As a first time mum to a 6-month-old baby, I recently started the journey of introducing solids. This has been an exciting time as I share my love of food with my child but also challenging as I strive to provide him with the best possible start.
Several people have recommended baby food pouches as a mess-free and easy alternative for baby food on-the-go. The ‘Only Organic’ brand seems the most widely used amongst my friends. The pouches look healthy with pictures of fresh food and claims of certified organic ingredients. Being the nutrition junkie that I am, I couldn’t help but have a closer look to see if the contents inside is as wholesome as the packing portrays it to be.
The ‘Only Organic’ pouches come in a variety of textures suitable for various age ranges, starting from four months. The Ministry of Health recommends solids are introduced at six months as this is when the majority of babies are physically and developmentally ready. There are a range of flavours available with exotic sounding ingredients. The first pouch I picked up was ‘banana, blueberry and quinoa’. I noted that as with many baby foods containing fruit, the sugar content in this flavour is high at 19.7g or nearly five teaspoons per pouch. I am wary of exposing my child to high sugar foods early on as I want him to like the taste of vegetables, and a higher sugar intake is linked to poor oral health and weight gain.
However, in the supermarket I visited there was only one ‘Only Organic’ savoury option available for children aged six months. This is disappointing as savoury options containing meat and vegetables provide an important source of iron from six months onwards. Iron is essential for brain and immune system development. The savoury option I found, ‘wild rice risotto and spring lamb’ contains 41 per cent organic vegetables (carrot, onion and peas) and six per cent New Zealand grass-fed lamb. The nutrition information panel doesn’t provide information on iron content but based on the product containing six per cent lamb and no iron-rich vegetables, it would be estimated to provide around 0.14 milligrams iron per serve. Babies require approximately 10-11mg iron per day. Therefore, it would be very difficult to meet iron requirements relying on this as a main source.
One pouch contains 3.5 grams of protein. This is higher than many of the ‘Only Organic’ fruit based pouches and will contribute to baby feeling satisfied and balanced blood sugar levels.
The fat is low at 1g per serve. The product advises it contains 2 per cent wild rice which is more nutritious than white rice. Ground (white) rice is also listed as an ingredient, although the amount is not specified. Many baby foods contain large amounts of ground rice which adds bulk and texture and provides calories, but has limited other nutritional value.
It has 37mg sodium per serve. A pinch of salt contains 148mg sodium so for a non-refrigerated item, this is acceptable. There is no information on fibre content. There are no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives in this product.
A savoury pouch such as ‘Only Organic wild rice risotto and spring lamb’ does provide a quick and easy food option which is relatively low in fat, sugar and sodium. However, if you were to feed your baby only this, there is a risk they would not have sufficient iron to support brain and immune system development.
Meat and green leafy vegetables provide an excellent source of iron and my recommendation is to prepare your own at home when possible. Larger batches can be frozen into cubes for quick and easy use. There is no need to add sugar or salt as most babies will find it tasty enough.
Written by Lauren Griggs