Baby weaning foods found 'lacking'

Baby foods sold in the UK fail to meet infants' dietary weaning needs, claim researchers.
The Glasgow team tested 479 shop-bought products from leading manufacturers, including Heinz, Cow & Gate and Boots, and found few were ideal for the job. Most contained fewer nutrients than homemade food, and only as much as the breast milk they were supplementing. And their sweet taste may steer the infant palate towards unhealthy choices, the researchers fear.

The researchers looked at products made by Cow & Gate, Heinz, Boots, Hipp Organic, Ella's Kitchen and Organix. Half the products tested by the University of Glasgow's School of Medicine researchers were classified as sweet, and the majority were 'spoonable' foods in jars or sachets. Most of the sweet foods were sweetened with fruit sugars rather than added sugar.Weaning guidelines recommend offering sweet foods only "occasionally or not at all" to set good habits.

Babies would need to eat twice as much shop-bought food to get the same energy and protein as meals cooked at home, according to the research.

Dr Wright said that while it was understandable that parents may choose to use commercial foods they should be aware of what is in them. "People might think that something sweetened with fruit is healthier, but it's not. Young babies like sweet food because it tastes like breast milk but it is not moving them on. "It's processed food that's been put in a jar so it's not that surprising that it does not match up with home-cooked foods."

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