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There are more choices than ever when it comes to baby food. What you choose to feed your baby depends on numerous factors, including what food your baby prefers, what nutrients they need, and their age. Ultimately, it’s up to parents to decide what’s best for their baby and family.
Babies of different ages require different types of foods. Many of the larger baby food manufacturers, such as Gerber, label baby foods with numbers that correspond to a baby’s development. Generally, the youngest babies eat stage 1 foods that are cereal-based or fruit and vegetable purees. These foods have been entirely liquefied. Stage 2 foods have a thicker, less watery consistency, while stage 3 foods generally contain soft solids. Babies slowly progress from stage 1 to 3 as they grow and develop.
While many parents are adopting organic foods that may be healthier for a child’s development, the most important things to keep in mind is not just the production, but the content of food. Babies should be exposed to fruits and vegetables as much as possible, rather than baby foods that use filler ingredients.
It’s important to introduce new flavors one by one to make sure that there are no negative reactions or allergies associated with a specific ingredient. In order to be sure, it’s best to use single ingredient foods rather than blends when trying new foods for the first time. It’s also recommended that you serve the same food consecutively for four days in a row to ensure that a food is well tolerated by your baby.
Baby foods can keep for a long time before they are opened. Go by the "use by" date on the package to make sure the food is fresh. Make sure that there are no leaks or breaks in the sealing of food jars before eating. Once a jar of baby food has been opened, it’s best if the food is consumed within a day of opening. If you plan on saving baby food after it has been opened, refrigerate it and then use a separate spoon to feed your baby. This will ensure that bacteria from your baby’s mouth do not contaminate the food you save for later.
Many parents have begun to make their own baby food, either to save money or because they believe it’s healthier for their child. If you plan on making your own baby food, make sure to research any food you plan to prepare. There are numerous sites available that detail the best and healthiest ways to prepare food for your child. After you decide on a food, consult your pediatrician.
Never feed your baby a homemade baby food without being absolutely sure that both the ingredients and method for preparation are healthy for the child. One of the main advantages of making your own baby food is that you control each and every ingredient being served to your child.
One benefit of making your own baby food is to ensure that the food is high quality and organic. However, there are also many options of pre-made organic food available at health food stores. While organic food may indeed be healthier, the production of baby food is monitored very closely. All baby food must adhere to federal guidelines and any baby food sold in stores has been deemed safe for consumption. Whether or not you wish to serve exclusively organic food, a combination of organic and non-organic, or regular store-bought food is a personal choice.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Sep 10, 2014: George Krucik, MD, MBA
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