There are a huge amount of different brands of pre-prepared, pre-packaged baby foods on the market. You can buy pretty much any flavour, sweet or savoury. The choices are endless. But how do these seemingly good-value jars measure up to their home made counterparts?
In this post I am going to outline the pros and cons of each, hopefully to help you make an informed decision about what you choose for your baby.
The main selling point for these products is the convenience. There really is nothing easier than being able to grab a jar or packet out of your cupboard or bag, and feed it to your baby. They are available in a myriad of flavours, textures and sizes. A lot of the most popular and well- known brands have no preservatives or additives of any kind, and some even use just certified organic ingredients, so you can feel confident that your baby isn’t getting ‘junk’.
However, these jars and packets have to be preserved somehow. They are usually pasteurised, which arguably affects the nutritional content and definitely affects the flavour of the products. Taste them yourself — they are certainly nowhere near as flavourful as the real thing, and some of them really do taste bad. For some reason, we all think that babies prefer bland flavours but this is simply not the case. By giving jars the majority of the time, your baby is hardly getting to taste the real flavour of food and is therefore more likely to be fussy as they grow. It is also very expensive to feed your baby on premade baby foods.
You can’t deny that home-made baby food is superior in flavour and nutrition. You can be 100% certain of exactly what goes into it, and you can feel confident that your baby is receiving the freshest food possible. It only takes a short while to prepare something for your baby to eat, and storage is easy in a freezer — you can fill an ice-cube tray or a specially made baby food storage container with your creation and defrost enough for an individual portion when you need it. Because your baby will get to taste real flavours and feel real textures, they will learn so much more from their first eating experiences and will be far less likely to be fussy as toddlers.
The only downside to home-made baby food is that it isn’t quite as convenient as the jars. However, with a little imagination you can make it very easy indeed. For example, a few strawberries can be mushed up with a fork and put into a little plastic tub for transportation and they certainly won’t go bad in the few hours you’ll be out of the house. Instead of a pudding jar after dinner, you could smush up some strawberries with a banana — yummy! It is far cheaper to feed your baby with fresh food that you have prepared, too, and every little helps when you have a little one.
What a lot of parents do is mix and match the two. Cooking every meal for your baby from scratch can be quite a daunting prospect, especially if (like I was) you are not already in the habit of cooking regularly. Cooking for your baby can help form healthy habits for your entire family, so make the effort when you can and don’t beat yourself up if you end up resorting to a jar at the end of a busy day. We’re all only human, after all.