Understanding how to interpret baby food labels when you walk down the baby aisle at the grocery store will help you sift through the overwhelming array of baby foods. Happily, it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Here’s how it’s done.
Step 1: Choose Age-Appropriate Foods
Most baby food manufacturers label their food with stages to make it easier for consumers to hone in on the foods that are appropriate to their child’s age and developmental stage. Typically, foods are divided into three stages. Stage 1 foods are pureed starter foods designed for four to six-month-olds. Stage 2 foods are strained foods designed for seven to nine-month-olds, and Stage 3 foods are chunkier foods designed for nine to twelve-month-olds.
Step 2: Check the Ingredients
When you shop for yourself, you have to make the choice between healthy foods and junk foods, and it’s no different when you’re shopping for a baby. Use the labels to identify the junk factor in baby foods.
Things to look for and avoid: russian grocery store
- Added sugar: Sugary syrups are an obvious culprit, but fruit juice can also significantly increase the sugar content of a food.
- Modified food starches: The closer a food is to its original state, the better it is for baby.
- Long ingredient lists: More ingredients means more chances for allergic reactions.
You can also use baby food labels to identify the good in foods.
Things to look for:
- Single-ingredient foods: This is particularly important for babies who are new to solid foods (four to six-month-olds), since doctors recommend introducing one food at a time.
- Foods where fat makes up a good portion of the calories: Babies need many calories derived from fat in the first two years of their lives for proper development.
- No or low-pesticide foods: Purchasing organic products guarantees that foods are pesticide-free, but many regular baby food lines still aim to deliver low-pesticide products. Check the labels to see what each manufacturer has to offer, and choose according to your preferences.
Step 3: Check the Expiration
Baby foods generally have a long shelf life, but that doesn’t mean you can count on the foods sitting on the grocery shelf to be in-date. Make a habit of checking the expiration on all baby food items before adding them to your cart. If you come across anything that’s out of date, be sure to bring it to the store’s attention.