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Organic baby food reviews

Not all organic baby food is created equal.
 
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01 .Introduction

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Our review of eight widely available organic baby food brands has found that lack of labelling detail in some can make it difficult for parents to make informed decisions about the foods they buy for their babies. 

Each organic baby food variety is assessed for:

  • Sugar
  • Sodium
  • Percentages of each ingredient
  • Labelling.

On this page:

For more information about Feeding baby, see Food for kids.

Some organic baby food products contain more real food than others and when you’re paying a premium for organic ingredients, it’s good to know exactly what you’re getting. Not all brands make this clear and easy. See Ingredients and labelling for details. 

CHOICE would like to see full percentage ingredient disclosure on all foods designed for the most vulnerable consumers of all – babies and young children.

    The rise of organic baby food

    Parents want the best for their baby and, when it comes to buying baby food, sales figures indicate this increasingly means choosing organic – even though it means paying a premium. The organic share of the baby food market is growing worldwide. And of the 250-plus baby foods we saw on the shelves (not including formula, cereal or juices) about half were organic.

    Buying certified organic guarantees you’re limiting your baby’s exposure to conventional pesticides, chemical fertilisers, hormones and antibiotics and supporting environmentally friendly methods of farming. But are all organic baby foods created equal? We reviewed eight widely available organic baby food brands – covering 136 different varieties for babies up to 12 months – and discovered there’s more to (or sometimes less of) these products than meets the eye.

    Brands reviewed

    • Green Monkey
    • Happy Baby
    • Heinz Organic
    • Holle
    • Only Organic
    • Organic Bubs
    • Organix
    • Rafferty's Garden Organic Super Hero 
     
     

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    Choosing baby food

    • If you want a 100% organic product, look carefully at whether all or only some ingredients are certified organic.
    • Don't be swayed by claims of no added artificial this or that. Vitamin C is often added to make up for losses in processing, and it acts as an antioxidant to prevent fats going rancid and fruit and veg turning brown. But food regulations mean you won’t find additives such as preservatives, colours and flavours in any foods for babies under 12 months.
    • Concerned about sugar and salt? Check the ingredients list for added sugars (including fruit juice concentrate, which can act as a sweetener and isn't as nutrient-dense as fruit) and the nutrition panel for sodium content per 100 g, which should always be less than 100 mg. Some varieties manage much less.
    • Don’t just be guided by the product name - check the ingredients list to see how much of the food is the ingredients you think you’re paying for. The ingredient present in the largest amount comes first and so on down to the smallest. At the very least the ingredients in the food's name and pictured on the label should have their percentage declared.
    • Are thickeners and water being used? They’re sometimes necessary, but work out how much of the product is the food ingredients you want and how much is water and/or thickener, which for many products should be low down on the ingredients list or not there at all.
    • Think about what you’d put in it if you were making the food at home – if there are too many other ingredients of dubious value, there may be better choices on the shelf.
    • Does your baby really need a special dessert? Dietitians have told CHOICE that babies don’t. A 100% fruit purée, which you can use as is or mix with regular plain yoghurt or baby yoghurt from the chiller cabinet, is a better option than most baby custards or yoghurt-based desserts.
    • Food safety is especially important for babies. Processed baby food in unopened jars, cans or shelf-stable packs can be left unrefrigerated, but chilled or frozen baby foods need careful handling when you’re out and about. In addition, make sure you refrigerate unused portions (following the pack instructions) and never reheat already heated or eaten-from foods.

    Making your own baby food

    • Stick blenderIntroducing solids gets your baby from breast milk or formula at about six months old to eating appropriate family foods by 12 months.
    • Puréeing or mashing what the family is eating is the simplest solution, as long as your whole family has a healthy diet. But try not to mix too many flavours together at first — try single ingredients or simple combinations.
    • Gradually moving to chunkier textures and finger foods is important. If you keep your baby on soft, smooth foods for too long, eating problems can develop.
    • You don’t need to add sugar or salt to your baby’s food (manufacturers can’t add salt to baby foods). Remove your baby’s portion first if you salt the rest of the family’s food and go easy on salty ingredients like cheese. Choose low-salt versions of creamed corn, baked beans and tuna.
    • Follow safe food handling principles stringently — babies are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning. For home-prepared foods, the Food Safety Information Council’s factsheet Protecting tiny tummies offers good advice.

    CHOICE Books publishes the popular Practical Cooking for Babies and Toddlers, by Joanna Whitby. It contains over 100 recipes suitable for babies over 6 months old as well as the rest of the family.

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