The Great Puff Debate: Fast Food For Babies Or Healthy Snack?

{Photo credit: With A Red Bird On My Shoulder}

We know your baby’s health and well-being is always your top priority. But, as a busy mom, sometimes providing nutritious and healthy snacks for in-between meals or travel is a difficult task. If you’re on-the go with your little one in tow, teething biscuits, crackers and puffs can seem like an easy solution to curb hunger until meal time. While many major baby food companies have jumped on the “organic” and “all natural” band wagon, and have created what they market as healthy snacks for teething babies and toddlers; it’s important to understand what’s really going into these tasty treats before you decide which ones are best for your child.

Organic vs. Natural

{Photo credit: With A Red Bird On My Shoulder}


The first thing you need to consider when choosing processed snacks (or any food for that matter) for your baby is the difference between organic and natural. Many people mistakenly assume these two terms mean the same thing, but sadly, this is not the case.

  • Organic food is USDA certified and regulated, guaranteeing it will not be produced with or contain synthetic ingredients, pesticides, sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation. Animals used for the production of organic foods are not given any antibiotics or growth hormones and are fed without synthetic ingredients.
  • “Natural” is a term used much more loosely and is not supervised under any government regulations. Natural foods are considered to be minimally processed and should not contain artificial flavors, synthetic ingredients, pesticides or growth hormones. However, since neither the FDA nor USDA regulate the “natural” label, many companies get away with putting it on foods that contain some or all of these toxic elements.

The only way to know that the food you’re giving your baby is free of these things is to make sure it is USDA certified 100% organic.

 

Risks in Rice Consumption

{Photo credit: With A Red Bird On My Shoulder}

The FDA has been evaluating inorganic arsenic levels (the kind considered to be a cancer-causing carcinogen) in rice for over 20 years. In late 2012, they concluded a study in which they paid particular attention to rice consumption in children, among other groups. Though the results are still being debated; the facts stand strong, according to a 2012 Consumer Report Study:

      • Nearly half of the 1.6 million tons of arsenic used for agricultural and industrial purposes in the U.S. has been used from the mid- 1960s to today, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. So, for those who say “people have been eating rice for hundreds of years without the fear of arsenic toxicity,” – you’re right. But, we’ve been dumping a significantly larger amount of arsenic into our soil in just over the last 50 years – more than ever before.
      • Rice grown in southern states -such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Missouri- has been found to contain higher arsenic levels than rice grown anywhere else. This is believed to be a result of reusing the land that old cotton plantations once resided. (Cotton used to be treated heavily with arsenic pesticides in the south.)
      • Results from the Consumer Report study concluded that people who consumed rice were found to have 44% more arsenic in their system than those who didn’t.
      • That same Consumer Report study found that people who consumed a single serving of rice, could get 1.5 times the amount of inorganic arsenic from that than from an entire liter of water containing arsenic.
      • Brown rice has been found to contain higher levels of inorganic arsenic than white rice due to the vigorous polishing process of white rice.
      • Inorganic arsenic is considered to be a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It’s known to cause bladder, lung and skin cancers – targeting the liver, kidney and prostate.
      • Many are concerned, particularly, with the effects inorganic arsenic can have on fetuses and babies.

This is a time when cells are differentiating into organs and many other important developmental things are going on, so getting exposed to a toxicant like arsenic in utero or during early childhood can cause damage that may not appear until decades later.

~ Michael Waalkes, laboratory chief at the Division of the National Toxicology Program.

 

Sugar and Salt

puffeating{Photo credit: With A Red Bird On My Shoulder}

So, you’ve found a brand of Puffs that claims to be 100% organic and made with all natural ingredients. Too good to be true, right? Probably. Once again, this is a case where the term “natural” can be deceiving. Rule of thumb: Always read the list of ingredients thoroughly. Most Puffs contain some source of added sugar. “Organic cane syrup” is the 3rd ingredient listed in Plum Organics Baby Super Puffs. That’s just a fancy term for sugar. Organic Baby Mum Mums –   a favorite cousin of Puffs – contain three ingredients: organic rice flour, organic sugar and salt. Puffs and teething biscuits might be packed full of organic and natural ingredients and a ton of added vitamins, but they are also packed full of unnecessary excessive sugar and salt.

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If you are looking for a healthier alternative to processed baby snacks, try these simple ideas:

  • Cut and prepare fresh fruit and vegetables at the beginning of the week. Place them in individual travel containers in your refrigerator; and grab them when you’re on the go. Bananas and individually packaged organic applesauce are also great healthy snacks to grab when you’re in a hurry and throw in the diaper bag.
  • If you’re at a restaurant and don’t want to order your baby a full meal off of the menu; ask the server to bring you a fresh fruit cup, sliced avocado or a scrambled egg. Most restaurants will be accommodating to your little one’s needs whether these items are on the menu or not.
  • If you don’t have time to make your own snacks, and are still looking for a healthy option on the market; try these tasty and extremely nutritious Nature’s Path Organic Millet Puffs. They are completely organic, contain zero fat, sodium and sugar and are packed full of protein, vitamins and nutrients.

 

 

For more information on the importance of organic, check out “Why You Need To Be Part Of The Organic Revolution.”

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www.consumerreport.org : Arsenic in Your Food

www.organic.org

www.naturalingredient.org

www.usda.gov

www.fda.gov

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Danielle

Danielle is a Pittsburgh native who has been warming her “black and gold” blood in sunny Northern California for the past 6 years. On any given day, you can find her arranging ridiculous photo shoots of her one-year-old son Graeme and cat Gizmo, or working on any one of her 27,000 writing projects. She enjoys daydreaming about becoming a famous actress and starting a handful of different businesses with her husband over glasses of wine in the evenings. Someday, she hopes to travel the country in an RV with her family… but she needs to sell that novel first. You can follow her journeys through her blog With A Red Bird On My Shoulder

Comments (3)

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    Tracy

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    Are the Nature’s Path Organic Millet Puffs similar to other baby puffs, do they dissolve? I am wondering if they are safe for an 8 month old as an alternative to the processed, sugar filled options.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Rachael

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    I don’t recommend the millet puffs, as they are way too tiny for babes to easily pick up. The same brand makes Kamut puffs that are a more reasonable size, if you are okay with wheat.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Dalila

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    Thank you so much for this article! Very helpful!!
    It just confirm my thoughts. :)

    Reply

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