Making Healthy Food Choice for Baby

Your baby is depending on you to make the right choices for a healthy diet, and also to help set her up for a lifetime of healthy eating. It isn’t always easy to stay on track, especially for busy moms who don’t always have a lot of time for cooking. You don’t have to compromise healthy eating to get baby’s dinner on the table in a hurry though. Just plan ahead, and use a few simple tricks to keep baby’s diet – and yours – on track.

Fresh, Frozen, Canned

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, fresh is always the best choice for optimum nutrition. The process of freezing can damage some of the nutrients, and the processes involved in canning can be worse – including added sugars and salt you don’t need in your diet, or your baby’s. Realistically, however, taking the time to wash, chop, and cook fresh produce isn’t always an option for everyone.

If you are reaching for frozen fruit, be sure to check the label to make sure no extra sugar has been added. For both fruits and vegetables, look for signs of thawing and re-freezing, as this is detrimental to the freshness and safety of the food. Large ice crystals are a sign the food has been partially thawed and re-frozen. Many vegetables are now available in a convenient steam-in-bag format, which takes you from freezer to table in no time flat. The steaming process prevents important nutrients from being leached out into the water when veggies are boiled. Frozen fruits are a great choice for smoothies as they will provide thickness to the mixture.

Canned fruit and veggies are an ok option, but be sure to choose vegetables that have not had any salt added, or rinse them before cooking to remove excess salt. Look for fruits that have been packed in juice and not in syrup, and beware of “no sugar added” versions that actually contain artificial sweeteners. Because canned vegetables tend to be very soft, they are a great finger food choice for babies learning to chew. Remember, the healthiest vegetable is the one your child will actually eat! It does no good to have those fresh veggies sitting on the plate ignored. If canned vegetables are the only type you can get your child to eat, go for it, just be on the lookout for added sodium.

Be Carb-smart

When you are in a hurry, it’s often easy to feed baby quick baby foods that are high in carbs, such as oatmeal, toast, crackers, or cereal like Cheerios. There’s nothing wrong with carbs – your baby needs them! Just make sure that you are choosing high fiber options and also adding fruits and vegetables to keep your baby full and provide all the necessary nutrients. A bowl of oatmeal is a great quick breakfast in the morning, but be sure to add some fruit to up the nutrition value.

Watch out for too many simple carbs, refined grains or anything high in sugar. Choose whole wheat bread and brown rice for your baby rather than white. Baby will be get more fiber from these choices. When choosing snacks like crackers, look for whole grain options there as well. Cereal bars might look like a great on the go snack for baby, but may be loaded with sugar and lacking in real fruit or fiber. Reading labels is the best way to choose good carb options.

Providing a healthy, balanced diet for your baby while living a busy life can be a bit of a challenge. It’s ok to choose some quicker options, as long as you are careful to pick the healthiest ones.

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