Are you feeding your baby the healthiest organic food?
The so called “Eat Organic” is the latest talk of the town. Be it food for any age, the term Organic assures us that what we are consuming is right for our health. As for babies, it is of utmost importance that they are fed the right food in their initial years. Feeding Right is Growing Right.
In a developing country like ours, it is difficult for most mothers to nurture the child with the best of nutrition unlike the developed countries. This way our children most of the time remain under-nourished for various reasons. Baby foods helps provide them with those nutrients which otherwise is unavailable due to many factors.
To our rescue comes our age old or ancient whole grains along with modern day whole grains which in combination with fruits and vegetables or alone even; provides essential nutrients to the body. Baby foods prepared with ancient whole grains such as ragi and barley and modern-day whole grains such as oats provide nutrient dense foods for our babies. Apart from the available nutrients, these are easily digested by the baby’s still developing stomach.
Organic baby food for babies come in 3/ 4 stages. Initial weaning foods or stage 1 baby food are introduced at the age of 6 months. They are prepared using single produce of very easily digestible food such as ragi porridge, rice porridge, wheat porridge, fruit and vegetable purees, etc.
Stage 2 baby foods are introduced at the age of 8 months. Here they start introducing small combination of foods with little fiber rich foods such as oats and banana, spinach and dal, apple and oats, etc. Here the baby’s digestive tract is still learning to digest simple food combinations without putting a lot of pressure on the little stomach.
Stage 3 & 4 baby foods are introduced after 10 months of age. They are more complex in formulation. They have a combination of more than 2 ingredients like ragi, carrots and apple, green leafy vegetable with dal and wheat/rice, quinoa with fruits, etc, and the consistency is also thicker than the initial stage food. It is so because babies have now nearly developed good digestion and are able to digest more complex and fibrous foods.
How does Organic come into picture here?
Picking a food corresponding to age is very easy, but choosing the right product is hard. With a huge variety open for selection, our minds often stop thinking at one time as to what we are buying and how well it is sourced.
With modern day knowledge, “Organic” is the in thing and weather out of concern or the ability to purchase, people are turning to Organic Foods. The Organic Certification and information provided on the pack of Baby Foods helps us identify what food we are purchasing and how and where it is sourced.
Careful reading of the Label is the key to buying Healthy Food. “Healthy” is termed in a lot of ways on products available in the market, but a little knowledge on how to distinguish the actual Healthy food from the rest will make a big difference.
The life of mothers is much easier now with a range of baby food brands in India such as Nestle Cerelac, Ceregrow, Gerber Baby Food, Farex, FirstBites etc and more upcoming brands such as Early Foods, First Solids, Happa etc. But it in turn becomes difficult to choose the best one for our babies. Here are a few important pointers to understand while reading a food label which will help you pick the best baby food:
- Reading the first ingredient of the food label. The first ingredient on the ingredient list will show how much of the actual product is used in the preparation of the baby food. It will also signify if the product is organic or is locally sourced from a non-organic farm.
- Amount of sugar present in the product. The amount of sugar present in the product signifies how healthy it is. On a lot of products, the percentage of sugar mentioned is very low, but in reality, it is mentioned under different names on the ingredient list which the consumer might not notice on the label. They are broken down and written in the ingredient list as sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup, fructose, etc which are basically just forms of sugar.
- Sodium and potassium content. High levels of sodium are not advisable as it is very hard for the young kidneys to filter them. On the other hand, potassium is necessary for the developing nervous system but in moderation. Formulas that don’t contain any traces of salt until the formula is prepared for a 1 year old are the best.
- Macro and Micro Nutrients available in the product. Nutrients available in the product should have balanced amounts. These are calculated on a standard basis of a 2000 kCal diet on the Nutrient Facts Table. A percentage of these nutrients below 5% of the given value is very low in that nutrient and more than 20% is considered high. This should be kept in mind while making a choice.
- Additives added to the product. We should be sure to check if there are any additives added to the product. Ingredients such as lecithin, maltodextrin, corn syrup, compounds of benzoates and sulphites, etc are forms of additives which are used to preserve food and increase shelf life. These increase the shelf life, but decrease the well being of the human body causing major physical and mental problems.
- Colors and flavors. These are another type of additives used to enhance the visual appearance and palatability of foods. These are mostly chemically prepared and hence should by avoided at any cost.
A keen eye to selecting the right food for our babies is the key to a healthy baby. A little conscious effort will help us in selecting the right food for our little ones, so let us join hands in making our younger generation healthy so that the future generations are also healthy.