Every mother wants to give her baby the best, and therefore the issue of choosing between industrial and home-made complementary foods is very relevant, because correctly selected complementary foods help to improve health, improve nutritional status and physical development of the child during the period of accelerated growth and maturation.

As we have found out earlier ( When to introduce complementary foods ), the main task of complementary foods is to provide the growing body with all the necessary micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), because young children are especially sensitive to the lack of these substances. Deficiency of vitamins and minerals is accompanied by a decrease in the adaptive capabilities of the body,  impaired blood formation,  hormonal and immune dysfunctions,  impaired activity of enzyme systems, and this is fraught with impaired growth and development of the child.

According to the majority of domestic, as well as some foreign experts, the use of home-cooked foods for complementary feeding does not allow providing the growing baby’s body with the necessary amount of micronutrients. This is due to the use of modern agricultural techniques and widespread soil depletion, which leads to a significant decrease in vitamins and mineral salts in vegetables, fruits, and grain processing products. Heat treatment of products, their long-term and improper storage also contribute to significant losses of vitamins and minerals.

At the same time  ,  industrial baby food products are prepared using special technologies according to specially developed recipes, taking into account the peculiarities of digestion and metabolism of young children. Many types of foods and complementary foods are additionally enriched with biologically active substances (vitamins, microelements, polyunsaturated fatty acids, etc.), which is important for the prevention of deficiency conditions (in particular, deficiency of  calcium,  iron,  iodine,  vitamin C, etc.). Using a small container provides the convenience of use, and the tightness of packing –  in POSSIBILITY prolonged storage even at room temperature.

At the same time, the use of industrial complementary foods allows us to provide 30-50% of the child’s daily need for vitamins and minerals.

As for hypoallergenic cereals of industrial production, they are not only enriched with essential vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, but also do not contain milk, sugar, salt, gluten, artificial preservatives and colors, flavors. In addition, innovative technologies currently used in the production of baby food make it possible to impart functional properties to cereals, enriching them with pro- and prebiotics, which are necessary for a baby to accelerate adaptation to a new type of nutrition, as well as improve digestion and destroy pathogenic flora in the intestines. …

Thus, industrial baby food has a number of advantages over home-cooked products, in particular:

  • guaranteed microbiological and chemical safety;
  • guaranteed composition, corresponding to the age characteristics of the baby’s metabolism and digestion;
  • guaranteed optimal degree of grinding, corresponding to the age characteristics of chewing and the baby’s digestive system;
  • safety and high quality of raw materials used for the production of complementary foods;
  • a wide range of products, including those not readily available at home (including exotic fruits, broccoli, asparagus, difficult-to-digest cereals – rye, corn, barley, millet, mixtures of several cereals);
  • quick and easy preparation (porridge does not require cooking, and vegetable purees just need to be warmed up to room temperature);
  • additional enrichment with vitamins, minerals, pro- and prebiotics, polyunsaturated fatty acids).

It would seem that the choice is obvious: there is nothing better for the first complementary food than the “jars” and “boxes” offered by various manufacturers, but personally I am confused by the fact that in almost every article of a domestic pediatrician, after listing all the useful properties of industrial complementary foods, “for example, cauliflower from N “, or” the entire line of cereals from N has these properties. ” Not suggestive of hidden advertising?

Moreover, similar phrases are contained in the “National Program for Optimizing Infant Feeding in the First Year of Life in the Russian Federation” (approved at the XVI Congress of Russian Pediatricians in February 2009) (hereinafter referred to as the Program), which is followed by many pediatricians. For example, in the chapter “Prevention of iron deficiency states” the authors of the Program recommend introducing meat complementary foods no later than 6 months of the baby’s life, and certainly from canned meat for children, indicating a specific manufacturer, etc. Preparing complementary foods at home is out of the question.

However, the World Health Organization (hereinafter – WHO) takes the opposite point of view.

The  Guidelines  for the WHO European Region  with a particular focus on the republics of the former  Soviet Union ” Feeding and Nutrition of
Infants and Young Children” (hereinafter – the WHO Guidelines) states that homemade food is a healthy basis for introducing complementary foods, therefore its use should be
encouraged in every possible way . Ideally, babies should eat what the
whole family does . When preparing meals, it is necessary to set aside a portion for the child in advance, and then  add flavorings (such as salt or spices)  for the rest of the family.

With regard to industrially produced complementary foods, WHO recognizes their convenience, but notes that such products are often expensive, but do not provide any nutritional advantages over properly prepared meals from the family table, except when there is a special need. in enrichment with micronutrients.

In addition, the WHO guidelines indicate the need to offer the child homemade food, even when the main food is selected as the main food, since homemade food provides an opportunity to introduce the child to a wider variety of taste sensations and structures.

As a rule, opponents of home-made products voice the following “cons” of home-made food:

1. It is not known how these vegetables / fruits were watered, fertilized, in what land they grew, etc. As for canned food – it goes through a lot of quality checks, they can be trusted.

The issue is controversial. When mom cooks herself, she at least sees the products from which she makes it (it’s especially great when these are vegetables / fruits grown in her country house). What they put in the jar is unknown. It seems to me doubtful that squash puree for 14 rubles 125 gr. is thoroughly tested. In addition, the question arises, where does so much useful, proven puree come from? All grocery stores are filled with these banks.

Yes, there are organic baby food. It is assumed that the products for such complementary feeding are obtained through “organic farming”, which differs from conventional agriculture by completely eliminating the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, plant growth regulators, genetically modified organisms,  synthetic feed additives and hormones, as well as nanotechnology. Thus,  the safety potential of products based on organic ingredients of plant and animal origin (“Organic” products) is much higher than that of conventional products. However, even with such production, the possibility of detecting traces of pesticides and heavy metals cannot be denied. Moreover, the cost of such products is much higher than the cost of conventional jars. 

2. Now there are no seasonal vegetables, so I will feed them with “banks”.

Did you pay attention to the date of production of these same “cans”? I just somehow converted. February. Growing zucchini in February is quite troublesome and not cheap, and therefore there is a suspicion that the same frozen vegetables are used there that you can use yourself.

3. Industrial complementary foods are additionally enriched with vitamins and minerals.

As for vegetables, this is rare. Most of the cereals are enriched. However, there is one point: artificial vitamins and minerals are absorbed by the body much more difficult than natural ones, and there are practically no natural vitamins in canned puree with a shelf life of 1.5-2 years. If you really need some vitamins, they can always be purchased at the pharmacy.

4. Industrial complementary foods are less likely to cause allergies. There are special hypoallergenic cereals.

Indeed, some doctors recommend that children with atopic dermatitis or with problems of the gastrointestinal tract (hereinafter – the gastrointestinal tract) start complementary foods with “cans”. Yes, the chance that they will cause a negative reaction is less, but not because they are free of pesticides and nitrates, but because all the mashed potatoes are “dead”. There is no fiber, vitamin C and other useful, but heavy substances for the weak digestive tract (everything is digested and sterilized). In this case, the option of “canned” puree is possible as an introduction to a new type of protein, followed by a transition to a full-fledged product.

However, there may be exceptions. For example, my daughter’s belly reacted at first to any commercial zucchini, since they are all cooked with peels and seeds. If I cooked without the peel, there was practically no reaction.

As for cereals, the hypoallergenicity of many of them is  questionable. I really love to read the composition before choosing anything (especially when it comes to the health of the child). So, many “hypoallergenic” cereals have in their composition: “traces of gluten are possible”, and some of them also have a “milk”. Taking into account the fact that for the immune system of a person suffering from true allergies, even traces of the product are a reason to give out a strong reaction, I do not understand how such a porridge can be called “hypoallergenic”. 

5. At home, it is very difficult to create the desired consistency of puree.

One word is blender. Yes, it costs money, but if you count how much money will be spent on “canned” food (of course, we are talking about good “canned” food, the manufacturer of which inspires confidence) – it is worth it, it also takes up no more than a mountain of “cans” … In addition, the baby grows and already in 2-3 months after the beginning of the introduction of complementary foods, he will need to learn to chew, and this is greatly facilitated by the reduction in the time of using the blender and is not at all contributing to the constant consumption of “can” puree. If you boil the same vegetables or porridge well, then you can do without a blender – just knead it with a fork.

5. Complementary feeding of industrial production is convenient.

You can’t argue with that. You can always take “banks” with you on a trip and not worry that they will deteriorate. When there is no time to prepare homemade food, banks also help out. In addition, when complementary foods are just introduced, not every mother agrees to cook 1-2 tablespoons of zucchini. As for cereals, there is also unconditional convenience.

In general, both commercial and home-based complementary foods have advantages and disadvantages. The choice, as always, is for mom.

You may be interested in the following entries:

How to cook porridge for feeding babies at home

How to cook vegetables and fruits for feeding babies. Part 1 (general rules)

How to cook meat and fish for babies at home

How to start introducing complementary foods to babies?

Complementary feeding for atopic dermatitis: our experience