You’ve probably already heard about the wonders of homemade baby food from friends or other mommies on your feeds, forums or in classes. And there’s no doubt about it—putting on your chef hat and DIY-ing your little one’s meals is a much easier way to ensure he’s getting the most nutritious, all-natural and preservative- and chemical-free diet possible. But now a new study is taking things one step further by actually proving that homemade baby food is better than store-bought varieties.
The study, which was just published by the Journal of Obesity, found that babies who ate a diet of only homemade foods were not only exposed to a wider variety of food types, but were also leaner than infants who ate store-bought products. To come to their conclusion, researchers analyzed and examined the diets of 65 infants, assessing their body fat percentages at ages 6, 9, 12 and 36 months old.
By 9 months of age, 22 percent of the babies had exclusively ate homemade foods while another 22 percent of babies exclusively ate commercially produced food—i.e. the types you buy in the jar or pouch from the grocery store. The rest of the babies ate a diet of both types—store-bought and homemade. At this age, researchers saw that the infants who ate only the homemade food covered more of the food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy) than those who only ate store-bought, however there were no differences in the babies’ lengths or weight. That is, until later on.
When researchers examined the babies at one year of age, they found that those who ate only homemade baby food had a lower percentage of body fat than the other infants in the study.
While it’s important to remember the variables involved—for example, the researchers relied on the parents to accurately remember and report how they fed their babies and what they were eating—the study is powerful in showing the differences in choosing an all-store-bought diet and an all-homemade diet for little bodies.
If you’re one of those parents who’s been making baby food for your little one since he transitioned from the breast or bottle, keep doing the same! And if you’ve been relying on store-bought all along, here are a few incentives, aside from the benefits to your baby’s health, you might want to consider:
- There’s no guessing game when it comes to what you’re feeding your baby. Even if you’re a pro at reading ingredient labels in search of preservatives, GMOs and other bad-for-baby (and you) chemicals and additives, there’s no better way to ensure he gets only the good stuff than making it yourself.
- There are so many gadgets that can help you DIY meals at home. From baby food freezer trays to blenders and food thermometers, there’s no shortage of products available on the market to help busy moms and dads make food prep quick and easy.
- It might even save you some money! While you’d normally think making your own baby food would get pricey (and it can), oftentimes it’s just the same, if not cheaper, than purchasing store-bought products.
Here are some fun dessert recipes I’ve created to start off with:
- Homemade Dairy-Free Ice Cream
- DIY Organic Coconut Milk Recipe
- Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream