Keeping Food Safe for Your Infant
Most new parents are fairly concerned about what goes into their baby’s delicate digestive system. Of course, the first few months call for milk, but that doesn’t always mean the mother is able to comply. Sometimes alternate food sources are called for (i.e. formula). And then there are pureed foods, followed by chunkier mashed fare, and finally, whole foods. And along each step of the way, you probably read nutrition labels and try to make the best choices for your child’s health. But at some point, everything starts to look sort of the same. So how do you know which items will be safest for your baby? There are a few simple things to look for that will help you to make these difficult decisions where your child’s nutrition and safety are concerned.
For one thing, you should go with natural milk whenever possible. Formulas are made to mimic the content of mother’s milk, but they lack the antibodies passed from mother to child that will protect against such ailments as infections, allergies, and digestive problems. While formulas contain all the nutrients that a baby needs, they cannot hope to compete with the healing properties found in natural milk. However, that doesn’t mean that mothers who cannot breastfeed (or choose not to) should feel guilty about their decision. Formulas have their merits and they are specially formulated to provide the nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop. Many also contain vitamin D, which is notably insufficient in breast milk (leaving breastfeeding mothers to provide it through a supplement).
When it comes time to begin introducing other foods to your baby’s diet (at about 4-6 months), you will be looking into pureed foods that your child can easily swallow. These are often found at the store in jars, but you can also make your own. This is the point at which most parents commence with label-reading. The best products will have only one ingredient: the natural food that is in the jar. But don’t be fooled. Keep in mind that unless you look for specifically organic products (complete with the USDA Certified Organic label), you are feeding your baby trace amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides used to grow just about every fruit and vegetable in the world, along with hormones and antibiotics pumped into animals that provide meat and byproducts. So look for the organic label and avoid items that have a lot of ingredients listed that you can’t pronounce, or additives and preservatives like extra sugars and sodium that your baby definitely doesn’t need.
In truth, your best bet for safety is to produce your own baby food by springing for a food processor that will puree all the organic fruits, veggies, meats, and grains that will make up a healthy diet for your child (at least until they can start eating the same items as you). But if you simply don’t have the time for such an undertaking (let’s face it; most parents have to work), then turn to items at the grocery store that offer the most natural selection. Look for the USDA Certified Organic label and watch out for additives and preservatives that could upset your baby’s delicate system.
Sarah Danielson is a writer for DustPruf which specializes in dry food packaging and bottling equipment. DustProf puts an end to product debris and buildup.