Baby Food – Homemade Or Commercially Prepared? Is There A Difference?

baby foodMoms always want what’s best for their babies and when their baby starts on solid foods, moms take extra special care to make sure that their baby’s dietary needs are met. The convenience of bottled baby food (such as Purity) takes a lot of strain and pressure away from the busy mom, however, just as she is about to spoon a spoonful of the commercially-prepared jar of carrots into her infant’s eager and open mouth – the concerned mom is struck with a pang of guilt – and she wonders if the bulk prepared food is as good and as nutritious as homemade baby food, and is there a difference? 

For years, hardworking moms have relied on companies, such as Tiger Brands in South Africa (previously Gerber) who are the manufacturers of Purity baby food to produce superior quality baby food, however, a large number of modern moms are now wondering if homemade baby food is in fact better for their baby and if it’s better able to cater to their baby’s nutritional needs and demands.


Commercial baby food

Let’s bear in mind that the manufacturers of baby food are usually major, global organisations who have been preparing and selling bottled baby foods for years. As such, they know that if their baby food does not meet stringent quality checks and controls, they will not remain in business for long. What’s more they employ specialised staff (like dieticians, etc.) who know exactly what needs to go into baby food to meet the growing baby’s needs. When buying baby food, it is important for moms to stick to well-known brands and even if these brands may have a slightly highly price tag than the -lesser’ known brands – the well-known manufacturers have years of experience and what’s more they have a global reputation to protect!

Unlike homemade baby food which needs to be served immediately (or which needs to be frozen directly after cooking), the baby food jars have a shelf life of two years. The long shelf life is not due to any type of preservatives but the food is cooked in the jar and sealed immediately, which means that not only does the product have a long shelf life, but all the nutritional goodness is trapped inside – ready to nourish baby.

In addition, to being a convenient and perfectly prepared meal for baby, the manufacturers of Purity baby food offer mothers access to a range of feeding hints and tips. What’s more, Tiger Brands has created four main feeding stages and these help mothers to know what exactly their babies need at any given age. For instance, the extra smooth food is a stage one food and as the baby grows and their needs change, moms can introduce the late stage foods, where meals become slightly thicker and more textured and the prepared foods also allow mothers to slowly introduce baby to meat and other ingredients.

When buying commercially prepared baby foods from well known manufacturers, such as Tiger Brand’s Purity baby foods, moms are assured of the fact that the foods contain no preservatives, no additives, no sugar and no salt. When purchasing baby foods from lesser known suppliers, mothers are urged to carefully check the baby food label where the list of ingredients will help to determine if any additives or preservatives are found in the baby food.


Homemade baby food

Even though the market for commercially prepared baby food is large, countless industrious moms feel that preparing their baby’s food offers many benefits. The biggest advantage of homemade baby food is lowered cost, this is especially true for moms who shop in bulk (or look out for food market specials) and prepare baby’s meals in advance. There is no need to purchase special containers or jars to store baby’s food – the food can be frozen using the freezer’s ice-cube tray and a block or two can be defrosted at feeding time.

The other benefits of homemade baby food include:

  • Greater control – moms who cook and prepare baby’s meals, know exactly what they are putting into them (only fresh fruits and vegetables), and due to this fact, there is no need to worry about any added preservatives or additives. Some of the baby food which is available on the market has additives and thickening agents such as cornstarch, flour or chemically modified starches. Using these additives means that the manufacture is using less fruits or less vegetables and the baby is being filled up with additives, and not on nutrients.
  • Taste – nothing tastes as good as homemade! This may be true for commercially-prepared baby food, which often tends to be bland and unappetising. When food is homemade it appears a lot more colourful and more appetising!
  • Higher nutritional value – homemade baby food is able to retain more of the food’s nutrients, specifically vitamin A and B. The reason for the higher nutritional value of home-prepared baby food is that lesser quantities are prepared at a time, and when the baby food is jarred, very high heat is required to effectively seal the jar, as such; some vitamins are lost during the process.
  • Easy to prepare – baby food is easy to prepare, and usually involves steaming, boiling, milling or mashing. There are so many easy-to-follow recipes available. What’s more baby’s special food can be prepared while preparing the family’s evening meal and since the recipes call for fresh fruits and vegetables – making baby’s food at home, will mean that both mom and dad (and the rest of the family) will enjoy wholesome, fresh homemade meals!

If you, however, choose to go the commercially-prepared baby food route – you are not alone. The first commercially prepared baby food was initially introduced in the Netherlands in 1901. There are certainly well founded benefits and advantages of homemade baby food but the bottom line is – with experts in charge of producing baby food – it’s just one less thing for mom to worry about!

 – Kathy


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