Baby food refers to food given specifically to infants between the ages of six months to two years. It is the first solid food introduced to infants. Baby food can be commercial baby food or homemade baby food. Studies show that babies who are fed nutritious, healthy diets grow into stronger kids and better-adjusted eaters than those who are fed poor diets.
 Why should I be aware of this?
Parents want to do the best for their new born. Concern for the baby, time limitation and plethora of options available, make it a difficult choice. When should the baby be introduced to its first solid food? What is better for the baby -- homemade baby food, commercial baby food or organic baby food? What are the precautions one needs to take while feeding baby food?
 How does it affect me?
Introducing solid foods is a very important step in the baby's development and well-being. The type, quantity and quality of baby food determine the kind of nutrients the baby gets in its important developmental stage.
 All about baby foods
Baby food can either be prepared at home or bought from a store.
 Homemade baby food
While giving homemade baby food, it is important to consult your doctor to know what ingredients to use for preparing the baby's meal at various stages of its life. You also need to know what are the storage and feeding precautions.
- It is not as convenient as commercial baby food.
- It is less convenient to feed the child while travelling or on a holiday.
- Increased nutritional value
- Elimination of additives
- Improved freshness
- Added variety
- Lower costs
 Commercial baby food
Commercial baby food is the food that is mass manufactured and sold through retial outlets. The single-ingredients commercial baby food made by all the companies differ only modestly as a result of adding somewhat different amounts of water.
 Organic baby food
Organic baby food can be either homemade or commercial baby food. Baby food prepared from organically produced whole grains, fruits and vegetables is organic homemade baby food. Commercial baby foods prepared from organic produce are also called organic baby foods.
While there is little evidence that babies who eat organic foods only are healthier or grow and develop faster, the key difference is that organic baby food does not expose your baby to harmful chemical pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones. Babies’ immune, central-nervous, and hormonal systems are more vulnerable to the toxins found in nonorganic foods than adults. Babies may be more susceptible to the toxins found in nonorganic food since baby food is usually made from condensed fruits and vegetables, which can potentially concentrate the residue from pesticides and heavy metals.
 Useful tips
- Plain meats provide more protein than mixed dinners, such as chicken and rice.
- Plain fruits are a better buy and are more nutritious than fruit desserts.
- Baby jars of fruit juice are expensive. You can use other forms of juice, but be sure the juice is fortified with vitamin C.
- Plain baby cereals are a better buy than cereals with fruit added. A box of dry cereal is a better buy than baby cereal in jars.
- Read baby food jar labels. Choose foods without added salt or sugar.
- Compare labels. "Chicken and Vegetables" will contain more meat than "Vegetables and Chicken."
- Do not buy or use sticky or stained jars of baby food.
- Only buy jars with safety buttons on tops that are pushed in.
- Avoid baby food desserts. Instead, feed your baby the more nutritious plain fruit products.
- Buy regular fruit juices, unsweetened applesauce, and other comparable prepared foods instead of baby foods when possible.
 Baby food and environment
Baby foods are packaged in jars and tins and travel long distances to reach the store near your place. They add to your carbon footprint and global warming. Even glass jars, which can be easily recycled, still take fossil-fuel energy to create, sterilize and label. Then there is the cost of transporting the goods to the supermarket. Switching to homemade baby food is an easy way to be green.
- Baby food
- Feeding your newborn: Remember the basics
- CSPI Reports, Cheating Babies: Nutritional Quality and Cost of Commercial Baby Food
- A Guide to Commercial Baby Foods
- Is Organic Baby Food Better?