Complementary foods for babies: Are porridge pouches so unhealthy?

Complementary foods for babies: Are porridge pouches so unhealthy?

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Baby food: Health experts provide information about the disadvantages of porridge pouches

According to health experts, breast milk is the best nutrition for the baby. Nevertheless, some mothers start with complementary foods for the offspring very early. Baby porridge from so-called “squeeze bags” is often seen as problematic here. Because this is not only usually too sweet, but also has other disadvantages for the child.

Breast milk contains everything you need

As the Children's Health Foundation writes on its website, it is really not difficult to optimally feed a baby in the first few months. After all, everything the child needs is in the breast milk and in the bottle. Nature has arranged it in a very meaningful way: If the baby's need for nutrients increases, the offspring is also able to eat more and more solid food. It can suck from birth, spoons have to learn it first. Pureed or liquid complementary foods in plastic bags are not necessarily the best way to do this. Because the content of such "squeeze bags" is often far too sweet, according to the foundation. In addition, by continuing to suck the food, the child learns later to eat porridge from a spoon or piece of food from the hand and can develop food quirks.

Complementary foods should not completely replace breast milk

As the experts explain, the term “complementary food” hides all sorts of things: for example vegetables, fruit, potatoes, butter, oil, meat, egg and cereals and the porridges made from them.

In short, everything you feed the offspring in addition to breast milk (or baby milk) towards the end of the first half of life.

However, the complementary food should complement and not completely replace the breast milk or baby food previously offered, emphasizes the Child Health Foundation.

Even after the introduction of the first complementary meals, the little ones should continue to be breastfed as long as mother and child want and can.

Even children who are already fed the bottle should continue to receive their bottle after the introduction of porridge and spoon food.

Not too early and not too late

"Complementary food should not be introduced before the age of 17 weeks, i.e. the beginning of the 5th month of life, and not later than 26 weeks, i.e. at the beginning of the 7th month of life," clarifies the chairman of the Child Health Foundation, Professor Dr. Berthold Koletzko.

"In these weeks, the tongue shock reflex disappears in most babies, at the same time the ability develops to push a porridge into the throat with the tongue and then swallow it," says the metabolism expert at the University Children's Hospital in Munich.

In this age period, the child becomes more and more active. The first milk teeth appear.

The baby moves a lot, curiously follows what his parents and siblings are eating at the family table, grabs spoons and food himself and puts them in his mouth.

Breast milk or vials are often no longer sufficient to meet its increasing need for nutrients and energy.

The baby likes what the mother eats

Babies are usually suspicious of eating new foods. This aversion, called "neophobia", is a protective mechanism that is designed to prevent the child from eating something that he does not get.

A baby prefers to eat what his mother eats, because this taste is familiar to him from the womb and through breast milk.

It is therefore not surprising that a baby rejects cooked carrots, since the mother also never eats cooked carrots.

According to the foundation, the period between 17 and 26 weeks proves to be particularly favorable for the introduction of new tastes (or flavors) and firm textures.

Repeatedly offering different foods without coercion reduces the fear of unknown food.

Studies have shown that the daily change in the types of fruit and vegetables offered increases the later acceptance of vegetables and other healthy foods, such as meat and fish.

In this way, the offspring are gradually accustomed to the variety of foods and prepared for the gradual transition to family food.

Porridges should not be sweetened or salted

According to the experts, everything that tastes good to the baby can be spooned on! The warnings about allergenic foods such as milk, eggs or fish, which were often used in the past, have therefore proven to be useless.

The avoidance or later introduction of such foods does not offer any protection against allergies, according to the Child Health Foundation.

The first complementary meal, for example, is a porridge made from vegetables, potatoes and meat to provide the child with readily available iron and zinc from meat.

"Porridge should never be sweetened or salted in order to avoid incorrect programming of the child's taste," explains Professor Berthold Koletzko.

"The porridge should taste the baby, not the adult".

According to the experts, the meat component in the vegetable-potato-meat porridge should occasionally be replaced by fatty fish (e.g. salmon).

There are indications that the consumption of fish in the first year of life can protect the child from the later development of an allergic disease.

To cook yourself

The Children's Health Foundation would like to expressly encourage parents to cook for their baby themselves! Jar food and homemade porridges are equivalent alternatives.

Both can be used to provide a baby with all the nutrients it needs. The industrially produced complementary food meets high legal requirements and also saves time and work.

On the other hand, self-preparation also has its advantages: parents can choose the ingredients themselves and offer a greater variety of flavors.

Rapeseed oil is particularly suitable as a cooking oil for the self-production of complementary foods.

Squeezers - fast food for babies

From the point of view of many parents, the squeeze bags with pureed fruit preparations and sometimes other ingredients, which have increasingly been offered in recent years, offer a convenient procedure.

After unscrewing the lid, the contents of the "squeeze" can be pressed directly into the mouth of the baby or toddler, or the child can suck the contents out of the spout or drink with liquid products.

However, squeeze bags are often twice as expensive as conventional fruit jars. In addition, they are usually over-sugared and over-acidified and have other disadvantages.

According to the foundation, many “squeezers” have extremely many calories, a very sweet taste and a completely unbalanced composition of the nutrients with a sugar content that is far too high.

This also increases the risk of dental caries and obesity. Most or even all of the sugar content comes from the sugar of the fruit preparation used and not from added sugar.

This is why extremely sugar-rich products can also be labeled "without added sugar" if the additional sugar comes from concentrated fruit puree or juice, for example.

"This can erroneously give parents the impression that it is a low-sugar product," warns Professor Berthold Koletzko.

"But not only 'added sugar', but above all the total sugar content is responsible for undesirable health effects in the child," said the expert.

Learning to eat with a spoon is difficult

Another problem: "If infants ingest baby food primarily by sucking from a bag, learning to eat from a spoon or solid food items from the hand can be delayed and made more difficult," says Professor Koletzko.

In addition: “Exploring the food with the lips, tongue and hands and practicing chewing and biting is adversely affected. This can lead to the child later rejecting solid foods such as vegetables and fruit ”.

Feeding with a spoon and eating from the hand, on the other hand, offers parents an excellent opportunity for communication, listening to one another and speaking to the child.

The baby observes and learns what parents and siblings eat and is encouraged to try them.

For this reason, the Child Health Foundation expressly advises against eating pureed complementary food products made from squeeze bags: complementary food should be fed in with a spoon or by the child's hand and should not be sucked out of a plastic bag.

Babies should drink water

With the third porridge, the baby also needs additional liquid, about 200 milliliters per day.

Still mineral water with the addition "suitable for feeding babies" or tap water that is taken from the tap after a long period of time and unsweetened teas are suitable.

Between nine and 15 months, a child is developed to the point that imitation learns to drink from a mug, to eat with a spoon and to bite into solid food.

With the introduction of bread, the porridge and milk meals gradually change into the three main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and two snacks (morning, afternoon) of a family diet.

The Children's Health Foundation advises caution with small solid foods and with very hard or breakable root vegetables.

Because nuts or raw root vegetables easily get into the windpipe and should therefore not be on the menu until later.

The Child Health Foundation recommends that meals and seasons be clearly separated. The food should also not be declared as a reward or gift.

And especially important: no smartphone and no television during the meal! Toys and books should also not be used as a distraction while eating. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: 6 to 12 Month Babies Healthy Foods5 variety food recipes (August 2022).