The Lowdown on Shop Bought Baby Food

Everything you need to know about shop bought baby purees and jars by Melissa Blake, Founder of Sweet Pea Spoons.

Ever wondered how commercially produced, shop bought pouches/jars are able to sit on an unrefrigerated shelf for up to 18 months without going rotten, despite containing meat and dairy? Us too, so we’re joined by Melissa Blake from Sweet Pea Spoons to discuss some of the unknown truths about shop bough baby food.

Sweet Pea Spoons delivers fresh, handmade and nutritionist approved baby meals straight to your door to ensure that busy parents no longer have to sacrifice tasty, homemade food for the ease of mass produced, shop bought pouches.

The lowdown on shop bought baby food
I know they’re super convenient and serve a purpose when life is hectic, but many parents don’t know the truths behind commercially produced baby food. And really, why would you look into it? You think to yourself, “Well they’re a big brand so it must be ok for my baby otherwise they wouldn’t be on the shelves”, and I get it because that’s what I used to ponder over. But after doing a little research, the reality is that you compromise on a number of things, including quality, taste and nutrients.

How can they be kept out of the fridge with such a long use by date?
Even if the brand prides themselves on containing no artificial preservatives, they instead use extreme heat to cook the food to significantly high temperatures for long periods of time, destroying bacteria that would make the food go rotten in time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t just destroy bacteria, but also some of the nutrients, for example almost all vitamin C as it just can’t withstand heat. This extreme heat is totally unnecessary in making the product safe to eat, it just means that food can be stored out of the fridge with a ridiculously long use by date, enhancing their profit margins.

What about nutrients?
Baby food meals such as Spaghetti Bolognese are often lower in protein than the equivalent dish you might make at home. Companies look to push profit margins by using low amounts of meat, fish or poultry in their meals as they are the most expensive ingredients to buy. For example, a Spaghetti Bolognese from a leading brand contains only 8% beef whereas a homecooked Bolognese could be between 20%-50% beef! In an article, experts say that “shop-bought baby food is inferior to home-made”. They go on to explain that Baby foods made by leading firms have far fewer nutrients than homemade meals. Researchers found that “babies would need to eat twice as much shop-bought food to get the same energy and protein as meals cooked at home”. Watch out for the fruit content in supposedly savoury pouches. For example, a pouch on the supermarket shelves named “Carrot Apple & Parsnip” which you’d think is a savoury option actually contains 68% apples and only 10% parsnips on the ingredients list!

Introducing solids at four months?
I’m sure you’ve seen baby food pouches on the supermarket shelves for infants aged 4 months and felt almost peer pressured that “if big brands are selling baby food in big supermarkets for that age then I should be feeding my baby it”, but this is not the case. According to The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition “infants should not start solid foods until around the age of 6 months, having achieved developmental readiness”. The previous UK advice in 1994 was for solids to be introduced between 4 and 6 months but despite this advice changing in 2001, companies have continued to produce such products for profits. Time for companies to update their offering to match the recommended advice. Our weaning guide outlines developmental readiness signs to look for to help you determine when your baby is ready for solids, as well as lots of other really useful info. To get your hands on it sign up to our mailing list here!

Will they help my baby develop?
As shop bought baby foods are mass produced in factories, their texture is pretty uniform no matter when you buy the product. This means that your baby is not exposed to the wide variety of different textures that homemade solid food brings, which is essential in learning how to eat. Pouches also do not allow your baby to see or touch the food they are eating which can then prove difficult when you put some green broccoli on a plate and they won’t eat it because they’ve never actually seen the colour of broccoli. Not only do the shop bought foods contain bland combinations without the subtle herbs and spices that you would include in your own family cooking, but the pouches also tend to be served cold which does not allow the child to actually taste the food as flavour is more potent when warmed up.

But this isn’t the only way…
Ok you might be feeling a little deflated now after reading the truths behind shop bought baby foods but there is a silver lining as we can help! Our subscription allows your baby to have homecooked meals as if you made them yourself, without the time-consuming process of actually having to make them yourself (let’s not even mention the mess and cleaning up). All you have to do is microwave our meals from frozen and recycle the pot and you’re good to go! To receive a box of delicious baby meals straight to your door from Sweet Pea Spoons, head to their website and do send over an email with any questions.

Happy Weaning!

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