It’s no secret that jarred baby food, even the organic variety, is far from perfect. Last year the Children’s Food Campaign discovered that a vast majority of jarred baby food, (including baby food from many top-notch organic brands), contains extra trans fat, sugar and sodium your baby doesn’t need — not to mention the BPA found in the metal lids of glass jars of baby food. Now, like a cherry on a very unhealthy cake, Dr. Jamie Koufman and Dr. Jordan Stern, authors of The Reflux Diet Cookbook, have found that some conventional and organic baby food companies add acids to their jarred baby food as a preservative. Added acid like citric acid, ascorbic acid and even folic acid can increase the acidity in your baby’s diet and thus may result in increased incidents of baby reflux. Yikes! Read on to see which baby food brands and jarred baby foods tested highest in their acid levels…

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Acids in baby food:

The authors of The Reflux Diet Cookbook tested 30 various jars of baby foods, including fruit, vegetables, pasta, meat, and starches for added acids using pH measurements, and they were surprised to find many baby foods came in with a pH of 4 and under. The authors recommend that, “Babies generally be fed foods with a pH of greater than 5. Having more acidic food is sometimes okay, but not as part of a regular diet” because it may increase the susceptibility to acid reflux, and furthermore, acids are not a natural or healthy additive. Another point is that many foods, such as apples, are already highly acidic, so adding extra acids just doubles the problem.

Some of the foods tested that were more acidic than necessary due to added acids included: Earth’s Best Organic First Apples; Gerber Green Beans; Beech Nut Rice Cereal and Apples with Cinnamon; Earth’s Best Organic Pears & Mangos; Beech Nut Pears & Raspberries; Gerber Apple Blueberry and more. See a complete list of all baby food tested (pdf).

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What you can do:

As a parent, the best thing you can do is breastfeed your baby exclusively for his first months of life. The World Health Organization recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding or exclusive breast milk for optimal health. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of four months but preferably for six months. If you choose formula for the first four months, make sure you choose eco-friendly baby bottles with anti-colic systems and a healthy green and organic formula. Once your baby starts solids, read your labels. Choose organic baby food without added acids or know exactly what you’re feeding your baby by making your own homemade organic baby food.

Infant acid reflux makes life miserable for babies, which in turn makes for very miserable parents. Infant acid reflux, (gastroesophageal reflux), is a common problem that can be made worse by food types and how you feed your baby (i.e. at a tilt vs. straight up). According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, more than half of all babies experience infant acid reflux during their first year of life. Symptoms of infant acid reflux may include spitting up, irritability during or after feedings and poor feeding habits. Infant acid reflux can also lead to poor growth or breathing problems and research indicates that babies who frequently experience reflux may be more likely to develop more serious reflux diseases during later childhood.

+ The Reflux Diet Cookbook

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