How to Read Nutrition Facts on Baby Food Labels
We all want the best for our children, there's no doubting that, so nutrition will be an important issue when raising your child. Though the best way to feed your child is to make fresh food, many mothers and fathers don't have the time to prepare it and resort to ready-made pots of baby food.
To make sure your baby is getting all the proper nutrients and isn't ingesting other bad ones which could put their over-all health at risk, at OneHowTo we'd like to show you how to read nutrition facts on baby food labels.
To read nutrition facts on Baby food, first of all we must know what information you should find on a baby food label. Therefore, you should look out for the following information:
In this section you'll find the amount of either grams or pounds that each serving has in each pot or container.
The amount of calories is usually counted per serving in most baby food, though you should be careful to make sure it doesn't indicate the amount of calories per 100g. The amount of fat will also be shown in this section too.
Nutrients or nutrition
Here you should find all of the nutrients that the food contains: from fats (divided into saturated and non saturated), fiber, sodium, cholesterol, the amount of carbohydrates (which should point out the sugars separately), protein and vitamins. Some food labels will also show a percentage, this will indicate the amount of that nutrient that is needed per day, so if it has 14% fat, this will mean that this food has 14% of the fat that your baby should consume daily.
Obviously, here you should find all of the ingredients that form the product. It's also important to pay attention to this section, especially if your baby has allergies, but to look out for any hidden sugars or e-numbers.
Now that you know what to expect on a baby food label, it's time we tell you about the correct amounts of each your baby's food should have so you make sure it's eating something nutritious and not just empty calories.
When reading calories on baby food, you should choose the product with the most calories per serving as some brands add water to dilute the food, so it has no added nutritional value to your baby's meal.
The nutritional needs of your baby will change and increase as it grows, so it's important to check the nutrients in baby food so it grows strong and healthy:
- 4-6 months: At this point, your baby will be able to have other foods other than breast milk. Make sure you choose products that have a high value of iron.
- 6-8 months: During this period, your baby will start waning. This is a good time to include new ingredients to your baby's diet, so search for baby food that has a high content in vitamins, protein and calcium.
- 8-10 months: At 8 months your baby will most probably have started teething. so it's a good idea to combine fresh food with commercial baby food. When reading labels, go for those with a higher amount of protein and a higher amount of carbohydrates, always making sure that the sugars within the carbohydrates don't exceed 2.5 per 100 grams.
Taking a look at the ingredients is also important for your baby's health, as you'll be able to see what foods are providing the nutrients your baby needs. Search for added sugars and modified food starches (corn or tapioca) as these are fast carbohydrates that will not give any nutritional value to your baby's food. Also avoid wheat and rice flours. Make sure that the main ingredient on the label is actually the main ingredient by looking at the amount of this food there is on the nutritional facts label, as many brands announce healthy ingredients in big and shiny letters to attract to buyer but in actual fact the product has a low percentage of this ingredient in the pot.
Look out for added water and thickening agents, these will decrease the amount of nutrients found in this food.
Though buying ready made products may be faster for parents, it's a good idea to try to introduce your child to fresh food from an early age, thus avoiding unnecessary additives and making sure your child gets the full benefits of each ingredient. This is why we'd like to give you some ideas for alternatives to commercial baby food:
- 4-6 months:At this age, start introducing your baby's first ingredients. Mix baby formula or breast milk with single-grain cereals.
- 6-8 months: This is a time to add more ingredients to your baby's diet and, as you know, most foods can easily be puréed. Add fruits like banana, apple, prune;vegetables such as avocado, carrot, peas and potato; protein in the form of pulses, boneless fish and meats like chicken or turkey. Boil or cook the ingredients chosen so they are softer, add some baby formula and blend into a so the child gets all the nutrients it needs. You can also start adding some cereal or rice so it gets enough protein. Moreover, at this age babies can start practicing chewing. This is why you can start by giving them cooked vegetables so they are soft and cutting them into in fingers.
- 8-10 months: Start adding egg yolks to the purées. At this age babies will start teething so you can make pasta dishes and cut them up in very small pieces. Add cheese to their diet too in the form of fingers.
- 10-12 months: If puréed, you baby will be able to eat almost the same as you so it won't seem such a hassle to cook food for your baby. Take a look at how to follow a balanced diet for more information.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO doe not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis.We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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