Category Archives: Baby Food

Our addictions to salt and sugar may start with baby food has been advocating for better childhood nutrition for quite some time. We’ve watched as commercially prepared baby food extended to include commercially prepared toddler food. Snacks for babies and toddlers increasingly include packaged products from our grocery stores. It’s a tough situation for parents as their schedules become busier and busier. In a two-parent working household, these products save time, which is the most precious commodity for any busy family in 2015. But it may come with a high price.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the majority of pre-packaged meals and snacks for toddlers in the US contain high levels of salt or sugar, which researchers say could be putting children’s health at risk.

Study leader Mary Cogswell, of the Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and her team used a 2012 US nutrient database to analyze the sodium and sugar content of 1,074 commercial foods for infants and toddlers.

Within their analysis, they included pre-packaged dinners – such as macaroni cheese and mini hot dogs – snacks, fruits, vegetables, dry cereals, juices and desserts.

Their findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, revealed that 72% of the pre-packaged toddler meals assessed were high in sodium, containing an average of 361 milligrams (mg) per serving.

According to recommendations set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), toddlers should consume no more than 210 mg of sodium per food serving, meaning that the pre-packaged toddler meals analyzed in this study contained sodium at levels almost 1.5 times higher.

IOM recommendations for school foods also state that children should consume no more than 35% of calories from sugar in each food portion.

However, the researchers found that dry fruit-based snacks included in the study contained an average of 60 g of sugar per portion, meaning around 66% of calories were coming from sugar. Sugar made up an average of 47% of calories among mixed grains and fruit and accounted for more than 35% of calories in dairy-based desserts.

At least one added sugar – including glucose, high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose – was found in around 32% of pre-packaged infant and toddler meals, as well as the majority of dry-based fruit snacks, cereal/breakfast bars and pastries, desserts and fruit juices.

While around 7 out of 10 meals for toddlers contained too much sodium, the researchers found most foods for infants were low in sodium – only two of the 657 infant foods contained sodium at levels higher than 140 mg per serving.

It is estimated that 79% of children aged 1-3 years in the US consume sodium at levels higher than the recommended 1,500 mg per day, which can increase the risk of high blood pressure – a risk factor for heart attackand stroke. Approximately 1 in 6 children in the US have high blood pressure.

In addition, a 2009 study from the American Heart Association found that the average child aged 1-3 years consumes around 12 teaspoons of sugar each day, while recommendations from the organization state that children this age should consume no more than 3-4 teaspoons of sugar each day.

As well as high blood pressure, excess sugar and salt intake can increase the risk of obesity. In the US, more than a third of children and adolescents are obese.

As such, Cogswell and her team say the high sodium or sugar content of infant and toddler foods assessed in their study are worrying:

“Commercial toddler foods and infant or toddler snacks, desserts and juice drinks are of potential concern due to sodium or sugar content. Pediatricians should advise parents to look carefully at labels when selecting commercial toddler foods and to limit salty snacks, sweet desserts and juice drinks.”

The researchers add that excess intake of foods high in sugar and salt early in life may cause children to develop a preference for such foods later in life, increasing their risk of obesity and related diseases. Limiting the intake of these foods for infants and toddlers, however, may reduce this risk.

So what are busy parents supposed to do? Great advice is given right here. Read labels as carefully as you can. Take note of sodium and sugar levels in the products you buy for your children. And whenever you have time, make food for your children in your own kitchen. Before baby and toddler food ever existed in the grocery store, parents did exactly that. And toddlers can and should be eating whatever you are in smaller amounts and smaller pieces. Let’s do our best to make sure that our kids grow up without demanding additional salt and sugar in their diets because they’ve been over-exposed from the time they were first introduced to foods. They’ll be happier and healthier in the long run!

Beech-Nut introduces 100% natural baby food

Beech-Nut_ProductFamily_03.21.141.jpgWhat a concept! Beech-Nut has introduced baby food whose only ingredients are the actual foods. Has to make you wonder what took them so long. Now babies can enjoy honey crisp apples, butternut squash, beets, pears & pomegranate, pineapple with pears and avocados and a whole host of other real foods. Of course, for parents and caregivers who aren’t “purists”, the “classic” Beech-Nut baby food is still available. Those foods are in the jars with the longer ingredient lists.

After years of decline in the baby food category, Beech-Nut Nutrition realized that moms trusted food they prepared in their own kitchens more than the “watered down” and “processed” food they were getting from leading brands. To address those concerns the company recently launched a completely new line of 100% natural products inspired by the creativity of millennial moms.

Beech-nut says they talked to moms and consistently found they were saying, “Homemade is the best that I can do for my baby. I may not know how but that would be the gold standard.” A spokesperson commented, “Increasingly we were seeing a lot of things online and a lot of other data points. When we started connecting the dots we saw a plethora of books at a Barnes and Noble on how to make your own baby food at home. You saw baby blogs and a lot of other support online for mom to make her own baby food. It came down to moms feeling that the category was watery, runny, it wasn’t real food. So they were choosing to help solve it; that being moms meant taking three hours out of their week or an hour out of their day to make their own baby food. We sat with those moms and asked them why they are doing this. It really came down to the control: “I want to know what’s in my baby’s food. A lot of the stuff I see on the shelves has things in there I either don’t know what they are or I don’t put it in when I make it at home, so I don’t want to feed that to my baby.”

Before we say anything else, really does think this is a great step for a mainstream baby food manufacturer. But really, it’s 2014. This thought just occurred to them? Beech-nut just now realized that more and more moms are making their own baby food? They’ve only just found nutrition blogs, new mom blogs and blogs about healthy cooking for your family? None of these are new. And, frankly, they’ve been popular for years. The trend away from mainstream baby food brands has been growing steadily for quite a while now. There are even infomercial products that help moms make their own baby foods. It’s sad that it took declining sales to get the company to take a look around take note.

The tag line on the Beech-Nut website for the new products reads “Because everyone deserves real food. Especially babies.” Welcome to the 21st century, Beech-Nut. We can only hope that your mainstream counterparts find their way here at some point as well.

Baby food in the news has been noticing a great deal of information in the news lately regarding concerns over the nutritional quality of baby foods. After reading a variety of different articles discussing those concerns, we wanted to bring our community a snapshot of the current conversations.

If you were to input “baby food” into the search engine, your search would yield a number of different products, ranging from a health score of A all the way down through F. There are many quality, well-rated baby food products that do, in fact, offer consumers clean ingredient lists. So why is there so much press lately encouraging parents to make their own baby foods? Especially these days, when “busy” is a word so ingrained into our popular culture, a great majority of parents see purchasing prepared baby food as a necessity, not a choice. We thought we’d take a closer look at the issues behind the articles.

We all understand that there is far too much sugar in the average American diet. And we all understand that the bulk of sugars consumed in an average day are coming from processed foods. But most of us probably don’t understand that our fondness for sweeter foods may just find its roots in prepared baby foods. In most instances the sugar content in baby food is coming directly from the fruits and vegetables used in the food. Certainly, that’s a better source of sugar than what we find in most processed foods. Sadly, though, most baby food is prepared from fruit and vegetable concentrates. Because of this, the final preparation contains much more sugar than it needs to.

For instance, Earth’s Best 3rd Fruits Bananas & Strawberries receives a C+ rating in our database. It has a fine ingredient list. Organic apples and strawberries are at the top of a short, readable list of ingredients. It also contains 27 grams of sugar for the one jar serving size. That’s 6.75 teaspoons of sugar in one jar. One small mashed banana contains 12 grams of sugar.

Another good example is Gerber Fruit Medley Spoonable Smoothies. This jar contains 25 grams of sugar – that’s still over 6 teaspoons in one jar.

Six month old babies should only be consuming about 120 mg of sodium each day. There are plenty of jarred foods out there that come very close to this limit. You can look at Gerber Organic Vegetable Risotto with Cheese and find 110 mg of sodium in its one jar serving. You can also look up Beech-Nut Stage 2 Sweet Potato & Turkey and find 110 mg. of sodium on it’s nutrition label as well.

Then a parent could add a product like Gerber Yogurt Juice to their baby’s diet. This product contains 17 grams of sugar and 50 mg. of sodium. It can all add up very quickly because baby’s diet includes only small amounts of both sugar and sodium.

These are the two best reasons can think of for parents to try to fit home made baby food preparation into their schedules. We know, though, that schedules are pretty stretched. So if you can’t make your own, please make sure you are diligently reading ingredient lists and nutrition labels for the products you purchase for your little ones. has created the Foodfacts Baby Nutrition Guide ( to help you make sure the products you choose are the most nutritionally beneficial for your baby.

Carrageenan … it’s not seaweed and it is controversial, especially for babies has been receiving multiple emails requesting more information regarding the controversial ingredient, Carrageenan. We thought it would be a worthy blog post to provide some further information as to why this ingredient is something so many people in our community make a conscientious effort to avoid.

So what exactly is Carrageenan and why is it controversial? A few weeks ago, we featured Carrageenan on our Facebook page and reviewed products carrying the ingredient. One of our posters commented that Carrageenan “is just seaweed.” Actually it’s not just seaweed and we’d like to start with that clarification.

Carrageenans are a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides that are extracted from seaweed via a chemical solvent. Carrageenan has thickening and gelatin like qualities and is also a food stabilizer. In addition to its use as a food additive, it’s a key ingredient in the de-icing solutions used on airplanes, as well as cosmetics, pesticides, and room fresheners. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?

Carrageenan is linked to gastrointestinal disorders as well as certain cancers. It can also be a source of hidden MSG. It’s important for all of us to remember that there are certain food ingredients that contain free glutamic acids that aren’t Monosodium Glutamate, but act just like MSG when consumed.

Most concerning, however, has been the use of Carrageenan in infant formulas and baby and toddler food products. A 2007 joint FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)/WHO (World Health Organization) committee stated that “based on information available, it is inadvisable to use carrageenan or processed eucheuma seaweed in infant formulas.” While Carrageenan is “generally recognized as safe” in the US due to the very small amounts generally included in products, when it is included in formula, the infant tends to consume much more and is therefore at risk for negative health consequences, such as GI ulceration and intestinal inflammation. Carrageenan is banned for use in formula in the EU. Sadly, in the U.S., Carrageenan is a fairly common ingredient in infant formulas and toddler nutrition beverages.

If you haven’t already done so, you may want to update your membership profile to include Carrageenan on your avoid list for ingredients. If you don’t yet have a membership, you may want to sign up, so that you can begin tracking the ingredients you’d like to avoid in your diet. Membership is completely free and you’ll be able to see which products contain the controversial ingredients that most concern you. has also made it much easier for parents of babies and toddlers to keep track of those products on our grocery shelves contain ingredients that we’d like to keep out of the diets of the youngest among us. Our new Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide lists every baby and toddler product we have in our database with complete information on nutritional content, allergens and controversial ingredients, including Carrageenan. Click here to view our new Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide … it really simplifies food choices for new parents!


Packaged toddler meals contain unhealthy sodium levels for little ones has a wealth of information in our database regarding baby and toddler foods. We’ve kept track of these closely because of our strong beliefs in avoiding controversial ingredients and unhealthy, unbalanced nutritional content in foods. When it comes to baby and toddler foods, consumers need to be especially vigilant. That’s why we’ve recently published our own Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide. wants to share our knowledge of these products with parents everywhere. Today we found a new study that speaks directly to our concerns about packaged toddler foods.

It appears that almost 75 percent of these foods are high in sodium. In this first-ever study looking at the sodium content in baby and toddler foods available here in the U.S., researchers compared sodium content per serving of over 1,000 baby and toddler food products. The data was compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Baby food was defined as any product intended for children under one year old and toddler food was defined as any product intended for children between the ages of one and three.

Any product containing a sodium level of more than 210 mg of sodium per serving was categorized as high in sodium. It was noted that toddler meals had significantly higher sodium levels than baby foods. Some toddler meals contained as much as 630 mg of sodium per serving. That’s about 40 percent of the 1500 mg recommended limit.

Understanding that consuming excess amounts of sodium is linked to high blood pressure, it’s quite concerning that these levels exist in readily available foods for toddlers on our grocery store shelves. It raises questions regarding the early development of high blood pressure, as well as predisposing children to a preference for salty foods that can lead to high blood pressure later in life. It’s generally felt that keeping sodium levels low in an infant’s and toddler’s diet, the less that child will be likely to look for salty foods as they grow.

The study emphasizes the importance of parents and caregivers paying close attention to nutrition labels in order to choose the healthiest foods for their children.

While is a proponent of feeding toddlers the foods you prepare yourself from scratch in your own kitchen, we realize that many parents rely on packaged foods for their little ones. The sodium levels found in this study are not good for young children. It’s important to find the toddler foods in the grocery store whose nutrition labels read differently in order to protect the future health of children everywhere. And don’t forget about the ingredient lists, either. It’s our responsibility as parents and caregivers to provide the healthiest start in life for our children.

Infant carb intake may influence weight gain and obesity throughout life has hundreds of baby foods and beverages in our database. Throughout the years, we’ve been fairly vocal about the quality of many of the products available for babies and have recently published our own Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide. We’ve always felt that the healthiest food choices early in life get the newest humans off to the best start as healthy individuals. Today we found a study that may have major implications for the feeding of babies.

An animal study out of the University of Buffalo has shown a link between the consumption of foods high in carbohydrates immediately after birth to weight gain and obesity throughout life. Even when caloric intake is restricted in adulthood, that adult has been predisposed to these conditions.

The researchers fed newborn rat pups milk formulas they developed that were similar to rat milk, but enriched with carbohydrate calories. The pups who were fed the high-carbohydrate milk formula were receiving a different form of nourishment than they normally would from nursing. These pups were weaned onto regular rat chow at the age of three weeks. Some were given free access to food and some were kept on a moderately calorie restricted diet. The rats who had been fed the high-carbohydrate formula who had their food intake restricted grew at a rate similar to that of pups fed by their mothers. The researchers were curious however, if that period of moderate calorie restriction caused the animals to be reprogrammed and what would occur once the animals were allowed to eat without any restriction.

It appears that the rats fed the high-carbohydrate formula do actually go through a metabolic reprogramming that can only be suppressed, not erased. When the rats were given the opportunity to eat more, they did. The effects of the high-carbohydrate formula were not permanently altered by the period of time the rats were kept on a moderate-calorie diet.

This research has implications for the obesity epidemic in the United States and speaks directly to the issue of infant nutrition. Many of the baby foods and juices available in grocery stores are high in carbohydrates. The researchers noted that the introduction of baby foods too early in life increase carbohydrate intake causing metabolic programming that predisposes children to obesity. Babies can be “programmed” to overeat at adults. The conclusion is that addressing obesity requires more than dieting – it actually requires a permanent lifestyle change. As long as calories are restricted, people can maintain a normal weight, but due to metabolic programming, their calorie consumption needs to remain restricted on a permanent basis – not simply for the length of time of a prescribed diet.

This fascinating study reminds us all that good nutrition begins at birth and that parents need to be just as concerned about the foods they are feeding their infants as they are of the foods being consumed by their toddlers and older children. is happy to see the current advice regarding solid foods beginning between the ages of 4 – 6 months being confirmed and reinforced. There are so many good reasons to follow that advice, and this research just added to the information we’ve already had regarding food allergies and intolerances. And once solid foods are started, stay vigilant regarding ingredients and the effects they can have on children everywhere. Take a look at the Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide to find out which foods and beverages available for babies will help give them the healthiest beginning in life.

Read more here: releases first-ever Baby Nutrition Guide … detailed information on nutrition facts and ingredient content for hundreds of baby and toddler foods and beverages for new parents! has been hard at work compiling informative, educational and detailed content for new parents concerned about the nutrition of their growing families. Here, you’ll find the important information you need to give you baby the healthiest possible start in life, as well as the content that will continue to help you maintain the health of your child during the all-important toddler years.

Our Baby Nutrition Guide brings you all the nutrition content information from the database organized by product category for everything from infant formulas, to baby and toddler snacks to toddler meals … and much, much more. The information is presented in an easy-to-follow format, giving you a straightforward, identifiable grade for each product, as well as complete nutrition content, possible allergens like Peanuts, Eggs, Wheat, Shellfish, Dairy, Soy, Fish, Tree Nuts, Corn, Gluten, Sulfites and Nightshades that you need to be aware, as well as controversial items contained in product ingredient lists like MSG, Free Glutamates, Flavorings, Artificial Colors, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Sweeteners, Palm Olein Oil, Carrageenan and much more!

Our grocery aisles are lined with products designed for your baby. Just like products designed for other food consumers, there are some choices out there that might not meet the standards you’ve set for your family. The Baby Nutrition Guide was designed for the food-conscious consumer to help them make the decision-making process for brands and food categories for the newest additions to their families a more comfortable, confident experience.

Whether you have a new addition on the way, or your new baby is already in your arms, or you have a toddler exploring the world, the Baby Nutrition Guide was created to take the guess work out of providing the healthiest nutrition choices possible. It’s a book you’ll want to keep on hand as your baby grows and develops. is thrilled to be able to offer this first-ever Baby Nutrition Guide to you and your family. It would also make a great gift for parents-to-be in your own network who are concerned about baby and toddler nutrition.

We hope you’ll take a look: