In an ideal world we would all love to make our baby’s food at home, but it’s time consuming and often, as a new parent, we don’t want more on our plate than we already have. At times like this, its store-bought baby food to the rescue!
With the lack of sleep and constant diaper changes that a new parent is already experiencing, deciphering the label on baby food should be one less thing to worry about! So we have taken it upon ourselves to decode the labels for you.
The nutritional panel usually located at the back or along the side panel of your baby food box, typically contains the following categories.
Note: (Make sure to see the serving size for which the nutritional information has been given. Typically the serving size is 100 gms )
Energy – Fats, Carbohydrates and Proteins
Calculated in calories, energy is usually a measure of the carbohydrates, fats and protein in the food. This is what provides your baby with the energy required for their daily activities and growth and also aids in weight gain.
Higher fat, carbohydrate, and protein intake needn’t be a cause for concern for parents with babies under two years of age, because they will require all the energy they can get!
Sugars in the baby food can be present in natural form or as added sugars in the form of corn syrup, sucrose, etc. Baby food with added sugar is not advised especially for children less than 24 months of age. However natural sugars (present in ingredients like fruit honey or jaggery) in controlled proportion can be consumed by babies.
The number on the nutrition panel tells you how much sodium (salt) is in a single serving of the baby food. Babies and toddlers need sodium for growth and development but this level needs to be maintained at a minimum. Until 1 year of age, babies can suffice with very minimal sodium (.4 g per day), so make sure to cross-check the quantity on their food label.
Vitamins and Added Minerals
At the bottom of every nutrition table, you'll see a list of vitamins and minerals, along with an amount in grams.
Baby food rich in Iron, Zinc, Calcium, and Vitamins support your baby’s growth and develop strong bones, healthy teeth, and build up their blood. However, the recommended daily intake will depend on the age of the baby.
2.List of ingredients in the food
This list identifies all the ingredients which are present in the food. The ingredients are listed in descending order of the amount present in the food - that is, the higher up in the list, the larger amount present in the food. The core ingredients present in the food are also typically represented in the front of the food box with words, pictures, or graphics.
3.Fillers and Additives
Many baby foods contain preservatives and additives and they should be listed in the food label. Make sure that the labels read “no artificial flavors” which means the food contains only natural flavors which are extracted from foods and “no artificial colors” means the food contains only natural colors and are not synthetically prepared.
Slurrp Farm is one such kid and baby food brand which is free of preservatives, artificial coloring, and additives.
4.Guidance on storage of the food
Every baby food package will have instructions on how to store the food mentioned on the packaging. Make sure to follow these instructions to ensure the food does not get spoilt.
Make sure to check the expiration date on the box to make sure that the food is not consumed beyond its recommended shelf life.
Use the information above as a guideline while selecting your baby food. While this may seem overwhelming, there are many brands in the market that are very transparent with their list of ingredients and make it easy for you to make the right choice for your baby!