So you have decided to buy baby food from the super market. Either your initial euphoria at whipping up purees has waned a bit or you realized that it is such a time crunch that this is one area where you need help. Don’t worry – this is normal and here is a quick guide for you to choose your best brands.
Here are some basic guidelines
- Go organic if possible – you might have heard of the dirty dozen fruits and veggies which contain the most chemicals and pesticides. The EWG has ranked them as follows
- Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Snap Peas
There are others like blueberries, greens, cherries, pears, plums and green beans which are almost as bad. I would choose organic for those too if your budget allows it. But I would never compromise with the top 5.
With baby foods that are not organic you are guaranteed to find pesticide residues, fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics. In addition the canned baby foods contain preservatives that are harmful for your baby. Organic baby food does not have preservatives. When buying organic look for 100% organic or USDA Organic, I would stay away from brands which use words like “Natural” and “Made With Organic Ingredients”.
2. If you want to keep some of the left over food for later – please refrigerate it but not for more than a few hours. Do not store bottles which you have used directly to feed the baby as the spoon will have germs which will be mixed with the food in the bottle.
3. Be careful with the dates and also look at the packages for damage. Sometimes the damages may seem minimal but it is enough to cause contamination.
4. Another thing that informed people have suggested – better to buy baby’s food from Toys R Us or Amazon. With most big box retailers there is a good possibility that baby food that are returned by customers find their way back to the shelf. Toys R Us and Amazon do not resell baby food that have been returned.
5. I would not buy any bottled baby food other than Earth’s Best. This is because the lids contain BPA which is a dangerous chemical. Earth’s Best also had lids with BPA but they have worked on this issue.
Here are my recommendations – though I am in favor of mixing and matching the brands to give the baby some variety.
- Earth’s Best – Definitely one of the most affordable ones out there and the variety is good enough that even I as a parent does not get too bored. Some of the dishes are bland but a lot of them taste great.
- Earth’s Best Organic Stage 1, My First Veggies Variety Pack, 12 Count, 2.5 Ounce Jars This 12 pack costs around 9.99 and you could save 15% by subscribing to Amazon Subscribe & Save. That comes to less than a 80 cents per bottle which is decent enough. Similarly Earth’s Best Organic Stage 1, My First Fruits Variety Pack, 12 Count, 2.5 Ounce Jars costs around $11 with an additional 15% off on S & S.
- For 6 months and older babies only after you have tested the allergy sensitivity of each of the components I would recommend the Earth’s Best Organic Stage 2, Delicious Din Din Variety Pack, 12 Count, 4 Ounce Jars costs 11.85. The Earth’s Best Organic Stage 2, Fruit Antioxidant Blends Variety Pack, 12 Count, 4 Ounce Jars costs around $13.10. It offers the best combination of fruits once you have tried the individual packs.
- Frankly I was not a big fan of their Stage 3 foods – Earth’s Best Organic Stage 3, Junior Best Sellers Variety Pack, 12 Count, 6 Ounce Jars as the consistency was occasionally uneven and while the babies did eat them – i found them really tasteless(except the oatmeal which seemed too sugary). I would never buy the variety pack and instead pick and choose specific ones that the babies liked. Better still I would skip them altogether. Many of these contain rice and corn starch as fillers which add to my concern.
- Happy Tots was a late discovery which quickly became the favorite and my kids loved these better than plum once they crossed stage 2 – which is a mixture of 2 fruits or vegetables. This was my go to brand for the third stage when I wanted to give them something more filling than a combination of fruits or veggies. Just look at the combinations and tell me if any of these sound less than appetizing
There are are 16 combinations that include fruits, veggies and a protein source and somehow these combinations seemed to make better sense than those of the others. Of course the fact that they are made of non GMO, organic stuff made everything taste better. Though some foods seem to be stage 3 and some stage 4, I believe they have deliberately changed this in the recent past, by stressing more on the 4 ingredient products which are undoubtedly more popular. In my personal the stage 3 products are unncecessary as they involve adding a vegetable to a two fruit combination. Happy Baby is also one of the most affordable pouches in the market today.
3. Plum Organics – This was the best baby food in pouches available in the market till Happy Baby occupied that slot . I liked them for the sheer variety of offerings that they had(although some of the combinations are an overkill in my opinion)
Stage 1 has flavors like – Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, Carrot, Sweet Peas with Mint, Mango, Peach and Prunes.
Stage 2 has flavors like – Apple and Carrot, Blueberry, Pear and Purple Carrot, Broccoli and Apple, Peach, Apricot and Banana, Pear & mango, Pumpkin & Banana, Spinach, Peas & Pear, Sweet Potato, Corn & Apple. They also have the Greek Yoghurt mixes which are high in protein.
Stage 3 flavors include – Barle,Kale, Spinach and Chickpea,tomato, beef and Quinoa, Leeks, Chicken and Sweet Corn, Carrots, Turkey and barley, Kale,Spinach. These are not necessarily popular with kids as they contain ingredients like kale and spinach. Let me be honest -my kids wouldn’t touch any of these.
Stage 4 contains 4 food groups in every pouch.whole grains, fruits, veggies and dairy – My kids seemed to prefer these more. Some of the combinations are -sweet potato, blueberry, millet and greek yoghurt, don’t these sound far more appetizing than the stage 3 ones.
4. I would occasionally go with other brands like Peter Rabbit and Sprout. Sprout is a brand that claims to bake its fruits and veggies instead of steaming and boiling them, thereby enabling them to retain more nutrients. In addition, no starchy fillers are used by Sprout. Similarly Peter Rabbit brand offers a few unique varieties that I could mix and match with my staple brands to give the baby some variety.