Organic vs regular baby food

Is Organic Baby Food Healthier for Babies?


Holly Daniels Nelson

So, you’re a new parent and up until now, your baby has been content with either breast milk or formula. But now, your baby is showing an interest in the food on your plate. Once you’ve determined your baby is developmentally ready for solids (she can sit without support, doesn’t automatically push solids out of her mouth, is willing and able to chew, and is interested in food ) how do you know where to start? Since junior has far fewer teeth than you do, you begin with food that’s easier to swallow.

The baby food aisle at the grocery store is filled with an overwhelming number of options. Do you start with cereal or vegetables? Which is better for your baby: organic, conventional, or homemade baby food? To find out, I asked Amelia McBride, MS, CD, a pediatric dietitian at Intermountain Riverton Hospital in Riverton, UT, who works in Primary Children’s outpatient services.

What type of food should you feed your baby first?

As a dietitian, Amelia encourages babies to start with vegetables and then add fruits, so they learn to like vegetables, since fruits taste sweeter. “Cereal is thought to be the gold standard for introducing solids, but there’s no indication it’s better or worse than starting with other pureed foods,” says Amelia. “If you want to start with cereal, I’d recommend oatmeal, due to recent reports of high arsenic levels in rice cereal.”

Which is better for your baby: organic, conventional, or homemade baby food?

“There are pros and cons to all three types of food, but from a nutrition standpoint, organic options aren’t any more nutritious, and cost can be a barrier for some families,” says Amelia.

A Stanford University study found organic baby food may have a lower risk of pesticide contamination, but conventional baby food rarely exceeds pesticide limits set by the EPA.

“If organic production methods are important to you from an environmental standpoint, you may feel organic is worth the extra cost,” she adds. Knowing the pros and cons of organic, conventional, and homemade baby food can help you decide what to feed your baby based on your budget, lifestyle, and time constraints.

Pros and cons of commercial baby food


  • Convenient, ready to use
  • Doesn’t need to be prepared or refrigerated until after it’s opened
  • Longer shelf life
  • Met safety requirements in the preparation process


  • Limited to what’s available

Are pouches or jars better?

“Pouches are convenient for just putting a small amount on the spoon, so usually there’s less waste and less mess,” says Amelia. They’re less likely to spill or break, but may cost more. “The biggest drawback is that pouches don’t help your child develop as many motor skills as using a spoon. They’re great for on the go, just don’t use them all the time,” she adds.

Jars are economical but can spill or break. They’re good to use at home when you can put food in a dish so your child can learn to use a spoon. “Once you’ve put a used spoon in the food, the saliva can contaminate the food, so throw away any food that has saliva in it,” Amelia says.

Pros and cons of non-organic commercial baby food


  • Less expensive
  • Wide variety
  • Readily available
  • Available through food assistance programs
  • Food safety guidelines have been met


  • Potential exposure to pesticides, but rarely exceeds pesticide limits

Pros and cons of organic commercial baby food


  • Same advantages as conventional baby food
  • Slightly less chance of pesticide contamination


  • Limited to what’s available
  • Usually more expensive
  • Not available everywhere or through some food assistance programs

Pros and cons of homemade baby food


  • Economical
  • You can vary the texture by pureeing or mashing
  • You can use what the rest of the family is eating as baby is ready for it
  • You can use fresh, frozen, or canned fruits/vegetables and cooked meats
  • Food that can be mashed fresh without cooking may have more nutrition than canned versions (ripe bananas, avocados, pears, etc. )


  • Time commitment
  • Not shelf stable. Must be refrigerated within two hours and keeps only 24-48 hours.

Babies can be at a higher risk for food-borne illness since their immune system is still developing. Be sure your baby’s food is prepared safely with these tips:

  • Wash your hands before preparing the food and feeding your baby.
  • Avoid cross contamination, especially when handling raw meats.
  • Cook meats to recommended temperature.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid sweetening or adding salt.
  • Use a hand grinder, electric grinder, blender, or food processor to puree.
  • You can thin food with breast milk or formula if needed.
  • You can store items that contain dairy, eggs, and cooked meat in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours and fruits and vegetables for up to 48 hours. Freeze extra food in child-sized portions and thaw in the microwave when ready to use.
  • Always test heated food to make sure it’s cooled enough to feed your baby.
  • When introducing a new food, wait one to two days in between servings. If you have a family history of food allergy, talk to your pediatrician.

Making a mess while eating encourages learning

As your baby gets older, add texture and let them feed themselves. Your baby will let you know when they’re full if they turn away or spit things out. “Don’t feed your baby more than they want. Follow their feeding cues,” says Amelia. Encourage a variety of foods. Different natural colors mean different vitamins. Let them experience food through the five senses. It will be exciting, fun, and messy!

Food products to avoid until your baby is at least one year old

  • Honey
  • Home-canned foods
  • Unpasteurized dairy products (raw milk and some soft cheeses)
  • Cow’s milk

If you have specific questions about how your baby is responding to food, contact your child’s doctor, pediatrician, or an Intermountain dietitian.

Intermountain Moms

Last Updated: 4/23/2018

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Organic vs nonorganic food: Does it matter which I’m feeding my child?

Updated Oct 10, 2022

The demand for organic products, including food, has grown tremendously over the last few decades, and foods that used to only be found in specialty health food stores now fill the shelves at most major grocery stores. In fact, according to the Organic Trade Association, sales of organic foods topped $56 billion in 2020.

Clearly, organic foods have become popular. But what does “organic” actually mean — and is the label worth the extra cost? Keep reading to find out. 


  • What is the difference between organic foods vs nonorganic foods?

  • Organic foods vs nonorganic foods: Does it matter which type I’m feeding my child?

  • When should I try to purchase organic foods?

  • Takeaway

What is the difference between organic foods vs non-organic foods?

In the United States, the term organic signifies that a product has been grown or produced according to standards set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These standards set best practices for crop farming and animal production in the areas of soil quality, animal raising, pest and weed control, as well as the use of additives. If a food is labeled organic, it’s produced without conventional pesticides, genetic engineering (GMOs), and routine antibiotics. 

In order to use the organic label, farms must apply for the organic certification through the USDA, a process that can be time-intensive and expensive. So while products sold at the grocery store are highly regulated, food at a local farmers’ market may not be! Chances are if you talk with local farmers, you may find a farm following organic practices that cannot afford to become certified or simply chooses not to. Moral of the story? It’s worth learning about where your food comes from if you can!

There are four categories a food or product could fall under for organic labeling. A few of them use the USDA Organic seal and some of them don’t.

Here’s a quick recap of the different categories so you can be better informed next time you’re at the grocery store.

Organic vs. nonorganic foods: Does it matter which type I’m feeding my child?

The decision whether or not to serve organic foods to your child or family is a highly personal one based on multiple factors, including budget and accessibility. Organic food almost always costs more than its conventional counterparts and although it has grown in popularity, it is not always possible to find.

While there is no definitive answer to the organic vs. nonorganic debate — even in children — one potential benefit for choosing organic foods is reducing pesticide exposure. The pesticide levels found on produce regularly test under the allowable safety limits, but many still worry about the risk they pose to children’s developing bodies.

A few small studies show shifting to an organic diet quickly and significantly reduces pesticide residues in the bodies of preschool and elementary-aged children. However, these studies do have limitations and more research is needed in this area.

Additionally, pesticides may be found in our environments as well as the food we eat, so choosing organic food is only one way to reduce exposure.

Although some families prefer the taste of organic food or feel it is better for the environment, the research is not conclusive enough to say organic is better than nonorganic, even in children.

As with all feeding matters, choosing organic doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Keep reading for ways to incorporate organic food into your diet in a way that works for your family. 

Is organic food really better?

Consuming organic food is often believed to reduce exposure to pesticides, to be better for the environment, and to be more nutritious. While the research isn’t completely conclusive in telling us whether or not organic food is healthier overall, here is what it can tell us.  

According to a 2012 scientific review, organic food was not found to be significantly more nutritious than nonorganic, but consuming organic food likely reduces exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It’s worth noting that all the food tested was still under the allowable safety limits for pesticide use. However, if reducing pesticide exposure is important to you, this may be a reason to choose organic. 

In 2020, another review looked at the benefits of organic versus conventional food as it related to overall human health. It concluded that the current research is not definitive as most studies look at pesticide exposure and cannot determine long-term health effects. However, there were some significant positive outcomes related to reduced occurrences of infertility, birth defects, allergies, ear infections, pre-eclampsia, metabolic syndrome, high BMI, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma with an increased organic food intake.  

Overall, we can conclude there are likely some benefits to consuming organic food, but it is difficult to determine how great the benefits really are. Additionally, we know eating a varied diet rich in produce leads to positive health outcomes regardless if the food is organic or not. 

Alternative options for choosing organic

1. Choose organic for select foods

You can use the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists to see what foods are typically higher in pesticides and which ones are typically lower. These lists are updated each year. 

2. Look for produce alternatives 

Frozen or canned organic produce may likely still be more expensive than their conventional counterparts, but may be cheaper than buying fresh. Frozen and canned produce has been shown to be just as nutritious as fresh produce.

3. Grow your own 

Set up a garden in your backyard or seek out a community garden, and try your hand at growing your own produce. You will be in control of how the food is produced from start to finish!

4. Purchase from a local farm or farmers market 

Many smaller local farms follow organic practices, but aren’t necessarily certified as USDA organic due to the cost. Talk with the farmer to understand their practices and find a farm that aligns with your family’s values. 

When should I try to purchase organic foods?

If you have the opportunity to purchase organic and you would like to, here are a few types of foods that are likely worth the extra cost and a few that might not be. 

Foods to consider purchasing organic:

Every year, the EWG releases a list of produce that likely has the highest pesticide residue. They review data from USDA and FDA testing to compile the list. If you are trying to limit pesticide exposure, this list is a great place to start. 

Since babies have smaller bodies and less developed body systems, being exposed to pesticides may be harder on them. If your baby loves blueberries and eats them every morning, it may be worth purchasing organic if you can.

Produce where you eat the whole fruit or vegetable such as leafy greens, berries, or apples may be good choices to purchase organic since you eat the whole thing. 

Foods that might not really matter:

  • Foods you peel

Peeling the skin off of a piece of fruit or vegetable will likely reduce the pesticide exposure. If you are looking to save on organic, skips foods such as bananas, avocados, and citrus fruits. 

Much of the research focused on organic foods has been done on produce and pesticide exposure. So it’s difficult to determine the impact of choosing an organic packaged snack. Ideally, these types of foods are more limited in your child’s diet anyway, so it might not be worth the extra money here.


Whether you decide to feed organic food to your family is a largely personal decision based on a number of factors, including some that may be outside of your control. Rest assured, we are here to support your parenting journey regardless of your choice.

The bottom line: Ultimately, only you can decide if purchasing organic food is best for your family. If you want to and are able to purchase organic foods, that’s great! If you are unable to purchase organic or don’t want to, that’s OK too. Whichever you choose, do your best to eat a varied diet, full of as many whole foods as possible.

Organic vs Conventional Complementary Foods: What's the Difference -

Pro Nutrition

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HiPP expert

Monogamy usually starts at 60 months of age

it is at this age that the baby's digestive system is ready to accept foods other than breast milk. Products for the introduction of the first complementary foods should be chosen very carefully. One of the safest options is monocomponent purees. Today, parents can find such products marked “organic” or “BIO” on store shelves: these labels mean that the food consists only of natural ingredients and does not contain any dyes, preservatives, flavors or GMOs. Such monocomponent purees contain only one vegetable, for example, broccoli or cauliflower, which are the safest for a child trying an unfamiliar product for the first time. nine0003

What's the difference?

The main difference and the main plus of bio-products is the method of production. The fruits, vegetables and cereals that go into their preparation are grown according to the principles of organic farming, that is, without the use of pesticides, growth regulators, artificial fertilizers and pest control chemicals. In conventional agriculture today, the use of such substances, unfortunately, is quite common. Their traces remain in the final product, so such food can harm the child, who is still very sensitive at an early age. nine0003

Organic purees, cereals, soups and drinks are safer for the baby, while retaining their natural rich taste and the maximum amount of nutrients. We do not know how the fruits and vegetables sold in the store or in the market were grown, so making your own purée for the first complementary foods becomes unsafe. Only those parents who grow zucchini, cabbage, carrots and other products themselves and are confident in their quality (like Jamie Oliver) can be confident in the safety of home food. nine0003

Organic food is grown only in environmentally friendly conditions, therefore it minimizes the risk of harmful substances entering the child's body and reduces the likelihood of food allergies in the crumbs.


Strict control

Baby food goes through multi-level stages of quality control, and organic products go through even more checks by specialists. Experts observe its production at all stages: from choosing the soil to tasting the purees, cereals, soups and drinks themselves. Only after passing all the trials and tests, organic food receives the Organic or BIO labels, which guarantee the quality, safety and environmental friendliness of the product that will be included in the menu of a small child. Strict checks, environmentally friendly production, the absence of dubious components in the composition - all this makes organic nutrition a suitable option for the first complementary foods, and introducing a child to new foods is healthy and safe. nine0003

More useful materials about proper nutrition for the little ones - in our channel on Yandex.Zen.

Lyubov Prishlaya

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Calculate your year: what awaits you in 2023 - forecast by date of birth tissues of the human body, so the state of health is determined by the quality, digestibility, biological and energy value of food. It creates the prerequisites for the proper development of the body and its functioning in the future. nine0003

Specialists, scientists, physicians associate the increase in the incidence of children over the past century with changes in diet. From the first years of life, a child's body is extremely susceptible to various undesirable and harmful components, such as toxins, allergens, which are often food additives of chemical origin.

The popularity of natural and organic products has exploded in the last decade as more consumers recognize their health benefits. The supply is formed by demand, therefore, food products appear on the market every year, which are characterized by a high degree of safety, attractive consumer properties, the presence of well-digestible proteins and micronutrients, minerals and vitamins that are important for the formation of a healthy body. nine0003

It is a balanced and healthy diet based on optimally selected food products that will provide children with full development, good physical shape and mood, and the formation of rational eating habits.

Baby food is generally characterized by high nutritional value and good taste, safety, balanced composition. But the variety of terms on the label, such as "natural", "ecological", "farm", "organic", indicating the beneficial properties of the content, often confuse consumers, and in some cases are contradictory and misleading. nine0003

What is the difference between these definitions, what do they mean, what are the characteristics of food products? What are the benefits of additional quality criteria, such as being labeled "organic"?

natural products are products that consist of natural, natural ingredients and do not contain chemical additives or impurities. At the same time, the term “natural product” can be interpreted in a completely different way, since the presence of this phrase on the package does not guarantee the absence of chemical additives in its contents: the manufacturer is not obliged to track the sources of raw materials, materials, and the technological process for preparing such products. nine0003

Farm products are grown and produced on privately owned farms and in most cases non-industrial. The term "farm products" has gained a lot of popularity in recent years: it began to be often placed on labels. But sometimes the use of the "farm product" status is speculative, as the packaging doesn't say how the ingredients were produced. Due to the fact that there are no legislative acts on the quality of farm products, it is possible that they can be produced using herbicides, chemical fertilizers, growth hormones, and so on. nine0003

The composition of organic products excludes the presence of additives of artificial origin, such as preservatives, dyes, flavors, flavor enhancers, as well as the use of genetically modified organisms. The raw materials used in the production of organic food are grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, growth regulators. It is believed that the consequence of compliance with such conditions is the absence of chemical additives in organic raw materials. This gives the products an improved taste, a more pronounced aroma, and ensures their complete chemical composition. nine0003

The dominant difference that distinguishes organic products is the strict requirements for the quality of their ingredients, production technology, as well as the conditions under which the raw materials for their production were obtained:

  • organic products are produced in environmentally friendly regions, natural natural conditions, away from megacities, highways, industrial areas. Ecological agriculture helps to preserve the environment and provide future generations with a healthy and comfortable life; nine0087
  • only genetically modified and untreated seeds are used in the cultivation of cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits and other organic products. Plants grow naturally. Chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, hormones, growth stimulants are not used in organic agriculture;
  • finished organic products do not contain flavors, dyes, emulsifiers, stabilizers, preservatives and other additives of artificial origin; nine0087
  • to confirm the status of "organic", the food product is subjected to mandatory regulatory and systematic quality control "from grain to counter". Quality control is carried out by authorized state services - accredited certification bodies, as well as laboratories of the manufacturer itself;

A food product that has successfully passed the entire quality control cycle, and this is confirmed by certification bodies, receives the appropriate certificate, and a special “organic” mark is applied to its packaging: this distinguishes it from other products. nine0003

Therefore, a specific mark and label for organic products is used in relation to the production process and products, confirming that they have been produced and processed in an environmentally friendly way, and that all principles of organic production have been respected “from farm to consumer table”. The sign and the label are elements that confirm the quality of the production process, and not just the product itself.

Therefore, certified organic products are products that are produced, processed, packaged in strict compliance with specifications or government standards and then certified as "organic". The definition means that the product is produced with the exception of toxic effects on the environment, does not contain agrochemicals, pesticides, in its production did not use genetically modified seeds or products, hormones, chemicals, it is free from transgenic organisms and so on. nine0003

Organic products can be obtained on your own farm, that is, by self-breeding animals, growing vegetables, fruits, grain crops, which is accompanied by soil quality control and excludes the use of chemical fertilizers, hormones to accelerate the growth of plants and animals and protect them from diseases. Compliance with all the necessary conditions is a rather complicated process.

The second way to produce organic food is to buy organic raw materials. nine0003

As a result of fulfilling all the listed requirements and production conditions, organic products do not contain traces of pesticides, chemical additives, mycotoxins and other things, which makes it possible to limit the impact of such substances on the body of children. Infants are more susceptible than adults to the possible negative effects of various undesirable components.

Organic products are distinguished by their taste and higher nutritional value: on average, they contain 20-50% more vitamins, minerals, and biologically active substances compared to products produced using traditional technologies. nine0003

For example, organic baby cereals have advantages over conventional ones: a more balanced amino acid composition, a higher content of vitamins and minerals than with traditional methods of growing grain crops, which means that the composition and taste of organic cereals are much better and richer . At the same time, the range of organic cereals harmoniously complements the always available conventional baby food cereals, which are characterized by excellent taste, high nutritional value and safety due to strict requirements for baby food in the world and Russia, careful selection of raw materials and materials, strict technical and chemical control of technological production process. nine0003

Thus, organic and traditional baby food is a unique case when “healthy” does not mean “tasteless”, and the properties “healthy” and “tasty” harmoniously combine, complement and balance each other.

* Breast milk is the best food for babies. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child's life and continued breastfeeding after complementary foods are introduced until the age of 2 years. Before introducing new products into the baby's diet, you should consult with a specialist. The material is for informational purposes and cannot replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

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