Bethany Skelton, CPNP-PC, a Nurse Practitioner with Children’s Pediatricians & Associates Foggy Bottom/Capitol Hill shares her insight on the pros and cons of feeding your baby homemade or store-bought food.
There is a plethora of information available today on the internet discussing using homemade purees versus store-bought baby food when you start your infant on solid foods around 6 months of age. When choosing whether to make or buy baby food for your infant, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of both options for your family.
Choosing to make baby food at home is less expensive than purchasing readymade baby food. Further, it allows you to have control over all the ingredients and flavors without added preservatives, salt, or sugar, and you can avoid any foods that may cause allergic reactions. This also incorporates your infant into your family’s eating habits, which is important in establishing healthy eating habits and weight maintenance. By making homemade baby food purees, you are able to introduce your infant to the unique foods and flavors frequently eaten by your family. On the other hand, it does take time and care to prepare and safely store homemade baby food.
If making your own baby food seems like the best option for your family, there is great information on safely preparing baby food at Foodsafety.gov.
Using store-bought baby food has many pros for families as well. Store-bought baby food meets strict safety guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It also is convenient and portable and does not require preparation, which is great for busy families. There are many food choices, even when certain vegetables and fruits are not in season in the grocery store. That said, when buying store-bought baby food, it is important to read labels to make sure there is no added sugar and salt. Another consideration is that it can be more expensive to buy store-bought food and not as environmentally friendly.
Whether you decide to mix and match homemade and store-bought, or stick to one or the other, instilling healthy eating habits in your infant is the most important factor. Starting solids between 4 and 6 months of age is an exciting transition. Begin sharing mealtimes together. Purees, whether homemade or store-bought, are the first step your baby will take in transitioning to your family’s eating habits. By 12 months of age, they will rely almost entirely on table foods for their caloric intake.