Is Your Baby's Food As Healthy As You Think It Is?

How different foods and drinks are labeled can make them seem healthier than they actually are. Leave the so-called “health foods” your baby doesn't need on the shelf and keep more money in your pocket.

Baby food pouch with apple

Trendy health foods, like quinoa, kale, lentils and others, have made their way into baby pouches and jars. But they’re often nothing more than applesauce with a few added ingredients. When the applesauce or other sweet fruit covers up the taste of veggies, meat and whole grains, your baby can’t learn to enjoy their natural taste.

Keep food marketers honest:

  • Read the ingredients so you know you're actually getting what you pay for.
  • Choose baby meals that are just meat, veggies and whole grains.
  • Buy several single-ingredient foods and make your own combos.

apple, carrot, pumpkin pouch

While pouches can be convenient and sometimes healthy, they aren’t always the best choice for your baby.

If your baby is still on purees, spoon-feeding them the contents of a pouch is no different from a jar of stage 1 baby food. But between 6 and 9 months, your baby should progress from purees to strained and mashed foods, to chunky foods, to finger foods. That’s a lot to learn in 3 months!

Babies need to practice chewing food and feeding themselves with their hands so they can meet these important milestones, and pouches don't help with that development. Your baby will also benefit from learning what real fruits and veggies look, feel and taste like.

Relying too much on pouches can lead to:

  • Picky eating
  • Overeating
  • Tooth decay

Toddler junk food

Some baby snacks mimic adult junk foods, like cheese puffs, yogurt drops, meat sticks, cookies and baby dessert. Their added sugar and salt train your baby’s taste buds to prefer unhealthy foods, which can lead them down the path to picky eating.

Even if the nutrition facts look fine (and they often don’t), serving these foods teaches your baby that cheese puffs are what snacks are supposed to look like. Instead, choose snacks that are (and look) healthy, such as cooked peas, whole-milk yogurt or banana.

Baby fruit juice

There’s nothing special about baby juice. Even juice labeled for babies can have as much sugar as soda! Even when watered down, juice can decay your baby’s brand-new (or nonexistent) teeth.

Instead of offering your baby juice, stick to breastmilk or infant formula to drink, and teach your baby to choose real fruit. At this age, your baby can have a few small sips of water from an open cup (preferably not a sippy) at meals for practice.

toasted oats in small cup

Sometimes the healthiest food for babies isn’t on the baby aisle. Think “outside the baby aisle” for the healthiest finger foods for your baby.