Are baby food bags healthy for babies

Baby food from the bag

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No question about it, industrially manufactured baby food out of the bag is practical. However, this results in disadvantages for the child. What these are and what you should be aware of when making the transition from breast milk and bottled milk to solid food.

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(Munich - January 16, 2019) In the beginning it is easy to optimally nourish a baby: In the breast milk and also in the bottle milk there is everything that the child needs. Nature has regulated this sensibly: if the baby's need for nutrients increases, it is also able to take in more and more solid food. A trend: so-called squeeze - baby food out of the bag.

Quetschies - baby food in a plastic bag

Baby food - liquid or pureed - is increasingly being offered in plastic bags. These squeeze bags with pureed fruit preparations and sometimes other ingredients are practical: after unscrewing the lid, the contents of the “squeeze” can be squeezed directly into the mouth of the baby or toddler, the child can suck the contents out of the spout or drink liquid products . However, squeeze bags are often twice as expensive as conventional fruit glasses. In addition, the Children's Health Foundation has serious health concerns. The contents of the "squeeze bags" are usually too sugary and acidic. In addition, because the baby sucks this food like breast milk, it only later learns to eat porridge from a spoon or chunky food out of your hand and can develop food quirks.

The Children's Health Foundation advises against its use

Due to their high sugar content, many "squeezies" have an extremely high number of calories, a very sweet taste and a completely unbalanced composition of nutrients. This also increases the risk of dental caries and obesity. Most or even all of the sugar content comes from the sugar in the fruit preparation used and not from added sugar. This is why products that are extremely high in sugar can also be labeled “without added sugar” if the additional sugar comes from concentrated fruit pulp or juice, for example. Professor Berthold Koletzko: “This can wrongly give parents the impression that it is a low-sugar product. But not only 'added sugar', but above all the total sugar content is responsible for undesirable health effects in the child ”.

Another problem: "If infants take in complementary foods mainly by sucking out of a bag, learning to eat from a spoon or more solid pieces of food by hand can be delayed and made more difficult." In addition: “Exploring the food with the lips, tongue and hands and practicing chewing and biting is adversely affected. This can lead to the child later rejecting solid foods such as vegetables and fruits ”.

Spoon feeding and hand-held food, on the other hand, offer parents excellent opportunities for communication, for listening to one another and for talking to the child. The child observes and learns what parents and siblings eat and is thus encouraged to try.

The Children's Health Foundation therefore expressly advises against the consumption of pureed complementary food products from squeeze bags: Complementary food should be fed with a spoon or by the child's hand and not sucked out of a plastic bag.

Complementary food for babies: what exactly is it?

All sorts of foods are hidden behind the term complementary food: vegetables, fruit, potatoes, butter, oil, meat, eggs and cereals and the porridges made from them. In short, everything that you feed a baby towards the end of the first six months of life in addition to breast milk or infant formula. The complementary food should complement the breast milk or baby food offered until then and not completely replace it. Even if the baby is already eating the first complementary meals, breastfeeding should continue as long as mother and child want and can. The same goes for babies who are bottle-fed.

At what age should babies start eating complementary foods?

"Complementary foods should not be introduced before the age of 17 weeks, i.e. the beginning of the fifth month of life, and no later than 26 weeks, i.e. the beginning of the seventh month of life," says Professor Dr. Berthold Koletzko, metabolism expert at the University Children's Hospital in Munich and chairman of the Children's Health Foundation. "During these weeks, the tongue reflex reflex disappears in most babies, and at the same time the ability to use the tongue to convey a pulp into the throat and then swallow it develops".

At this age, the baby becomes more and more active and the first milk teeth appear. The child then moves around a lot, follows with curiosity what his parents and siblings are eating at the family table, reaches for spoons and food himself and puts them in his mouth. Often, breast milk or bottles are no longer enough to meet the growing need for nutrients and energy.

How your baby no longer disdains unfamiliar food

Usually babies are suspicious of eating new foods. This aversion, called “neophobia”, is a protective mechanism that is supposed to protect the child from eating something that is not available to them. A baby prefers to eat what its mother also eats, because it already knows this taste from its mother's womb and through breast milk. It is therefore not surprising when a baby refuses cooked carrots if the mother never eats cooked carrots either.

New flavors and textures are best introduced when the baby is between 17 and 26 weeks old. If you offer the different foods without compulsion and several times, the baby will reduce the fear of unfamiliar food. Studies have shown that if babies are offered different types of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, the later acceptance of vegetables and other healthy foods, such as meat and fish, increases. This is how you gradually get your child used to the variety of foods and prepare them for the gradual transition to the family diet.

Meat and fish are also suitable for babies

By the way, everything that the baby likes can be put on the spoon. In the past, people were often warned against foods rich in allergens such as milk, eggs or fish. These warnings have proven useless: even if the baby does not eat these foods or eats them later, it is still not protected from allergies.

Which foods are best to start with?

A porridge made from vegetables, potatoes and meat is suitable as the first complementary meal to provide the child with readily available iron and zinc from meat. "Porridge should never be additionally sweetened or salted to avoid incorrect programming of the child's taste", says Professor Berthold Koletzko: "The baby should like the porridge, not the adult".

The meat component in the vegetable, potato and meat porridge should occasionally be replaced by fatty fish, for example salmon. There are indications that the consumption of fish in the first year of life can protect the child from the later development of an allergic disease.

Cook complementary foods yourself

Jar food and home-made porridges are equally good alternatives. Both are good ways to provide a baby with all the nutrients it needs. The industrially produced complementary food meets high legal requirements and also saves time and work. On the other hand, self-preparation also has its advantages: Parents can choose the ingredients themselves and offer a greater variety of flavors. Rapeseed oil is particularly suitable as an edible oil for making complementary foods.

Babies should drink water too

With the third porridge, the baby also needs additional fluid, around 200 milliliters per day. Still mineral water with the addition “suitable for baby feeding” or tap water, which is taken from the tap after a long period of draining, and unsweetened teas are suitable.

Between nine and 15 months a child is so developed that by imitation it learns to drink from a mug, to eat with a spoon and to bite into solid food. With the introduction of bread, the porridge and milk meals gradually become the three main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and two snacks (morning, afternoon) of a family diet.

You should still pay attention to this

You should be careful with small solid foods and with very hard or breakable root vegetables. Nuts or raw root vegetables easily get into the windpipe and should therefore only be on the menu later. You should also clearly separate meals and play times and not advertise the food as a reward or gift. And especially important: no smartphone and no television during the meal. Toys and books should also not be used as distractions while eating.
  • Author:; Kristina Wagenlehner
  • Swell: Press release of the Children's Health Foundation from December 15, 2018: What's on the spoon? Children's Health Foundation provides information about complementary foods for babies and the disadvantages of porridges made from squeeze bags