Best Baby Food 2021: How To Provide Optimal Nutrition To Your Baby

Zebah Meraki
·14-min read

The transition into solid baby food is a normal yet significant milestone in your precious baby’s life. Introducing your baby to solid baby food is fun and exciting. However, it can also be intimidating for parents. Nutrients from solid food at this important milestone will impact the development and growth of your little bub. As such, in this article, you will find a guide on ways to select the best baby food for your little growing star.

The Importance Of Solid Baby Food

Babies need solid food to aid with the development of their oral motor function. By moving solid foods from the front of their mouths to the back for swallowing, they are able to work on skills needed for language development in the future.

On top of that, once infants reach six months of age, they require more iron for their growth, which they are unable to get from breastmilk or infant formula alone. Thus, requiring dietary supplements in the form of solid food.

When To Start Your Baby On Solid Food

baby food
baby food

Image courtesy: Stock

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for the first six months of the infant’s life, parents are recommended to start introducing solid foods from six months onwards as a supplement. However, every child is different, and according to AAP, it is the following signs that indicate whether or not your baby is at the right age to begin solid foods:

  • Can your baby sit with support?

  • Can your baby hold his or her head in a steady, upright position?

  • Does your child lean forward or open his or her mouth when food is offered?

If your little one isn’t able to do any of the aforementioned, its best to wait a bit longer, at least till he/she is 6 months. That’s because the risk of starting solid food too early (before the child is 4-months-old) can put your baby’s life in danger. The solid baby food can potentially get lodged into the airway, not get digested at all, or even put your bub at risk of obesity.

All of these factors can make new parents anxious. But as long as you stick to the age-limit, switching to baby food will only aid in your baby’s growth and development. We always recommend that you speak with your pediatrician before making this change.

How To Choose Your Baby’s First Food

Pouch or Jar?

Now that your baby is ready to foray into the culinary delights of solid food, your next dilemma is perhaps: which type and brand to begin with?

Baby first foods come in many forms and our personal favourite for the busy mother is a food pouch. The food pouch is a quick convenient solution for busy parents. Compared to traditional purees in jars there are three main benefits:

  • Mess free: Baby food pouches are suck-able direct from the nozzle. No more cleaning up spills, or having jars of half open puree jars lining the storage space in your fridge.

  • Portable: Having a few handy food pouches can ensure that every outing with your infant is fuss-free as you no longer have to bring along a meal portion with your baby’s eating utensils.

  • Flexible in use and storage: Food pouches can be squeezed into a bowl to allow your child the experience of lifting food to their little mouths when it is time for them to develop such motor skills. On top of that, they are easily squeezed and stored in your fridge as compared to clunky food puree jars.

What to consider in a baby food pouch?

When deciding on the brand of the food pouch, only the best will suffice for your precious one. As such, we recommend considering the following criteria:

  • Healthy and nutritious ingredients: Ensure that there is no added sugar or salt, and that the ingredients provide the required nutrients such as iron and zinc for your baby’s growth and development. Check out our Baby 101 guide for a list of ingredients to look out for when making the switch.

  • Presence of allergens: According to the AAP, 1 in 13 babies suffer from allergies. This is why you should either ensure that you introduce your baby to ingredients one at a time, or that the food is made safe for babies with allergies.

  • Taste and variety: Getting your baby used to trying different foods and flavours can be fun and will prevent them from becoming picky eaters. Dietician and child nutritionist Sarah Almond Bushell recommends introducing children to new tastes and textures constantly when they are young (between weaning to 10 months) before they become fussy with their foods.

Now comes the next crucial part: brand selection. How do you choose which brand of baby food is the one for your little bub? Fret not parents, we have done the research for you. Read on to know more about the best baby food pouches that you can use to introduce your baby to solid food.

Best First Baby Food Pouch 2021

1. Best Organic Baby Food: Little Étoile Organic®

Best Organic Baby Food: Little Étoile Organic®
Best Organic Baby Food: Little Étoile Organic®

Why Little Étoile is a great choice

First on our list is Little Étoile Organic. In French, Little Étoile means “little star” and the company’s mission is to help your “little star” grow and glow. Each food pouch is designed by a team of experienced nutritionists, so you can rest assured that every pouch is filled with the nutritional goodness to help your little star shine.

Benefits of going organic

Little Étoile Organic ingredients come from small scale certified organic Australian farms. All produce is grown without synthetic fertilisers or processes just as nature intended.

As you know, organic ingredients carry higher nutrition levels and antioxidants that are perfect to meet the nutritional needs of your little bub.

On top of that, organic ingredients also have lower levels of heavy metals, which are present in fertilisers and pesticides used in conventional farming.

Ensuring the food your little bub consumes is safe and of the highest quality

Food safety and quality is also one of our primary concerns as parents. Food allergy related hospitalisations for infants and toddlers have increased five times over the last decade. However, parents who worry about food allergies can rest a little easier as Little Étoile Organic is free from 14 major allergens (as determined by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand, FSANZ). Each batch is individually tested to give you a peace of mind.

Even though Little Étoile Organic ingredients are certified organic and do not contain fertilisers and pesticides. Each batch is still tested for heavy metals (Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, and Cadmium) so you know you are providing the best for your little shining star.

Features we love in Little Étoile

  • Healthy and nutritious ingredients: No added salt, sugar, colours, flavours and preservatives. All ingredients are GMO-free.

  • Free of 14 major allergy causing ingredients: Tested and free of egg, gluten, milk (except in custard), peanut, soy, macadamia, crustacea, almond, hazelnut, sesame, walnut, fish, pistachio, cashew, and lupin

  • Taste and variety: There are 5 different flavours to try, ensuring that your little one will never go bored!

    • Beef, Veggies and Brown Rice

    • Chicken, Veggies and Brown Rice

    • Vanilla Custard

    • Sweet Potato, Pumpkin and Corn

    • Pear, Mango and Banana

    • Apple, Banana and Pear

  • Suitable age: For children of six months and up

2. Convenient Baby Food: Gerber Purees Pouch

Convenient Baby Food:  Gerber Purees Pouch
Convenient Baby Food: Gerber Purees Pouch

Why Gerber Purees is a good choice

Gerber is next on our list. It is one of the most recognisable brands in the market. They have one of the largest product ranges in the market with over 34 different flavours in their organic food pouch range. You will be spoilt for choice when selecting baby food flavours.

Gerber has both an organic and a natural range. Their organic range is grown with Clean Field Farming practices – where Gerber partners with farms to ensure that strict standards are met; from the selection of seeds, to ensuring soil quality, to the eventual harvesting of produce.

Fruits and vegetables are hand-picked only when they are at their prime and not mass harvested at the turn of the season. Because so much effort goes into growing their ingredients, you know that you are getting quality ingredients in your baby first food. On top of that for their natural range, Gerber only works with a selection of farms that are able to meet their quality standards.

They have also developed a proprietary Smart Flow® spout that helps to prevent spills and messes. Flow control means more on your little one’s spoon, not everywhere else.

Features we love in Gerber Purees

  • Healthy and nutritious ingredients: No added starch; unsalted, and unsweetened. No artificial flavours or colours.

  • Taste and variety: Largest range of flavours on the market

  • Mess-free: Smart flow control reduces mess during feeding

3. Fussy Eating Baby Food: HappyBABY Organics

Fussy Eating Baby Food: HappyBABY Organics
Fussy Eating Baby Food: HappyBABY Organics

What Happy Baby Organics is a good choice

Happy Baby offers wide range of products that will suit both you and your baby’s needs. For the environmentally conscious parent, their “Regenerative & Organic” line is made with ingredients that are organic and sustainable.

For babies who are turning their noses up at veggies, their “Savory Blends” line helps you to introduce vegetables by packing them full of flavour with healthy fats and spices. Their “Nutty Blends” line is perfect when you are trying to slowly introduce nuts to your precious one.

Every pouch is developed with an allergist and contains a small amount of nuts. You can now safely and conveniently introduce these allergens to your precious one in a controlled and safe manner.

Pouches are also segmented according to a baby’s age and you will likely be able to find a product that meets the needs of the fussiest little eater.

Features we love in Happy Baby Organics

  • Healthy and nutritious ingredients: All pouches are unsalted (even their Savory blend) and each pouch is designed by their team of baby nutritionist with your baby’s nutritional requirements in mind.

  • Presence of allergens: Pouches are prepared in a nut-free facility with the exception of their “Nutty Blends” line.

  • Taste and variety: Happy Baby offers recipes that use their purees as the main ingredient to magically create hundreds of new taste and textures for your little bub to try.

4. Flavourful Baby Food: Piccolo organic

Flavorful Baby Food: Piccolo organic
Flavorful Baby Food: Piccolo organic

Why My Little Piccolo is a good choice

Interestingly, the Piccolo story begun around a kitchen table. Piccolo founder Cat spent her career campaigning for good, honest, and natural food. Cat enjoyed a varied diet from a young age, including plenty of fruit and veg, pasta, pulses and a little meat. Food prepared with enthusiasm and love was part of her DNA and that’s how she feeds her family and daughter, Juliet. She started Piccolo as a way to provide balanced healthy and tasty food for families.

Piccolo’s products are fully organic, and they have flavours and textures for every stage of your child’s development from 4 months onwards. On top of traditional fruit and vegetable flavoured pouches for 4+ months, you can also find interesting flavours such as “Garden Vegetables Three Grain Risotto” or “Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese” for babies 7+ months.

Features we love in My Little Piccolo Pouches

  • Healthy and nutritious ingredients: All products are developed together with nutritionist and come from extensive research on infant nutrition and child development.

  • Taste and variety: Recipes include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, good fats and dairy, occasional meat or fish with a pinch of herbs and spices. Start your little one on a culinary experience with new and exciting flavours on their weaning adventure.

5. Plum Organics

Plum Organics
Plum Organics

Why Plum Organics is a good choice

Plum Organics is founded by a group of parents with the belief that little ones deserve the very best food from the very first bite. They have a range of food pouches separated by stages:

Stage 1 (4+ months): Single ingredient pouches that allow slowly introduce flavours and textures to your budding eater.

Stage 2 (6+ months): Made with blends of fruit, veggies, grains, and Greek yogurt. These pouches start to blend multiple flavours together and are perfect once your little one is more used to solids.

Stage 3 (6+ months): Made with hearty flavours, these meals are developed to help transition your baby to table food.

Features we love in Plum Organics

  • Healthy and nutritious ingredients: All of Plum Organics blends are made with organic ingredients, naturally preserved, unsalted, unsweetened, and kosher parve.

  • Taste and variety: Different flavours and textures available for all stages.

Price Comparison: The Most Cost Effective Baby Food Option

Feeding a growing child can be quite expensive. Brands also do not make price comparisons easy as pouches come in different sizes and price points.

To create a fair comparison, we have done the price research for you. Based on the reviews above you can now make an informed decision about the best baby food that fits your budget.

Brand

Pack size

Total grams (g)

Price ($)

Price/ gram ($)

Little Étoile Organic Sweet Potato, Pumpkin & Corn

3 pack – 120g

360

13

0.036

Little Étoile Organic Vanilla Custard

3 pack – 120g

360

13

0.036

Little Étoile Organic Pear, Mango & Banana

3 pack – 120g

360

13

0.036

Gerber Apple Sweet Potato

99g

99

3.5

0.035

HappyBABY Organics Stage 2 Pears Kale & Spinach

4 pack – 113g

452

15.2

0.034

Piccolo organic – Piccolo Apple & Apricot with a pinch of cinnamon

100g

100

3.92

0.039

Plum Organics Stage 3 – Spinach Peas And Pears

113g

113

3.8

0.034

*Prices are accurate as of March 2021. Prices are from Shopee or Lazada unless stated otherwise.

Introduce Good Feeding Habits With Your Baby’s First Solid Food

Kara Larson a speech language pathologist and feeding specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital mentions that eating is an important learning experience for your baby.

Although sucking from a pouch helps to develop the front-to-back tongue motion early on in a baby’s development, the chewing of soft foods helps to develop side-to-side tongue motion needed for speech development later in life.

On top of that, when your baby is older, using a spoon to lift food to the mouth helps to develops motor coordination.

So if your baby is on this journey, we recommend a few additional tips to help him or her transition smoothly.

Incorporate the spoon

There is no harm in letting your baby suck from a food pouch. But if you wish to incorporate feeding skills, offer the spoon and encourage self-feeding. The best way to do this would be to squeeze a bit of baby food onto the spoon and then feed the baby.

The added benefit of transferring the baby food from pouch to spoon is the reduced wastage and costs.

When your child is ready, you can graduate your baby to self-feeding by squeezing the baby food into a bowl and allowing him or her to eat from it with a spoon.

Add texture

Expand your baby’s sensory palate by mixing in cereals, chopped fruits, and vegetables with the food squeezed from your baby food pouch. Not only will these different textures stimulate your baby’s sensory system, it will also train his mouth muscles to handle a wide range of food textures. Plus, it will reduce the amount of food you use in the food pouch, making it last for more meal times.

However, always consult your pediatrician about the appropriate time to introduce different textures to get the best results.

For more tips and tricks on feeding with solid baby food, check out our “Baby Food 101 guide“.

References:

  1. Koletzko, B., et al., Pesticides in dietary foods for infants and young children. Report of the Working Group on Pesticides in Baby Foods of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN). Archives of Disease in Childhood, 1999. 80(1): p. 91-92.

The post Best Baby Food 2021: How To Provide Optimal Nutrition To Your Baby appeared first on theAsianparent - Your Guide to Pregnancy, Baby & Raising Kids.