Tips For Parents When Baby Food Shopping

Once a baby reaches four to six months old, most parents start introducing solid foods. While some parents do this through fresh, homemade baby food, that’s not always a realistic option for all parents all the time.

Unfortunately, the baby food aisle of the grocery store can also be an overwhelming place filled with countless brands and baby food products. However, parents can use these 10 tips to help make their baby food shopping trip less overwhelming and more beneficial for their baby.

RELATED: Identifying If Your Baby Is Ready To Transition To Solid Foods: Signs & Tips


10 Examine The Ingredients List

Babies need nutrient-rich foods for healthy growth and development. Therefore, registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) Jackie Petroldo, who as Associate Director of Nutrition and Food Choice Architecture at Stanford University as well as Nutrition Advisor for Cerebelly, serves encourages parents to examine the ingredients list and nutrition label when selecting foods for their children. Petroldo says parents should look for simple, wholesome ingredients that are easily recognizable.

Furthermore, Petroldo says parents should look for what is missing from the ingredients. Sometimes parents may find that items that are advertised as “nutritious” contain more preservatives than nutrients.

9 Make Sure You Include Variety

Babies are developing. This means their bodies need a variety of nutrients. Parents should make sure their baby eats vegetables, legumes, fruit, whole grains, healthy fats, and protein sources as much as possible based on the baby’s age. Furthermore, parents should limit the number of added sugars and highly processed foods since these ingredients don’t offer much nutritional value.

8 Factor Your Child’s Age Into The Equation

Baby food is often labeled according to the child’s age. This helps parents avoid choking hazards, and it helps parents make sure they buy food that is best suited for their baby’s digestive system based on their age.

For example, Stage 2 foods are often a rough purée, blended, or strained. While this is fine for a child who is six months or older, it’s not what you want to start with at four months old.

7 Try Actual Food When You Can

Your baby’s age can play another role in your shopping, because it may allow you to skip the processed purées and move straight into whole foods. In fact, Petroldo says choosing whole ingredients is always a great option whenever possible. However, if your child isn’t old enough for that yet, make sure you carefully select purées that include natural ingredients.

6 Look Specifically For Nutrients Your Baby’s Brain Needs

Obviously, all food helps your baby grow. However, your baby’s brain needs very specific nutrients for optimal development. In fact, practicing neurosurgeon Dr. Teresa Purzner MD, Ph.D., co-founder of Cerebelly says there are a total of 16 nutrients your baby’s developing brain needs.

These nutrients are:

  • Chlorine

  • Copper

  • DHA

  • Folate

  • Iodine

  • Iron

  • Lutein

  • Niacin

  • Protein

  • Selenium

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin B6

  • Vitamin B12

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin E

  • Zin

5 Research The Brands Before Buying

According to a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, many of the leading commercial baby foods contained traces of toxins such as lead and arsenic. The presence of these chemicals is particularly concerning because children’s developing brains are uniquely susceptible to the detrimental effects of heavy metals.

However, not all manufactured baby food contains these chemicals. In fact, Cerebelly is the first children’s food brand to receive the Clean Label Project’s Purity Award, which is given to products free from over 400 contaminants including heavy metals.

For this reason, parents should carefully research brands before buying baby food from them.

4 Consider Family Food Allergies

Although most pediatricians no longer recommend delaying high-allergy foods, this advice may be different if you have a family history of food allergies. If this is the case, you should consider your family’s food allergies when buying items because food allergies can be hereditary.

When in doubt, always consult your pediatrician or family doctor.

3 Check The Packaging

Unfortunately, not all baby food packaging is made the same way. Sometimes, seals can break during transport or items can be tampered with. Therefore, you should always check the packaging of any baby food you buy in a store.

2 Check The Expiration Date

Similar to the previous point, sometimes food stays on the shelf past its expiration date. Furthermore, you should never buy baby food of any kind if it does not clearly list a ‘best buy’ date or expiration date.

1 Think Outside The Box (Literally)

While packaged baby food is convenient and often works well for busy parents, it isn’t the only option available. In fact, there are tons of recipes and tools parents can buy to make their own baby food. While this may not work for everyone, it’s definitely something to consider before you head to the store.

Baby food shopping can feel overwhelming for new moms and dads. If you follow the suggestions in this list, though, you can make smart food decisions for your child as they begin the adventure into solid foods.

Sources: Jackie Petroldo, Dr. Teresa Purzner, House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Nemours Kids Health, Cerebelly


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