Child & Adult Care Food Program
Questions and Answers About . . .
The nutritional content of processed baby food
What is the goal of infant nutrition?
The goal of infant nutrition is to promote optimal growth and development by providing a variety of nutritious foods. Babies need to be gradually exposed to a variety of tastes and textures geared to their developmental level.
Are infant nutritional needs the same as adult needs?
No. Infants have their own unique nutritional and developmental needs. Adult dietary guidelines for fat, protein, fiber, sugars and other nutrients should not be applied to infants and young children.
Are processed baby foods as nutritious as home prepared baby food?
Yes. As part of the infant diet, processed baby foods provide balance and variety with a carefully controlled and consistent nutrient content.
Is home prepared baby food safe?
Yes, as long as it is correctly prepared from carefully selected foods. Good clean work areas are very important to prevent accidental contamination. Home prepared baby food should be steamed, then thoroughly mashed with a fork or a food processor. Parents need to be cautious of feeding foods that cannot be mashed by the gums as these present a choking hazard.
Why is water added to baby food?
Water helps make the food the appropriate consistency for the developmental stage of the infant who will eat it. Initially a baby's food should be liquid enough to be sucked from a spoon. Babies need water for growth and should have a good intake of fluids every day, especially in hot, humid weather.
Are starch fillers used in baby food?
Starches are easily digested carbohydrates, which may be present in baby foods in the form of flour (corn, wheat, rice), tapioca or rice. Whether added or a component of food, starches provide an important source of calories for growing infants. Food starches also help to moderate flavor and control texture. The Food and Drug Administration has determined that food starches are safe and suitable for use in baby foods, and requires that they be listed on the food label.
Why is texture important?
Texture plays an important role in providing developmentally appropriate challenges for the infant. Lumpier foods introduce chewing skills by helping the infant to learn and master the up-and-down and side-to-side motions of chewing and the manipulation of the tongue to guide foods.