Are You Feeling Lost in the Baby Food Aisle?

Written by: Laura Hunter, LPN & Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN



Time to read 3 min

Ah, the exciting phase of introducing baby food! It's a time filled with wonder and questions: homemade or store-bought? Subscription services or a mix of both? The options, like decoding a complex puzzle, can seem overwhelming as you stand in the baby food aisle. But fear not. We’re here to guide you through this journey with clarity and confidence.

Let's be honest: pre-prepared baby food can be a lifesaver. It's convenient, time-saving, and ensures you have a variety of options at your fingertips until your little one is ready to enjoy what the family eats. But the baby food aisle can feel like a maze. Deciphering labels and navigating through the latest "warnings" can make you feel like you need a degree in nutrition just to make a purchase.

Introducing Baby Food

Let's start by recapping when your little one might be ready for solids. Hint: it's not a date on the calendar.

Usually, between 4-6 months of age, you'll start asking yourself, "Is my baby ready for solids?" Look for signs like sitting with minimal support, good head control, and showing interest in your meals. When you see these cues, it's time to start exploring.

Reminder: Solid foods are all about practice. They're meant to introduce textures and help develop the muscles needed for eating. Oral motor development progresses gradually, so start with purees and gradually move towards more textured options.

Stages of Baby Food

Stages can vary between companies, often based on age, texture, or the number of ingredients. Ignore the "stages" and focus instead on where your baby is on their texture introduction journey. Let that guide you to a variety of textures and foods. Remember that variety is key!

Baby Food Ingredients

If you're buying your baby food in store or online, this is the most important thing to consider.


Organic baby food remains a gold standard for many parents, signaling that ingredients are produced without harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMOs. While opting for organic is ideal, it's not always feasible for every item. Aim for organic choices, especially for produce with higher pesticide residue levels, such as strawberries, spinach, and kale. However, don't let the absence of organic options deter you from offering a diverse array of nutritious foods to your little one.

We recommend checking out EWG's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen to know which fruits and vegetables are the most and least contaminated with pesticides. 

Foods play a very small role in the overall exposure to heavy metals, including organic and non-organic arsenic. However, we can minimize exposure and still offer a wide variety of nutritious foods. 

Vegetables, Meats, Whole-grains, Fruit

Look for simple, recognizable ingredients without added sugars, fillers, or preservatives. Prioritize foods where vegetables or meats take center stage, ensuring maximum nutritional benefits for your growing baby.


Order of Ingredients

This means that the order is determined by the weight (or how much of that item) is included. For example, if a label on the front says, “Spinach and Fruit,” and the list of ingredients says, “Organic blueberry, organic apple, organic spinach, organic lemon juice concentrate, and ascorbic acid,” this means that this food has more blueberries and apples than spinach.

Choose foods where vegetables or meats take precedence, ensuring maximum nutritional benefits, especially when choosing combined food choices.

Fillers and Added Sugars

Avoid brands that use unnecessary fillers or added sugars. We want our little ones to appreciate the natural flavors of foods without artificial enhancements. Natural sugars are a part of a healthy diet. We want to avoid baby foods that have added sugars to help make them more “sweet.” We are born to prefer the taste of “sweet.” Having a variety of tastes, textures, and foods that are not overly “sweetened” ensures that our little ones get the wonderful full taste of meats, vegetables, and fruit. 


Cereals are often an easy first food. They can be easily changed in consistency, are fortified with iron and vitamins, and are often easy to digest. However, cereal should not be your main source of nutrition and plays a very small part in the overall daily menu. 

We recommend a variety of cereal options that may include:

  • Grains such as barley.
  • Oatmeal or quinoa. 
  • Rice in limited amounts is also fine as part of the menu options but is unnecessary.

We want solid foods to be a fun part of your day. When we have the information needed, we can choose simple ingredient options to use as we navigate this new adventure.

Download our Baby Food Introduction Calendar.

Co-Founders of Moms on Call

Laura Hunter, LPN and Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN

Co-Founders of Moms on Call, Pediatric Nurses and Moms to 8 kids between them, Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker created Moms on Call to simplify parenting. Through their books, online courses, podcast and content, they help parents everywhere navigate the first four years with confidence and better sleep.

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