Many of you would have read in the last week the BBC article on hidden sugars in commercial baby foods in the form of fruit juice or fruit puree. Of course this does not mean, that a baby should not have fruit, but what is acceptable and what not?
This is a pretty simple answer in fact and I will share some simple tips with you today. Baby food should not contain fruit juice, as this is refined sugar and should be avoided. In addition, if a savoury meal contains fruit puree (check the ingredients list for this) and you would not expect this normally in that meal, then that is also a commercial baby food mix you ideally want to avoid. Why ? – well babies are hard wired to prefer sweet food, so if you lace savoury vegetables with fruit, then they will prefer to have all of their bitter tasting vegetables mixed with fruit and not learn to eat greens. This also goes for recipes that contain fruit. I have noticed grated apple or sweet vegetables in recipes that would not usually have this as an ingredient. Adjust these recipes by replacing the sweet fruit/vegetables with savoury/bitter tasting vegetables.
What about fruit purees? Its useful here to think what would be a normal mealtime balance to give you an idea of allocation for fruit and also some guidance on portions. Ideally you would aim for every meal to have a protein, carbohydrate and fruit/vegetables. This would roughly work out as breakfast cereal with fruit, lunch/dinner with vegetables and either 2 fruit snacks or a small amount of fruit after lunch/dinner. So about 3 portions per day. The amount of fresh fruit for a baby < 1 year would roughly be the equivalent to 1/3-1/2 (max) of a fresh fruit, outside of really small fruit (like cherries, where you would allow more). So, imagine cooking and pureeing this amount and how much you get. You will find that a pouch of 90-120g would usually be more than that, so it is worth adjusting the amount.
Finally…..mentioned in many previous blog posts! Avoid letting your baby suck the food directly from the pouch. Outside of this not promoting oral motor skills, this feeds into an aversion to self feeding with mess (which is essential for self feeding) and usually this way they consume much more than when they get this either fresh or with fed via spoon.