What should be the composition of baby food? What is safer – to cook yourself or buy ready-made mashed potatoes in jars? How to choose the right mixture if there is no way to feed the baby with breast milk? Every day, millions of parents ask these questions, so we decided to give best advice for these most common questions
Question number 1. What should not be in the composition of baby food?
Answer. Baby food is the most regulated segment of the food industry. Therefore, the question of what should not be in its composition is simply not worth it – technical standards have already taken care of this.The raw materials for baby food are subject to significantly increased requirements – the level of contaminants (pollutants) should be much lower than in “adult” food, a number of them should be completely absent.
So, when growing plant materials for baby food, a number of pesticides are prohibited, while working with animals – a long list of antibiotics. The requirements for the absence of mycotoxins are much more stringent than for adult food. Compared to conventional food products, the use of food additives is minimized – they are used only when their use is impossible to avoid, and only in the case of absolute, uncompromising safety.
This set of restrictions makes baby food, if necessary, significantly more expensive than similar products for adults, but this difference is entirely justified.The kid is not a small adult. A child in the first years of life eats many times more in relation to its weight than an adult, therefore, the nutritional risk factors for it are proportionally higher. It is for this reason that stricter composition and safety criteria are applied to baby food products.
Returning to the question – I would put it in a slightly different way: what is more preferable to feed the baby? And, given the above, the answer is fairly predictable.In the nutrition of a child up to three years, it is preferable to use specialized, children’s food products, not hurrying to transfer the child to the “common table”.
Question number 2. What supplements and vitamins to choose baby food with?
Answer. It is impossible to give a general, comprehensive answer. But there are a number of undeniable postulates. The first of these is the advantage of breast milk.Breastfeeding in the first six months of life and its continued as long as possible then is one of the prerequisites that the child receives proper nutrition.
The second postulate is that the introduction of new food products must be carried out taking into account the needs and health status of each individual baby. There is no general answer to the question – what to recommend as food? Parents should seek answers to these questions under the supervision and on the advice of a pediatrician who monitors the development and health of the child.
Question number 3. What is the best way to start complementary foods: cereals, juice, mashed potatoes? If with mashed potatoes, then with vegetable or fruit?
Answer. I repeat, there is no universal answer to this question. The introduction of complementary foods is a very crucial moment; the correct development of the child seriously depends on it. For each baby, the moment of beginning of feeding and the best option used for this food are purely individual. They should be selected for each baby personally, under the supervision of his pediatrician.
Question number 4. The pediatrician advised a mixture of native milk. They are produced in the same places as farms, not from powdered milk, but from liquid milk. How do you comment on this tip?
Answer. The advice is somewhat strange and not entirely clear. The fact is that the production of milk mixtures consists of several stages, including the drying stage. At the same time, the drying stage is not final – at this stage the mixture of skim milk (which is previously degreased), whey and vegetable oils is dried. After this stage, the carbohydrate component (if necessary) and micronutrients are added to the product. Therefore, it is difficult to imagine a recommendation in practice …
But if you think about it, you can consider a certain healthy grain in the recommendations. That is the point here.Milk mixtures should correspond to the nutritional properties declared for them – not only in the amount of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, but also in vitamins and micronutrients. Even a slight deviation in one of these indicators is a serious problem – because if the mixture is the only source of nutrition, shortage or excess nutrients can adversely affect.
Of course, manufacturers introduce vitamin-mineral premixes into the product with a calibrated nutrient content, but the contribution of the premix substances is summed up with their native content, primarily in milk. And therefore it is extremely important that the content of micronutrients and vitamins in milk raw materials is stable – and this is a very difficult task. The composition of milk depends on the fields on which the cows graze (or they winter in the barn, eating mixed fodder), how similar the composition of the soils on which the grass grows, how similar the grass cover is, how close the weather conditions and the composition of the herd – in short, simple, at first glance, the task begins to resemble an advanced exercise in quantum physics.
The simplest solution is, in fact, the use of milk from the same region, with stable properties. Responsible baby formula manufacturers do just that. The decision is not easy, it requires a lot of effort and money, it dictates the need for production in large volumes – but this is the only way to really guarantee the stability of the nutritional properties of this product.
Question number 5. Please tell us about therapeutic, prophylactic and hypoallergenic mixtures. In what cases are they prescribed? Mixtures should be selected by a pediatrician or some other specialist?
Answer. Any mixture, not only therapeutic or prophylactic, but also ordinary, should be selected or recommended by a doctor. In the case of therapeutic mixtures, this is most likely to be done by a narrow-profile specialist.
Therapeutic mixtures are very diverse in terms of application and composition. The most common ones are antireflux. They are designed to prevent regurgitation during feeding. In composition, they are close to conventional mixtures, but they have a thicker, viscous consistency (due to the use of a thickener), due to which the mixture gives a therapeutic effect.
A large group of mixtures is intended for children with an allergy to milk proteins. It is known that the larger the protein fragment, the stronger the allergic reaction, and vice versa – the smaller the fragment, the less likely the allergic reaction. The principle of creating such mixtures is built on this. Their protein component consists of milk protein in a high degree of fragmentation – this effect is achieved by deep hydrolysis.For the most severe cases of allergies, the so-called “elemental” mixtures have been developed, in which the protein component consists of amino acids – the basic “bricks” from which the protein is assembled. The use of such products as part of a course selected by a doctor allows not only to solve the problem of how to feed a child who cannot be given normal nutrition without serious problems, but also makes it possible to gradually develop intolerance to milk protein in a baby.
Another group of mixtures is low and lactose free. They are intended for children who, for whatever reason, cannot digest milk sugar – lactose. The absence of the enzyme necessary for its processing, lactase, can be caused by various reasons, but with the lack of this enzyme, the intake of lactose into the body is limited.
Mixtures with a given amino acid composition are intended for children with metabolic diseases – they lack those amino acids that such children cannot absorb. First of all, these are mixtures without phenylalanine – they are produced for phenylketonurics – children who are unable to absorb this amino acid. This disease is the most common disease of this kind, but for much more rare types of metabolic diseases there are specialized mixtures. Mixes for premature and small babies stand apart – they have very special nutritional needs.
The range of medicinal mixtures is very large, but they are united by the fact that they are used in the presence of special health conditions of the child that require their use. This distinguishes therapeutic mixtures from prophylactic ones, which are designed to reduce the likelihood of developing such special conditions in a healthy child. A typical example of such mixtures are hypoallergenic mixtures – they are produced on the basis of partially hydrolyzed milk protein. Such mixtures are not suitable for children with an allergy, but a pediatrician can recommend such a mixture to a healthy child if there are allergies in the family. Such a baby has a higher risk of allergies, and partially hydrolyzed protein to a lesser extent than whole protein provokes allergies.
And again I repeat – the selection of the mixture should be carried out only under the supervision of a specialist doctor. The initiative in choosing food for a young child can only do harm.
Question number 6. I can’t be with a child for several days. Is it better to feed him at this time – frozen breast milk or a mixture?
Answer. Mother’s milk is the best food for the baby. Milk mixtures should be resorted to only in cases where mother’s milk is not enough or completely absent. If the mother needs to leave the baby for several days, then using pre-frozen milk is the best way out of the situation.
Question number 7. Can palm oil be added to infant formulas?
Answer. Yes they can. This is dictated by the need to make the spectrum of fatty acids of the mixture similar to the spectrum of breast milk. The fatty acid composition of human milk is very different from cow’s milk.The body of a young child needs a different set of fatty acids than the body of an adult, and the closer their composition is to the composition of breast milk, the more it meets the needs of the baby – after all, fats are both a source of energy and building material that provides growth and development.
For this reason, infant formula is the only dairy product in which the complete replacement of milk fats with vegetable fats is allowed – a mixture of vegetable oils imitates the fatty acid composition of mother’s milk incomparably better than milk fats. But one should not lose sight of the word “mixture” – each of the vegetable oils contributes to the fatty acid spectrum of the mixture.
Palm oil fractions enter the mixture for precisely this reason. The fact is that in cow’s milk there is little of that fatty acid, which is the main in breast milk – palmitic. And without palmitic acid, the child loses the material absolutely necessary for its growth and development (both physical and mental). And what do you think is the best source of palmitic acid in nature?
That is why most milk mixtures contain palm oil. Attempts to get away from its use lead to the fact that such a substitute for breast milk will be depleted in palmitic acid – which alienates it from the gold standard of nature – breast milk.
In the case of baby food, the use of palm oil does not give any economic benefits – rather, on the contrary, due to the fact that specially purified fractions of selected varieties of oil are used, the prime cost of the mixtures only increases.
In general, concern about palm oil in baby food is more an example of the psychology of the masses in action than a question related to product safety and quality. The ingredients of milk mixtures are added to them as necessary – in order to approach the properties of breast milk so that children deprived of breastfeeding have the opportunity to receive good nutrition that meets their growth and development needs. In adult products, ingredients are added for technological and economic reasons.
Our consumer, faced with the massive use of palm oil in adult products, is experiencing serious concern about this (justified is not the subject of the topic we are discussing with you). And the consumer transfers this concern to baby food, in which the use of palm oil is dictated by the need to give the child the most balanced mixture.
Question number 8. The baby was born at 36 weeks. The hospital was given a mixture + expressed milk. Now at home a big problem with regurgitation (sometimes a fountain). I try to feed with milk (expressed), but sometimes we resort to the mixture. Is it possible to occasionally use an antireflux mixture, giving it in a small amount after milk? How scary to mix milk and mixture?
Answer. You should consult your pediatrician. He must choose the right approach to your situation. There are no universal recipes in children’s nutrition.
Question number 9. Why is there no salt in baby food? How is salt dangerous for a child?
Answer. There is no added salt in baby food. Salt enters baby food with raw materials – in their native form and in sufficient quantities. Salt is dangerous for a child the same as for adults, but there are two more factors – firstly, a child consumes much more food per kilogram of his weight than an adult, and secondly, taste habits are formed in early childhood, and it is then there is a risk of getting passion for everything salty, which is difficult to get rid of.