Organic Baby Food

Contributor: Michelle Stratford, RHN

As a mom, you want to ensure that your newborn gets the nutrition that she needs in order to stay healthy and to develop at a normal rate. That’s why a baby’s diet is so important; but it can be difficult to ensure that you provide your little one with a healthy baby food diet. Because of this, many moms are turning to organic baby foods. In fact, in the past five years, the availability of organic food at American supermarkets has increased three-fold. But what exactly is organic baby food and is organic baby food truly better than conventional baby food?

What is Organic Baby Food?
Organic baby food products are grown without the use of chemical additives and preservatives, herbicides and pesticides used in traditional baby foods. Organic baby food is also free of refined sugars and sodium that are used in conventional newborn foods.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspects food producers on a regular basis in order to ensure that foods labeled as organic products meet federal standards. The USDA has banned the use of pesticides, fertilizer with synthetic ingredients or sewer sludge for produce, as well as growth hormones and antibiotics in the cultivation of organic meat and dairy products.

Is Organic Baby Food Better?
Conventional baby foods are generally lower in vitamins and minerals than their organic counterparts, and as such are thought by some experts to be less nutritious in comparison to organic baby food.

In addition, traditional baby food contains preservatives like EDTA (a chemical that is used for coloring), which can block the absorption of specific nutrients, including calcium and magnesium.

Baby foods high in refined sugars and salts also encourage the depletion of certain vitamins and minerals through the urine.

How to Shop for Organic Baby Food: Reading Organic Baby Food Labels
It is important to be cautious when shopping for organic baby foods in order to ensure that you are indeed purchasing healthy foods. Follow these tips on reading organic baby food labels in order to choose the best foods for your infant.

  • read labels carefully avoid additives such as BHT, BHA and EDTA, as these are “anti-nutrients” that can impair your child’s intake of essential vitamins and minerals
  • choose jarred vs. canned foods heavy metals have the potential to leach into foods
  • be wary of general labels terms such as “natural” and “free range” are not synonymous with a “certified organic label”; this latter term is what you should be looking for to ensure a product is indeed organic
  • avoid foods that are deemed desserts these foods are high in sugar and as such are unhealthy for your baby
  • look for organic meats livestock is traditionally injected with growth hormones and antibiotics; a vegetarian diet can also be a healthy choice for young children when it incorporates a well-balanced organic meal plan

In addition, making your own baby food at home is another great way to control the ingredients in your child’s diet. Supporting your local farmers market is another easy way to make healthy food choices for your child, because these foods are less likely to be sprayed with pesticides or contain other harmful ingredients. Also, local produce can help you save money while still looking out for your child’s nutritional needs.

Michelle Stafford is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She practices throughout the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada. For private consultation, you can reach her by email at [email protected]