Category Archives: Baby Nutrition

Nutritionally, it’s all about the first 1,000 days of life

the-importance-of-fiber-during-pregnancy-newFoodFacts.com has devoted a lot of blog space discussing the importance of children’s nutrition. We’ve certainly had plenty of good reasons for that — the obesity epidemic has affected our kids in a profound way, compromising their health and altering their young lifestyles. Much has been done in an effort to change and ultimately reverse the crisis. School lunches are under new regulations. First Lady Michelle Obama has done a wonderful job with her groundbreaking Let’s Move campaign. We’ve even seen some major manufacturers commit to ditching artificial food colors in products our children love.

But what if we started earlier in our children’s lives? What if healthy eating started, say, at conception, and lasted throughout the first 1,000 days of a child’s life?

That is what Lucy Martinez Sullivan hopes to drill into the national and international conversation with her organization, 1,000 Days. “I realized how little attention and how little money had been focused” on this stage in life, she said.

The most important time to pay attention to a child’s nutrition is from the time of conception until they are 2 years old. Good nutrition during this critical window can change their lives, leading to better growth of brain and body.

Certainly, some of the important focuses of 1,000 Days are conditions in poorer countries without great infrastructure. But the U.S. ranks among the top 10 worst-performing countries when it comes to several major factors of child and maternal health. We are a part of this as much as anywhere else.
Sullivan is on a campaign to get the message out to decision makers, world leaders, and perhaps most important, parents.

To try to help her expand the reach of her campaign, she partnered with a woman so many of us know, Heidi Murkoff — otherwise known as the writer of the “What to Expect” books.

“The lack of interest” in the earliest years of life “is just startling,” Murkoff said. “The whole focus is on elementary school kids. They’re already 9 years old.”

Did you know, according to the Journal of Obesity in 2012, that french fries are the most common “vegetable” among 12-15 month olds in North America? With 18.5 percent of them eating fries at least once a day? Or that by 19 to 24 months, 62 percent of toddlers had eaten a baked dessert, 20 percent consumed candy, and 44 percent had consumed a sweetened beverage, according to the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism in 2013?

So while many countries that Sullivan deals with are in crisis mode because the children are undernourished, ours are poorly nourished. And that means their brains aren’t growing, they are in trouble physically, and it will be hard to dig out from under the damage already done.

So what now? As far as these two powerhouses are concerned, they will work together to try to engage the next generation of moms, policy makers and advocates to ensure a better start for babies worldwide.

Murkoff said she wants to see healthy food become more affordable and available. She wants to see more help to support breastfeeding for those who are able. “It’s a process that doesn’t come naturally,” she said. But many women want to, they just don’t know how. Or they are forced to return to work, many times to a place or shift work that doesn’t allow for pumping.

What does this mean for you and me? We need to change the way we all look at nutrition, childhood obesity and what causes a lack of good health — from the earliest days. That will help us prevent the worst diseases and health outcomes for the newest generation.

And, Murkoff noted, we have to “nurture the nurturer.”

That sentiment, Sullivan noted, will happen if we work to change policies, like a lack of paid maternity leave. How can we feed our children well, or even attempt to breastfeed them, if we have to return to work shortly after birth? How can we watch what goes into their little bodies if we can’t cobble together good childcare for those of us who do work? How can we feed them fresh fruits if we live in areas that have nothing but corner stores?

“The more we neglect populations…the more these families get locked into a cycle of bad health,” Sullivan said. “We need to set moms up to succeed.”

There’s so much critical information that’s revealed here. The research cited is fairly astounding. And it certainly points to the idea that we can do so much better for our children here in the U.S. We can remember when people were appalled when ketchup was considered a vegetable in school cafeterias and now we’re finding out that french fries are the most common “vegetable” for a substantial percentage of one-year-olds. It’s absolutely time to focus more energy on the nutritional quality of diets for the youngest among us. We’ll be doing so much for the health of future generations — and, in doing so, we’ll have a better opportunity reverse the obesity crisis once and for all.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/10/21/good-nutrition-during-the-first-1000-days-of-life-is-critically-important/

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, FoodFacts.com 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.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnellett/2014/04/30/beech-nut-takes-transparency-to-new-level-with-launch-of-100-natural-food-for-babies/

http://beechnut.com/foods/

The right nutritional beginning can be kind to your heart

Everyone in the FoodFacts.com community knows that we’ve always advocated for the healthiest possible start for our children. With childhood obesity on the rise, we understand that now more than ever it’s so important for parents and caregivers of small children to pay careful attention to the foods they consume. Today we found new information that speaks directly to the importance of healthy beginnings.

A new study in the TARGet Kids! practice-based research network in Toronto, Ontario has shown that eating behaviors in preschool children may be associated with risk for cardiovascular disease later in life.

The study of more than 1,000 preschool aged children (3 to 5 years old) looked at the link between eating habits and HDL cholesterol levels (a marker for later cardiovascular disease risk)Parents filled out questionnaires addressing eating behaviors – things like watching television while eating, dietary intake, parental concerns about activity levels and growth, screen time and vitamin usage. Researchers measured height and weight of the kids and their parents and took blood samples. They assigned a risk level based on the ethnicity of the parents because some groups are more prone to heart disease than others.

The results revealed a link between eating behaviors and cardiovascular risk. That association may lead to early intervention measures. The results support previous calls for interventions that are aimed at improving the dietary habits of preschool-aged children. Some of those interventions can include responsive feeding. This would be a child-directed method where parents provide healthy food choices and children use internal cues for hunger, taking advantage of those healthy food choices. The eating styles of many children are parent directed –. breakfast served at a specific time in the morning, a mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack and dinner. Children fed in this manner do not develop a natural response to internal hunger cues. In addition, children can respond to cues from the television, encouraging them to eat. Often these cues lead the child and determine for them the timing and amount of food they consume.

This interesting survey certainly reinforces the concept that good nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices begin quite early. The youngest among us deserve the most careful attention when it comes to their dietary choices. FoodFacts.com encourages our community to offer fresh, healthy foods to the children they love. Good habits are easy to form. Start them young on the path to a healthy life and watch them grow into strong, happy and product adults. http://blog.foodfacts.com/baby-section

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/262084.php

Obesity linked to overeating in infancy

FoodFacts.com is continually seeking out any new information available regarding the worldwide obesity epidemic, how it affects our population, what its causes are and what we can do about it. This tremendous problem has touched so many lives negatively, instigating chronic disease and death and it continues to grow even more out of control each day.

Today we found interesting new information coming out of Brigham Young University that suggests we need to be careful about how we’re feeding our babies. Researchers discovered that clinical obesity at 2 years old strongly traces back to infant feeding.

BYU researchers analyzed data from over 8,000 families and found that babies who were formula fed were over twice as likely to become obese toddlers than those babies who were breastfed for the first six months. But the study went further than that and proceeded to define infant feeding patterns that seem to promote childhood obesity.

Babies who were put to bed with a bottle were at a 36% higher risk of childhood obesity than those who were not. The introduction of solid foods prior to the age of four months increased a child’s risk of obesity by 40 percent.

Habits like putting baby to bed with a bottle develop a habit for a child of needing to eat before sleep. It’s the kind of habit that can discourage a child from monitoring their own hunger and being able to self-regulate. Breastfeeding would naturally encourage that self-monitoring.

Breastfeeding also prevents a parent from encouraging an infant to overeat. If a formula-fed baby is full and pulls away from the bottle and the parent encourages him to finish, the baby’s cues are being ignored. If the baby is full, there’s no need to continue feeding.

Breastfeeding rates are lowest in poor and less educated families. Sally Findley, a public health professor at Columbia University, says the new BYU study shows that infant feeding practices are the primary reason that childhood obesity hits hardest below the poverty line.

Researchers noted that more and more study results are pointing towards early childhood for the origins of obesity. This doesn’t surprise us here at FoodFacts.com. There’s plenty that’s wrong with the products in our food supply geared towards infants and young children. While there are many eating patterns established in infancy, we are introducing the smallest of our population to unreasonable amounts of salt and sugar at an incredibly young age. This is certainly influencing growing children towards making unhealthy food choices later in life. Everyone in our population needs to take note of this important study information and commit to giving babies the best possible start in life. Our Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide is designed to help parents of infants and growing children make the food choices that will help little ones along the path of healthy eating for a lifetime. Take a look at our Baby Page for more information.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/260952.php

The Power of Salt

FoodFacts.com is always interested in the latest information available to us regarding the alarming levels of sodium in our food supply. We devote a lot of blog space and Facebook posts to revealing that information and highlighting those products which contain far too much sodium and why we should all be so concerned.

There’s some interesting new information coming from the Institute of Medicine that is saying that there is really no reason to limit sodium to under 1500 milligrams per day. This is the current recommended daily intake for healthy adults. They went further and cited a level of 2300 milligrams as the acceptable limit. Unfortunately, Americans are consuming an average of 3400 milligrams of sodium every day – and the majority of that isn’t coming from a salt shaker. Instead it’s coming from processed foods.

The American Heart Association has no intention of changing the current recommendation for daily sodium consumption. In fact, they find many problems with this new information from the Institute of Medicine. We tend to agree. And we don’t want to forget a basic premise that really can’t be argued. The more salt we consume, the more salt we want. We crave it.

And that seems to be the logical conclusion for why manufacturers put so much of it in processed foods. It seems to keep us coming back for more. It appears that even babies can become addicted to the taste of salt. According to the National Institute of Health, babies who are exposed early to starchy, salty foods develop a preference for the salty taste by as early as six months old. Those babies exposed to salt consumed 55 percent more than their unexposed peers. The preference has been shown to last into the preschool years. These findings indicate the significant role of early dietary experiences in shaping taste preferences that last into childhood and could potentially influence taste preferences in adults. FoodFacts.com Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide points out some very disturbing sodium levels in products designed specifically for the youngest generations, effectively “hooking” the youngest among us on salty flavors before they’re old enough to know what they are. For adults, it’s been found that people who lower their sodium intake for just two or three months experience a significant decrease in salt cravings.

While studies on salt do tend to be conflicting in terms of safe levels of consumption, we do have enough information to understand clearly that high levels of sodium are a contributing factor for many chronic health conditions and can be dangerous to our well-being. We can also clearly understand that salt is pretty addictive – and that addiction seems to originate in our taste buds. It’s something that even babies and toddlers are vulnerable too.

FoodFacts.com will continue with the concept that fresh food is the best food. The sodium levels that we find so disturbing aren’t coming from our home kitchens … they’re coming from processed foods that are much too prevalent in our pantries. The healthiest thing we can do for ourselves and our children is prepare foods at home, with the fresh ingredients we know and understand and the sodium levels we can gauge correctly for ourselves.
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/explainer/2013/05/salt_dietary_guidelines_why_do_food_manufacturers_use_so_much_salt.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/health/panel-finds-no-benefit-in-sharply-restricting-sodium.html?pagewanted=1&hp&_r=0

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/dec2011/nidcd-20.htm

Carrageenan … it’s not seaweed and it is controversial, especially for babies

FoodFacts.com 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 FoodFacts.com membership profile to include Carrageenan on your avoid list for ingredients. If you don’t yet have a FoodFacts.com 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.

FoodFacts.com 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

FoodFacts.com 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. FoodFacts.com 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 FoodFacts.com 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.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321205528.htm

Infant carb intake may influence weight gain and obesity throughout life

FoodFacts.com 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 FoodFacts.com 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. FoodFacts.com 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 FoodFacts.com 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: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319144421.htm

FoodFacts.com 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!

FoodFacts.com 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 FoodFacts.com 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 FoodFacts.com 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 FoodFacts.com 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.

FoodFacts.com 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: http://foodfacts.hostedbyamazon.com/Baby-Nutrition-Allergen-Score-Guide/dp/B00A9HE8AW