Whether one buys baby food or prepares it at home, there are many different flavors that can be offered to babies at mealtimes. Understanding the different flavors of baby food can make it easier for caregivers to decide which ones to choose for their babies. The most common flavors of baby food generally fall into one of five categories: fruits, vegetables, meats, meals, and desserts. When deciding which flavors of baby food to choose, it is important to note that a flavor’s suitability may depend on a baby’s age. Finally, some health experts suggest avoiding store-bought baby food from the meal and dessert categories, as they may contain unwanted ingredients.
Many common flavors of baby food fall within the fruit category. Some fruit baby food consists of a single fruit, such as apples, bananas, peaches, or mangoes, that has been cooked and then strained or pureed. Other fruit baby foods contain two or more types of fruit that have been blended together.
Vegetable baby foods are also popular. As with the fruit category, many vegetable baby food flavors consist of a single ingredient, like carrots, peas, or sweet potatoes, that has been cooked and then mashed, strained, or pureed. It is also possible to buy or prepare mixed vegetable baby foods, which feature a blend of two or more vegetables.
Some flavors of baby food are modeled after adult meals, but with a milder taste and a softer texture that babies can enjoy. For instance, it is possible to buy or make macaroni and cheese, chicken and rice, and ham and peas for babies. After they are cooked, the ingredients in these meal-style baby foods are usually pureed to a smooth texture.
Certain flavors of baby food can be classified as desserts. Like meal-style baby foods, these foods are intended to mimic adult desserts, but with a mild flavor and a smooth consistency. Examples of baby food dessert flavors include banana pudding and apple cobbler.
Caregivers who are overwhelmed by the many different flavors of baby food available in stores may find it helpful to know that not every flavor is suitable for every baby. Foods that consist of a single, well-pureed ingredient are generally best for young babies. Conversely, baby food flavors that contain multiple ingredients that are a bit “chunkier” in texture tend to be better for older babies. Usually, a baby food’s label indicates which age group it is most appropriate for.
Some nutrition experts caution that store-bought meal-style and dessert flavors of baby food should be avoided. This is because these foods can contain high levels of starch as well as added ingredients that may not be healthful, such as sugar and corn syrup. Caregivers who wish to feed their babies these types of baby food might want to consider preparing them at home.