If asked which is more nutritious baby food or a cheeseburger, you’d probably guess infant food. Guess again…a study out of Britain has discovered that those little jars of mush aren’t that healthy. In fact, researchers found that cheeseburgers and chocolate biscuits were more nutritious than many leading brands of baby food sold in Great Britain. We aren’t even talking about a homemade cheeseburger but one from a fast food chain.
One company under fire is Heinz. Of particular concern are its mini cheese biscuits for toddlers, which contain more saturated fat than a McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese! The Guardian writes:
The survey by the Children’s Food Campaign of 107 foods marketed for consumption by babies and young children – all bought from mainstream British supermarkets – shows that a high proportion of these foods are high in saturated fat, salt and sugar. Only half of all the products surveyed were low in saturated fat, salt and sugar, while for Heinz products this figure was one in four.
Heinz wasn’t the only company that came under scrutiny. Several other companies, such as Baby Balance, were found to make products high in saturated fats and sugars worse than junk food.
Of course, making your own baby food is the safest solution. As a parent, you know for sure what has gone into the mush, and you don’t have to worry about reading labels on little jars. A simple baby food mill makes the job easy and affordable.
Image by Robert S. Donovan on Flickr under a Creative Commons License
Heather Dunham says
Love this article, fascinating study!
Just a little nitpick — my article which you’re linking to as “making your own baby food” has nothing to do with what goes into the “mush”. It’s about not using “mush” at all, whether homemade or store-bought.
Of course homemade mush is preferable to store-bought mush, but babies don’t really need mush at all. The very best option is giving them real food from the start! No food mill required, easy as pie.
Jennifer Lance says
Hey Heather, I had to link to your post because it was soo good. I thought it would enlighten readers. Actually, loved the whole series you did! I was given a used baby mill that I passed on to my sister. I do think they are useful, but they don’t do anything a fork couldn’t do.
That is crazy and yet not that surprising unfortunately. I am glad that we make all of baby girl’s food, but even if we didn’t I would not buy the food Heinz makes. So many people do and think they are buying something healthy for their little ones. So sad.
Stephanie - Green SAHM says
Yuck! Makes me glad we never got into the toddler foods, just the introductory infant stuff. Once my kids were old enough, we did the food mill thing with whatever the rest of us were eating whenever possible. I always figured it helped them learn to appreciate more flavors.
With my newest baby, we’re aiming for homemade all the way. Time to quit buying those dratted little jars. Recycling’s good, not buying them at all is better.
My two kids were raised with Earth’s Best (http://www.earthsbest.com/) jarred food, which are organic. Now that I am more aware of various options, I would probably have asked my wife (and me) to provide them more fresh foods and just make sure it was swallowable / chewable enough, but at least the canned food we gave them had good ingredients, and the appealing smell was also an indicator that they were not too processed.
Britax Frontier says
I think that it is impossible that a cheeseburger is more nutritious that canned baby food. Cheeseburger contains lot of cholesterol which is bad for the health.
Obviously you are unaware that ketchup is a vegetable and, therefore, Heinz is well within it’s right to make fat- and sugar-packed baby food. America will lose the race on obesity if we don’t get started at the cradle. What’s next, attacking the school lunch program? Cries to decrease sodium content?
Really, do you need a food mill? Can’t you just puree some food in the blender? Are food mills hand operated?
The Beautiful Kind says
This is wild! How can baby food be so bland yet so high in sodium fat and bad stuff??
This is misleading. Babies NEED saturated fats for brain development. They also need high levels of cholesterol – it is essential for growth!!! We need to stop imposing our supposed heath conscious diet on our children. These are the same people that will tell you formula is just as good a breastmilk – even though breast milk is 50% saturated fats with equally high cholesterol and formula almost none.
Infants and children CANNOT diet under any circumstance you might as well give them lead if you are going to deprive them of the basic building blocks of necessary nutrition. I am not saying that they should be eating mcdonalds but let us be clear about a good diet vs. a bad one. There are countless articles about children getting sick and some even dying from formulas and soymilk which did not have enough nutrients in them. Take a look at the Weston Price Foundation if you want some more information on the saturated fats/cholesterol issue. They are at: Children’s Health, http://westonaprice.org/children/index.html
Crimson Wife says
Babies do need fat for brain development, but it’s much better to give them healthy ones like avocados than whatever processed gunk Heinz or Gerber puts in those little plastic tubs.
You and I know that – but the majority of people do not understand that. They will just think “saturated fats = bad” and assume their children can and should live without them. And if their children are not getting Gerber then they are getting Beechnut instead. The average person is not going to forgo Gerber for homemade – just a brand without saturated fats or less of them and not even understand why. You are unique and people, like those who read this type of blog, are unique in that they really take the time to understand this stuff. I never understood that before I became a parent. Most people think they are too busy and want someone to tell them what to do.
My little guy is thriving on whole egg yolks, beef, chicken, coconut oil mixed with fruit, whole yogurt, raw cheese and many other wonderful healthy fats and nutrients. Although I am excited that this article is promoting feeding your kids real food and paying attention to what you feed them, I wish it also promoted healthy saturated fats and cholesterol as a part of nutrient dense foods. http://www.westonaprice.org
I am looking for the link to the actual study that was done. I get irritated with articles that just say “Studies show…blah, blah, blah” but don’t link up to the real facts and the actual study done. PLEASE share the findings on this, I am interested in the actual products tested and what fast food cheeseburger they went up against. Thank you.
Babies and toddlers need the extra fat to grow myelin on their nerves and improve conduction of signals within the brain. Someone needs to read up on their child development before decrying the formulation of infant foods. That having been said, there is something to be said for avoiding artificial preservatives. Just don’t forget the extra needs of growing minds in making baby food yourself. Child (especially baby) nutrition and adult nutrition are two different things.