Homemade Baby Food Is Healthier Than Store-Bought, Says Science

Homemade baby food
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Store-bought baby food can be an important tool in the arsenal of busy moms and dads. After all, what parent doesn't love taking a shortcut in the kitchen? But what if you found out that making your own baby food might benefit your child for years to come? A new study found there are hidden advantages to whipping up those early meals yourself, and they might make you think twice about relying on store-bought baby food.

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In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers at McGill University Health Center and the Montreal Children's Hospital collected data from the parents of 65 infants. They surveyed each child's parents when the children were 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, and 3 years old.

Looking at whether babies were fed homemade meals, store-bought food, or a mix of both, researchers examined how those early meals impacted each kid's weight, growth, and diet diversity by the time he or she reached the preschool years.

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It turned out that babies who ate only homemade foods had more diverse diets earlier in life and lower body fat mass at 1 and 3 years of age.

"The results could have implications for preventing obesity and chronic diseases associated with poor food choices," lead study author Dr. Elise Mok told Reuters.

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"Given that food preferences begin early in life, are likely to persist, and are difficult to change in adulthood, providing appropriate food choices during the complementary feeding period is of importance to facilitate food acceptance and ensure healthy growth and development," Mok continued.

As moms, we always feel like our kids should have the best -- especially if it means they'll be healthier and more willing to try new foods. But it's not always easy. (Seriously, who wants to clean a blender or a food processor after every meal? Um, not me!) But "homemade" food doesn't need to be as complicated as it sounds. You can always mash your own bananas, avocados, or sweet potatoes without needing to bust out your larger kitchen equipement.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life. Beyond that, the WHO encourages parents to feed babies a varied diet, which includes meat, poultry, fish, and eggs in addition to a range of fruits and vegetables starting at age 6 months.

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When you put it that way, it doesn't sound all that daunting, right? And it certainly makes sense that the more foods you're introduced to, the more you're likely to try -- and hopefully like. Getting in a range of tastes and textures right from the get-go is a good way to offer your child a wide range of foods. 

Also, when you cook your own foods, you know exactly what's going in there, so it's an easy way to eliminate unnecessary sugars and chemicals that you can't even pronounce. 

Of course, it's not always easy or convenient to make your own food, but even something as simple as a diced apple can offer babies a healthy start and crunchy texture while still letting you know exactly what you're getting.

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