of growing your own or getting it from someone you know? Buy local raw/unprocessed goods.

  • RunnerMama Apr 11, 2013

    @Homeward, JustOneGodLessThanU is absolutely correct. Non-organic foods are full of pesticides and chemicals that are deemed "safe" by government agencies. Those aren't the people I want telling me my food is safe when they just allowed the Monsanto Protection Act to pass. There is heavy evidence that since GMOs have been allowed in our foods (about 1996) that there has been an increase in cancer, ADHD, autism, ADD, etc. The list is endless of the harmful affects that GMOs have on the human body, yet our gov't deems them "safe". I go out of my way to make sure that my child diet is about 95% organic. I made his baby food and continue to pack his lunch and snacks every day for day care even though they provide both (and we pay for it in our tuition). Taking from JustOneGodLessThanU, I am not betting my child's life on private business whose mission it is to make money.

  • Homeward Apr 11, 2013

    Companies that poison people and endanger their lives do not remain in business JustOne, THAT is my point. And my babies are full grown healthy adults, but thanks for caring.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 10, 2013

    @Homeward, feel free to rely on private businesses whose mission is to make money. (IMO, that's not a smart thing to bet your child's life on.)

    But, you're completely missing the fact that non-organic food is loaded with pesticides and chemicals. And, you're the person who said that this is "poison", not me.

    Again, it's your choice to save money and feed chemicals and pesticides to your baby.

  • claygriffith01 Apr 10, 2013

    KLW - Bottled tomato sauce is not "Homemade food". Don't make yourself a liar.

  • Homeward Apr 10, 2013

    Food companies have to monitor their products for fertilizers and chemicals - they don't live/operate in a vacuum! It is in THEIR best interest to police their ingredients and check for toxins in order to stay in business, and they do a better job of it than the FDA. Don't fall for that "non-organic is poison" line. Organic food wastes farmland, is no more nutritious, and costs struggling families money they could better use elsewhere!

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 9, 2013

    Don't forget to decide how much man-made fertilizers and chemicals you want your baby to ingest. e.g. Non-organic food

  • lizard2022 Apr 9, 2013

    Why even waste your money on sodium and chemical laden baby food? Wait until the AAP recommended 6 months then do baby led weaning. Babies can eat the same foods as everyone else and they have been doing it for most of human history. Its amazing how quickly Gerber brainwashed us into thinking we had to feed babies "babyfood". Look up baby led weaning.