Is Baby’s Food Healthy? The Truth About Your Baby Food

6-12 Months

Packaging and labeling can trick us into thinking certain foods and drinks are healthier than they actually are. And savvy marketing can convince us that baby needs a product she really doesn’t. Leave those hyped-up “health foods” on the shelf and keep more money in your pocket!

Why you can’t always trust trendy baby foods

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 masks the taste of veggies, meat and whole grains, your baby can’t learn to enjoy their natural taste.

So, read the ingredients. Not only is this a good food parenting practice, but you'll know you're actually getting what you pay for. Choose baby meals that are just meat, veggies and whole grains, or buy several single-ingredient foods and make your own combos.

Why you should limit food pouches

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

If your baby is still on purees, spoon-feeding him 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 three months! Babies need to practice chewing food and feeding themselves with their hands so they can meet these important milestones.

Your baby will benefit from learning what real fruits and veggies look, feel and taste like. Relying too much on pouches can lead to picky eating, overeating and tooth decay.

Why real snacks are better than “baby snacks”

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 him down the picky eating path.

Even if the nutrition facts look fine (and they often don’t), serving these foods teaches baby that cheese puffs are what snacks are supposed to look like.

Instead, choose snacks that are (and look) healthy. Think cooked peas, whole-milk yogurt or banana.

Why you don’t want to give your baby “baby juice”

There’s nothing special about baby juice. Any juice has as much sugar as soda; even when watered down, it can decay baby’s brand-new teeth.

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

Where to find the healthiest baby food

Remember: 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.