Baby foods - are supermarket options healthy?

Watch my Breakfast TV interview here for some helpful advice on what's good and what's not so good when it comes to feeding your little ones!

  • What to feed little ones?
  • How to reduce food allergy risk
  • Why iron is so important

As it is always tricky to get a full conversation in and all your points across in such a short time on live TV, here are a few extras that you need to know:

1)  Babies need additional nutrition over and above what breastmilk or formula can provide from 6 months. The time to introduce food is therefore around 6 months, but NOT before 4 months. For signs that your baby is ready and more on what to feed your baby when, plus the textures suggested for different stages, check out this article I have written here.

2)  I was asked to talk about how to work out what to buy and what to look out for when you are shopping for baby food in the supermarket and the pros/cons of pouches in particular which is why the conversation focused a lot on that. Making your own food is obviously a GREAT way to go, focusing on savoury options and making sure that you include enough iron rich foods. The only reason I didn't cover this more was lack of time and I am not promoting commercial baby food.  There is a balance to strike and it can have a place, but the total reliance on it, as I outlined, can lead to some potential problems.

3)  At 7 months a baby needs 11mg iron a day (a man needs 8mg) for growth, brain development and to support a healthy immune system. That is A LOT of iron to get in a small person which is why including iron rich foods early on is essential. I have covered this in my article in point 1 if you want to know more on that.

This is a good resource on iron and meat when it comes to babies.

If you are choosing to bring your baby up as vegetarian, extra consideration needs to be taken to meet iron requirements. This list here shows the iron content of plant based options (note, this doesn't show iron enriched baby food which is another option).  This is not a list specifically for babies, just a general list actually written for adults but it gives you the idea.  It is also important to include foods rich in vitamin C in the same meal to increase the absorption of iron. If you want to know more about getting this right for your baby, personalised nutrition advice might be a good idea and my team at Mission Nutrition can help.

4)  There is a study currently being done at Otago University looking at the way we feed our babies in the modern world and the impact that has on their wellbeing, this includes looking at the impact of pouches. I occasionally used pouches with both of my children when they were younger. The main thing is to be mindful of over reliance on them as there is concern that they may encourage babies to eat more than they need (because it is easier to suck than eat from a spoon), that babies may not be learning how to use a spoon and also, as I made clear in this interview, many pouches are fruit based and 'may' start a preference for sweet tasting foods.

5)  Food allergy - I covered this in some depth but the guidelines are here if you want to know more on this read this and this.

6) The current position for the Ministry of Health on full baby lead weaning can be found here. I know there will be mixed feelings on this, but this is what is currently recommended. I did puree/mash and very soft age-appropriate finger foods for my boys to maximise nutrition but encourage playing with food.



Published By

Claire Turnbull



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