Making your own baby food vs buying it

I would like information on the nutrient loss of processing commercial baby food. What is the difference specifically between making your own baby food and buying prepared baby food?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

It is difficult to tell you specific nutritional differences between home cooked baby food and commercially prepared baby food. So much depends on who is doing the cooking. If the parent cooking is nutrition wise and employs nutrient preserving methods of cooking, than there is no doubt that home prepared baby food retains more nutrients (especially the heat sensitive ones including the B vitamins and vitamin C). This is because the food is less processed and less heat has been applied to it.

Many vitamins are destroyed by heat, so the shorter you can make the cooking time, the more nutrients you retain. The canning process used by baby food companies necessitates the use of high heat under pressure. However, if the parent routinely stores vegetables at room temperature for a long time then overcooks them, throws out the cooking water (into which many of the vitamins have leached) and then adds some salt, their final product is apt to be much less nutritious than it's commercial counterpart.

It is also important to be aware of and use strict sanitary food preparation and cooking practices. Commercial baby food manufacturers have a quality control system that constantly monitors the sanitation of the preparation and cooking of the baby food, along with the storage condition of the supplies and ingredients, and the clean up procedure at the end of the cooking. Home kitchens often fall well short of the necessary standards for making baby food safe enough for their child. Infants are far more defenseless than adults to food borne bacteria, and what is an uncomfortable inconvenience for us can end up to be a life threatening illness for them.

The nutrition label and ingredient panel are an informative place to look to find out what your baby is getting from a commercially prepared jar of baby food. Everything in that food MUST be listed on the label so you can be sure you know exactly what foods you are giving your baby.

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