1) Commercial solid foods
Commercial solid foods:
- Are expensive (Crawley 2017).
- May contain (Crawley 2017):
- Unhealthy items like sugar and excess salt (Koletzko 2019).
- Starch-based thickeners that offer only calories with no nutritional value (CSPI 2015).
- Are processed, so that they (Crawley 2017):
- Tend to contain less fibre, protein, and other nutrients compared with fresh food.
- May have an inferior taste to fresh food.
- Have a relatively soft and uniform consistency.
- May have misleading advertising (Crawley 2017; Ferrante 2021).
- Expose the baby to a limited range of tastes and flavours.
- Are packaged in relatively large servings, which may encourage families to overfeed their babies (USDA 2009).
- May increase the risk of obesity (Mok 2017).
- May be contaminated with glass, bacteria, or have improper seals (CFIA 2017).
Commercial solid foods tend to contain higher amounts of sweet vegetables such as carrots and sweet potato and smaller amounts of bitter ones. This can lead to decreased vegetable intake in older children (Foterek 2016).
Commercial solid foods have been found to contain too much sugar. A 2019 study by the World Health Organization (WHO 2019) found that in half of the foods they examined, at least 30% of the calories came from sugar and one-third of the products contained added sugar or other sweetening agents. Examples of sugars include brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose.
Very high levels of salt have also been found in commercial solid foods such as “dinners” aimed at children 12 to 24 months old. Many contain added sugars (Cogswell 2015; Maalouf 2017).
Snacks aimed at babies and children, such as biscuits and finger foods, may have added sugar and very high levels of salt (Cogswell 2015; Maalouf 2017).
Highly processed foods can have negative effects on a child’s health (Elizabeth 2020).
2) Commercial pouches
Recently, food pouches have been promoted for use by babies. These are single-serving packages and in order to consume their contents, babies suck on straws or spouts.
In addition to concerns about their ingredients and processing, they may slow or interfere with the development of normal eating skills (Koletzko 2019). Babies are unable to explore foods with various texture with their lips, mouth, tongue, and teeth. Delaying textured solids can result in increased feeding difficulties later on and in fruit and vegetable refusal (Coulthard 2009).
Similar concerns have been raised about feeding bags which allow babies to suck solid foods through a nipple or to strain them through a mesh.