Upon learning I was pregnant, I did what every new mom-to-be does: wore my baby bump proudly and started researching the trendiest must-haves for baby. I was deeply enthralled by all the choices of strollers, nappy bags and the hippest way to carry that newborn—after all, “wearing” your baby has to be stylish. I found the perfect stroller—and hated it; 3 months later I sold it and found a new one. I found a front-pack carrier—hated it, and gave it away. Such is the truth of motherhood: no matter how much research we do, our intentions are not always reflective of our choices.
The same goes when deciding when, what and how to feed that ever-growing baby. After doing some research these past few months, I find it’s time to ask the hard question: At what point does being “trendy” outweigh what’s best for baby’s nutrition? Because the trends I’m seeing are a bit disturbing, both for future health and in terms of environmental impact.
I realize there is a sudden craze for everything Organic. This is a logical choice and one that I would highly recommend especially if you can buy local organic produce and make your baby’s food at home. This, too, is a wise choice, as you can easily afford expensive produce and make your food for a less than the price of imported organic brands. It takes some hard work, patience, trial & error (believe me) and quite a few kitchen tools; but if you already have a steamer, food processor, grinder and storage containers, it’s one of the most rewarding jobs.
But let’s be realistic. Motherhood is hectic. It’s full of sleepless nights, endless trips to the store for forgotten and newly needed items, and the inability to form complete thoughts. Therefore we do what’s second best. We shop around and try to find the healthiest options available. We’ll pay whatever the cost as long as we know it’s the best. So what is the best? It often depends on where you live.
I decided to visit the biggest and newest baby specialization store located in Port Elizabeth, South Africa considering that it will be my direct competition. I had heard that the convenience of one-stop-shopping would likely win over all other options. However, I left the store shaking my head and wondering what the world was coming to. The “new and trendy” baby food comes in squeeze pouches—any mom who wants to make the best choices will cave to these new, pretty (and pricy) packages. The motivation for using pouches ranges from organic ingredients and fewer preservatives to ease of having baby feed himself. The problem, however, begins with the contents. None of the 3 brands of pouch foods on the shelves contained vegetables as first foods. All were blends of fruits to sweeten the taste. Just an FYI: babies are born with an innate taste to sweet but have to develop the taste for savory (vegetables); I often tell new moms to start feeding babies vegetables and introduce them all before the first fruit. I did find ONE pouch of “Peas & Carrots” with a small sub-line of “with apples” but when I turned it over and read the ingredients, it was 65% apples! I’m no math genius but shouldn’t that label read “APPLES with a little peas and carrots”?
Besides creating sugar-addicted babies, which is a method for disaster for future medical & health issues, these pouches worry me from an environmental point of view. They come in small servings, convenient for self-feeding, but each one has a large plastic cover that from what I saw, is not recyclable (although at least one company boasted local initiatives collecting their packaging to be used in up-cycled products). And the shipping of baby foods from country to country can be especially damaging on the world’s carbon footprint. More like a direct stomp—in a work boot.
My final issue with baby food pouches is the marketing ploy of allowing baby to feed herself. Since when did babies have to feed themselves? Babies deserve the little bit of time it takes to get the spoon and bowl, and mom or dad having the time to feed them. They deserve learning to eat with their hands and holding a spoon and smearing food into their hair (who doesn’t love those pictures?). So for on-the-go moments or picnics in the park, maybe baby food pouches can be a welcomed treat. But do not be fooled. Overall, they are not what’s best for baby—but more of a simple fix for parents.
Enter such options as Nurture Naturally Made-to-Order Baby Food. I’ve finally created my brain-child of a job with the focus on local, sustainably farmed produce, 100% whole food organic grains, and eco-friendly, fully compostable storage containers. The brand is important to me; it must be the healthiest option for baby while ensuring that when baby grows up, she still has a beautiful earth and environment in which to live. For more information, please visit www.NurtureNaturally.co.za or email me at: NurtureNaturallyPE@gmail.com or follow Nurture Naturally on facebook.