Is bottled baby food healthy

Jarred Baby Food Isn't the Worst, but Neither Is Making Your Own

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Store-bought baby food isn’t poison, but these tips will prove making your own isn’t rocket science, either. Find the balance that works for you.

Is jarred baby food basically the worst thing ever? Some recent headlines might have you nodding your head yes — and then feeling like the worst parent ever for not always having time to concoct homemade purées for your baby.

The vast majority of packaged baby foods and snacks contain one or more heavy metals like arsenic or lead — with rice-based snacks and infant cereals, teething biscuits, fruit juice, and jarred carrots and sweet potatoes being the worst offenders, according to a recent report by the nonprofit Healthy Babies Bright Futures.

Which, of course, sounds terrifying. But does it really mean that you can never, ever, give your baby store-bought food again?

The answer is no, experts say. “The metal content of baby food really isn’t any more elevated than all the other food adults and older children consume every day. Parents should not be overly alarmed by this piece of news,” says Samantha Radford, PhD, a public health expert and chemist and owner of Evidence-Based Mommy.

Heavy metals are naturally present in soil, and crops like rice and vegetables that grow underground tend to take those metals up. That’s true for rice, carrots, or sweet potatoes that are used to make packaged baby food or the ingredients that you buy whole at the store, including organic ones — though rice tends to have more metals than veggies like carrots or sweet potatoes.

Still, it’s certainly worth taking steps to minimize your family’s exposure by going the homemade route when you can. “I would advise cutting back on rice-based snacks and jarred purées that contain rice,” says Nicole Avena, PhD, author of “What To Feed Your Baby and Toddler.”

Plus, Avena says, “When you opt to make purées at home, you have more control over what goes in them.”

Doing the DIY thing doesn’t have to be crazy complicated or time-consuming, either. Here, some smart tips that’ll streamline the process so making your own baby food doesn’t make you insane.

A fancy baby food maker is nice if you happen to have one. But special appliances definitely aren’t a must. All you really need to make yummy food for your little one is the following:

  • Steamer basket or colander for steaming. Place a pot lid over your steamer basket for faster steaming. Try OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Steamer with Extendable Handle.
  • Blender or food processor to purée ingredients. Try the Ninja Mega Kitchen System Blender/Food Processor.
  • Potato masher. Use it as a low-tech alternative to a blender or food processor, or save it to make chunkier purées when your baby gets a little older. Try the KitchenAid Gourmet Stainless Steel Wire Masher.
  • Ice cube trays. They’re the best for freezing individual servings of purées. Buy a bunch so you can freeze several batches of food at once. Try the OMorc Silicone Ice Cube Trays 4-Pack.
  • Large baking sheet. This is useful for freezing finger foods on a flat surface so they don’t stick together in the freezer if they’re stacked up in a bag or container. Try Nordic Ware’s Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet.
  • Parchment paper keeps finger foods from sticking to your baking sheets in the freezer.
  • Plastic zip-top baggies can be used for storing frozen purée cubes or finger foods in the freezer.
  • A permanent marker is key for labeling, so you know what’s actually in those baggies.

Sure, those mini mac and cheese cups or turkey meatloaf muffins you saw on Instagram look fun. But you don’t have to expend that kind of effort to feed your baby fresh, homemade food — especially early on.

As your little one is getting the hang of solids, focus on making basic fruit and veggie purées with single ingredients. Over time, you can start combining purées — think peas and carrots, or apple and pear — for more interesting flavor combos.

Remember the world of easy-to-prep finger foods too:

  • quartered hard-boiled eggs
  • sliced banana
  • avocado, lightly mashed
  • sliced berries
  • lightly mashed chickpeas or black beans
  • cubes of baked tofu or cheese
  • shredded roast chicken or turkey
  • cooked ground beef
  • mini muffins or pancakes
  • whole-grain toast strips topped with hummus, ricotta, or a thin layer of nut butter.

Your time is too precious to spend it washing and de-stemming bunches of spinach or peeling and chopping whole butternut squash. Instead, opt for frozen veggies or fruits that you can quickly microwave and pop straight into the blender or food processor with your preferred seasonings.

Save the steaming just for foods that you can’t usually find frozen — like apples, pears, or beets.

As a new parent, you’ve probably gotten pretty efficient at prepping (relatively) healthy meals and snacks for yourself. So apply the same idea for your baby’s food.

Once a week or so, dedicate an hour to prepping big batches of purées or finger foods. Nap time or after your little one has gone to bed is great for this, so you won’t be distracted or interrupted 30 times.

But if you’d rather use your baby’s snooze time to get some extra rest yourself, have your partner or another caregiver take your baby for an hour when they’re awake so you can cook in peace.

Scoop tablespoons of purées into ice cube trays and freeze them, then pop the cubes out and store them in plastic baggies for quick, easy meals.

Making finger foods like muffins or pancakes? Lay them flat on a baking sheet so they don’t get stuck together while they freeze, then bag them up.

And be sure to label each bag so you know exactly what’s inside. Within a few weeks, you’ll have built up a decent freezer stash of food options for your little one. And chances are, without labels you won’t be able to tell those peas from the green beans.

Marygrace Taylor is a health and parenting writer, former KIWI magazine editor, and mom to Eli. Visit her at

Store-Bought Baby Food Guide – Happiest Baby

By Gabrielle McPherson, MS, RDN, LDN

Between the easy make-your-own baby food advice out there, the newfangled baby meal subscription services, and all of the baby food jars and pouches that overcrowd grocery aisles, there are plenty of healthy and nutritious options to feed your baby these days. Relief! But it’s still pretty daunting to figure out which baby food is best for your baby. For help on the store-bought baby food front, look no further! Here, our guide to buying the best store-bought baby food for your little one.

How to Choose Store-Bought Baby Food

Unlike infant formula, baby food isn’t subject to any special Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. Sure, manufacturers need to follow the rules that govern all food, but there are no for-babies-only specifications to follow…yet. (See below for more one that.) What that means is, reading labels is really important when it comes to feeding your baby store-bought baby food.

Baby Food Buying Guide Tip #1: Know the deal with heavy metals in baby food.

It’s downright terrifying to read headlines about heavy metals found in store-bought baby food. Thank goodness the Baby Food Safety Act was introduced in Congress in 2021, which would require baby food manufacturers to reduce levels of certain heavy metals in non-cereal foods. In the meantime, know that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) attests that levels of heavy metals found in baby food are low. And a 2022 study concluded that the heavy metals in baby food are unlikely to put your baby’s health at risk. Still, no one wants to feed their little one mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic along with their pureed peas and carrots!

To lower your baby’s risk of too much heavy metal exposure, be sure to offer a wide variety of food and avoid serving your baby rice cereal. Not only do rice products often contain high levels of arsenic, there’s actually no need to feed your baby this classic first food. There are so many other grains out there that are low in heavy metals, high in fiber, and simply better for Baby than rice cereal, like barley, quinoa, and oatmeal.

Baby Food Buying Guide Tip #2: Get familiar with the baby food labels.

Reading baby food labels is a critical step in determining which baby food to buy for your precious bub. Here are some basics to look for on each label:

  • Check the first ingredient: If you’re looking to buy, say, pureed pumpkin, make sure pumpkin is the first ingredient on the list. All food labels list ingredients in order of most amount to least amount.

  • Ditch food with “maskers”: When you introduce your baby to new veggies, select store-bought baby food that doesn’t hide the natural flavor with lots of sweeter ingredients. For instance, research shows that dark green veggie baby food is often mixed with fruit to sweeten the meal. This ensures your little one won’t actually experiences the veggie’s real taste, which won’t help them choose green leafies down the road.

    • Whole foods trump juices: Make sure you see more whole food ingredients on the baby food label than juices. 

    • Seek sugar-free: There are natural sugars in lots of foods and those are a-okay. But, added sugars should be avoided. Look for store-bought baby food labeled “no sugar added.” (Pst: A 2019 study in the journal Nutrients found that baby food pouches were more likely to contain added sugars than jarred baby foods.

    • Find Stage/Months: Baby food is classified by stage or month and that’s determined by things like the number of ingredients and the texture of the baby food. For instance, Stage 1 baby food is for little ones between 4 and 6 months old. These are single ingredient smooth purees. Stage 2 is for babies 6 to 8 months and are a little chunkier than puree and contain more than one flavor. Stage 3 is for older babies and are even chunkier.

    Baby Food Buying Guide Tip #3: Make sense of baby food jargon.

    All the acronyms that pepper baby food jars can be real head-scratchers. Here’s help figuring it all out. 

    • USDA certified organic: The USDA certified organic label means that the baby food meets specific standards around growing crops, the use of additives, and pest and weed control. Plus, USDA certified organic baby foods cannot contain artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors. Right now, there’s no research that finds organic baby food to be more nutritious than nonorganic. However, giving your baby organic baby foods will lower their exposure to chemicals and pesticides.  

    • Non-GMO: Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are lab-generated living organisms with altered genetics allowing them to grow faster and under various climate conditions. According to the FDA, GMO foods are carefully studied for safety before they’re sold to the public and there’s no evidence that they negatively affect your health. Know that if a baby food is USDA certified organic, it’s already GMO-free. 

    • BPA-Free: BPA stands for bisphenol-A and it’s a harmful chemical found in plastic packaging that’s especially damaging to infants and children. While the FDA has banned BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, the chemical is still used in some food and beverage containers.  

    Baby Food Buying Guide Tip #4: Check the expiration date.

    While we often hear about wiggle room when it comes to expiration dates on food, there’s no wiggle room with baby food, according to the USDA. It’s always a good idea to simply throw out old, expired baby food. Check for expiration dates on the baby food in your cupboard and the baby food in the store. Sometimes stores fail to remove expired baby food from the shelves making it possible to purchase it accidentally. (PS: Jars generally keep food fresh longer than pouches.)

    Baby Food Buying Guide Tip #5: Consider the jar over the pouch.

    More baby food pouches are available than ever before. And, yes, they promote self-feeding and they’re super portable…but relying solely on baby food pouches does your baby a disservice. Slurping purees through a pouch limits your little one’s ability to hone the healthy oral motor development they need to eat efficiently. Spoon-feeding, on the other hand, helps strengthen their mouth muscles. If you’re already stocked up on baby food pouches, consider removing the contents and feeding it to your baby by spoon and saving the squeeze for out-and-about meals alone.

    Baby Food Buying Guide Tip #6: Eat store-bought baby food safely.

    Okay, so this isn’t about buying baby food, but this advice 100% applies to store-bought baby food: It’s important to avoid feeding your baby straight from the baby food jar. Bacteria from your baby’s saliva can grow inside the baby food jar if you save it for another feeding. To reduce the risk of these unwanted bugs, always pour baby food into a separate baby-safe container before spoon-feeding.  

    Benefits of Store-Bought Baby Food

    There are lots of benefits to making your own baby food, but there are also plenty of perks of going the store-bought route, like…

    • Store-bought baby food is convenient. Though more costly than homemade baby food, ready-made baby food can save loads of time. (No steaming, chopping, or blending needed.) Plus, store-bought baby food is so easy to pack in a diaper bag before a doctor’s visit, a family road trip, a trip to the park…anything! 

    • Store-bought baby food has the right consistency. With store-bought baby food, there’s no second-guessing your blending and pureeing skills, wondering if the sweet potatoes are smooth enough for your bub. Store-bought baby food will always be the right consistency, no matter what stage you’re buying.

    As with making your own baby food and breastfeeding—none of it needs to be all or nothing! You can choose one or the other—or you can do a combination of both. No matter what you choose, it’s a good bet that your baby will be loved and well-fed, so do what works best for your baby and your family—guilt-free!

    About Gabrielle McPherson

    Gabrielle McPherson, MS, RDN, LDN is registered dietitian in Missouri who specializes in community and pediatric nutrition. Gaby is passionate about encouraging families to eat well in simple, practical ways that are realistic...and delicious! When not working, Gaby loves cooking, baking, and making messes and memories with her sous-chef/preschooler Charlotte.

    View more posts tagged, feeding

    Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Connect with us at customercare@happiestbaby. com.

    Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.

    Children's vegetable puree: edible or inedible?

    / All materials

    GOST not Decree

    The tasting of vegetable puree was conducted by specialists who have devoted many years to the development of baby food. Their opinion can be trusted. But we want to warn you: it is impossible to guarantee that the child will like the same puree as the experts (rather, you should rely on your own taste). Much more important is compliance with safety requirements. And most of the samples we tested meet the standards. Most, but not all. nine0003

    Let's deal with the quality

    Andrey Mosov, head of the expert department of NP Roskontrol, doctor:

    “Such characteristics as sweetness, bitterness or “unexpressed taste” are subjective. Parents most often pay attention to the water content of the product. The presence of water in the composition of vegetable puree is not bad for the first feeding. You just need to understand that water is a cheaper raw material than a pumpkin.”

    Irina Konokhova, leading expert of NP Roskontrol, doctor:

    “Indeed, in most of the tested vegetable purees, the mass fraction of chlorides (i.e. salt) is 0.2%, and in the Babushkino Lukoshko, Heinz and Semper purees it is 0.3%. Perhaps this is due to the higher natural content of sodium chloride in the feedstock, although it cannot be ruled out that salt was added. However, this intake of salt with complementary foods is acceptable, given the physiological need for sodium in children. The permissible mass fraction of chlorides in children's vegetable puree is 0.6%, and this figure is not exceeded in the tested samples. nine0016

    How about sterility?

    Let's start with the main thing: all samples meet the requirements of industrial sterility. Pesticides were not found in any of the samples, and all samples meet the standards in terms of nitrate content.

    In addition, the puree was checked for 5-hydroxymethyl furfural content . It was not found in any of the samples.

    All preservatives and sweeteners are prohibited in baby food. We checked the puree for the presence of sorbate, benzoate, sulfur dioxide (these are preservatives) and determined the mass concentration of sweeteners. Parents can be calm: no preservatives or sweeteners were found in the samples. nine0003

    One in the jar, another on the label

    Andrey Mosov, head of the expert department of NP Roskontrol, doctor:

    in pumpkin puree should be 3.6% (in boiled pumpkin - 4.6%).

    Summing up and drawing conclusions

    Roskontrol experts noted that the manufacturer of puree Semper misleads the consumer about the presence of sugar in the composition. A mark "Bebivita" does not correspond to the actual product name - it is indicated in small print on the back of the label ("Complementary food product - mashed pumpkin and potatoes").

    Puree “Spelyonok” has the inscription “fortified with vitamin C” illegally placed: the actual mass fraction of ascorbic acid in this sample is four times less than indicated in the label. Plus, on all samples, except for Bebivita puree, information about the nutritional value in terms of carbohydrate content is distorted. nine0003

    Test details

    August 27, 2014



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    Baby food on board, or how not to leave your child hungry on the plane

    Many families enjoy traveling with their children. If you are going to fly on a plane with a small child, you need to properly prepare for the flight, because the baby needs regular and nutritious food.

    The question often arises: is it possible to take baby food on the plane, will it be taken away during the pre-flight inspection, is the menu offered by airlines suitable for a child?

    About how to get ready for the journey so that your child is not hungry on the plane, will tell our article.


    1. What can I take on the plane?
    2. How much food should I take?
    3. Hand luggage weight
    4. Children's menu on board
    5. How to transport canned food and drinks?

    What can I take on a plane with baby food?

    First of all, let's determine that baby food is allowed to be taken in hand luggage. nine0012

    It is necessary to prepare food for the child if you have transfers and a long journey from the airport to your destination, as well as if you are flying on a low-cost airline (low-cost) airline. So, for a child, you can take:

    • baby food jars, drinks, milk formula;
    • suitable snack foods: fresh and dried fruits, nuts, crackers, corn sticks;
    • basic food (needed while waiting for a transfer or when flying with a low-cost airline): it is advisable to take such food that the child is used to and which is convenient to eat in "marching" conditions, without cutlery; nine0064
    • sour-milk drinks or products (with climate change, it is important for children to get such food).

    When planning to take food with you, calculate the amount based on the fact that airlines also offer baby food (see below).

    Perishable products must be transported in a cooler bag. However, we remind you that for the safety of air travel , most of the items are checked in before boarding the aircraft in baggage .

    What if you need to take baby food with you not only for the duration of the flight, but also for the entire holiday? nine0003

    If the food is in a cardboard or metal package, then it will not be damaged in luggage, but if you have to carry mashed potatoes in glass jars or fermented milk products that need to be stored in the refrigerator, then it is clear that you cannot check them in luggage - fragile packaging can simply break .

    You will most likely be asked to pack the food jars separately and hand them in at the front desk. They will not be transported in the baggage compartment, but directly in the cabin, and you will be given them before leaving the aircraft. nine0003

    How much baby food should I take with me?

    The need to carry a large supply of jars with you (for the entire vacation period) may arise if the baby has allergies and other food simply won’t suit him, or if you go, for example, to the resorts Egypt or Thailand , whose hotels often remote from supermarkets and it will be difficult to quickly purchase baby food.

    In this case, we recommend that you call the carrier in advance and consult about the possibility of carrying a certain amount of food in the cabin, in addition to hand luggage. nine0244

    Usually, in such a situation, the airlines meet halfway and do not refuse the request.

    If you are planning a vacation in European resorts (for example, in Austria, Germany, Bulgaria and others) or your vacation is associated with visiting large cities ( Vienna, Munich, Prague and others), then worry about the supply of baby food not worth it: you can buy it at any time at a nearby supermarket or pharmacy.

    What additional questions should I ask the air carrier during travel planning before arriving at the airport? nine0003

    How much hand luggage can I take on a plane?

    The weight of carry-on luggage varies between companies. Usually it ranges from 5 to 10 kg per person. When flying in business class, hand luggage can carry much more weight than in economy class.

    If you are flying on a low-cost airline, you should definitely find out from the carrier whether hand luggage is included in the ticket price - some budget companies take separate, very significant money for carrying hand luggage. nine0003

    Traveling with a child by plane:
    What are the best places to choose on an airplane if you are flying with children

    Good news: many major Russian carriers offer this service for free, regardless of flight class.

    Children's menus can be ordered free of charge on all long-haul flights of the German airline Lufthansa and on some European flights when booking tickets, or by calling the Lufthansa Service Center no later than 24 hours before the departure of your aircraft. nine0003

    The airline's children's menu is designed by renowned chef Stefan Marquard. Food for children is a topic close to the heart of this master, who is the author of a children's cookbook. With his out-of-the-ordinary ideas and fun recipes, he excelled in creating dishes that were both healthy and appealing to children.

    On the other hand, there is a limited amount of baby food for babies under 2 years of age on board every Austrian Airlines flight . Pre-order is not necessary - just ask the flight attendants. nine0003

    Ukrainian airline UIA also offers meals for children (from 2 to 10 years old) on its flights, the need for which must be provided at least 50 hours before the scheduled flight departure. This service has recently been paid, the children's menu will cost parents 8 euros.

    Aeroflot and Rossiya have baby food and nutrition for babies (soft chewable food for children from 2 years old and portioned milk and baby food in assortment (Aeroflot) or puree in jars (“Russia”) for children under 2 years old

    Special meals must be ordered no later than 36 hours before departure. One important nuance: ordering special meals on flights of Aeroflot PJSC in Economy class is provided on flights over 3 hours, in JSC "Rossiya Airlines" it is possible in Economy class on flights lasting more than 4 hours, in Business class - on flights lasting more than 1

    Ural Airlines is ready to provide baby food if ordered at least 24 hours before departure.0003

    The Turkish airline Turkish Airlines also always takes care of its young passengers. A set of baby food is served in a colorful design with a toy. Usually the menu includes a salad, a second course (potatoes and meatballs), sweet pudding. Drinks to choose from: tea, ayran, juices, water.

    You can make an order for special meals (any) in advance, at least 24 hours before the departure of your flight, by phone at the call center or the nearest office of the airline.

    For reference. Nutrition codes: infant (for children under two years old) - BBML, children's (for children from two years old) - CHML. nine0244

    How to transport canned food and baby drinks?

    The rules for conducting a pre-flight screening in force in the Russian Federation contain a list of items that are allowed to be carried in hand luggage subject to special requirements.

    This list includes: mercury medical thermometer, liquids in containers up to 100 ml with a total volume of up to 1 liter (they must be packed in a separate transparent plastic bag), medicines, special dietary needs, baby food, including mother's milk, in the amount required for the entire duration of the flight. nine0003

    In order to avoid a conflict at the airport during the screening over the number of jars of baby food required for the flight, it is advisable to agree on the procedure for their transportation in advance.

    We also recommend purchasing special baby water to avoid disputes about whether it is liquid or baby food.

    In conclusion, I would like to note that sometimes airlines on their websites do not publish the entire list of services that they provide to passengers with children.

    Learn more