A Matter of Taste: Navigating New Baby Food Worries

By Kim, The New Mom

Kim HeadshotRecently, Consumer Reports issued a report detailing the results of tests conducted on a variety of baby foods. As the mom of a 6 month-old we are knee deep in purees and cereals these days, so I wanted to take the time to read the full report and get some sense of what issues were found.

To summarize, the report found that two-thirds of the products tested had worrisome levels of at least one heavy metal. To add to this finding, 15 out of the 50 items tested had metal levels that could potentially pose health risks to a child eating just one serving a day or less. Foods containing rice and sweet potatoes were particularly inclined to have higher levels of heavy metals. And if you think you have avoided this by buying organic baby food, think again. The study found that the organic baby food was just as likely to contain heavy metals as conventional baby foods. Very disheartening, I know.

I scanned the list of those 15 foods and held my breath hoping that none of them were things I had purchased and given to my son. Despite making 90% of his food homemade, I saw that I had indeed given him the gerber sweet potatoes and gerber chicken and rice that were cited in the report. Ugh, immediate mom guilt. Eventually, I calmed myself down and reminded myself that “when you know better you do better.” 

Baby Food

Also, as it turns out some of these metals are environmental and could just as easily be in my homemade organic sweet potato puree as it could be in the gerber sweet potatoes that I fed to my son during our vacation. While that may not be entirely reassuring, the point is that some of the contact with these metals can be hard to avoid. Also, some metals such as iron and zinc are actually needed in the human body.  So, what about the bad metals? Well, they are out there and the FDA is doing a pretty [crappy] job at regulating the allowable levels or requiring enhanced safety testing of children’s foods.

As a parent, the best we can do is follow the advice outlined in the report:

  • Limit the amount of infant rice cereal given (consider other single grain cereals)
  • Limit packaged snacks as many of these contain rice flour
  • Seek out foods low in heavy metals: apples, avocados, bananas, barley, beans, cheese, grapes, eggs, peaches, strawberries and yogurt.
  • Limit fruit juices as many of these have been found to contain arsenic
  • Provide your children with a variety of food to help avoid overconsumption of any metals

When its all said and done being a mom is a constant juggling act and many moms find that they need the convenience of prepackaged baby food. We should be able to have more confidence in the food manufacturers and know that what we are feeding our kids is safe.

To read the full consumer reports article, click here.

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